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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Abha Shah

Best smartwatches for women in 2023, tried and tested

Wearable tech is entering its golden age.

Every year we marvel at shiny new gadgets that pack epic levels of tech into tinier and tinier designs. We wear them seamlessly as accessories while they quietly and efficiently do jobs that normally require endless machinery: reading emails and texts, monitoring heart rates and sleep cycles, nagging us to hit the 10,000 step daily count, and nailing fitness goals.

All this, plus you can change watch face designs and formats with just a few pushes of a button, usually neatly tucked away under the bezel. Oh yeah, and it’ll tell you the time too. Frankly, it’s all a little bit genius. No wonder so many now consider the luxury item a daily essential.

While under the hood they may be more or less the same (although you can get smartwatches with menstrual trackers), the difference between a man’s smartwatch and a woman’s boils down to the design.

What features to look for in a smartwatch?

  • Fitness: this is the first thing that most people think of when picturing a smartwatch. A great feature to use in line with your training programme, fitness monitors and trackers give you a real-time reading of your performance with the aim of helping you hit your PB. Many connect to things like Fitbit and Garmin apps to optimise your performance.
  • Payments: why fumble around for your wallet or phone when a smartwatch can make small contactless payments for you? Enable this feature and tilt your wrist to pay for everything from milk to a tube ride.
  • Email and social media: in case you’re waiting for an important message but really want to go for a run unencumbered too.
  • Compass: for when you get lost on said run.
  • Make and receive calls: a quick way to connect.
  • Menstruation tracking: know where you are on your cycle just by tilting your watch.
  • Sleep tracking: having trouble nodding off? This feature will look at how much rest you’re actually getting at night, with some models offering tips and sleep training to help you improve. Just remember to keep it on when you sleep.
  • Entertainment: the screen is likely too small to stream the latest Netflix obsession but you can control apps like Spotify through most smartwatches.

It’s not just about decorative bling and softer colours: they’ll usually feature slimmer straps with tighter notches to suit narrower wrists. It ensures a secure fit so that your smartwatch won’t go flying when you’re on the move. And while some look every inch like the piece of futuristic tech that they are, there are other models that don’t look any different to a traditional timepiece.

If you’re in the market for a flashy new smartwatch, we’ve got the greatest options to buy now covered. From big tech brands like Apple and Samsung to elite watch players who have evolved their collections to make them fit for modern life, here are the best smartwatches to invest in now.

Shop the edit below

Apple Watch Series 9

It’s a classic for a reason – the Apple Watch is a great lifestyle all-rounder and highly coveted among technophiles. The brand’s flagship watch is unisex, but there are lots of lovely straps to coordinate with your style.

The Series 9 is the latest watch that you can buy right now. Building on past efforts, the display is twice as bright, meaning you can see it clearly, even on a very sunny day. We found it had the most intuitive and simple menu to get to know and marvelled at the gesture-trigged Double Tap feature, which allows you to use the watch without touching the screen.

Fitness-focused? From pedalling in a spin class, feeling the burn with wall Pilates, or going hell for leather in a HIIT session, the Watch will keep up with you effortlessly – and it can also do clever extras such as track your monthly cycle and even connect with compatible gym equipment, taking your workout to the next level. We like the ‘three rings’ display, which motivates you to hit Move, Exercise and Stand targets daily.

From a safety standpoint, the Crash Detection feature is a genuine life-saver. Designed to notify the emergency services in the event of a high-impact collision, it uses satellites to send your exact location, so help should arrive even if there isn’t any signal.

Like all John Lewis electricals, this comes with a two-year guarantee.

Buy now £399.00, John Lewis

Samsung Galaxy Watch6

With a longer battery life - going up to 40 hours if you turn the display off - Samsung’s latest update of its smartwatch is its best yet. The Watch6 offers fitness monitoring for all sports including swimming with a water resistance of up to five metres.

The 1.5-inch display manages to feel generous yet unobtrusive at the same time. This means that rolling through all the features - and there are many - is quite intuitive. As well as activity tracking, fitness and sleep monitoring, event alerts, alarms and social media notifications, the Watch6 will prompt you to move if you’ve been inactive for too long (easily done when you’re focused on a deadline).

Find the deep dive review here.

Buy now £289.00, Currys

Google Pixel Watch Wi-Fi BT Smart Watch - Chalk

When you’re off for a run, you want to feel as light as possible, not weighed down with necessary but heavy things like your keys, wallet and phone. You can leave two more things at home thanks to Google’s WiFi-enabled watch, which offers contactless payments and 4G so it will stay in action even if you leave your phone behind at home.

The gadget pairs the best of Google with Fitbit so you can use things like maps when you’re jogging on a new route, or read emails and see notifications all on the domed OLED screen, which is covered in high-quality Gorilla Glass for added protection. There are exercise trackers and health monitors galore and you can answer and make calls and texts with a few taps on your wrist.

Of course, all this tech wizardry comes at a price, namely the battery. It will need recharging every 24 hours, which can feel annoying, especially if you’re wearing it at night to better understand your sleep patterns. That said the charger is small and will plug into most computers for charging so you can juice up when you’re in the office or WFH.

Comes with a two-year guarantee.

Buy now £279.00, Argos

Garmin vivomove Trend

A sleek vision of chrome and grey, Garmin’s smartwatch lives up to its name in more ways than one. The elegant design is just for starters: inside sits a wealth of helpful features that feel very much geared towards active types - swimmers in particular.

This is because the watch can cope with depths of up to 50m while tracking metrics like stress, heart and blood oxygen saturation rates, blood pressure and so on, giving you an accurate, sports coach-like assessment of your workout. Add to that the usual smartwatch trappings of contactless payments, message notifications, diary reminders and more, and you can see how it quickly goes from being nice-to-have to a can’t-live-without sort of accessory.

Oh, and did we mention the battery life? Five hours. We’re sold.

Buy now £253.12, Amazon

Polar Ignite 3 Titanium

Ticking both the fitness and wellness boxes, Polar’s new smartwatch is designed to help you get the most out of your time. It boasts a sleep, activity and heart rate tracker, all encased in a sleek titanium bezel for both security and style. The SleepWise feature is a useful way to see how well your body has rested overnight and if you need a recovery day, while various tests measure your current levels of fitness so you’ve got an accurate reading of your starting point.

Want to mix it up with your training? The FitSpark feature offers a series of workouts to keep things fresh and there’s even PT-style encouragement through audio messages with the Polar Flow function. The Polar Ignite includes a calorie counter plus a way to record energy intake, so you get an accurate reading of your numbers by the end of the day - helpful if you’re trying to slim down or bulk up.

Buy now £324.00, Polar

Fitbit Luxe Special Edition

We love the delicate chain strap of Fitbit’s Luxe, which lives up to its name. The style combines all the sporty know-how of a Fitbit with jewellery-level looks that are smart enough to wear to work, the gym and your packed social schedule.

This Fitbit really shines when it is time to get sweaty, though, monitoring heart rate, pace and distance and even giving a ‘daily readiness score’ that shows when you should give your all and when you should focus on recovery. The sleep stages and slumber mode will keep an eye on your kip, too.

Buy now £179.00, John Lewis

Skagen Jorn Gen 6 Hybrid

The Danish-designed Skagen Jorn is a hybrid watch, so it’s a simpler but sleeker option than a full-blown smartwatch. That said, it’s still packed with lovely stuff – a heart rate sensor, a good sleep tracking sensor and Amazon Alexa, ever-ready to answer your queries or to make your life a little bit easier.

The ‘wellness dashboard’ that you’ll notice on the linked phone app is a great way to check in with (and improve) your daily habits, too. Our favourite feature on test was the long battery life – the Jorn only needs charging once a week or so with regular use, which saves a lot of the recharging faff.

Buy now £119.00, Skagen

Fossil Gen 6 Smart Watch

Hey, good-looking: Fossil packages up both style and substance into its Gen 6, which manages to look gorgeous in gold, while being intuitive and effective to use.

A wide touchscreen makes navigating the menu less fiddly, while a heart rate monitor tracks activity faithfully. Google Assistant also lets you check up on emails, calls and reminders on the fly, or pay for shopping straight from your watch. A good choice for Android fans who want to stay connected on the go.

Buy now £169.00, Currys

Amazfit BIP 3 Pro

Best for: Price

Size: 44mm

Water resistance: 50m

Cellular: No

Battery life: 1-2 weeks

With a simple interface, large display, and GPS tracking, the Amazfit BIP 3 Pro is a great beginner-friendly smartwatch with the basics of fitness tracking covered. One big perk is how well it integrates with other services, meaning you can send your fitness data to Strava or the Apple Health app on iOS. Just be warned that it doesn’t have quite the polish or comfort of fancier models.

Buy now £69.00, Very

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