A straight up guide to the Apple Watch for women - what you need to know

What broads need to know about Apple's line of smartwatches

We're weeks away from an Apple Watch Series 4 announcement and the Apple Watch is still pretty much the only smartwatch the women in my life - the ones who aren't in tech - ask me about.

Some noticed the sly Apple Watch app appear on their iPhone homescreen. Some have seen adverts and fashion editorials in Vogue and billboards on the street. Some read tech blogs but just haven't been convinced a smartwatch could fit into their life until now.

Most of the reviews (written by men, for men) of the original Apple Watch, Series 2 and the current Series 3 (designed by men) will have made some assumptions. Everyone has the same sized wrist and the muscles to lug around the same weight of Watch all day, everyone has pockets which allow them to feel their smartphone's vibrations when they get a WhatsApp, no-one can enjoy a smartwatch if it doesn't have a killer app, specs matter most.

Oh my, what a dainty wrist

apple watch guide for women

Well. I have a smaller wrist than pretty much all male tech reviewers. And Pebble (RIP) and a few recent Fossil Group hybrids aside, every single smartwatch I've worn so far has looked - and felt - a bit too big. Even the old Moto 360, which I had a real soft spot for. I don't even have the smallest wrists in tech journalism - that prize goes to Kashfia Kabir at What Hi-Fi?

All the Apple Watch models I've tried so far feel lovely to wear.

I can move my wrist about without feeling constricted or shackled to tech. They are light but don't feel cheap. Well made. The display is crisp, colourful and the pixels look very close to the glass. The precision of the finishing of the Digital Crown is impressive, even on the lesser models. Even just moving your finger over the smooth, curved screen to swipe through Glances feels nice. It's that Cupertino sheen that spec-heads pretend doesn't exist.

The Apple Watch models so far differ in terms of a millimeter here and a millimeter there, I can always tell the difference, but they're still leagues ahead of rivals in terms of size and what they can do plus, like I said, wonderfully finished.

In each instance, I've been wearing the 38mm model, which has a bit of a Casio vibe about it. It's small, it's neat and it's geeky but in a socially acceptable, Urban Outfitters kind of way.

One more practical point - the clasps. I spend a stupid number of hours a day typing on a MacBook Air and almost every wearable gets me worried I'm going to scratch it up. The silicon Sport band tucks in for worry-free wrist resting though the same can't be said for some of the swankier bands.

The best Apple Watch straps for women

A straight up guide to the Apple Watch for women - what you need to know

All that said, the cheapest Watch is still not much to swoon over so to get the look you've seen on the models, be warned you might need to spend a bit extra on straps. Depending on what kind of wardrobe - and budget - you have, the Watch can look seriously fancy or hipster or business.

Read this: The best Apple Watch bands and third party straps

Apple puts out its own collections of new straps pretty regularly, brands like Coach and Toms have made their own watch straps and there's a bunch of third party straps on Etsy so there's plenty of opportunity to change up your look. I don't think I'll get slapped around the face if I say: a lot of women are interested in staying on trend when it comes to the colours and styles of their accessories.

Coach Strap In Signature Canvas

A straight up guide to the Apple Watch for women - what you need to know

Coach's Apple Watch straps for summer 2018 include the khaki leather Strap In Signature Canvas (left) and the dusty rose Strap With Heart Applique (right) - both for the 38mm Apple Watch only - as well as the mid-summer bonus band by way of a khaki brown strap with gold charms attached, specifically a Coach C and a dogtag with Coach on it.

From $150, coach.com

Coach Apple Watch Strap With Prints

A straight up guide to the Apple Watch for women - what you need to know

You can also get cute Coach straps for the Apple Watch with options like its retro cherry, floral, leaf and Rexy the dinosaur prints and illustrations with detail stitching.

$150, coach.com

Casetify Classic Lady

A straight up guide to the Apple Watch for women - what you need to know

There's some nice, preppy, stripey options from Casetify and Clockwork such as the Casetify Classic Lady, made from a refined plastic, above. That's available for both 38mm and 42mm sized Apple Watches.

$52 | casetify.com

X-Doria Action Band

A straight up guide to the Apple Watch for women - what you need to know

And for running and workouts, if you don't fancy Nike's in-your-face option or Apple's own sports styles (below), there's a lovely two-tone X-Doria Action Band that's made of perforated soft silicone for breathability when you're sweating it out. Available in three colours.

$24.95, x-doria.com | Amazon


Your life might not include pockets

A straight up guide to the Apple Watch for women - what you need to know

If you are a woman who wears jeans (or trousers, or city shorts) every single day without fail, skip this section. I wear dresses and they don't always have pockets in. This is just a sad fact but truth is, it's just not always practical to put a pocket in.

So to all those people who say - what's the point of a device, which shows you messages and Twitter notifications on your wrist when your phone is in your pocket? I say - my phone isn't in my pocket because I don't have a pocket.

When I'm not wearing a wearable I have my phone either glued to my hand (impractical, easy to mug), in an easy access bag slung across my body (so-so) or on the surface in front of me. That gets rude if I'm having dinner in a fancy restaurant and all the cutlery is already making the table cluttered. And the point is amplified when you consider that you can get an LTE Apple Watch Series 3 that doesn't even need to be tethered to your phone via Bluetooth to make calls, send messages etc.

When it comes to discreet notifications, the Taptic Engine puts other smartwatches to shame by its sheer elegance ‚Äď the vibration when you get an alert is forceful enough that you notice but so subtle next to rivals. Apple's also used this its haptics expertise to make its new Breathe app - which pulses to help you carry out breathing exercises - really delightful too.

And unlike Samsung and LG watches, the Apple Watch doesn't light up with an alert regardless, only if you turn the device to have a look. When you're out in the evening, this is the kind of feature that makes it wearable.

It boils down to this: if you live the sort of life where you'd love to outsource checking travel and remembering appointments to gadgets, the Apple Watch will slot in nicely. That might be because you're a high powered city dweller who zips across town in Ubers, jumps onto British Airways flights to meetings and literally doesn't have the time to be constantly opening up the right app to get the information you need right now. Or it might be that you're more like me - scatter brained and terrible at life admin ‚Äď either way, the Apple Watch serves your needs better than its rivals in a few ways.

Having used Wear OS (which used to be called Android Wear), I did miss Google Assistant, and its mapping, calendar and search smarts, for exactly this reason while using the Apple Watch. But the Siri watch face saves time and presents you with what you need to know without digging around in apps.

Work it, girl (or don't)

A straight up guide to the Apple Watch for women

Discussions over the health and fitness features have been done to death on the internet. So I'm just going to add a few points that I hope are relevant to most women without offending anyone.

As other, wiser women have pointed out we are the gender most likely to quantify ourselves, so wearables that tap into this could be particularly useful to women. We have reproductive cycles, which have needed monitoring for various reasons for a Very Long Time. When Apple Health was first announced, it included bizarre metrics like copper intake but not periods. Naughty but this was updated to be included in 2015. Still, now Fitbit has rolled out its initial female health tracking features with bold ambitions to tie it into sleep, stress and activity for the future, we'd like to see more on this from Apple too.

Another sad fact - most of us can't eat as many calories as men while staying healthy so food tracking is perhaps more popular and/or important.

We're yet to see this integrated in a truly useful way, though as a start you can get the popular MyFitnessPal app for the Apple Watch - once downloaded, you can see a glance of your nutrition info for the day so far as well as calories remaining for the day. I'm still waiting for a food tracking app that lets you input via voice notes, syncs with a real programme and gives you personalised tips and warnings, though.

I said earlier that one assumption made in reviews is that specs matter. They do but different specs matter to different people. The original Apple Watch doesn't have GPS but the Series 3 does so if you want an all-purpose smartwatch, which can also accurately track runs, this could be it.

The Series 3 is also waterproof to 50m so you can take it shallow swimming in a pool or the sea. Still, because the 1-2 day battery life on each model means you need to charge it every night, there's still no built in sleep tracking. You can get third party apps that handle this but it's still a weird omission in 2018. After acquiring the startup Beddit, though, that's no doubt only a matter of time.


If you get fed up of Apple's pretty but only somewhat useful Workout and Activity apps, there's already Watch functionality for Strava, Endomondo, Runtastic and calorie counting from Lifesum. If you have the Series 2 or Series 3, check which apps actually support its GPS.

I've already talked about Breathe but another small thing I've liked about Apple's own fitness tools is the haptic reminders to stand up throughout the day. Whether or not you'll love or hate this is such a personal matter but for me, it's a good 'un.

The one big overall advantage is still Apple Health, which gathers everything together on your iPhone, from both the phone and the Watch. It has more partners than Google Fit and most of the big names are onboard.

What ladies need to know

apple watch guide for women

Whether it's niche tech like pregnancy trackers or general health and fitness tracking with a smartwatch like this one, wearables have a lot to offer women. There's even a concept bracelet to help when you get really hot or cold on the way in to work.

The thing about wearables is that we really should be aiming to write a personalised review for every single reader, picking out stylish bands, cool watch faces and useful apps for you. I recommend every reads our brilliant, in depth Apple Watch Series 3 review to get more info before you buy.

The Apple Watch isn't perfect and there's plenty of work to do for future versions. But it's actually the most promising smartwatch so far in terms of appealing to women. The form factor works. The price is still high but it feels more reasonable considering what you get. This is one tech accessory I can and do see my female friends wearing.

Still, this was always going to be tricky as we are not all the same. I know women with iPhones, with handmedown phones, with tablets, with Bluetooth headphones, with sparkly cases. I know women who wear Michael Kors watches, Michael Kors smartwatches, Casio watches, women who code, women (and men) who panic at the sight of an Android homescreen. And there's certainly more competition in the form of smaller, slimmer, style focused hybrids and fully round(!) Wear OS watches from Fossil Group designers - Kate Spade, Diesel, Marc Jacobs and Fossil itself.

You'll know if the Apple Watch will fit into your life within minutes of playing with one in an Apple Store. Read this sentence. You can flick through Instagram photos from your feed on the Watch. Or this one. One glance will tell you your Uber is arriving. Or this one. You can store music on the Watch and pair with Bluetooth headphones for a run. Does that sound awesome? Or make you feel a bit sick? Or make you want to hide away and carry on not getting involved? Exactly.

Are you a woman wearing the Apple Watch? We'd love to hear your thoughts on the design, specs, features, health and fitness apps of the Apple Watch, including the Series 3 - or anything else you've noticed.


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11 comments

  • terges·

    Recieved my Watch yesterday which I ordered online having never touched one. I am not disappointed!

    Just a quick mention I have not seen much buzz about. I purchased mainly for health purposes. I am diabetic and am looking forward to what will become available to people like myself.  This morning after taking meds I lifted my wrist and told Siri to set alarm to test sugar in two hours. Done! Need I say more. Lol

  • maggieregan·

    I am a 62 year old grandmother of 6 and I love my Apple watch!  My 11 year old grandson is so jealous!  It is comfortable to wear and easy to use. If I have a comment it is that it is annoying when the 'Handoff' comes into play. I don't want to have to fuss around in my bag to find my iphone (the reason I bought the watch) But that apart, the watch is already part of my anatomy!   Beam Me Up Scotty!

  • matscat6·

    Great watch, better than expected! 

    Superlight sports type, love the health app reminding me to stand every hour and heart monitor, as well as remote camera, being able to make phonecallsl from a watch! and 100s of Apps! 

  • Yo_Tweeps·

    I was always going to have an Apple watch on launch day. I love Apple products so this was a given. I went into store and 'practiced' using it twice before mine arrived. Like you say it feels very feminine, I have the 38mm, the 42 would definitely be too big for me. The white sports strap matches my white phone and iPad mini perfectly. 

    I have added and removed apps and use Activity, Maps, Weather, Happier, Shazam, Twitter etc regularly. I love that you can check your notifications and just ignore those you don't need to deal with immediately and can pay for my Starbucks with a twist of my wrist!

    Happy lady here.

  • LivjonesNYC·

    Awesome review! "My phone isn't in my pocket, because I don't have pockets" at work I meet with clients a lot and also do a lot of evening events - I only just got my watch but I anticipate it will solve so many problems for me. No more missing emails or texts from colleagues at an event because my phone is in the coat room OR having to carry a clutch at events. My wrists are tiny (and bony) :) and this is a very comfortable watch for me too. Thanks!

  • Linkbeak·

    Thanks for the well thought out thorough review.  It is great to see products reviewed from a woman's point of view.  I work in the outdoor industry and so many products are conceived, designed and reviewed from the male only perspective.  Except that's not even mentioned because it's just assumed users are male.  I think the same holds true for tech products.

  • cestasol2·

    watch is so.... awesome

  • Cestasol22·

    watch so awesome......

  • jhdrury·

    My daughter with small wrist ordered the 42mm because it has more pixels and is brighter. I have a small wrist, too, but see her point. The face of hers just barely covers my wrist, but those extra pixels are tempting. Any other small wristed women get the big one?

  • juliana·

    I've had mine since September and I love it. Though I lusted for the first one from a geek/tech perspective, the first apple watches just didn't do enough for me to warrant taking off my beloved omega. But with the addition of water resistance, GPS and improved apps, I took the plunge. 

    For day to day, I use the metal mesh band which is stylish and comfortable. For exercising or working with messy clay (I'm a sculptor), I easily swap out to a silicon strap which is easier to clean. I think the step counting is a little over-generous compared to my UP3 (which I am still wearing for this reason), I do love the activity reminders every hour. My two new favorite fitness apps for it are Gymatic, which help me track my reps for my resistance band workout BASED ON THE MOVEMENT OF MY HANDS!  (so cool) and Zones, which give me a window into my heart rate zones during a workout. 

    My last to-die-for feature is the "scribble" writing feature for imessage. So much easier to reply to my kids' texts without having to bring out my phone. And I am much more accurate at scribble than the tiny iphone keyboard. 

  • Annamaria·

    I got the first version of the Apple watch to build a demo with (I'm in tech). I didn't expect to like it, as I had TAG Heuer that's hardly left my wrist in 15 years, and the lack of a built-in GPS is a rather serious gap. However, it is a surprisingly ideal interface for quick texting with the pre-set answers, scribble and voice recognition, and I soon found I was missing fewer texts because of the haptics. I have a love-hate relationship with the exercise apps. Yes, they're convenient and make me feel good, but the Activity app doesn't integrate with the iPhone Health app and I can't find a decent app for doing interval-based workouts that are not finite in length. And all the validation from the Activity app is not translating into significantly better health for me. You still have to do tough workouts in order to change your body. Standing up once an hour and beating your 220-calorie daily goal doesn't do it (duh). But it does a better job of tracking my heart rate than anything I've ever used before.

    Having said that - I dropped my watch and broke the crystal last week, and was surprised to realize it's slowly become a friendly and useful part of my life. In deciding whether to buy a new one, it was a pretty easy call. Now I just have to choose a color. And that, as we all know, is the toughest part of the process :-).