The best smartwatches for women

  • We tested dozens of smartwatches to see which ones are best for women in terms of style, size, and function.
  • The Apple Watch Series 6 is the best high-tech smartwatch for women with its simple interface and attractive looks.
  • But there are plenty of other options that work on iPhone or Android, or for those who want something that looks more elegant or minimalist.
  • If you're looking for men's or unisex styles, check out our guide to the best smartwatches overall.
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The first smartwatches were bulky devices that only really appealed to the most ardent of tech addicts. But over the past few years, smartwatches have become much more fashionable.

As more luxury brands have come into the fold, more stylish smartwatches have started to arrive. Fossil, Skagen, and Kate Spade are just some examples of fashion houses that have launched wearables. 

Apple was one of the first tech companies to make a smartwatch that anyone would want to wear, regardless of your design preferences. But it's also facing increased competition as rivals like Samsung and Fitbit have upgraded the form and functionality of their watches, too. 

We've been reviewing smartwatches for the past six years, from the clunkier watches of years past to the sleek accessories of today that can almost pass as regular analog watches.  

Our buying guide includes all kinds of watches to suit every style, so whether you like gold, silver, or a unique finish;  chunky watches, slim ones, or high-tech styles, we've got you covered.

Here are the best smartwatches for women:

  • Best smartwatch for women overall: Apple Watch Series 6
  • 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 in December 2020 by Lisa Eadicicco: Replaced the Apple Watch Series 5 with the Apple Watch Series 6 as our top pick, and added new testing notes for the Series 6. 

The best smartwatch for women overall

The Apple Watch Series 6 has an improved always-on display, a great fit even on smaller wrists, and excellent fitness features. 

Pros: Stylish and customizable design, wide selection of health tracking features, easy-to-use interface,  attractive always-on display

Cons: Expensive, shorter battery life than Fitbit watches, less detailed sleep metrics than rivals

The Apple Watch is still our top pick, and the Series 6 brings improvements like a brighter always-on display, faster charging, and the ability to measure blood oxygen levels. Although not everyone may be interested in those deeper health metrics, we still think the Apple Watch offers the best combination of health tracking, general smart features, style, and customization options. 

Just like the Series 5, the Series 6 comes in 40mm and 44mm size options. Apple also added two new finishes with its latest watch, blue and red, meaning the Series 6 comes in more color options than any other Apple Watch. Apple also added another layer of customization to its smartwatch in 2019 with the launch of Apple Watch Studio, which lets you pair any case with any strap to create your own style. It's rare to find this level of personalization on a smartwatch, making it a great choice for those who prioritize aesthetics. 

But it's not just the Apple Watch's looks that make it our first choice. After testing plenty of Android Wear and Fitbit smartwatches, the Apple Watch is still generally the easiest to use and has the most polished software experience. Rivals like Fitbit do offer some benefits over the Apple Watch, particularly when it comes to battery life and the quality of its sleep tracking data, but the Apple Watch generally checks all the boxes most people need in a compact, attractive design. 

For fitness fanatics, the Apple Watch allows you to log dozens of workout types, track metrics like calorie burn and exercise minutes, can detect hard falls, reminds you not to remain sedentary for too long, and can monitor your heart rate. For those that may need to keep a closer eye on their respiratory or cardiac health, the Apple Watch Series 6 can also detect oxygen levels in the blood and take an ECG from your wrist. 

Otherwise, the Apple Watch comes with all of the features you'd expect from a smartwatch, such as mobile payment support, standalone GPS, water resistance up to 50 meters, the option for cellular connections on pricier models, and plenty of apps to choose from.  

The Apple Watch isn't the only smartwatch to come with an always-on display. But Apple's execution of this feature looks more elegant, since it keeps a version of your watch face on screen that's optimized not to drain its battery. Fitbit's always-on mode is a bit more basic and mostly just shows the time and other information. 

For those who don't want to spend $400 on the Series 6, Apple also sells the $280 SE. That watch is missing some of the bells and whistles found on the Series 6 — most crucially an always-on display and deeper health features like ECG monitoring and blood oxygen measurements — but still offers the same general experience.  

In terms of battery life, you can expect the Apple Watch to last for more than a day, but probably not two full days. That can make it challenging to use as a sleep tracker since it's best to charge it nightly. 

Even so, the Apple Watch combines style, functionality, and health tracking better than most rivals, making it our favorite smartwatch. 

Not sure which Apple Watch is right for you? Check out our guide.

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.

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

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.

The best for minimalists

The Skagen Falster 3 has a simple, attractive design, a heart rate monitor, Google Pay, and built-in GPS.

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

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 information 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.

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.

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

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, and the watch can also detect high or low heart rates.  All told, it's an effective smartwatch that excels at fitness tracking.

What we are looking forward to testing

We're currently in the process of testing several other smartwatches that women might enjoy,and we'll update this guide accordingly after we do so. Here are the ones we're currently looking into.

  • 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 easy is the software to navigate? How helpful are the workout features?

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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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected]

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