Best fitness tracker 2021: top picks for all budgets

Goal tracking fitness wearables for every budget
Best fitness trackers to buy 2021
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Fitness trackers have been getting more sensor-packed, powerful – but they're also getting cheaper.

While smartwatches have certainly taken over as the key wearable tech, activity bands still have their place. They're smaller, less techy and, generally, easier to use.

The Fitbit Charge 4 still is our top fitness tracker, there are now some great budget trackers, such as the Xiaomi Mi Band 5, that offer a range of great features at a lower price point.

The best fitness trackers offer more cutting-edge technology and features than ever before; think heart rate monitoring, detailed sleep tracking, waterproof for swimming, stress tracking, sports and workout modes and, of course, step counting.

How to buy a fitness tracker

But there are still huge variations in the quality of data you get – so choosing the right fitness tracker app is just as important as what goes on your wrist. After all, the algorithms that measure and analyse your data are the clever it – rather than just the sensors themselves.

That means that Fitbit trackers and Garmin watches usually offer a better experience with more reliable and interesting insights, and often you're paying for the research and development of the software as well as the hardware. If you want to make changes to your lifestyle, a compelling app is a great motivator.

But if you just want one eye on your step count and core heart vitals, the ever-expanding range from Chinese brands such as Amazfit, Xiaomi and Huawei are also now major contenders.

Whether you're looking for basic everyday activity tracking, or you're after something a bit more in-depth in terms of sports and health monitoring, there's a fitness tracker out there for you.

Read on for our pick of the best fitness tracking wearables you can buy right now.

Update: This article was expanded in February 2021 to include the best budget fitness trackers and waterproof fitness trackers for swimming.

Best fitness tracker 2021

The pick of the top fitness trackers from our reviews and testing.

Fitbit Charge 4

Fitbit Charge 4 on wrist in our review

Fitbit Charge 4 key features

  • Steps, heart rate and sleep tracking
  • GPS built in
  • Blood oxygen tracking
  • 7-day battery life
  • Fitbit Pay
  • Notifications
  • Spotify controller
  • VO2 Max tracking
  • Workout tracking modes
  • Price when reviewed: £129.99

Listen up: the Fitbit Charge 4 isn't just the most powerful Fitbit tracker we've seen to date, but one of the most powerful fitness trackers, full stop.

It's a weakened field now that smartwatches are getting all the attention – but if you look at the sensors, data and features of the Charge 4 – it's way more advanced than the likes of Samsung and Xiaomi have managed.

GPS is the big new addition, offering accurate tracking of runs and cycles from the wrist, and the Charge 4 also has an SpO2 sensor for blood oxygen, will monitor VO2 Max and resting heart rate.

One of its best features is Fitbit's brilliant sleep tracking data which is some of the most accurate we've tested. It's not infallible on the Charge 4, but insights are seriously good and you get sleep apnea data at night from the SpO2 sensor too.

You can also get extra metrics – with seven days of heart rate variability, resting heart rate and breathing rate all shown in the Health Metrics section. If you're a Fitbit Premium user, you get a month's worth of data, and your personal range is shown within the app.

The Charge 4 is swim-proof with 5ATM water resistance, and will track and tag data from 20 sports, from HIIT and yoga to general workouts (although just basic calorie, HR and duration data).

It's a device for HIIT class go-ers, park runners and those who want to keep a real eye on the details of their health. If you're just a 10,000 steps a day person, you'll probably get annoyed with the Charge 4 giving you poor scores for Active Zone Minutes, which is its new metric that rewards users for getting heart rate into higher zones.

Likewise, committed runners and sweaters will find the Charge 4 undercooks in terms of analysis of workouts.

But if you keep a close eye on your health, and you're absolutely certain a smartwatch isn't for you, this is the best fitness tracker available today.

Price when reviewed: £129.99

Wareable verdict: Fitbit Charge 4 review

Fitbit Inspire 2

Fitbit Inspire 2

Fitbit Inspire 2 key specs

  • Works with Android and iPhone
  • Tracks steps, distance, calorie burn
  • Sleep monitoring
  • Optical heart rate monitor
  • Automatic activity recognition
  • 20 exercise modes
  • Swim tracking up to 5m
  • Smartphone notifications
  • Up to 10 days battery life
  • Price when reviewed: £89.99

The Inspire 2 is built for fitness tracking and it's fair to say you're getting plenty in the way of tracking your movements in the day and recovery at night.

It covers the basics, tracking steps, distance, calories burned and serving up inactivity alerts. It will also continuously monitor heart rate through the day and the night.

Fitbit's sleep tracking is excellent and you get the full experience here on the Inspire 2. You can still see a break down of sleep stages including the important REM ones.

Fitbit has added support for its new Active Zone Minutes feature, which is designed to hit target heart rate zones each week. That also joins the ability to train with heart rate zones and check your cardio fitness level inside the Fitbit app.

To complete the setup of health and fitness features, you'll also have support for menstrual health tracking and guided breathing exercises to help keep you calm.

While it's certainly no Versa or Ionic, Fitbit does manage to squeeze in a couple of smartwatch-style features into the Inspire 2.

Like its predecessor, you'll be able to receive phone notifications from compatible Android phones and iPhones. This means that you can see incoming calls, texts and calendar appointments. If you own an Android phone, you can send quick replies when your phone is nearby.

The Inspire 2 offers a good mix of tracking basics, backed up by an app that remains as user-friendly as ever. The problem is that the competition is getting better at the extras the Inspire offers, such as sports tracking and smartwatch features.

Read our Fitbit Inspire 2 review for more details.

Whoop Strap 3.0

Whoop Strap 3.0

Whoop Strap 3.0 key specs

  • Works with iOS and Android
  • Requires subscription ($30 a month)
  • Tracks heart rate 24/7
  • Measures HRV and ambient temperature
  • Tracks sleep automatically
  • Broadcast heart rate to third-party apps
  • 5 days battery life
  • Price when reviewed: $25 a month subscription

The best fitness tracker for hardcore gym-goers and trainers, the Whoop Strap 3.0 is more than just an activity band. When you're in the gym it can be placed anywhere on the arm – from bicep to wrist – to accurately track heart rate during sessions.

But it's more than just a gym tracker. It focuses on recovery by keeping tabs on advanced biometrics such as heart rate, heart rate variability and sleep.

Between workouts, Whoop tracks heart rate variability – the variation in time between each heart beat – and your 24/7 heart rate.

These two heart rate metrics are used alongside the Whoop’s excellent sleep tracking, as this is the period when your body recovers from the intensities of exercise.

You’re assigned a sleep quality score based on the duration of your sleep measured against your prescribed ‘sleep need’, as well as your time spent in the various sleep stages such as REM and Slow Wave Sleep (often referred to as ‘Deep’ sleep).

It will also factor in data on sleep conditions, such as whether you had any caffeinated or alcoholic drinks, worked on a screened device or shared your bed.

This is all used to advise you when to train, and when to take a day off. This is presented with a single number – Strain Score.

Of course, this isn't a band for those looking to take a few more daily steps (it doesn't actually track steps at all) – but for seasoned gym-goers it's the best option on offer.

But it costs. There's a $25 per month subscription, with a minimum term of six months – but you get the Whoop Strap 3.0 for free.

You can pay less, with $21 subscriptions available if you sign up for 18 months and put some cash up front.

Read our full Whoop Strap 3.0 review.

Best cheap fitness trackers below £50

Xiaomi Mi Band 5

Best Value tracker - Xiaomi Mi Band 5

Xiaomi Mi Band 5 features

  • Heart rate tracking
  • Waterproof and swim tracking
  • 11 sports profiles
  • Step tracking
  • Sleep tracking including REM
  • Music controls
  • Notification support
  • iOS and Android support
  • Price when reviewed: £37.99

The all-new Mi Band 5 ups the ante with a larger 1.1-inch screen, while retaining the traditional feel of the budget band.

But some may feel that this cheaper option isn't quite so affordable.

The latest offering comes in at £37.99, which is way more than the bargain price tag of its predecessors.

However, you do get a lot. 11 sports modes, connected GPS (via your smartphone) plus a heart rate monitor used for 27/7 tracking, stress monitoring and keeping tabs on your activity via the PAI score.

PAI stands for Personal Activity Intelligence, and rates your weekly effort out of 100. The more you get your heart beating, be it on a brisk walk or HIIT class, the more points you get. It's easy to understand, and effective.

Sleep is now tracked better than before, and you can turn on REM tracking and personalised insights, although we found that the nightly sleep score was far more generous when compared to gold-standard, rival sleep tracking devices from Fitbit and Withings.

However, as a basic tracker that doubles up for smartwatch notifications, the Mi Band 5 is still one of the best on the market, and comfortably less than £50.

If you want a great overview of your activity the Mi Band 5 comes recommended. However, the Fitbit Inspire HR is a far better sleep tracker, and if you really want top quality health data, you'll need to pay out for the Charge 4.

Read our full Mi Smart Band 5 review.

Amazfit Band 5

amazfit band 5 with alexa

Amazfit Band 5 features

  • Works with Android and iOS
  • Tracks steps and sleep
  • Auto workout tracking
  • Displays notifications and music controls
  • Amazon Alexa on board
  • Tracks swimming
  • Includes heart rate monitor
  • 15 days battery life (typical usage)
  • 5ATM waterproof rating
  • Price when reviewed: £44.90

If you think that Amazfit's tracker looks familiar, that's because it's essentially the Xiaomi Mi Band 5, with a few extra features thrown in.

Design-wise it's a polycarbonate tracker matched up with a TPU plastic band, which houses a superb 1.1-inch, 126 x 294 resolution, AMOLED display. That's a higher resolution than you'll find on trackers from Fitbit and Samsung.

In terms of fitness tracking, it does steps, distance and also continuously monitors your heart rate. There's also sleep monitoring on offer and you've got connected GPS to piggyback off of your smartphone to track your runs.

The Amazfit Band 5 also boasts an SpO2 sensor, which you don't get on its Xiaomi-twin. It also features a superior heart rate sensor to offer improved accuracy.

There are also more smartwatch features than on the Mi Band 5 with the addition of Amazon's Alexa, though answers to queries will be displayed as opposed to read out for you. That's along with notification support, music controls, the ability to remotely take smartphone photos and a nice collection of watch faces.

Even with those extra features, you can still to get up to two weeks battery life, likely closer to 7-10 days if you use all of its features regularly every day.

For its mix of fitness tracking and smartwatch features along with that great screen and battery life, the Amazfit Band 5 delivers.

Check out our full Amazfit Band 5 review.

Samsung Galaxy Fit 2

Price when reviewed: £49

samsung gear fit 2

Samsung Galaxy Fit 2 key features

  • Works with Android phones and iPhones
  • Tracks steps, sleep and stress
  • Auto workout tracking for walking, running, dynamic workout
  • Displays notifications
  • Includes heart rate sensor
  • 15 days battery life (typical usage)
  • 5ATM (up to 50 metres) waterproof rating
  • Price when reviewed: £49.99

Although the MSRP sits above our £50 limit, the Fit 2 is easily findable for less – making it a good budget choice.

The Fit 2 boasts a 1.1-inch AMOLED screen partnered up with a band that's slimmer and sits more snug than its predecessor.

It has sensors on board to count steps, monitor sleep and can keep tabs on your stress using the optical heart rate monitor. There's automated workout support for activities including running, elliptical and indoor rowing although we did have accuracy issues. And what's more, while it's fit to be worn in the pool, it won't track your activity in the water, which is disappointing.

On that AMOLED display, you can take control of your music, view notifications and send quick replies if you're an Android phone owner. You're also getting a big collection of watch faces to pick from too.

Battery life is up there with Xiaomi and Amazfit's trackers at around a week. So if you're a fan of Samsung's hardware and companion app, it's another solid option to consider.

We applaud Samsung for taking the original Galaxy Fit, streamlining the look and bringing the price point down to make it much better value for money. However, accuracy issues mean that you could be better off with an Amazfit or Xiaomi tracker.

For more in-depth info have a read of our Galaxy Fit 2 review.

Honor Band 5

Best cheap fitness tracker: Honor Band 5

Honor Band 5 features

  • Heart rate monitor
  • Water resistance
  • Step tracking
  • Sleep monitoring
  • Tracks ten exercises
  • SpO2 monitor
  • Phone notifications
  • 14-day battery life
  • iOS and Android support
  • Price when reviewed: £30

We may prefer the design and fit the Xiaomi Mi Band 4 provides, but the Honor Band 5 is the best fitness tracker for those who want to pay as little as possible.

And, surprisingly, despite its low price, you get plenty of features that aren't standard on more expensive options, such as a crisp 0.95-inch AMOLED color display (offering 240 x 120 pixel resolution) and a SpO2 sensor.

It doesn't stop there, either. For more basic monitoring, there's a heart rate sensor, automatic sleep tracking support and the ability to track a range of different exercises. That includes swimming, with waterproofing up to 50 meters.

Perhaps best of all, though, is the two-week battery life, letting your tracker remain connected to your wrist for an extremely long time between charges (and also your iOS or Android device, as both are compatible).

Read our complete Honor Band 5 review for more.

Realme Band

Realme Band

Realme Band key features and specs

  • Works with Android only
  • Available in black, yellow and green
  • Weighs 20g
  • 10 days battery (7-10 days battery life with heart rate monitor)
  • 0.96-inch touchscreen display
  • IP68 water resistance rating
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Tracks cricket, yoga, running, walking, hiking, climbing, cycling and spinning
  • Price when reviewed: £24.99

The Realme Band debuted in India as a super budget option – and at £24.99 it’s one of the most affordable trackers you’ll find.

The screen and build is certainly less premium than the likes of Samsung, although better than Fitbit’s – and you get a week of battery life too.

It does all the basics and a bit more. Step tracking, sleep monitoring and even workouts – with running, walking, trail hiking, mountain hiking, climbing, cycling, spinning, fitness and cricket. Naturally there’s no GPS at this price, nor can it borrow your smartphone's.

We found step tracking to be generally accurate, and sleep tracking reliably showed time spent in bed, but data on sleep quality and actual time asleep varied hugely from our control devices.

We liked the water drinking and move reminders, and we actually found the heart rate monitor to be generally pretty accurate.

However, it didn’t perform well as a smartwatch alternative. Not only is this Android only, notifications were really hard to read.

All in all, the Realme Band is a capable budget fitness tracker for Android users, but for a small amount extra you should opt for the Xiaomi or Amazfit and enjoy a far better experience.

Best waterproof fitness trackers for swimming

Samsung Galaxy Fit

Best waterproof fitness tracker: Samsung Galaxy Fit

Samsung Galaxy Fit features

  • 0.95-inch AMOLED touchscreen display
  • Tracks steps/automatic sleep monitoring
  • Accelerometer-based workout tracking
  • Includes heart rate monitor
  • 5ATM (up to 50 meters) waterproof
  • Works with Android and iOS
  • Displays notifications
  • Price when reviewed: £89.99

If you're looking for the best fitness tracker for swimming, the Fit gets our vote.

Sitting below the Fit2 Pro, the £99.99 Fit does all the basics including step counting and distance covered, and also offers strong sleep monitoring features too.

You also get smartwatch features like notification support and the ability to switch out watch faces on the gorgeous 0.95-inch AMOLED touchscreen display. There are no music player controls, payment features or Bixby support, but that's not surprising considering the price.

On the swim tracking front, you're relying on the onboard motion sensors to monitor pool time.

Accuracy-wise, we found it served up data on par with what our Garmin sports watch recorded, which is impressive given the sub $100 price. What's more, its slim design means it's nice and unobtrusive in the pool.

For battery life, you can expect around the seven-day mark depending on usage. If you want a slim, comfortable tracker with decent swim tracking skills, this is definitely one to consider.

Read our complete Samsung Galaxy Fit review for more.

Garmin Vivosmart 4

Best tracker for gym workouts: Garmin Vivosmart 4

Garmin Vivosmart 4 features

  • Heart rate monitor
  • Step tracking
  • Automatic exercise detection
  • VO2 Max
  • Rep counting for gym exercises
  • Heart rate variability for stress scores
  • iOS and Android support
  • Price when reviewed: £89.99

The Vivosmart 4 is slimmer, sleeker and even better equipped for the gym than its predecessor. It's the best fitness tracker for those looking for deep data, with blood oxygen, energy and stress tracking all part of the mix.

It includes a heart rate monitor, VO2 Max testing (which is a great metric for those who like HIIT and CrossFit clases), and automatic exercise detection, so you won't miss out if you forget to start tracking a session.

The 'body battery' energy monitoring will give you a better insight into how well prepared you are for your next workout, too.

The Vivosmart 4 also packs in Garmin's Move IQ software and rep counting for those who like to lift weights, while the addition of the pulse oximeter sensor means it's even able to help detect sleep apnea.

And the decent accelerometer-based run tracking slightly makes up for the missing GPS support, if you're not too bothered about pinpoint accuracy.

Read our complete Garmin Vivosmart 4 review for extra information.

Huawei Band 4 Pro

huawei band pro 4

Huawei Band 4 Pro key features

  • Works with Android phones and iPhones
  • AMOLED touchscreen display
  • Built-in GPS
  • Heart rate monitor
  • SpO2 sensor
  • 5ATM (up to 50 metres) waterproof rating
  • Swim tracking
  • 5-day battery life (typical usage)
  • 7 hours GPS battery life
  • Price when reviewed: £49.99

The Huawei Band 4 Pro is the only budget tracker on our list that has built-in GPS to make it a useful running and cycling companion.

The feature-packed tracker features a 0.95-inch AMOLED screen with access to Huawei's watch store to pick out different watch faces to show off on it.

Features-wise, it will count your steps and monitor sleep with a heart rate monitor to power exercise insights like training effect and daily monitoring. There's an SpO sensor to measure blood oxygen levels and you do have that built-in GPS to better track outdoor activities without your phone.

On the smartwatch front, you can view notifications, control music playback and remotely control your smartphone camera. Add in some pretty solid battery life and you have a cheap fitness tracker that should have appeal to anyone looking for some serious sports features packed into a slim band.

Best fitness tracker watches

Withings Steel HR Sport

Withings Steel HR Sport

Withings Steel HR Sport features

  • Automatic exercise detection
  • Continuous heart rate monitoring
  • Dedicated run and swim tracking
  • Sleep tracking
  • 25-day battery life
  • iOS and Android support
  • Price when reviewed: £189.95

We're desperate to include the Withings ScanWatch here, but it's still short of FDA approval which is holding up the ECG hybrid smartwatch's release outside of Europe. If you're in Europe – definitely check that device out.

So that leaves us the Steel HR Sport for those in the US. A gorgeous-looking hybrid smartwatch, don't be fooled into thinking this is style over substance: the Withings Steel HR Sport is a hugely powerful fitness and wellness device masquerading as an analogue watch.

The key thing here is the accuracy of the heart rate monitor, which, in our testing, was a top performer.

It's designed for continuous wear, and will take a reading from your wrist every minute. However, the fact that it's combined into such a beautifully designed tracker-watch hybrid, and still manages 25 days of battery life, is a huge boon for Withings.

Swim tracking is also present, as well as GPS connection over the phone, meaning you can now more accurately track runs with the help of your smartphone.

In short, the Withings Steel HR is a superb fitness tracker – but there are even more powerful devices incoming.

Read our complete Withings Steel HR Sport review for more.

Apple Watch SE

Best fitness tracker 2021: Steps, sleep and heart rate monitoring activity bands

Apple Watch SE key features

  • iOS only
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Automatic exercise detection
  • VO2 Max
  • Move, Exercise and Stand goals
  • Native sleep tracking
  • Single day battery life
  • Price when reviewed: £269.99

When it comes to fitness tracking, the Apple Watch is one of the best in the business – and that’s because it does things differently to nearly every other fitness tracking watch.

The Apple Watch rings have now become synonymous with the experience, with three tracking goals a core experience of the watch.

The Move goal is calorie based, which makes way more sense than steps as it’s inherently personalized to your individual levels. However, you can see your step count underneath.

The Exercise goal tracks those crucial activity minutes to get you the WHO recommended 150 mins a week.

And finally, the Stand goal ensures you’ve got up and moved every hour.

The rings fill up as you progress towards your goals, and you can challenge any Apple Watch owning friend to a ring challenge, which awards points for progress over a week.

It’s incredibly motivating – much more than many trackers on this list with their simple 10,000 steps.

Of course, the Apple Watch does way more than goal tracking. It’s a great workout tracker with GPS, swim tracking, heart rate, a new focus on VO2 Max and now there’s the Apple Fitness+ service which is completely integrated with the Apple Watch and the rings.

There are downsides. Sleep tracking is basic (good third party apps are available) and the single day battery life is a pain if you choose to wear it all night. Then there’s the fact it’s iOS only – and the $279 price tag means it’s not for everybody.

Read our full Apple Watch SE review.

Fitbit Versa 2

Fitbit Versa 2

Fitbit Versa 2 key features

  • Works with Android and iOS
  • Built-in mic for Amazon Alexa
  • Fitbit Pay on all models
  • 24/7 activity tracking
  • Heart rate tracking
  • 15+ goal-based exercise modes
  • Connected GPS (requires phone)
  • Water resistance up to 50 meters
  • Always-on display
  • 5+ days battery life/3+ days in always-on mode
  • Price: £169.99

  • When it comes to fitness tracking, Fitbit is the boss. But if you’re looking for a smartwatch it’s the company’s Versa line-up you need.

    The AMOLED screen is a big step-up from the LCD monochrome display on the Charge and Inspire devices, and the shape will suit more wrists too. It's unisex, and the 40mm case won't trouble smaller wrists – and doesn't look lost on chunky ones either.

    The new Versa 3 comes with GPS, but we’re looking at the older Versa 2 here as a great fitness tracking watch. You get everything that’s good about the Fitbit ecosystem – top class sleep tracking, steps and activity metrics, Active Zone Minutes and workout tracking – in a smartwatch form factor.

    It’s missing GPS and the fast charging from the Versa 3, but you get six days of battery life, Fitbit Pay.

    And because it’s now the previous generation there are plenty of good deals to be had.