Smartwatches in 2024: the biggest launches so far and what’s coming next

Smartwatches in 2024: the biggest launches so far and what’s coming next
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While much of the tech world’s focus has been drawn to AI in 2024, smartwatches and fitness trackers continue to become more and more important to our everyday lives. As we hit the halfway point of the year, it’s time to look back at the biggest smartwatch launches so far in 2024 – and what’s coming in the next six months. 

Whether it’s new software features like watchOS 11 or Polar’s big Vantage 3 update, or new hardware altogether like the OnePlus Watch 2, smartwatch makers have been working hard this year. 

That does have the knock-on effect of making it tough to keep up, which is why we’ve rounded all of the biggest smartwatch releases you need to know about this year –followed by some of the most exciting ones we’re expecting to land in the next six months. 

Thinking about buying a new smartwatch? Read on for a HIIT-style tour of this year’s highlights to help you decide your plan of action…

Smartwatches in 2024: what have been the biggest launches so far this year?

Garmin Forerunner 165

(Image credit: Future)

Considering we’re still expecting some big releases soon (more on those shortly), 2024 is looking like a stacked year for smartwatches. 

March saw the arrival of Garmin Forerunner 165 a much more affordable smartwatch from the company that’s taken the industry by storm in recent years. Despite the lower price tag, it’s still a great-looking device with an AMOLED display and 13 days of battery life – read our Garmin Forerunner 165 review for an in-depth tour of its strengths and weaknesses.

The highlights so far

Garmin Forerunner 165

(Image credit: Future)

Garmin Forerunner 165
OnePlus Watch 2
Suunto Race
Samsung Galaxy Watch FE

Speaking of cheaper options, we’ve already seen two fantastic contenders for our best cheap fitness tracker list – the Honor Band 7 and the Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro – if you want something more minimalist than a smartwatch. The former has great battery life and a nice big, bright AMOLED panel, but it lacks built-in GPS. The latter adds GPS support, and costs $99.99 / £60 / AU$95 (though it’s possible to find it for far less).

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Back to smartwatches, and the undoubted Wear OS highlight of the year has been the OnePlus Watch 2 (below). It landed a couple of months ago and has already forced its way into our guide to the best smartwatches. We called it “the comeback king” in our OnePlus Watch 2 review for its full functionality with Google’s Wear OS, the slick look, and its excellent dual-frequency GPS tracking.

OnePlus Watch 2

(Image credit: OnePlus)

Looking for an alternative to a Garmin that’s fitness first and smartwatch second? The new Suunto Race is a much better smartwatch effort from the Finnish company. It’s a premium-feeling device that, despite some UX quirks, is well worth a look – and is cheaper than its rivals. Check out our Sunnto Race review for our full verdict.

Lastly, Samsung gave us a little taste of what’s to come in 2024 with the surprise launch of the Samsung Galaxy Watch FE in June. It’s Samsung’s answer to the Apple Watch SE and costs $199 for the Bluetooth-only model (there’s no international pricing yet, but that equates to around £160 / AU$300). The LTE version, meanwhile, will set you back $249 (around £190 / AU$360).

You can read our early thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy Watch FE, but our attention will soon be focused on the likely launch of its pricier siblings…

Smartwatches in 2024: what launches are we expecting during the rest of the year?

A range of Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 watches sitting on a table

(Image credit: Samsung)

We’ve seen plenty of good smartwatch launches this year, but the ‘big three’ are yet to show their hand. That’s about to change.

Samsung is expected to launch its Samsung Galaxy Watch 7 very soon, most likely at its next Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2024 event on July 10. As is so often the case, most of the details have leaked ahead of time

Expect a 3-nanometer chipset and AI-focused features, as well as health sensor improvements. Samsung is also expected to debut the higher-end Galaxy Watch Ultra this year, with better battery life, a new colorway, and the potential for a larger display.

What about the current king of our best smartwatches guide, Apple? As sure as death and taxes, we’re expecting a new Apple Watch model this year to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the product line’s reveal.

An Apple Watch Ultra 2 on an orange background

(Image credit: Apple)

Sources can’t quite get a handle on what it’ll look like, or what it’ll offer, but the Apple Watch 10 (or Apple Watch X, as it’s also been referred to) is expected to have a slightly larger display. It may not come with a blood oxygen sensor, though, but we’ll cover that shortly.

An Apple Watch Ultra 3 has also been mooted, but it appears that upgrades could be slim after the microLED that was reportedly planned was seemingly scrapped.

Finally, the Google’s Pixel Watch 3 is likely to be revealed at a recently announced event in August, and it could be larger than its predecessor. That’s got us hoping for more sensors, or at least a bigger battery.

Smartwatches in 2024: what other news did you miss?

Galaxy Watch 3

(Image credit: Future / Srivatsa Ramesh)

Remember when we said that blood oxygen monitoring may not be a part of Apple’s 2024 lineup? That’s because late last year the company was banned from selling its wearables due to a dispute between Apple and Masimo, a company that claims to have a patent over blood oxygen sensor tech like the one in Apple Watch.

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While the ban was lifted, the legal battle continues on, and so Apple is unlikely to make a big deal about the sensor in its expected September event. While things could change before then, it remains to be seen whether it’ll add the sensor but leave it dormant ahead of a subsequent software update, or remove it entirely.

Speaking of software updates, WWDC brought new Apple Watch features with watchOS 11. Expect a new Vitals app for measuring any potential deviance from your body’s standard data points, as well as Training Load to finally help you work out when it’s best to have a rest day. You can finally pause your Apple Fitness rings, too, and use the Apple Watch to track gestational pregnancy (yes, really).

Things aren’t quite as positive for owners of older Samsung fitness trackers, as the manufacturer recently confirmed it’ll end support for Tizen-based models. Essentially, if your Galaxy Watch is older than the Galaxy Watch 4, there’s a good chance it’ll be sunset, with content support slowing down until September 30 next year, when it’ll officially end support.

Finally, the OnePlus Watch 2 we mentioned earlier holds an impressive distinction of offering two operating systems on the same device. Wear OS 4 and RTOS both run on their own chips, and the device switches between them as needed. OnePlus calls it “dual engine architecture”, and as we covered earlier, it’s made the Watch 2 one of the best releases of the year so far.

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