Apple Watch 8 alternatives: 5 smartwatches for less

The Apple Watch Series 8 (Apple)
The Apple Watch Series 8 (Apple)

The Apple Watch 8 is many things, but cheap it isn’t. Starting at £419 for the 41mm aluminium model with Wi-Fi, and going all the way up to £1,479 for a 45mm 5G model with a leather Hermès deployment buckle, it’s not an investment to be taken lightly.

The good news? iPhone owners can get much of that Apple Watch functionality — albeit without the ‘it just works’ easy setup — for considerably less. Here are five of the top Apple Watch 8 alternatives to consider if you want to save a few quid.

Note that the lack of a Samsung Galaxy Watch isn’t an oversight. Since the Galaxy Watch 4, Samsung’s wearables haven’t worked with iPhones, unfortunately. The same is true for Google’s Pixel Watch.

Apple Watch 8 alternatives

Garmin Venu 2 — best for fitness fanatics

Garmin Venu 2 (Garmin)
Garmin Venu 2 (Garmin)

For serious athletes, Garmin is often the first and last word. And, while the company has a dizzying array of wearables catering for everyone from golfers to divers, the mainstream Venu 2 is the most smartwatch-like of the lot.

It has two big advantages over the Apple Watch 8: its battery lasts for up to 11 days in smartwatch mode (or 1,000 per cent more than Apple’s wearable, to put it bluntly), and it’s superb for tracking every activity from rowing to cycling with the Garmin Connect app offering plenty of stats for data nerds.

Downsides? Garmin’s interface isn’t half as slick or user-friendly as Apple’s WatchOS, and the price isn’t that far off buying a new Apple Watch 8 instead. But for athletes, it’s worth considering all the same.

Buy now £330, John Lewis

Fitbit Sense 2 — best for casual fitness fans

Fitbit Sense 2 (Google)
Fitbit Sense 2 (Google)

If Garmin is for serious athletes, then Fitbit is for users who want to be a bit more healthy, but don’t know where to start. The Sense 2 is Fitbit’s top-of-the line smartwatch, and even then it’s currently going for less than half what the Apple Watch 8 costs new.

As well as tracking steps and offering gentle competition via the excellent Fitbit app’s community features, the Fitbit Sense 2 is especially fully featured when it comes to health features. Like the Apple Watch 8, it has a temperature sensor and an ECG sensor to detect Afib, and it also packs in an electrodermal activity sensor to measure stress. Built-in GPS and water resistance to 50m makes it a solid option for tracking runs and swims, too.

The smartwatch experience is somewhat limited compared to its rivals, and support for third-party apps was mysteriously withdrawn for this and the Fitbit Versa 4. But, if you’re happy with a streamlined experience, there’s a lot to like about the Sense 2.

Buy now £179, Currys

Amazfit GTS 2 Mini — best for bargain hunters

Amazfit GTS 2 Mini (Amazfit)
Amazfit GTS 2 Mini (Amazfit)

The Chinese brand Amazfit produces appropriately amazingly specced smartwatches for the price and, at just £79, the GTS 2 Mini offers a whole lot of features.

The built-in GPS and 5ATM rating for swimming make it a solid fitness tracker, and it even looks a bit like the Apple Watch if you squint a bit. And it will go around a week between charges, comfortably beating Apple’s offering. It also boasts heart-rate monitoring, blood-oxygen saturation measurement, sleep and stress level monitoring, and female cycle tracking for total health management.

The watch feels less polished and a bit more basic than the Apple Watch but, when it’s less than a quarter of the price, it’s hard to complain too much.

Buy now £79, Argos

Withings ScanWatch — best for style

Withings ScanWatch (Withings)
Withings ScanWatch (Withings)

If your big problem with smartwatches is that they lack the handsome good looks of a classic wristwatch, then Withings’ ScanWatch neatly bridges the gap between the two.

It has an analogue watch face with actual physical hands, but a hidden circular OLED screen that pops into life when you want to check things like steps and heart rate, or if a notification comes through.

The design has its drawbacks: it definitely feels less like a computer on your wrist and the small screen isn’t large enough to provide live data as you run. But, if you want to passively track your movements and get gently buzzed when your phone needs attention, then this is a stylish way to do it — and the battery will go for up to 30 days, too.

Buy now £280, Boots

An older Apple Watch — best for compatibility

The Apple Watch 7 (Apple)
The Apple Watch 7 (Apple)

There are good reasons to settle for nothing less than an Apple Watch. It’s easy to set up, works brilliantly with iOS, and supports Apple Pay to pay from the wrist.

The good news is that, as much as Apple’s marketing team would like to convince you otherwise, the difference between Apple Watch generations is pretty subtle. While we wouldn’t suggest going further back than 2019’s Apple Watch Series 5, as long as the battery isn’t shot, you should be pretty happy with any recent model.

The newer the better, of course. The more recent wearables will get updates for longer, and remember that the Series 7 introduced a larger screen, which is a significant upgrade in its own right. But, if you’re on a budget, you can get a pre-owned Apple Watch Series 5 for as little as £205.

Buy now £309, Argos (45mm Apple Watch Series 7), currently on sale