The 5 Best Waterproof Smartwatches 2020 [Buying Guide]

If you play a kind of sport that involves water like swimming, water polo, or canoeing, you might want to get a good waterproof smartwatch to keep track of your activity throughout your active periods.

While many options on the market are water-resistant and can handle a couple of splashes here and there, not all of them are dedicated waterproof smartwatches with a suitable IP rating. So, what are the choices available?

In this article, I’ll list the best waterproof smartwatches that you’ll find on the market.

Our Top Picks for Waterproof Smartwatches

SmartwatchWater-resistanceBattery LifeScreen Size
Garmin Vivoactive 35 ATM13 hours1.2 inches
Fitbit Versa5 ATM4 days1.32 inches
Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch5 ATM2 days1.3 inches
Garmin Forerunner 2355 ATM11 hours (GPS Mode)1.23 inches
Apple Watch Series 45 ATM18 hours1.78 inches

The 5 Best Waterproof Smartwatches

1. Garmin Vivoactive 3 – Best Fitness-Focused Waterproof Smartwatch

Garmin Vivoactive 3

If you’re looking for a feature-packed fitness watch for swimming, I’d highly recommend the Garmin Vivoactive 3. Not only does it have plenty to offer, but it’s also lightweight and comfortable to wear. It allows you to swim at a depth of 165 feet without worrying about any water damage.

Moreover, it has a nice traditional round face design that makes you feel like you’re wearing an analog watch instead of a tracker -which is something I really like in a smartwatch.

The Vivoactive 3 is equipped with a 1.3-inch display that shows you information and stats at a 240 x 240-pixel resolution that’s easy to read, even in direct sunlight. However, the resolution could have been better, especially for a smartwatch of its size.

To navigate and access its menus, the Vivoactive 3 comes with a single side button coupled with the touchscreen to control it. You can set alarms, change watch settings, view different stats or recent notifications, as well as check the weather.

As for the performance of the Vivoactive 3, it’s pretty seamless. At least, most of the time, as it’s prone to lag every now and then. If you want to get the best out of your watch, you should pair it with the companion Garmin Connect app on your iOS or Android smartphone. Then, all your data will be synced, and you’ll be able to install new watch faces from the store.

Finally, the Garmin Vivoactive 3 comes with a decent battery life that lasts around 13 hours on a single charge.

Pros
  • Accurate distance tracking
  • Reliable GPS and a heart-rate monitor
  • Decent battery life
  • Clear display that’s easy to read
Cons
  • Sleep tracking isn’t very accurate
  • Doesn’t have on-board music storage
  • Garmin Pay isn’t very commonly available

Bottom Line

The Garmin Vivoactive 3 is an amazing fitness-focused smart waterproof watch. It comes with accurate sensors, plenty of extensive fitness-tracking features, and lightweight design at an affordable price.

2. Fitbit Versa – Best Waterproof Smartwatch for the Battery Life

Fitbit Versa Smart Watch

One of the best waterproof smartwatches, and ultimately, the best Fitbit device is the Fitbit Versa.

It comes with step counting, activity tracking, floors climbed tracking, calories burned. The only feature that seems to be missing is the built-in GPS. You can replace it with phone-connected GPS, by all means.

In addition, it comes with multi-sport tracking that provides you with info about various activities like running, dancing, and hiking -besides swimming, of course, as this watch comes with 5 ATM water-resistance.

It’s also equipped with SmartTrack that lets you select a number of workouts to be automatically detected and logged. Combine that with the cardio fitness level and reminders to move, and you get a pretty solid background regarding your health.

To keep you motivated and well-informed, the Versa comes with personalized on-screen coaching that makes you feel like you have a personal trainer with you at all times.

Moreover, it comes with sleep-tracking features that measure how long you spend in each sleep stage (light, deep, and REM) to indicate how well you slept the night before.

It shows all these stats on its 1.32-inch interactive touchscreen, and its battery life can last up to 4 days on a single charge, which beats most options you’ll find on the markets today.

It’s a bit limited in the smart features department, however. It only delivers call, text, and app notifications come with on-board music storage and allow you to make payment with NFC technology.

Pros
  • Portable and lightweight design
  • Great value for the price
  • Superior battery life
  • A decent combination of smart and fitness features
Cons
  • Design isn’t the most appealing
  • Doesn’t have built-in GPS

Bottom Line

If you want a rather cheap waterproof smartwatch, the Fitbit Versa does the trick. It gives you more or less all the features you might seek in a smartwatch and doesn’t break the bank.

3. Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch – Best Overall Waterproof Smartwatch

Samsung Galaxy Watch smartwatch

The Samsung Galaxy Watch is available in two models, a 46mm one or a 42mm one. You can get a nice silver look or get it in rose gold or black.

While the former has a 1.3-inch screen and the latter has a 1.2-inch screen, both have a 360 x 360-pixel resolution to bring out all the info and give you sharp graphics. It looks vibrant and is easy to read, even in direct sunlight.

Its design features a rotating bezel and two side buttons to enable you to navigate through the apps and notifications. The lower button acts as a home button while the upper one acts as a back button, which makes navigating through menus a breeze.

The silicone strap gives it a comfortable feeling while it’s pretty durable as it’s water-resistant up to 5 ATM, and it’s MIL-STD-810G-certified. This means that it’s fully tested for durability against dust, 165 feet of water depth, drops, extreme temperature changes, and high altitude.

With 39 different workouts, including weight training, cardio, and circuit training, you’ll be able to track plenty of activities. That’s besides walking, running, or riding a bike, which are all automatically detected and logged.

The watch can detect changes in pressure or altitude thanks to the built-in altimeter and barometer, so you’ll also get stats related to how many floors you’ve climbed throughout the day.

Moreover, the heart sensor is pretty accurate and provides you with solid tracking of your heart beats per minute. And if your heart rate rises above or falls below normal levels, you’ll get a notification as well as breathing exercises to regulate the change.

As for smart features, the Samsung Galaxy Watch enables you to send and receive phone calls, text messages, and give voice commands. You can also make payments with Samsung Pay thanks to NFC technology.

Turning the smartwatch into a home automation hub is another pretty cool feature that allows you to control various smart devices like TVs, air conditioners, and vacuum cleaners.

Finally, the battery life lasts an impressive 3 or 4 days, which is a lot superior to other options when you consider the number of features it has to offer.

Pros
  • Supports Spotify offline
  • Plenty of fitness sensors
  • Stylish design
  • Long battery life
  • Equipped with a rotating bezel that cycles through UI
Cons
  • Few apps
  • Samsung Pay support is limited
  • Bixby isn’t as capable as Google Assistant

Bottom Line

Coming with an attractive design and various fitness tracking and smart features, the Samsung Galaxy Watch is one of the best waterproof GPS smartwatches.

4. Garmin Forerunner 235 – Best Cheap Waterproof Smartwatch

Garmin Forerunner 235

Coming with more of a conventional timepiece look than a GPS smartwatch, the Garmin Forerunner 235 keeps it pretty simple and classic.

It’s quite lightweight, but that’s partially due to the fact that it has plastic construction, which isn’t that durable. The original strap isn’t durable either, but it’s replaceable, which is good news.

Despite looking like a touchscreen, it’s actually not, and the menus are navigated by using the button on the edges. They’re displayed on the attractive 1.23-inch, 215 x 180-pixel screen. The basic colors of the display make it easy to read, even during activity or during bright daylight.

With the Garmin Forerunner 235, you’ll get metrics like distance and speed with high accuracy thanks to the built-in GPS and GLONASS satellite location tracking.

If you’re looking for a cheap waterproof smartwatch, this is a pretty solid choice with 5 ATM water-resistance.

Moreover, it’s equipped with Elevate technology that constantly tracks heart-rate, whether during activity or rest. This helps it identify when you’re overworking yourself and possibly risking injury.

The accurate heart-monitoring also contributes to sleep-tracking. This is besides step-counting, calories burned, and distance covered.

To have the edge over other smartwatches, the Garmin Forerunner 235 comes with a VO2 Max matric that estimates the level of oxygen your body can use to indicate how athletic you are.

I found the audio prompts an amazing way to stay on track and motivated during workouts, especially runs, as you can set them to notify you if your pace falls short of what you desire.  There are also several advanced workouts included Auto Pause, Auto Lap, Manual Lap, LiveTrack, and more.

As for the smart features, the Forerunner 235 comes with smartphone connectivity, so you’ll get notifications of your emails, calls, reminders, social media, text messages, and more.

On GPS mode, the Garmin Forerunner 235 can last up to 11 hours, while on lower power modes, it can live up to 9 whole days!

Finally, with Garmin’s official store, Connect IQ, you can download different apps, widgets, watch faces, and data fields that improve your smartwatch experience.

Pros
  • Resting heart-rate stats
  • Sharp looks with a lightweight design
  • Great value for the money
Cons
  • Faces some issues with syncing
  • Subpar sleep-tracking
  • Some plastic in its construction

Bottom Line

Although it’s a little old, the Garmin Forerunner 235 can still stand out thanks to the wide array of tracking skills and numerous insights it can provide. If you’re an active person, especially a runner, then this watch should be on top of your considerations.

5. Apple Watch Series 4 – Best For Technology

Apple Watch Series 4

Grab your Apple Watch Series 4 from a third-party app if you can’t find it on Apple’s website, the smartwatch is definitely worth going the extra mile for.

Without reducing battery life or using a larger case, this genius of a device was able to increase the size of the display. It has a sleek design with curved corners and a very responsive 1.78-inch display, which is pretty large.

It also employs a power-efficient LTPO display technology that enables it to deliver numerous features and last 18 hours on a single charge. Although 18 hours isn’t that long, for what the Series 4 has to offer, we’re okay with daily overnight charging.

Furthermore, it comes with a rotating digital crown and haptic feedback that sends a click-like feeling during scrolling to facilitate navigation through apps and menus.

Another reason the Series 4 is packed in such a small case is that it employs the impressive System in Package (SiP) technology. This way, it delivers better performance thanks to the S4 chip and advanced technology without taking up much space. It’s even twice as fast as rivals of the same class.

As for the smart features, it comes with different infographic watch faces, including heart rate activity, and more. It also has female health tracking through Apple’s health app. Like the previous watch, the Series 4 comes with 5 ATM water-resistance capabilities.

Finally, it’s equipped with built-in speakers that are 50% louder and bigger than before as well as an echo-reducing mic to deliver the crispest calls.

Pros
  • S4 processing chip that’s effective at enhancing performance
  • Advanced SiP (System in Package) technology
  • A decent number of health features
  • Appealing display
Cons
  • A little pricey
  • Poor battery life

Bottom Line

The Apple Watch Series 4 is the ideal choice for anyone who wants more technology than that found on the Series 3 but doesn’t have the budget for a Series 5. It comes with both beauty and brains, but also a relatively high price.

What To Look For When Buying a Waterproof Smartwatch

When you’re shopping for a good smartwatch for swimming, there are a couple of things you should pay attention to. Of course, waterproofing is the first of them, but it’s not only that.

Waterproofing

Make sure that your smartwatch comes with an IP rating of 68, to ensure that you can tackle your whole workout in the water without worrying about any moisture damaging the internal workings of your device.

Compatibility with Your Device

Most of the time, you’ll get a more detailed report of your activity on the smartwatch’s compatible app. And more often than not, getting a smartwatch that runs on the same OS as your smartphone is a way safer bet. This is because some can be compatible with your smartphone but not fully, so while you’ll be getting the basic functions, you may not get everything out of it.

Design

Whether it’s the size of the components, the materials used on the strap, or the colors available, the design can make a big difference as to how you enjoy wearing your watch as well as what you can style with it. You should look for something with interchangeable straps to give you a degree of customization.

And apart from looks, you should consider how easy it is to fasten and unfasten, how slim the design is, and how comfortable it feels on your wrist.

Most options you’ll find are more or less gender-neutral and suit both men and women like the Apple Watch Series 4, Samsung Galaxy Watch, or Fitbit devices.

However, some are more gender-oriented, like the Fossil Q for men or Kate Spade Scallop for women.

Budget

There’s nothing worse than finding your perfect smartwatch and then finding out that its price exceeds your budget by a gap that you can’t bridge. That’s why you should set the budget before you go shopping.

Although you may think it common sense that the more expensive smartwatches pack more features, that’s actually not the case. For one, the Apple Watch Series 4 packs considerably fewer fitness-tracking features compared to the Garmin Vivoactive 3 despite the latter coming at a much more affordable price. The former does integrate better technology, however, so it delivers more smart features.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch seems like a good option that combines a decent number of both fitness and smart features at an affordable price.

Display

You’ll find two variants of displays: AMOLED or LCD screens to display your stats and info. While AMOLED screens are much more attractive and fun to look at as well as interact with, they do drain battery life more than LCD ones.

But then again, the display is where all the magic happens, and the size dictates how much info you can read at a glance. Around 1.2 inches would give you enough space for that.

You should also factor in the display resolution to be able to enjoy your watch’s interface better. Around 360 x 360 pixels would be a good average.

Battery life

The modern smartwatch’s battery life can’t last more than a single day on a single charge, so you shouldn’t be expecting much, especially if your watch comes with many features like GPS and constant heart-rate monitoring.

But if you’re really inclined on getting a smartwatch that isn’t demanding with its recharging requirements, you can go for the Samsung Galaxy Watch with its 5-day battery life (on average) or use the smartwatch (not GPS) mode on the Garmin Vivoactive 3 for a 7-day battery life.

Inductive wireless charging makes the process slightly easier and quicker, so you should look for that.

Fitness and Health Features

All smartwatches come with fitness tracking features, but the number differs from one to another.

Some offer only basic activity-tracking like step counting and calories burned, others take it a step further with floors climbed and heart-rate monitoring, while some have it all with multiple sports tracking.

If you get something that’s mid to high budget, you shouldn’t settle for something that doesn’t have heart-rate tracking and built-in GPS.

The Fitbit Versa, the Samsung Galaxy Watch, the Apple Watch Series 4, and the Garmin Vivoactive 3 all come with multi-sport tracking features as well as water resistance (up to 165 feet) with swim-tracking features with varying degrees.

Smart Features

From their names, you should look for a smartwatch with plenty of useful smart features like delivering call, text, and smartphone app notifications. Some even come with a “Quick Replies” feature that enables you to send fast responses right from your wrist.

Moreover, some give special attention to smart features like the Samsung Galaxy Watch that comes with IoT (Internet of Things). This feature allows you to turn it into a home automation hub where you can control your home devices like your air conditioner, vacuum cleaner, and TV.

The Apple Watch Series also adopts an exceptional SiP (System in Package) technology that enables it to integrate so much technology into a compact device.

Also, modern smartwatches come with NFC capabilities that allow you to make online payments through your watch as well as on-board music storage like the Fitbit Versa and Apple Watch Series 4.

Ultimately, you can opt for a watch with built-in LTE that allows you to use your smartwatch as a phone to make and receive calls.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What’s the Difference between Waterproof and Water-resistant?

Water-resistant devices are the lowest level of water protection. This means that it won’t be easy for water to get inside the device, possibly thanks to a coat that covers it.  This resistance means that your smartwatch can withstand hand-washing or a run under light rain.

On the other hand, waterproof gives you more freedom to immerse your device into the water without worrying. At least to a degree.

While the definition may seem straightforward, the concept behind it is not. The actual ranking can be considered the IP (Ingress Protection) rating scale. This refers to how effective your device is at blocking water from entering into it.

What IP Rating is Waterproof?

IP ratings are divided into two digits. The first one refers to protection against solid objects, and the second refers to protection against moisture.

So, for example, if you have a 65 IP rating, the first digit is “6” -which is prevalent in smartwatches-, this means that the device is dust-tight and won’t allow even thing dust specks to enter its internal workings.

The second digit, the “5,” means the device is protected against jets of water and limits the entrance of water into the internals of the watch.

Is an IP68 Rating Waterproof?

An “8” as the second digit is the highest you can get for an IP rating protection, and it means that the smartwatch is water-tight. In other words, it will resist any damage that may be caused due to extended periods of immersion and pressure underwater.

A “7” would mean the device is water-tight against the effects of immersion in water between 15 cms and a meter for 30 minutes.

 A “6” means that it can handle powerful jets without allowing water to get in the internal workings.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a waterproof smartwatch, you don’t have to be limited to that. That’s why I’ve gathered ones that combine water-resistance with plenty of other features.

For a fitness-focused option, I’d recommend the Garmin Vivoactive 3. Its fitness-tracking features are very extensive, and it combines them well with smart features.

If you want something that is versatile, affordable and looks stylish and sleek, go for the Samsung Galaxy Watch.

If you’re looking for a super budget-friendly option, however, you should opt for the Garmin Forerunner 235.