Spotify on smartwatches has been a complete game changer for us!
Simply, stream or transfer your favourite music onto your watch for wireless playback any time, even when offline.
It’s another huge step towards true smartwatch independence from cellphones.
In today’s guide, we recommend the best smartwatch for Spotify currently on the market. We also recommend some awesome alternatives.
How Does Spotify Connect to Your Smartwatch?
Using Spotify on a smartwatch doesn’t yet offer all the features it does on a cellphone. It’s a very different experience, but using a smartwatch is all about making concessions right?
In this section, we take a look at how it all works and what kind of experience you can expect.
A Brief Introduction to Spotify
For those that have been living under a rock for the past few years, Spotify is a streaming service that supplies music and podcasts to its subscribers.
There are millions of songs available on Spotify, and they cover a range of genres and time periods so that you can be certain of finding something that interests you, no matter how obscure your musical tastes.
Spotify is commonly available on your computer, phone, and tablet, but more recently, smartwatches with Spotify have made it to market.
The great thing about Spotify is that it is free to sign up for, and you can start listening as soon as you have shared your email address.
There is a premium service that you can pay for which has 3 key benefits (among others):
- It removes advertisements from the listening experience.
- It allows a higher standard of music quality (up to 320kbit/s bit rate).
- Plays music without an internet connection.
Spotify is hugely popular across the world and has over 248 million active users, with over 110 million subscriber (nearly double that of Apple Music subscribers).
How Spotify Works on a Smartwatch
A smartwatch with Spotify is not the same experience you are used to on a cellphone or computer.
Yes, you can the play music you love but you need to synchronize your watch with a computer or phone app. It’s not a standalone experience.
In this section, we explain how to set it up and also the limitations you need to prepare yourself for.
Step 1: Download the App
When it comes to accessing Spotify on your smartwatch, you will first need to download the Spotify app to your watch.
With Samsung wearables, this is a really simple process. Select ‘Apps’ from the home screen. Select ‘Galaxy Apps’. Find Spotify and install.
The process is easy with Garmin smartwatches too. This time you’ll need to find the Spotify app using the Connect IQ app on your cellphone.
Step 2: Sign Up
The sign-up process is straightforward, you just connect your Facebook account or use your email.
Important Note: Just remember not all smartwatches are able to use Spotify, so make sure you check out our list of recommended models.
Spotify will ask you to set a password and share your date of birth so that they know your age and can make music suggestions based upon that.
It’s an incredibly simple process made to make accessing music easy. There are lots of ways to customize your account when you have logged in so that you enjoy the music that you want to hear.
Step 3: Connect your Accounts
This step isn’t necessary with Samsung watches as you can sign in to the Spotify app on your smartwatch. However, Garmin users now need to sign into their Spotify account in the Connect IQ app. They will then be prompted to connect their accounts.
Step 4: Download Music (or stream on selected Samsung devices)
Now you can access the following folders in your Spotify account:
- Recently Played
- Made for You
You may be wondering how to do this on a Garmin watch? (I know I was!). You need to hold the ‘Down’ button. This will take you to your library. You’ll see an ‘Add music and Podcasts’ option at the bottom.
Browse through what’s on offer and download your favorite playlists (you’ll need a WiFi connection).
Important Note: You can’t edit playlists or search for new music from your watch. This needs to be done using the full Spotify app on your cell phone or computer.
The Limitations of Spotify on a Smartwatch
Unfortunately, smartwatches with Spotify don’t get the full music streaming experience. It’s a little bit annoying having to download all of your music and podcasts, but in my opinion this is a small price to pay to have music on your wrist!
Here’s the lowdown on the drawbacks you can expect with Spotify smartwatches.
1. You need a premium account.
This is no big deal for those of you that already pay the monthly subscription but for those of you new to the streaming service or that currently use a free account then this could be a dealbreaker.
In order to put music on your smartwatch, you need a paid Spotify Premium subscription. At the time of writing (8/2020), this is currently priced at $9.99. In my opinion, if you listen to a lot of music then this is really good value for money but I’ll let you decide.
2. You can’t stream music (in most cases).
Spotify is by definition a music streaming service but its integration with smartwatches (at this time) isn’t quite the same. You must download music and podcasts to your watch. That means adding and deleting new playlists every time you want to “freshen” things up.
This is a very simple process but it takes time. Especially if you are adding substantial amounts of new material.
However, as you’ll see with the next couple of points too, there are a couple of exceptions.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch and Samsung Gear S3 Frontier are both available with data plans which enable them to stream music.
3. The amount of music at your disposal is limited to your watches’ memory.
Since you must download music onto your smartwatch (with the exception of the Samsung Galaxy and S3 Frontier, which can stream), the listening material available to you at any one time is limited to the memory capacity of your watch.
Generally speaking, this is around 500 songs but it really depends on the watch and also the file sizes of your songs (higher quality music will take up more space).
Personally, I’ve never found an issue with this limitation. I use my Garmin 245 Music to listen to playlists while running. A five hundred song library is more than enough. I tend to change things up every month once some songs start to get a bit familiar.
4. You can only listen using a Bluetooth connection to external speakers or headphones.
Most of the watches with Spotify that are worth having can only playback your music with some external help. This means you need to connect to headphones or a speaker using a Bluetooth connection.
I pair my Garmin 245 Music with Bose SoundSport wireless headphones for a seamless experience when running.
The exceptions to this are the previously mentioned Samsung pair. They both contain built-in speakers that can play music without needing and external connection. Just be warned, the volume is pretty low and the sound quality isn’t great.
Spotify Alternatives to Consider
There are other music streaming alternatives that are worth considering before you sign up for a subscription. Here’s a quick look at three of the best music streaming platforms for smartwatch use.
Amazon Music – At $9.99 for non-Prime members ($7.99 with Prime membership) and with a library of 50 million songs this is a true Spotify contender. Available on Garmin.
Deezer -3 tiers that range from free up to high definition streaming at $14.99 per month. It has a library of around 60 million songs. Available on Garmin.
Pandora Music – A premium account with access to around 40 million songs costs $9.99 a month. Available on Samsung.
The Bottom Line
If you are looking for a watch that plays music, then picking a Spotify enabled smartwatch is a great choice.
As a runner, my kit is as lightweight as ever. Previously, in order to listen to music while running, I had my bulky smartphone strapped to my arm. Now, all I need is my smartwatch and wireless headphones.
Just don’t expect the full Spotify experience on smartwatch because it doesn’t yet exist. Smartwatches have a few hurdles to jump before we get that kind of app integration.
Right now, this is as good as it gets when it comes to Spotify on smartwatch. And if you ask us, it’s still amazing!
The Best Smartwatch for Spotify
In our opinion, these are the only three smartwatches with Spotify worth knowing about.
There’s one clear winner in our eyes but the others are worthy alternatives.
Garmin Forerunner 245 Music – Our Top Pick
Garmin is incredibly well known and typically considered to be the smartwatch choice of people who love to get outside and exercise.
This smartwatch not only offers an excellent music experience but has GPS to track your every move.
Music Library Size
The Forerunner 245 has 3.5 GB of internal memory which Garmin state should hold around 500 songs. However, I currently have 750 songs and 2-hour long podcast episodes on my watch so this isn’t actually accurate (but in a good way!). I typically freshen the library up every month or so with new podcast episodes and playlists.
How it Works
This Spotify smartwatch requires a premium Spotify account as you need to download the music to your watch. This means that it can’t stream music. You need to synchronize your watch with your smartphone app after selecting the music you want. The synchronization process can take a while if you plan on downloading a lot of music, so it’s best getting this out of the way with plenty of time before your next run.
Another key point to note here is that the watch itself has no audio output ability. It can store the music and play it but there are no built-in speakers. This means it needs to be paired with speakers or headphones via a Bluetooth connection.
I pair mine with Bose wireless headphones for a completely wireless listening experience while running. The connection process takes a few button presses and the connection is always solid.
The Spotify music controls are reached by holding down the ‘Back’ button for a couple of seconds. This takes you to your music library where you can browse what’s available.
This same procedure takes you to the skip, volume, shuffle, stop, and play controls while you’re listening.
It’s not exactly the smoothest user experience but it’s simple and easy to navigate. Depending on the headphones or speakers that you have paired with the watch, you might be able to control the music player externally through them.
What Else is There?
The Forerunner 245 Music actually does a heck of a lot more than just play music. As this is a Spotify watch guide we won’t go into too much detail but here’s a brief summary of the key features:
- Works with iOS and Android
- 5 ATM waterproof
- GPS (and GLONASS mapping)
- Heart rate monitor
- Pulse Ox sensor
- Fitness notifications that can help you understand whether you need to work harder or slow down.
- Garmin Coach that will work with you to get fitter and faster
- Detailed feedback from all your workouts so you know where you need to put your efforts
- Fall and safety detection services that will help you if you find yourself in trouble; this smartwatch will even alert emergency services to come and help you.
- Up to 7 days of battery life when in smartwatch mode (up to 24 hours if GPS is in constant use)
Bottom Line: I’ve owned this watch for about 6 months and absolutely love it! If you’re an active person that enjoys listening to music then I highly recommend it. Besides playing music, it’s an awesome fitness tracker that actually encourages you to get out more. It’s the Spotify smartwatch that I’d choose over all others.
Samsung Galaxy Watch
Samsung is a household name and well known for its phones, TVs, and other tech. The Galaxy Watch is the perfect choice for fitness activities as well as listening to your music throughout the day. Spotify on a Galaxy watch can be easily downloaded and is simple to access so that you don’t have to fuss around to find it.
The great thing here is that if you have the SIM card enabled version of this watch then you are able to stream music using Spotify. While this sounds really cool, it does significantly drain the battery when you are using 3G and 4G data. I also prefer playing the music through external speakers as the in-built speakers are tiny and don’t sound great.
Until smartwatch battery life improves, I prefer the Garmin Spotify implementation where you pre-download the music. The battery life doesn’t take a huge hit when listening in this way. That being said, I don’t expect everybody to agree with me.
This beautiful watch has a round face and comes in two sizes to fit all wrist types. You can expect to enjoy a full-color display, and the straps are interchangeable so that you can suit your mood to your watch look.
The fitness tracking is really good, and you will be able to swim with the watch on, meaning that you never miss an opportunity to track your progress.
Some other key features include:
- Light and thin design so you never notice it on your wrist
- Always on display to make it easy to check what is going on in the world
- A fitness tracker with a heart rate monitor to keep you up to speed on your progress
- A health coach that will work with you to improve your general fitness
- A fully customizable screen so that you can get the look you want
Bottom Line: The Samsung Galaxy Watch is the smartwatch to choose if you want to stream music. It’s an awesome watch in general and much more than just a fitness tracker that plays music (which could be said about the Garmin Forerunner).
Apple Watch Series 5
The latest Apple Watch hit the shelves last year and offers a huge range of features that will appeal to anyone that wants to get a new smartwatch.
The Apple Watch is synonymous with Apple Music, but the company does not bar Spotify. Just be prepared for a seriously limited experience.
Apple being Apple currently don’t permit 3rd party apps (ie. non Apple products) to use a cellular or WiFi connection to stream. As you can imagine, this seriously limits what 3rd party apps can achieve on the Apple Watch.
In the case of Spotify, the app is available but it can only act as a controller to control Spotify playback on another connected device. This means no streaming and not even any downloading!
I can understand why they’ve done it. It’ll push more people to use their very own Apple Music streaming service (which has full streaming capabilities with a premium subscription). However, it’s a pretty annoying tactic that we’ve come to expect from Apple.
Third-party apps may well receive more support in the future but for now, Apple Music is the only streaming service worth using on the Apple Watch.
Otherwise, it’s a seriously awesome watch that’s got the best user interface we’ve seen on a smartwatch so far. A couple of other criticisms can be aimed at the price and battery life, but all in this is a really cool piece of tech.
Some of the most sought-after features of the Apple Watch Series 5 include:
- An in-built GPS system to track wherever you go
- An Always-On screen, so there is no more pushing buttons to check the time
- An ECG app to check your heart health whenever it takes your fancy
- An in-built compass
- A bigger screen than ever before
Bottom Line: There’s a big compromise to make here if you simply must use Spotify. But, if you’re willing to make the switch to Apple Music you get the full streaming ability and a real quality wrist-piece.
If you want music on your watch there are few decent choices right now, but smartwatches with Spotify are leading the way.
However, there are a few different implementations of Spotify on smartwatches that you need to be aware of.
There are those that can stream, those that can only download to internal memory, and those that simply work as an extended remote control.
It depends what you’re personally looking for but for me, the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music does a brilliant job. It’s a smartwatch with offline Spotify access that relies on downloading and storing the music internally via a smartphone. This might not be for everyone (try the Samsung Galaxy or Apple Watch if so) but for a runner like myself, it’s now an essential piece of tech.
Remember, other very good music streaming services exist too. If you’re an Apple fan then switching over to Apple Music and streaming with an Apple Watch Series 5 is a great way to get music on your smartwatch too.
Recommended: Which smartwatch is best for music playback?