If we had tried to compile a collection of the best smartwatches for women two years ago, it might have consisted of a string of angry emojis and not much else. Times have changed, and there are plenty of smartwatches many ladies would happily wear 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 (or cared about) getting all the flagship sports and tech features into smaller sizes. But times are changing.
Hands on: Apple Watch Series 4 review
We've picked out our current faves and you can also head over to individual reviews for more detailed views on features, design and performance.
Before we get into our faves, we need to talk about the smartwatches that are on the way, have just gone on sale or are currently getting the Wareable review treatment. Top of the pile is the Samsung Galaxy Watch, which comes in 46mm and a smaller 42mm case options including a rose gold model (pictured above).
Fossil's fourth-gen smartwatches were recently announced and are starting to go on sale too. That includes the Michael Kors Access Runway collection, the Fossil Q Venture HR and the unisex Skagen Falster 2. Emporio Armani has also unveiled its first women's hybrid, a 34mm watch that comes in a variety of finishes. The good news is that all of those watches mentioned now include built-in GPS, a heart rate monitor, a waterproof design and NFC for Google Pay contactless payment support.
There are more Wear watches on the way with the Montblanc Summit 2 landing in October. The luxury brand's second smartwatch will be among the first watches to be powered by Qualcomm's new improved Wear platform.
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Apple Watch Series 3
The Apple Watch is our current top pick of smartwatches and still probably the best full-blooded smartwatch for iPhone-owning women.
Now you have to choose between a few official options: the current Series 3, the Series 3 with LTE or a Series 1. (Outside Apple, you could also give the very similar Series 2 a look). We'd give the latest Series 3 our vote, though whether you want to fork out for LTE for calls and music streaming is up to you.
Worth thinking about - an Apple Watch Series 4 has just been announced, if you're all about having the very latest model.
It's not exactly groundbreaking in design considering it looks near identical to the original, but it's chock full of great features like waterproofing and GPS. Note: you probably will notice that it's slightly thicker than the original/Series 1, so try a couple of models on in the store to get a better feel for them.
As before, the Series 3 comes in 38mm and 42mm sizes - though you do sacrifice some battery for the smaller size - as well as a range of finishes and band options from the Milanese loop to nylon and Nike + and Hermès accessories. 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 – and luckily there's a huge aftermarket of Apple Watch straps to choose from.
It boasts native apps, which run even when your iPhone isn't nearby, and core features like notification support and messaging are more refined. Plus, watchOS 5 will bring more features to all models aside from the Series 1. It's a lot quicker and slicker to zip around. It's not perfect - battery life is only 18 hours of balanced use - but it's definitely an improvement on the first iterations and still a looker.
Wareable verdict: Apple Watch Series 3 review
After a rocky start with the Ionic, Fitbit's venture into smartwatches is much stronger with the Versa. Its second 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 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 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. Just be warned if you're buying this in the US: only the Special Edition version comes with Fitbit Pay installed.
Wareable verdict: Fitbit Versa 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 and comfortable to wear on the wrist. Plus it looks almost identical to a non-connected smartwatch.
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 too. So if you get a WhatsApp, the watch hands on the 40mm watch face could move to the 1 o'clock position, for instance - though this does take a few days to get to grips with but then.
Also nice (and more straightforward) are the features you can set up for the three buttons on the right hand edge - remote selfie, remote music controls etc. Just be careful with the 16mm leather straps as they get dirty quickly - we'd suggest splashing out on the metal band.
Wareable verdict: Fossil Q Neely review
Kate Spade New York Scallop
Kate Spade's first Wear OS watch (previously Android Wear) features the brand's iconic scallop design, which was a key part of its fitness tracker, bringing the detail around the bezel.
In terms of tech, the Kate Spade New York Scallop features a round 1.19-inch AMOLED display, with no flat tyre – although it still manages to pack in an ambient light sensor, which regulates brightness to save on battery life. The screen packs a 390 x 390 resolution, which is pretty standard for recent Fossil Group smartwatches.
It's light on features, but what it does, it does well, with plenty of Kate Spade-made watch faces that add to one of the best looking women's smartwatches out there right now.
Wareable verdict: Kate Spade New York Scallop review
Nokia Steel HR
If you like the look of this monochrome styling, Nokia's Steel HR hybrid, which is now Withing's hybrid again, is still well worth checking out.
Its tiny circular display and activity dial sit stylishly on the analogue watch face, blending in particularly well on the all-black model.
The Steel HR is a nice choice for anyone who is health conscious, but worried about wearing a gadget on their wrist. It looks like a regular watch, with silicone, woven and leather strap options in various colours. At 12.5mm thick, it does sit up slightly on the wrist but not so much that we wouldn't wear it.
So what does it do? Well, it counts steps, tracks sleep and heart rate and shows you who is calling or if a calendar event is coming up. The revamped Health Mate app is solid and battery life is 20 - 25 days, which is very impressive if, like us, you hate charging wearables.
Two sizes are available - 36mm and a 40mm version - so both are pretty compact and the watch is water resistant to 50m thanks to the addition of sapphire glass. Our only real complaints are the lack of GPS for runners and the poorly designed charger.
Wareable verdict: Nokia Steel HR review
Michael Kors Access Sofie
The first big fashion name with real star power to get involved with Google's Wear OS platform was Michael Kors - scroll down for last year's Bradshaw.
For AW 17/18 we have the Sofie a dressy, blingy full screen smartwatch, which has a slim pavé bezel and comes in silver, gold, rose gold and sable-tone finishes with a single crown pusher on the right edge. It's still a 42mm stainless steel watch, so you do feel it on the wrist, but it feels nice and expensive and it's smaller and slimmer than the Bradshaw. With the new Spring 2018 finishes (above), it's available in ten different styles with seven strap options.
Otherwise, this is a standard, basic Wear OS watch - no heart rate, no Google Pay - with the addition of My Social, which lets you set Facebook and Instagram pics as your watch face. Note: there is a small black bezel around the display so the images won't bleed to the edge where it meets the metal as you might expect.
Wareable verdict: Michael Kors Access Sofie review
Samsung Gear Sport
We often get asked what sporty smartwatches are out there for women - well, we've got a whole feature on it, but let's just mention the Samsung Gear Sport. In size and design, we prefer it to the Gear S3 - particularly in blue with a nice watch face - and while it's not quite as fully featured and slick as the Apple Watch, Android users should check this out.
In return for getting a 42.9mm watch case, a fairly light 67g weight and slimmer 20mm straps, you have to forego LTE and a few smaller features from the flagship S3. For instance, Samsung Pay now only works via NFC and not magnetic strip readers and in testing we found issues with run and swim tracking. Hopefully software tweaks can improve this.
One big advantage that we can't argue with is offline Spotify streaming, which is a bit of a Samsung exclusive right now. Samsung's strap options include silicone, a hybrid leather/silicone and NATO-style fabric.
Wareable verdict: Samsung Gear Sport review
If you're in the market for a really good Wear OS watch that doesn't pack too much in, the minimalist Skagen Falster is a good option. You're getting the standard Wear OS experience, and most of the custom faces that are aimed at minimum designs to optimize battery life don't actually improve battery life any.
However, this is easily one of the most stylish and best looking smartwatches you can get. It's sleek and small and elegant. It's not explicitly designed for women, but its unisex appeal makes it a strong contender regardless. A reminder, there is a Skagen Falster 2 incoming if you want more a feature-packed model.
Wareable verdict:Skagen Falster review
Tag Heuer Connected Modular 41
Sure, it's not the small 39mm version that Tag Heuer promised, but the latest Tag Heuer Connected Modular is still good enough and small enough for women's wrists.
It helps that Tag Heuer went ahead and fixed some of the problems with its larger brethren. It now sports a gorgeous new 1.2-inch AMOLED screen that goes up to 350 nits. Thanks to Intel's Cloverdale Peak processor and 1GB of RAM, it's both a performance beast and futureproofed. And of course, you get all the customisation you'd want from a Connected Modular.
Wareable verdict:Tag Heuer Connected Modular 41 review
From $1,200, tagheuer.com
LG Watch Style
The LG Watch Style isn't first on our list, but it keeps things simple, in both design and features. This is essentially alerts and activity tracking wristwear but what it has going for it is that it's considerably smaller than its sibling, the Watch Sport and most other smartwatches.
It's very light - lighter than it looks - and fairly slim and compact too at 10.8mm thick with a fully round 1.2-inch P-OLED screen. Packing Wear OS with nifty new watch faces but sadly no NFC for contactless payments - to keep the thickness trim, it's a inoffensive choice if not the most exciting.
Plus that price is mid-range, so if you want lots of features and sensors, you're out of luck with this one. If you want a smartwatch that looks like a watch and adds a bit of connectivity to your wrist, you're all set. Choose from three muted models of rose gold, titanium and silver finishes.
Wareable verdict: LG Watch Style review
Hugo Boss Smart Classic
Slightly more classic looking and masculine than the Michael Kors option - the clue's in the name - are these two Hugo Boss Smart Classic hybrid smartwatches. There's a small digital display, fitness tracking and smartphone alert handling onboard. In stainless steel or rose gold finishes, there's croc leather straps and a dedicated companion Hugo Boss Smart Watch app.
Wareable verdict: Hugo Boss Smart Classic 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 - 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 give you alerts, which can be customized in the app settings.
One of the side buttons can also be dedicated to a special smart feature of your choosing, like remotely controlling your phone's camera. The watch is waterproof to 50 meters too, with a six-month battery life to boot.
From $150, misfit.com
Samsung Gear S2 Classic
As rightly pointed out by Wareable readers, the (now pretty old) Gear S2, and particularly the Classic, is still a good option for women. It's smaller, lighter and more stylish than the Gear S3 and still has Tizen's beginner-friendly operating system and intuitive rotating bezel. Also available in rose gold and platinum styles (pictured).
It's still not the best choice for apps, though the big names are pretty much all there. But if you're not convinced by Wear OS, you might find you can pick up a bargain with this one especially if you don't need a standalone watch - it has even been treated to some S3 features via updates. More importantly, it's one of the only Samsung smartwatches the women of Wareable would actually wear outside the house.
Wareable verdict: Samsung Gear S2 review