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Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular)
Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS only)
See Top Ranked Smart Watches

Apple Watch Series 5 vs Apple Watch Series 3

Analysis:

The Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular) and Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS only) are both excellent choices at their respective budgets. The Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular) is among the very best Smart Watches for $484 and the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS only) is exemplary at $179. Depending on how much you're willing to spend, you can't go wrong with either option.

The Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular) has managed to do great in various roundups conducted by reviewers from highly trusted sources that perform objective in-depth testing, like Wirecutter, PCmag, and TechGearLab - it was dubbed "Top Pick" by Wirecutter, "Best for A Fitness-Focused Smartwatch" by PCmag, and "Best for iOS/iPhones" by TechGearLab. Any product that's held in such high regard by some of the most reliable sources should be considered by everyone who's looking for a Smart Watch at this price.

Taking a look at the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS only), we found that it was received really well by reviewers from highly trusted sources that conduct objective in-depth testing, including Tom's Guide, PCmag, and Wirecutter - it was named "Best sports watch/smartwatch" by Tom's Guide, "Best for Apple Watch Value" by PCmag, and "Budget pick" by Wirecutter in their respective roundups. Any product that's praised by this many of the internet's most trustworthy sources should be considered by everyone who's in the market for a Smart Watch at this price point.

Out of the sources that tested and rated both of these Smart Watches, Digitaltrends, TrustedReviews, Pocket-lint, PhoneArena, CNET, and TechGearLab preferred the Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular), whereas reviewers at Techradar liked the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS only) better. Expert Reviews, PCmag, and WIRED gave them identical review scores.

We also took a look at which sources liked these products best - the highest Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular) rating came from Expert Reviews, whereas the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS only) most impressed reviewers at Expert Reviews; they earned scores of 10 and 10, respectively.

Lastly, we averaged out all of the reviews scores that we could find on these two products and compared them to other Smart Watches on the market. We learned that both of them performed far better than most of their competitors - the overall review average earned by Smart Watches being 7.2 out of 10, whereas the Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular) and Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS only) managed averages of 8.6 and 8.1 points, respectively.

Due to the difference in their prices, however, it's important to keep in mind that a direct Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular) vs. Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS only) comparison might not be entirely fair - some sources don't take value for money into account when assigning their scores and therefore have a tendency to rate more premium products better.

Comparison of expert ratings
Highly Recommended
Recommended
Mentioned
Not Mentioned
PCmag
Wirecutter
TechGearLab
Tom's Guide
Techradar
Android Central
The Verge
CNET
Expert Reviews
Reviewed
Tech. Specs Comparison
Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular)
$484
Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS only)
$179
Highly recommended by trusted experts
PCmag
Highly Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best Overall
in “The Best Smartwatches for 2020” 
Last updated: 27 Mar 2020
Wirecutter
Highly Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best Overall
in “The Best Smartwatches, Fitness Trackers, and Running Watches” 
Last updated: 9 Mar 2020
TechGearLab
Highly Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Runner Up
in “The Best Smartwatches of 2020” 
Last updated: 4 Feb 2020
Tech Advisor
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best Overall
in “Best smartwatch 2020” 
Last updated: 18 days ago
Techradar
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best Overall
in “The best swim watch 2020: what you should be wearing in the pool” 
Last updated: 10 Mar 2020
TrustedReviews
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best Overall
in “Best smartwatch 2020: The best wearables for style, fitness and function” 
Last updated: 6 Mar 2020
CNET
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best Overall
in “Apple Watch Series 5 vs. Fitbit Versa 2: Best smartwatch to give as a gift” 
Last updated: 10 Dec 2019
Android Central
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best Premium Pick
in “Best Smartwatches and Fitness Trackers with GPS in 2020” 
Last updated: 17 days ago
Expert Reviews
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best for iPhone users
in “Best smartwatch 2020: The best wearables for iPhone and Android” 
Last updated: 19 days ago
Reviewed
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best Smartwatch
in “These are the best tech products of 2019” 
Last updated: 4 Nov 2019
BestReviews
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best Overall
in “Best Apple Watches” 
Last updated: 5 days ago
Gadget Review
Depth of
analysis
No
In-house
Testing
Best Overall
in “Best Apple Watches in 2020 (May Reviews)” 
Wirecutter
Highly Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best Overall
in “The Apple Watch Is the Best Smartwatch for iPhone Owners” 
Last updated: 24 Oct 2019
PCmag
Highly Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Runner Up
in “The Best Fitness Trackers for 2020” 
Last updated: 22 Apr 2020
Techradar
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best Overall
in “Best medical alert smartwatches of 2020” 
Last updated: 26 Nov 2019
Android Central
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best for Apple Fans
in “Best Smartwatch for Women in 2020” 
Last updated: 7 Apr 2020
Expert Reviews
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best sports smartwatch
in “Best sports watch 2020: Track your training with the best sports watches” 
Last updated: 4 Mar 2020
Reviewed
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best Smartwatch
in “These are the best smart home products of 2019” 
Last updated: 4 Nov 2019
BestReviews
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best Overall
in “Best Smartwatches” 
Last updated: 5 days ago
PCmag
Highly Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best for A Fitness-Focused Smartwatch
in “The Best Waterproof Fitness Trackers” 
Last updated: 22 Apr 2020
Techradar
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Runner Up
in “Best smartwatch 2020: the top wearables you can buy today” 
Last updated: a month ago
Android Central
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best Premium Option
in “Best Fitness Smartwatches in 2020” 
Last updated: 21 Jan 2020
PCmag
Highly Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best for A Fitness-Focused Smartwatch
in “The Best Fitness Trackers for Running” 
Last updated: 22 Apr 2020
Techradar
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Runner Up
in “Best Apple Watch: the ultimate guide to pick your iPhone compatible smartwatch” 
Last updated: 6 Apr 2020
Android Central
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best Premium Option
in “Best Smartwatches for Fitness in 2020” 
Last updated: 12 Jan 2020
Techradar
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
The best Apple Watch money can buy
in “Best smartwatch for iPhone 2020: Apple Watch, Wear OS, Tizen and more” 
Last updated: a month ago
Techradar
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Ranked #8 out of 10
in “Best running watches 2020: the perfect GPS companions for your workouts” 
Last updated: 10 Mar 2020
CNET
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Mentioned
in “These are our favorite gifts for grads in 2020” 
Last updated: 7 days ago
The Spruce
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Mentioned
in “The 18 Best Graduation Gifts of 2020” 
Highly recommended by trusted experts
Tom's Guide
Highly Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best Overall
in “Best cheap smartwatches in 2020” 
Last updated: 14 Apr 2020
Wirecutter
Highly Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Runner Up
in “The Apple Watch Is the Best Smartwatch for iPhone Owners” 
Last updated: 24 Oct 2019
PCmag
Highly Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best for Apple Watch Value
in “The Best Smartwatches for 2020” 
Last updated: 27 Mar 2020
Tech Advisor
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best Overall
in “Best smartwatches for women” 
Last updated: 31 Oct 2017
Techradar
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Ranked #3 out of 5
in “Best gifts for moms and dads for Christmas” 
Last updated: 16 Dec 2017
Expert Reviews
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Ranked #5 out of 9
in “Best smartwatch 2020: The best wearables for iPhone and Android” 
Last updated: 19 days ago
TrustedReviews
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Ranked #5 out of 5
in “Best fitness tracker 2020: The 5 best activity bands you can buy today” 
Last updated: 22 Apr 2020
BestReviews
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Runner Up
in “Best Apple Watches” 
Last updated: 5 days ago
Runnerclick
Depth of
analysis
No
In-house
Testing
Runner Up
in “Best Cadence Watches Tested & Rated” 
The Spruce
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best Tech
in “The 8 Best Gifts for MBA Graduates in 2020” 
Gadget Review
Depth of
analysis
No
In-house
Testing
Runner Up
in “Best Apple Watches in 2020 (May Reviews)” 
Tom's Guide
Highly Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best fitness-tracking smartwatch for iPhone users
in “Best fitness trackers in 2020: Fitbit, Garmin and more” 
Last updated: 8 days ago
Tech Advisor
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Rated 7.0 out of 10
in “Best running watches 2019” 
Last updated: 2 Jan 2019
TrustedReviews
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Ranked #5 out of 9
in “Best smartwatch 2020: The best wearables for style, fitness and function” 
Last updated: 6 Mar 2020
Expert Reviews
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Ranked #7 out of 7
in “Best cheap smartwatch 2019: Affordable wearables from just £46” 
Last updated: 16 Aug 2019
Techradar
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Ranked #10 out of 10
in “Best smartwatch 2020: the top wearables you can buy today” 
Last updated: a month ago
The Spruce
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best Modern
in “The 9 Best 15th Anniversary Gifts of 2020” 
Tom's Guide
Highly Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Best sports watch/smartwatch
in “Best sports watches in 2020” 
Last updated: 22 Apr 2020
CNET
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Mentioned
in “Best Mother's Day 2020 gifts under $250” 
Last updated: 16 Apr 2020
CNET
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Mentioned
in “Best Wearable Tech for 2020” 
Last updated: 26 Dec 2019
Techradar
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Mentioned
in “Best smartwatch for iPhone 2020: Apple Watch, Wear OS, Tizen and more” 
Last updated: a month ago
CNET
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Mentioned
in “Best Smartwatches for 2020” 
Last updated: 26 Dec 2019
Tom's Guide
Highly Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Mentioned
in “Best Labor Day Sales: Save Big on Note 10, Apple Watch, More” 
Last updated: 2 Sep 2019
Techradar
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Mentioned
in “Best Apple Watch: the ultimate guide to pick your iPhone compatible smartwatch” 
Last updated: 6 Apr 2020
CNET
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Mentioned
in “Best Fitness Trackers for 2020” 
Last updated: 26 Dec 2019
Tech Advisor
Trusted Source
Depth of
analysis
Yes
In-house
Testing
Mentioned
in “The best Father’s Day gifts 2019” 
Last updated: 28 May 2019

Key things to consider when buying Smart Watch

Our super simple Buying Guide

A smartwatch is a wearable computer in the form of a wristwatch. Smartwatches bring notifications, apps, voice control, fitness tracking, and more to your wrist. Although they vary in their features and designs, smartwatches generally help increase productivity and keep track of fitness and health data, like heart rate and sleep tracking.

With exceptions of no-name brands and cheap knockoffs, smartwatches range from $100 on the low end and up to $2500 for the most premium devices. The price goes up significantly when looking at products made of luxury materials, or ones with a very specific use case. Most people will be satisfied with getting a mid-range smartwatch. An option that costs around $200 will typically offer all of the essential tracking and productivity features but may be missing some more premium ones, like cellular connectivity, NFC, or onboard music storage. For $500 you can get a fully-fledged smartwatch that will track a wide array of activities, have a large number of extra features, and will be made of high-quality materials. The high-end of the market is reserved for smartwatches that are aimed at fashion-conscious people who want their smartwatch to have premium looks, without offering any additional functionality over the more reasonably priced options.

The smartwatch market is evolving quickly, with products getting discontinued after two or three years and new flagships being released annually.

A few key players in the industry:

  • Apple enjoys the biggest share in the market and dominates it with their universally lauded, iPhone exclusive Apple Watch smartwatches. They feature great build quality, run on their well-developed wearOS, flawlessly integrate with the iOS ecosystem, and have a wide selection of applications.

  • Samsung mainly produces smartwatches for Android smartphones, but its wearables are also compatible with iPhones and Windows devices. The company's smartwatches run on Tizen OS, which has all of the essentials but lacks some popular apps.

  • Fitbit is known for its great lineup of fitness-focused smartwatches that come at a relatively low price. Fitbit built their own OS that's compatible with all types of smartphones.

  • Garmin offers smartwatches with advanced tracking functions and rugged build quality. The company is primarily focused on outdoor enthusiasts.

  • Xiaomi, in partnership with Huami, also produces good products and focuses on the budget end of the smartwatch market.

These are the most important specs to consider when buying a smartwatch:

  • iOS - This is arguably the most polished operating system for wearables currently available and Apple keeps constantly improving it by pushing regular updates to the OS. It only works properly when their Apple Watch is linked to an iPhone; Apple states that phones from other manufacturers aren't supported.

    WatchOS is the wearable operating system that's currently exclusively used by the Apple Watch. It's smooth, battery-friendly, has a large library of apps, and is well-connected to the iOS ecosystem.

  • Tizen - Tizen is a great OS choice for smartwatches because it's very battery-friendly and smooth to use. However, the current lack of apps and the inferior Bixby virtual assistant are considerable drawbacks to an otherwise good OS.

    Tizen is a custom operating system developed by Samsung. It's known for its versatility - it's used on smartphones, smartwatches, wearables, in-car entertainment systems, TVs, and other smart-home appliances.

  • Cellular - A cellular connection on a smartwatch allows you to do anything that requires data without having your phone nearby. That means that the watch can independently make calls, text, receive notifications, stream music, and more. However, it negatively affects battery life and usually comes at a premium - models that support a cellular connection are typically more expensive and incur extra costs in the form of monthly network operator fees.

  • GPS - Information from a smartwatch's GPS sensor is typically used to provide important workout metrics such as the distance covered, speed, and pace. There may be some small inaccuracies, but the error variation across different devices is typically insignificant for the majority of users.

    The Global Positioning System uses signals from satellites to determine the exact location using triangulation. GPS functionality in smartwatches is essential for certain sports, like cycling, running, golf, and swimming.

  • NFC - NFC in smartwatches lets you perform contactless payments, replacing credit or debit cards. The technology is convenient, fast, and adds versatility to the smartwatch.

    Near Field Communication (NFC) is a type of wireless data transfer that detects and enables other nearby devices to communicate with each other without internet connectivity.

    While you may struggle to find NFC functionality on older smartwatches, the majority of newer models come with an NFC chip.

  • Fitbit OS - This operating system was purpose-built for a more fitness-focused experience. It's optimized to be battery friendly and features an app store that's mainly populated by health and fitness applications. Fitbit doesn't have its own voice assistant and currently uses Amazon's Alexa.
    Fitbit OS is the operating system used by Fitbit smartwatches and fitness trackers.

  • Android - Wear OS is compatible with a wide selection of devices and can easily be synced with iPhones and Android smartphones alike. However, there are certain features that won't work with iPhones, such as iMessages, replying to messages through third-party apps like WhatsApp or Slack, and full integration with calendar and emails. Wear OS has a clean and simple user interface, Google Assistant integration, and a good amount of apps available on Google's Play Store. However, the OS can sometimes feel laggy and buggy; some apps can take a few seconds just to launch. Another major drawback of WearOS is its poor battery life - its competitors are delivering multiple days of battery life, whereas most Wear OS devices still need to be charged every night.

    Originally named Android Wear, Wear OS is Google’s Android-based operating system specifically designed for wearables and smartwatches. Because of its open platform, it's used by a variety of smartwatch manufacturers.

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