If you’re thinking about buying a new fitness tracker you’re probably wondering if they can be used without a smartphone. We’ve been doing some digging to find out whether a smartphone is necessary to get the best from a fitness tracker.
Can you use a fitness tracker without a smartphone? Yes. For the most part key data points for a fitness tracker are measured by electronics like accelerometers on the device itself. This means that for lots of fitness trackers key basic information such as the number of steps taken can be shown using an onboard visual display, like a series of lights or a metric on the screen without the need for a phone.
As we now know smartphones aren’t necessary but that doesn’t mean that it is the right choice. There’s a lot to consider as to whether a fitness tracker is better with a phone or without. In the remainder of this article we will delve into this a bit deeper.
Using a fitness tracker without a smartphone
Maybe you have kids and don’t want to have to buy them a mobile phone as well. Or you are looking for a gift for your parents or grandparents who are not technically minded or you’re somebody who wants to pick up your tracker and just get going.
Whatever the reason there is still plenty of scope to track your fitness using a fitness tracker without a phone. We’ve listed some of the options available below:-
Using your computer
Although a lot of fitness trackers are designed to work optimally with smartphones they do offer alternative methods to sync with the tracking software. A lot of Fitbits for example come with a USB charger or dongle which can then be plugged into a compatible PC. Either through the use of specific software that you can download such as Fitbit Connect or bluetooth the relevant data from the device is then uploaded to track longer term trends and more data than can be displayed on the device.
Generally, this works quite well but unfortunately sometimes you do require a phone to set up the initial user account. A lot of people get round this problem by asking a friend or family member to get over this hurdle. Once the account is setup you should able to continue your tracker without your mobile phone and take advantage of the basic features.
Before the advent of the more technological fitness trackers a lot of people used to use a device that clipped on to your waist known as a pedometer. There is a lot of variety but they generally store around 7 days of data directly on the device. Typically they show you how many steps you’ve taken on a screen and don’t really have any requirements to set-up accounts or sync with your phone or the Internet.
In the same vain as above you may also decide to go old school. You could simply record all of your daily exercise in a simple book. This would negate the need for any type of technological input and at the basic level you will still be able to track improvements over time
Downsides of not using smartphone
Because smart phones are so ubiquitous manufacturers have been putting major effort into closely integrating their trackers and phones. This means all the latest and greatest functionality ends up being available on your phone and accessible via companion apps. We’ve listed some examples here
- History tracking: a lot of devices can only store 1-7 days of history on-board by syncing to your phone and ultimately the internet you can track over longer periods of time
- Sleep tracking data
- Ability to receive smart notifications showing text messages, what’s app and incoming phone calls
- Ability to control music
- Not all data is exposed on the device the phone app gives you access to more of this data
- The ability to input additional data such as food and drink intake and exercise that might not be easily tracked
Are there any fitness trackers that don’t use Bluetooth? They do exist but there isn’t a wide range available. One example is the Willful tracker available on Amazon. It operates as a simple pedometer does not require a phone or an app. However, due to its low price the amount of functionality is fairly limited.