A decent fitness tracker can be a great way to monitor your workout, sleep and even your diet, if used correctly.
But knowing which model to buy can be a tricky task, with the market currently catering to multiple bespoke user scenarios and price points. A hardcore triathlete will have very different needs to a gym newbie, for example.
Here to help, we’ve created a definitive buying guide detailing the different types of fitness tracker available and a curated list of the best trackers we’ve tested.
Related: What is HIIT?
Before you dive into our list, however, note that a fitness tracker isn’t a silver bullet fix that will guarantee you achieve your goals. If you’re looking to lose a little weight then you’ll still need to put in the hard graft and follow a healthier diet to reap the rewards.
Similarly, if you’re an advanced athlete then ensure you take the time to understand some of the extra data and insights provided by your fitness tracker – otherwise, you’re wasting a lot of potential.
Related: Best Fitbit
How much should I spend on a fitness tracker?
If you’re just starting out, £80/$100 or less will get the features you need. These will cover the basics, such as counting the steps you take throughout the day and keeping tabs on your sleep at night.
For £100/$120 or more, you’ll find fitness trackers begin adding in heart rate monitors targeted towards more intermediate exercisers. At this price you tend to also see added smartwatch functionality, such as notification mirroring.
Spend around £150/$180 or more and you’ll find the advanced fitness trackers with GPS sensors and more fully fledged performance analysis. You’ll also start entering smartwatch territory, which means they can serve a dual purpose.
Related: What is VO2 Max?
Recent fitness trackers
The Huawei Band 2 Pro manages to pack in GPS distance tracking for just £80, making it good value. In our review we praised its robust design and accurate distance tracking courtesy of that GPS. Its feature set is going to meet the basic needs of runners, cyclists and swimmers (thanks to its water-resistance to 50m), but for anyone needing more advanced tracking and coaching we found it left a lot to be desired, especially from its clunky software. While it doesn’t quite earn a place in our roundup, it’s still a worthwhile consideration if you’re on a budget.
Upcoming fitness trackers
Fitbit is expected to reveal a new fitness smartwatch for 2018, possibly as a replacement for the Fitbit Blaze. You can expect it to have some of the smartwatch smarts as the Fitbit Ionic, but supposedly with a more refined design that will appeal to a wider market. The Fitbit Ionic hardly won many beauty pageants in that regard, so that should be a positive step in turning around Fitbit’s fortunes. If the rumours are true that it doesn’t have built-in GPS, however, that could put a dent in its potential. It’ll all come down to price.
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Garmin Vivosmart 3
2 of 9
- Water-resistant to 50m
- Five-day battery life
- Heart rate monitoring
- Barometric altimeter
- All-day stress levels
- Automatic rep counting
- Smartphone notifications
Best mid-range fitness tracker
The Garmin Vivosmart 3 includes some useful extras to separate it from other similar rivals like the Fitbit Charge 2. One of the bigger advantages is its water-resistance to 50m, which means you don’t have to take it off to shower. Otherwise, the Vivosmart 3 includes all of the features you would expect from a mid-range fitness tracker that doesn’t included the added expense of GPS.
You can expect the usual all-day activity tracking and sleep tracking, alongside some useful extras such as the stress level readings. These help to give you a reminder to take it easy every now and then, and there are guided breathing exercises to help relax you, too.
Whether or not you’ll find the automatic rep counting for strength training useful remains to be seen, but it’s another differentiator. Otherwise, the Vivosmart 3 proves to be a comfortable and easy to use fitness tracker, especially when you consider the convenient smartphone notifications.
Withings Activité Pop
7 of 9
- Discreet traditional watch design
- Water-resistant to 30m
- Replaceable straps
- Eight-month battery life
Best for discreet activity tracking
While Withings has been snapped up by Nokia, so no longer exists as a brand, you can still grab the Activite Pop for a bargain price.
Not everyone wants the world to know they’re looking to get healthier or keep tabs on their activity levels. In that sense, many of Withings’ fitness-tracking watches are the perfect fit. The Activite Pop is one of the less expensive models in the range, with the standard Activite costing three times more if you want far fancier materials.
The Withings Activite watches let you know how close you are to your steps goal via a sub-dial. A full revolution of the hands tells you you’ve hit 100% and it’ll also track your sleep.
On the surface, though, the Withings Activite watches just look like standard traditional analogue watches, meaning they won’t stick out like a sore thumb in more formal attire.
The Activite Pop only comes with rubber straps, owing to its lower price, but these are replaceable if you want something flashier. The rubber straps will at least fare better than leather in water, as the Activite Pop is water-resistant to 30m.
Not everyone wants the world to know they’re keeping an eye on their activity levels. For something that is both tastefully designed and discreet, the Withings Activite Pop is great.