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

Eat, sleep, walk, repeat with these top activity bands

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Hot fitness tracker deals

Fitbit Inspire HR
Fitbit Inspire HR
Amazon
$99.95
Garmin Vivofit 3 - save $23
Garmin Vivofit 3 - save $23
Amazon
$56.25
Xiaomi Mi Band 3
Xiaomi Mi Band 3
Amazon
$31.98
Fitbit Ace - save $20
Fitbit Ace - save $20
Amazon
$79

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 | fitbit.com

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 | moov.cc

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 | fitbit.com

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 | withings.com

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 | garmin.com

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 | garmin.com

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.

Misfit doesn't sell the Shine 2 from is own site anymore, but there are plenty of other retailers that will still let you clip this tracker on.

  • 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 | misfit.com


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 | fitbit.com

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 | garmin.com


Hot fitness tracker deals

Fitbit Inspire HR
Fitbit Inspire HR
Amazon
$99.95
Garmin Vivofit 3 - save $23
Garmin Vivofit 3 - save $23
Amazon
$56.25
Xiaomi Mi Band 3
Xiaomi Mi Band 3
Amazon
$31.98
Fitbit Ace - save $20
Fitbit Ace - save $20
Amazon
$79


What do you think?

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15 comments

  • Ianps22·

    Hi,

    Has any review been made with the Huami Amazfit Cor? The price is great ($50), but I just don't know how reliable the swimming tracking is...

    Thanks!

    • j.stables·

      We're working on it, bear with us

  • j.stables·

    It's a big bulky band and no GPS on a Polar is a bit silly.

  • j.stables·

    Fitbit Flex 2

  • temper·

    i have to disagree in parts for the moov now (using it for about 3 years). While it does a nice job in swim tracking, has a good price, great battery life and collects nice data there is a big downside - in fact in my opinion moov got worse over time.But still - in that price range i am not sure about an alternative that offers similar. Anyways: critic - go:

    For tracking only and watching it afterwards in the app its fine - but it has some flaws and misses some essentials.

    What i mean by that?

    a) The app can only use the internal memory - no sd card or similar - so each workout it gets bigger and you can only delete workouts to go against that. Depending on your phone this can suck

    b) you can't export shit part 1: Only the most recent workout is automatically synced (for an unknown time period) after you finished. If that doesn't work - you're screwed. No possibility to sync per hand when that fails.

    c) you can't export shit part 2: You can only sync distance, time, gpx data for biking and running, for swimming only distance and time is synced.

    None of the other data of the so called coach is available outside your small mobile screen.

    They offer their own heart rate solution. Export or sync that data? Not possible.

    d) Speaking of smart coach and their new and shiny heart rate tracker. Ever driven up a hill in first gear with your heart rate maxing? Smart Coach still tells you to "shift to an easier gear". Fucking wannabe smart that is.

    e) Customer support. Another thing i am looking for when buying a new wearable i learned here: do they have a forum for feedback/discussion with other users?

    Moov had one (uservoice)- but killed it from one day to the other - replacing it with a simple answer collection. No discussion possible there. Sucks. Polar did something similar btw (forum.polar.fi). While its ok to say "we got no manpower to give support" - a feedback possibility and to exchange with other users is essential for me. Why drop the chance of feedback and community support? Dumb.

    f) updates: it seems to get buggier with each update. If you look at the blog - they now are all-so-happy to announce the app in other languages then english.

    Worst. Translation. Ever.

    I can only speak for my language - but

    3. there are several typos in the app. This is so bad that it for sure has for sure never seen the eye of a native speaker or anyone nearly able to understand it.

    2. when doing a workout the stats moov tells you every km/mile sounds something alone the lines of: "can't find underline stats error underline. You error error this error underline...".

    So mainly: not usable during the workout. Its like that for the last 2 updates now (and yes i gave them feedback - which leads to my top 1).

    1. The language change is not optional and can't be changed in the settings. So the workaround i got as reply to my feedback was:" you have to change your language in your phone settings." So we'll just change our entire phone language because a single app has a shitty translation? Sounds about right.

    I get why the the wareble office can love that thing - but it's more like hate love - and no understanding for a lot of decisions of the guys behind the moov.

    BTW - you should open a forum here ;) - so people can discuss their experience with trackers, watches etc.

    When looking for a buy you mostly don't see stuff like "is there a discussion/feedback/support forum available", "do they listen to user feedback", how updates are handled, if you can export your data etc.

  • vasanthi·

    Can anyone please suggest models that, in addition to tracking steps, heartrate etc can also show time; in short a fitness tracker cum watch ?

    • c.allison·

      Hi Vasanthi. Fitness trackers like the Fitbit Alta HR, Fitbit Charge 2 and Garmin Vivosport will all track your steps and heart rate, as well as give you the time. If you're looking for more of a watch-style design that can still track heart rate and steps, we'd recommend checking out the Nokia Steel HR.

  • Creepy·

    My Charge 2 fails to maintain a charge after 18 months of use. The best Fitbit can do is offer me 25% off on a new one. Their customer support has gone downhill.

  • Amity·

    I have a Fitbit Charge 2 HR, and haven't had any problems with it. I've had it over 18 months.
    My question is this, my husband works in heavy equipment for 12.5 hours. He wants a fitness tracker, but doesn't want the bumpiness to track as steps. He wants to track his heart rate and his sleep, and will start going to the gym and wants to track that too. Is there a best option for his situation?

  • fb_1859756817·

    There are many feature rich smart bands from likes of Xiaomi and Honor with less than 1/3rd of the prices of above mentioned bands. They are stylish, durable and budget friendly. I bought Honor band 3 ($ 32.55) which includes 24*7 hr monitor, sleep, step detector, alarm, notifications and reading, caller ID and rejection, swimming, cycling, work out plans, fitness analysis, gps connection to smart phone, and more...... Then why spend that much amount for smart bands of Fitbit and Gramins!!!...

    • Maraudermick·

      Yeah, I agree!

      Had a fitbit once; never did work!. POS. Wasted $100. on it, plus months trying to get it to work.

      Thanks for the Honor band 3 info. I'll check it out.

  • MewMew·

    What would be your suggestion for a vibrating tracker? I need a watch or tracker that I can set a timer on easily and quickly multiple times a day. We use timers at my job all day to time patients and I am hard of hearing and cannot hear the beeping of the kitchen timers they use. I will end up wearing the kitchen timer anyways so I might as well wear a tracker or watch.

    Thanks!

  • annajolie·

    I'm very interested in fitness tracker. I used to read on techwhiff. Now, I want to choose a fitnness tracker. I find information are interesting and useful.

  • annajolie·

    I found Fitbit Versa's review on techwhiff and I found that Fitbit Versa provides users with applications that have detailed sleep functions. That is one of the advantages of the Fitbit Versa. This app will be great if the actual hardware will track and sync properly.

  • wBoop·

    Dear Editor/Writer.

    Are you guys being paid to review the Fitbit Charge 3? How can every major site give it flawless reviews when it's accuracy when it comes to HR, Steptracking and Calorie tracking is highly inaccurate? Do you just assume that the stats shown on the tracker is accurate and base the review of the features? I was gonna buy a Fitbit Charge 3, but after reading a dozen threads it is clear that none of the things it is surpose to track is accurate.