Samsung's Gear VR with S3 smartwatch. Credit: Technology News Extra

Smartwatches fill an interesting niche today because they aren’t quite fitness tracker or smartphone. The draw comes from a device that is both stylish and practical, but there is a new twist that may augment that usefulness of a smartwatch: the smartphone-based VR platform.

VR enthusiasts also want to maximize their workout potential, and will often rely on a combination of indoor and outdoor routines for variety. Many of these watches excel at gathering the data you want to see what’s working, with the option of outdoor functionality geared toward specific workouts and applications to improve fitness. Samsung is leading the charge, but here are our ten picks for smartwatches to satisfy the VR enthusiast.

Samsung S3

The Samsung Gear S3. Credit CNET

Samsung’s Gear S3 Smartwatch just got a new update that brings VR control to this incredible device. The gear is getting new fitness functionality, diet tracking and can sync with the company’s Health Program. However, the big deal is the VR functionality that can work with Samsung’s Gear headset. The S3 has become a powerful entry point for consumer VR powered by smartphone technology.

Specs:

  • Tizen OS
  • Heart rate sensor and navigation
  • Measures caffeine vs. water intake
  • Scratch Resistant Corning Gorilla Glass SR+
  • Dust and waterproof with a body made of stainless steel

Cost: $349.99

Apple Watch 3

Apple Watch 3. Credit: Apple

The Apple Watch 3 is the company’s new flagship device, and it has improved heart rate tracking providing a clearer picture of when your body was in motion. If you wanted to compare how your VR workout looks to time spent in the gym, the Watch 3 has the functionality and data for that comparison. It’s also linked to the iOS ecosystem, which makes it a popular choice for most users.

Specs:

  • Apple’s newest smartwatch
  • Works with Nike +
  • Barometric altimeter and heart rate sensor
  • Strengthened glass
  • Dust and Waterproof

Cost: $329-$350

Apple Watch Series 2

Apple Watch Series 2. Credit Apple

Last year’s model, but available at a discount. The major upgrades to this version brought it more in line with a Fitbit, but it can prove useful as part of your VR routine, namely because you won’t need your smartphone anywhere near you while you use it. With GPS tracking (sadly, without elevation), you can also take it with you on the go.

Specs:

  • iOS 10 or later
  • Discounted for being last year’s model
  • Tracks heart rate, distance traveled, steps taken
  • Ion X strengthened glass
  • Dust and waterproof

Cost: $269-$299

Polar M600

Polar M600. Credit: YouTube

The Polar was built around fitness, so it’s not the most attractive and doesn’t sport the elegant screen you expect from a Samsung or Apple device. What you do get is fitness tracking specifically designed around a variety of activities, so you can compare how you perform in VR to cycling or ice skating.

Specs:

  • Android Wear OS
  • High GPS Accuracy (perfect for hiking)
  • 6 LEDs for heartrate measurement.
  • Corning Gorilla 3 Glass
  • Dust and Waterproof

Cost: $329

Casio Pro Trek Smart WSD F20

Casio ProTrek Smart WSD. Credit: Wareable

The big deal for VR enthusiasts is the extreme accuracy of the optical heart rate monitor, but outdoor enthusiasts will also find a lot to love. A built in altimeter offers detailed statistics on temperature and air pressure, perfect for hiking. On those rainy days when VR is your go to, you’ll get detailed and precise feedback using exercise that can be stationary in nature.

Specs:

  • Android Wear OS
  • Altimeter, tide graph and heart rate monitor
  • Built in GPS supporting GLONASS and QZSS
  • Dual-layer display with multiple options (color, monochrome)
  • Dust and Waterproof

Cost: $500

LG Watch Sport

LG Sport. Credit: LG

Many standard features for fitness tracking make the LG Watch Sport a good entry point for fitness enthusiasts, with some interesting features for VR users. Its ability to track pacing, and reps, pair nicely with some of the more repetitive activities in VR.

Specs:

  • Android Wear OS
  • Tracks heart rate, reps, and rest periods
  • GPS tracking
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Dust and Waterproof

Cost: Around $250

FitBit Ionic

FitBit Ionic. Credit: FitBit

Like the basic FitBit, the Ionic is built around defining a workout goal and then using data collected by the device to track its progress. The entire system fits in nicely with the fitness goals of any savvy VR enthusiast, but the FitBit Ionic offers personalization. Hitting “Go” starts a workout the Ionic will later remember. Excellent for statistical nerds who want to see if the higher difficulty really makes a difference.

Specs

  • iOS, Android and Windows Phone
  • Tracks active time, laps, calories burned, sleep activity and more
  • GPS with 10 hours of battery life
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Water resistant

Cost: $300

Huawei Watch 2

Huawei Watch 2. Credit: Wareable.

The Huawei Watch 2 is a great little tracker that is both stylish and functional. It can track stats including distance moved, speed, steps taken, and changes to heart rate. It also includes trackers for burned calories, and it measures the frequency of your stride on a running route. The wealth of stats will easily tell you where VR is helping you improve, and which outdoor activities are best to pair with a VR workout.

Specs:

  • Android Wear OS
  • Tracks heart rate, steps, and calories burned
  • GPS tracking and three-axis magnetometer
  • Corning Gorilla Glass
  • Dust and Waterproof

Cost: $299-$500

Nokia Steel

Nokia Steel. Credit: CNet

The Steel is designed to work hand in hand with a smartphone app, so it’s best utilized as a proper smartwatch. The Steel is an affordable watch offering an excellent all around experience; it’s stylish and practical. If you want to get a clearer picture of when you’re most active or how you sleep, the Steel is a good choice. For VR enthusiasts, the in-app compatibility with Nokia’s Health Mate application will provide more detailed historical data on exactly how many calories your VR workout is burning for you.

Specs:

  • iOS and Android Compatibility
  • Tracks steps, distance, sleep patterns, and strides
  • GPS tracking with day and night sensing
  • Stylish analog dial with digital elements integrated
  • Waterproof

Cost: $130

Garmin Vivoactive 3

Garmin Vivoactive 3. Credit: Wareable.

As a GPS watch, Garmin’s Vivoactive 3 is an exciting device built for the workout enthusiast. What excites us is the many ways to track your specific workout. Other devices in this list, like the Polar M600, try and capture this functionality but the Vivoactive 3 appears to be the most proficient at it. Will Garmin add VR as a type of workout to track? Why not? All the technology is there: accelerometer, gyroscope and heart rate monitors all seem to offer the key functionality.

Specs:

  • iOS and Android
  • Tracks distance, steps, elevation, blood oxygen saturation and more.
  • GPS tracking for up to 13 continuous hours, with 8 days of battery life
  • Modern and sleek
  • Waterproof

Cost: $249

 

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