best cheap smartwatches of 2020: wearable tech on a budget. Having a tiny computer on your wrist needn’t cost an arm and a leg.

It’s been eight years since Pebble made every phone company under the sun curious about the potential of smartwatches. After raising $10.3 million on Kickstarter, it looked like there was a new market to take advantage of, after the smartphone gold rush had begun to dry up.

It took a while – and some definitely gave up too soon – but now smartwatches are mainstream, in part thanks to the runaway success of the Apple Watch. But, again, in part thanks to the Apple Watch, they’re still a pretty expensive way of giving you data that’s right there on your phone screen anyway.

But while a top-of-the-range Apple Watch can cost you up to £1,399 from Apple, it’s now possible to get a perfectly good smartwatch for under £150. Scroll down to see some of our favorites within that very tight budget – after a little background to help you make the right buying choice.

Fitness tracker or smartwatch?

This used to be a far bigger distinction than it is now. Fitness trackers are bands with smaller screens which used to just show basic information like the time and the number of steps you’ve taken. Now they tend to handle phone notifications and have their own built-in fitness apps making them more of a phone-away-from-phone.

As such, we’ve included a couple of fitness trackers below, although the bulk is still made up of smartwatches.

Do I need the latest smartwatch?

Probably not. While phones can feel a bit creaky towards the end of a 24-month contract, smartwatch technology moves quite a bit slower thanks to the limited amount of heavy lifting the hardware needs to do.

In fact, while Qualcomm releases a new flagship Snapdragon processor for phones every year, its current smartwatch processor – the Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset – was released back in 2018.

In short, newer watches may have better battery life and screens, but they likely won’t be much faster or have many new tricks to perform.

What sensors do I need?

Paying less for a smartwatch does potentially mean losing sensors, so think carefully about what you want from your watch.

The two main ones to look out for at the lower end of the market are GPS and NFC. The former means you can track runs accurately without needing to borrow your phone’s sensor. The latter means you can make contactless payments from the wrist – assuming your bank is supported. Combine the two and you’ll be able to go running without your phone, and still be able to pay for a drink on the way back.

Does the OS make a difference?

Not really. While Apple Watches only play nicely with iPhones, other watches don’t really care what phone they’re connected to.

There are a couple of exceptions. If you own a Samsung phone, you might find that Samsung’s watches behave a little better, and the same goes for Huawei phones and watches.

Contactless payment is also something to look out for. Not all banks support all watches even if they do have NFC, so look up yours first before you buy if this is important to you.

Oh, and if you’re a runner and a big Strava fan, it’s best to avoid watches with their own health apps that don’t always play ball. In my experience, Samsung, Huawei, and Xiaomi aren’t easily connectable, while the likes of Garmin, Fitbit and anything with Wear OS are.

Is it okay to buy a pre-owned smartwatch?

There’s no real reason not to buy a pre-owned watch, as long as you’re not put off by the idea of it having lived on someone else’s wrist for months on end. However, because of the wear and tear watches can face when exposed to the elements, it’s a good idea to see one in person, rather than taking auction site sellers at their word.

These are the best smartwatches from just

Fitbit Versa Lite​

The Fitbit Versa Lite is probably the most stylish looking smartwatch in this list. A square but slightly rounded color screen with stylish chamfered edges, it’s certainly eye-catching – especially if you go for the bright lilac color (though thankfully other options are available).

This is a ‘lite’ version of the Fitbit Versa, so what’s missing for the £50 saving? Not a great deal, in truth. It loses the altimeter, so it can’t count stairs climbed, and it no longer tracks swims (though it remains waterproof to 50m). Otherwise, the changes are pretty minor: no NFC for Fitbit Pay (but it wasn’t very useful in the UK anyway), no onscreen workouts, and no music support. The latter doesn’t sound great, but given the whole Versa family lacks GPS, you’ll probably have your phone nearby anyway.

The real strength remains the Fitbit app, which is a great way of staying motivated via friendly competition with friends and family already tracking their steps. But even without this, the Fitbit Versa Lite is just an excellent smartwatch in its own right.

Mobvoi TicWatch E2

The TicWatch started life as a Kickstarter, raising $3.2 million in the process. Not only did the company deliver, which isn’t always guaranteed from crowdfunds, but it was successful enough to make a second generation.

The TicWatch E2 is the cheapest of them. Despite this, it’s good, solid smartwatch which does everything you would expect, and maybe a little more thanks to its built-in GPS chip for run tracking. Because it runs Google’s own Wear OS, it’s not short of extra apps to improve things, either.

The only slight fly in the ointment is a lack of NFC, which means you won’t be obnoxiously going through the Tube barriers with a flash of your wrist. Boo.

£145 – £159 | Amazon | Buy it now

Amazfit Bip​

There are several amazing things about the Amazfit Bip, but the most striking one is the price: at £51, it’s simply the cheapest way of getting a smartwatch. Or one that actually lives up to the word “smart” anyway.

Arguably even more amazing is what you get for the price. The watch has heart-rate monitoring and a GPS sensor built-in, but on top of this, the battery life is truly jaw-dropping. While most smartwatches go 48 hours to a week without charging, the Bip just goes on and on up to a maximum of 45 days. True, that’s with most of the smart features disabled, but even with everything turned on and a few runs under my belt, I found it still had over 60% after eight days.

I don’t want to oversell it, because it has drawbacks: it’s neither the speediest or best-looking watch out there. But for £51, you can’t really be too fussy. If you’ve been looking for the spiritual successor to the sadly departed Pebble, this is it.

£51 | Amazon | Buy it now

Xiaomi Mi Band 4

Undercutting the Amazfit Bip by a clear £21 is the Xiaomi Mi Band 4. As the name suggests, this is actually a fitness tracking band rather than a smartwatch as such, but it still connects to your phone and shows notifications on its teeny-tiny 0.95-inch AMOLED screen.

No GPS or NFC for this price, but it manages heart-rate tracking and is pretty good as an all-round fitness tracker if you’re not too serious about run analysis. Also, the battery is an absolute trooper: Xiaomi says 20 days, but if anything I found that to be a touch pessimistic.

It’s not for everyone: it’s touchscreen-only, and a little fiddly thanks to its size. But if you just want a cheap way to track steps and show notifications, then look no further.

£27.99 | Amazon | Buy it now

Garmin Forerunner 30

If you value run tracking overlooks, then the Garmin Forerunner 30 is the way to go. With built-in GPS, a heart-rate tracker, and the excellent Garmin app for post-run analysis, this is an inexpensive way of getting a running watch that also moonlights as a smartwatch.

There’s no sugarcoating it, though: it isn’t a looker. If that’s important to you, and you can get an extra £75 together, then the £160 Garmin Vivoactive 3 looks a lot more stylish and adds in support for a whole load more exercises. That does, however, put us £10 over the limit for this roundup.

£88 – £93 | Amazon | Buy it now

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

Despite a name that suggests fitness above all else, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch Active is actually a very good smartwatch in its own terms. It looks very stylish, with a bright, round 1.1-inch AMOLED screen sure to attract looks wherever you go.

And it has pretty much everything you’d want too: GPS, heart-rate monitoring and NFC built-in. Oddly, it’s only deficiencies for me are as a running watch: you can’t customise the data screens when running, and it doesn’t connect directly with Strava, instead relying on the Samsung Health app. All the same, if you just want a good looking smartwatch, this is an excellent product for the price.

£139 – £179.99 | Amazon | Buy it now

Huawei Band 3 Pro

It’s more expensive than the Xiaomi Mi Band 4, but with good reason: Huawei’s fitness tracker has built-in GPS meaning you can head off for runs and bike rides without your phone, and still enjoy accurate tracking.

Of course, it is still a fitness band, and that means that the data on screen can be a little hard to read at a glance – especially if your head is bobbing around while bounding around your nearest park.

£50 | Amazon | Buy it now


While all of these are excellent options, for my money the Fitbit Versa Lite takes the crown as the best all-round cheap smartwatch. It’s competitively priced, looks great, and has one of the best-connected apps around for people keen on improving their fitness.

True, it doesn’t have connected GPS – and maybe that’s a reason for hardcore runners to opt for a Garmin instead. But for everyone else, you won’t do better for your £129.

ESBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinions and real-world testing.

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