A few years back, smart fitness bands and smartwatches proudly highlighted sleep tracking and heart rate monitoring as their USP. For the last two years, the focus has shifted to include a SpO2 sensor in these wearables. For an average Joe, SpO2 wasn’t a necessary metric but the increased standards of monitoring health and vitals have made it an inseparable feature of every wearable device. We will elaborate on the need for a SpO2 measuring sensor, and Best SpO2 (Blood Oxygen) Smartwatches that you can Buy.
What is SpO2 in a smartwatch?
SpO2 is a measure of the amount of oxygen carried throughout your red blood cells. It is a simple metric to obtain crucial information about the current vitals of a person. The SpO2 levels above 96 percent are considered to be safe. If the blood oxygen saturation level dips below your usual thresholds for a longer time, it is best to approach a medical professional for diagnosis.
What is a pulse oximeter?
A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the oxygen saturation levels in the blood. It is done by shining an infrared light on the bloodstream to measure the level of absorption of the light. If the oxygen saturation level is good, most of the infrared light is absorbed and if it is below the admissible levels, then light manages to pass through. It is a painless technique to measure the oxygen saturation, one that would NOT require taking a patient’s blood every time. A modern pulse oximeter can clip onto your finger and give an instant reading in a couple of minutes. Now, the same sensor is being integrated into smartwatches that can be used to measure SpO2 levels as well.
What is the use of the SpO2 sensor?
SpO2 sensor is used as a preliminary diagnosis method. It can be used to find out the capacity of your heart in pumping blood, monitor oxygen levels during surgery, evaluate the efficacy of the ventilator support, etc. Apart from that, it can also be used to check out your fitness levels as you stress out your body during workouts. If you get consistent readings that do not dip below the 96 percent mark, it is safe to assume that you are doing good w.r.t blood oxygen levels.
Is the SpO2 tracker in smartwatches any good?
Smartwatches use different technology to measure your SpO2 levels as compared to the traditional pulse oximeter. Even the latest smartwatches rely on reflectance oximetry which is considered slightly inferior to the transmittance oximetry used in oximeters. The technical jargon is quite confusing but the main difference is that smartwatches have both sensors on the backside while the oximeter has one on each end. Transmittance oximetry is considered the gold standard of measuring SpO2 levels and smartwatches cannot surpass its precision. So, if you need pitch-perfect measurements, especially for medical usage, smartwatches with SpO2 won’t serve the actual purpose.
That being said, smartwatches with SpO2 can give a rough/decent idea of your SpO2 levels, which can be used to determine if you need a doctor or not. Also, smartwatch manufacturers clearly indicate that the product is not suitable for medical standards.
Best SpO2 smartwatches for Women and Men
Apple Watch 6
The Apple Watch 6 finally added SpO2 tracking into the watch, a feature that was much awaited by almost all users. This smartwatch remains the only option for users heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem. Apple Watch 6 isn’t a major upgrade from its predecessor and adds a few elements apart from the SpO2 and sleep tracking for the users.
Apple Watch 6 comes with 5 ATM water resistance and similar health tracking features found in previous models. The only thing that sets it apart is the premium build quality and the ability to monitor both SpO2 and ECG for detecting underlying health problems. The battery life of the Apple Watch 6 along with the SpO2 and sleep tracking enabled is very low.
The Fitbit Sense is among the best smartwatches that a fitness enthusiast can buy. This smartwatch bundles every possible health monitoring feature with a premium price tag. Fitbit Sense means business and comes with SpO2, sleep tracking, ECG sensor, EDA sensor, and a plethora of monitoring activities. You can easily monitor your health status and find out about the irregularities in the normal functioning of the body.
Fitbit Sense can check your heart, blood oxygen levels, monitor stress levels along with support for tracking a lot of physical activities. The smartwatch supports Fitbit Pay and music storage which is amazing. Not every user needs the sensors packed into the Fitbit Sense and is intended towards the users who are super conscious of their health. The Fitbit Sense can last up to 6 days and has 5 ATM water resistance to brave against water splashes, swimming, etc. Surely, it is the best SpO2 (Blood Oxygen) Smartwatche that you can Buy.
Garmin Vivoactive 4S is a fresh upgrade in the line-up of Vivoactive watches. Unlike other Garmin watches, Vivoactive 4S gravitates towards a simple design that looks stylish. Once you get past the aesthetics part, the watch is loaded with health and workout-related features. It comes with a dedicated button to open the exercise menu that has new animations for each exercise you are performing. New animations for breathing mode, respiratory exercises are included.
The Garmin Vivoactive 4S comes with respiration tracking, hydration tracking, and sweat loss monitoring, and full-day SpO2 levels monitoring. It is good that the smartwatch shed the pulse ox sensor that didn’t record as frequently as the newer SpO2 one. Other health tracking features include sleep tracking and menstrual cycle tracking for females. It comes with standard 5 ATM water resistance and approx 3.5 GB of space to store music in streaming apps like Spotify, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, etc. Samsung
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is another best premium SpO2 smartwatch that can help you track your blood oxygen levels easily. The smartwatch acts a little finicky while measuring SpO2 levels but is among the most accurate ones on the market. Garmin and Samsung are the two smartwatch brands that can easily be touted as the best SpO2 measuring device makers. This smartwatch comes with ECG monitoring after a recent OTA update and now can measure blood oxygen, heart rate, sleep tracking, steps, and much more.
The design of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is bold yet bland and has nothing major to show to the users in terms of design. Like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 2, you get all the 40 different sport profiles that also include a few auto-tracking activities. The heart rate monitor and the steps counter are a little bit off if you look precisely and can count excessive steps and spikes in heartbeat sometimes. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 also has the fall detection feature that works like a charm only in advertisements and can even falsely trigger alarms.
Honor Band 5 is an earnest attempt at creating the best fitness tracker that can also measure SpO2 levels. It has a fairly small footprint and the screen can act finicky sometimes. That being said, the Honor Band 5 comes with an AMOLED screen that is best for working out and offers better visibility than the TFT displays. Honor Band 5 manages to squeeze in a SpO2 sensor at this price point that makes it a winner in the budget health tracker segment.
The SpO2 tracking is not 100 percent accurate but you can get a general idea of how good your vitals are. It also supports a few basic activities and has a precise step counter. Honor Band 5 can resist the water up to 5 atm and can accompany you to your swimming classes without any difficulty. Its battery life is also double what you get in a smartwatch due to stripped-down features and app integration.
Honor Magic Watch 2 may be the exact replica of the Watch GT 2 but its similarities do not mean that it is any less of a fitness and health tracking device. The smartwatch originally did not ship with the SpO2 tracker feature but eventually received it via an OTA update. The price at which this smartwatch retails makes it among the affordable fitness trackers in the market.
Honor Magic Watch 2 comes with a sporty design that has a slightly convex dial design and looks stunning. It can easily track more than 15 training modes that comprise activities performed by athletes. Also, it has 13 training programs that are tailored according to runners of different levels. It is water-resistant up to 5 ATMs and produces non-fluctuating blood oxygen level measurements. All in all, a decent smartwatch with the best display quality and average fitness and health tracking. Surely, it is one of the best SpO2 (Blood Oxygen) Smartwatches that you can Buy.
Fitbit Versa 3 is often termed as a toned-down version of the Fitbit Sense. The comparison puts a capable smartwatch in a bad light as the watch is packing the best SpO2 tracking capability in the segment. It has all the goodies like voice assistant support, speaker to attend calls, a large display, and good battery life. It may not be the flashiest Fitbit on the market but is surely among the reliable ones in the fitness and health tracking department.
The watch tracks the SpO2 levels while you sleep and does not require you to activate it every time. However, you can only see the stats via one of the nine faces that are bundled with the watch or go to the Fitbit app to see the stats. To analyze your health stats you need to opt for a Fitbit Premium subscription that shows health recommendations. EDA and ECG monitoring are absent from this smartwatch and are available in high-end models like Fitbit Sense.
The Garmin Fenix 6 offers the middle ground for active individuals that are yearning for a reliable fitness tracker. The smartwatch offers unparalleled fitness tracking capabilities that can overwhelm you at a first glance. For starters, you get ABC sensors (altimeter for elevation data, barometer to monitor weather, and three-axis electronic compass) along with support for pre-loading maps for offline usage. It can even store music from popular streaming apps and the 32 GB storage can accommodate it easily.
Garmin Fenix 6 uses the Pulse OX sensor that is discarded by the newer models to measure blood oxygen levels. The watch clearly states that it is not a medical device and can only be used to get a vague idea of your vitals. Additional features include Performance Metrics, PacePro Technology, and a lot more with a powerful battery saver mechanism built into the smartwatch.
Garmin Forerunner 245
Garmin Forerunner 245 is aimed at users that love music and workouts side by side. The watch uses ANT+ wireless technology to maintain reliable communication between devices. The Garmin Forerunner 245 is presented as a music-focused watch but the storage space is just 3.5 GB. With such a dainty storage space you can store up to 500 songs and if you like shuffling playlists it is better to stick to online music streaming.
Using the Garmin Forerunner 245 with all the bells and whistles, you get a meager battery life of 6 hours that is good enough for a single running or any other physical activity. The watch comes with a pulse oximeter so you can keep track of your oxygen saturation levels and track your sleep cycle with ease. This model also uses the Pulse Oximeter for measuring the SpO2 levels.
Amazfit Bip U Pro is a fairly economical smartwatch that comes with a surprisingly accurate SpO2 tracking feature. Unlike most budget smartwatches, the SpO2 tracker isn’t for namesake and can produce readings with marginal error. The smartwatch has a bland, plastic build but the health tracking is on point.
Amazfit Bip U Pro has a dedicated app where it displays all the logged data. Rather than presenting the data in confusing numbers, it organizes the data in graphical format. Third-party apps cannot be installed and Alexa doesn’t seem to work at all. If you are looking to upgrade from a fitness band to a smartwatch with accurate tracking capabilities, the Amazfit Bip U Pro won’t disappoint. Surely, it is one of the best SpO2 (Blood Oxygen) Smartwatches that you can Buy.
NoiseFit Endure is another budget smartwatch that bundles SpO2 tracking and clearly states that it doesn’t have a physical sensor inside. That means the oxygen saturation in the blood will not be precisely measured. It supports 9 types of sports modes and can count steps covered by you. The smartwatch has an IP68 rating that means it can withstand water immersion to some extent.
The Endure NoiseFit Smartwatch has a very basic feature set and retails at half of its launch price currently. It stands nowhere near the health-tracking capabilities of Samsung, Fitbit and can be considered only if you need a smartwatch instead of a fitness band.
GT 2e Huawei Smartwatch is a fairly decent smartwatch for fitness enthusiasts. It is built to last and with a stainless steel frame and comes in a few peppy color schemes. The smartwatch supports 15 professional workout modes and 85 custom workout modes that include surfing, parkour, etc. The SpO2 measuring feature is made available via OTA updates and isn’t designed for medical-grade monitoring.
The Huawei Watch GT 2e also comes with sleep tracking, 5 ATM water resistance, and less than 4 GB of storage space. Also, the USP of this smartwatch is its metallic build and the AMOLED display that looks crisp even in outdoor settings.
SpO2 is an important health metric that can be directionally measured by a smartwatch. Measuring the SpO2 in smartwatches can give you a rough idea of your present health state that can be further explored by consulting a medical professional. Before buying a smartwatch with SpO2 tracking, explore the disclaimers about the tracking feature and if the device is certified for medical purposes or not.