It seems like every year there is another raft of fitness trackers being manufactured. Couple, this with smartwatches that concentrate on fitness and it is clear there is a lot of choice.To help you out, we have been tried to make some order out of the chaos and distill the options down to a simple list of what we think are the top ten fitness trackers. We spent a lot of time putting this together but of course we may have missed something out or made some mistakes.
So what do you do if you know you want a fitness tracker but you’re not sure which to get?
Like most questions of this type, the answer is it depends. Your budget, must have functionality, fitness goals, brand loyalty and taste all play a part. That being said our current favourite is the Fitbit Charge 2 which gives you the most bang of the box.
If you’re pressed for time or rushing out to the gym check out our favourite fitness tracker over at Amazon.
Top Ten Fitness Trackers
1 Fitbit Alta HR
A little more advance than its Alta ego(sic) the Alta HR is slim and compact which makes it easy to wear all the time and great for everyday use. There is an optical heart rate monitor on the bottom of the tracker device which enables it to monitor your heart rate throughout the day. You can then use the excellent Fitbit app to monitor how your heart rate has tracked over time or compete with friends and family. The smart track functionality will automatically track your activity and if you are having a lazy day there will be reminders to get up and about. Other than that it comes with smart phone notifications and a touch screen functionality. Strangely, for a fitness device there is no stopwatch capability and the screen can be problematic to see in sunlight.
2 Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate
The latest model of the ever popular Fitbit Charge series. Improving upon earlier model with a larger screen, interchangeable bands and text notifications. As you would expect the Fitbit is tightly focused on fitness and allows you to track almost everything you can think of. So much so that you can set daily goals for steps, calories, time asleep and fluid intake amongst others, with the optical hear rate monitor providing stats which can be stored on to the device for up to a week. As with most Fitbits it buzzes when you hit 10000 steps out of the box and can also give you a gentle reminder for ervery hour you haven’t taken 250 steps. If you have previously owned a Charge HR you should find navigating the menus easier than most. Other notable features are the ability to make use of your mobile GPS as a connected GPS, a silent alarm, a stopwatch and a guided breathing function.
3 Garmin Vivosmart 3
Available in red, blue, black or purple the waterproof Vivosmart is a small unobtrusive fitness tracker which does a good job in keeping track of your heart rate, steps and sleep. It does a pretty good job tracking running but if you want something with GPS you may be better off checking out the Vivosport.
Its small size makes it a good option if you are wanting to wear your tracker all day. Doing so, allows you to take advantage of some of the advanced features provided by the Vivosmart like all day stress monitoring, VO2 Max and fitness age. You also benefit from some of the more common features like smartphone notifications, continuous heart rate monitoring and the ability to control the music in your phone default music player. Garmin have created a good all round all day fitness tracker but they seem to have struggled with how to incorporate the number of options on the screens which will take time to get used to. As with all Garmin products you also get the Garmin Connect app which is great if you are a stats junkie but can be a bit overwhelming if you are interested in just the basics.
4 Fitbit Flex 2
If you are someone who simply wants to know whether they have done their 10000 steps the lightweight Flex 2 would be an ideal choice. With a slim and attractive design it is an affordable and simple enhancement to the original Flex with the ability to swap the tracking device into a variety of bands and bracelets. Whilst the Flex was water resistant the Flex 2 is a true waterproof fitness tracker. There is no screen so lights on the band shows how you are progressing towards your daily step target. The illumination of one of the 4 lights is used to represent having accomplished 2500 steps of your 10000. The lights are also used in conjunction with vibrations to alert you of text and calls when you are near your phone.
Being waterproof the Flex 2 also allows you to track swimming. The data is stored on the device which can then later be reviewed on your phone. To get the most out of the tracker you will need to make use of the Fitbit app. On the downside, the Flex has no support for heart rare monitoring and despite the lack of a screen the battery doesn’t seem to last as long as you would expect.
5 Moov Now
Most of the other fitness trackers on display look and act a bit like your normal wrist watch, the Moov is different. It can’t be used as a watch and it is not the most aesthetically pleasing but it makes up for it in other ways. As well as being waterproof and proficient at tracking swimming, the Moov markets itself more like a personal trainer than a fitness tracker. This is most apparent in the app where there are a series of guided 7 minute workouts where your form is tracked using the sensor in the device. The idea being that if you do these every day you should start to see improvements in both your fitness and the number of reps you can do. The same principle is also applied to running and cycling where if you wear the device around the ankle using the longer strap and use the app and headphones you will be given audio advice on how to improve. Not sure if that’s better or worse than someone shouting at you at the gym. If you can put up with a bit of mickey taking for the looks and don’t mind that the band can come undone very easily given the fragile clipping device the Moov is a great inexpensive all round tracker.
6 Samsung Gear Fit 2
The Gear Fit 2 is not really a smart watch and at the same time not really a fitness watch. I guess you could call it a hybrid. Being a Samsung product you will get the absolute of this by pairing it up with a Samsung phone and the Samsung phone Health app – although it will work perfectly well with other Android devices. The device itself, is small and compact and packs a lot of detailed information on its excellent clear touch screen, which remains off until you flick your wrist.You even have the ability to download watch faces and use the Fit 2 like a normal watch. The smart watch aspect of its functionality allows you to download apps from the Gear Fit store as well as store music on the device. If your fit is connected to your phone you are also able to view your text or instant messages and respond with a few pre prepared messages. If you are feeling really advanced you can also use headphones to communicate via the phone. Not quite a phone watch but close.
Health wise, your activity tracked when the sensor detects you are working out. On board an assisted GPS, a traditional pedometer and an optical heart rate monitor which takes measurements every ten minutes are some of the tools used to keep you in shape. On the downside, there is no continuous heart rate monitoring, the strap has a tendency to come undone if you are not careful and using the GPS will really impact on your battery life.
Overall, the Gear Fit would be a good match for someone who doesn’t want to go to the expense of a full on smart watch but would like some of the features.
Check out our more in depth Samsung Gear Fit 2 review
7 Fitbit Ionic
The Ionic is Fitbit’s most advanced watch to date. Stylish and water resistant to 50 metres it is clearly aimed at trying to take a bite from the Apple watch market share. At the moment there are still few teething problems being ironed out. That being said it is a great fitness watch. It eschews Android Wear in favour of its own operating system which allows you to do smart watch type things like installing apps, NFC payments and on-board music. It can be a bit of a struggle getting music on to the device but you do get 2.6GB of onboard storage to make up for it. Other key features are as ever the Fitbit eco system, on board GPS and the ability to answer phone calls when paired with a set of bluetooth headphones. The battery life is good and can be extended by configuring the display to operate in raise to wake mode. Overall, a solid offering but as it is still quite new will need a few updates to be at its best and the set up process needs to be simplified.
8 Polar A370
An upgrade to the Polar A360, the A370 benefits from the addition of connected GPS and continuous heart rate monitoring. As you would expect from a Polar product it makes good use of the optical heart rate sensor. If you wish, the heart rate monitor will give you a breakdown at the end of your workout of how much time you have spent in the various training zones. For added accuracy, you can even use it with a heart strap. There are some reports that the usb charging cover has a tendency to fall off and that the swim tracker doesn’t track laps. Probably best suited to fans of Polar products.
9 Misfit Ray
Weighing in at 8g with a sleek stylish unobtrusive design the Misfit Ray seems more like a fashion item than a fitness tracker. It is small enough to be warn at the same time as a watch and interchangeable bands allow you to match your style. It is more than just a fashion accessory and offers plenty of features if you’re looking for a inexpensive entry level tracker.
The inexpensive replaceable batteries should last for around 4 months and a notification in the app will let you know when it is time for a change. Great news for those who get frustrated with charging their device a lot. Speaking of the app it is nowhere near as refined as the Fitbit offering but can work well for simple tracking. It also has decided to go for a points based system to measure activity which may not to be everyone’s taste.
The tracker comes without GPS, a heart rate monitor or screen. Water resistant to 50 metres it can also track your swimming, especially if you are prepared to pay a little extra to add the Speedo lap counting upgrade. Functionality wise, it comes equipped with a vibrating alarm although this can be a bit weak to wake the heavy sleepers out there. Smartphone notifications are provided by lights with different colours indicating texts or calls (e.g green light for a phone call). By hooking it up to the Misfit Link app you gain the ability to take selfies, turn on lights or control the music app on your phone. A good entry level fitness tracker for those who want a basic track of their activity.