Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about ourreview process here.We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.The RundownBest Overall:Fitbit Charge 4 Fitness Tracker at Best Buy"The additional features make it easily one of the best fitness trackers available."Best Smartwatch:Fitbit Versa 2 Fitness Smartwatch at Amazon"The Fitbit Versa 2 offers an impressive blend of both fitness tracker and smartwatch, at a budget-friendly price."Best Advanced Functionality:Garmin Forerunner 945 at Amazon"This time around, the company has loaded in a whole suite of training-monitoring features."Best GPS Tracking:Garmin Forerunner 45 at Amazon"A strong budget fitness tracker option for all but the most hardcore athletes."Best for iPhones:Apple Watch Series 6 at Best Buy"The Series 6 brings tons of fitness and healthy tracking functionality to your wrist and is the best tracker for Apple users."Most Unique Features:Amazon Halo at Best Buy"The Amazon Halo is an almost too invasive fitness tracker, measuring fat levels, tone of voice, and activity level to keep you moving."Best Value:Fitbit Inspire at Amazon"Comes with a beautiful screen at a great price."Best Smartwatch Hybrid:Samsung Galaxy Watch Active at Amazon"Graced with a sleek, 25-gram design, it's perfect for taking on runs."Best Budget:Xiaomi Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 4 at Amazon"At such a low price point, it's difficult to find much fault with the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 4."in this articleExpandOur PicksAbout Our Trusted ExpertsThe Ultimate Fitness Tracker Buying Guide
Fitness trackers are more popular than ever before as people gain a new focus on wellness and counting steps and calories, but how do you pick the best one? Not to worry, we've put together a list of the best fitness trackers for any budget, evaluated their tracking ability, battery life, and software. Our reviewers have spent weeks testing each of these wearables to make sure you can find one to meet your needs.
Best Overall:Fitbit Charge 4 Fitness Tracker4Buy on Best BuyBuy on Fitbit.comWhat We Like
7 day battery life
NFC paymentsWhat We Don't Like
A bit expansive for a fitness tracker
No color screenFitbit Charge 4 Review
The Fitbit Charge 4 is the latest iteration of the Fitbit charge series of wearables. This version features a nearly identical form factor compared to its predecessor but is just slightly larger. While the Charge 3 certainly remains a staple in the fitness tracker space, the Charge 4 has taken a winning design and only improved on what made it great. Some of the features present in this version include more advanced sleep tracking metrics, Spotify music controls, contactless payment, and independent GPS tracking.
In regards to aesthetics, the Charge 4 may not have the bevy of options available to the Versa line of Fitbits, but still has a variety of both silicon and woven wristbands to satisfy nearly any taste. While the Fitbit Charge 4 is slightly more expensive than it's smaller sibling, the additional features make it easily one of the best fitness trackers available.The 9 Best Smartwatches of 2021
Best Smartwatch:Fitbit Versa 2 Fitness Smartwatch4.3 Buy on AmazonBuy on Best BuyBuy on WalmartWhat We Like
Long battery life
Easy to use smartwatch and fitness tracker hybrid
Lots of band color and customization optionsWhat We Don't Like
Looks very similar to the Apple Watch
Alexa integration doesn't always work properlyFitbit Versa 2 Review
The Fitbit Versa 2 offers an impressive blend of both fitness tracker and smartwatch, at a budget-friendly price. It scores points for its long battery life and large, easy to read screen. Users can easily and accurately track fitness stats and sleep, but can also receive phone notifications, such as calendar appointments, texts, and incoming calls through the watch. However, your phone will need to be close by for this feature to work.
Users can control apps such as Pandora and Spotify, great for listening to music on the go. You can also customize the screen face with exactly the data you want to see, and Fitbit offers a wide range of bands in varied materials and colors so you can personalize to match your style.
Amazon Alexa is built-in, a useful tool for getting news, checking the weather, or even for controlling your smart home tech, but the watch must be in close proximity to your phone for this to work, and it can't access all the features you'd expect from Alexa.
Overall, it's a fantastic hybrid that offers a watch packed with more great tech than you'd expect to find at this price point.
Best Advanced Functionality:Garmin Forerunner 9454.3 Buy on AmazonBuy on Best BuyBuy on Garmin.comWhat We Like
Alpine specific features, music storage, and NFC paymentWhat We Don't Like
No TOPO maps
Not enough substantial upgradesGarmin Forerunner 945 Review
Garmin bills the Forerunner 945 as a “triathlon smartwatch,” and it's not hard to see why. This time around, the company has loaded in a whole suite of training-monitoring features: VO2 max tracking to optimize your workout based on heat and altitude; long-term training status tracking to determine if you're growing or overreaching; aerobic and anaerobic training feedback to determine if you're building power; even a cooldown recommendation to ensure you're getting enough rest between strenuous workouts.
Beyond these borderline futuristic features, our reviewer particularly liked the some standard smartwatch fare like the Garmin Pay tap-and-go function, full GPS maps right on your wrist (also including GLONASS and Galileo), smartphone notifications, and full activity tracking like running, swimming, biking, and yes, triathlons. Plus, with full access to the Connect IQ store, you can expand the software functionality to your needs. The display is 240x240 pixels, it comes with a QuickFit silicone band, is built of fiber-reinforced polymer (aka, hard plastic), and it should give you a whopping two weeks on a single charge.
"This watch is specifically designed for runners and triathletes, with extra features for those who want to train and compete in alpine terrain."— Todd Braylor Pleasants, Product Tester
Best GPS Tracking:Garmin Forerunner 454.3 Buy on AmazonBuy on Best BuyBuy on WalmartWhat We Like
On-screen adaptive workouts
Customizable stats in sports modesWhat We Don't Like
Lacking some smartwatch features
No music storage
Small displayGarmin Forerunner 45 Review
Simple and sleek, the Garmin Forerunner 45 is a strong budget fitness tracker option for all but the most hardcore athletes. Primarily geared at runners, our reviewer used it to watch monitors basic stats like distance covered, heart rate, steps, calories and number of minutes spent engaged in physical activity each day. You'll also receive call, text, and app notifications from your phone, so you can stay connected even while you're exercising.
Unlike some of Garmin's other offerings, the Forerunner 45's 42mm case is light and slim, and you might forget you're wearing it. (For a smaller size at the same price point, opt for the Forerunner 45s.) The silicone wrist strap is available in four colors, and the screen is a low-power LCD. If you're a marathon runner or advocate of high-intensity workouts, you might want to invest in a more expensive option, but for most people, like our reviewer, it's a reliable and helpful workout companion.
"The entire watch design, app ecosystem, and integration are truly optimized for running, but it does accommodate other sport modes like biking, cardio, walking, and yoga."— Todd Braylor Pleasants, Product TesterThe 6 Best Cheap Smartwatches of 2021
Best for iPhones:Apple Watch Series 64.5 Buy on Best BuyBuy on AppleWhat We Like
Robust health/fitness tracking
Bright, always-on display
Appealing new color options
Speedy and responsive
Fun, diverse watch facesWhat We Don't Like
Modest upgrade over Series 5
Still need to charge daily
No third-party facesApple Watch Series 6 Review
The Apple Watch Series 6 is one of the best smartwatches and fitness trackers to get. As Apple's latest and greatest, it's loaded with robust fitness and health tracking features including a blood oxygen sensor, ECG, fall detection, and more. You'll also get sleep tracking, step tracking, and GPS functionality to track your runs and routes when you're on the go. With its focus on overall wellness, the Series 6 is a great option for those who want more than just fitness tracking features. There are plenty of third-party apps supported, a solid operating system with reliable updates, and options for music controls and notifications.
Hardware hasn't changed dramatically, but you have some new color and style options. The screen is as bright and colorful as ever, and the performance is slightly improved with the new dual-core S6 chip. However, if you have the older Series 5, the upgrade likely isn't big enough to warrant the splurge. But otherwise for iPhone users, the Apple Watch Series 6 is one of the best devices to get.
"Series 6 is the best Apple Watch to date, but also the one that provides the least incentive to upgrade if you already have last year's model."— Andrew Hayward, Product Tester
Most Unique Features:Amazon Halo4Buy on Best BuyWhat We Like
Detailed sleep data
Helpful point-based system to increase activity
Free trial access to various wellness programsWhat We Don't Like
Lack of a visual interface
Fabric band is less wicking when wet
Voice tone feature drains battery quicklyAmazon Halo Review
The Amazon Halo band is a display-free wearable that combines a minimalist design with behind-the-scenes technology that goes beyond the typical fitness tracking metrics. It does all of the usual things fitness trackers do (activity tracking, heart rate monitoring, etc.) but offers especially detailed sleep tracking and a refreshing take on motivating users to move more. The Halo presents a 150-point goal baseline, which stands for the recommended 150 minutes of cardio activity that's best for heart health. Workouts and activity count toward that goal while periods of inactivity subtract from it. For users that don't find step counts helpful, this could be a slightly less pushy approach to encouraging regular movement as a positive and consistent habit.
The Halo also offers two marquee features that you won't find in the average fitness wearable: voice tone tracking and body fat imaging analysis. To achieve the first, the Halo uses two onboard microphones to listen to and interpret your mood/tone according to conversations throughout the day. Based on images uploaded to the app, the Halo creates a 3D visualization of your current body fat percentage—as well as how fluctuations would look on your frame. All user data can be removed from the app or backed up to the cloud, securely, if desired. Overall, the companion app is informative and detailed enough to make up for the lack of an onboard display, and with the initial 6-month Halo membership, it's also a source for guided daily workout and wellness motivation.
"The app makes everything from the initial setup to body scanning and voice tracking straightforward."— Yoona Wagener, Product Tester
Best Value:Fitbit Inspire HR4Buy on AmazonBuy on Best BuyWhat We Like
Comfortable and low profile
Fitbit app integration
Great for sleep monitoringWhat We Don't Like
Limited GPS capabilitiesFitbit Inspire HR Review
The Fitbit Inspire HR seems to be a replacement for the part of the line that was previously occupied by the Flex fitness trackers. The Inspire line does constitute devices that are mostly just meant to track your activity: things like automatic exercise recognition, everyday step tracking, nightly sleep tracking, and even female health tracking. But unlike the previous Flex line, these fitness trackers come with a limited touchscreen for viewing and controlling certain functions. You'll get compatible notifications from your phone, you can control a stopwatch/timer at a glance, and you can even set reminders to get up and move.
Our tester liked the bright OLED screen that, though it doesn't feature groundbreaking graphics, does give you plenty of visual cues. The swim-proof build houses a 5+ day battery life, ensuring that you won't have to charge it every day, and no more than twice a week. You can pick it up in either black or pink—which is a shame because we'd have liked to see more color customization options. But you can pick up new bands, so you'll get to express your style that way. This model does not offer heart rate tracking (you'll need to shell out more money for that version), but if you just need basic fitness tracking functionality with some handy integrations with your smartphone, you can't beat this one. And if this is your first fitness tracking device, it might help to learn how to get the most out of your fitness tracker.
"The unit feels more like a bracelet than a watch—it's so light and unobtrusive that you can easily forget you're wearing it."— Todd Braylor Pleasants, Product TesterThe 6 Best FitBits of 2021
Best Smartwatch Hybrid:Samsung Galaxy Watch Active3.5 Buy on AmazonBuy on Best BuyBuy on WalmartWhat We Like
Easy to achieve a close fit
StreamlinedWhat We Don't Like
Oversensitive watch face
Finicky activity trackingSamsung Galaxy Watch Active Review
Shop around for a fitness tracker long enough and you'll notice just how much they're starting to blend in with the ripening smartwatch market. Looking at the top offerings from Fitbit and Garmin, and you might ask yourself: Why not just buy a smartwatch instead? After all, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active serves both audiences, in equal measure. Graced with a sleek, 25-gram design, it's perfect for taking on runs. And, because it works well with Samsung's advanced fitness app, you can track sleep, heart rate, stress levels, and even swim laps thanks to its 50-meter water resistance. Our tester liked all these features, though she did find some of the tracking to be a little finicky.
Of course, its 1.1-inch AMOLED display — sporting a resolution of 360x360 —will look great on your wrist, too. And its 1.15GHz processor, paired with the latest Tizen OS, delivers solid performance. Galaxy Store support means you can tailor the smartwatch functionality to your personal liking. You can pick up the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active in Black, Silver, Rose Gold, or a really unique-looking Green, with silicone bands to match. And because it has Power Share and seamless integration with Android smartphones, it'll be great for existing Samsung users, both as a smartwatch and as a fitness tracker.
"Compared to the Apple Watch, the Galaxy Watch Active is a worthy competitor and a bargain."— Yoona Wagener, Product Tester
Best Budget:Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 44.3 Buy on AmazonWhat We Like
Extensive battery life
Simple interfaceWhat We Don't Like
Spotty sleep tracking
Lackluster mobile appXiaomi Mi Smart Band 4 Review
If you're looking for some basic fitness tracking that won't break the bank, it's tough to go wrong with the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 4. This slim, no-nonsense tracker is about as simple as they come. The Smart Band 4 features a heart rate and sleep monitor as well as media playback and notification controls that are handled through swipe gestures and a single capacitive button.
While the battery life of the Smart Band is fairly extensive, recharging the tracker itself is a bit of a nuisance and must be removed from the band completely in order to connect with the proprietary charger. While the form factor and feature list are far from perfect, at such a low price point, it's difficult to find much fault with the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 4.Final Verdict
If you're in the market for a dedicated fitness tracker, you'll be hard-pressed to do better than the Fitbit Charge 4. It has great tracking, a long-lasting battery, and solid software support that makes Fitbit one of the most well-known brand names in the industry. It'll be the best tracker for the average user, but if you're a more dedicated adventurer that likes to go hiking or camping, the Garmin Forerunner 945 will give you GPS tracking everywhere and full-color maps for wilderness treks and mountain excursions.
About Our Trusted Experts
Todd Braylor Pleasants has been a Ach5 writer since 2019 and is a dedicated outdoor enthusiast. He has reviewed several of the fitness trackers on this list while practicing his long-distance trail runs in rural Ohio. He likes the Garmin Forerunner 945 for its special altitude-specific features and full-color maps.
Yoona Wagener is a fitness tech writer who carries a load of devices on every weekly run she goes on. She personally uses a Withings Move for basic step tracking as well as a Garmin Forerunner 35, and she reviewed many of the fitness trackers on this list.
Andrew Hayward is an experience Chicago-based writer who specializes in smartphones, wearable gadgets, smart home devices, and more. He's previously been published on TechRadar, Stuff, Polygon, and Macworld.
While our Tech Editor, Ajay Kumar hasn't used the wearables on this list, he does use a Fitbit Versa Lite and he's familiar with the brand, its app, and tracking abilities. As far as battery life goes, he feels you can't go wrong with a Fitbit.
The Ultimate Fitness Tracker Buying Guide
A fitness tracker is a wearable device that helps you keep track of basic and specific activities—like daily step count, walking, and swimming in some cases—all toward the goal of being more tuned into the amount you move and moving more generally.
If you're new to the world of wearables or you're just starting a wellness/fitness routine, you can find budget-friendly models that aren't as “smart” as other fitness trackers but perform the basics well. The more specialized, stylish, and feature-rich the device, the pricier it can be—especially if it comes with many clever smartphone-like features. But what all fitness tracker options generally share is a wearable wristwatch-based design with some mix of buttons, touchscreens, and smart features. There is enough variety to find a model that works with and fits your active lifestyle in the best way possible.
With that spirit in mind, we've put together a collection of the essential traits to consider when buying your first or next fitness tracker.Ach5 / Todd Braylor
Fitness Tracker Operating Systems
Fitness trackers all require a smartphone (via a mobile app usually) to set up, use, and enjoy to their maximum capacity. But you can't necessarily use any smartphone with any wearable. These main fitness tracker operating systems are generally widely compatible with Android and iOS devices, but you'll definitely need to make sure the device you're considering will work well with your smartphone and the complementary mobile app or desktop software.
Fitbit watches come with the appropriately named Fitbit OS, which is compatible with Android and Apple devices and Windows 10 as well. Highlights of this technology include basic activity tracking as well as more advanced sleeping data in newer models. This OS also offers a wide range of third-party integrations with fitness-related services and apps including Amazon Alexa, Runkeeper, Strava, and MyFitnessPal. All Fitbit OS devices interact with the Fitbit app, which is available in mobile or web versions. App integration and setup is the only way to get critical updates, sync data, and access data too. The software continues to evolve and offer appealing smart features like mobile payment, but onboard GPS isn't something you'll see in many Fitbit OS models.
The Garmin brand has its own Garmin OS that's widely compatible with Android and iOS smartphones. Like Fitbit, Garmin fitness trackers work in tandem with the brand's own platform-specific Garmin Connect mobile app. For those who prefer desktop access as well, the Garmin Express software offers syncing, software, and map updates. While the Garmin OS overlaps with Fitbit to offer music playback ability in some devices, similar smartwatch features, and free and available apps and watch faces, this OS stands apart for its fitness-oriented traits. Some models feature animated workouts and the Garmin Connect allows users to create workouts, set or find nearby routes, and sign up for racing training plans with the help of a virtual coach. The Garmin OS also dives deep into wellness data including menstrual tracking, respiration rate, and stress levels.
Tizen is an open-source, Linux-based software. (Linux is an alternative operating system to Windows or MacOs.) This means that the software is available to any developer who wants to make apps that work with products that run on this operating system. In the wearables market, Samsung is the only manufacturer that uses Tizen OS on its smartwatches and fitness trackers. There are fewer complimentary apps available for Tizen OS devices than Google Play apps for Wear OS trackers. But Tizen OS wearables often come with a rotating bezel feature for quicker navigation and compatibility with a broad range of Android devices and even iPhones too.Ach5 / Todd Braylor
Wear OS by Google (and formerly called Android Wear), is an operating system based on Android and developed specifically for wearables. As you'd expect, Wear OS devices are highly compatible with Android smartphones and provide similar perks with access to the Google Play store—where there is a wide range of apps that are compatible across smartphones, smartwatches, and fitness trackers alike. Wear OS watches also span several brands, since Google has partnered with labels like Misfit, Fossil, Kate Spade, and Montblanc to create fitness-oriented wearables based on this platform.
While the Apple brand doesn't produce any dedicated fitness trackers, all Apple smartwatches operate on Watch OS, which folds in many of the same activity and workout-tracking features other fitness tracker OSs offer. Watch OS also delivers several standout health/wellness features that the other tracker manufacturers have yet to catch up with. These include a fall-detection feature that can call for assistance with a tap of a button, a decibel monitor that prohibits volumes levels above a certain threshold, and EKG (versus optical sensor) heart-rate monitoring.
Style vs. Durability
Once you know a fitness tracker is compatible with your smartphone, the next big decision to make is whether looks or utility are more important to you—or what kind of balance between the two is most appealing.
If you want to wear this device 24/7, it should be water-resistant enough for the shower, comfortable enough to sleep in, and versatile enough to match your wardrobe choices. Models that can transition more smoothly from your morning workout to the workday come with typical circular face shapes and with more traditional watch band materials like leather or metal—and come in various colors. Some that fit more under the umbrella of hybrid smartwatches don't even give themselves away as fitness tracking watches. These models look like a typical analog watch with hidden or hideable fitness tracker features.
Durability doesn't necessarily preclude style, but the more it looks like a traditional analog watch, the less comfortable or effective a device may be during your next workout. If the stylish face is too large or heavy, it might not sit flush against your wrist and provide accurate data tracking. And while a leather band looks attractive, it isn't as friendly to sweat as models with nylon and silicone straps that look sportier than fashion-forward, but dry faster and are easy to clean.
And if you're a minimalist and you're not a fan of bulky watches or accessories, many fitness trackers are slim and look more like bracelets than watches. Some bands can even tuck underneath the face of the watch to provide a smooth fit and eliminate excess material.Ach5 / Todd Braylor
Another important part of the style/utility argument is the display. It's probably the biggest part of informing how sporty, fashionable, and easy-to-use a wearable is.
Some fitness trackers, those that are the slim and rectangular kind, come with similarly shaped displays that are taller than they are wide and sit well under or just a little over an inch. Larger, circular displays are closer to 2 inches, and often seem larger because of the size of the case and type of material—which could range from aluminum to stainless steel. An inch or so doesn't seem like a huge size gap, but this extra screen allowance could make all the difference between effortless taps or pecking away at the display without success.
Fitness trackers come with the option of several different display technologies. The most straightforward models might come with grayscale or color LCDs (liquid crystal display). These screens use liquid crystals to illuminate pixels on screen. This is not to be confused with LED, which stands for light-emitting diode and uses backlighting to bring color to pixels.
You'll find an advanced form of this technology in wearables called OLED (organic LED). OLEDs make it possible for every single pixel to light up, which leads to more intense shades and greater contrast. That's why you'll see OLEDs in wearables—because they provide easy-to-see and read displays. Although they don't look so great in bright and direct sunlight, so if you always exercise outdoors, this display technology could be a let-down.
AMOLED, or Active-Matrix OLED, devices, take OLEDs one step further. These displays can produce faster responses with touch prompts and are quite readable in direct sunlight. Super AMOLED technology kicks AMOLED up a notch by offering even clearer and brighter screens and visibility in all lighting situations.
Bezels and Buttons
Touchscreen functionality can make some interactions faster and more convenient. We're used to smartphones and other smart devices that rely on this type of operation. And while Super AMOLED display technology makes scrolling on a small fitness tracker quite fast, touch prompts on such a small surface can be tiring and less efficient. Many devices have at least one or two physical buttons for starting and stopping activities, moving back pages, or accessing settings. Others feature bezels that rival the efficiency and speed of scrolling motions. It's worth considering your preferences and how buttons, scrolling, or bezels slow or speed things up for you.Ach5 / Lance Ulanoff
Activity and Health Tracking
The name of the game when shopping for a fitness tracker is a device's activity tracking prowess. Most cover the basics like walking and running and maybe even some cardio- or body-weight-based workouts. But accuracy and depth of data tracked change the conversation considerably. If you're someone who likes to log workouts on workout equipment at the gym (treadmill, elliptical, etc), keep track of steps, and receive reminders to move throughout the work day, you'll probably be satisfied by any number of models on the market.
But not all competent devices offer the same level of granularity with other health data. If you're interested in sleeping better, some fitness trackers provide detailed sleep monitoring technology so that you can analyze sleep phases or at least be more aware of your patterns. Other advanced health stats like resting and all-day heart rate, VO2 max, blood oxygen levels, and perceived stress levels can offer a fuller and bigger wellness picture—if that's what you're going for.
Specific types of activity tracking could mean more if you're a particular type of athlete or exerciser. If you're a dedicated runner, swimmer, or golfer, some brands and devices will be better for your needs since they offer a greater variety of sport-related profiles and the kind of data points you're looking for. For example, many fitness-tracking wearables offer a 5ATM water-resistance rating, which is suitable for lap swimming and showering. But not all offer data on the number of strokes per length or can detect your stroke type or swolf (swimming efficiency).
Another critical part of choosing the right fitness tracker based on your preferred activities and sports, is GPS. If you regularly participate in a distance sport like running or skiing, a fitness tracker without GPS is not very valuable. Some wearables use your smartphone as a GPS source, also called connected GPS. But if you'd rather leave your phone at home, look for models with built-in GPS monitors and barometers (for altitude measurements).
Accuracy and level of detail can be deal-breakers as well, depending on your sport and preferences. All wearables are impacted by everyday environmental factors like tall buildings and weather fluctuations that can cause GPS signal interference. But you'll increase the odds in your favor if you purchase a wearable with built-in GPS. It will require no other devices (like your smartphone) to capture location and the technology continues to improve as manufacturers make tweaks.
A solid fitness tracker should be able to last for the whole day—and most last at least several days and maybe even up to one full week. Stretching at least five days out of one charge is not an outlandish ask on some fitness trackers that fall under the hybrid smartwatch umbrella. If you're interested in extending a single charge, some models allow you to use your fitness tracker as a watch only—which could extend the battery life a week or more.
Other models are always on and can't enter watch mode, which means you're probably looking at a charging session every couple of days or so. This is especially true if you're an active person who logs workouts daily and you enjoy using all of the smartwatch features fitness trackers offer.Ach5 / Yoona Wagener
The differences between smartwatches and fitness trackers are sometimes obvious based on design details and features lists. But the lines are blurry and continue to blur since many fitness trackers have at least one or a handful of smartwatch features—including voice control, smartphone and email notifications, the ability to respond to texts and emails, or play music right on the device. And some hybrid smartwatches blend the best of both worlds with all of these traits in addition to fitness tracking capability.
Most fitness trackers use Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi for data syncing or downloading apps to the device. Other connectivity options such as incorporating a cellular data plan with the device is not something you'll see in a dedicated fitness tracker. But many newer models have joined the ranks of smartwatches by offering contactless payment via NFC (near field communication) technology, which sends data wirelessly between two devices. This technology works with mobile payment apps like Apple Pay, Garmin Pay, or Samsung Pay so that you can leave your wallet at home and pay with the tap of your wearable.
More analog watch brands are competing with their own hybrid smartwatch models with basic activity tracking functionality. But these three brands are at the forefront of developing dedicated fitness trackers or hybrid models that double as analog watch replacements and stylish daily accessories.
Garmin is a big name in the world of GPS and multi-sport devices and wearables that are finely tuned depending on the sport. If you're looking at straight-up fitness trackers, Garmin offers three main collections: Vivofit, Vivosport, and Vivosmart. They look very similar to Fitbit trackers and offer bonuses like water resistance for swimming, a week's worth of battery life, and many of the advanced wellness features you'll find in hybrid and GPS models that the brand also characterizes as fitness trackers.
These models look just like analog watches and feature very elevated materials and design touches. These stylish accents are combined with innovative Garmin OS wellness-tracking traits like hydration and stress tracking and a feature called body battery, which keeps an eye on energy levels throughout the day.Ach5 / Todd Braylor
While Fitbit graduated from the basic models that focused on steps alone to smartwatches that pack the most in-demand smart features and apps, you can still find distinct bracelet-style trackers from the brand. Newer models like the Charge 4 now include built-in GPS and smart features such as contactless payment and the latest batch of health features—such as guided breathing sessions, all-day heart tracking, sleep tracking, and overall fitness level calculated as a Cardio Fitness score.
Fitbit trackers are less expensive than Garmin model fitness trackers, but the Fitbit app is more limited than the Garmin Connect app, which provides more data. If tracking fitness over sports performance is your priority, then Fitbit fitness trackers will appeal to you.
Samsung offers a fewer number of wearables than the other two brands. Only one is a dedicated fitness tracker, the Galaxy Fit, but it does a decent job of logging the same kind and number of activities as Garmin and Fitbit trackers, and does it all with a military-grade build and sharp display. Other models that fall more into the hybrid smartwatch category like the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active, offer similar fitness-tracking versatility with the added benefit of smart features. You'll find Samsung fitness-tracking wearables most appealing and customizable if you're an Android or more specifically a Samsung smartphone user.
Conclusion: How to Pick the Best Fitness Tracker
Fitness trackers can be as basic or as feature-loaded as you want. Looks and comfort are helpful starting points. This is an accessory you'll be wearing a lot, if not daily, so make sure it's comfortable and suits your personal style. It's also important to consider operating system compatibility (beyond devices alone) and the possible third-party integrations and smart features (music, contactless pay) you want—and are willing to pay for.
It could help to ask yourself if you're interested in and/or need a more straight-laced fitness tracker that focuses primarily on steps and general activity or if venturing into the smartwatch category will be the most economical, efficient, and enjoyable purchase. And since fitness trackers are really meant to encourage an active lifestyle, you'll be best served if you select a model that motivates you. That's the device that will make the most impact toward your individual wellness goals.