5 best smartwatches of IFA 2019: the top wearables announced this week
We’ve seen a whole lot of tech at IFA 2019, but among it there have been a number of tempting new smartwatch announcements.
That’s notable because we often go months without a major new wearable, but now there are numerous new ones to choose from, giving you alternatives to the impending Apple Watch 5.
Below we’ve highlighted the very best wearables of IFA 2019. In no particular order, these are the smartwatches that really caught our eye and which – based on our first impressions – could be strong additions to your wrist.
1. Garmin Venu
The Garmin Venu is the first Garmin smartwatch to have an AMOLED screen. It’s a change which promises a more vibrant display than on past Garmin watches, but that’s not the only reason you might want to consider the Venu.
The watch is also jam-packed with all the health and fitness features you’d likely expect or need. There’s a heart rate monitor and GPS, of course, along with the tools to track various sports and exercises, such as running, yoga, strength training and many more.
But the Garmin Venu can also track your sleep, stress, respiration, menstrual cycle, and hydration, alert you to an abnormal heart rate, and monitor your energy levels. Plus, it includes animated workouts, and the ability to create your own on-device workout routine.
And this isn’t just a fitness watch. It also displays smartphone notifications, allows you to make contactless payments (through Garmin Pay), and lets you download music so you can listen direct from your wrist, rather than needing to play it from a phone.
All that and it’s stylishly built, with a 1.2-inch circular display and the sort of look that you’ll probably be happy to rock 24/7 – not just at the gym. The Venu isn’t out yet, but it should be hitting stores sometime between October and December, starting at $399.99/£299.99 (around AU$540).
2. Puma Smartwatch
Puma’s first smartwatch is simply called the Puma Smartwatch, and while it arguably doesn’t stand out as much as some wearables, it has all the core bases covered – and then some.
As it runs Wear OS it’s a true smartwatch, despite its sporty branding and styling, but sport – and especially running – is very much at its heart.
The Puma Smartwatch has a heart rate monitor and GPS, like any good running watch, along with a swim-proof build, so you can train with it in the pool. It’s also light, so it shouldn’t weigh you down.
Other highlights include a Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset, which is the best Qualcomm smartwatch chipset around.
The Puma Smartwatch also boasts around 24 hours of battery life, support for contactless payments, a 1.19-inch AMOLED display, and a middling price of $275 / £269 (around AU$410). You’ll be able to pick it up from November.
3. Fitbit Versa 2
Okay, technically the Fitbit Versa 2 was announced just before IFA 2019, but it was during IFA that it was first shown off to the public.
And if we treat this as an IFA announcement then it’s definitely one of the most exciting wearables of the show, as it’s an upgrade to the already-impressive Fitbit Versa.
One highlight here is the inclusion of Fitbit Pay as standard, so you can make contactless payments without having to opt for a special version. But arguably the real star of the show is Amazon Alexa, which lets you ask Amazon’s AI assistant questions.
If you’ve used a smartwatch then you’ll know how handy voice assistance can be, and opting for Alexa was a smart move from Fitbit – it can’t use Google Assistant, since it’s running its own operating system, and creating its own AI assistant would be a big job.
Those features aside the Versa 2 is a lot like the original Fitbit Versa. It has got a slightly bigger screen and some other minor improvements, but otherwise is much like its predecessor. You should be able to buy it in most regions before the end of September, at a price of $199.95 / £199.99 / AU$299.95.
4. Michael Kors Access MKGO
The Michael Kors brand announced three new smartwatches at IFA 2019. There’s the Bradshaw 2, Lexington 2, and the MKGO.
It’s the MKGO that we’re focused on here, as while the other two look like solid, stylish smartwatches, they’re also typical of the brand, whereas the Michael Kors Access MKGO puts a surprising focus on fitness.
It packs in a high-end Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset, 4GB of RAM and a 1.19-inch screen, while remaining just 7mm thick, so it’s a relatively slim, compact wearable. It’s also light, thanks to a casing that's largely made from nylon.
Its silicone band is the first hint that this is built for sports, but the Michael Kors Access MKGO also has a heart rate monitor, GPS, and as it’s powered by Wear OS it has access to all sorts of fitness apps, including Google Fit.
Pricing starts at $295 / £279 / AU$499 and it’s out now.
5. Garmin Vivoactive 4
As well as the Venu, Garmin also announced the Vivoactive 4 at IFA 2019. This comes with more than 40 animated workouts built in, for activities such as cardio and yoga, plus the ability to create custom workouts.
You also get a heart rate monitor, GPS, activity tracking, and Garmin’s Body Battery feature, which judges your energy levels, so you have a better idea of when to train and when to rest.
Sleep and respiration tracking is included too, as are breathing exercises to help you relax. Plus you’ll get smartphone notifications, the ability to download and play music, and a battery life of up to 8 days (though reduced to 6 hours when making heavy use of GPS and music).
There’s also a Vivoactive 4S if you want something slightly smaller, and both of these watches are largely similar to the Garmin Venu, albeit with transflective rather than OLED screens, and a slightly lower price of $349.99 / £259.99 / AU$549 (or £239.99 in the case of the Vivoactive 4S in the UK).
- IFA 2019 is Europe's biggest tech show. The TechRadar team is in Berlin to bring you all the breaking news and hands-on first impressions of new TVs, watches and other tech as they're announced.