The best fitness trackers – which one should you buy?

We take a look at some of the best fitness trackers you can buy, whether you're going running or just checking how many steps it is to the kitchen

Best fitness trackers

by Natalie Corner |
Updated on

When it comes to tracking exercise, you can keep things simple by picking up the best fitness trackers. At the most basic level, they should track your steps, your heart rate and approximate calories burned as you work up a sweat, and this could be all you need to keep your PBs and stats close at hand.

Wearable technology has improved over the years with more features, colours and styles on offer than ever before. Your fitness tracker can always match your gym gear. But, fashion aside, as long as your tracker gives you the basic data you need, you can't go far wrong. So, if you're the budget-conscious type who wants to monitor their performance, some of the best fitness trackers are your best option.

Best fitness trackers: the shortlist

Best fitness tracker for gym-goers: Fitbit Charge 5 Activity Tracker
Best budget fitness tracker: Amazfit Band 7 Activity Fitness Tracker
Best fitness tracker for swimming: Fitbit Inspire 3 Activity Tracker
Best fitness tracker for hiking: Honor Band 6
Best fitness tracker for running: Fitbit Charge 4 Advanced Fitness Tracker with GPS
Best fitness tracker for pulse oximeter: Garmin Vivosmart 4 
Best fitness tracker for kids: Fitbit Ace 3 Kids Activity Tracker

In the course of our fitness tracker reviews, we've found that brands like Honor and Huawei consistently offer extra features; like sleep tracking, oxygen level monitoring, menstrual health data, or even pulse oximeter readings on Fitbit fitness trackers. If you're more focused on the activity you will be measuring, then consider an in-built GPS if you prefer to walk or run so you can measure speed and distance accurately. If you need help deciding, we've covered fitness tracker features and FAQs at the end of the article.

Buying a fitness tracker can give you the motivation to keep fit and get healthier. Having access to stats instantly on how your run went, how far you've walked, and how many calories you've burned can be an incentive to keep going before you might have given up.

Best fitness trackers to buy right now

Best fitness tracker for gym-goers

Fitbit Charge 5 Activity Tracker

Rrp: $149.95

Price: $119.99
Alternative retailers
Walmart$134.00View offer

The Fitbit Charge 5 is bang up-to-date and has all the best features with an in-built GPS that tracks steps, miles, calories, heart rate, sleeping patterns, menstrual cycle, water intake, and more. The key is in its simplicity, a touchscreen watch where you can manage alarms, meditation and log your different exercises directly from the watch and then go more in-depth on the companion Fitbit App. It also boasts an ECG heart rate scan, an EDA stress test and built-in Fitbit Pay, who needs a phone? We're also a fan of the matte wrist "infinity" strap and vibrant colour display. 

Our review: "The Fitbit Charge 5 is sleek and very pleasing aesthetically, especially the cream and gold colourway. It has a bright OLED screen and a variety of options when it comes to tracking your workout. I love the new infinity fastening, which means my watch strap doesn't catch on my clothes, and the EDA scan that tests stress levels is a great bonus. You certainly get a lot for your money with a Fitbit Charge 5, but a Fitbit Charge 4 is still a great option!"

Read our full review of the Fitbit Charge 5 vs the Fitbit Charge 4

Pros

  • Infinity silicone strap
  • Bright OLED screen
  • Pulse oximeter reading
  • Stress check

Cons

  • Touch screen not as sensitive
  • Heart rate doesn't always register with sweat

Best budget fitness tracker

Amazfit Band 7
Price: £39.90

Amazfit specialises in high-spec devices at bargain prices. The Band 7 easily rivals the functionality of the better-known names in this article with a full suite of services, including a heart rate sensor, blood oxygen reading, sleep tracking and Amazon Alexa control, and it connects to a straightforward monitoring app called Zepp.

Our review: "It's simple enough to start an activity tracking session, but there are some flaws. The long, lean face sits flat over the wrist and feels bulky. Slicker rivals curve slightly for comfort and stability, and there is no 'always on' option, and the raise-to-wake and tap-to-wake functions are a bit hit-and-miss. The touchscreen also becomes sluggish in cold, wet weather, and there's no button for backup like you get on the Garmin. But battery life is very good. It claims to last 18 days between charges (a lot more than the Fitbit or Garmin). Although that does drop if you track activities every day. While there are some rough edges, you get an awful lot for your money with this."

Pros

  • Long battery life
  • Great value compared to well-known brands
  • Amazon Alexa built-in

Cons

  • Lacks quality of more expensive rivals

Best fitness tracker for swimming

Fitbit Inspire 3
Price: $108.79

Fitbit is a popular brand in this market and for good reason. This sleek fitness tracker gives you all-day activity tracking, heart-rate monitoring, sleep tracking and calorie burn, with reminders to move and automatic exercise recognition. For the swimmers out there, it's water-resistant up to 50m, and you'll get up to five days of battery life from one charge. It's pretty accurate, although no fitness tracker will ever truly be able to tell you your exact stats to the decimal, and is comfortable and lightweight.

Pros

  • Easy menu navigation
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Automatic activity tracking

Cons

  • Screen is small
  • Some questionable accuracy

Best fitness tracker for hiking

In terms of accuracy, the HONOR Band 6 seems to be realistic with step tracking and heart rate. For all your fitness needs, there are 10 workout modes, a step counter, exercise auto-detect (which takes around five minutes to kick in), stress level monitoring, SpO2 monitoring and heart-rate tracking, plus it's water-resistant up to 50m for up to ten minutes. The watch itself is wonderfully lightweight (18g without the silicone strap), and you soon forget you're wearing it. It's comparable to a Fitbit Inspire HR in terms of how it feels on the wrist.

Our review: "When it comes to battery life, I'm seriously impressed. After almost a month of testing, I've only needed to charge it twice - once just after it arrived on 70 per cent battery, which doesn't really count if I'm honest. It promises a 14-day battery life after a 65-minute charge, and it delivers easily with normal usage. I tracked a workout each day, set a daily alarm and had all of my notifications coming through, which it handles with ease. You can also get three days of usage from a 10-minute quick charge. The 'Do not disturb' feature is useful to turn off notifications overnight, as well as avoiding being woken up by bright light if you're particularly active when sleeping. Overall usage is smooth - it isn't glitchy, is simple to control and many users will pick it up quickly."

Read our full review of the HONOR Band 6

Pros

  • Comfortable to wear
  • Long battery life
  • Accurate
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • No call answering
  • No music playback for iOS devices

Best fitness tracker for running

Fitbit Charge 4 Advanced Fitness Tracker with GPS

Rrp: $169.95

Price: $159.80

Designed for runners, the Fitbit Charge 4 tracker gets consistently good reviews, and it's not entirely surprising since Fitbit is hardly a newcomer when it comes to reliable wearable tech. This lightweight model comes with a fast built-in GPS and boasts a seven-day battery life, so you'll be running with this for quite a while between charges.

It's also compatible with iOS 12.2 or higher and Android 7.0 and higher, so pairing this with your device will be a breeze. But of course, this is all about unhindered portability, so the GPS will handle your route tracking as you go without the need to have your smartphone strapped to your arm. Also, although an Apple Watch or Garmin running watch has more functionality, not all runners want something as complex or weighty on their wrist. This weighs in at 30 grams with a slim bracelet design, so you'll hardly know it's there. There's a handy alert to tell you if you're reaching your heart rate targets, it's water resistant, and the wristband itself is reflective - always a nice touch for those running into the evenings.

Pros

  • Accurate, responsive tracking
  • GPS
  • Comfortable and lightweight
  • Smart notifications

Cons

  • Display could be brighter

Best fitness tracker for pulse oximeter

The Garmin Vivosmart 4 isn't your regular fitness tracker, it also has advanced features like monitoring REM sleep and checking oxygen saturation levels at night with the wrist-based Pulse Ox sensor. Other monitoring tools include all-day stress tracking, a relaxation breathing timer, VO2 max, and a Body Battery energy monitor plus, it can connect to your phone's GPS for accurate tracking. A slimline tracker in four different colour ways is a great price point for under £100 with activities like walking, running, strength training, cardio, swimming, and yoga.

Pros

  • Lightweight and unobtrusive tracker
  • Decent battery life - 7 days+ when tracking sleep too
  • Very accurate measurements
  • Brilliant integrations with popular apps

Cons

  • Not a watch replacement
  • Watch strap is part of the tracker

Best fitness tracker for kids

Fitbit Ace 3 fitness tracker

Rrp: $79.00

Price: $68.50
Alternative retailers
Walmart$62.97View offer
Macy's$79.95View offer
Adorama$79.95View offer
Target$79.99View offer

Fancy getting your kids involved and promoting a healthy lifestyle to them? The Fitbit Ace 3 is a brightly coloured tracker for your young ones, with fun fonts on the display and characters to appeal to their fun side. It lasts up to eight days on a charge, is water-resistant up to 50m, and tracks that they're getting enough rest, as well enough moments of activity.

Pros

  • Long battery life
  • Great design

Cons

  • Your child may grow out of the design quickly

Frequently asked questions

What does a fitness tracker do?

Fitness trackers, also known as fitness tracker bracelets, are a device that primarily tracks your activity. That could be steps from a walk or run, distance, swim lengths, a HIIT workout or yoga. It looks at your heart rate, calculates the calories burned, and reports back data for you to monitor your health and fitness levels.

Many trackers also offer additional features like sleep monitoring, oxygen levels and even stress rate. All of these factors are worth knowing. Especially if you're looking to make changes to your lifestyle or help inform your doctor of any noticeable changes. However, remember that data may not be accurate if you don't input your height, weight, and age data, for example.

What's the most accurate fitness tracker?

As always, this is down to what you want to monitor on your own fitness journey. Some trackers are more accurate than others when it comes to heart rate, for instance. That said, if we had to give an award for 'Best fitness tracker 2023', it would probably be the Fitbit Charge 5 in terms of the broadest range of reliable tracking functions.

What is the difference between fitness trackers and a smartwatch?

A smartwatch tends to offer the fitness tracker features mentioned above, plus more - but at a steeper price. If you need to answer phone calls, play music, or send messages, then perhaps an Apple smartwatch is for you. But, if you're new to devices like these and prefer to stay focused on fitness, we recommend a tracker as the simplest and most effective way of monitoring your progress.

Key features to look for in the best fitness trackers

GPS: Not many fitness trackers come with built-in GPS. It's a real bonus point if they do. Some can offer GPS tracking via smartphone connectivity as an alternative.

App connectivity: Fitness trackers have their own-brand apps, but you'll also want to check if you can also integrate other fitness apps too, such as Strava.

Battery life: The longer, the better, naturally. When brands give an average battery life figure, it pays to check what the criteria are because it's often a very optimistic result.

Waterproofing: The standard waterproofing for fitness trackers is water resistant down to 50 metres (5ATM). But some vary, so it's a feature to check.

Screen size: There's a balance to be had here. Bigger screens offer better ease of use, but too big and the fitness tracker becomes bulky. This is a subjective thing because peoples' wrists are different sizes.

Toughness: This largely relates to the materials used. For example, a silicone strap offers better flexibility and, therefore, durability and longevity than a TPU one.

Natalie Corner is a Commercial Content Editor for Bauer Media, working across brands such as What's The Best, Modern Gardens, A Modern Kitchen and more, specialising in lifestyle and fitness content.

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