The 6 best Apple Watch alternatives, now that it’s banned

apple watch alternatives
digital trends

If you were planning to buy the latest Apple Watch Series 9 or Apple Watch Ultra 2, you may have to wait for a while. The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) has banned the sale of these smartwatches until the patent dispute is resolved. On December 26, Apple withdrew the wearable devices from the US market. It’s unclear how long this situation will last, but Apple has assured customers that it is working toward a solution.

If you’re in the market for a new smartwatch and have your heart set on an Apple device, don’t worry; There are plenty of options available, including some of the best of the year. Companies like Garmin, Fitbit, Withings, and even Apple offer a range of smartwatches and fitness trackers to fit your needs. These options have unique features and benefits, like heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, and guided breathing exercises to help you stay healthy and stress-free.

Apple Watch SE 2

Workout mode on Apple Watch SE 2.
Andy Boxall/

The Apple Watch SE 2, released in September 2022, is an affordable alternative to the more expensive Series 9. It is also not affected by the sales ban and is still actively sold by Apple.

The SE 2 includes most of the expected features of an Apple wearable, like GPS, heart rate monitoring, workout metrics, and advanced fitness tracking. Additionally, it comes with features like crash detection and emergency SOS to assist users in emergencies. The watch also allows users to track their sleep, mental health, and menstrual cycle.

The Apple Watch SE 2 features a dual-core S8 chipset that is 20% faster than the previous version. Its Retina display is impressive for a budget wearable device with 1,000 nits of brightness.

In 2023, Apple announced that certain Apple Watch and band combinations were carbon neutral. This decision has been extended to the Apple Watch SE 2, despite its release a year ago. You can check the Apple website to see which combinations are carbon neutral.

The Apple Watch SE 2 lacks several key features compared to the (currently discontinued) Apple Watch Series 9 – including the ECG app, fast charging, the next-generation S9 chip, and more. For this, you’re saving about $150 compared to that model. The Apple Watch SE 2 comes in 40mm and 44mm sizes, starting at $249 for the GPS model and $359 for the GPS + Cellular model.

Withings Scanwatch 2

A man wearing a Withings Scanwatch 2.
Andy Boxall/

Withings is a popular French consumer electronics company specializing in watches, health monitoring devices, smart scales, and other connected health devices. Withings ScanWatch 2 is one of the company’s latest wearable devices. It offers a sleek, traditional watch design enhanced by the companion Withings app.

The Withings ScanWatch 2 features a premium stainless steel case in various finishes, giving it a sophisticated and stylish look.

With its advanced sensors and technology, ScanWatch 2 allows users to monitor various health metrics, providing valuable insights to help users stay proactive about their well-being. The device can track heart rate, blood oxygen saturation levels and sleep patterns and can even detect irregular heart rhythms. Integrating the ECG (electrocardiogram) function takes the ScanWatch 2 to a new level. Users can perform medical-grade ECG anytime, anywhere, allowing easy and quick detection of potential cardiac problems.

The impressive Health Mate app for iPhone and Android sets Withings apart from similar watches. The app consolidates all your health data, providing a comprehensive overview of your progress and personalized insights and recommendations. The Health Mate app integrates seamlessly with other health-related apps, making it easy to track and manage your overall health.

The 38mm Scanwatch 2 is priced at $350 and is available with your choice of bands.

fitbit charge 6

ECG app on Fitbit Charge 6.
Joe Maring/

Fitbit, a well-known brand in the fitness tech industry now owned by Google, has consistently delivered high-quality and feature-rich products to support your health and wellness goals. The Fitbit Charge 6 offers a range of health monitoring features beyond basic activity tracking. It can continuously track your heart rate, providing real-time data to help optimize your workout and recovery. The device also includes a blood oxygen saturation sensor, which enables you to monitor the oxygen levels in your blood and get information about your overall well-being.

Keeping track of your daily activities is important to maintain an active lifestyle. The Fitbit Charge 6 excels in this aspect with its advanced activity-tracking capabilities. It automatically detects and records your workout, whether running, cycling or swimming. The device also tracks your steps, calories burned and distance covered, giving you real-time feedback to keep you motivated to achieve your fitness goals.

The Fitbit Charge 6 also measures the duration and quality of your sleep, including time spent in light, deep, and REM sleep stages. This data can help you learn more about your sleep patterns, so you can make adjustments to improve the quality of your sleep.

To complement the device, Fitbit offers a user-friendly app (for iPhone and Android) that acts as a hub for all your fitness data. The Fitbit app allows you to track your progress over time, set goals, and even join challenges with friends. It provides valuable insights and personalized recommendations to keep you motivated on your fitness journey.

Priced at under $160, the Fitbit Charge 6 is one of the cheapest Apple Watch alternatives. It’s available in three color combinations and comes with six months of free Fitbit Premium subscription, which unlocks additional health and wellness metrics.

garmin vivoactive 5

The Garmin Vivoactive 5 rests on painted wood, upside down.
Mark Johnson/

Garmin remains one of the most popular health and fitness consumer product providers. The Garmin Vivoactive 5 is ideally suited for fitness enthusiasts and tech-savvy individuals.

The watch offers excellent visibility even in direct sunlight, has an attractive design and a vibrant 1.3-inch touchscreen display. Its sleek and modern design makes it a stylish accessory for casual and intense workouts alike. Equipped with a range of sensors including a GPS chip, heart rate monitor, accelerometer and more, this smartwatch can accurately track various activities.

Whether you’re running, swimming, cycling, or engaging in other indoor or outdoor workouts, the Vivoactive 5 provides detailed information. It tracks advanced metrics like distance, speed, calories burned, heart rate zone, and ground contact time and vertical oscillation for runners.

In addition to its exceptional fitness tracking capabilities, the Garmin Vivoactive 5 serves as a full-fledged smartwatch. It integrates seamlessly with your smartphone and provides access to notifications, calls, texts and more on the go. The watch also supports music controls, letting you play, pause, and skip tracks right from your wrist. Its built-in storage lets you download your favorite playlists and listen to music without having to carry your phone.

Are you worried about your smartwatch battery draining during long workouts? With the Garmin Vivoactive 5, you can put those worries aside. The device offers an impressive battery life of up to eight days in smartwatch mode and up to 15 hours with continuous GPS use. These are remarkable numbers.

The 30mm Garmin Vivoactive 5 is priced at $300 and is offered in four colors.

fitbit sense 2

Fitbit Sense 2 in Moss.
Andy Zahn /

If you’re looking for a stylish and feature-packed smartwatch, the Fitbit Sense 2 is worth considering. This watch will turn heads with a brilliant, large AMOLED display and a range of interchangeable bands to match your style.

What sets Sense 2 apart is probably its wellness features. From heart rate monitoring to stress tracking, EDA measurements, and sleep monitoring, this smartwatch helps you stay conscious of your health and make informed decisions. And if you’re interested in fitness, the built-in GPS accurately tracks your workouts, providing real-time data on distance, speed, and heart rate zones.

But that’s not all – the Sense 2 is a full-fledged smartwatch that syncs seamlessly with your phone. You can receive notifications, texts and calls right on your wrist and use voice commands to control your smart home devices. The watch includes music controls, weather updates, contactless payments, and a built-in voice assistant.

The Fitbit Sense 2 can last more than six days on a single charge, so you can wear it day and night without worrying about running out of juice, with a price of $250 and three different color combinations.

garmin forerunner 265

Someone is wearing a Garmin Forerunner 265 on his wrist.
Joe Maring/

Are you passionate about running and want to improve your performance? Look no further than the 46mm Garmin Forerunner 265. This state-of-the-art GPS running watch is the ultimate tool to help take your runs to the next level.

With its advanced GPS technology, the Forerunner 265 accurately tracks your distance, speed, and route, no matter where your race takes you. Its satellite reception is reliable, so you can be confident in the accuracy of your data. But the clock does not stop here. It provides in-depth performance analysis with features like cadence tracking, stride length measurement and ground contact time analysis. These metrics provide insight into your running form and efficiency, helping you optimize your technique and improve your results.

The Forerunner 265 also includes built-in heart rate monitoring, allowing you to track your effort levels and customize your training zones for maximum results. With three customizable heart rate zones and tailored alerts, you can make sure you’re working at your full potential.

With its impressive battery life, the Forerunner 265 lets you keep track of your training without worrying about running out of power. You can use it for up to eight weeks in watch mode and up to 10 hours with GPS on, meaning fewer interruptions and more time to be on the road or trail.

The Forerunner 265 offers a lot of features. However, at $450, it is the most expensive alternative to the Apple Watch.

Can I still buy the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2?

Renders of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 side by side.
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You can still buy the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in the US from third-party retailers like Best Buy and Amazon. However, until the patent dispute is resolved, those companies will not receive new stock from Apple once the existing stock runs out. So, if you want one of these models, you should do it right away or plan to wait.

It’s also unclear how long the sales ban will last on these two Apple Watches, so if you want the Series 9 or Ultra 2, you’d be better off buying sooner rather than later. Alternatively, if you can’t pick up a model before supplies run out, any of the above options will work.

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