Ba-bump. Ba-bump. Ba-bump.
If you’re here, you’re probably interested in the heart rate monitor feature that some smartwatches offer. I know I am. In fact, it’s one of my favorite features. I find it fascinating how my heart rate increases/decreases throughout the day. I also find it helpful to know how hard I’m exercising.
What’s really cool is that the heart rate sensors found on all the smartwatches listed below are very, very good. We tested each smartwatch and compared it to the heart rate sensors found on exercise equipment. It’s astonishing how accurate these sensors are.
Yes, we actually test heart rate accuracy and the user experience of each smartwatch. The list below feature only the best when it comes to heart rate tracking.
Here’s our list of smartwatches with the best heart rate monitors
Apple Watch Series 5
The heart rate monitor on this watch is superb. It’s user-friendly, fairly accurate and the charts are great. I noticed once in a while it would report slightly lower RPM than the exercise equipment sensors in my gym but it would only be down one to two beats per minute. I’m not sure if the exercise equipment is wrong (although the Samsung Galaxy Active2 always reported the exact same rate as the exercise equipment).
With the Apple Watch 5 you can customize the home screen to include the heart rate chart (which I love). When you go into the heart rate screen, you get resting heart rate, current and heart rate data for the workouts that day.
Polar Vantage V
What the Polar may lack in other common smartwatch features, it makes up for in spades with its exercise data features including heart rate monitoring.
If you’re a fitness data junkie, you’ll love this watch. First, we found it to be very accurate with respect to the beats per minute tracking. Second, it provides a ton of heart rate and other data throughout the day and during workouts both on the watch and even more in the app.
Polar touts itself as a fitness smartwatch and on that it delivers.
Yes, the less expensive TicWatch Pro comes with a heart rate monitoring sensor.
But don’t get too excited, data from the heart rate tracker is good as long as you have the watch strapped snugly. It’s a bit of a bummer that, once in a while, you’ll be exercising away and only start to realize the watch isn’t tracking your heart rate because it can’t sense it. Try strapping the watch a bit higher up on the arm from where you normally would.
Okay, we’re nitpicking here, but it is kinda important because when you’re moving about and exercising, the watch will slide downward. This is much less of a problem with Apple, Polar and Garmin.
Fitbit Versa 2
The exercise interface is beautiful and simple. It’s the same thin sans serif font but what I really liked was the heart rate readout. Unlike other smartwatches, the Fitbit tells you what zone you’re in such as fat burning and cardio based on the reading of your heart rate. It’s simple to toggle between readouts by pressing the only physical button available.
A shortcoming here is that you can’t interact with the screen without taking your gloves off. While few smartwatches are capable of doing that, it would be a very welcome feature in the colder months.
All-in-all, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include this sporty smartwatch in our list of top smartwatches with heart rate monitoring.
Yes, the Fossil Sport smartwatch has a heart rate sensor and therefore tracks your beats per minute. Actually, it does a good job. Not bad for Fossil’s for foray into the sporty smartwatch segment.
The heart rate sensor also collected data reliably despite sweat and you don’t have to ensure the strap is super snug. The manual recommends different positions on the arm depending on what you are doing and following these recommendations provides reliable readings.
Samsung Galaxy Active2
I spot-checked the heart rate readings for a week while exercising and the accuracy is unbelievable. It’s more accurate than Apple watch (which tends to report a slightly lower heart rate).
Note that I’m comparing this to the heart rate reading on my gym’s exercise equipment which I’m assuming is accurate. It’s the type where you grip the sensors while using. The Galaxy Active 2 readings match the exercise equipment to the heart rate reading every time.
The only downside is this watch tends to slide down the wrist more than other sport smartwatches such as the Polar Vantage V, Apple and Fossil Sport.
Gadget geek, watch lover, fitness fan, walker, long-time tech writer/blogger and family man.