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6 Best Smartwatches For Software Developers In 2020

Smartwatches are cool but they can be cooler when you can develop your own apps and run these apps directly on them.

If you’re a developer looking to get started in developing apps for smartwatches, the you might find this article helpful as I will be sharing my top picks on the best smartwatch for software developers in 2020.

A developer who doesn’t want to develop smartwatch apps but needs a good looking smartwatch? Then the smartwatches on this list could work just fine for you as.

I love smartwatches and they can be great companions too. From showing you your latest notifications to helping measure your heart rate, calories burned, step tracking and other fitness activities, these devices are well worth every penny you pay for them.

Smartwatches like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 and the Apple Watch Series 5 also come with more advanced health monitoring features like ECG, fall detection and more.

If you’re looking to get started with developing apps for wearOS (Android) smartwatches, then you will need to get a smartwatch running on wearOS and if you’re interested in developing apps for Samsung smartwatches running Tizen OS, the you will need to get a Samsung smartwatch preferably a Samsung Galaxy watch.

For developers looking to develop apps for Apple’s watchOS, then you will need to get the latest Apple Watch – the Apple Watch Series 5 to ensure you’re not missing out on the newer features available for both users and developers.

That said, lets take a look at my top picks on the best smartwatch for developers right now.

The Best Smartwatches For Software Developers Right Now


1) Apple Watch Series 5 – Best Apple Watch

The Apple Watch Series 5 is undoubtedly the best smartwatch in the market right now and if your looking to develop apps for watchOS, then this is the ideal smartwatch to get.

On its features, the Apple Watch Series 5 comes with most features expected of smartwatches. Fitness tracking features like heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, steps counting, GPS tracking and even Apple’s newer fall detection feature are all available on this watch.

The design is just as sleek as you would expect from an Apple Watch and Apple did a great job on the finishing of this watch. Watch bands are also swappable and you can pick from tons of customized bands when buying.

Like i said earlier on, if your looking to get started in developing apps for Apple Watches running on watchOS, then the Apple Watch Series 5 is the ideal smartwatch to get. Its always good to have a physical device to run your apps as opposed to using the simulator Apple provides in their developer kit so you can see what your app truly looks like the the real world.

Apple has a dedicated guide on creating apps for Apple Watches on their developer website and that is a good place to get started with learning how stuff works on smartwatches running on Apple’s watchOS.

Not interested in developing apps for watchOS? Then this smartwatch could also be great for you especially if you use an iPhone. I have a dedicated article on whether Apple watches are worth it or not in 2020 so make sure to check out that article too.

On its downsides, firstly, the Apple Watch Series 5 only works with iPhones and other gadgets in the Apple ecosystem, so if your don’t own an iPhone and not planning to get one anytime soon, you might want to consider other smartwatches on this list.

The Apple Watch Series 5 is also not all that good when it comes to battery life and this is an issue with all Apple watches till date. You will only be able to get around 18 hours to 1 day of battery life on this watch and this could even be less when you have most of its features enabled all the time.

Pros
  • Always on display
  • More storage
  • Sleek and stylish
  • Work well with iPhones and Apple gadgets
  • Great for fitness tracking
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Battery isn’t all that good
  • Not compatible with non Apple devices

2) Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 – Best Apple Watch Alternative

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is Samsung’s latest smartwatch and the best Apple Watch alternative at the moment. It comes with all the amazing features expected from smartwatches + more.

This watch runs on Samsung’s propitiatory TizenOS as opposed to Google’s wearOS which they were using in their older smartwatches. There are differences these operating systems and if your looking to write apps for Samsung smartwatches, then the Galaxy Watch 3 would be a great choice.

There is also a dedicated developer website for TizenOS which is very helpful for new developers looking to start developing apps for the platform.

Developer stuff aside, the watch comes with many interesting features. Fitness tracking is also great here and with this watch you will be able to track things like heart rate (+ECG), steps, calories burned, distance walked and more. The watch also features multiple sport modes which are geared towards helping you get more specific data on your fitness status for multiple sports.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is also compatible with both Android and iOS devices so compatibility isn’t really an issue here. Its battery isn’t that great and according to Samsung, you should expect to get a little over 1 day of battery life before the watch will need to be recharged.

Pros
  • Premium looking design
  • Compatible with both Android & iOS
  • Comes with a rotating bezel
  • Easy to use
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Battery life can be improved

3) Fossil Sports – Best For Android Development

The Fossil Sports smartwatch from Fossil is unarguably the best wearOS smartwatch right now and one of the best smartwatches for developers in 2020. It’s not the best smartwatch out there, but it boasts of some interesting features which shouldn’t be overlooked.

If you’re looking to develop apps for wearOS, then this watch is what i recommend. Google provides wearOS emulators in Android Studio (a software used in developing Android apps) but it’s good practice to always test your app on a live device to get what your app will perform like on the real world.

Developer stuff aside, the Fossil Sports is a amazing device when it comes to what it can do. Features like heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, step tracking, and more are what you’ll be getting in the area of fitness tracking and they provide accurate data too.

The watch itself is powered by the new Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset and this means it will perform a lot faster and smoother when compared to most wearOS smartwatches out there.

The fact that the watch runs on wearOS is another huge plus in terms of apps. There are thousands of wearOS apps available on the Play Store available for you to choose from. Its battery life is also great when compared to most smartwatches on this list and you should expect to get at least 2 days of battery life or more on the watch.

Pros
  • Premium looking design
  • Lightweight
  • Very powerful chipset
  • Responsive touchscreen
  • Easy to use
Cons
  • GPS is not the best
  • Lacks some high-end features

4) TicWatch E2 – Best Cheap wearOS Watch

The Ticwatch E2 from Mobvoi is the second wearOS on this list and amazing smartwatch for its price. It’s not the latest TicWatch out there but at an affordable price and the ability to run the latest wearOS smoothly, there really not much to complain about.

As a smartwatch running on wearOS, you can use this as a testing device for testing while developing wearOS apps without any issues. If you’re new to developing apps for wearOS devices, here is a good tutorial to get you started.

Like other smartwatches on this list, the TicWatch E2 also features some interesting fitness tracking and general productivity features too. You will be able to track your heart rate, sleep, steps, calories and more directly on the watch and it also comes with some additional features like Google Assistant and Google Play which are only available on wearOS smartwatches.

The watch is water resistant meaning it can be used for swimming + other wet activities like hand-washing & shower and comes with GPS if you want to track you location while running or taking a walk.

Unfortunately, the TicWatch E2 doesn’t support NFC for payments via Google Pay so if you use this feature or your planning on developing apps that will be needing this, you might want to check out other wearOS watches on this list.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Comes with Google Assistant
  • Tons of apps available via Google Play
  • Compatible with both Android & iOS
Cons
  • No NFC for payments
  • Design is not the best

5) Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is another impressive smartwatch from Samsung which runs on TizenOS. Its not the latest Samsung Galaxy watch, but its still one of the best smartwatches for developers in 2020.

Like the Galaxy Watch 3 which mentioned earlier on this list, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 also runs on Samsung’s TizenOS and if you’re looking to develop apps for this OS, then this smartwatch would be a great device to test your apps on.

One thing i really like about this watch is the fact that it i very light and comfortable to wear. It also comes with popular fitness tracking features HR monitoring, sleep tracking, BP monitoring, steps counting and more. Other features like smart notifications, sport modes, GPS tracking are also available on the watch.

Its small size is also another reason why many prefer this watch when compared to other Samsung Galaxy Watches but this greatly affected the battery life as they had to reduce the battery size too. You should expect an average battery life of around 18 hours to 1 day on normal use and this may be lower if you use more power hungry features.

Pros
  • Premium looking design
  • Lightweight and comfortable to wear
  • Spotify and Youtube support
  • LTE support
  • Customizable with multiple watch faces
Cons
  • Battery life can be improved

6) Apple Watch Series 4 – Affordable Apple Watch For iPhones

The Apple Watch Series 4, although a slightly older model of the Apple Watch is still one of the best smartwatches out there. Its remains the best (and cheaper) alternative to the Apple Watch Series 5 for iPhone users.

Like the Apple Watch Series 5, the Apple Watch Series 4 can also be used if you’re looking to develop apps for watchOS. Its design is also very stylish and if you’re a developer who is not interested in developing watchOS apps but wants a cool looking smartwatch for everyday use, then you might consider getting this watch.

On its features, the Apple Watch Series 4 like the newer Series 5 edition also comes with all the interesting features we expect from smartwatches. Some fitness tracking features you’ll be getting on this watch include heart rate tracking (+ECG), steps tracking, GPS tracking, stress monitor, exercise modes and more.

Pros
  • Cheaper Apple Watch Series 5 alternative for iPhone users
  • Stylish
  • Highly customizable
  • Great fitness tracking device
  • Always on display
Cons
  • Only works with iPhones
  • Battery life could be better

Wrapping Up

There you have it, my top picks on the best smartwatch for software developers in 2020. Whether you’re looking to develop apps to run on these smartwatches or your in search of a good looking smartwatch for everyday use, these smartwatches are the best in the market and as a software developer, they’re are my top picks.

I personally use the Apple Watch Series 5 as my daily driver as a software developer for some months now and I’ve loved it ever since the first day i got it so i often recommend the watch. If you’re not on the “Apple Ecosystem”, then the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is the best smartwatch to get as a developer, no doubt about that.

It’s now over to you and i would love to know what you think about these smartwatches. Are they good enough to be on this list? Do you have any other watch you would love to see on this article? Let me know in the comments below and i would respond as soon as i can.

John is a computer science graduate, programmer and wearable tech enthusiast. I love to write about gadgets, smartwatches and fitness trackers. I also use an Apple Watch ;-)