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Some of our favorite smartwatches and fitness trackers are on sale for Black Friday


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

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.

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

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

The Apple Watch Series 7 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.

This deal brings the best price we’ve seen for the SE to date. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to see any significant deals on the higher-end Series 7 as of this writing.

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.

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.

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.

Enlarge / The Garmin Forerunner 745 (left) and 945 LTE (right).
Corey Gaskin

Garmin Forerunner 745 for $400 ($500) at Amazon, Target, Garmin

Garmin’s Forerunner line tops our smartwatches guide as our favorite running watches. The Forerunner 745 here lacks a touchscreen, but it offers deep training stats, useful yet easy-to-read analysis for all athletes, and a suite of dedicated runner’s tools. With GPS, 24/7 heart-rate monitoring, all-day blood oxygen monitoring, and music storage for up to 500 songs, it’s a capable companion for running, swimming, biking, and most other sports.

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Pairing the Forerunner 745 with Garmin’s HRM-Pro chest-strap heart monitor can also help you get deeper analysis of your running form, if that’s your thing. At its typical $500 price, it’s not cheap, and the $100 discount here doesn’t really bring it into that realm, either. But if extensive running, biking, or swimming is key for you, this might be an investment worth looking into.

The Forerunner 945 LTE (which is also on sale for $550 from its usual $650), meanwhile, is essentially the same device but with (optional) LTE connectivity for enhanced safety and tracking features, as well as a few more tools for hikers.

Enlarge / The Forerunner 245 Music retains many of the best features on the 745, including music storage, Training Effect, and running dynamics support.
Valentina Palladino

Garmin Forerunner 245 for $200 ($285) at Amazon, Target, Garmin

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music for $250 ($300) at Amazon, Target, Garmin

Our second favorite running watches are the Forerunner 245 and 245 Music, and they’re half the price of the Forerunner 745. They are more focused on running and forgo special activity tracking for things like skiing, hiking, and open-water swims (though pool swims still track). They still have some of the most useful advanced metrics Garmin offers, however, in Training Effect and Training Load. They can pair with an HRM-Pro for deeper running analytics as well. Built-in GPS, live safety features, and, in the case of the 245 Music, storage for songs make them two great options specifically for runners on a budget. Both deals here match the lowest prices we’ve tracked.

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More casual runners and exercisers can snag a deal on the Forerunner 45, our former pick for the best basic runner’s watch before the newer Forerunner 55 (which isn’t currently on sale) launched earlier this year. The latter doubles battery life to about two weeks, but one week of battery on a smartwatch isn’t too shabby on the 45 either. GPS and heart rate are still in tow, but there’s neither blood oxygen monitoring nor support for Garmin’s chest-strap heart-rate monitors. It also lacks music storage and deeper running analytics.

But if you’re a casual runner/exerciser, you can track your sessions accurately and receive phone notifications for $130. If interval training, menstrual tracking, respiration rate, recovery time, or suggested workouts are important to you, though, the Forerunner 55 should remain more appealing.

Enlarge / The Garmin Lily comes in six fashionable colorways, with uniquely designed watch faces. It handles notifications and most sports, too, but you’ll need to keep your phone with you to use GPS tracking.
Corey Gaskin / Ars Technica

Garmin Lily for $150 ($200) at Amazon, Target, Best Buy

The Garmin Lily took our guide’s top spot for the most stylish smartwatch, particularly for women or people with smaller wrists. It has one of the coolest-looking screen technologies to deliver information, using white text that seemingly illuminates through a metallic watch face. It’s easy-to-read and looks high-tech. There’s no storage or GPS, but the Lily tracks most common exercise activities and gives stats that are deeper than most competitors, along with vitals for HR and blood oxygen. The Lily has been a favorite gift pick of ours since its launch, offering phone notifications and tracking in a svelte package. At $150, this matches the lowest price we’ve seen for the device that effectively blends style and tech on your wrist, or the wrist of that special someone, without breaking the bank.

Valentina Palladino

Withings Steel HR for $120 ($180) at Amazon

The Withings Steel HR is a hybrid smartwatch that balances classic watch design with basic fitness tracking and smartwatch functionality. It’s an analog watch with a small circular OLED display at the top that delivers notifications in a ticker-tape fashion, just above another watch complication that displays battery life. It always seems to attract compliments when I wear it, likely because most people assume it’s just a traditional watch.

Because it hews a bit closer to a traditional watch than a full-on smartwatch, the Steel HR’s battery life is strong, lasting roughly 2-3 weeks a charge. And apart from its refined looks, the device can still monitor your sleep cycles and heart rate, as well as track up to 36 activities. It does this tracking automatically, though the type of exercise activity needs to be labeled manually in the phone app afterward, which can be annoying.

If bulky and shorter-lasting smartwatches aren’t your thing, and you mostly want a classic-looking watch that can still perform simpler tracking and notification support on the side, the Steel HR is an attractive pick both physically and fiscally. Though this isn’t the lowest price we’ve ever seen, it is the best we’ve tracked in more than a year. So if you’re a fan of hybrid watches, this deal might be worth a look.

Listing image by Corey Gaskin