The always-on feature on a smartwatch is very handy. It allows you to discreetly check the time and workout progress during exercise without having to tap your smartwatch screen or turn/raise your wrist to activate it.
Although notifications from your smartphones don’t show on the dimmed watch mode, another name for Always-on display, you can customize the viewable information in most watches.
Here, we have compiled a thorough list of the best smartwatches with an always-on display. We have added here watches of all kinds, price tags, and purposes.
Keep in mind, the always-on display can be a highlight feature, which should not be the only reason for buying a smartwatch. Get your priorities straight and make a list of your preferences before you look for the next wearable in your life.
So, without further ado, let’s get straight to our first review.
For iPhone users, there can be no better alternative to Apple Watch Series 6. However, if you are on a budget, the Apple watch series 5 does have always-on-display features.
For android users, the options are more diverse. Here, we are in a dilemma whether to recommend Samsung Galaxy Active 2 despite its limited Tizen OS or the Ticwatch Pro 4G with its strong hardware but lagging Google Wear OS.
We pass the buck to the reader. Nobody but you have the right idea of what kind of smartwatch you need. For those who are buying the very first smartwatch, we recommend you skim through our Ultimate Smartwatch Buying Guide.
Sensors: Heart rate tracker, accelerometer sensors, geomagnetic and air pressure sensors, SpO2
Two Minute Review:
Amazfit GTS 2 is a cheap alternative to the Apple Watch for Android users. The Chinese-based Huami is behind Amazfit GTS 2 and Amazfit T-REX (which we will discuss later).
The watch has an uncanny familiarity with Apple Watch. The Huami has a reputation to shamelessly copy the best working model across the world. They get the market edge by offering more value to the users.
Don’t take our words for it. Just compare the features with top titles like Apple Watch Series 6 and Galaxy Watch Active 2 or Watch 3.
Apart from high-end sensors like ECG, you will get all important health features like a heart rate tracker, accelerometer, altimeter, and SpO2 sensor.
It has a gorgeous large 1.65-inch display with a superior screen resolution. And you have limited storage capacity to store songs. The display has a 1000 nit brightness capacity, as do many other watches in this list. And yes, it has an AOD feature.
If we have to take one thing that is particularly impressive about the Amazfit Watches is the battery performance. The company delivers on the promise it makes on product labeling. You can’t resist but appreciate Amazfit watches for their extra-long battery life.
Amazfit T-REX is the cheapest smartwatch with an Always-on display. But the display is not what distinguishes T-REX from other Amazfit watches, it is the rugged construction of the smartwatch.
This watch is military standard certified for rugged and durable performance and is resistant to up to 50 m in water.
It offers 14 plus sports modes, but when it comes to successfully tracking them it is not up to par with the performance of Suunto and Garmin tailored sports watches.
Like GTS 2, it offers a decent battery life of 20 days with standard usage. However, the battery life is significantly reduced if you go with continuous GPS usage.
Speaking of GPS, it offers more than GPS connectivity and supports GLONASS too. For those who have been living under the rock, GLONASS is simply the Russian Alternative for GPS. With a multiple-satellite navigation system onboard, you have wide coverage.
Always on display was first introduced in the Apple Watch Series 5, so if you want to save a few dollars, Series 5 could be an alternative for iPhone users.
Series 6 is the latest watch by the company and is packed with advanced sensors like FDA-approved ECG sensors and blood oxygen sensors along with the optical heart rate sensor and an onboard altimeter.
The watch features a crisp Retina OLED display with superior 448 x 368 pixels resolution. A high resolution means that more items can fit on the screen, and when it comes to the display, the Apple watch is the gold standard.
The watch is sufficiently rugged (water-resistant for up to 50m), has a relatively thin profile, and has NFC and onboard GPS for contactless payment and convenience in navigation respectively. The LTE version has an eSIM that allows you to make calls without a phone. It offers a true standalone experience.
The battery life of all Apple Watches is So-So. The large versions offer somewhat decent battery life than the smaller ones. A complete charge will get you through the day with always-on features enabled, but with GPS, LTE, and NFC usage, it is significantly reduced.
Fortunately, the Apple watch series 6 supports fast charging, but most importantly, it supports magnetic charging like the latest Apple phones.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is another FDA-approved ECG watch. It has a lot in common with the Galaxy Watch 3 except for the design and storage size.
First, we will discuss the display of the Active 2.
The watch features a 1.4-inch AMOLED display with a touch bezel its most exceptional feature. Samsung Watches have a display at par with Apple Watch Series, and a few people know that they were the pioneer of AMOLED display in Wearable devices. Also, it has always-on-display (AOD) features for the convenience of users.
Other than a remarkable display, Active 2 offers a range of health and smartwatch features. We have already mentioned the ECG feature. Other than ECG, it imitates the other features of the Apple Watch Series 6.
In smartwatch features, it supports music streaming over Wifi and LTE, has storage for offline music experience, NFC for contactless payment via Samsung Pay, and a voice assistant (Bixby)
The battery life is great, if not extraordinary. On smartwatch mode, it has enough juice to get you through 2-3 days. Also, the watch supports contactless charging, good news for users who have become accustomed to the convenience of wireless charging.
Galaxy Watch 3 also features an always-on display, and has is very much an improved version of Active 2.
The only two remarkable differences are the 8 GB storage capacity instead of 4GB in Active 2, and the design in which Galaxy has brought back the traditional rotating bezel to its latest Galaxy Watch 3.
Also, Galaxy 3 is chunky in design and is a little heavy. It has a slightly better battery life than Active 2.
You will enjoy all the perks in the Galaxy watch 3 as that in Active 2. It is the best Apple Watch alternative for Android Phone users.
But there is a caveat. Tizen OS. The proprietary OS, though works fast, doesn’t have a sizable community of developers and lags behind Google Wear OS and Apple Watch OS. Your favorite smartphone apps’ wearable version has better chances to be found on the former two than on TizenOS.
Also, the voice assistant, Bixby, is downright laggard.
The watch seamlessly runs Wear OS (previously known as Android OS), and comes with all the bells and whistles of it: Google pay, Google Fit, Google Assistant and an app store that allows you access to thousands of third-party apps.
It also features dual-screen technology, and of course, has an always-on display. A high-end 1.4″ Retina AMOLED display has 454 x 454 resolution, whereas the low-powered LCD on the top saves battery. Besides, the watch battery lasts for 3 days with mixed usage.
You can also stream music directly on the watch. Spotify is well integrated and with a premium account, you can store songs on the watch. It has a large, 8 GB, storage capacity for storing songs, podcasts, and audiobooks.
Fossil Gen 5 LTE was released just at the start of this year, and it offers small improvements on the Flagship Gen 5 lineup.
The smartwatch has a super crisp 1.28″ AMOLED display with 416 x 416 resolution and 1000 nit brightness. The Always-on display adds a modern touch to the watch but it equally takes a heavy toll on battery life.
Like Ticwatch Pro 4G, it runs the wear OS and thus includes all the bells and whistles of a Google-based platform: you can pay via Google pay, use Google Assistant and have access to thousands of third-party apps.
The watch could have been better by offering a battery life of more than 3 days like competitor Ticwatch and Samsung watches. However, Wear OS has to be blamed here. The Watch caters for the dismal battery performance, by offering you several modes to save battery life. Fortunately, it works.
Fossil Gen 5 is for fashion enthusiasts who need a watch that leans heavily towards a smartwatch rather than a health device. The next pick is the exact opposite.
Display: 1.58-inch display AMOLED / 336 x 336 /1000nit
Always-on Display: Yes
Battery Life: Up to 6 days (Smartwatch Mode)
GPS: Yes, Plus GLONASS
NFC: Yes (Fitbit Pay)
Water Resistance: 5 ATM
Voice Assistant: (Google Assistant and Alexa)
Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wifi
Sensors: Electrical sensors compatible with ECG & EDA app, Skin temperature sensor, optical heart rate sensor, Gyroscope, Altimeter, 3-axis accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Vibration motor
Two Minute Review:
The Fitbit sense is for personal health and physical well-being enthusiasts. It is one of the few watches with the coveted FDA-approved ECG sensor.
Other than the health sensors, what doesn’t fail to impress is its large 1.58-inch AMOLED display that does support AOD. The screen fits more items on-screen and allows you to conveniently get the important updates when your hands are full.
The smartwatch has a thin profile, is lightweight and despite its large display doesn’t appear chunky. It has a lot in common with the Fitbit Versa 3, also included in this list.
One of the most remarkable things about Fitbit Sense is its solid battery performance and integration of two voice assistants: Google Assistant and Alexa. Also, you can make contactless payments via Fitbit Pay (but it has limited coverage).
You get all the important notifications on the wrist and can respond to them without keeping your phone in the loop.
Garmin Venu is certainly the break from the company’s motto to prioritize practicality over design. With Venu and Venu Sq, Garmin has proved that it can give smartwatches with mainstream features to its users without compromising the core fitness features.
It is a great GPS watch that has also GLONASS and Galileo well integrated. There is also NFC and Wifi connectivity. Garmin Pay isn’t as great as Apple pay and Samsung pay, but it is still something to lean on.
The crisp AMOLED screen panel is great (offers 390 x 390 resolution) Blacks are deep and whites are bright, and the overall screen is visually appealing. There’s an ambient light sensor onboard too, so the display will automatically adjust to the lighting conditions.
The 1.2-inch touchscreen AMOLED with AOD feature is indeed the big selling point for the Venu. For those who don’t know, Garmin traditionally uses transflective MIP panels in its fitness watches, which prioritize outdoor visibility and battery life over saturated colors and higher resolutions.
Unlike other watches, Garmin delivers exactly what it promises in terms of battery life. On smartwatch mode, it lasts for 6 days. But while continuously using GPS, it gets down to 6 hours.
Both Fossil Gen 5 and Fossil Sports have got an AMOLED display with an always-on display enabled. However, the latter is lightweight and polished in design. It is suitable for regular gym-goers and runners.
The major downside of Fossil Sports is the underperforming Wear OS, which despite having powerful features, is laggard in performance. Its Google Fit app is just unfit for serious athletes. The platform is in a dire need of an overhaul. And yet for basic functions like smartphone notifications and Voice assistant, you will find it reliable.
Fossil has tweaked the software to get more battery juice out of it. Mixed usage would get you as far as 36 hours, which makes it at par with Apple watches.
The smartwatch does have a voice assistant, Google Assistant, but has no speaker. You will direct your commands via a built-in microphone and it will interact with you with text on the screen. Due mainly to the notoriously slow Wear OS, the Google Assistant on the watch has a noticeable difference in performance when compared to Siri in Apple watch.
Fitbit Versa 3, too, has an always-on display. If you don’t need advanced sensors like ECG and are on a budget, you can ditch Fitbit Sense for Versa.
In features and partly in looks, it seems a carbon copy of Fitbit Sense. It has a display that matches, if not surpass, the Apple Watch display. The 1.58-inch AMOLED screen is truly gorgeous, and the watch is neither bulky nor heavy. It is suitable for small wrists.
Apart from ECG, it has plenty of health sensors. SpO2 measures your blood oxygen saturation, the optical heart rate sensor accurately tracks heart rate, and there is an onboard GPS so you can leave your smartphone at home while out on a run.
The watch has also got other smartwatch features like notification alert, music storage, voice assistant, and contactless payment. It is the only smartwatch with two voice assistants at a time, Google Assistant and Alexa.
Suunto 7 is the only powerful multisports watch in this list with Always on Display.
It has Wear OS by Google, and therefore many of the problems of the latter: poor battery performance and limited storage capacity as the OS takes a lot of it. However, Suunto prolonged it to 2 days after a few tweaks in the software. However, with non-stop GPS usage, the battery drops to 12 hours.
Suunto has got a big display, too big for slender wrists. The screen exudes a premium look with a 1.39-inch AMOLED display that offers 454 x 454 pixels resolution. Everything is clear and crisp.
Suunto 7 is the company’s first effort to release a smartwatch for its outdoorsy fans. A powerful design, bells, and whistles like contactless payment and smartphone notifications, plus reliable fitness tracking sensors have gone into the mix.
The heart rate and GPS tracking are highly accurate. The watch, unfortunately, doesn’t connect to external sensors like its rivals from Garmin.
Amazfit Bip S is a practical watch above anything else. It might not have the advanced health or fitness features and is definitely not the prettiest watch around, but it has two standout features to make an attractive option.
One, the price. It is dirt cheap. Second, battery life. All watches in this line, Bip lite, Bip, and Bip S have a solid battery performance that can easily last two weeks on a single charge. Also, the watch is lightweight with a thick bezel, almost a plastic carbon copy of the Apple Watch.
The watch display does have an always-on feature, but the Transflective Color (TFT) is no match for the crisp AMOLED display found on most watches including Amazfit GTS we discussed earlier.
Fortunately, the watch has an onboard GPS. You can leave your phone at home while out on a run. However, the GPS accuracy is still doubtful. We can’t say the same about its accurate heart rate sensor.
If you are looking for a budget multi sports watch with an always-on display, Huawei GT 2e is the right fit for you. But there is a caveat. It might not fit all wrists size. This heavy and bulky watch is suitable for large wrists.
The watch has a super crisp AMOLED display with true whites and black. It offers a high resolution (454 x 454) to fit more items on a screen and a high brightness level of 1000 nit to deliver flawless performance indoor and outdoors.
Other than the display, it offers solid fitness and sports tracking. It matches the performance of top brands like Suunto and Garmin as it uses the same Firstbeat algorithms. The heart rate data and other metrics are presented in an easy-to-understand format and are largely accurate.
Most watches have a battery that drains pretty fast with always-on-display enabled. But, not this Huaewi. Surely, the feature would put a dent in battery performance, and yet it is going to last more than a week on a regular charge, thanks mainly to its extra-large battery.
Smartwatches With Always On Display (AOD): FAQs
How to turn off the Always-On display on Apple Watch?