The Apple Watch may not have replicated the runaway success of the iPhone or iPad, but it’s steadily grown into the best smartwatch available today. Apple has iterated on the hardware, designing custom processors that balance performance and battery life, while updating the software to add key features like the ability to run third-party apps, automatically track your exercise, and work more autonomously when you’re not near your iPhone. In fact, the Apple Watch’s Achilles heel may be that you need an iPhone to set it up — here’s hoping they offer the ability to pair it with an iPad in the near future.
The Apple Watch works very well on its own, but pairing the wearable with a few accessories can improve the experience of using it. That could mean getting a battery pack to help extend its life when you’re away from an outlet to a screen protector to prevent it from getting scratched. To help you get the very most out of your Apple Watch, we’re highlighting the best Apple Watch accessories available right now. Our guide will be continually updated, so check back often.
— Best Overall: Wristcam
— Best Charging Cable: Satechi USB-C Magnetic Charging Cable
— Best Watch Band: Sunnywoo Metal Stainless Steel Band
— Best Watch Stand: Elago W3 Stand
— Best Screen Protector: InvisibleShield Ultra Clear
— Best Headphones: AirPods Pro
How We Picked the Best Apple Watch Accessories
There are thousands of Apple Watch accessories available at stores like Amazon and Best Buy, but we leaned heavily into practicality instead of novelty when making our selections for this guide. Even our most fun pick serves a purpose rather than adding an unnecessary frill.
Apple Watch Size: The Apple Watch has always been available in two sizes, though those sizes have changed over the years. The Apple Watch Series 0 (2014) through Apple Watch Series 3 (2017) were available in 38mm and 42mm sizes. The Apple Watch Series 4 (2018), Apple Watch Series 5 (2019), and Apple Watch SE (2020) were available in 40mm and 44mm sizes. The Apple Watch Series 6 (2021) is available in 41mm and 45mm sizes.
We’re outlining these size changes because accessory makers will list them on their product’s page, and it can seem confusing. In many cases, the accessories we recommend are compatible with any Apple Watch. If that’s not the case, we’ll make sure to mention which models they’re compatible with.
Apple Watch Style: Apple offers the Apple Watch with three case styles: Aluminum, Stainless Steel, and Titanium (this model is called the “edition”). The main difference between these three models comes down to style, but the Stainless Steel and Titanium Apple Watches do have one material difference: A sapphire screen, which is more resistant to cracks and scratches than the glass display on the aluminum Apple Watch.
Best Overall: Wristcam
Why It Made The Cut: The Wristcam turns the Apple Watch into a viewfinder for photography and videography, which is a cool, futuristic feeling feature we didn’t think could happen.
— Watch Compatibility: All sizes
— Type of Accessory: Band
— Price: $299
— Innovative design
— Water resistant
— Supports image stabilization
— Shooting photos and videos from your wrist can look awkward
Wristcam uses the Apple Watch to fulfill a promise made by countless spy movies: having a watch that can shoot pictures and videos. The results may not be perfect, but we have to tip our hats to Wristcam for making the effort.
The Wristcam is an Apple Watch band with an eight-megapixel camera built into the front of it. The camera can also record full HD (1080P) video. The camera in the band communicates with the Apple Watch wirelessly over Bluetooth, and you can use the smartwatch’s display as a viewfinder to frame your photos and videos before you take them. The Wristcam has a physical shutter button, so there won’t be any lag between when you want to take a photo or start recording video, and when it actually happens.
Wristcam says this band is IP68 Water Resistant, which means it can be fully submerged underwater for 30 minutes without being damaged. This is the same IP rating as the Apple Watch Series 7, so you won’t have to worry about one getting before the other.
The only real issue we could find with the Wristcam is that it’s a little awkward to take photos and videos using a camera built into a watch. This isn’t Wristcam’s fault, it’s just the reality of having a camera on your wrist. Besides the awkward social optics, it may be difficult to frame the shot you want since the lens is facing toward you.
Despite that, the Wristcam is by far the most innovative Apple Watch accessory we’ve ever seen. If you can get over some initial awkwardness, you can fully embrace your inner Dick Tracy.
Best Charging Cable: Satechi USB-C Magnetic Charging Cable
Why It Made The Cut: Satechi’s Apple Watch charging cable is more durable than the one Apple ships with its smartwatch, and is designed to work with the latest power adapters and computers.
— Watch Compatibility: All
— Type of Accessory: Charging
— Price: $39.99
— Can fast-charge Apple Watch Series 7
— Compact design
— May be too short
The one Apple Watch accessory we can easily recommend to anyone, regardless of how or how often you use your smartwatch, is Satechi’s USB-C Charging Cable.
The cable, which is compatible with every Apple Watch model, terminates into a USB-C connector. Until the Apple Watch Series 7, Apple shipped its smartwatch with cables that terminated in a USB-A connector. As more and more chargers and computers dump USB-A ports for USB-C ports, it’s nice to get ahead of the curve and start replacing your older cords. Another reason to upgrade from an older cord is that the Apple Watch Series 7 can actually charge faster when you use a charging cable that terminates into a USB-C connector and plug it into a 20-watt power adapter. Future Apple Watches will almost certainly keep this feature, so you should get new cables to take advantage of it.
Satechi’s Apple Watch charging cable has one big advantage over the one that comes with your device: it has a braided outer casing. This means the cable is far less likely to split or fray after consistent use. In our tests, Satechi’s cable felt solid, and didn’t show any signs of wear after being bent repeatedly. We were especially pleased with the cable’s USB-C connector, which is thick and reinforced with rubber and aluminum. If you’re currently using an Apple Watch charging cable that’s held together with tape, it’s time to replace it.
The only fault we could find with Satechi’s USB-C Magnetic Charging Cable is its short length. The cord is just seven inches long, which is fine if you charge your Apple Watch at your desk, or plugged into an outlet very close to you, but may be too short in other situations. If the cable’s short length doesn’t bother you, we can recommend it without a second thought.
Best Watch Band: Sunnywoo Metal Stainless Steel Band
Why It Made The Cut: This Apple Watch band is guaranteed to fit on any sized wrist, can be adjusted easily, and looks stylish.
— Watch Compatibility: All
— Type of Accessory: Watch band
— Price: $11.98
— Fits any Apple Watch
— Guaranteed to fit perfectly on your wrist
— Understated look
— Metallic watch bands may not suit your taste
The third-party Apple Watch band marketplace is gigantic, and it’s possible to find well-made duplicates of Apple’s first-party watchband offerings for a fraction of the price. Apple has never changed the way bands connect to the Apple Watch, so a third-party watch band released five years ago will still fit the Apple Watch Series 7. Apple doesn’t seem like it’s in any rush to change this design, so getting a cheaper band now is a pretty safe bet.
The truth is that there is no true “best Apple Watch band” because watches are a fashion accessory, and your personal taste will dictate what you do or do not like. If you like the look and feel of leather (or the far more humane faux-leather) watchbands, or multi-colored woven nylon watch bands, it won’t be hard to find something you like.
We’re personally fans of metal watch bands, which led us to recommend this magnetic metallic band from Sunnywoo. We’ve tried dupes of Apple’s ultra-luxe Milanese loop before, and the one we got several years ago still works fine. It’s out of stock now, but this model from Sunnywoo looks identical. We like magnetic watch bands for the minimalist look, but also because they can be adjusted to fit your wrist perfectly. Using a watch band with holes or removable links means you’ll end up with a fit that may be just a bit too loose or snug. With a magnetic wristband, your Apple Watch will fit perfectly every time, and still be easy to slip on and off at any time.
The fact that Sunnywoo’s Metal Stainless Steel Band will fit any sized wrist made us inclined to recommend it above any other option, but again, it’ll be easy to find an Apple Watch band that fits your style without any issues.
Best Watch Stand: Elago W3 Stand
Why It Made The Cut: Elago’s W3 is a love letter to Apple’s past hardware, and helps you make use of a very useful Apple Watch feature.
— Watch Compatibility: All
— Type of Accessory: Stand
— Price: $13.99
— Fits any Apple Watch
— Comes in two colors
— Fun, throwback design
— May not suit your taste
Apple introduced a software feature to the Apple Watch called “nightstand mode” that turns the smartwatch into a desk side clock that displays the time and date. This mode can only be activated when the Apple Watch is placed on its side, and several accessory makers have designed stands to give the smartwatch a cool look when it’s in this mode.
Our favorite is the W3 by Elago, which is modeled after the original Macintosh computer that Apple released in 1984. The Apple Watch display fits perfectly in the place where the first-generation Mac’s screen went. This Apple Watch stand may not move you if you don’t have nostalgia for older technology, but it’s a fun enough throwback that we couldn’t avoid including it.
Best Screen Protector: InvisibleShield Ultra Clear
Why It Made The Cut: This is the only accessory that can actually save you hundreds of dollars if you accidentally hit your Apple Watch on something.
— Watch Compatibility: 40mm
— Type of Accessory: Screen protector
— Price: $14.99
— Prevents dents and scratches
— Doesn’t impact screen visibility
— Feels glass-like
— You need to be careful the model you pick fits your watch
We’ve tested InvisibleShield’s iPhone screen protectors and found them to be incredibly durable, which is why we’re recommending the company’s Apple Watch screen protector, too.
The InvisibleShield Ultra Clear screen protector features a “self-healing” nano-textured material, which the company says offers “military-grade” edge-to-edge protection. In our experience with InvisibleShield’s gear, this means you should expect the screen protector to handle light, accidental bumps into wood, bricks, or stone. Harder hits may scratch or crack the screen protector, but you’d need a significant impact for your Apple Watch’s screen to get damaged. InvisibleShield says it’ll replace the screen protector for the life of your device, so you can get a new one if the UltraClear retains a lot of damage.
If you’ve never used a screen protector on your device, you may worry about it reducing the vibrance of your screen, making it feel weird, or reducing its responsiveness. In our experience with InvisibleShield’s gear, none of those issues have cropped up. You should have no issues tapping the Apple Watch’s screen, reading notifications, or feeling any roughness beneath your finger. The company seems to have gone out of its way to perfect the materials it uses, and it shows.
One final note for screen protector skeptics: An InvisibleShield Ultra Clear Apple Watch screen protector costs less than $15, but paying to replace a broken Apple Watch screen costs at least $300. When viewed from that angle, the answer is pretty clear. This is especially true for Apple Watch owners who have an Aluminum model, since the glass display Apple uses is more susceptible to damage than the sapphire one used on the Stainless Steel or Titanium models.
Our only word of advice is to get the screen protector that fits the Apple Watch model you use. The one above is compatible with 40mm Apple Watch models, but InvisibleShield offers versions that fit every model.
Best Headphones: AirPods Pro
Why It Made the Cut: Apple’s AirPods Pro are the most convenient way to listen to music through your Apple Watch.
— Watch Compatibility: All
— Type of Accessory: Earbuds
— Price: $174.99
— Allows you to listen to music through your Apple Watch
— Works with multiple devices
— Supports noise cancellation
Believe it or not, the Apple Watch has built-in storage, which allows you to sync music from your iPhone onto the wearable for offline listening. This feature is great for those who want to leave their phone at home while going for a quick walk, or in a bag while working out at the gym. The Apple Watch supports Bluetooth, which means you can use it with any pair of wireless headphones, but unsurprisingly the AirPods Pro work the best.
Apple’s earbuds can automatically connect to the Apple Watch when you take them out of their battery case, so there’s no need to mess around with settings. Once paired, you can stream music, podcasts, or any other audio from your watch directly to the earbuds, no phone required. The AirPods also communicate with the Apple Watch through a custom version of Bluetooth that’s more energy-efficient, which means they’re far more likely to make it through multiple hours of use without a charge.
When you’re not wearing your Apple Watch, the AirPods Pro can be used to stream music from any smartphone, tablet, or computer. In fact, the AirPods Pro took the top spot in our best wireless earbuds guide due to their audio quality, active noise cancellation, and fit.
Things To Consider Before Buying Apple Watch Accessories
Your Daily Carry
The Apple Watch is designed to help free you from having to carry around other gadgets, even your iPhone, all the time, so you should think hard about which accessories you’d actually use. If you carry a backpack during your commute, for example, it may make sense to keep a battery pack on hand because you won’t feel too encumbered. If you tend to travel light, you may want to stick with an Apple Watch screen protector.
We always try to recommend tech accessories that can serve multiple purposes, which we consider to be less wasteful. The best examples of this practice in our best Apple Watch Accessories guide are the AirPods Pro and Satechi battery pack.
Q: Will my accessory work if I upgrade my Apple Watch?
Maybe. We don’t know what changes Apple is going to make when it releases its next-generation Apple Watch. We’re very confident that the charging accessories in our guide are going to work with new Apple Watch models for a long time because Apple hasn’t modified them since the first model was released.
Q: How long will my Apple Watch last?
Apple has continued to support the Apple Watch Series 3 (2017) with new software updates, so our estimate is at least four years.
Final Thoughts on Apple Watch Accessories
The Apple Watch accessory market has remained strong since the first model was released several years ago, which means you have dozens — if not hundreds — of choices when searching for bands, cases, and other neat tools. That said, we recommend keeping a level head, and considering how you use your Apple Watch before making a decision about which accessories are right for you. Is the Apple Watch a communications tool, or a fitness tracker? Do you wear it to bed, or keep it on a charger all night? Do you keep your Apple Watch until it breaks, or do you upgrade often? These highly personal questions are worth asking, because the answers, which can sometimes be surprising, will lead you to the right Apple Watch accessories.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.