The opportunity to use a smartwatch or similar piece of wearable technology has been around for years, and the best products you can buy today provide plenty of insight into your health and wellness, let you use apps and receive notifications from your smartphone, and you can even make and receive calls.
But that doesn’t mean a few don’t stand out from the crowd, providing interesting and unusual features you won’t find anywhere else. We’re going to highlight them here with our picks for the most innovative wearables of 2023.
Want to see the rest? Check out our full list of the most innovative tech products of 2023!
For 2023, Samsung decided not to update the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro it released in 2022. Instead, it brought out the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, which saw the return of the Classic name and design, plus a fantastic feature: the physical rotating bezel. The Watch 5 Pro made a vague attempt to take on the Apple Watch Ultra, but it was nowhere near as accomplished or as interesting, so it’s no surprise to see Samsung leave it alone this year.
The rotating bezel last made an appearance on the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, and it was a poor decision on Samsung’s part to ignore it in 2022. Twisting the bezel makes controlling the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic’s software more intuitive, faster, and easier than just prodding the touchscreen. It is also unique, as most of the competition favors the rotating crown instead, but this method is far more fiddly. Utilizing the unused space of the bezel as a control system is a stroke of ergonomic genius.
It’s perhaps a bit of a stretch calling it an innovation, but it did disappear for a year and has now been sensibly brought back. The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is also still packed full of features, some of which are unusual on a smartwatch. The body composition measurement is usually only found on smart scales, plus it can reliably take your blood pressure without any fuss. Not charging a subscription for access to all your health data and accompanying features in Samsung Health could also be seen as an innovation these days.
Samsung’s design department also got the watch-like look and feel of the Watch 6 Classic exactly right, making great use of the bezel, providing a choice of case sizes, and also bringing back the Watch 4 Classic’s stunning silver-and-white color combination. It’s a fantastic smartwatch, and the clever rotating bezel makes it stand out far more than the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro ever did.
The Apple Watch Series 9 is a very similar product to the Apple Watch Series 8. This isn’t a slight, as the Series 8 was the best smartwatch you could buy, and Apple’s smartwatch continues to lead the way in comfort, software, and integration with your smartphone while also keeping fans happy with cute nods like the adorable Snoopy watch face.
But Snoopy and friends aren’t the reason it’s on this list. That honor goes to Double Tap, the simple, yet effective gesture of tapping your index finger and thumb together to prompt an action on the Apple Watch Series 9. It may not be able to control every aspect of watchOS, but when you do get to use it, it’s an incredibly impressive, almost perfectly reliable feature.
Hidden away in one form as an accessibility feature for years, Double Tap’s jump to the forefront of the Apple Watch’s control system makes the Series 9 suitably different from the Series 8 (it needs Apple’s latest chip to operate, so it won’t ever appear on an old model). And the fun, intuitive feature rivals the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic’s rotating bezel for convenience and speed. It’s a shame it wasn’t available immediately after the Apple Watch Series 9’s release, but it was worth the wait.
What is innovation? To some, it will be using technology in a new way to solve a problem and, arguably, that’s exactly what Huawei’s crazy Huawei Watch Buds do. If you missed the smartwatch and its party trick, it solves the problem of not always having a set of charged wireless earbuds on hand when you want them.
Press a button on the smartwatch body, and the screen pops up, revealing a set of true wireless earbuds inside the watch’s case. Close the “lid,” and it returns to being a regular smartwatch. The earbuds can be placed back inside to recharge when you’re finished. It’s a real two-in-one product, the likes of which we’ve never seen before.
Huawei needs recognition for conceiving of and then making such a mad product, and although the execution was polished and the construction decent, it suffered from other problems that didn’t make it either the best smartwatch or the best set of true wireless earbuds you could buy, despite coming as a single product. It’s an experiment that will almost certainly still find a fan base — and one of the most intriguing and interesting wearable products of 2023.