Best Apple Watch iMore 2021
As Apple fans, there is nothing we won't do to test every one of the company's products to ensure that it does everything we want. We've owned every single version of Apple Watch since Series 0 and know which one is just right for most people. The Apple Watch Series 6 with GPS is the most advanced Apple Watch the company has ever made. It's got the largest screen, the best quality display, and the most sensors of any previous model. It's a life improver, a lifesaver, and the best Apple Watch you can get for your best iPhone.
- Best Overall: Apple Watch Series 6 with GPS
- Best Value: Apple Watch SE GPS + Cellular
- Best for Runners: Apple Watch Series 6 GPS + Cellular
- Best Status Symbol: Apple Watch Series 6 Hermès
- Classy luxury: Apple Watch Series 6 Titanium Edition
- Budget option: Apple Watch Series 3
Best Overall: Apple Watch Series 6 with GPS
Because Apple's 2020 model Apple Watch features an always-on altimeter and a blood oxygen monitor (Sp02), it replaces the Series 5 as our pick for the best Apple Watch of all time. The aluminum-bodied Apple Watch Series 6 with GPS is our pick best all-around model because of the price. It doesn't have cellular, but from our personal experience with all Apple Watch models, the average user doesn't need cellular (we almost always bring our phones with us anyway). It's positioned as the Apple Watch that everyone can use without costing as much as one with more advanced features (or materials).
It is important to point out that Family Setup requires an Apple Watch with Cellular, so if you are planning on buying an Apple Watch for a family member or think you may someday hand it down to a family member to use with Family Setup, you should not buy this version of the Series 6, you should buy the Apple Watch GPS + Cellular model.
- Best display
- Fastest processor
- Heart rate sensor
- Fall detection
- ECG monitor
- Sp02 monitor
- Longest battery life
- Always-on altimeter
- iPhone SE is cheaper
- Tethered to iPhone
Best Value: Apple Watch SE GPS + Cellular
Apple's newest addition to the Apple Watch lineup, the Apple Watch SE, is positioned to be the model for most people. I personally think the blood oxygen monitor makes the Apple Watch Series 6 the best for most people, but it's also more expensive, which is why the SE is so incredible. It has a heart rate monitor, emergency SOS alert, Fall Detection, an always-on altimeter, and more. It also has the same processor chip as the Apple Watch Series 5, though it doesn't have an always-on display. It also does not have an ECG monitor, but it's only $80 more than the Apple Watch Series 3, and the cellular upgrade is only $50 instead of $100. It has the most features at the lowest price.
- Most features for the price
- Fast processor
- Variety of options
- No Sp02 monitor
- No ECG monitor
Best for Runners: Apple Watch Series 6 GPS + Cellular
Cellular data is a great addition to the Apple Watch, letting you leave your iPhone behind when going on a run, visiting the grocery store, working outside, swimming, and more. It's also the only Apple Watch that you can stream Apple Music and Radio on, which is ideal when you want to go on a long run but don't want to bring your iPhone with you. This 2020 model also has an always-on display that's brighter than last year's model for better viewing in direct sunlight and international emergency calling (even if you don't have an active cellular plan).
- Untethered from iPhone
- Comes in Stainless Steel option
- Streams Apple Music directly
- Always-on display
- International emergency calling even without a cellular plan
- More expensive
- Additional monthly cellular cost
Best for Runners
Apple Watch Series 6 GPS + Cellular
The Apple Watch Series 6 GPS + Cellular has everything great about the GPS-only model without needing your iPhone nearby.
If you have the extra cash and want cellular, Apple Music on your watch, the stainless steel material, and more band options out of the box, check out the Series 6 GPS + Cellular model.
Best Status Symbol: Apple Watch Series 6 Hermès
The Hermès line of Apple Watch is incredibly exclusive and will definitely let the world know that you know luxury. The only way to get the exclusive Hermès-designed watch face is to buy from the series directly (no cheating and buying an after-market Hermès band). Each band is crafted from quality leather and comes in a variety of eye-catching colorways. The casing material is only available in stainless steel, and all Hermès Apple Watches are GPS + Cellular.
- Beautifully designed bands
- Exclusive Hermès-designed Apple Watch face
- Only comes in cellular model
Best Status Symbol
Apple Watch Series 6 Hermès
You've got the money, and now you've got the look to prove it. Let your rich flag fly.
If money is no object, and you want people to know that, investing in the Apple Watch Hermès series will show off your status, while also giving you all the benefits of the best Apple Watch around.
Classy luxury: Apple Watch Series 6 Titanium Edition
The Titanium Edition Apple Watch is like the well-bred, financially independent cousin of the aluminum series. It's got a familiar brushed metal look, but the colors are a little richer ... a little deeper. It comes in titanium or Space Black. It's the perfect watch for someone wanting to make a very subtle statement. "I can afford a Ferrari, but I choose to drive a BMW because I'm classy like that."
- Deep rich metal look
- Stronger than aluminum or stainless steel
- Serious status symbol
- Only two color options
- Only comes in cellular model
Budget option: Apple Watch Series 3
The Series 3 was the best Apple Watch until the Series 4 knocked it off its podium, and I don't mean that just because of the year-over-year upgrade. The Apple Watch Series 3 is a solid foundation for anyone that wants an Apple Watch and doesn't want to pay a premium price. At this point, the Apple Watch Series 3 is a few years old and hasn't seen any upgrades, but it is still a solid entry-level model for those on a budget. It has a heart rate sensor, altimeter, step tracker, and GPS. It also has all-day battery life and water-resistance. It's got a smaller display and 2mm smaller casing and doesn't support super complications, but it's also $200 cheaper.
It's important to point out that Apple Watch Series 3 is no longer available as a Cellular option, so if you're planning on buying this for someone in your Family Setup, or if you think you want to someday pass it down to a family member for the purpose of Family Setup, don't buy this Apple Watch.
- Least expensive model
- Excellent tech for the price
- Fits the same bands
- No ECG, always-on display or fall detection
- Processor is years old
Because of its entry-level price for the most advanced features, the aluminum-bodied Apple Watch Series 6 with GPS is the best all-around model. It doesn't have cellular, but from our personal experience with all Apple Watch models, the average user doesn't need cellular (we almost always bring our phones with us anyway). It's positioned as the Apple Watch that everyone can use without costing as much as one with more advanced features (or materials).
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Lory Gil is the Managing Editor at iMore and has been wearing an Apple Watch since 2015. She currently owns the Series 4. She never leaves home without it and loves those new super complications.
Rene Ritchie is iMore's resident Apple analyst. He owns every single version of Apple Watch and every single model. He's also one of the few people that got the ceramic Series 3. If there's anyone in the world with more Apple Watch bands out there, we'd like to see it.
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