Fitbit, Garmin, Xiaomi and more

Fitbit, Garmin, Xiaomi and more

If you’re looking for a top fitness tracker – be it an activity band, fitness watch or a clip-on tracker – there’s no shortage to choose from. In 2019, it’s Fitbit, Garmin, Xiaomi, Misfit and Polar that are the leaders in the game.

If you want all the juicy details on the all of the top fitness trackers, read on for our in-depth buyers guides, based on our comprehensive reviews.

However, if you’re looking for a quick snap shot of the top 5 trackers to buy right now, here you go.

The best fitness tracker 2019

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The Charge 3 ($149.95) proves Fitbit is still top of the game. It’s a well-rounded device that looks the part, boasts a waterproof design (finally) and showcases the very best of Fitbit’s extensive fitness tracking features.

The best budget fitness tracker

Best budget fitness tracker: Xiaomi Mi Band 3

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Xiaomi manages to squeeze in a hell of a lot into its third generation wearable, while at the same time keeping the price-tag below $40. There’s a bigger touchscreen display, improved heart rate monitoring features, automatic activity tracking and smartphone notification support.

The best tracker for runners

Best fitness tracker for runners: Garmin Vivosport

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The $199.99 Vivosport offers a great fitness tracking experience with run tracking extras on top. The built-in GPS is the headline feature here, giving you the ability to track running and cycling sessions without having to piggyback off your phone.

The best tracker for the gym

Best fitness tracker for the gym: Garmin Vivosmart 4

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The Vivosmart 4 ($129.99) is Garmin’s first fitness tracker to offer a pulse oxygen sensor and also marks the debut of Garmin’s Body Battery feature, which measures your body reserves and tells you how much energy you have left, based on a collection of metrics.

The best waterproof fitness tracker

Best waterproof fitness tracker: Moov Now

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An oldie but certainly still a goodie – the Moov Now ($59.95) is waterproof to 30m and offers feedback on your stroke type, rate, distance and efficiency, as well as lap times and an overall indicator of your pool stamina.

Buying a top fitness tracker

Fitness trackers are becoming more feature-rich, and an affordable option for people wanting to stay fit and healthy. Far from just pedometers, they now focus on heart rate monitoring, sports tracking, sleep statistics and even help you to feel less stressed during the day.

The right fitness tracker will be based on your individual needs and how active your lifestyle is. Some will just look for step counting and reliable sleep tracking, others want built-in
GPS for running, a heart rate monitor to deliver advanced resting heart rate data. The good news is that there’s something out there for everyone, even without breaking the bank.

Don’t get too hung up about getting the best fitness tracker for iOS or Android – all of these play nicely across both smartphone operating systems.

Whether you need a fitness tracker for swimming, something that works with Apple Health, Google Fit or can track without your smartphone nearby, we’ve picked our top rated trackers you need to look out for.

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What is the best fitness tracker?

Fitbit Charge 3

Best fitness tracker

The Fitbit Charge 3 won Fitness Tracker of the Year at the 2018 Wareable Tech Awards, with the successor to the Charge 2 much more feature-packed than its predecessor. And, crucially, it costs less.

The Charge 3 is a total redesign of the older generation, sporting a slimmer, more Versa-inspired look. You can even easily switch to different kind of bands. That slimmer design and new bands help make the Charge 3 much more comfortable, which will be a boon to your wrist while you’re sleeping.

Not only that, but Fitbit has added waterproofing for swimming (with swim tracking), a touchscreen display and week-long battery life. Plus, it’s the debut of Fitbit’s new fitness tracker operating system.

The big thing for the Charge 3, though, is that it’s the best option for sleep tracking. It blows away all its rivals as improved heart rate technology can take a look at your deep, light and REM sleep. You need a good balance of these stages to feel rested, and that’s what the Charge 3 focuses on.

Sleep Insights will also compare your data to other Fitbit users in your age and gender. Sleep Schedules will let you set alarms and nudge you so that you don’t get into any bad habits as well.

That’s not all. The Charge 3 also comes with a relative SpO2 blood oxygen sensor. In the long term, this will hopefully let Fitbit identify conditions like sleep apnea. In the short term, Fitbit will be using the sensor to detect breathing irregularities with the new Sleep Score Beta.

  • Sleep Stages via heart rate
  • Swim tracking
  • 24/7 heart rate
  • Fitbit Pay (available in Special Edition)
  • VO2 Max data and step tracking
  • SpO2 sensor
  • Guided breathing exercises
  • iOS and Android

Current price: $149.95, Amazon |

Best budget fitness tracker

Xiaomi Mi Band 3

Best fitness tracker guide 2019: Fitbit, Garmin, Xiaomi and more

If you’re looking for more features with less of an emphasis on design and a cheaper alternative to the Charge 3, the Mi Band 3 is a solid option. It boasts an OLED display to check in on your stats, and for the sub-$30 price, it still manages to pack heart rate monitoring on to the wrist, as well as waterproofing and NFC for contactless payments. The Xiaomi Mi Band 3 NFC edition, though, is only available in China.

The app experience is a bit clunky sometimes, but if you’re looking to get the most tech for the least money, this is your best bet. Thankfully, it’s now also available outside of its native China and a lot easier to get hold of.

  • HR tracking
  • Waterproof
  • NFC for payments
  • Steps, sleep
  • Smart alarms
  • Incoming call alerts
  • iOS and Android

Current price: $33.49, Amazon

Best waterproof fitness tracker for swimming

Moov Now

Best fitness tracker

If you want the best tracker for the pool, things don’t get much better than Moov Now. It’s waterproof to 30m, but focuses on coaching.

Start a swim session via your smartphone in the locker room, and when you return you’ll get feedback on your stroke type, rate, distance and efficiency, as well as lap times and an overall indicator of your pool stamina.

The only real downside is that there’s no built-in screen to view performances in the pool in real-time – for that you’d need to look at something like the
Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro, but there’s a trade-off in accuracy.

Moov Now also works as a discreet all-day fitness tracker, it has great training modes for running and swimming, and if you are interested in heart rate monitoring in the water, take a look at the Moov HR tracker that slips underneath your swimming cap to measure heart rate from your temple. Clever stuff.

  • 3 ATM (30m)
  • Stroke detection
  • Distance and efficiency in pool
  • Run and cycling coaching
  • All day step and sleep tracking
  • iOS and Android

Current price: $59.95, Amazon |

Best fitness tracker for sleep monitoring

Fitbit Inspire HR

Best fitness tracker guide 2019: Fitbit, Garmin, Xiaomi and more

It may not look as good as the now-retired Alta HR, but Fitbit’s latest fitness tracker, the Inspire HR, is a great option for those who want something a little bit sleeker to track sleep with.

It boasts all the same sleep monitoring tech as the flagship Charge 3, only in a lighter and thinner body. And though it also comes in a regular equivalent, you’ll need the Inspire HR if you want to receive Fitbit’s Sleep Stages – the feature that brings light, deep, awake and REM insights from your night’s sleep.

As this is essentially replacing the Alta family, it’s not just the design that’s been tweaked. Fitbit’s Inspire range offers a swim-proof design, step tracking, notifications and automatic workout tracking.

On the HR, you’re also getting some added features, including 24/7 heart rate tracking, Guided Breathing, Connected GPS and goal-based exercise modes. It takes all of that and puts it on a device with a touchscreen display – one that can go the distance, too, with around five days of battery life.

  • Sleep tracking
  • 24/7 heart rate monitor
  • Step tracking
  • Customisable bands
  • Smartphone notifications
  • Swim-proof/swim tracking
  • Automatic exercise detection
  • Guided breathing
  • Connected GPS
  • iOS and Android

From $99.95, Amazon |

Best fitness tracker with heart rate monitoring

Withings Steel HR Sport

Best fitness tracker

The Withings Steel HR Sport is the company’s first hybrid smartwatch since co-founder Eric Carreel bought back the company he sold to Nokia. Thankfully, it still one of the best hybrids for keeping track of your fitness.

As far as the device itself goes, the key thing here is the accuracy of the heart rate monitor, which in our testing was a top performer. It’s designed for 24/7 wear, and will take a reading from your wrist every minute. But the fact that it’s combined into such a beautifully designed watch, and still manages 25 days of battery life, is a huge boon for Withings.

The swim tracking isn’t quite a world-beater, but the addition of connected GPS, does now mean you can now more accurately track runs with the help of your smartphone.

The Withings Health ecosystem is pretty robust, too, though not up to Fitbit levels. But, in short, the Withings Steel HR is a superb fitness tracker that gets the thumbs up from Wareable.

  • Automatic exercise detection
  • Continuous heart rate monitoring
  • Dedicated run and swim tracking
  • 25 day battery life
  • iOS and Android

Current price: $199.95, Amazon |

Best tracker for HIIT, Crossfit & weights

Garmin Vivosmart 4

Best fitness tracker

The Vivosmart 3’s successor is slimmer, sleeker and clearly even better equipped for the gym.

It includes an onboard heart rate monitor for 24/7 bpm data, VO2 Max testing (which is a great metric for those who like HIIT classes such as Crossfit), and automatic exercise detection, so you won’t miss out if you forget to start tracking a session.

For those who really push things hard, the heart rate variability (HRV) stress scores are a great metric so you know when to take a rest. The new ‘body battery’ energy monitoring will give you a better insight into how well prepared you are for your next workout. While the addition of a pulse oximeter sensor makes the fitness tracker for more serious health monitoring like helping to detect sleep apnea.

The Vivosmart 4 also packs in Garmin’s Move IQ software and rep counting for those who like to lift weights, and is one of the few trackers to include these metrics. The decent accelerometer-based run tracking slightly makes up for the missing GPS support as well, if you’re not too bothered about pinpoint accuracy.

  • Automatic exercise detection
  • VO2 Max
  • Rep counting for gym exercises
  • Heart rate variability based stress scores
  • iOS and Android

Current price: $129.99, Amazon |

Best fitness tracker watch/hybrid

Garmin Vivomove HR

Best fitness tracker

Another previous Wareable Tech Award winner, the Garmin Vivomove HR is a powerful fitness tracker hidden inside a decent-looking analogue watch. While it doesn’t quite manage to look as classically designed as the Withings Steel HR Sport, the hidden screen works harder on the Garmin, and smart notifications are much easier to read.

In terms of tracking the heart rate monitor rules the roost, offering 24/7 tracking, a focus on stress via heart rate variability (HRV) and resting heart rate tracking.

You can also track runs (albeit without GPS), strength training and open sessions, which will appeal to gym goers. Plus, everyone can get behind the 14 days of battery life, and 5ATM (up to 50m) water resistance, which make it a winner in our eyes.

  • 24/7 heart rate
  • Hidden screen
  • Stress tracking
  • 50m water resistance
  • Tracks gym workouts
  • 14-day battery
  • iOS and Android

Current price: $199.99, Amazon |

Best clip-on fitness tracker

Misfit Shine 2

Best fitness tracker guide 2018: The top activity bands you can buy now

The Shine 2 ships with a clip and strap, and you can change the settings to attach to shirts, waistbands, shoes and pockets, meaning buggy-pushing parents can get credit for their walks – a common request in Wareable’s comments.

But where the Shine 2 really impresses is data accuracy. When we put the Shine 2 up against a GPS running watch there was 0.1km difference in the readings, and the same goes for step and sleep data too. It works in the pool and can track basic swims, the only downside is that there’s no heart rate tracking. If you can live without that feature, then it’s still worth considering.

  • Step tracking
  • Works as a clip on
  • Sleep monitoring
  • Swim tracking and 5ATM water resistance
  • Six month battery life
  • iOS and Android

Current price: $79.99, Amazon |

Best kids’ fitness tracker

Fitbit Ace

Best fitness tracker guide 2018: Fitbit, Xiaomi, Garmin and more

Yes, children now have fitness trackers too – and Fitbit has made its first one the Ace, that’s designed for kids aged 8 and above.

The design is modelled on the old Alta and Alta HR so kids can feel like they have a tracker just like their mum and dad. It doesn’t have a heart rate monitor on board, but will count steps, log sleep and let you take part in step challenges against other Fitbit users.

It should keep tracking for up to five days off a single charge and kids can assign the tracker to their own phone to add call notifications into the mix. Fitbit has also ensured the tracker is 100% compliant with all child privacy laws, if you’re concerned about how it handles that data.

If you’re after a fitness tracker for kids a little younger, the Garmin Vivofit jr 2 is aimed at kids aged 4 and above and has done some fun things to motivate kids to keep moving. But for our top pick, the Ace currently gets our vote.

Just be aware that the Fitbit Ace 2 is currently being prepped for a summer 2019 launch, too, coming complete with a more kid-friendly, waterproof design and aimed at those aged 6 and above.

  • Showerproof (not waterproof)
  • Suitable for kids 8 and older
  • Step tracking, sleep tracking
  • Call notifications
  • iOS and Android

Current price: $99.95, Amazon |

Best fitness tracker with GPS for runners

Garmin Vivosport

Best fitness tracker

The Garmin Vivosport is a fitness tracker with GPS and heart rate tracking built-in.

You can place the band into running and cycling mode to get a GPS tracked workout – the only downside being the difficulty in reading live stats on the tiny 72 x 144 monochrome screen.

It’s water resistant to 5ATM (up to 50m), which means it will survive a dip in the pool, and it features the same rich mix of heart rate enabled metrics, including heart rate variability stress scores, resting heart rate, VO2 Max and fitness age estimates. Essentially, if you like running and gym work, but are looking for a band over a dedicated GPS running watch, the Vivosport is one of the best options out there.

  • Built-in GPS
  • Heart rate
  • Sports modes
  • Advanced heart metrics
  • Seven days of battery life
  • Notifications
  • iOS and Android

Current price: $199.99, Amazon |

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