- We tested dozens of smartwatches to see which ones are best for women in terms of style, size, and function.
- The 44mm Apple Watch Series 5 is the best high-tech smartwatch for women with its simple interface and attractive looks.
- We are currently testing Apple’s newest smartwatch lineup — including the very promising, affordable Apple Watch SE — as well as the new Fossil Gen 5E smartwatches.
- If you’re looking for men’s or unisex styles, check out our guide to the best smartwatches overall.
- There may also be discounts on our top picks during Amazon Prime Day 2020, which runs from October 13 to 14. You can follow our coverage of the best Prime Day tech deals here.
The first smartwatches were bulky, ugly monstrosities that only the most ardent of tech addicts could stomach wearing every day, but over the past few years, smartwatches have become much more fashionable.
As more and more fashion-forward brands join the latest tech craze, more feminine smartwatches have started to arrive. Fossil, Skagen, and Kate Spade are getting into the wearable world. Of course, traditional tech companies are taking notice of the trend, too.
With the Apple Watch, Apple was one of the first tech companies to make smartwatches that work for any gender, and it remains the only company to have successfully made a smartwatch that’s small enough for those with thinner wrists. Meanwhile, Samsung and others have dabbled in making attractive versions of their feminine smartwatches.
As a female tech reviewer for the past six years, I’ve tested nearly every smartwatch that has come out to date — no matter how big or masculine in design — so I can confidently say that these are the best smartwatches for women.
Our buying guide includes all kinds of watches to suit every style, so whether you like gold, silver, or a unique finish; whether you like chunky watches, slim ones, or futuristic styles, we’ve got you covered.
Here are the best smartwatches for women:
- Best smartwatch for women overall: 44mm Apple Watch Series 5
- Best smartwatch with a feminine design: Fossil Julianna HR
- Best smartwatch with a minimalist design: Skagen Falster 3
- Best smartwatch with fitness features: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
Updated on 10/5/2020 by Malarie Gokey: Added several smartwatches we look forward to testing, including the new Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, Fossil 5E, Fitbit Versa 3, and Michael Kors Access Gen 4. Although there are many new ones to test soon, we still think our top picks are good choices. Also added more information about our testing methodology.
The Apple Watch Series 5 has an always-on watch face, a female-friendly fit, and excellent fitness features.
We are currently testing the new Apple Watch lineup, but until our final thoughts are all put together, we still recommend the Apple Watch Series 5 as our top pick. The slim body and always-on watch face make it sleeker and more stylish than ever before. The unique modern design works for just about anyone.
The smartwatch comes in 40mm and 44mm styles to fit wrists big and small. You can buy it in several finishes to match your style and there are dozens of Apple-made and third-party watch bands to make the watch your own. Apple brought back the premium ceramic and stainless steel finishes, too.
No other smartwatch offers this much variety and customization, especially when it comes to feminine options. The Apple Watch is the only smartwatch I’ve ever worn regularly each day for months on end. I’ve reviewed dozens of Android Wear watches, and although many of them are nice looking as well and they have improved over the years, they’re not as fully featured or easy to use as the Apple Watch. They’re not quite as slim or natural-looking on my wrist, either.
The Apple Watch boasts cutting-edge smartwatch tech including mobile payments with Apple Pay, stand-alone GPS, full waterproofing up to 50 meters, and thousands of apps. The user interface is very simple and attractive. It’s easy to use and it has advanced, easy-to-use fitness tracking features, thanks to many sensors and an excellent heart rate monitor.
The Series 5 can even detect when you fall and even alert emergency contacts if need be, as well as an electrical heart rate sensor that works with an app to alert you to heart health issues. The electrocardiogram (ECG) app has been certified by the Food & Drug Administration.
You can also get an LTE version of the Series 5 for standalone smartwatch functions like calls, texts, and internet access. That way, you can leave your phone at home when you go out on a run or a long hike.
The LTE connection will cost you a monthly fee at most carriers, and the LTE model does cost more. Most people probably don’t need LTE, frankly, unless you regularly go on hikes or long runs and you don’t want to be weighed down with your phone. Still, it’s a nice option to have.
The Series 5 lasts a full day on a charge, but you can get more out of it if you don’t get notifications from every app on your iPhone. The new always-on display does lessen the battery life a bit, too.
While other companies struggle to pack tons of tech into bulky smartwatches, Apple effortlessly offers all the tech you need in the most compact and attractive smartwatch you can buy.
Pros: Gorgeous larger screen, slimmer watch case, haptic feedback from the crown, great watch faces, tons of band options, lots of apps, new health-focused features
Cons: Expensive, battery life is short, only works with iPhone
The best with a feminine design
The Fossil Julianna HR is a sleek smartwatch with a feminine design, a heart rate monitor, GPS, NFC, and the power of WearOS.
If you’re an Android user who wants a feminine smartwatch, you’re in luck. Over the past few years, fashion brands and watchmakers have been making great Wear OS smartwatches. Fossil’s smartwatch line continues to grow each year, and we are looking forward to testing its new Gen 5E watches, but until then, we still recommend the Julianna HR.
In the new version, the watch casing is smaller and less bulky, and there’s also the latest tech like a heart rate sensor, GPS, and NFC for mobile payments.
Fossil offers several different finishes for the Julianna’s watch casing. I love the simple rose gold casing and leather strap option, but you can also get one with a metal bracelet.
If you don’t like any of the included straps, Fossil and other brands sell dozens of 22mm watch straps you can choose instead to really make the Julianna your own.
It’s a chunky watch, which is great for those who like bigger watches. Even though it’s stylish, this smartwatch is also waterproof up to 3 ATM, so you can swim with it on.
As for the tech inside, the Julianna runs Wear OS (previously known as Android Wear) and works with thousands of apps on the Google Play Store. You can answer texts, interact with notifications, and choose your own watch face — just like you would on any other smartwatch. Fossil has lots of nice watch faces in feminine colors, too.
It’ll work with both Android phones and the iPhone, but it’s best with Android devices. When Android Wear watches are paired to the iPhone, a lot of functions no longer work, and you’re left with a pretty watch that gives you notifications.
Pros: Classic watch design, stylish color options, lots of compatible watch straps, and it’s compatible with iPhones and Android phones
Cons: It’s a bit chunky, not as good with iPhone
The best for minimalists
The Skagen Falster 3 has a simple, attractive design, a heart rate monitor, Google Pay, and built-in GPS.
Skagen is known for its minimalistic design choices, and the Falster 3, its third smartwatch, is a prime example. The Falster 3 looks very different from most other smartwatches with its unique lugs and simple bands. It’s also slimmer than the original Falster.
It’s an interesting smartwatch because it could easily suit just about anyone. I tried the Falster 3 on for size, and while it was still a bit large for my notoriously small wrists, it looked just fine on larger wrists. If you like bigger watches, it’ll look right at home on you.
Just like all other Wear OS (previously Android Wear) smartwatches, the Falster 3 works with both iPhone and Android devices. As always, Wear OS is best with an Android phone; some functions simply don’t work as well when you pair this watch to an iPhone. It also supports the Google Assistant, so you can ask Google for info or use voice commands. You can even take calls from your wrist, thanks to the built-in speaker and microphone.
You can download thousands of apps from the Google Play Store and get notifications on your wrist. This second-generation smartwatch also has GPS, NFC for Google Pay for mobile payments, and a heart rate monitor built-in, so it’s more fully-featured and high tech than the original Falster. It’s everything we wanted the original Falster to be. You can even go swimming with it, as it’s rated for 5 ATM water resistance.
Pros: Cool design, simple mesh band, suits women and men, Wear OS, works with iPhone and Android, GPS, NFC, heart rate monitor
Cons: A bit pricey
The best with fitness features
Samsung’s Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a great smartwatch for women who want a good-looking wearable with solid fitness-tracking features.
Many fitness-focused smartwatches are still bulky and relatively unattractive, so if you’re looking for a smartwatch that looks subtle but knows its way around a workout, look no further than the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2.
It comes in two sizes (40mm and 44mm) so you can pick the one that suits your style and wrist-size best. You can also choose between several finishes, including black, silver, gold, a pink-ish gold, and a blue-ish silver. Plus, the 22mm straps are swappable, so you can change up the look of the watch to match your outfit on any given day.
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is compatible with both iOS and Android phones, so you can get notifications, track your workouts, and even issue voice commands to the digital assistant Bixby on the watch. Samsung Pay works on the watch for mobile payments when you’re on the go. Samsung’s app store is quite robust, too, so you can have apps like Spotify, Twitter, Strava, and more on your wrist.
In terms of fitness features, the Active 2 not only tracks your activity, but it can automatically detect seven different types of workouts — “walking, running, cycling, rowing, elliptical trainer, dynamic workouts, and swimming” — and start tracking them without you having to do anything.
The watch can also track 39 types of exercise, though you will manually have to select the specific workout on the watch to get the specialized tracking and advice from the Health app. It’s water-resistant up to 5 ATM — just like the Apple Watch — so you can swim with it on, too.
Its heart rate monitor helps to ensure that your stats are accurate. It can also detect high or low heart rates. All in all, it’s an effective smartwatch that excels at fitness tracking.
Pros: Heart rate monitor, automatically tracks some workouts, offers helpful data for 39 different types of exercise, easy to use, good app selection, simple design
Cons: Some features may be limited on iOS
What we are looking forward to testing
We’re currently in the process of testing several new smartwatches for women that were just released, so stay tuned for a bigger update. Here are the ones we’re currently looking into and testing.
- Apple Watch SE: The Apple Watch SE is the new affordable entry-level watch model. It looks excellent and we look forward to testing it out soon.
- Apple Watch Series 6: At the opposite end of the spectrum is the Series 6, which has high-end specs and a price tag to match. We look forward to testing it out soon.
- Fitbit Versa 3: The Fitbit Versa 3 could be a great contender for the best smartwatch upgrade for people who have an old Fitbit tracker and want to try out a smartwatch for the first time. The previous generation of the Versa was our pick for fitness fans.
- Michael Kors Access Gen 4: Michael Kors has been making smartwatches alongside Fossil for years now. If you like MK, you’ll probably like this watch as it has many of the same features and a flashy feminine design.
- Fossil Gen 5E: Fossil’s new Gen 5E smartwatches look great with more size options to suit those with smaller wrists.
How we test smartwatches
To test smartwatches, we evaluate both the form and function of the device. Because these are pieces of tech that you’ll wear every day, the design matters more than it does for a lot of other kinds of devices.
Style is obviously subjective, so we look at design elements we can objectively measure like having a few different sizes, multiple band options, and a wider variety of colors and finishes to choose between. The more options, the higher the likelihood that there will be a style for just about everyone.
Other design elements we look for are water resistance and comfort while exercising because you’ll want to have both in a smartwatch if you’re using it for workouts. To test, we dunk the water-resistant smartwatches in the designated depth of water for the amount of time they’re rated to withstand. We also workout with these watches to see how comfortable they are to wear and how helpful they are during the workout.
We test all the tech specs and features to ensure that they are easy to use and actually work. Mostly, we just go through life and see how much value each smartwatch adds. How helpful are the notifications and apps? How good is music playback? How helpful are the workout features? And so on.
We also track how long battery life lasts in different modes and how long the watches need to recharge. If the charger is annoying to use or easy to lose, that’s another consideration.
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