Looking for a smart watch that’s for suitable for smaller wrists? Here are our favorite small smart watches.
Smart watches are ubiquitous. In a short time they’ve gone from tech novelty to commonplace every-day-carry, and for good reason.
The leading models are almost as capable as smartphones. They’ve got apps, notifications, GPS, and cellular connectivity. They can also track your heart rate during workouts and they have fully waterproof construction.
There’s no arguing that wearable tech can add real value to day-to-day life. But are there any small smart watches that work for people with slender wrists?
I set out to answer this question and review the top picks.
Want the shortlist? Here are our top two picks…
The Apple Watch's build quality is great, and the design is smooth and cool.
If you're looking for a budget-friendly option, the Samsung Galaxy Active is your best bet.
Read on to see the full list…
Here are the requirements for watches to meet our criteria for this list:
- Case diameter (or at least display size) of 40mm or less
- Smart capabilities: At least smart notifications
- Fitness capabilities: At least heart rate and GPS
- Models from reputable tech companies
Now, let’s discuss other features.
Small Size and Fit
Fit is everything. Putting a large watch on a small wrist will never look good. A simple rule of thumb for smaller wrists is to stick to a watch size of 40mm or smaller.
There are plenty of options in that range for a traditional non-smart watch, but it turns out the selection of wearable tech is narrow.
Most smart watches are big and chunky. This criteria narrowed the field dramatically.
I needed to draw some boundaries around what I meant by “smart.” Heart rate monitoring and GPS covers the minimum for recording workouts or sports.
These help track intensity, distances/times, routes, etc. In addition to fitness tracking, part of the convenience of a smart watch is pairing it with your smartphone to get notifications on your wrist.
So heart rate, GPS, and smart notifications were the minimum requirements.
The last point is maybe the most important. We’re talking about tech. Although style is absolutely a priority, we want products made by companies that specialize in tech, not fashion. It may seem dogmatic, but we’re focused on quality and usability first.
Best Smart Watches for Small Wrists
Here are our favorites…
Apple Watch Series 3
Strictly speaking, the Apple Watch is the only full-stack flagship smart watch that offers a smaller size. More on that in a minute.
I used a 38mm series 3 LTE model with a Verizon data plan for $10/mo (optional.) With text and call ability, the LTE connectivity means your watch can basically act as a phone on its own, without needed into be within bluetooth range of your actual phone.
That’s great for outdoor activities like biking, running, and definitely anything near water — this watch is waterproof.
Apple is onto the series 5 now, but the smallest option for the 5 is actually a slightly larger case size, although it is also slightly thinner which is nice.
The improvements between the series 3, 4, and 5 are meaningful but incremental. The most notable are a larger display, more computing power, and the same battery life but with an “always on” display (which I’d consider disabling anyways.)
Either way, the build quality is great, and the design is smooth and cool. I found it to go well with casual or smart casual outfits.
I felt the Series 3 LTE was a great value. You can absolutely go with a series 5 and still get a 40mm watch with all the improved tech that it comes with.
It’s notable that the Apple watch has a same distinct rectangular shape. This may be polarizing, but it’s also functional.
While the Apple Watch’s rectangular case is less discrete, I found it to be much better for using almost all the smart capabilities.
The Apple watch is popular because the whole ecosystem just works. Even tech guru Marques Brownlee wore an Apple Watch in an interview with Bill Gates.
It also has the best selection of apps. My personal favorite is Strong. You can log a full weightlifting workout with this, and the Apple watch was the only smart watch I was able to do that with.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 1 & 2
Samsung has their headliner Galaxy Watch, but the smallest size offered is 42mm, and it’s a bulky 42mm.
It may sound strict to omit it for those extra 2mm, but the fact is it’s just not a small watch. Try one on if you don’t believe me.
Still, Android fans can take heart. Samsung also has the Galaxy Watch Active and Galaxy Watch Active2, which are both available in the 40mm range.
The original Active model a nice middle ground option for a compelling price, and it’s the model I test drove. At only $180 (just lowered from $200) it has the build quality and sleek look of the most premium options.
It falls short of those top-of-the-line smartwatches by not offering full text and call capabilities, and also having no LTE availability.
Still, with GPS and heart rate I was able to track things like mountain bike sessions and runs.
Although not at the top of Samsung’s lineup, the Active2 is quite competitive when compared to the Apple Watch, and it fills in the gaps left by the Active.
It has full text and call ability, and it has an LTE version available just like the Apple Watch. The non-LTE Active2 will run you $250, while the full LTE version is $400.
Garmin Forerunner 45S
In Garmin’s crowded lineup of options is a 40mm smartwatch called the Forerunner 45S. It’s marketed as a runner’s watch.
Garmin has a good handle on the sports tech market, but as an overall smartwatch the Forerunner 45S claims the lowest specs in this lineup.
It has smart notifications when paired with your phone, but beyond that you’re looking at just heart rate and GPS.
The display is low resolution and non-touch. Even the construction is a significant step below the others.
But the lacking specs don’t tell the full story. The Forerunner 45S may not compete well as a general smart watch, but it’s not trying to.
Garmin specializes in producing quality products that are hyper focused on sports. The Garmin Forerunner 45S is a purpose built serious runner’s watch.
I’m not a serious runner, so I handed it over to my triathlete girlfriend. She picked up on several things that made this watch great runners.
First are the physical buttons. It turns out using a tiny touchscreen is difficult and annoying on a run. It’s even worse if it’s cold out and you’re running in gloves. The buttons are easier and more reliable.
Second is the information displayed. Serious runners aren’t concerned with calories burned. They’re looking for pace, time splits, and other stats.
Finally, the always on display is simply more practical than having to turn your wrist just so or tap the screen.
So while you can certainly use the Apple and Samsung smartwatches on runs, the Garmin is markedly better at it.
FitBit Inspire HR
You might be surprised to not see FitBit in the official lineup. FitBit has no smaller option that fits all of our criteria.
The Inspire HR is a solid budget option for a very basic fitness tracker.
Let’s hope Google’s acquisition of FitBit mean their watches will improve, and that smaller options are part of that.
The stylish and feature-packed Fitbit Luxe is a perfect compromise for someone who wants jewelry-quality style, robust fitness tracking capabilities, and smartwatch functionality in one device.
The Luxe’s slim design polished stainless steel case, and multiple bracelet-like bands set it apart from the other smart watches featured here. But with its five-day battery, daily readiness scores, and multiple connectivity options, it’s just as capable of a smart device as any other smart watch.
Though primarily marketed towards women with many of its colors and band styles, the Fitbit Luxe in black graphite and stainless steel coloring is also a good choice for guys with smaller wrists.
Fitbit Inspire 3
Reliable, affordable, simple, and slim, the Fitbit Inspire 3 is ideal for anyone in the market for a health tracker who also wants a handful of smart watch features.
Equipped with the Fitbit app, it can keep track of everything from your activity levels to sleep quality, food logging, and more.
At just under 100 dollars, the Inspire 3 is a great way to get started with using a small smart watch. Even if you’re not accustomed to wearing a standard wristwatch, its ultra-lightweight silicone band guarantees a comfortable and barely noticeable wear.
Withings Scanwatch 38mm
While many smart watches offer basic health and fitness tracking, few are as highly certified as the Withings Scanwatch.
Equipped with a clinically validated electrocardiogram and SpO2 sensor, it’s fully capable of delivering the in-depth health data desired by amateur and professional athletes alike.
Aside from its top-of-the-line functionality though, the Scanwatch also has one of the widest ranges of styles and colors to choose from.
Six cases and twenty bands can be mixed and matched to produce a staggering number of personalized looks, making this an excellent choice for anyone looking for a more fashion-forward small smart watch.
Withings Steel HR 36mm
Take one quick glance, and you might not even realize that the Withings Steel HR watch is displaying a digital face.
Its stainless steel case gives it a sense of weight and heft that plays so well with the digital clock face, you might be fooled into thinking it’s a real, physical display.
Alongside its handsome good looks, the Steel HR also offers a suite of health-tracking features including heart rate monitoring, activity tracking, and sleep quality monitoring. And true to Withings’ style, it’s available in any combination of six different cases and twenty unique bands.
Overall, it’s a great fit for anyone who’s loath to give up their classic wristwatch but still wants smart watch health tracking features.
“Classic enough to make a statement. Modern enough to keep you connected.” That’s how Garmin describes their latest version of the Lily watch, and I’d have to agree — it’s one of the most traditionally-styled takes on a smart watch that I’ve seen yet.
The real draw here comes from the Lily’s motion-activated switch from a patterned lens to a touch screen. When wearing it at your side, it’s a spitting image of a classic wristwatch.
But with a quick flick of your wrist, it can display health monitoring data, calls, texts, and calendar reminders, all navigable via the watch’s touch screen.
All that taken together is why I especially like wearing smart casual office attire with this smart watch.
Garmin Vivosmart 5
With both price and appearance in the middle range of smart watches, the Garmin Vivosmart 5 may not look entirely impressive on its surface.
But true thanks to Garmin’s attention to detail in all of their watches, the Vivosmart 5 is loaded with enough unique features to make it an attractive option for health-minded wearers.
In addition to the usual suite of heart rate, sleep, and general activity tracking, the Vivosmart 5 also tracks your stress levels by monitoring respiration and hydration.
That makes it an effective tool for keeping your total body health on track. Sync it with the Garmin Connect app, and you can see all of that information recorded in real-time and displayed in useful graphs and charts.
Garmin Venu 2S
As one of Garmin’s more fashion-forward smart watches, the Venu 2S fully leverages a slate stainless steel bezel and graphite case to create a sleek and sporty look.
But behind the Venu 2S’s smart appearance lies a whole host of smart features as well, all accessible via the watch’s touch screen. With 25 pre-loaded fitness apps and Apple and Android compatibility, it can give you everything you need to stay fit and connected day in and day out.
Another big draw for the Venu 2S is its extra battery life in comparison to other fashionable smart watches.
With up to 10 days of use in smart watch mode, it’s a very low-maintenance watch; and with just 10 minutes of charging, it restores a day of battery life in smart watch mode. That makes it great for the guy who’s always on the go.
Garmin Vivomove 3S
As the more sport-oriented version of Garmin’s Vivosmart, the Vivomove 3S still retains the series’ wide range of case and band options. And with its traditional analog watch design — with a smart digital twist — I think it does a great job of straddling the line between sporty and fashionable.
All the usual fitness and health tracking suspects are present here, as well as smart notifications, a calendar view, and a handy timer and stopwatch function.
Basically, if you’re looking for a traditional watch that seamlessly integrates smart features into a classic look, the Vivomove 3S is your best option.
Specs are hard to compare because everyone has their own way of advertising them. And beyond that, specs never really tell the full story — software and design play a big role.
Still, we have some takeaways…
Apple vs. Android
The Apple and Samsung options overlap in specs and price. However Apple recently lowered their prices.
Impassioned Apple vs. Android fans will take to their sides of the aisle quickly. But don’t jump to conclusions so fast. Consider this:
The base Apple Watch Series 3 is now $200, which is just $20 more than the less capable Active.
In terms of specs and value, there’s really no contest there. The base Apple Watch Series 3 offers significantly more functionality than the Active, making it the most compelling option on a $200 budget.
Then we have the Active2. It’s arguably competitive with any Apple Watch, and it’s where preference come in.
While I find it hard to recommend the Active, the upgrades in the Active2 make it an excellent option and a compelling value. I also found the display to be the best looking of all the smart watches I tested.
The Samsung Active2 is the best option for Android fans.
Just like with smartphones, this battle comes down to preference. The good news is both offer some great smart watches for small wrists.
Garmin vs. The Rest
The Garmin only makes sense for runners. Compared to the shiny industry leaders of the smart watch world, the Garmin is like a trip back to the year 2000.
Everything about it is dated and lackluster. If I want a retro digital watch look, I’ll just go with a much cooler $15 Casio.
If you’re looking for an all around smart watch, this is not for you. But if you’re training for a marathon, it is for you.
After all, there’s a reason you see endurance athletes almost exclusively wearing Garmin watches.
For now, good smart watches for small wrists are limited. Luckily, the leading brands have options.
Depending on your budget and personal preferences, both Apple and Samsung have some great models that come in smaller sizes. They’re refined, good looking, and high quality.
For the dedicated runner looking for a strict sports watch, the Garmin Forerunner is a capable and reasonably sized choice.
Otherwise we’re left with a predictable but positive takeaway: Go with Apple or Samsung.
Questions? Comments? Leave them below!
Natalie C says
I have a 6 inch wrist (maybe more 5.9…) The first smartwatch I bought was the Samsung watch active (first model)… than I upgraded to the watch4 Pro… I had been told that only the pro had LTE and I have strong metal allergies (not sure if it’s the right way to say it) but I need the casing to be a grade more like the Pro was… Not long after, got a deal for the watch 5 pro… the problem is that it’s heavy… I can’t find a band that fit that will keep it in place without tightening so bad that every night my wrist get swollen and the indicator get yellow/red…
So that said, is there any smartwatch with:
– for small wrist
– extra hypoallergenic
– LTE, no phone needed
– a minimum of health features
Have 6inch wrists so ordered the Samsung smartwatch 4 at 40mm hope its not too big.
I appreciate your article. But besides the dimensions that you consider, I feel the thickness of the case is a VERY important dimension. Especially in the winter months, a thick watch (over 12 mm) really gets in the way of putting on jackets and long sleeved shirts.
So if you decide to update this article, how about including the case thickness in your criteria?
Lynn Gold says
I wish your photos had showed people with small wrists. Mine is tinier than any of the wrists shown in the photos. The 38mm Apple Watch takes up the entire top of my wrist and even juts out a little. That is hardly what I’d call “wearable.”
If the 38mm Apple Watch extends beyond the edges of your wrist, I’m assuming your wrist is less than 6″ around, which puts it in the *very* small category. The wrist pictured in this article is small for a male at around 6 1/3 inches.