TwelveSouth ActionSleeve review: Move your Apple Watch up your arm

Shoulder-mounted Apple Watch.

TwelveSouth ActionSleeve
(Image: © Mike Sawh)

iMore Verdict

The TwelveSouth ActionSleeve is a simple way to move your Apple Watch away from your wrist, while still getting good heart rate stats to make sure you’re closing those rings.

Pros

  • +

    Easy to put on

  • +

    Moves heart rate sensor to bicep

  • +

    Can still access Digital Crown

Cons

  • -

    Doesn’t work with Apple Watch Ultra

  • -

    Question marks on velcro strap lifespan

  • -

    Feels a tad pricey

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The Apple Watch is pretty integral to the Fitness Plus experience, but if you don’t like wearing it on your wrist during workouts or don’t have a more exercise-friendly strap, the ActionSleeve pushes the Watch up your arm and will still track your heart to make sure you’re hitting the right effort levels.

TwelveSouth ActionSleeve: Price and availability

TwelveSouth ActionSleeve

(Image credit: Mike Sawh)

The TwelveSouth ActionSleeve is available to buy from TwelveSouth’s website for $39.99/£34.99 and you can also find it stocked in retailers including Amazon. This is actually the second generation version of the ActionSleeve and accommodates newer Apple Watch case sizes.

This isn’t the only strap out there and a quick scan of somewhere like Amazon will show you that. Some of those other straps will let you wear the Apple Watch on other parts of the arm and even on the ankle. They’ll let you do that for around $20/£20 and even less than that.

TwelveSouth ActionSleeve: Specs and features

TwelveSouth ActionSleeve

(Image credit: Mike Sawh)

The ActionSleeve is an all-in-one setup made from pretty soft, non-allergenic polyurethane with extra material placed around the area where the Apple Watch sits inside to prevent any irritation. 

To keep it in place on your forearm or bicep is a velcro strap and this version is suitable to fit arm sizes up to 15-inches (38cm). The compartment that the Watch sits inside is suitable for 44mm and 45mm size Apple Watches, so that covers the Watch Series 4 and later and the Watch SE. There’s also a cutout to make sure you can still twist the Digital Crown.

TwelveSouth ActionSleeve: Build and Performance

TwelveSouth ActionSleeve

(Image credit: Mike Sawh)

It’s undeniably a sporty-looking strap that’s straightforward to put on and the velcro has held strong so far, though I’d question how long it fares on the front up over long-term sweaty use. I’ve used it mainly with the Apple Watch Series 6, which is slightly disappointing as I tend to use the Apple Watch Ultra 2 for runs, but thankfully the Series 6 has a strong optical heart rate sensor and the design of the strap does mean you can still achieve that good heart rate data. 

I’ve used the sleeve for shorter, easier runs, more HIIT-style runs and longer runs and the sleeve has been comfortable on the whole, and while you don’t entirely forget about it, it feels a bit like wearing a heart rate monitor armband with the addition of a small and pretty unobtrusive screen.

TwelveSouth ActionSleeve: Competition

TwelveSouth ActionSleeve

(Image credit: Mike Sawh)

I haven’t used a sleeve that moves the Apple Watch away from the wrist before, but I know there are alternatives out there. Some of those rival sleeves or straps opt against using a velcro mechanism to keep it secure and also allow you to move the strap to your ankle. You might not want to do that for running, but that does mean you can get straps that offer more wearing options.

TwelveSouth ActionSleeve: Should you buy it?

You should buy it if...

  • You don’t like running with your watch on your wrist
  • You don’t care about checking in on your real-time stats
  • You’ve got the right size Apple Watch for it

You shouldn’t buy it if…

  • You own an Apple Watch Ultra
  • You like to keep a close eye on running metrics

TwelveSouth ActionSleeve: Verdict

TwelveSouth ActionSleeve

(Image credit: Mike Sawh)

The TwelveSouth Action Sleeve is not going to be an essential Apple Fitness Plus accessory for everybody, but if you actually hate having your watch on your wrist during runs and actually like the idea of moving it to a part of the body that could boost accuracy then you might have room for it. It’s a little pricey and it’s a shame there isn't an option for the Apple Watch Ultra yet, but for those with the regular Apple Watch, it’s comfortable to wear, still gives you access to the Watch crown, and can be easily hand washed as well too.

Michael Sawh

Michael is a freelance journalist who has covered consumer technology for over a decade and specializes in wearable and fitness tech. Previously editor of Wareable, he also co-ran the features and reviews sections of T3, and has a long list of bylines in the world of consumer tech sites.


With a focus on fitness trackers, headphones, running wearables, phones, and tablet, he has written for numerous publications including Wired UK, GQ, Men's Fitness, BBC Science Focus, Metro and Stuff, and has appeared on the BBC Travel Show. Michael is a keen swimmer, a runner with a number of marathons under his belt, and is also the co-founder of YouTube channel The Run Testers.