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Smartwatches and fitness trackers to tackle the new school year (pictures)

You can start the school year off with something new on your wrist.

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Dan Graziano, Scott Stein
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1 of 12 James Martin/CNET

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch is our favorite smartwatch for iPhone users. It can run apps, display notifications and track all-day activities like steps and calories, and it has a speakerphone for answering calls (if your iPhone is in range). The new WatchOS 3 software update should also add a welcome performance boost and some much-needed changes.

The watch can now be found cheaper than ever before. But we expect a new version to be released sometime this fall, so you might want to wait. If you do pick one up, make sure you shop around to find the best deal.

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2 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

Fitbit Blaze

The Fitbit Blaze is a stylish fitness watch that can display notifications and track activities. You can also add some extra flare with a variety of swappable watch bands. It's a little basic, but it handles everyday fitness tracking really well.

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Samsung Gear S2

Samsung's Gear S2 looks great and uses an innovative spinning bezel for navigation, but you need an Android phone to use it. The S2 can run apps, display notifications from your Android device and track your fitness. There aren't as many apps as on Android Wear, though, and the Gear S2 doesn't work with iPhones just yet.

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Garmin Forerunner 235

The Forerunner 235 is our favorite running watch for casual and serious runners. It has GPS to track pace and distance when running, along with a built-in heart-rate sensor on the back. The watch can even be worn throughout the day to track steps, calories burned and sleep. It can also display notifications from iPhone and Android devices.

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5 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

Fitbit Alta

The Fitbit Alta is a new, low-key fitness tracker with basic smartphone notifications and long battery life. It also supports a variety of interchangeable bands, such as rubber, leather and even a metal bangle. If you're looking for the best-looking Fitbit right now, this is it. And its display doubles as a basic watch.

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Huawei Watch

Android Wear software will get an update this fall, and probably new watches, too. You could wait, but our favorite of the current batch is Huawei Watch, which looks great and is the first Android Wear watch to feature a ultradurable sapphire crystal display. The watch works with both iPhone and Android devices (it's better on Android than iPhone, though). On iOS it doesn't have apps, but can display notifications and track your steps and calories burned.

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Moto 360 (2015)

Along with the Huawei Watch, the Moto 360 is our other favorite Android Wear watch. It does similar things as Huawei Watch, but it can also measure heart rate.

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Fitbit Charge HR

The Fitbit Charge HR has an optical heart rate tracker and is capable of measuring your heart rate throughout the day, which helps provide more accurate estimates on calories burned and sleep. It can also track steps, distance and floors climbed, and will notify you of incoming calls. It's the most versatile and affordable Fitbit.

The Charge HR, however, is getting a bit dated. Recent rumors have also suggested that Fitbit may be releasing new models later this year, so get it on sale or consider waiting.

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Pebble Time Steel

The Pebble Time Steel is one of the only smartwatches that doesn't have to be charged nightly. The battery will last you over a week, and the watch has an always-on screen and can be worn in the shower and the pool. The Pebble Time also works with both iOS and Android, and has a ton of watch faces and apps to explore.

The second-gen Pebble Time Steel 2, however, is slated to be released this November.

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Garmin Vivoactive HR

The Vivoactive HR is a versatile multi-sport with GPS, a built-in heart-rate sensor, long battery life, all-day activity tracking and phone notifications. It can also be worn in the shower and while swimming. It's one of the best all-activity bands if you want GPS.

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Jawbone Up2

The Jawbone Up2 is a low-key fitness tracker that can measure steps, calories burned, distance traveled and your sleep at night. The big appeal is in Jawbone's Android and iOS app, which provides personalized coaching and feedback to help you maintain a healthier lifestyle. The Up2 has been deeply discounted in recent months, and you can likely find it now for less than $50.

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Samsung Gear Fit 2

The Gear Fit 2 has a slim design with a beautiful curved display. It's part GPS workout watch, part fitness tracker and part smartwatch that can show notifications. There's also an optical heart-rate sensor on the back and 4GB of storage for up to 1,000 songs.

Get all of our back-to-school picks.

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