Monitors heart rate, activity, stress, etc. Military-grade durability. Up to 54 days of battery life. Can extend battery life with solar energy. Smartphone notifications. Available in 5 colors. Water-resistant in up to 100 meters.
Best for regular outdoor activity.
Stainless steel construction. Water-resistant to 50 meters for use in the pool or rain. Color display is 20% brighter than Charge 4. Always-on screen capability. Offers stress management and advanced heart metrics.
Many metrics require separate apps or subscriptions.
Tracks a wide range of activities. Charges quickly. Large collection of apps. Featherweight. Bright and always-on AMOLED display. Over 6 days of battery life. Available in 3 colors.
An ECG sensor would have been appreciated.
Provides an excellent battery life for the user. Displays accurate heart rate data and GPS information. Its features are easy to use. Offers great quality at an affordable price. Comes in different colors.
Some buyers wished the accompanying app was more intuitive.
Subtle design looks like a simple arm band. Monitors heart rate, sleep, calories, and fitness through the Halo app. Collects sleep data that is helpful and easy to understand. App also offers workout videos and health tips.
No interactive display, so the only way to view and check any activity is through the app on your phone.
After going through an intensive research process to narrow down our short list of top products in this space, we tested most of our top five — the Coros Apex and the Amazon Halo Band — to be sure that these products are worth your time. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter and test to verify manufacturer claims.
A fitness tracker is a small, convenient device that can change the way you track your activity and wellness. Whether you’re looking for a simple step counter, a sleep tracker, or a versatile smartwatch, these devices designed expressly for fitness tracking can make it easier for you to adopt positive lifestyle changes.
Fitness trackers vary in design and tracking features. Some include a display screen for quick updates on your activity; others vibrate to notify you when you have achieved a goal or need to move a bit. When shopping you should also consider which statistics you want to track: common measurements include heart rate, sleep pattern, steps, and distance.
While fitness trackers aren’t guaranteed to improve fitness, owning and using one can help you keep an eye on your overall performance.
Fitness trackers have evolved to become stylish pieces of fashion tech. You can wear a fitness band. Many come in numerous color choices. Some offer display screens; others do not. If you plan to wear your fitness band all day, including at work, consider a design that fits with your business attire.
Fitness trackers with display screens are common. Many look like wristwatches. Because these trackers are so comfortable to wear, many people find them far more convenient than exercising with a smartphone.
Most trackers are wearable; many fit the wrist. Other options exist, however, including a clip-on tracker for a collar or pocket. Necklace designs are also available, as are units that clip to a shoe or ankle. Look for a fit that corresponds to the type of exercise you enjoy.
A fitness tracker on your wrist won’t track heart rate as accurately as a medical monitor strapped to your chest.
Most fitness trackers can withstand any exercise environment you encounter. Neither cold nor hot weather should affect them. But if you want a tracker for swimming, you’ll need a model that is wearable underwater. Some fitness trackers can withstand water submersion, but most cannot.
If you use a smartphone app now to track your exercise routine, understand that a fitness tracker device works a little differently. A tracker measures certain aspects of your movement. It then pairs with an app to determine whether you’re meeting your goals. Fitness trackers can track some interesting aspects of your movement, including the following —
Fitness trackers provide the data listed above thanks to a variety of internal components.
Much of a fitness tracker’s data collection occurs courtesy of its motion-sensing components. For example, here’s a look at how a tracker uses motion-sensing technology to monitor your sleep: a three-axis accelerometer determines which direction you’re moving, and a gyroscope measures the rotation of the fitness tracker. Using these technologies, the tracker measures your wrist movement during sleep, judging the frequency and force behind the moves. Software in the app then determines whether you’re moving often enough during the night to cause you to sleep poorly.
If your fitness tracker has a GPS built into it, its battery life probably will be less than average.
Having a GPS unit on a wearable fitness tracker is great for runners and bikers. This feature allows the unit to measure the distance you’ve traveled, even if you’re running or riding in a rural location.
Mid-range and high-end fitness trackers sometimes contain optical sensors, such as a heart rate sensor. The unit uses these to shine a light on your skin, which allows the tracker to “see” your pulse and act as a heart rate monitor. It measures the way blood moves through your capillaries.
Rather than optical sensors, some fitness trackers place tiny electrodes against your skin. The tracker is then able to act as a heart rate monitor. A fitness tracker with bioimpedance sensors should be more accurate than one with optical sensors.
Some mid-range and high-end fitness trackers include an altimeter, a device that measures your current altitude. This measurement is helpful for distance runners who work out in the mountains. If stair climbing is part of your workout routine, the altimeter can also determine how high you climbed.
Some high-end fitness trackers include a temperature sensor that rests against your skin. This measurement can help determine if you’re overheating during an especially tough workout.
Because fitness trackers are such simple devices, many cannot analyze your exercise results on their own. Instead, these units rely on an app to show you your activity results. If at all possible, you will want to look at the app before you pick a fitness tracker. Make sure it has all of the features you need. And make sure it will work with your iOS or Android smartphone before you buy it, as some apps are limited to one type of smartphone operating system.
The fitness tracker will make a wireless connection with the app at various points during the day. It will then upload any fitness tracking data it has collected.
As these devices grow more sophisticated, some have begun to offer data tracking in “real time.” For example, a tracker with built-in GPS may not need to sync your data with an app to provide you with pace and distance data. If you are looking for a running watch with such a benefit, expect to pay at least $100 for it, and note that this feature is not offered by all devices … yet.
Make sure the app can track your favorite types of exercise. If you’re a swimmer, the app should be able to time your laps and measure distance. If you’re a runner, you may want it to take notes about the type of weather you encountered on a particular run.
And, of course, the more data the fitness tracker can send to the app related to your favorite exercise, the better. You don’t want to spend a lot of time entering your own information. After all, that's the point of wearing the fitness tracker: it measures and records your activity for you.
Fitness trackers can start as low as $15. Just don’t expect these basic models to generate a huge amount of data. You might receive information about steps taken and calories burned with these inexpensive activity trackers, and some even offer sleep tracking. However, you’re not likely to find a fitness tracker with a touchscreen display on its watch face; these inexpensive trackers typically use LED light indicators instead. Even if it does have a touchscreen, it may be a bit more finicky and less user-friendly than that of a higher-end unit.
Note that although some bargain-priced fitness trackers are advertised as swim-proof, we hesitate to trust the validity of this claim in all instances. If you purchase a budget fitness tracker for basic statistics, this may suit your purposes. However, if you plan to track swim data with your new device, we recommend going up to at least the mid-range pricing tier.
An exception is Xiaomi Mi bands, some of the best fitness trackers for those on a sub-$50 budget. However, you will need to use the Mi Fit app, which not everyone likes, and some say the band is not best for cardio.
Mid-range devices measure movement during sleep (sleep tracking) along with steps taken, calories burned, and some other basic stats — and they do so with more reliability and user-friendliness than cheap fitness trackers. A primary example of a tried-and-true fitness tracker in this price tier is the Inspire HR from Fitbit, which first appeared in 2019 and has accrued many fans since it emerged.
Design and fitness features markedly improve as you move into the $100+ category. These are the best fitness trackers, made expressly made for people who want to monitor their daily activity and how their habits mesh with their goals. If precision is key for you in terms of blood oxygen saturation, active and resting heart rate tracking, swim tracking, and more, look here for the best buy.
This price tier also appeals to those who want to make contactless payments from their wrist.
Impressive smartwatch features including multiple-day battery life, cellular connectivity, built-in virtual assistant programs (like Alexa), and the ability to stream music through media services like Spotify, are easier to find in this price tier. If you want the best smartwatch/fitness tracker combination possible, look here.
To determine calorie burn, the software applies a formula to the fitness tracker data. Because each unit’s formulas are different, you could feasibly receive two different calorie burn results from two trackers worn at the same time.
A. Fitness trackers aren’t sophisticated enough to measure results from specific exercise routines. Most of them offer heart rate monitoring and a record of the amount of time spent moving. Pairing the tracker with a good app can help you judge your success in an exercise program. For example, if you have a Fitbit, the Fitbit app is a great place to start. You can download the Fitbit app for free to your Android or iPhone.
It’s important to realize that health tracking cannot be achieved with this technology alone. We recommend that you share your fitness goals and data with your physician to maximize best results.
A. It depends on the model you have. Basic, inexpensive models that don’t have a lot of features often won’t be precise in tracking calorie burning. Generally, the more statistics a particular fitness tracker collects and measures, the more accurately it will measure calorie burn.
A. A fitness tracker helps you set simple goals and measure your progress toward them. You may want to take 8,000 steps per day, for example. Nearly all tracker units can help you figure out how close you come to this goal each day.
If you have a more complex goal, such as preparing for a half-marathon, you’ll probably need a high-end fitness tracker paired with a smartphone app that specializes in running. The newest Fitbit Versa models have built-in GPS to help with this.
A. No. Amazfit is actually a Chinese company that has successfully established itself in under a decade as an affordable maker of great smartwatches. Although not affiliated with Amazon, Amazfit products can be purchased through Amazon. The company offers a range of fitness trackers, from under $50 to over $100, that measure sophisticated stats like SpO2 (oxygen saturation) and boast multi-day battery life and other cool features, like an always-on display. If you’re interested in Amazfit, we suggest checking their offerings on Amazon to find the best buy.
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