8 Best Fitness Trackers and Activity Trackers in 2015
The best fitness trackers and best activity trackers are great tools if you want to lose a few pounds. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses, while a few go beyond basic features and let you monitor cycling, swimming and more.
Wearable technology isn’t just about overhyped smartwatches and futuristic headwear, like the Apple Watch and Oculus Rift. Interest in health-related tech has exploded over recent years thanks to companies like Nike, Fitbit and Withings.
Devices are getting more and more advanced too, and are fast establishing themselves as essential components of an effective fitness regime. If you're sold on the idea of a tracker and don't know which one to get, we've been slapping on the best fitness trackers in recent months and these are the best we’ve tested.
Hit the ‘Next’ arrow above to see the first fitness tracker on the list, or select your preferred option from the list below.
Best Fitness Tracker – TrustedReviews Recommends
Nike Fuelband SE – £120 / $125 – A water-resistant fitness band that tracks sleep and encourages you to compete against friends
Polar M400 – £170 – A tracker with GPS and a heart sensor that's capable of monitoring fitness across multiple sports
Jawbone UP24 – £90 / $120 – A good-looking fitness band with a great app that also takes your diet into account
Withings Activité – £320 / $650 – A stunning activity-tracking watch built from stainless steel, sapphire crystal glass and leather
Withings Activité Pop – £120 – A stylish, waterproof activity-tracking watch with a battery that runs for eight months
TomTom Runner Cardio – £179.99 / $250 – A waterproof running watch with GPS, a heart rate sensor and a stopwatch
Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless – £199.95 / $199.99 – A pair of water-resistant headphones with an inbuilt heart rate sensor
Polar H7 Heart Rate Sensor – £40 – A light, comfortable ECG heart rate sensor that's more accurate than most fitness bands
Best Activity Tracker – Features You Need
We’ve moved on a bit from the days when the word ‘tracker’ was synonymous with ‘pedometer’. While step-counting is certainly still useful, fitness trackers are now more sophisticated. They collect lots more data and come alongside dedicated apps that analyse your activities and encourage you to incorporate healthier habits into your routine.
Most trackers include an accelerometer and gyroscope to monitor general movement and record steps, just like a pedometer. Additional standard features include the ability to count calories burned and track sleep patterns.
Beyond these basic capabilities is where things get exciting. An increasing number of trackers are coming with altimeters, which can measure changes in altitude, and are therefore able to track the number of steps you've climbed.
Some also include the ability to log food and water consumption, in order to give you a more comprehensive overview of your lifestyle. The better ones let you scan barcodes for food, or connect to services like MyFitnessPal that do the job for you.
Only the most advanced fitness trackers, which are targeted at keen athletes, carry GPS and heart rate sensors. They’re designed to bring a more accurate experience to users, as well as a generous selection of training options.
How much should you spend on a fitness tracker?
The majority of fitness trackers tend to cost between £50 and £200, but there are a number of more and less expensive models. How much you spend depends almost entirely on the level of detail you want your tracker to capture.
If you’re after something basic that will monitor the steps you take and calories you burn as you travel to and from work, you shouldn’t look at shelling out much more than £50. Generally speaking, casual runners who want to improve their general fitness are best off looking at around £100 upwards, while only serious athletes should really go beyond the £200 mark.
Other things to consider
Since fitness trackers need to be worn constantly in order to be as effective as possible, design and form factor are crucial areas to think about. They come in all sorts of shapes, colours and sizes. Watches, wristbands, chest straps, detachable pods and headphones are all available, many of which have digital displays and LED lights.
Needless to say, some undoubtedly look better than others. For example, the beautiful Withings Activité looks equally great at the gym or a dinner party, while the Misfit Flash can be easily hidden away inside a pocket or sock. On the other side, the TomTom Runner Cardio, which is a terrific tracker, is almost offensive to the eyes.
If you want to take your tracker into the shower or go for a swim with it, you need to make sure it's waterproof, rather than water-resistant, because those are two very different things.
Read more: Best Smartphones 2015
Battery life is also really important. Nobody wants to charge another gadget as regularly as smartphone, and trackers can vary from a few days to close to a year of power, depending on whether they're USB-charged or contain a removable watch battery.
Most of the latest fitness trackers come alongside Android and iOS apps. Bluetooth 4.0 support, which enables real-time data syncing, is available on most phones, but it's wise to consult the relevant specs sheets before dipping into your pockets.