Product Reviews

The best smartwatches and fitness tracker deals for Black Friday [Updated]

Enlarge / The Garmin Forerunner series is a top choice for runners.

Corey Gaskin

Updated (11/26/21 3:20 pm EST): We’ve rechecked and refreshed this list now that it’s actually Black Friday. We’ve added a deal on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 to this list and made a few other small updates. The Watch 4 is our favorite Android smartwatch. We’ll continue to monitor and update it throughout the weekend.

Original post (11/24/21 6:00 pm EST): The Black Friday barrage is in full swing. We’re curating a big list of the best deals we can find in general, but among the avalanche of discounts so far, we spotted a high number of worthwhile deals on smartwatches and fitness trackers we like and have previously recommended.

Most of the picks from our recently updated guide to the best smartwatches are seeing solid discounts for the holiday shopping season, so to help those hoping to grab a new wearable sort through the noise, we’ve highlighted a few favorites that are worth your consideration below.

Our Black Friday Coverage

Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

The Apple Watch SE is the best low-cost alternative to the Series 7.

The Apple Watch SE is the best low-cost alternative to the Series 7.

Apple

Apple Watch SE for $219 ($279) at Amazon, Target

Or the new Apple Watch Series 7 for $380 ($400) at Amazon

The Apple Watch Series 7 (on sale now for $380) tops our list as the best smartwatch you can buy, but the Apple Watch SE is the next best option. Neither of these is the best fitness tracker available, but they both offer more than 50 different activity-tracking modes, ranging from dancing to e-biking and everything in between. The real draw here is watchOS’s wide app compatibility, which brings most, if not all, popular smartwatch apps right to your wrist. Though it lacks the always-on display and more advanced health features (electrocardiogram (ECG) support, blood oxygen monitoring) of the Series 7, the Apple Watch SE’s GPS, optional LTE, and music storage still makes it a device you can confidently use to leave your phone at home.

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This deal brings the best price we’ve seen for the SE to date. While we haven’t seen many significant deals on the Series 7, Amazon does have a modest $20 discount for those who want the higher-end model, anyway.

Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic.
Enlarge / Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic.

Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 for $200 ($250) at Amazon, Target, Best Buy, Samsung

The Galaxy Watch 4 is our top pick for Android smartwatches. The software running it is Google’s new Wear OS, which is now a joint venture between it and Samsung. That means it now has much wider app compatibility than older Galaxy Watches that used Samsung’s Tizen OS. It works well as a fitness tracking tool with ECG (Samsung phones only), heart rate, blood oxygen, GPS, optional LTE, and onboard music storage.

We’re pretty used to seeing Galaxy Watches sell under their MSRP, so this deal just may stick around longer than the season. But if you’re looking for the best Android smartwatch for the holidays, look no further.

Fitbit's Sense has all the sensors you could ask for in a fitness tracker and deeper health insights and guidance than Apple Watches offer, especially with Fitbit's Premium membership.
Enlarge / Fitbit’s Sense has all the sensors you could ask for in a fitness tracker and deeper health insights and guidance than Apple Watches offer, especially with Fitbit’s Premium membership.

Corey Gaskin / Ars Technica

Fitbit Sense for $200 ($270) at Amazon, Target, Best Buy

Fitbit’s Sense is our second favorite non-Apple smartwatch. With ECG, GPS, EDA (electrodermal activity, for stress measurements), SpO2 (blood oxygen), and the requisite heart-rate sensor all in tow, the Sense has your vitals covered. Those are all the same sensors (plus one, EDA) that the Apple Watch Series 7 has, and it also comes with six months of Fitbit Premium. We still don’t find the Sense to be the best pure fitness tracker: you can’t store music on it, and activity tracking can be a bit overzealous and somewhat misleading.

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That said, having compatibility on Android and iPhone devices and a market-leading bevy of health sensors makes the Sense a good buy at its typical price and an even more compelling deal at $200—the lowest price we’ve tracked for it.

The Fitbit Charge has all the Sensors of the top-of-the-line Sense in a different form factor.
Enlarge / The Fitbit Charge has all the Sensors of the top-of-the-line Sense in a different form factor.

Fitbit/Google

Fitbit Charge 5 for $130 ($175) at Amazon, Target, Best Buy

The Fitbit Charge 5 is the company’s best value device, and this price cut to $130—the lowest since its release—makes it one of, if not, the best fitness tracker you can get at this price. The device also includes six months of Fitbit’s Premium service for more exercises, insights, and health tips. The charge has all the same sensors as the Fitbit Sense (EDA, ECG, SpO2, GPS, HR) but comes in a more rectangular wristband form. You won’t be able to control music or use any voice assistants like you can on the Sense, but if you like the Charge 5’s style, $130 is a relatively low barrier of entry to this level of tracking and smartwatch functionality.

Corey Gaskin

Fitbit Luxe for $100 ($150) at Amazon, Target, Best Buy

Fitbit Inspire 2 for $60 ($95) at Amazon, Target, Best Buy

The Fitbit Luxe is, for my money, one of the best-looking fitness trackers available, especially with the gorjana bracelet accessory, sold separately. It’s essentially a dolled-up Fitbit Inspire 2 with half the battery life—five days, versus 10 on the Inspire. The main reason for that battery disparity is the Luxe’s vibrant OLED display, which, unlike the grayscale Inspire 2, is in full color.

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Neither the Luxe nor the Inspire 2 has built-in GPS, EDA, or ECG. They both lack blood oxygen monitoring, too, though Fitbit says the Luxe should soon support it. Regardless, the Inspire and Luxe are good values for casual fitness trackers at $60 and $100, respectively. The former deal is $3 off the best price we’ve tracked, while the latter matches the all-time low. The main decision you have to make is whether the Luxe’s looks are worth the price increase to you.

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