So you’re here because you’re looking for the best fitness trackers on the market, right? Unsurprisingly, some people confuse fitness watches with smartwatches, but they are not quite the same thing. Simply, smartwatches are primarily an extension for your smartphone – allowing you to receive notifications and control apps from your wrist.
Fitness watches are different. Their primary purpose is to collect 24/7 health data and deliver this in a useful format. You can then use this data to monitor your health and set fitness goals. Although all fitness watches share a common goal, they are not created equally.
Fitness watches differ in terms of accuracy, design, and the types of activities they can track. They also range in price from £30 to £500+. This leaves most people feeling confused about which fitness tracker to choose.
Which Fitness Watch Should I Choose?
Fitness watches (or fitness trackers) fall into 3 main categories: basic, mid-range, and advanced/sport-specific:
Basic fitness watch
These simple fitness trackers are usually in the design of a thin wristband. They have a motion detector sensor (3-axis accelerometer) to track activities and calories. The better models also have connected GPS.
Mid-range fitness watch
In addition to the above, mid-range fitness trackers have an infrared sensor. This collects cardiovascular data such as heart rate (HR), heart rate variability (HRV), and respiration rate (RR). This means they can measure cardio fitness, stress, sleep duration, sleep quality, and predict Vo2 max.
Advanced/ sport–specific watch
These do everything already mentioned but with more accuracy. Certain watches are also tailored toward specific sports such as swimming or hiking. For example, some advanced fitness trackers use built-in GPs and a barometric altimeter to measure distance and elevation whilst hiking. Cheaper fitness trackers can only achieve if they tap into your phone’s GPS.
Before making your choice, you should consider what health data you are interested in measuring. Do you want to track one sport with absolute precision? Or are you quite happy to receive reasonably accurate data on a range of daily activities? Do you want to track your sleep quality and stress levels throughout the day? Or, are you simply interested in counting the steps you’ve walked and the calories you’ve burned?
Whatever your priorities are, here are 5 of the best fitness trackers to consider (1 basic, 1 mid-range and 3 advanced)!
1. Best Basic Fitness Watch: Withings Move
At $54.95, this fitness tracker is not going to break the bank. Though it is a basic tracker, it would be great for someone who is new to health tracking.
If you don’t mind carrying your phone with you, this watch will also track distance and elevation data. Along with activity tracking, the Health Mate app tells you how many calories you’ve burned and allows you to set health goals.
- Incredible battery life (18 months)
- The Health Mate app is very intuitive and provides easy-to-understand health data.
- It has the appearance of a conventional watch so you can wear it with workwear and eveningwear. This means you can track your total daily steps – not just your gym workouts!
- There is no heart rate monitor, so you won’t be able to track HR changes or calculate Vo2 capacity. Although this device claims to measure sleep, sleep trackers with HR monitors are more effective at measuring sleep quality. So, if you are particularly interested in sleep tracking you should consider a device with a heart rate monitor.
2. Affordable Mid-Range Health Tracker: Fitbit Versa Lite Edition
At $130, the Fitbit Versa (Lite Edition) is more expensive than the Withings Move, but it offers quite a lot more in terms of functionality because it has a heart-rate monitor, sleep tracking, 15 exercise modes and smartphone capabilities. The heart rate sensor will provide you with useful cardio insights and help you accurately track your sleep.
- This watch tracks heart rate data as well as movements, so it can provide more sophisticated cardio and sleep data than the Withings model.
- The watch is waterproof up to 50m so can be used for swimming
- Smartphone notifications
- Connected GPS
- The watch is quite informal so not necessarily suitable for a formal environment. Having said that, some people like the sporty and sleek look.
3. Advanced Fitness Tracker for Hikers: Garmin Vivosport 4
At around £125, the Garmin Vivosport 4 is more expensive, but it offers exceptional value for money. Not only does it have in-built GPS, but it also uses infrared technology to capture your heart rate, and a barometric altimeter to capture elevation.
If you enjoy hiking, biking or running outdoors, the Garmin Vivosport 4 will track your workouts with precision.
- Good quality hardware that will track your routes, elevation, heart rate, sleep and stress.
- You can receive smartphone notifications if you pair your phone with the device.
- In-built GPS for a great price.
- It’s not great at measuring gym workouts (stretches, weightlifting etc.)
- Though it is waterproof, it doesn’t track lengths in the pool.
4. Best Fitness Watch for Swimmers: Samsung Gear Fit 2 (Pro)
It can be hard to find a fitness watch that is truly suitable for swimmers. Though many watches claim to be waterproof, swimming with the watch may run the battery down or cause other unexpected damage. Similarly, although many trackers can capture open swims, few can record lane swims in a pool.
The Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro is both reliably waterproof and can track lane swimming via the Speedo Swim App. It is a little more expensive than the watches already mentioned ($189.99) but worth the investment if you are a keen swimmer.
- Tracks swims effectively (it’s reliably waterproof), as well as other activities.
- Smartphone notifications
- Built-in GPS
- 4gb storage for music
- Battery life is 1-2 days – some comparable devices last up to 5 days.
- It has automatic activity tracking, but it sometimes struggles to detect stair climbing (this is an issue with quite a lot of fitness trackers).
5. Most Accurate Sports Watch: Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR
When it comes to data accuracy, Suunto watches are close to perfection. Suunto can be considered a trailblazer in this industry because they began making precision navigation watches for the army in the 1930s.
The watches aren’t cheap (this is $349.99) but they are certainly worth the investment. And if you haven’t heard of Sunnto, it’s probably because their products are quite specialist; the watches are typically aimed at athletes, but any sports enthusiast would benefit from this great piece of technology.
If you enjoy outdoorsy activities like running and hiking, you can rely on the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR to track your routes, elevation, heart rate and calories with extreme precision.
- Unrivalled precision and accuracy.
- Built-in GPS
- A built-in altimeter to accurately track elevation without the need for a smartphone (great for hill/mountain sports).
- A bit bulky and masculine for some people’s tastes.
6. Most well-known brand – Fitbit Charge 4
The Fitbit Charge 4 looks almost like the twin of the Charge 3 but has one key feature that sets it apart from the competition: built-in GPS, which allows you to map walks and runs without having to use your watch. Fitbit Pay allows you to make contactless payments. Plus, if you bring your smartphone close by, you can access Spotify playlists from your wrist. It also includes Active Zone Minutes.
The Fitbit Charge 4 doesn’t have a colour display, though the icons and menus are well-designed and easy to use. If you’re looking for sleep monitoring, the weather forecast, or breathing exercises, they’re a few swipes away.
The Charge 4 is a fitness tracker for all, slim, neat, and filled with features that cross the distance between fitness trackers and more serious running watches.
- Built-in GPS
- Fitbit Pay
- Spotify controls
- There is no colour screen
7. Alexa-compatible Amazfit Bip U Pro
With over 60 sports monitoring modes and a slew of health-related applications, the Amazfit Bip U Pro is a fantastic fitness tracker for the money. The built-in GPS and Alexa compatibility being the show-stopping features.
The main experience is the same as Bip U. The Bip U Pro is, without a doubt, the finest smartwatch inside this price range, with few competitors.
- GPS built-in
- Good range of fitness and monitoring features
- Sleep monitoring that is precise
- Issues with app syncing
- Alexa, in reality, is a little glitchy
8. Best build on a budget – Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6
The Mi Smart Band 6 is the newest addition to Xiaomi’s quickly growing line of fitness trackers. It’s pretty cheap and comes with a lot of functionality you’d expect to see on a far more costly product, such as a pulse oximeter for measuring blood oxygen saturation and all-day stress monitoring.
The screen is extremely bright and sensitive to even the softest of touches, which is critical for a screen this thin.
It’s a disappointment there’s to see no built-in GPS for keeping track of races, hikes, and bike rides. It works well enough by relying on your smartphone’s positioning system, but it means you can’t go out without it, which weighs some people down. Otherwise, if you want a lightweight tracker, this is bang on. It’s also probably the most affordable and popular fitness trackers for women.
- Very low cost
- Slim build
- Doesn’t automatically end monitoring after a workout
- Connected GPS is a pain for some people
9. The best for the more serious athlete – Garmin Venu
The Garmin Venu 2 is a brilliant all-around exercise tracker, with a bright monitor, long battery life, and a complete range of fitness tools. Although the Venu’s software and interface aren’t as extensive or powerful as the Apple Watch, it’s a great smartwatch for athletes. With storage for up to 650 songs and a full variety of navigational sensors for outdoor activities, it outperforms the similarly called Garmin Venu Sq in terms of both looks and features.
- AMOLED display with vibrant colours
- Wide range of fitness features
- Support for offline music
- The design is a little bland
- App selection is limited compared to Apple
10. The best yet to come -Fitbit Luxe
Fitbit will soon release the Fitbit Luxe, a new slimline exercise tracker with a stainless steel casing, AMOLED touchscreen, and SpO2 sensor. Whilst it’s only currently available to preorder, it will begin to ship in the coming few weeks.
Photos of the Luxe were leaked to the public in April, giving us our first look at the latest exercise tracker. It looks close to the Fitbit Inspire in terms of style. The Luxe, on the other hand, has a smart stainless steel case rather than a polymer one.
The Fitbit Luxe, like the Fitbit Versa 3 and Sense, will have an AMOLED display, which can help increase battery life over the Inspire 2’s PMOLED display. The Luxe, according to Fitbit, will last about 5 days between charges.
In terms of exercise tracking, the Luxe can measure pulse rate, breathing rate, and sleep – and, unlike the Inspire 2, it has a SpO2 tracker, as well as skin temperature control (which should become available with a later software upgrade).
Fitbit’s Smart Track functionality, which starts exercise monitoring if you forget to activate it manually, is included in the device. Also, it’ll have some basic smart features like notifications and social media, like it’s other Fitbit siblings.
Overall, it will be slightly less expensive than Garmin’s latest alternative, the Lily and it’s one of the best-looking Fitbit for women.
- A brand new approach to design from Fitbit
- We’re not sure yet!
Remember, your ideal fitness watch should be practical and useful but not overloaded with unnecessary features. That’s why it’s so important to know what you are looking for in a fitness tracker before parting with your cash. Hopefully, the information in this article will guide you towards the best value fitness watch for you.
Last Updated on July 11, 2021