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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It's a boom time for fitness trackers, and there are more choices than ever to suit every budget.

While smartwatches have certainly taken over, activity band style wearables are still immensely popular – and for good reason.

Fitness trackers are suited to smaller wrists, are generally less techy, easier to use and focused on helping you get healthy.

So what does a fitness tracker do? Think step counting, measuring calorie burn, heart rate monitoring, detailed sleep tracking, keeping tabs on stress and core wellbeing metrics – and have plenty of workout modes including swimming. And some of the best fitness trackers even pack in GPS for tracking runs, and can even save your life with an ECG sensor.

And many offer smartwatch features such as notifications and payments. So it's fair to say the lines between the two have blurred.

Read on for our top picks.

How to buy a fitness tracker

James Stables, Wareable editor

"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 really clever bit – not just the sensors themselves.

"This means that Fitbit trackers and Garmin watches usually offer a better experience with more reliable and interesting insights. However, they cost more because 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, core heart vitals and hours of sleep, the ever-expanding range from Chinese brands such as Amazfit, Xiaomi and Huawei are now major contenders."

Best fitness trackers: Top picks

Fitbit Luxe

Fitbit Luxe

Fitbit Luxe key features

  • 0.76-inch AMOLED display
  • 124x206 pixels & 326 PPI density
  • Heart rate monitor/SpO2
  • Stainless steel case: white/black/orchid
  • Connected GPS (paired smartphone)
  • Stress tracking
  • Sleep monitoring
  • HRV, skin temperature, breathing rate
  • Sports tracking modes
  • Price when reviewed: $149.95/£129.99

The Fitbit Luxe was launched in 2021 as an all-new Fitbit line, and it introduced a stainless steel case and color AMOLED display. It's designed to add a dose of Luxe to the range, and it succeeded – it's a huge visual step-up from the Charge 4 and Inspire 2 – and actually something you might want to wear.

It comes in white, black and orchid (pink) options and there's a special edition with gold link bracelet. It's not exclusively for women, but men will probably want to opt for the Charge 5 or the Sense smartwatch.

In terms of features there's nothing exclusive to Luxe, but it packs the key features from the Fitbit range.

There's an SpO2 sensor for blood oxygen (not found on Inspire 2), and it will keep tabs on stress using a daily stress score. That's on top of sleep, heart rate and steps, Active Zone Minutes (that track time spent in elevated heart rate) and 50 meter water resistance.

It has multiple sport tracking modes including yoga and swimming. There's no GPS onboard, but you can piggyback from your phone for run tracking.

Sleep tracking is top notch (as it is across the Fitbit range) and the Luxe feeds the Health Metrics dashboard of heart rate variability, skin temperature and breathing rate, designed to give you an under-the-hood glimpse of your wellbeing. And what's more, the stress score has now rolled out beyond the Fitbit Sense, so you can keep tabs on mindfulness.

The battery life isn't too shabby either, and we easily got 5 days between charges in our review period.

It's a brilliant fitness tracker – and possibly our favorite – although it's a tad small for male wrists. The Charge 5 or Versa 3 are more masculine alternatives.

Read our full Fitbit Luxe review.


Huawei Band 6

Huawei Band 6

Huawei Band 6 key specs

  • 1.47 inch AMOLED
  • 194 x 368 pixels
  • 5 ATM water-resistant
  • 14 days for typical use
  • 96 workout modes
  • HR and SpO2
  • Stress tracking
  • Price when reviewed: $44.99/£35.99

The Huawei Band 6 looks great, feels great and the price is pretty great too. It's hard to pick huge faults with a fitness tracker at this price, which delivers so much.

You also get a larger display than what you'll find on Samsung and Xiaomi's trackers. That screen is a 1.47-inch AMOLED with a 194x368 resolution, matching what you get on the Honor Band 6. So it's something of a smartwatch hybrid, with a super-low price tag.
The display is bright, vibrant, colorful and nice and responsive to the touch. However, it doesn't offer an always-on mode, and the raise to wake isn't always as responsive as we'd like it to be.

It's a shame that GPS isn't included, when Huawei has put this feature on its budget trackers previously. Heart rate performance is a mixed bag too, if that's a feature you care a lot about.

But you still get 96 workout modes, so pretty much every conceivable type of exercise is covered.

The Band 6 excels at tracking fitness and also offers some well executed smartwatch features wrapped up with a high quality display.

Outside of steps and sleep, there's a big focus on heart rate – and a set of features way above the Band 6's meagre price tag. You can also track stress through heart rate variability measurements, showing you on the Band when stress has been high, low and current stress level.

If you want to measure blood oxygen levels, you can do that that here too, though doing it 24/7 has a clear impact on battery life.

In short, the Huawei Band 6 comes highly recommended.

Read our Huawei Band 6 review.

Fitbit Charge 5

Fitbit Charge 5 on wrist

Fitbit Charge 5 key features

  • AMOLED display
  • Stainless steel case (black, silver, gold)
  • GPS
  • Heart rate and SpO2
  • Stress management
  • EDA sensor
  • ECG
  • 20 workout modes
  • 7 day battery life
  • Sleep tracking
  • Price: $179.99/£169.99

The Fitbit Charge 5 ups the design ante over the Charge 4, with an aluminum case and AMOLED display making it the best-looking Fitbit Charge to date.

The Charge 5 screen size is 11% bigger than the Charge 4, and the device itself is 1mm taller but over 1mm thinner. It's still a chunky device although whether it's truly unisex at this price divides opinion. It might be too big for some women's tastes – but it's packed with sensors that makes the Charge 5 a mini-health smartwatch in its own right.

Firstly, it brings ECG and the EDA stress sensor from the Fitbit Sense, the first time these have been seen on a fitness tracker form factor.

That joins GPS alongside the standard set of advanced sleep, stress score, Active Zones Minutes and all day heart rate tracking.

Best fitness tracker 2021: top picks for all budgets

There's skin temperature and the new Daily Readiness score, which assesses how well rested you are before recommending workouts. Both of these are cleverly calculated from personal baselines, tailored to your personal physiological profile. It's a powerful ensemble of health features.

We've now had time to review the device – and recommending it does come with caveats.

The GPS accuracy is problematic, which undermines a huge part of its USP. And if you're not interested in ECG, then is it worth paying the extra cost to get dubious GPS accuracy? We'd certainly warn runnings away.

It really comes down to two things: the design/form factor and the ECG. If neither of those things sway you, you might be better off with other members of the Fitbit range.

Read our full Fitbit Charge 5 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: $99/£89.99

The Inspire 2 is a more traditional fitness tracker in terms of size, price and features – but it's surprisingly powerful and only a few key features short of the Fitbit Luxe.

It covers the basics, tracking steps, distance, calories burned and serving up inactivity alerts and it will also continuously monitor heart rate through the day and the night. However, you don't get an SpO2 sensor here and the data that goes with it.

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.

And you can track runs and outdoor workouts via Connected GPS, if you take your phone with you – which many people will do anyway.

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 4.0

Best fitness tracker 2021: top picks for all budgets

Whoop Strap 4.0 key specs

  • Works with iOS and Android
  • Requires subscription ($30 a month)
  • Tracks heart rate 24/7
  • Measures HRV
  • Tracks sleep automatically
  • SpO2
  • New health monitor: HRV, skin temp, resting HR, respiratory rates
  • 5 days battery life
  • Free with $30/£30 subscription. Other payment options available.

The best fitness tracker for hardcore gym-goers and trainers, the Whoop Strap 4.0 is more than just an activity band.

The band itself doesn't have a screen, and the fabric strap dominated the design. It's muted, unobtrusive and you can wear a watch (or smartwatch) on the other wrist without looking like a dork.

Whoop doesn't track steps and doesn't care about calorie burn. It's not even that good at tracking workouts themselves. It's lazer-focused on the effects of workouts on your body, how much you recover and the quality of your rest – and how ready you are to do it all over again.

Whoop assigns 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.

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 Starin number and a recovery percentage.

Increasingly, this kind of insight is being done by rivals such as Fitbit, and its new Daily Readiness Score and the Health Metrics Dashboard – which is essentially Whoop for normal people.

But it costs a lot. There's a $24/£24 per month subscription – contracted for a year – but you get the Whoop Strap for free.

You can pay less, with an $18/£18 per month subscription, if you sign up for 18 months – but you need to front up (an insane) £324. That's for a wearable with no screen – essentially a heart rate monitor in a black case.

The problem for Whoop is that Fitbit is now doing most of its core metrics and analysis at a fraction of the price. That makes it hard to recommend for anyone bar those immensely invested in their fitness and recovery. But there's a great wearable in here.


Best cheap fitness trackers below $50

Xiaomi Mi Band 6

Xiaomi Mi Band 6

Xiaomi Mi Band 6 key features

  • Steps, heart rate and sleep tracking
  • Blood oxygen tracking
  • 14 day battery life (7 days in testing)
  • Notifications
  • 30 workout tracking modes
  • 1.56-inch AMOLED display
  • Price: $59.99/£39.99

The Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 has now been launched, and it's one of the biggest overhauls of the budget fitness band in years. The screen size has been upped 50%, with a great-looking 1.56-inch AMOLED display now on board.

The amount of tracked sports has increased to 30, and there's now an SpO2 sensor for the tracking of blood oxygen. As well as spot checks, sleep oxygen levels are now reported alongside the full suite of sleep stages including REM. It's a hugely powerful tracker, although it still lacks GPS, which gives the Fitbit Charge 4 an advantage.

In terms of price, it's increased in the US and will go on sale for $59.99 – and this does challenge the notion of this being a top budget option when the Amazfit Band 5 is available for less.

The EU and UK price has remained the same as the Mi Band 5 at £39.99, which feels like good value.

We've fully tested the device, and while it's not a huge step up from the Mi Band 5, the bigger screen and SpO2 make it a top tracker for 2021.

Sleep tracking is a highlight with loads of data about sleep stages and sleep quality – and the SpO2 sensor is used to good effect here for calculating sleep breathing, which can be a sign of sleep apnea. However, we did feel that although sleep duration was more accurate than other budget trackers, sleep scores were calculated too generously.

Battery life is also upped to 14 days, although we found "normal use" in our testing to average about seven days, which is not too shabby.

Gripes remain about heart rate accuracy and the fiddly clasp, and the cheap strap, which makes it hard to get a snug fit and can easily be dislodged. What's more, the Mi app is difficult to navigate and doesn't offer the same analysis of health data as the likes of Fitbit or Amazfit.

But for those that have a more passing interest in their health data, the Xiaomi Mi Band offers great value – like it always has done.

Read our full Mi Band 6 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: $49.99/£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 most wristbands.

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 and 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

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: $59.99/£49.99

Although the MSRP sits above our 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. There's also a big collection of watch faces to pick from.

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.


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: $34.99/£24.99

The Realme Band debuted in India as a super budget option – and at $34.99 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/£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/£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/£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.


Best fitness tracker watches

Withings ScanWatch

Withings ScanWatch

Withings ScanWatch features

  • Automatic exercise detection and Connected GPS
  • ECG
  • Continuous heart rate monitoring
  • Dedicated run and swim tracking
  • Sleep tracking
  • 30-day battery life
  • iOS and Android
  • Price when reviewed: $329.99/£279.99

We've resisted putting the ScanWatch in our best list, since lack of FDA approval has meant that it's been prohibited from going on sale in the US – until now.

Available in 38mm and 42mm size options, the ScanWatch is built with premium stainless steel with a small AMOLED display at the top of the watch face to show off you tracking stats notifications and heart rate data.

It uses connected GPS to track outdoor activities like running, offers VO2 Max estimations and automatically recognise activities, which we found pretty reliable in our testing.
On the health front, you're getting an ECG sensor that can look for arrhythmia, so low or high heart rates. There's also an SpO2 sensor to measure blood oxygen levels and can monitor for breathing disturbances during sleep, which will be useful when it's cleared to detect signs of the disorder sleep apnea.

It's sleep tracking and heart rate features are some of the best in the business, and the ScanWatch is an amazing example of putting powerful sensors into something that's discreet and non-techy.

Data is stored and synced to the impressive Withings Health Mate app and you can up to 30 days of battery life dependent on what features you have enabled.
If you're looking for a hybrid that looks like a lovely watch and shines with its fitness tracking and innovative health features, the ScanWatch should be right up your street.

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: $199.99/£189.95

If ECG isn't top of your list then save some money and try the Steel HR Sport. 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

Apple Watch SE

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: $279.99/£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/$269 price tag means it’s not for everybody.

Read our full Apple Watch SE review.