Best Smartwatches for Music in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

Some encouragement during exercise, whether it’s running, weightlifting, or cycling, is always good. And what better element to add than music?

Listening to music on our phones gives us that push that we need to finish our workout routine. Having a phone on you while moving around a lot, however, can be quite risky, as it can easily fall out of your pocket. Maybe you don’t like the feeling of the extra weight of your phone or simply don’t want to wear sweatpants with pockets for fashion reasons.

A smartwatch that supports music playback is a wonderful solution as most of them are light and offer excellent storage capacity for hundreds of songs. Not to mention, they will provide you with many fitness and health statistics that your phone can’t measure. So, here’s a list of the best smartwatches for music that you can find on the market.

List of the Best Smartwatches for Music

  • Garmin Forerunner 645 Music – Best Overall
  • Apple Watch Series 3 LTE – Highest Music Storage Capacity
  • TicWatch Pro – Longest Battery Life
  • Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music – Best Value for Price
  • Fitbit Ionic Watch – Most Durable

Comparison Table:

SmartwatchMusic StorageGPSBattery LifeOperating System
Garmin Forerunner 645500+ songsAvailable7 daysGarmin OS
Apple Watch Series 3 LTE800+ songsAvailable18 hoursWatch OS
TicWatch Pro500+ songsAvailable2-30 daysWear OS
Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music500+ songsAvailable7 daysGarmin OS
Fitbit Ionic Watch300+ songsAvailable5 daysFitbit OS

The 5 Best Smartwatches for Music in 2020

1. Garmin Forerunner 645 Music – Best Overall

Garmin Forerunner 645 Music

The Garmin Forerunner 645 Music can save up to 500 audio tracks or 4GB worth of music. You can also use streaming devices like iHeartRadio and Deezer to stream your pre-created playlists, and by pairing the watch with wireless Bluetooth headphones, you can listen directly through it.

You can leave your smartphone home when you go on a run as this watch makes it easy to use smart features like running dynamics, streaming music, cadence, predicted race time, and GPS. It is also water-resistant up to 5 ATM.

What’s more, the Forerunner 645 Music also keeps records of metrics like 24/7 heart rate monitoring, calories, steps, stairs climbed, and total weekly mileage. You can view these stats on the 1.2-inch display, which is a sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel one with a resolution of 240 x 240.

The watch weighs 42.2 grams which makes it lightweight and suitable for running, the bezel is made out of stainless steel, and it has a silicone strap; all which make it durable enough to survive vigorous workouts.

Moreover, it can also be paired with both iOS and Android, and you can receive smart notifications for text and emails on the watch. However, only Android users can respond from the watch. You can also use the Garmin Pay contactless payment solution feature to make payments with your watch.

Finally, the Forerunner 645 can run for seven days straight on the smartwatch mode, or 5 hours in GPS mode with music.

What we like:

  • Great battery life
  • Auto-sync integration with Sport Tracks
  • Playlists are synced when connected via Wi-Fi
  • Able to store 500 tracks
  • Advanced running dynamics
  • Performance monitoring tools
  • Customizable widgets and watch faces

What we don’t like:

  • High price tag
  • Music app compatibility is limited

Bottom Line

The Garmin Forerunner 645 Music gives you the ability to listen to music you download on your 4GB worth of storage or stream pre-created playlist to listen to while doing your exercises, while also keeping track of your activities and exercise progress.

Check also: The 5 Best Smartwatches for Google Pixel in 2020

2. Apple Watch Series 3 LTE – Highest Music Storage Capacity

Apple Watch Series 3

The Apple Watch Series 3 LTE has an internal memory of 16 GB; 8GB on which you can download songs, and that’s the equivalent of over 800 songs. Moreover, you can change the storage limit through the Apple Watch app on your iPhone to a limit based on storage space or a number of songs.

It doesn’t have a port for headphones, so your only option is wireless Bluetooth headphones to pair up with the watch so you can listen to your tracks, however.

The watch’s case comes in two sizes: 38mm and 42mm, both having 16GB internal storage. The 38mm has a 1.5-inch OLED display and weighs 28.7 grams while the 42mm has a slightly bigger screen measuring 1.65 inches and weighs 34 grams.

You don’t have to worry about all the music slowing down your watch’s operation as it runs on watchOS 4.0, which can be upgraded to 6.2. It also integrates the Apple S3 chip, which helps the watch run the multiple apps installed and allows you to navigate it swiftly.

Moreover, it also comes with LTE connectivity, which means you don’t need to be around your phone to get notifications, texts, or calls, can stay connected, and even get Siri’s assistance anywhere you go. However, the LTE option drains the 18-hour battery life of the watch quite rapidly.

Tracking your workout is easy with the heart rate monitor, the GPS, and the altimeter, so you can view how many steps you’ve taken, calories burnt, stairs climbed, and distance covered. It can also track your activity in water as it is water-resistant, and the sound vibrations will eject water from the speaker after you’re finished.

What we like:

  • Built-in LTE connectivity
  • Clear and bright screen
  • Can hold up to 250 songs
  • Data can power Siri
  • S3 chip leads to faster performance
  • Improved sensor
  • Ability to listen to playlists directly from iPhone

What we don’t like:

  • LTE rapidly drains the battery
  • Not the best battery
  • Watch’s interface takes time to figure out
  • Compatible only with iOS

Bottom Line

The Apple Watch Series 3 LTE is a classic Apple product; you get high-end quality with many features, massive storage for music, and at a lower price since the Series 5 was released. The only real downside of this watch is that it’s exclusive to iOS.

3. TicWatch Pro – Longest Battery Life

TicWatch Pro Bluetooth Smart Watch

The TicWatch Pro can support up to 500 songs on its 4GB internal memory. You can easily download songs on it by making sure it is paired with your smartphone. Just go to the Play Music app, navigate to the settings menu where you will find the “Download to Android Wear” option.

The 4GB internal memory is aided with a 1GB RAM, so you should have enough storage capacity to run the applications pre-installed on the device and download some more from the store. And since it runs on Android’s Wear OS, you will have plenty of options. 

As for the display, the TicWatch Pro flaunts a 1.39-inch dual-layer display. On top of that, you get an FSTN LCD to give you a battery saving option and an always-on option that doesn’t drain the battery, while beneath it is an AMOLED display with a high resolution of 400 x 400.

The battery has two modes, the smart mode where you work on the AMOLED display and get access to all the features of the watch and where you get 2 to 5 days out of the battery. The second mode is the essential one, where it runs on the LCD to save power and work with minimum functions. You can get up to 30 days on a single charge in that mode.

Moreover, you get many fitness and health tracking sensors, such as an accelerometer, magnetic sensor, PPG heart rate sensor, low latency off-body sensor, ambient light sensor, and Gyro sensor. 

In addition to a cadence monitor, there is also smart sleep tracking, where you can download the TicSleep app on your watch and review your sleep patterns on the Mobvoi app on your phone.

What we like:

  • Can download songs from smartphone to the watch
  • Capacity up to 500 songs
  • Impressive battery life and modes
  • Dual display, with LCD screen always-on option
  • Bright screen easily read in the sunlight
  • Google pay and built-in GPS

What we don’t like:

  • A bit heavy and bulky design
  • An old chip can cause occasional lagging

Bottom Line

The TicWatch Pro offers a lot of capacity onto which you can download your music, and it comes with a dual-layer display that gives you the ability to extend the battery life from 2 days to 30 days.

4. Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music – Best Value for Price

Garmin Vívoactive 3 Music

The Garmin Forerunner Vivoactive 3 Music can save up to 500 songs or the equivalent of 3.5 GB worth of audio tracks. You can download playlists from music streaming services like Deezer and iHeartRadio by connecting the watch to Wi-Fi. Then, you can listen to your songs while exercising using wireless Bluetooth headphones.

The watch is pretty lightweight, weighing only 39 grams, and with the watch’s case made of polymer and straps made of silicone, you won’t even feel it on your wrist. The display is a 1.2-inch sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel one with a resolution of 240 x 240, just like the Forerunner 645.

Running on Garmin OS, the watch uses its spacey storage and RAM to give you smooth operation and to run the music and various applications flawlessly. The watch can run for seven full days on a single charge on the smart mode, while on GPS mode with music, it can run for 5 hours. You can extend that to 13 hours if you run GPS mode without music.

Moreover, the Vivoactive 3 allows you to monitor your fitness levels using the VO2 max and presents you with fitness age estimates based on the data it collects with the all-day tracking activity and sleep tracking.

There are more than 15 preloaded sports apps, including running, yoga, strength training, and swimming, since it is water-resistant up to 5ATM. And you can use Garmin Pay for contactless payments thanks to NFC technology.

What we like:

  • Great battery life with three battery modes
  • Able to store 500 tracks
  • Garmin Pay
  • Advanced fitness metrics and 24/7 heart rate monitoring
  • Great value for the price
  • Customizable widgets and watch faces

What we don’t like:

  • Watch design could have been better
  • Music storage limited to specific apps
  • Some functions could be limited to Android smartphones

Bottom Line

The Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music offers excellent value for the price you pay as you get huge music storage, a long-lasting battery, and enough apps to make it worth your money.

5. Fitbit Ionic Watch – Most Durable

Fitbit Ionic Watch

The Fitbit Ionic watch gives you the ability to listen to over 300 songs or 2.5 GB worth of storage, and you can pair it with Bluetooth headphones. In addition to music stored on the internal memory, it also supports PANDORA online music service, and you can download a playlist to the watch.

The Fitbit Ionic comes with an aluminum build and plastic or leather bands that can be swapped and weighs 48 grams, so it is not really lightweight but still is suitable for exercising. The 1.4-inch display is a color LCD touchscreen with a resolution of 348 x 250 and amplified brightness up to 1000 nits, which helps you view all your stats easily and clearly.

It comes with Multi-Sport mode and SmartTrack features to automatically record selected activities like running, biking, and more exercises that are saved on the Fitbit app. There is also 24/7 heart monitoring, and calories burned tracking, distance covered, steps walked, and stairs climbed.

The watch has a built-in NFC chip where your credit and debit card data are stored to allow you to pay anywhere that accepts contactless payments.

Moreover, the Fitbit Ionic battery lasts up to 5 days on a single charge, or 10 hours if you use the GPS. It is water-resistant and can receive smart notifications to enable you to view your calls, texts, and calendar on-screen when your phone is near.

What we like:

  • Great battery that can last five days
  • Automatically record selected training
  • Ionic color LCD screen
  • Pandora integration
  • Wireless syncing
  • Built-in NFC chip
  • Fitbit coach

What we don’t like:

  • Pricey
  • Pandora requires a premium subscription
  • Thick bottom bezel
  • The case is easily scratched

Bottom Line

The Fitbit Ionic watch allows you to save around 300 songs, or use PANDORA music service to download playlists to listen to on the paired Bluetooth headphones and one of the best Fitbit for men in 2020. It comes with great battery life and multiple fitness and health features with the Fitbit coach to help you stay in shape.

Read also: The 5 Best Smartwatches for Texting in 2020

What to Look for When Buying The Best Smartwatches for Music?

When you’re shopping for a smartwatch on which you can play music, you should pay attention to more than just the music playback capabilities. Here are the main aspects that can make your experience with the smartwatch a lot more convenient and enjoyable.

1. Design

Choosing a smartwatch with a design that fits your style is important to have a better experience. Also, if you are going to use the smartwatch for fitness-tracking, you will need it to be more lightweight and less bulky.

Almost all smartwatches come in two possible shapes, the round face one that looks like the classical watches or the square-screened one that makes the watch easier to navigate.

2. Smart and Fitness Features

Deciding what you want to get from the watch will help you choose one that will fit your needs perfectly. You can do so by identifying which features you prioritize and which would only be nice additions.

Smartwatches are used as a fitness tracker and an extension to your smartphone on your wrist. So, if you care more about the former, then you should focus more on features like heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, water resistance, GPS, accelerometer, and altimeter so you can review your progress with every step you take; both literally and figuratively.

If you care more about staying connected, you should look for smartwatches with cellular connectivity so you can both send and receive texts and calls, with the added benefit of being able to use your smartwatch without the need to be near your phone.

3. Display Type and Interface

Most smartwatches have either LCD displays or AMOLED ones. Some might have memory-in-pixel displays, and others might have a dual-layer display where an LCD is placed on top of an AMOLED display.

The LCD display offers better battery options, as it doesn’t require too much power to operate as it’s backlit. It also provides always-on options without butchering the battery life. However, they are usually less colorful.

Alternatively, an AMOLED display could drain the battery faster, as each pixel is responsible for emitting its own light, this gives you a very colorful and vibrant display and is generally more aesthetically pleasing.

There are different ways to navigate through the menus and apps on your smartwatch. One of them is through a touch screen that acts like a smaller smartphone. Another one is to use buttons on the side of the watch to choose what actions you want to make or what apps you want to use.

A less common interface uses a rotating bezel, where you rotate the bezel to move from one menu to the other.

I’d recommend the hard buttons or the bezel for people who intend to use their smartwatch for activity-tracking as we all know the hassle of using a touchscreen with sweaty fingers.

4. Compatibility

The most important thing to check when buying a smartwatch is the compatibility with your smartphone. Apple watches, for example, will only work with iPhones, while some smartwatches can be paired with an iPhone but without their full functionality.

Also, older smartphones might not have the updated OS to be paired with a smartwatch recently released. So, you have to make sure that your smartphone can get the updates required to be compatible with the smartwatch you choose.

5. Battery Life

The features that come with your smartwatch and the features you choose to enable will affect how long you can use the watch on one charge. Various battery modes have been introduced to every smartwatch to help prolong its running time, so you should check what modes are present and how much battery they save.

6. Notifications, Alerts and App Availability

If you want to download different apps on your smartwatch, you should check if it supports third-party apps and how much space you get to download those apps.

How your smartwatch alerts you of notifications and messages might interest you if you don’t want to miss any of the calls, texts, or emails that your phone receives.

Generally, when a notification is received, you will feel a buzz on your wrist generated by the bottom of the bezel where the heart rate sensor is. Some, of course, can notify you with a sound alert while others might just light up their screen or even simply wait for you to look at your watch. Some smartwatches allow for your social media accounts on your phone to alert you of any incoming notifications, messages, new followers, or friend requests.

Final Thoughts

Although the five choices I’ve listed can all be considered the best smartwatches for music, some have a lot more to offer than just offline music playback.

For one, the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music is probably the best choice overall. If you are willing to pay the extra money it costs, you will get a massive storage capacity with great battery life and multiple fitness-tracking and health monitoring features.

However, in terms of storage capacity, the Apple Watch definitely takes the cake with its ability to download over 800 songs.

The TicWatch Pro is also a great choice for those who need a smartwatch that keeps going for days, don’t want to break their banks, and it even comes with an always-on display.