A fitness tracker is a valuable tool for monitoring your activity levels, sleep quality, and more. With features that provide motivation and support, it can help you reach your fitness goals. Our team has spent over two months testing and evaluating 35 different fitness trackers to determine their accuracy, ease of use, and comfort. While no tracker was perfect in recording every metric, such as step counts, distance traveled, sleep quality, calories burned, and heart rate, we believe that the Fitbit Charge 5 is the best option for most people who want to track their movements and improve their overall health. In this article, we will provide an in-depth review of the top fitness trackers on the market, so you can make an informed decision about which one to buy.
Our testing process was designed to comprehensively evaluate each fitness tracker across a range of important factors. These included battery life, comfort, menu navigation, customization options, and app intuitiveness. In order to assess workout recording capabilities, we walked, ran, and biked with each device to see how well it documented workout data. We also wore each device for two consecutive days to compare step-count data against that of a pedometer we know to be precise.
Additionally, we performed two heart-rate accuracy tests with each device, using a chest-strap heart-rate monitor as a comparative control. By testing each fitness tracker across a range of use cases, we were able to determine which ones provide the most accurate and reliable data, and which ones are best suited to different types of fitness enthusiasts. In the sections below, we'll take a closer look at the top fitness trackers on the market and explain why we believe they are the best options for people looking to improve their fitness levels.
After extensive testing, we've determined that the Fitbit Charge 5 is the best fitness tracker on the market. Not only is it highly accurate in measuring steps and heart rate, but it also reliably detects and records workouts for running, walking, biking, and swimming after about 10 minutes of activity. The color touchscreen display is easy to navigate, with intuitive icons and a clear, vivid screen that is visible even in bright sunlight. While the Charge 5 has a lot of features, it can take some time to fully orient yourself with all of them.
The Fitbit app is concise and straightforward, making it easy to parse your daily activity data and connect with other Fitbit users for added motivation. The Charge 5 has 21 activity modes, and you can add six of your favorite modes to your on-device favorites list via the app. You can also choose which smartphone notifications you want to receive on your wrist. The Charge 5 has on-wrist ECG (electrocardiogram) and built-in GPS, which allows for real-time pace and distance data without requiring a phone connection (although it is susceptible to some unevenness, as is common with GPS).
In terms of battery life, the Charge 5 lasts up to seven days in watch mode or up to five hours in continuous GPS mode. It also includes sleep tracking, with the ability to track naps of over an hour. The Charge 5 is water-resistant for up to 50 meters, and includes a heart-rate monitor and built-in GPS. Overall, we believe that the Fitbit Charge 5 is the best option for most people who want a reliable, feature-packed fitness tracker that will help them improve their health and fitness.
For those on a budget, we recommend the Fitbit Inspire 2. With a slim profile and a bright, vibrant touchscreen display (although not in color like the Charge 5), it's a great option for anyone looking for a reliable fitness tracker that won't break the bank. While it doesn't have built-in GPS like the Charge 5, it can measure pace and distance on a walk or run when connected to your phone's GPS, so you'll need to have your phone with you.
While the Inspire 2 is less precise than the Charge 5 in recording all-day step counts, it performed solidly in our heart-rate tests. It also includes guided, on-wrist breathing sessions, which the CCharge 5 doesn't. Like the Charge 5, the Inspire 2 offers about 20 goal-based exercise modes, and it tracks sleep stages (although alarms are programmable only in the app, unlike the Charge 5 which allows you to set alarms on the device). The Inspire 2 can be worn on your wrist or on your clothes with a clip (sold separately).
The Inspire 2 has a battery life of up to 10 days and is water-resistant for up to 50 meters. It also includes a heart-rate monitor and can track sleep (excluding naps). While the Inspire 2 may not have all the features of the Charge 5, it's a great budget-friendly option for anyone looking to track their fitness progress.
For those looking for an upgrade, we recommend the Garmin Vívoactive 4S. This advanced fitness tracker is ideal for people who are particularly active and want to keep detailed records of their workouts. With a focus on exercise, the Vívoactive 4S is a sporty and refined option that is highly wearable, despite being larger than the two Fitbit models we recommend.
The Vívoactive 4S features a 40-millimeter screen that is clear and responsive, with buttons beside the screen that make it easy to toggle between workout modes or start and stop workouts. Workout-data screens display multiple metrics simultaneously, allowing for a more detailed view of your activity than some other fitness trackers. The Vívoactive 4S also includes built-in GPS, which provides real-time pace and distance data without requiring a phone connection.
While the color touchscreen display of the Vívoactive 4S is more muted than some other color-screen competitors, its battery life is impressive, lasting up to seven days in watch mode or up to five hours in music mode plus GPS. It also includes sleep tracking (excluding naps), is water-resistant for up to 50 meters, and includes a heart-rate monitor. Overall, the Garmin Vívoactive 4S is a great choice for anyone looking for a high-end fitness tracker that can keep up with even the most active lifestyle.
For a versatile and high-performing option, we recommend the Apple Watch SE. This smartwatch is an excellent choice for anyone looking to track their fitness progress while also enjoying the benefits of a smartwatch.
The Apple Watch SE includes a variety of fitness features, including an always-on altimeter, heart-rate monitor, GPS, and a range of workout modes. It also includes sleep tracking, although it doesn't track naps. With a clear and responsive color touchscreen display, the Apple Watch SE is easy to navigate, and buttons on the side of the watch make it simple to switch between workout modes or start and stop workouts.
While the battery life of the Apple Watch SE isn't as long-lasting as some other fitness trackers, lasting up to 18 hours on a single charge, it more than makes up for this with its other features. The Apple Watch SE is water-resistant for up to 50 meters, allowing you to track your swimming workouts, and it also includes a range of smart features such as text and call notifications, music streaming, and Siri integration.
Overall, we believe that the Apple Watch SE is a great option for anyone looking for a versatile and high-performing fitness tracker that also doubles as a smartwatch.