Smartwatches are no longer exotic gadgets. These smart wearables are gaining popularity and come with many tracking features. Most people use a smartwatch or fitness tracker to count steps or measure heart rate. Additionally, the smart wristwatch acts as an extension of the smartphone display on the wrist.
Certain smartwatches can do much more. The watches that can record an EKG are particularly exciting. This allows for monitoring of health to detect heart rhythm disorders early. In this top 10 list, we will show you the best EKG smartwatches, in our opinion.
How reliable is an EKG?
Atrial fibrillation, also known as atrial flutter, is one of the most common heart rhythm disorders. If left unrecognized, it can pose a major health risk for those affected. This is a widespread disease: According to the German Heart Foundation, an estimated 1.5 to 2 million people in Germany are affected by atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation is not always noticeable through pronounced symptoms. If left undetected, this condition can lead to heart failure or stroke. Initial signs manifest as a feeling of uneasiness and sudden rapid heartbeat. An accurate diagnosis is provided by an EKG.
EKG stands for “Electrocardiography,” which refers to the medical procedure, as well as the result of the measurement: the “Electrocardiogram” (ECG). With this examination method, doctors measure the electrical activity of the heart. An electrical impulse triggers the contraction of the heart muscle. This occurs in a specific pattern that repeats itself.
The voltage changes at the heart are graphically recorded in a curve by the EKG. Electrodes attached to the skin detect and amplify these signals. Proper interpretation of the EKG shows whether the heart is healthy and beating in the correct rhythm. Any irregularities in the electrocardiogram indicate potential disturbances.
Can a smartwatch detect atrial fibrillation?
For a long time, only a doctor with appropriate medical equipment could perform an EKG. Nowadays, certain smartwatches also offer an EKG function. These include, among others, the Apple Watch (from Series 4), Google Pixel Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch (from the 3rd generation), Withings Scanwatch, Fitbit Sense 2, or Huawei Watch 4 Pro.
To perform an EKG measurement, users wear the watch on their wrist and touch a specific sensor on the watch with any finger of their other hand for about 30 seconds. During this time, they should remain still and calm.
In fact, EKG smartwatches provide reliable results, as confirmed by the author’s general practitioner. The measurement corresponds to a 1-lead EKG. According to the German Heart Foundation, the reliability of detecting atrial fibrillation with an EKG recording through a smartwatch is around 90 percent. The EKG of the Apple Watch, for example, is excellent, as confirmed by Prof. Dr. Veltmann, an EKG expert at the Medical University of Hannover, in an interview with Mac & i.
However, an EKG smartwatch is not a substitute for a doctor. The 1-lead EKG cannot detect myocardial ischemia, and a long-term EKG cannot replace the function of the watch. A smartwatch is not suitable for detecting a heart attack or malignant heart rhythm disorders. However, with such a watch, you can regularly collect data and discuss and compare it with a doctor if necessary.
Caution is advised for people with pacemakers or defibrillators. Manufacturers such as Samsung, Huawei, Fitbit, Apple, and Withings explicitly advise against using the EKG function of smartwatches with a pacemaker. To record an EKG, smartwatches send an electrical signal into the body. This can interfere with the pacemaker. Furthermore, in this case, the EKG measurements can lead to false results, as confirmed by Apple.
In general, we advise anyone with a pacemaker or defibrillator to consult a doctor before getting a wearable device. The EKG function is not the only one that can have a disruptive effect. Many smartwatches use weak alternating currents to measure other vital signs, such as body fat, heart rate, or breathing rate. This is also known as bioimpedance analysis. These can interfere with the pacemaker, according to the Heart Rhythm Journal.
Which smartwatch with EKG is the best?
Which smartwatch with EKG function is the best depends on personal preferences, intended use, and features. In terms of medical reliability, all the watches shown here are equipped to detect atrial fibrillation. Manufacturers must go through CE certification by the EU before they can enable the EKG function.
The Withings Scanwatch, as a hybrid smartwatch, has taken the first place in our ranking because it is relatively affordable and available for both Android smartphones and iPhones. The battery lasts up to 20 days, but there is only a small display within the analog dial, which is a limitation compared to other smartwatches.
People with high blood pressure might find the Huawei Watch D interesting. The smartwatch with Harmony OS not only records an EKG but also measures blood pressure. To do this, the bracelet inflates, similar to how it is done at the doctor’s office. This smartwatch is thus a compact and comprehensive solution for cardiovascular diseases.
The best smartwatch with EKG function and Wear OS is the new Samsung Galaxy Watch 6. However, the measurement only works with a Samsung smartphone, which is a major limitation. The Google Pixel Watch works with all Android smartphones from version 8. However, smartwatches with Wear OS often struggle with battery life. If you use the Always-On Display, the battery life is significantly reduced.
For iPhone users, the overall best smartwatch is the Apple Watch Series 8. It also has EKG measurement capability, but the battery lasts just over a day. Fitbit watches communicate with both Android and iOS. The cheapest way to create an EKG is offered by the Fitbit Charge 5.
1st place: Withings Scanwatch
Our winner in the category of watches with EKG recording is the Withings Scanwatch. As a hybrid smartwatch, the battery lasts almost a month, and the EKG measurement is possible with both Android smartphones and iPhones at no additional cost. It also has a blood oxygen measurement sensor (SpO2). The watch is stylish and costs as little as 260 euros.
If you prefer a significantly higher-quality version with the appearance of a diving watch, you can opt for the Withings Scanwatch Horizon for just under 437 euros. However, if you want a complete smartwatch with a large display, you should choose one of the other models on this list.
2nd place: Huawei Watch D
In our tests, we were thoroughly impressed with the Huawei Watch D as a health watch with EKG and actual blood pressure measurement using a cuff in the bracelet. Compared to measurement by optical photoplethysmography sensor, Huawei’s method is more accurate and does not require complicated calibration with a secondary device. The Watch D also creates an EKG, of course.
The operation is intuitive, and the watch always responds quickly. The OLED display is excellent. The battery lasts more than a week in practice. However, there are practically no apps available for the Watch D, and it is not particularly cheap. There is no eSIM version.
In terms of appearance, it resembles an oversized Apple Watch. It is compatible with iOS and Android. However, users of Android phones must manually download and install the Health app as an APK file from another source (such as a browser) because it has been removed from the Play Store due to sanctions against the Chinese company. Owners of Samsung smartphones can also get the app through the Galaxy Store. The Huawei Watch D is rather expensive, starting at 388 euros.
3rd place: Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is brand new. We have not received a test device yet, but we were able to try out the watch during an event (TikTok video) in Berlin. In addition to the regular version, there is a classic version that brings back the popular rotating bezel – a dial around the case. Compared to its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, the new 6th generation model offers a more powerful processor, more storage, and a larger battery. However, the battery life is still relatively poor.
The EKG function is also available, but only works with a Samsung smartphone. The same applies to blood pressure measurement, which needs to be calibrated beforehand using a blood pressure monitor. The case sizes range from 47 to 43 millimeters for the classic version and from 44 to 40 millimeters for the regular version. There is also an eSIM version. Hopefully, we will soon have a test of the Galaxy Watch 6 on TechStage. The smallest version with a 40-millimeter and Bluetooth starts at 270 euros, while the larger 44-millimeter version costs at least 315 euros.
4th place: Apple Watch Series 8
The Apple Watch Series 8 is undoubtedly one of the best smartwatches and is likely to be the first choice for iPhone users. The only one better would be the premium model Apple Watch Ultra, which we have not tested yet.
The biggest weakness is the short battery life, lasting only one to two days. The smallest version with a 41-millimeter case starts at 400 euros, and the 45-millimeter version costs around 446 euros. Note: The affordable Apple Watch SE from 2022 does not have the capability for EKG or blood oxygen measurement.
5th place: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 continues to be one of the best watches with Wear OS. It has an EKG function, but currently, it only works with a Samsung Galaxy smartphone. This is a disappointing limitation. The watch can also detect blood pressure, although not at the same precise level as the Watch D. Blood oxygen saturation is also part of its repertoire. Moreover, the watch is slim and elegant.
Integration into Android is well-developed, and there are numerous apps available for the watch. Like all smartwatches with Google’s operating system, battery life is poor and lasts at most one to two days. The 40-millimeter versions with Bluetooth start at 190 euros, while the 44-millimeter versions start at 200 euros. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is a more robust alternative with a 45-millimeter case, a stronger battery, and an improved GPS receiver, costing around 307 euros.
6th place: Google Pixel Watch
Google’s first smartwatch led to the forced marriage between Fitbit and Wear OS. This was slightly confusing for users, as the three apps – Google Pixel Watch, Google Fit, and Fitbit – each cover only certain functions, thus requiring all three to be used – not ideal. The Pixel Watch offers the EKG function, for example, through the Fitbit app. To use additional features of the Fitbit app, a subscription is required. When purchasing the watch, 6 months of Fitbit Premium are already included for free.
The Pixel Watch has a stylish design but seems somewhat prone to scratches. The battery lasts just over a day. However, the EKG measurement works with all Android smartphones from version 8. The price for the Wi-Fi version of the watch starts at 270 euros.
7th place: Huawei Watch 4 Pro
The brand-new Huawei Watch 4 Pro is the new flagship smartwatch from the Chinese company. The watch looks truly chic and elegant and is also suitable for diving up to 30 meters. The use of an eSIM is possible. However, it is quite bulky, heavy, and expensive.
Android users face the same pitfalls as with the Watch D: Besides Samsung (Galaxy Store), they must obtain the Health app from sources other than Google Play Store due to sanctions against the Chinese company. Moreover, there is no app store for the watch, and there are very few Huawei applications. The battery lasts up to five days, which is a good selling point! The version with a leather strap costs 465 euros, while the version with a titanium strap costs a hefty 617 euros.
8th place: Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro
When the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro was first released, the EKG function was not yet enabled. However, Huawei has since caught up. This makes it a cost-effective alternative to the new Watch 4 Pro.
Thanks to Harmony OS, the watch runs smoothly and is easy to use, and the battery lasts for more than a week. The Watch GT 3 Pro is also visually appealing and suitable for diving up to 30 meters. However, there is no eSIM version. The price starts at 255 euros for the version with a fluororubber strap.
9th place: Fitbit Sense 2
The Fitbit Sense 2 is the current premium model from the Google subsidiary. Like its predecessor, it has an EKG function. While the predecessor impressed us as a fitness smartwatch, the new model was disappointing, as there were few innovations and some aspects were even worse.
Nevertheless, the watch can create an EKG upon request through the Fitbit app and also measures heart rate variability, skin temperature, and blood oxygen saturation. However, a subscription to Fitbit Premium is required for observing and analyzing long-term trends over 90 days or more. Prices start at 236 euros.
10th place: Fitbit Charge 5
The cheapest way to create an EKG with a watch is the Fitbit Charge 5. This can be purchased starting at 123 euros. This may seem expensive for a pure fitness tracker, but not for a smartwatch with EKG capability. It is currently the most affordable EKG smartwatch on the market.
The Charge 5 is suitable for athletes and also measures sleep phases, heart rate, and blood oxygen saturation. However, music control is not possible with this watch. To access the full range of analysis options through the Fitbit app, a subscription is required, similar to the Sense model.
Which other smartwatches have an EKG function?
If you are not looking for the latest model, earlier models from Samsung, Apple, or Fitbit with EKG functions are also an option: Apple Watch Series 7, Apple Watch Series 6, Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, and Fitbit Sense. The extremely expensive top model, Apple Watch Ultra, also has this function. Another option is the Huawei Watch Ultimate, which can also create an EKG. However, these watches did not make it on this list due to their high prices.
The Withings Move ECG and the Swisstone SW 660 ECG are affordable alternatives with EKG functions. The Withings Move ECG is available for around 130 euros, but we have not tested it yet. The Swisstone SW 660 ECG, an activity tracker, is available for just 59 euros.
The Garmin Venu 2 Plus theoretically has the sensors to create a 1-lead EKG. However, this function is still not certified for Europe and therefore deactivated. It is unknown when exactly this feature will be added via an update.
No smartwatch in the world can replace a doctor. However, they are a way to regularly record a 1-lead EKG and detect early signs of atrial fibrillation. However, they are not suitable for detecting a heart attack, complex heart rhythm problems, or circulatory disorders. Patients with pacemakers should also stay away from watches with this function.
The hybrid smartwatch Withings Scanwatch looks and feels like a classic watch. It can measure an EKG with both Android smartphones and iPhones and only needs to be charged sporadically. However, it only has a tiny display in the middle of the analog dial. The price is fair, and the battery lasts up to 20 days.
The cheapest way to get a smartwatch with EKG is the fitness tracker Fitbit Charge 5. For those who also want to regularly measure their blood pressure, the Huawei Watch D is worth a closer look. For owners of Samsung phones, the new Galaxy Watch 6 is the suitable choice, and the predecessor Galaxy Watch 5 is perfect for iPhone users. The Apple Watch Series 8 is another good option for iPhone users, but both the Galaxy Watch and the Apple Watch have a very short battery life of at most two days. On the other hand, the Huawei Watch 4 Pro can last up to five days.
Our top 10 list, The Best Smartwatches 2023, showcases the best devices currently available. We also have a top 10 list for fitness enthusiasts: The Best Fitness Watches – Smartwatches for Training and the Best Fitness Trackers 2023 starting at 30 euros in our tests. For home workouts, you can find recommendations in the guide Peloton Alternatives: Smart Ergometers & Spinning Bikes for Cardio Training.