Everyday a new fitness tracker is introduced in the market promising to get you on your feet and moving towards a healthier life. Fitness trackers are getting smarter and they are no longer cheap not so versatile activity bands. Now there are literally hundreds of brands of fitness brands to choose from, and not to mention every one of them offering serious style and useful health insights, making a choice can get hard. There are quality brands like Fitbit, Misfit, Withings and Garmin but you are not restricted only to choose fitness bands from them. To help you choose a fitness tracker that is a perfect fit for your needs, we are here to share some vital facts you need to before buying a fitness tracker.
And don’t worry, by the time you will finish reading this guide on fitness trackers you will able to pick up a band easily. Also to weed out the ever-growing number of options we will list the top 10 fitness trackers you should consider.
How To Choose The Right Fitness Tracker
Fitness trackers can help you with a lot of activities. You should know your goals clearly before buying any fitness band. Not everyone has the same lifestyle or workout routine. Therefore, don’t make a choice on recommendation of others.
The fitness tracker is accompanied by its software (usually the mobile app) that connects your band to your mobile device. You need to pick a fitness band that comes with a software that can recognize the activity you will be indulging in. As according to Angela McIntyre, research director at Gartner-
“If there is a particular activity you like, like swimming, make sure the activity tracker and the software are designed for it. People who have a favorite activity that is less common, such as jumping rope, may want to check that the activity is recognized by the software.”
Basic trackers are ideal for those who are just getting started with the exercises or trying to get moving more. Such trackers give you information like how many calories you have burnt, but they fall short of providing any specific and insightful data related to a particular activity.
People who are regularly active and participate in intense workouts will need a fitness tracker with more advanced features like automatic activity recognition, heart rate monitor and VO2 Max. These advanced features help you gauge your overall health and progress accurately.
What if you are a professional athlete who trains for events time to time? Then you will need some serious gear as a fitness band. Fortunately, there are fitness trackers with GPS that track not only your pace and location, but also the intervals and elevation, all this while keeping track of your heart rate and VO2 Max. If you don’t like carrying your phone around when you are training then there are fitness trackers that are equipped with internal storage and connectivity-need to make a call or listen to music-no worries.
What Should Be Considered Before Buying A Fitness Tracker
Design: Fitness trackers are often wrist-worn but some also allow you to hook them to your clothing. Many modern day fitness bands like Withings Go give you both the options. You should consider the design of the fitness tracker as per your needs. You might want to accessorize these devices, then choose a fitness tracker that can be worn as a bracelet or a pendant like the Fitbit Flex 2. Most of these devices are simple and you don’t have to interact with them all day. You can the accompanying app on your phone to dive deeper into the data.
There are some advanced and somewhat expensive devices devices that come with the larger touch screen displays. These fitness trackers look like big watches and can display a whole lot of information and you can even interact with the data unlike with simple fitness trackers. However, if you have small wrists these devices and can be uncomfortably large for you.
Water Resistance: If you are a hydrophilic mammal who swims a lot and want to keep your fitness band on while you swim or take it into the shower, then you need to consider a device that is splash proof and/or waterproof. If swimming is part of your daily life and you need to track your vitals while you swim, this is an important consideration to make.
Features: Every fitness tracker on the market comes with the two essential features-ability to count steps taken and estimate calories burnt. But more advanced fitness bands offer you features like distance monitor, altimeter and accelerometer. The modern day fitness trackers use optical heart rate monitoring technology to track heart rate. While they are pretty efficient you need to know that they are not as accurate as chest straps.
Serious athletes will need a fitness tracker that is GPS equipped. It will track everything from pace to intervals to elevation. However GPS tracking reduces the battery life of the device. If you choose a GPS-equipped device, make sure to get one that can last at least 4 hours with GPS feature activated.
Fitness Tracker Apps: Companion apps are as important as fitness trackers. These apps show your synched data. If you do a variety of workouts then it is important that you choose a fitness tracker that comes with an app that allows you change or manually log the details of every workout. Food logging is another feature most people want in their fitness band apps. This feature lets you input the food and drinks you consume, then the app using third party applications like MyFitnessPal and MapMyFitness, estimated how many calories you have consumed.
App design is also important. Look for intuitive layout, bold colors, clean typography and easy to understand data representation in the app. You can read reviews of the apps on Google Play Store or Apple Store before considering a fitness tracker.
Compatibility: Fitness trackers hold no value if they cannot be connected to your smartphone. Make sure you choose a fitness band that connects with your specific handset. Most fitness trackers are compatible with Android and iOS but there are exceptions like the Apple Watch that only syncs with iOS.
Top 10 Fitness Trackers On The Market
Fitbit Charge 2 is the choice of our reviewers for the consistency in its data. Whether it’s counting the steps you take, hours your sleep or heart beats, this fitness band is reliable. We were impressed how intuitively, the Charge 2 tracks an exercise automatically without interacting with you. The breathe mode in the device has significantly improved and gives a tough competition to Apple Watch’s Breathe mode. App notification is another segment that’s expanded to support Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
Pros and Cons of Fitbit Charge 2
Steps and sleep monitoring-updated with Sleep Insights and Sleep Stages
24/7 heart rate monitoring
Cardio Fitness score
5-day battery life
No GPS of its own, will require smartphone for GPS Connected mode
Basic notifications only
Gesture recognition is poor
You can new customizable bands that make it easy to accessorize the fitness tracker. Cardio fitness score of this tracker is not just some routine metrics, but some quality insight that helps you keep your heart healthy.
Speaking of shortcomings, you will have to take your phone with you if you want to accurately track your runs. During intense workouts the heart rate monitoring gets flaky, which is a disappointment. Complicated interface and some issues with screen responsiveness, make it fall short on the expectation of a regular user.
However, don’t let these little flaws discourage you from considering the Fitbit Charge 2 if general well being is your forte over intense workouts.
There’s a reason why Garmin Vivosmart HR+ won the Wearable Tech Awards 2016 for the Fitness Tracker of the year.
This is a fitness tracker that frees you burden of carrying your phone around when you go for a run. The Vivosmart HR+ is all packed with features that make it an ideal if accuracy is your priority. An improvement on its predecessor, the Vivosmart HR, this fitness band has all its features-activity tracking, heart rate monitor and smartphone notifications-plus now it supports GPS.
Pros and Cons of Garmin Vivosmart HR+
Accurate GPS and 24/7 Heart Monitor
Outdoor readable, bright display
Step and sleep tracking
7 days battery life on single charge
Traditional watch clasp
Bulky, not ideal for everyone
A week of battery life is a feature that is very impressive, considering it supports notifications.
The inclusion of GPS support in the upgraded version no way justifies an increase in price by almost $50. Also, it is now bulkier than most of its competitors. Lack of swimming mode is another disappointment, however the Vivosmart HR+ is water resistant to about 50m.
Altogether, the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ is a worthy consideration as a fitness tracker, but if you are looking for more than basic heart rate data, pace and distance tracking then you will need a fitness band with better GPS features.
Withings Steel HR breaks the jinx that hybrid smartwatches can’t be a reliable fitness tracker. The stainless steel housing of this attractive smartwatch has a state-of-art heart rate monitor underneath that tracks your ticker around the clock. All the data that the activity tracker collects is fed into the Withings Health Mate app.
In our review, we found that the Withings Steel HR accurately records calories, step and sleep. Running watch mode can be achieved by long pressing the side button. What impressed us most, you ask. The 25-day battery life is still the show stealer for us. There is no match for battery life, the Steel HR offers.
Pros and Cons of the Withings Steel HR
Connect iPhone or Android via Bluetooth
Automatic step, sleep, swim tracking
24/7 Optical heart rate monitoring
50-meter water resistance
Swappable standard watch bands
Mineral glass dome
25-day battery life
OLED second screen is too tiny
Erratic heart rate tracking
No social sharing option as Fitbit
Limited phone notifications
The lack of GPS is something that hurts the Steel HR most. The tiny OLED screen makes it hard to read notifications and notification text is also small, straining the eyes.
The Withings Steel HR is the best looking fitness brand that is as close to an everyday watch as technology allows. As a fitness focused hybrid smartwatch there is no match for this fitness tracker.
Garmin is taking on the Fitbit Charge 2 with the Vivosmart 3. The display is shrunk in this device, but the same time made brighter to allow better viewing. Still, we found Fitbit fitness bands to be better in daylight considering the clarity. Stress metrics is a helpful addition in the Garmin Vivosmart 3, that helps you track and adjust the workouts pretty easily. Compared to Vivosmart HR, the Vivosmart 3 is pretty slick (reduced by 4mm). It solves the problem of fitness devices from Garmin being chunky or bulkier.
Pros and Cons of Garmin Vivosmart 3
New 24×7 Stress Tracking Mode
VO2Max value based fitness level scoring
New Relax/Breathing timer
Strength training mode
24/7 HR monitor
New Countdown/Stop Watch
Better & thinner design
Auto-start for Run/Walk Activity
More watch faces to choose from
Synchronization with GPS on phone not possible
Not all features are working properly
The Garmin Vivosmart 3 have a lot of features to talk about. All of these features may not be impressive, but it is worthy of praise that such affordable fitness tracker can pack so many features. With this fitness device, Garmin tries to be more imaginative and daring.
What overshadows the unique selling points of the Garmin Vivosmart 3 is its unintitutive user interface and cheap rubbery feel. Also, some of the features don’t work as well as they should. Absence of GPS synchronization through the mobile app is another flaw that takes the toll.
For the right user, the Garmin Vivosmart 3 offers tempting unique features and is a worthwhile consideration.
Fitbit is a brand that has established itself as a quality fitness tracker manufacturer. It also means they have to keep upgrading their products to keep ahead in the competition. The Alta HR is improved to include a heart rate monitor while not changing its sleek design.
Interchangeable straps make it a superior fitness band than its family members. You can chose to pick the classical models or more expensive and stylish metal and leather bands. App notification is another improvement to look forward to. Heart tracking is accurate, but during intense workouts it gets erratic.
Pros and Cons of Fitbit Alta HR
Slim and stylish design
7-day battery life
All-day fitness and heart rate tracking.
Steps, sleep monitoring
Small notifications, hard to read
No option for manually starting workouts
No buttons and automatic exercise tracking implies there are no on-band controls
Absence of GPS makes it fall short of expectation of some users, but automatic exercise tracking means you can use it in any fitness class. During high intensity workouts the fitness tracker shows irregularities in data that can cause some problem. But for basic workout tracking the Fitbit Alta HR is ideal.
The Fitbit Alta HR is one of those fitness trackers that anyone can pick without thinking a lot about disappointment. Stylish design along with longer battery life backed with improved app make this fitness brand ideal for anyone.
Since its launch in 2012, Misfit has impressed its customers and critics alike. It is one of those brands that proved, fitness trackers need not to be ugly.
Misfit Shine 2 is an upgrade to the previous version. Now it supports smartphone notifications and vibration alerts. What impresses us the most is the 6 month battery life of its replaceable cell that powers its function. It pretty much throws every other fitness band brand out of the window on battery life comparison. Data accuracy is another realm where the Shine 2 impresses our reviewers the most.
Not many fitness tracks offer you an option to accessorize them, the Misfit Shine 2 can be wrist-worn or clipped to clothing. There are various modes to attach it to waistbands, shirts, shoes and pockets.
Pros and Cons of Misfit Shine 2
Improved Bluetooth syncing
Improved clean looking app compatible with Android and iOS
Water resistant-ideal for swimmers
Automatic sleep tracking
Internal replaceable battery that lasts for six months
The strap and clip are not able to hold Shine 2 securely
No heart rate tracking
LED lights show only daily progress and time, no other data
A major concern is the loose band and clip that are not able to hold the Shine 2 in place. It is as if they are designed to lose the fitness tracker sometime or the other.
The Misfit Shine 2 is a fitness tracker that’s a good starting point to use fitness devices. It’s terrible band is a fatal flaw that poses danger of losing Shine 2 anytime.
Xiaomi’s Mi Band 2 is an updated version of the fitness tracker the Chinese company introduced previously. The new features include a heart rate sensor and an 0.42-inch OLED display. What got our attention is the price tag at which the Xiaomi’s Mi Band 2 is offered. You pay a fraction of the price of fitness trackers in the same segment like Fitbit Alta HR.
That being said, only price cannot decide if a product is worth your consideration. This is why our reviewers, first got their hands on the Mi Band 2 before including it in our list of top 10 fitness brands available on the market.
Pros And Cons Of Xiaomi’s Mi Band 2
Heart rate sensor
Automatic sleep and step tracking
7-day battery life
With no exercise tracking it is a more of an accessory
It is safe to say that the Xiaomi’s Mi Band 2 does a decent job at tracking heart rate. While the heart rate tracking is manual, it tracks steps and sleeping patterns automatically.
On the downside as heart rate monitoring is manual it is nearly useless for tracking your ticker during exercises.
Those of you looking for a very basic fitness tracker, the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 is an ideal and affordable choice. With this fitness tracker you get what you pay for, a basic sleep and step tracker. If you want more features and a reliable exercise companion, you have to look beyond Mi Band 2.
Many of you might be wondering how TomTom Touch made it to our list of top 10 fitness trackers available on the market. Well the secret is its build-in body composition sensor. You will realize the accuracy and efficiency of the sensor, the moment you put your finger on it. We were impressed how accurately, it analyzed the muscle and body fat percentage.
If you are looking for a tracker to keep your body weight under control, then the TomTom Touch is a worthwhile consideration. It is also beneficial to track new exercise regime.
Pros and Cons of TomTom Touch
Measures body composition accurately
Inaccurate heart rate tracking
Poor display in daylight
Unresponsive touch screen at times
On the downside the display of the Touch is too small. Therefore, users have to turn to app as a prominent data display, but the app software fails in keeping up to its role.
The TomTom Touch gets your attention when you look for accuracy and features, but this fitness tracker disappoints in design and software. The manufacturers are still neglecting the need to improve the design of the Touch to make it more competitive. When you consider the features of the TomTom Touch don’t blindly the overlook the software flaws.
Design is something that catches your attention as your eyes fall on the stylish and sleek Misfit Ray. Keeping up with the competition, Misfit has stuffed as many features as possible in the Ray. You get the steps and sleep tracking. Advanced swim tracking is also possible; you need to pay for it separately. The fitness tracker comes with vibration alerts that inform you about messages and calls on paired smartphone.
The Ray can count your steps, calculate distance traveled and estimate calories burned. You can use it to track activities like yoga, dancing, swimming and cycling.
Pros and Cons of Misfit Ray
Water-resistant, ideal for swimmers
Long lasting replaceable battery
Automatic activity tracking
Minimal design leaves no scopes for display or buttons
Uncomfortable fit, not for every wrist
Misfit app falls behind the competing fitness apps
You can accessorize the Ray to wear it as a pendant or choose from many straps Misfit offers to wear it on your wrist. On the downside, you won’t get GPS and heart rate tracking with the Misfit Ray.
The Misfit Ray is designed to be minimalist. It does a decent job at tracking basic activities. With no GPS and heart rate tracker, the Ray is priced more than what it can deliver.
Hardly there is a segment of the electronic consumer market where Samsung is not present. The fitness tracker market is no different. We really got impressed how improved the Samsung Gear Fit2 is. You get everything from all-day fitness tracking, to heart rate monitoring to GPS tracking pace and distance. You can receive the alerts for your smart phone notifications and inactivity notifications as well.
As always Samsung goes overboard to make the Gear Fit 2 unique. You will also find caffeine and water tracking along with inbuilt music storage in this device.
Pros and Cons of Samsung Gear Fit2
Slim design with a beautiful curved AMOLED display
Smartphone notification alerts
Automatic exercise detection
24/7 heart-rate monitoring
Inbuilt music storage that can hold up to 1,000 songs
All-day fitness and sleep tracking
Short battery life
Heart-rate sensor data is not accurate during workouts
Not water resistant
No iPhone support
Samsung’s S Health app is complicated
The Samsung Gear Fit 2 is a fitness tracker which is a worthwhile consideration. However, if you are a serious athlete or workout warrior you will find the Gear Fit 2 missing on some important features.
The Gear Fit 2 has a vibrant display and offers useful activity tracking and prompts. While Samsung has done its best in packing features in this device, you will still feel the lack of some critical exercise insights.
Usage of a fitness tracker
A fitness tracker is like your personal trainer that helps you train for events, lose weight and keep fit. The best fitness trackers help you achieve many health goals. Here are the main uses of these smart health devices.
Keep tracking your progress
There is no point in working out or taking steps towards a healthy life if you cannot track your progress. What can be measured, can be improved and this is why you need a quality fitness band that can track your exercise statistics, count calories and measure your health improvement.
Free workout trainer
Fitness tracking devices are often accompanied with different workout plans that are designed for individuals based on their current fitness level. If you don’t have time to workout in a gym or money to hire a personal trainer, a fitness tracker is your best bet to get healthy.
Monitoring your health
Mobile health technology is helping people to manage their health on their own. Researchers suggest fitness trackers as beneficial devices for the daily self care, as they provide some insightful data about one’s health like heart rate, steps taken daily, calorie consumption and more-you can monitor your health and adjust your lifestyle accordingly.
Habit is the real deal. Anyone who has achieved anything in life knows the importance of habit formation. Fitness trackers after monitoring your daily activity and sleeping pattern, evaluate your overall health. Based on these insights, these devices recommend manageable and easy to do activity goals, that incorporate healthier habits in your daily life.
Helps you to stay motivated
If you workout, then you will have good and bad days. Changes in activity patterns and sleep cause us to easily lose motivation to keep a healthy lifestyle. Fitness trackers help you to keep motivated by showing you the progress you make and share those results with friends on social media.
Monitor Your Diet Regularly
No fitness routine is complete without diet plans. Fitness tracker apps help you to monitor your calorie intake by logging in the food and drinks you consume. We all are guilty of messing with calorie intake at times, fitness trackers can help you adjust your workout accordingly to burn the extra calories you consume.
Fitness trackers are indeed one of the best devices you can invest in to improve your health. These personal trackers eliminate any sort of guess work from workouts, ensuring you are tracking your progress accurately. The fitness tracker is your companion that keeps you motivated to focus on better health and get in shape through tracking your progress every day.