Although getting smartphone notifications on your wrist is one of the basic functions of any smartwatch, not all models on the market are good enough in this regard.
If getting notifications tops the list of what you need in a smartwatch, your best bet is one that does a perfect job at it. This entails showing notifications instantly, pulling your attention to each new notification, and allowing you to reply notifications directly on your wrist without having to pull your smartphone.
Best Smartwatches for Notifications: Our Top 6 Picks
In this post, we’d be looking at some of the best smartwatches for notifications. Our selection was based on thorough research and comparison of several smartwatch models based on notification and alert features, legibility of notification texts, and reply functions, brand trust, and buyer reviews.
Here are our top picks.
1. Samsung Gear S3
The Samsung Gear S3 joined the product line of the reputable company in a grand style. It is bigger, bolder and packs a range of new features to make it one of the best smartwatches from the brand. With this smartwatch, you can finally leave your smartphone at home when you go for your outdoor exercises without fears of missing out on anything.
- Display: 3-inch Super AMOLED screen, 360 x 360pp
- Processor: Exynos 7270
- OS: Tizen
- RAM: 768 MB
- Memory: 4GB
- Battery: 380mAh
The Gear S3 follows the trend of smartwatches built for larger wrists, measuring 46 x 49mm and weighing 59g. It doesn’t just look bigger, it also feels heavy.
The body build indicates that it was built with durability in mind as it has an IP68 certification so you won’t have any problem with dust and water spillage. It rocks a stainless steel case that’s quite attractive and you can swap out any of the straps if you don’t like the one shipped to you.
For controls, there are two buttons on the side: one to take you to the home screen and your apps while the other works as a universal back button. Beneath the smartwatch is a heart rate monitor, which you will find extremely helpful if you want to monitor changes in your heart rate.
Sporting a 1.3-inch AMOLED screen, the Gear S3 has one of the best displays you will find in its price category and this is no surprise since Samsung is known for its great screens. It has a 360 x 360 pixel resolution, which gives a vivid color reproduction as well as detailed images.
Parts of the unique selling points of the wearable are the “Always on Display” and “Dimmed Setting” features that can keep the screen on and dimmed respectively for as long as you wish.
As expected, the Gear S3 is a touchscreen but there’s a limit to what you can do without the buttons. The display is protected by Gorilla Glass and MIL-SPEC-910G so it can withstand drops of up to 5 feet. It’s important to add that setting the display to be always on sucks up battery juice, but you can set the screen to turn on instantly when you raise your wrist.
One of the first things to note about the performance is that the smartwatch runs on its home-grown Tizen operating system, which combines features of Google’s and Apple’s operating systems. The OS is supported by 768MB of RAM and 4GB of storage for music. The built-in speaker is loud, clear and can respond to commands. Also, there are several sensors on the smartwatch but a major downside is the absence of major fitness apps.
When tethered to a Samsung Galaxy S7 via Bluetooth, you can receive and respond to notifications from Facebook messenger as well as emails. However, you need to make sure you stay within the range of the phone to maintain connectivity.
Coming to the battery department, the Gear S3 can deliver three days usage, thanks to its capacity of 380mAh. The battery might drain faster if you use it for battery consuming tasks like GPS tracking or turning on the Always-on Display. There’s no fast charging technology here.
- Simple interface with rotating bezel
- Swift performance
- Good voice control
- Small third-party app support
- Feels heavy
2. Motorola Moto 360 2nd Gen
After making an entrance into the smartwatch market with the Moto360 1st Gen which was well-received, Motorola hopes to do better with its second-generation wearable of the same model. It is a breath of fresh air from the shortcomings of its forebear while featuring a lot of customization points to come out on top.
- Display:3-inches, 360 x325 pp or 1.56-inches, 360 x330 LCD capacitive touchscreen
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
- Operating system: Android Wear
- RAM: 512MB
- Storage: 4GB
- Battery: 300mAh or 400mAh
One of the first things to know about the second-generation Moto 360 is that it comes in two sizes, a good strategy to reach those with big and small wrists. The next thing to note that is the design of this smartwatch is flexible and that is because Motorola offers customers the opportunity to customize their watch to meet their taste using Moto Maker. Now to the few specifics about the design, the new watch comes with the same lovely, circular design of its forebear.
The crown-like button is now positioned at 2 o’clock and has a very solid click to it. It serves as a home and back button. As per build quality, the Moto 360 2nd Gen looks and feels good, and is very comfortable to wear. Every other thing on it can be customized.
This department also received an upgraded, boasting a higher pixel density than its predecessor. Since the smartwatch comes in two different sizes, so do the screens with the 46mm version measuring 1.56 inches with a pixel resolution of 360 x 325 while the 42mm watch has 1.37 inches display with a resolution of 360 x 325.
Both screen sizes use LCD capacitive touchscreen, are protected by Gorilla Glass 3, and are one of the primary ways to interact with the smartwatch. Judging the display, it actually performs as well as it should. The texts are readable and daylight viewing is good too.
Under the hood is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset that is supported by 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage, making it faster than the previous model. The operating system is obviously Android Wear, and you can view your notifications as they arrive on your phone and then interact with them, dismiss them with a swipe or hide them for later.
Coming now to fitness, the smartwatch doesn’t have many specialized Moto apps running on it, but that shouldn’t be an issue if you’re an average fitness enthusiast as it can track basic exercises. One of the key issues with the second generation Moto 360 is that it doesn’t recognize voices easily, so you might have a hard time giving voice commands.
The 2nd Generation of Moto 360 comes with a 300mAh for the small screen size while the bigger screen size gets an upgrade of 400mAh. At best, both models only offer a full day of use as the battery life generally won’t go much beyond that.
- Redefined design
- Faster than forebear
- Not ideal for fitness tracking
3. Pebble Time Steel
The Pebble Time Steel is a premium model from the company and is compatible with both Android and iOS. It might not be too different from its predecessors in terms of feature but the way it presents notifications is sure to appeal to you.
- Display: 26-inch screen, 144 x 168 pp
- Processor: 1GHZ Cortex-M4
- OS: Pebble
- RAM: —-
- Memory: 16MB
- Battery: 150mAh
There are many similarities between the design of the Time Steel and the original Pebble but the first noticeable difference is that this model ditches the cheap-feeling plastic and opts for brushed stainless steel. It is 1mm thicker and a bit heavier than its forebear. The metal will sit on your wrist all through the day without causing discomfort or irritation.
For controls, there’s a single button on the left side and three on the right, all of which are easy to press. The button on the left acts as the ‘back’ button while the top and bottom buttons on the right will move you up and down.
The middle button acts as the ‘accept’ command. Underneath the watch are charging pins that are meant to be connected to the magnetic charger to top up the battery. Unlike the leather, the Pebble Time Steel is waterproof up to 30m.
There’s practically no improvement to the display as the Pebble Time steel uses the same 1.25 inches screen and 144 x 168 resolution color ePaper display, both of which are on the original Time. The slight difference is that more of the surround is taken up by Gorilla Glass rather than the steep outer part, giving it a more curvaceous appearance when you look from it from different angles. The watch comes pre-set to an always-on display, and this is why the manufacturer opted for a screen that conserves power instead of the popular LCD and AMOLED screens. Hence, it’s obvious the reason for sacrificing the choice of a quality screen for a longer battery life affects the overall display quality as the smartwatch isn’t as crisp and detailed as its rivals.
By now, you should know that the Pebble Time Steel was manufactured to meet the basic needs of a fitness enthusiast and not to compete with the flashiest smartwatches out there. There are very little apps to cater to the needs of the average fitness newbie. The 1GHZ Cortex-M4 chipset and 16MB memory show that the performance was meant to be average and not spectacular even though some of its features are interesting.
One of the biggest selling points of the smartwatch is the way it organizes and presents notifications so you don’t have to miss anything anymore. It lists emails, social notifications and texts that are forwarded to your smartphone. It even bolds notifications that are unread, so they scream at your eyes. When you receive an email, it pops up on the display so you can read the few lines so you don’t have to wonder about the content of the email.
Thankfully, the battery life offers some encouragement as the smartwatch can stay powered on for up to ten days, a feat many fitness trackers are yet to achieve. The battery life might get shorter if you tinker with the settings as the duration of use is based on the amount of time the display is on. The battery capacity is 150mAh.
- Colour e-paper display
- Decent battery life
- Impressive notification presentation
- More expensive than Pebble Time
- Limited abilities without a phone
- Basic apps
4. Amazfit Bip Smartwatch
Made by the upcoming Chinese brand, Huami, the inexpensive Amazfit Bip Smartwatch offers many reasons to invest in it, but none are as compelling as its battery life and unbelievable price tag.
- Display:28inches 176 x 176 pp Transflective colour display
- Processor: —-
- Operating system: Proprietary OS
- RAM: —
- Storage: —–
- Battery: 190mAh
The Amazfit Bip Smartwatch takes after the Apple Watch in terms of design – is fairly attractive for the price and a pleasure to wear. Weighing 1.1 ounces, the Bip is so lightweight that you could easily forget you’re wearing it but that doesn’t mean it the body build cannot resist wear and tear.
It actually has a polycarbonate, matte-plastic build to make it durable while its IP68 water and dust rating means it won’t develop problems if you submerge it in water for up to 30 minutes.
On the right side is a glossy button that triggers an animation on the screen to indicate that you’ve woken it and you can assign it to an app when you press and hold the button.
The Bip sports a 1.28-inch touchscreen with 176 x 176-pixel resolution which is protected by a 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass. The screen is very responsive, allowing you to interface with the watch.
However, the resolution falls short of expectations as the display doesn’t have auto-brightness which means you have to manually adjust the brightness in the day and night. The raise-to-wake feature can allow you illuminate the face with just a flick of the wrist and you can also use the always-on feature but keep in mind that it drains battery juice so fast
The Bip puts up a great performance for its pricing even though opinions might differ. For starters, the companion app, Mi Fit, works flawlessly and links to the Apple Health App. It tracks keeps a record of all activities so you can get the data organized for you. It also presents notifications for you to read but you can’t respond to emails, texts or phone calls as you need to pick up your smartphone to handle the rest from there.
Regarding fitness, the Bip shines brightly, proving it is the ideal choice for people who want a wearable that can handle a lot. It can help track and monitor a range of activities like walking, running and cycling and so on. It takes accurate heart rate readings, sleeping tracking, and the in-built GPS can map your progress.
Advertised to last up to 30 days on average use and 45 days with minimal notifications, the battery life is one of the huge draws of the Bip. It boasts a 190-mAh lithium-polymer battery unit that drains slowly and that can be recharged in a couple of hours to 100% using the two contact pins on the charging dock.
- Stylish design
- Extremely lightweight
- Soft band that fits all wrist sizes comfortably
- Amazing value
- The auto-pause feature doesn’t work
- Low-resolution graphics
- Cannot respond to notifications
5. Huawei Watch GT 2018
The Huawei Watch GT 2018 runs a proprietary OS, offering a sharp, bright screen, unprecedented battery life and a host of other features – all at an unbeatable price.
- Display:39-inches 454 x 454 pp OLED capacitive touchscreen
- Processor: ARM Cortex-M4
- Operating system: LiteOS
- RAM: 16MB
- Storage: 128MB
- Battery: 420mAh
It can be hard to tell if the Huawei Watch GT is actually a fitness tracker or a regular watch as it is a design marvel, something that’s not so common in the world of smartwatches. It shares a similar design with its forebear having a circular stainless body, except that the dimensions 46.5 x 46.5 x 10.6mm make it slimmer. It is also notably light and feels good on the wrist.
If you don’t like the strap that comes with the one you buy, you can always get any that suits your preference from the offerings available such as Graphite Black, a Saddle Brown leather option, Glacier Grey and Fluorescent Green.
Around the side of the watch sits two physical buttons, that when paired with the 1.39-inch AMOLED touchscreen, act as the primary means to interact with the watch. The top button wakes up the watch and takes you to the menu while the second is a customizable button that allows you to assign any app of your choice to it. Overall, the build quality is pretty solid as one would expect from Huawei.
Displays are a strong forte for Huawei and the Watch 2018 is a strong attestation to it. Its 1.39-inch AMOLED screen packs a resolution of 454 x 454 pixels, which is bright, sharp and colorful.
You can read your notifications or look at graphs showing your performance during exercises without straining your eyes. In other words, you will get much higher visual fidelity than an average runner’s watch as it qualifies to be ranked as one of the best screens on the market.
Everything isn’t entirely flawless, as the refresh rate of the watch is quite low, a flaw that makes it fall behind Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch.
Under the hood, an ARM Cortex-M4 processor manages the operations of the smartwatch and it does that flawlessly as there are no serious slow-downs or crashes. The Watch GT’s array of features is also impressive as you will get GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo, suggesting that the smartwatch is a top performer when it comes to location and distance tracking. There plenty of tracking modes for different activities including indoor and outdoor cycling, running, hiking, climbing and more.
Another positive to this watch is that it handles phone notifications nicely. The watch vibrates whenever you receive a message or notification from an app, and also allow you to tap and read further. But still, the notification feature could do with some improvement to allow for replies either by typing on the screen or using your voice.
The battery life of the Watch GT 2019 is one of the biggest reasons you should buy this smartwatch as the battery can last up to 14 days on a single charge. That it is impressive is an understatement as it is way better than what other smartwatches offer. However, put in mind that the battery consumption is largely considered on which features you’re using.
- Amazing battery life
- Comfortable and stylish
- Limited third-party support
- Sleep tracking is patchy
- Not built for contactless payment
- Limited phone apps
6. TicWatch E2
The TicWatch E2 is a budget-friendly smartwatch targeted at casual fitness enthusiasts who are not so interested in flashy features.
- Display: 39-inch AMOLED screen, 400 x 400pp
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100
- OS: Wear OS
- RAM: 512 MB
- Memory: 4GB
- Battery: 415mAh
The TicWatch E2 is an appealing smartwatch like the TicWatch E, but it has a bigger screen that measures at 46.9mm. Another notable difference is that the side button is now positioned on the right instead of the left to adhere to the standard design of smartwatches. This makes hitting the button more natural but it comes at the expense of the rotating feature which is now non-existent on the TicWatch E2.
Beneath the smartwatch is a central bump made of polycarbonate rear which contains the heart rate monitor as well as charging pins that work with the magnetic charger. It is water-resistant to 5ATM or 50 meters which indicates that it is safe to swim and surf with.
The screen on the TicWatch E2 is the same as that on its predecessor – a fully circular 1.39-inch display with a 400 x 400 resolution that equates to a pixel density of 404ppi. Although this isn’t an upgrade, it’s still far better than what you’d find on many expensive Wear OS smartwatches, leaving almost no room for complaints. As a result, you get a bright and colorful screen that makes little texts legible and images crisp.
You can also turn on the “Always-On Display” so you can see basic information at any time even when you’re not using the entire display. Although the smartwatch is waterproof, the screen tends to become less responsive when wet.
One of the noticeable upgrades on the TicWatch E2 is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 processor, which is supported by 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. These specs are similar to what you’d find in its rivals and it’s not any surprise that the manufacturer didn’t provide a more recent chipset considering the price. Nevertheless, the performance is smooth as you can do most of your activities without issues.
It even comes with GPS which means you can leave your smartphone at home and still track your outdoor activities. Incoming notifications are better presented on this model and you can reply messages on apps like WhatsApp using context-sensitive quick reply options. The fitness tracking is also standard but there’s no sleep tracking.
The battery capacity of the TicWatch E2 is 30% bigger than the power pack in its predecessor and it’s not difficult to notice the result. You can get up to 48 hours of battery life from the smartwatch but that is only if you don’t use GPS as about 30 minutes of GPS tracking consumes around 10%.
Thankfully, the charging is slightly faster than the last generations’ watches as you can go from 0% to 100% in under an hour. That means you should be able to use it to tactically charge the smartwatch and use it for whatever activities you desire.
- Large, sharp screen
- Decent battery life
- Chunky, plastic build
- No sleep tracking
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