Best smartwatches for tracking fitness

Love a good workout? Go running regularly? Then you need a smartwatch to help you track your fitness - here is our pick of the best.

Best smartwatches for fitness

by Paul Larkins |
Updated on

Today’s best smartwatches have the ability to record everything; from the number of steps you take in a day, to exact routes anywhere on the planet.

Along with the ability to tell the time, and track your run to one-thousandth of a second using GPS, the best smartwatches will accurately record your pace in miles per minute (or kilometres), distance run, cadence, ascent and descent and steps.

Expect details on calories burned, heart rate, training plans, sleep patterns, calories burned, motivation and for most, the ability to go online and join a like-minded forum.

The best watches offer countdown, lap counters and split times and while it’s not big on our requirements – you’re training after all and don’t necessarily need distractions – your watch could also pick up text messages and emails and alert you. Keep reading for our full list of the best smartwatches for tracking your fitness:

Best smartwatch overall

It's no surprise that the Apple Watch lands at the top of our list, with the latest and greatest Series 7 being our top choice. It has an S7 64-bit dual-core processor and is much quicker than its predecessors, plus comes with a second-generation optical heart sensor, an electrical heart sensor and blood oxygen monitor, giving it an insane armoury when it comes to your health. You can take calls and reply to texts from your wrist, and it looks bloody brilliant. The only downside is how pricey it is, plus the battery life (up to 37 hours) - but Apple obsessives are often happy to part with the money regardless.

Reasons to buy: Top-of-the-range tech, built-in GPSECG app, very accurate, water resistant up to 50m

Verdict: If you like to stay up to date with the latest Apple products, you'll love everything about the Apple Watch Series 7. If, however, you can settle for a slightly older model, the Series 6 and Series 3 all come highly recommended.

Editor's Pick

Polar Ignite 2 Fitness Watch
Price: $239.95
Alternative retailers
Walmart$239.95View offer

The new Polar Ignite 2 is a versatile watch, bringing together fitness, life hacks and style to tick every box. It features personalised workout guidance, sleep analysis, overnight recovery tracking, heart monitor tracking, built-in GPS and more. With music controls, weather forecasts and push notifications, it helps you live life more efficiently, too. It's sleek, lightweight and comfortable - we rate this very highly.

Reasons to buy: Good battery life - up to 5 days in watch mode, or up to 20 hours of continuous training time, 130+ different sport profiles Built-in GPS Advanced heart rate monitoring Very accurate Water resistant up to 30 m

Verdict: The Polar Ignite 2 is a great-looking watch which crosses the boundaries of fitness and style well. It's reliable, good value for money and very accurate.

Best of the rest

If you're searching for a budget fitness tracker, the HONOR Band 6 is a great choice. It won't wow athletes and it can't deliver the way the Apple Watch can in terms of capabilities, but if you're an average Joe who wants to track their fitness and stay up to date with their notifications, it certainly bridges the gap well. It's comfortable to wear, has a great battery life and has a bright, easy-to-read display. It'll track your sleep, activity, blood oxygen levels, and stress levels and has ten exercise modes. Plus, you can see your notifications, but can't respond to them.

Reasons to buy: 14-day battery life, waterproof up to 50m, large, clear display, good value, accurate

Verdict: The Honor Band 6 is a nifty little fitness watch that delivers well and won't break the bank. It's a step up from Honor in terms of its previous offering - check out our full review here.

Best value smartwatch

Although a relatively unknown brand, Amazfit's GTR 2e delivers when it comes to usability and a sleek appearance. With loads of high-end functions and a premium look and feel, the Amazfit GTR 2e seems like great value as a first smartwatch or for someone not looking for total integration with their phone or fitness apps. It has a really long battery life, heart rate monitoring, sleep quality monitoring and much more. There are 90 built-in sports modes and you can even operate it using your voice.

Reasons to buy: Good battery life - up to 24 days with typical use accurate, built-in GPS, affordable

Verdict: A feature-packed, value-for-money smartwatch that will appeal to those looking for their first gadget, as well as health fanatics looking for a lightweight gadget for fitness tracking. Doesn't integrate quite as seamlessly with your phone as those from Apple and Samsung, but offers enough functions to make up for it. 

Read our full Amazfit GTR 2e Health & Fitness Smartwatch review

Best smartwatch for adventurers

Polar M430
Price: $270.99

Easy to use and good value, the M430 has a wrist-based heart rate monitor, GPS and daily activity tracker, all in a funky design. The Polar Flow software provides data analysis and training plans. It took longer than some watches on the test to locate a GPS signal, and the display, although easy to view, only shows two data fields at a time.

Reason to buy: Built-in advanced GPS tracks your steps, activity, sleep and calories, 24/7 optical heart rate monitor

Verdict: One reviewer said, "Used for running and walking and for checking my days activity level. Wouldn't be without it. Great for heart rate zone training. Simple to use watch and app." To be honest, we couldn't have said it better ourselves.

The Suunto 9 Amazon
Price: $378.82
Alternative retailers
Walmart$399.99View offer

A rock-solid tool with unbeatable battery life, tough construction and accurate sensors. Planning routes and uploading them to the watch is satisfyingly simple, as is following the route. A watch for serious adventurers and athletes running in mountainous and remote locations.

Reason to buy: Long-lasting battery life graphic, real heart rate display on the wrist, activity monitoring 24/7

Verdict: This watch will tick all of your boxes when it comes to comfort, reliability, GPS tracking and route planning, plus the battery life is excellent.

Fitbit Versa 3

Rrp: $229.95

Price: $199.00
Alternative retailers
Walmart$189.00View offer
Macy's$199.95View offer
Dell$199.95View offer
DICK'S Sporting Goods$199.95View offer

Super stylish and feature-packed, the Versa 3 has a claimed battery life of five days, GPS and wrist-based heart rate monitoring. Data cannot be displayed continuously, which is annoying during speed sessions or races. There's no historical data on the watch, but the app is excellent and offers a personalised fitness coach alongside lots of analysis.

Reason to buy: Good value for money, ability to store and play over 300 songs, built-in GPS

Verdict: Are you on the lookout for a reliable smart watch with a built-in fitness tracker? Look no further than the classic Fitbit Versa 3. The design is unisex, comfortable and you can track cycling, running, walking, swimming and aerobic exercise. Best of all, you can use Fitbit Pay with it.

Timex IqmoveAmazon
Price: $75.98

This is a good option if you want an activity tracker that looks like a conventional watch. Using the Timex app you can track your daily steps, distance and calories as well as sleep quality. On the watch itself, the small dial can be set to your daily step target, but it won't record a specific run.

Reason to buy: Good quality design, analog display, hardwearing

Verdict: Although there are other watches on this list with more tech, this is a watch that will last for years to come. However, this does feel more like a traditional watch than a smartwatch.

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