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Best Smartwatch for Texting 2021 (AKA Who Keeps The Smartphone Away)

The best smartwatch for texting is the one that makes it so easy to text on your wrist. Apple, Samsung and the many Wear OS smartwatches are contenders.

Apple Watch Series 6 input methods

The best smartwatch for texting is one that has texting capabilities.

Woah, don’t quit out of this website yet. The reason why I have to highlight that is because not all smartwatches have the ability to text and reply to emails and text messages.

Which smartwatches don’t have texting features? For one, you can totally exclude the Polar Vantage V and Polar Grit X from your considerations. Luckily, those smartwatches are highly niche and they are honestly not that useful for everyday use. Forget the Garmin Fenix 6 too because that smartwatch has no way of sending custom replies beyond the pre-composed replies.

Another layer of consideration is the smartphone you’re using. If you are looking for a smartwatch for an Android device, your choices are plentiful and there’s a dizzying array of choices, much akin to buying a car if you don’t just want electric cars. Whereas if you are an iPhone user, the choices are as slim as your choices in a US or Canadian election.

A good smartwatch for texting needs to interpret speech accurately so that you can send your message without reaching for your phone. Most smartwatches have a keyboard or some handwriting function but those are generally very tedious, especially on a small screen. The only way, in my opinion, to avoid going straight to the smartphone is to use the speech to text function. Some smartwatches also allow you to access your email and text logs but I personally don’t think this is a must-have, but rather, it’s a nice to have.

Let’s start with the smartwatch that iPhone users should consider.

Apple Watch Series 6 texts

Apple Watch Series 6

Android phone users, skip this section. The Apple Watch Series 6 doesn’t want to pair with your phone.

iPhone users, do note that you can’t reply to texts on other smartwatch platforms that doesn’t use the Watch OS operating system from Apple. You’ll be able to read the messages that come from your iPhone but you won’t be able to reply to them.

As for iPhone users, you are lucky to have some of the best products out there, with smartwatches being one of them. The downside is that this ain’t no cheap smartwatch. It’s expensive but lives up to its premium price tag.

Texting on the Apple Watch Series 6 is fantastic. What I really like about it is how everything is so well integrated.

For one, you will be able to access your email and text logs just as if you were on your iPhone. I personally don’t consider this to be an extremely important feature but a real nice to have feature nonetheless.

Furthermore, the only smartwatch that displays emails properly is the Apple Watch. Emails these days come with formatting, especially marketing emails and from what I have observed, it’s only the Apple Watch that can display these emails in the way that was intended. Other platforms just convert it into plain text and therefore the formatting can be off.

Replies to your emails, texts and other notifications are done through a couple of ways. First, you can choose to reply using the speech to text system, which is excellent. Unless you’re saying something full of jargon, Apple’s speech to text system is excellent and will transcribe your message properly. You can also use some pre-composed, one-line replies that you can use instead of texting something custom.

You also have the option of using Scribble, which is where you draw letters to form words. I never use this because it’s so tedious that I head straight to my phone. It’s really a last resort.

Samsung Galaxy Watch3 reply to text

Samsung Galaxy Watch3

This Samsung smartwatch is specifically for people using Samsung smartphones as Samsung smartwatches pair exceptionally well with their own kind. All part of being in the Samsung Galaxy.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch3 isn’t a very impressive smartwatch in my opinion, especially compared to its predecessor, the Samsung Watch Active2, as its features are 90% the same. But then again, recent smartwatch updates have been quite underwhelming, even if we’re talking about the Apple Watch.

Nonetheless, the Samsung Galaxy Watch3 is impressive because of how I have experienced a good level of improvement with its speech to text system. My first smartwatch was a Samsung Gear S3 — three generations old — and its speech to text transcription quality was quite poor. I was still very impressed back then because I was texting on my wrist. Wow.

These days, after experiencing the wonders of Apple’s and Google’s speech to text system, Samsung’s has really taken a hit in my love-or-hate scale. For a while, I had a problem with it because I had to discard quite a good number of messages for poor quality of transcription. There were always issues such as a key word being misinterpreted. Don’t even try using jargon with the Samsung. Texting was a just a bit of a pain.

Fast forward to today, the quality of transcription has improved a lot but still I wouldn’t try anything too tough with it.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch3 has some pre-composed replies you can use or you can reply with an emoji. You can also create replies by using the handwriting feature or use its T9 predictive text keyboard. Again, if you can imagine having to hold up your arm while you use your finger to type messages on your wrist, you will conclude that it’s much better to go find your phone and reply.

Staying in the Samsung ecosystem really helps because you have access to a messaging app and an email app that reflects what you have on your phone. Not a big plus, but a real nice to have.

Ticwatch Pro 3

The Ticwatch Pro 3 is an excellent smartwatch because of how it has propelled the Wear OS smartwatch to new heights. It has a bunch of really smart features that are really impressive.

As it relates to texting, the Ticwatch Pro 3 is really, really good because it has the best that Google has to offer. When a message comes in as a notification on your smartphone, you will see it on your Ticwatch Pro 3.

Then, you can decide to reply using a dynamically generated reply that Google offers based on the content of your email or text, or you can send a custom reply using the speech to text system. The speech to text system is fantastic because it interprets speech accurately most of the time and the rate at which I have to discard my message due to inaccuracy is low.

There’s a bunch of other ways to text including using a 26-alphabet keyboard, but don’t bother. Go straight to your phone. Just imagine trying to use a keyboard that’s meant for mice and hamsters.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to access your email or text logs like on the Samsung or Apple Watch but as I stated previously, that feature isn’t really a dealbreaker.

fitbit sense messages

Fitbit Sense or Fitbit Versa 3

The latest update to the Fitbit Sense and Fitbit Versa 3 have made it a lot more useful. Not only can you send messages to your contacts through Google Assistant, the reliability of the system is actually pretty good if you are sending replies.

The Fitbit Sense and Fitbit Versa 3 can reply to emails and texts using the speech to text function, a pre-composed reply or by sending an emoji. The speech to text functionality is pretty reliable and that’s good because Fitbit does not offer any way to send a custom message with a keyboard or through handwriting.

Best Smartwatch for Texting 2020

fitbit versa 2 vs ticwatch e2 texting emails messages

One of the greatest conveniences of having a smartwatch is the ability to reply to texts without having to seek out your phone. 

This is really great when your phone is in a hard-to-reach place such as in a bag while you’re out jetskiing, motorcycling or cycling.

All smartwatches try to bring this convenience to you as best as they can but some do it much better than others. Others try hard but offer so little that you might as well go through the trouble of digging out your smartphone and replying with the device.

So what makes a good texting system on a smartwatch? The best systems are able to help you send a complete and coherent text on your smartwatch. They avoid needing to go seek out your smartphone in order to reply.

So what’s important here? I think we need to start by talking about how the smartwatch interacts with messages and emails. Can it access your inbox? Does it have various methods of inputting text? How good is its speech-to-text system, if available?

Related: Compare all smartwatch features here | All smartwatches with text messaging tech

Apple Watch Series 5 voice input

Apple users, look no further

Apple users have pretty much only one choice for texting and email purposes.

If you want to reply, you have to get an Apple Watch. I have the Apple Watch Series 5 and it’s a fantastic smartwatch. 

It’s also the only smartwatch that will allow you to reply to messages and emails. Most other smartwatches, when paired to an iPhone, can’t reply to messages. Yes, they can receive notifications of texts and emails, and read a snippet of it, but you won’t be afforded the convenience of replying directly on the smartwatch.

And so, Apple iPhone users, your only choice is the Apple Watch.

That’s not a bad thing. While the Apple Watch commands a premium, especially the newer Apple Watch Series 5, the experience with the Apple Watch really makes it worth it.

As the user of the Apple Watch, you can definitely feel it’s premium quality when it comes to texting and email messages.

apple watch series 5 reply to message

Apple Watch OS input methods

While the Watch OS only affords you two main ways of sending a custom message — speech-to-text or by Scribble (handwriting letters), they are both pretty good compromises for such a small watch. Of course, if you just need a one-liner reply, you could just use the pre-composed replies.

A great speech-to-text system will likely be your primary way of inputting text. I have always been satisfied with the experience and results from Apple’s speech-to-text system. Messages are generally very accurately transcribed.

Scribble is… just OK. It’s not an Apple shortcoming. All handwriting systems are tedious and slow whether it be on the more common Wear OS platform or the Watch OS platform.

The only time I thought drawing letters to form words was acceptable was during my Palm OS days, and that was done with a stylus.

apple watch message log

Access your inbox from the Watch

Few smartwatches can access your SMS or email mailbox directly, but this is one feature that can prove useful for Apple Watch users.

I haven’t really found it to be that useful because I have always reached for my smartphone when I needed to reply to old messages.

But yes, it’s there. You can read old emails, texts and compose new ones right on the watch.

Perhaps it would be more useful if you bought the Apple Watch Series 5 LTE version. Then you could head out without your phone and still be able to have quasi-smartphone functionality.

ticwatch c2 vs fossil gen 5 carlyle email texts

Android users: choice galore!

With an Android phone, you have a wide range of smartwatches to choose from, some better than others for texting.

Let’s start with the most common platform for Android users: Google’s Wear OS.

The Wear OS is the best smartwatch platform if texting on the smartwatch is an important feature for you.

The Wear OS has Google’s backing and therefore it has access to some of the most reliable and accurate speech-to-text transcription.

So, when you need to send a message, you can trust on this reliable feature on the Wear OS platform.

ticwatch e2 keyboard

Otherwise, the Wear OS offers a few other options which you can use to reply to your messages. One of those include using a full 26-alphabet keyboard. This is a big difference between the Wear OS and other platforms which offer a keyboard, particularly the Samsung Tizen OS smartwatches such as the Galaxy Watch or Galaxy Watch Active2. More on that later.

The 26-alphabet keyboard is quite useful and much more efficient than using the handwrite function which is also available on the Wear OS.

If you don’t have fat fingers, you will find that the keyboard is mostly accurate. You can also swipe your finger to form words. This is my preferred way of using the keyboard.

Writing the average text with the keyboard can be tedious and frustrating. Sometimes, it’s just faster to take your phone out, particularly if you have a complex message with many specific terms, addresses or names.

But at least you have this option. A full keyboard is not available on the Apple Watch Series 5 nor is it available on the Samsung Galaxy watches, nor Fitbits.

ticwatch e2 texts

One great feature that sets Wear OS smartwatches apart is that it has an AI that can generate dynamic responses to your texts and emails. Wear OS scans the text in the messages you receive and suggest some responses based on the context it perceives.

The downside to the Wear OS system is that you can’t see your message inbox or email inbox. But as I stated above, I never really found that to be a very important feature.

Wear OS smartwatches are a bit like Windows PCs. Some are better configured than others. I have found the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle to be the best Wear OS experience because it’s smooth and fast. It has one of the upper-tier hardware configurations among Wear OS smartwatches.]

The great thing about Wear OS smartwatches is that you can get a very similar experience, specifically in texting, with entry-level smartwatches such as the Fossil Sport Smartwatch or the Ticwatch E2/S2/C2.

I’m particularly partial to the Ticwatch E2 because of its great value and great battery life, although all the watches mentioned above are entry-level watches and show no difference in texting experience.

Samsung Galaxy Watch email

Should Samsung users keep it in the family?

The Wear OS is very compatible with Samsung smartphones but is there any benefit in buying a Samsung smartwatch if you are a Samsung user?

There is definitely better integration when you keep it in the family.

But Samsung’s Tizen OS also brings a major drawback that makes me hesitant to recommend it if you expect to be texting on your smartwatch often.

The benefits of buying a Samsung smartwatch when you have a Samsung phone is that you will be able to access your email and SMS logs just as though you were on your smartphone.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch and Galaxy Watch Active2 both have LTE functionality too, which makes these watches less dependent on your smartphone.

However, the biggest downside with Samsung smartwatches is that they have a poor speech-to-text function. They’re not as good as the transcribers on Fitbits, Wear OS devices and Apple Watches.

It gets really frustrating when your message keeps getting misinterpreted. I find myself reaching for my smartphone much more often when wearing a Samsung smartwatch than with a Wear OS device or Apple Watch.

Samsung Galaxy Watch messages

Samsung also comes with a T9 number-pad-based keyboard. It’s like phones of the early 2000s. It’s a bit slower than swiping on the 26-alphabet keyboard on Wear OS devices, but it’s definitely nice to have this keyboard. But just the small increase in inconvenience when compared to the Wear OS’s full keyboard pushes me to use my smartphone instead of trying tediously to get a message out on my Samsung watches.

I’d buy a Samsung Tizen OS watch for other reasons, but texting wouldn’t be one of them.

Texting with a sports smartwatch?

The more sport-oriented a smartwatch is, the more likely you will have to forgo the ability to text. 

I mean, Polar’s flagship Vantage V can’t reply to a text regardless of smartphone platform.

And the Garmin Fenix 6? Yeah, you can reply to messages when paired to an Android phone. But you can’t do much beyond the pre-composed messages such as “I can’t talk right now” or “Thank you!”. 

Luckily, you can customize these to add your own personality to the messages so you can text “new fone who dis” with a few button presses, or if you are from Gen Z, you can also program in “Mood” to confuse everyone else beyond that generation. Big mood.

Fitbit Versa 2 notifications

Fitbit’s Versa 2 is the only smartwatch among these three with some real texting capability. For one, it has a speech-to-text system that is quite accurate. If I had to rank the quality of transcriptions, Fitbit would rank third, after Apple and Google.

Otherwise, you could also send an emoji or pre-composed message. Basically, Fitbit has no good way to input very complex messages. Is this a good thing? Maybe by forgoing this benefit, Fitbit helps you avoid frustration with keyboards or handwriting systems. Instead, you will go straight to your smartphone to write the message.

Again, you can’t reply to a message if your Fitbit is paired to an iPhone. Nor would you be able to access your message or email logs even if you are on an Android.

ticwatch e2 vs fossil gen 5 carlyle input text


If I could buy just one smartwatch and the ability to text were very important to me…

… and I were an Apple iPhone user, I’d get the Apple Watch Series 5.

… and if I were an Android user, I’d get a Wear OS smartwatch.

… but what if I were a Samsung smartphone user? Still, I’d get a Wear OS smartwatch.

… and if I were a fitness-oriented user? If you need texting capabilities, then a sports smartwatch really isn’t for you. They are truly terrible for texting. The Fitbit is not bad, but it’s not as good as the Apple Watch or Wear OS smartwatches.

So, I’d still get a Wear OS smartwatch if texting is important. However, if sports data analysis is more important than texting, then you are faced with the decision on how sporty a smartwatch you need. The sportier, the less texting you can do.