The 5 best smartwatches for women in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • The Apple Watch Series 6 offers the best combination of style, smart features, and fitness.
  • But there are others that work on both iPhone and Android and shine in areas like sleep tracking.
  • Check out our guide to the best smartwatches overall for more buying advice.

Apple helped popularize smartwatches with the launch of the Apple Watch in 2015, which was one of the first smartwatches that appealed to broad audiences beyond those interested in tech.

But it’s also facing increased competition as rivals like Samsung and Fitbit have upgraded the form and functionality of their watches, too. Google also recently announced a new version of its smartwatch platform that it developed in partnership with Samsung, so we’ll be looking out for new watches powered by this updated software later this year.

We’ve been reviewing smartwatches for the past six years and have witnessed their evolution from being clunky, wrist-worn gadgets to sleek timepieces that can almost pass as regular analog watches.

Our buying guide includes all kinds of watches to suit every style and preference. Whether you’re looking for a watch that’s stylish and minimalist or want a device to help you get in shape for the new year, we’ve got you covered.

Here are the best smartwatches for women:

The best smartwatch for women overall

Apple Watch Series 6

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. We 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.

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. 

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, 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.  

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. 

The best with a feminine design

Fossil Julianna HR

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 newer Gen 5 LTE watches. But until then, we still recommend the Julianna HR.

The Julianna HR has the latest tech like a heart rate sensor, GPS, and NFC for mobile payments. Fossil also 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.

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

skagen falster 3

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 that’s exactly what you can expect from the Falster 3.  It has a distinct look from other smartwatches with its signature lugs and simple bands, and it’s also slimmer than the original Falster.

Skagen also recently announced a new watch called the Jorn Hybrid HR, which should be available later this year and uses gray-scale e-ink technology for its watchface. We have yet to test this model, but will update this guide accordingly if it’s worth recommending.  

The Falster 3 is 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, and you can take calls from your wrist since it has a speaker and microphone.

You can download thousands of apps from the Google Play Store and get notifications on your wrist. It also has GPS, NFC for Google Pay mobile payments, and a heart rate monitor, so it’s more fully-featured and high tech than the original Falster. You can even go swimming with it, as it’s rated for 5 ATM water resistance.

The best with fitness features

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

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.

The best for sleep tracking

Fitbit versa 3

The Fitbit Versa 3 combines robust sleep tracking with fantastic battery life for those interested in learning more about their sleeping habits. 

Pros: Long battery life, in-depth sleep tracking, plenty of health and fitness features

Cons: Need premium subscription ($9.99/month) to access the most comprehensive stats, no LTE version 

The Fitbit Versa 3 is a full-featured smartwatch that has a lot to offer when it comes to sleep tracking and fitness, coupled with excellent multi-day battery life. 

The 40mm Versa 3 has a crisp AMOLED display and an aluminum watch casing with built-in GPS and sensors to monitor blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), heart rate, and skin temperature. There’s also a speaker and microphone for taking phone calls on the watch. 

The sleep tracking is particularly robust. Users get a Sleep Score that is based on time spent in regular, deep, and REM sleep. In Fitbit’s free tier, you get access to graphs breaking down your time spent in various sleep stages, as well as the estimated oxygen level variations throughout the night. You can also see your 30 day average as well as benchmark ranges for people in your age bracket and gender. 

The premium membership unlocks the full spectrum of the Versa 3‘s sleep tracking capabilities. This includes detailed readings from the blood oxygen sensor, sleeping resting heart rate, and skin temperature readings –  which analyzes your individual skin temperature range, with the readings showing you how many degrees you are above or below your baseline. 

This opens up access to even more graphs which allows you to dive even more deeply into the different stages of sleep, the time asleep, and sleeping heart rate.

The Premium membership, priced at $9.99 a month, also comes with a library of workouts, exercises, and mindfulness meditations. 

The battery life on the Versa 3 is great for a full-featured smartwatch. I was able to routinely get four days on charge–even when occasionally using the GPS– which helps to make this an easy watch to recommend.

What we are looking forward to testing

Fossil 5E

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 and rumored smartwatches we’re keeping an eye out for.

  • Smartwatches with Google’s new Wear OS: Google and Samsung are working together to create a unified operating system that works with all Google-based watches. The update should bring more customization, faster performance, enhanced battery life, and overall  better consistency between watches running Wear OS. The new Wear OS will be released later this year.
  • Garmin Lily: This watch features a stylish feminine design while maintaining core smartwatch functionality such as sleep monitoring, activity tracking, and the ability to see text and calls on the watch. 
  • Bellabeat Time: This hybrid smartwatch mixes a traditional analog watch face with sleep and activity tracking.
  • Fossil Gen 5 LTE:  Fossil’s new Gen 5 LTE smartwatches look great and offer updated internals, along with LTE connectivity for a phone-free experience.
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 3: With the Galaxy Watch Active 2 becoming a little old following its 2019 release, we’re hoping Samsung launches a successor to one of our favorite smartwatches in 2021. 

How we test smartwatches

Apple Watch 6 Back

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.

Read the original article on Business Insider