If we had tried to compile a list of the best smartwatches for women a few years ago, it might have consisted of a string of angry emojis and not much else. Times have changed, though, and there are now plenty of smartwatches that women can wear proudly in public.
Men's watches have a pretty set style, but most of the smartwatches and non-screen hybrids here come in a range of designs, sizes and finishes or even the option to go bespoke with your own concoction. Alas, many companies still haven't been able to get all their flagship sports and tech features into smaller sizes (or maybe they just don't care enough). But times are changing.
We‚Äôve picked out our current favorites, and you can see our reviews below for more detailed views on features, design and performance.
Update: We updated this article in October 2019 to include the latest smartwatches we've been testing - including the Apple Watch Series 5 and Fitbit Versa 2.
Best smartwatches for women‚Ä¶
Apple Watch Series 5
The Apple Watch is our current top pick of smartwatches. Now in its fifth iteration, it's still probably the best full-blooded smartwatch for iPhone-owning women.
Unlike the Series 4, we don't get a radical design overhaul, with Apple sticking to the same 40mm and 44mm sizes. What you do get is something we've been craving for since the first Watch and that's an always-on display.
Along with aluminum and stainless steel looks, Apple has brought back the ceramic option and is now offering a titanium Watch too. Those models inevitably push the price up, though.
As a fitness tracker and health device, you're getting more of the same here like a swim-proof design, built-in GPS and LTE for making calls and streaming music when you're away from your phone. ECG is there to offer serious heart health monitoring, too. With the arrival of watchOS 6, you're also getting new features like an onboard App Store and new apps that are designed for monitoring hearing health and menstrual cycles.
Though it looks nothing like a traditional wristwatch, the Apple Watch is still the most flawlessly finished smartwatch we've seen and can look quite chic nestled on a wrist stacked with bracelets ‚Äď and luckily there's a huge market of Apple Watch straps to choose from. If you don't want to spend big, Apple is offering the Series 3 for $199, which has a lot of the same core features as the Series 5, but for considerably less cash.
Price when reviewed: From $399
Wareable Verdict: Apple Watch Series 5 review
Fitbit Versa 2
After a rocky start with the Ionic, Fitbit's venture into smartwatches is now looking much stronger with the Versa 2. Its third smartwatch isn't just better looking, it's smaller too, making it more suited for women. This was a major problem with the Ionic, which was too large for many wrists and employed a very angular, arguably ugly design.
The Versa 2 runs on the same software as the Ionic, meaning you'll have access to the app store and catalogue of watch faces, but in a smaller package. There's a vibrant 300 x 300 pixel resolution AMOLED display topping out at 1,000 nits, and with 50m water resistance it can be taken swimming (you can track pool workouts). Plus Fitbit's female health (period) tracking, which is open to all users of the app, can actually be viewed onscreen on the Versa.
Where it differs from the Ionic feature-wise is the lack of built-in GPS. You'll still be able to track GPS, but it'll need to be paired with your phone to do so. You can still load on tracks and play offline playlists from Deezer and (for US users only) Pandora, so it's still a pretty good independent workout companion. Unlike the first Versa, Fitbit Pay now comes on all models.
The big new feature is Amazon Alexa, which brings the smart assistant to a Fitbit watch for the first time. There's no speaker, so you'll only get text-based responses, but it's certainly nice to see Fitbit offer a Siri and Google Assistant alternative.
Take note: there's also the Fitbit Versa Lite Edition, which cuts music support and a couple of other features, but maintains the same design ‚Äď for a cheaper price.
Price when reviewed: $199
Wareable verdict: Fitbit Versa 2 review
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
Buy now: Amazon | From $279.99
Look, we're not saying women can only wear rose gold watches, but the 40mm Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 in rose gold finish is really rather nice. The Watch Active 2 is not Samsung's top-end smartwatch (that's still the Samsung Galaxy Watch), but we actually think this is the nicer Samsung smartwatch to wear.
The Active 2 is available in 40mm and 44mm sizes, though even the larger option doesn't look hulking on a slim wrist. Both feature lovely AMOLED screens, a waterproof design and pretty much every feature you could think of in Tizen.
Aside from being let down on apps, this could be a neat choice for Android owners who aren't convinced by Wear OS. Notifications, solid fitness and sports tracking and thoughtful design all help the Galaxy Watch to stand out in a sea of smartwatches. While this one doesn't have the same physical rotating bezel you get on the pricier Galaxy Watch, it does now have a touch sensitive one, which works well.
Battery life has been beefed up from the first Active and Samsung is promising to add features in the future including ECG and fall detection modes. If you want to go sportier, there's also an Under Armour edition that offers a more gym-friendly watch band and some extra watch faces.
For our money, the Active 2 is our current Samsung fave and we think you'll like it too.
Wareable Verdict: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review
Skagen Falster 2
If you're in the market for a really good Wear OS watch with NFC payments and beginner-friendly HR and sports features, the minimalist 40mm Skagen Falster 2 is a good option, giving you the standard Wear OS experience. It's worth noting, though, that Fossil's fifth-generation watches are now arriving, leaving the fourth-generation options like the Falster 2 slightly behind.
Still, though, we loved living with this and it's a great example of matching good design with the best that Google has to offer in the software department. There are enough options to give you plenty of styles to choose from, all maintaining that sleek profile that makes it such a joy to wear.
Battery life will be around 24 hours and performance is powered by the older Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 processor. Though we didn't have any problems swiping through on that impressive touchscreen display.
It's sleek and small and elegant ‚Äď plus it's now swimproof as a bonus. It's not explicitly designed for women, but its unisex appeal makes it a strong contender regardless.
Price when reviewed: $295
Wareable verdict: Skagen Falster 2 review
Michael Kors Access Sofie Heart Rate
The original Michael Kors Sofie smartwatch is a little long in the tooth, so for 2019 the company gave it an update with a suite of new features.
It's still a dressy, blingy full-screen smartwatch, with a nice slim pav√© bezel and 41mm case in a range of finishes. However for 2019, that case is now waterproof to 3ATM, while MK has also added a heart rate monitor and NFC for Google Pay.
It still looks good on the wrist and comes with those added extras that do make it more useful day-to-day. It's better suited to casual gym goers rather than hardcore sports fans, but if you've been looking for a fashion-focused smartwatch that offers a nice balance between design and features, there's still a whole lot to like about the Access Sofie Heart Rate.
Price when reviewed: From $395
Wareable verdict: Michael Kors Access Sofie Heart Rate review
Michael Kors Access Runway
The Access Runway, Michael Kors' third Wear OS smartwatch for women, is a lovely alternative to the Apple Watch that works with iPhone and Android.
It won't beat the Versa for activity tracking but otherwise it's a beautiful, comfortable to wear all-rounder that gives you alerts, apps, Google Pay and a selection of custom Michael Kors watch faces. There's also built-in GPS, heart rate tracking and a swimproof build, though there's still work to be done on making this an everyday smartwatch you can work out or play sports with.
It's a 41mm watch, with a 1.19-inch 390 x 390 AMOLED touchscreen display, so still slightly oversized, but it looks good on the wrist. You can get both stainless steel and leather straps for the Access Runway and it's also available in a slightly more expensive Ceramic model. Most importantly, you'll actually want to wear it.
Price when reviewed: $295
Wareable verdict: Michael Kors Access Runway review
Bellabeat has made its name with stylish activity trackers, and now it's pushing into the world of smartwatches with the hybrid Time, which is more focused on general wellness than exercise.
Yes you get activity and sleep tracking, but the watch also tracks stress, meditation, hydration and menstrual cycles via the smartphone app as well as Bellabeat's proprietary stress-predicting algorithm. Plus, it'll send you a vibrating notification on your wrist when you've been stationary for too long.
The watch comes in silver or rose gold, with a stylish and minimal design which should fit most wrists. Since it uses a quartz movement and is also a regular watch, you'll get six months of battery life too, which is another major bonus over the screened-up smartwatches in the list.
Price when reviewed: $179
Wareable verdict: Bellabeat Time review
Fossil Q Neely
Fossil's slim hybrid smartwatch, the $155 Q Neely, keeps things simple and stylish. It's seriously light, small at 36mm, fairly slim at 12mm thick and comfortable to wear on the wrist. Plus it looks almost identical to a non-connected watch.
As well as activity and sleep tracking, which you can monitor in the Fossil Q app, you can also set up vibration alerts, which you can allocate to a number on the watch face. So if you get a WhatsApp, the watch hands on the 40mm watch face could move to the 1 o'clock position, for instance ‚Äď though this does take a few days to get to grips with.
Also nice (and more straightforward) are the features you can set up for the three buttons on the right hand edge ‚Äď remote selfie, remote music controls etc. Just be careful with the 16mm leather straps as they get dirty quickly ‚Äď we'd suggest splashing out on the metal band.
Price when reviewed: From $155
Wareable verdict: Fossil Q Neely review
Kate Spade Scallop 2
Kate Spade's first Wear OS watch was a Wareable fave, and now there's a second version on the scene, which maintains the stunning looks while bringing its features in line with the rest of the Fossil family.
That means the latest Wear OS, a heart rate sensor, built-in GPS, NFC for Google Pay and 3ATM water resistance for swimming. Cosmetically, not a lot has changed here: there are new straps and dials to play with, and a new shortcut button that's been added just below the crown. The "Choose your look" micro app returns, helping you match the perfect watch face to your day's clothes and accessories.
In terms of tech, the Scallop 2 features a round 2-inch AMOLED display, with no flat tyre ¬≠‚Äď although it still manages to pack in an ambient light sensor, which regulates brightness to save on battery life. Remember, though, that the Kate Spade Sport Smartwatch is on the way, and could represent a better, newer option. We'll find out when we test it fully.
Price when reviewed: From $295
Hands on: Kate Spade Scallop 2 review
Misfit Phase was the company's first dip into the hybrid scene, but it's followed up with the similar-but-not-completely-identical Misfit Path. While the Path shares the same DNA as the Phase, there are a few notable differences, including the round markers around the face and the 36mm size ‚Äď for comparison, the Phase is 41mm.
The Path will alert you to notifications, but unlike the Phase it doesn't use the colour wheel to signify what they're for. Instead, it just uses hand movements and vibrations to alert you, which can be customised in the app settings. Misfit has also just released a new white and blue colorway, too, pictured above, which is nice and eye-catching.
One of the side buttons can also be dedicated to a special smart feature of your choosing, such as remotely controlling your phone's camera. The watch is waterproof to 50 metres too, with a six-month battery life to boot. And there's one big plus compared to the rest on the list ‚Äď that affordable price.
Price when reviewed: From $149.99
Incoming women's smartwatches‚Ä¶
The good news, up front, is that there are heaps of new smartwatches for women knocking about, and we're in the process of testing a bunch of them. The latest to hit our radar is a new model from Kate Spade, the Sport Smartwatch, which looks like a great sporty addition to its line.
In fact, Fossil Group is all over this big of the market - another of its sub-brands Michael Kors announced the MKGO at IFA this year, its first sporty option, to go with the dressier Michael Kors Access Lexington 2 and Michael Kors Access Bradshaw 2. All three run on Google's Wear OS operating system bringing features like Google Pay, heart rate monitoring and built-in GPS, and we're working to get our verdicts out there at the moment.
Garmin's not getting left behind, though, recently showing off its new Vivomove Luxe, a high-end hybrid smartwatch that combines a discreet color AMOLED display with traditional watch hands that smartly move out of the way to display a whole host of data.
We'll have reviews of all of these new smartwatches in the months to come, so make sure to check back to see if our list changes as a result.
This article was first published in October 2015. However, we update it frequently to reflect the newest smartwatches for women, making sure that we've tested the latest and greatest devices available to buy.