The best hybrid smartwatches combine traditional watch design with some of the tracking and notification features we’ve come to enjoy with smartwatches. While the full screen design of one of the best Android smartwatches is great for reading messages, picking music, and so much more, it comes in a package that ages quickly as screen technology, batteries, and SoCs continue to improve.

Many people prefer the look and feel of a traditional watch with high-quality materials and designs meant to last years or decades. These hybrid smartwatches respect traditional design and watch interaction with analog hand movement and minimal screens. There is, however, a wide gap in functionality between models as features fall back to hardware over software. There’s no updating your way out of flaws after all, like some Wear OS watches have been able to do.

The Garmin Instinct Crossover tops the list thanks to its large display, excellent battery life, and wide range of hardware features. While it’s not the most stylish watch by any stretch, it has a thoughtful rugged case and tracking features that make it great for adventurers.

We’re highlighting all types of wearables across a range of prices, so keep reading to find the watch that’s right for you.

At a glance

Best overall

Garmin Instinct Crossover close-up on stones

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

Best overall

Specifications

Battery life: 28 days

Water resistance: 10ATM

Band size: 22mm

GPS: Yes

NFC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+

Strong battery life

+

Excellent water resistance at 10ATM

+

Supports Garmin Pay NFC payments

Reasons to avoid

Watch hands can block notifications

Expensive

If you have an active lifestyle, you’ll want a watch that’s durable and easy to use with a long-lasting battery. The Garmin Instinct Crossover pulls this off well with a rugged housing around its main monochrome display and physical watch hands. The analog watch hands make telling time a breeze thanks to bold markings around the edge of the display. When you’re navigating the watch with the buttons or when you receive a notification, the watch hands jump out of the way to the center of the display.

The Instinct Crossover runs the Garmin OS software which works with Android and iOS while offering features like NFC payment with Garmin Pay. Its battery life is downright impressive with up to 28 days of usage in the smartwatch mode, but plummets if you’re using GPS features like any smartwatch would. There’s a solar version of this watch as well that can last an incredible 70 days on a charge.

The watch is made from stainless steel and fiber-reinforced polymer, so it’s tough enough to bring on a hike, or most workouts really with heart rate monitoring. If you prefer relaxing with a bit of fishing over rigorous activities, this watch is water-resistant so you don’t need to keep tempting fate by taking your phone out of your pocket while leaning over the edge of a boat. You can also see how your stress and energy levels are affected with stress monitoring and Garmin’s Body Battery software.

Best value

Garmin Vivomove Sport relax

(Image credit: Courtney Lynch / Android Central)

Best value

Specifications

Battery life: 5 days

Water resistance: 5ATM

Band size: 20mm

GPS: Yes

NFC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+

Simple and attractive design

+

GPS included

+

Garmin Pay NFC payments supported

Reasons to avoid

Poor visibility in sunlight

Touchscreen controls can be tricky to use

The Vivomove Sport from Garmin avoids the myriad of buttons present on many fitness watches in favor of touchscreen controls on the watch’s small screen. The screen itself is only present under the lower portion of the watch face, which is great for quick information and notifications, but not a good solution for reading even short messages. Unfortunately, our Garmin Vivomove Sport review found this display difficult to read in sunlight.

Like other Garmin smartwatches, you’ll use the Garmin Connect app on Android or iOS along with features like Body Battery to monitor your energy levels. What’s missing is Garmin Pay — so there’s no support for NFC payments. At least the five-day battery life means you won’t need to be looking for your charger too often.

The watch case is made from a fiber-reinforced polymer with a glass lens on top. It’s rated for 5ATM water resistance, so swimmers can use it. With a 20mm silicone band that can be replaced, this is a light and comfortable watch to use for workouts. It’s also a solid smartwatch for day-to-day usage with a sleek design so you don’t need to go reaching for your phone every time it makes a noise.

Best for exercise

Using Alexa to retrieve weather information on the Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

Best for exercise

Specifications

Battery life: Two weeks

Water resistance: 3ATM

Band size: 20mm

GPS: No

NFC: No

Reasons to buy

+

Fantastic battery life

+

Easy software navigation

+

Alexa support included

Reasons to avoid

No GPS

No NFC tap-to-pay

While Fossil has revealed that it isn’t interested in making smartwatches for much longer, the company has made some great smartwatches, and the Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition is still one of our favorites. It has a backlit e-ink display behind the watch hands which has the resolution for plenty of text, but its slow update rate can make it annoying to use. For example, our Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition review found that setting up workout tracking could be interrupted by a notification wasting time and increasing frustration.

This watch connects to the Fossil Smartwatch app allowing you to customize your notifications. To navigate the watch’s software, you use two buttons to scroll through a list of icons. You can even use Alexa with the built-in microphone which is a nice touch. One thing to note is that GPS tracking uses your phone, and there is no NFC tap-to-pay available.

The watch is available in Black, Blush, or Navy with matching bezels and bands. It uses 20mm watch bands so you can swap it out if you want. This watch also has up to two weeks of battery life, which is good news since you’ll need to use Fossil’s magnetic charger, which isn’t all that fast.

Attractive and compact

The notifications screen on the Garmin vívoactive Trend

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

Attractive and compact

Specifications

Battery life: Two weeks

Water resistance: 5ATM

Band size: 20mm

GPS: No

NFC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+

Attractive design

+

Qi wireless chargine support

+

Easy-to-read hidden touchscreen

Reasons to avoid

No GPS

Battery life could be better

One thing a hybrid watch really needs to get right is the look and feel. Hybrid watches need to be a nice watch before adding in any smart features, and the Garmin Vívomove Trend pulls this off with a nice stainless steel bezel and a glass lens on top of a fiber-reinforced polymer case. This watch is relatively thin and light making which is nice for workouts and more comfortable for sleep tracking. Garmin keeps the design simple with touchscreen controls used in place of physical buttons. The screen is nearly invisible with text and icons appearing around the display in white.

It uses Garmin’s app for tracking and setup like the Vívomove Sport but comes with a few extra features like NFC payments with Garmin Pay. Whether you’re buying a sports drink mid-workout or want to grab a bite on the walk home, it’s nice to be able to pay without digging your phone out of your pack. It also supports Qi wireless charging so you can top it up without needing to dig out a special charger, and can even use reverse wireless charging available on some phones to top it up.

You can get this watch with four face colors: Cream Gold, Slate, Peach Gold, and Silver. It comes with a silicone watch band like the Sport model, but similarly works with other 20mm bands, so you’re not stuck with one look. Battery life is solid on this model with up to five days of usage on a charge, which isn’t bad given the size. If you’re looking for an attractive and compact watch for your active lifestyle, the Garmin Vívosmart Trend is a strong pick.

Best health tracking

Photo of the Withings ScanWatch Light on someone's wrist

(Image credit: Withings)

5. Withings ScanWatch Light

Best health tracking

Specifications

Battery life: 30 days

Water resistance: 5ATM

Band size: 18mm

GPS: No

NFC: No

Reasons to buy

+

Excellent health tracking features

+

Simple compact design

+

On-watch menstrual cycle tracking

Reasons to avoid

Withings+ features require a subscription

No GPS built-in

The Withings ScanWatch Light is a drearily named smartwatch with a beautiful sleek design, strong health tracking features, and excellent battery life. As the name implies, this watch scans a lot about your body despite being the cheapest in the ScanWatch line with active minutes, steps, sleep monitoring, heart rate monitoring including notifications for low and high heart rate, and breathing disturbance detection. It also supports menstrual cycle tracking from the watch with the ability to create long-term reports that can be sent to a doctor.

The smart features use a small monochrome OLED screen on the upper portion of the watch face with controls using a crown on the right-hand side. This watch links up with the Withings app on Android or iOS which is compatible with other fitness apps like Google Fit, Apple Health, Samsung Health, and more. The watch comes with a one-month free trial of Withings+, a subscription service designed for health improvement with a health assessment, personalized guidance, and more for $10 per month.

This 37mm watch comes in five colors, Sand, Blue, Green, Pearl White, and Black with a wide range of 18mm watch bands to use with it. The main case is made of stainless steel, as is the rotating crown, with a gorilla glass lens. The watch looks simple and refined with smart colors and nice materials all around. Finally, a 30-day battery life means you don’t need to postpone your workout if you forgot to charge it last night.

Best without a screen

Kronaby Nord hybrid smartwatch leather

(Image credit: Kronaby)

6. Kronabe Nord

Best without a screen

Specifications

Battery life: Two years

Water resistance: 10 bar/ 100 meters

Band size: 20mm

GPS: No

NFC: No

Reasons to buy

+

Long-lasting battery

+

Lovely design

+

Simple controls for filtering notifications

Reasons to avoid

Lacks many smartwatch features

No display

Can get expensive

If you’re looking for a smartwatch to help you stay connected more often, one of the best Android smartwatches is a great choice. If, however, you want a smartwatch that helps disconnect from the distractions of your phone, without totally shutting yourself off, Kronaby and its affordable Nord model are worth a look. This simple, yet attractive smartwatch doesn’t waste a single millimeter on a screen, backlight, or even charging for the battery. In fact, the entire phone is powered by a single 3032 coin cell battery that can last up to two years.

The watch connects to the Kronaby App on your Android or iOS phone using Bluetooth. From there, you can set up precisely which notifications you would like to receive, and from whom with filtered notifications. If you only want your watch to notify you when someone in your family messages, for example, you can set that up. Speaking of notifications, it’s all handled by a gentle vibration on your wrist. The watch hands will also point to one of three numbers to tell you the type of notification, which is set in the app.

While Kronaby’s watches have been available for a few years now, their simple electronics and nice design help them to continue to be relevant. This Nord model is available in 41mm and 38mm sizes with the watch face in white or black. The case is made from stainless steel while the lens is made from sapphire crystal. Kronaby has a wide range of leather and metal straps available with the larger watch using 20mm bands and the smaller one using 18mm bands. There are three buttons on the right side which can be set up to show information, such as the temperature, using the watch hands.

The best hybrid smartwatches: Choose your style

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One of the first things to consider when you’re buying a hybrid smartwatch is if a hybrid design really makes sense for you. If you’re simply after analog watch hands for a quick glance, many of the best Android smartwatches offer numerous watch faces with old-school hands that may fit your tastes. That being said, if you bring your phone with you everywhere, a hybrid watch with a simpler interface can be much nicer to use, especially if you appreciate traditional timepiece design.

For people that like to spend a lot of time outdoors or exercising, the Garmin Instinct Crossover is a great watch. It supports a ton of options for workout tracking, comes with GPS to help track runs or hikes, and if it gets wet, there’s nothing to worry about with 10ATM water resistance. It also supports NFC payments so you don’t need to dig through your pack for a card or your phone if you want to make a quick purchase.

When it comes down to it, a hybrid smartwatch is a reasonable compromise between the timeless designs we’ve come to associate with watches, and modern tracking features that help us make the most of our time.

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