Tech for your connected self

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

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

If you're looking for a top fitness tracker – be it a activity band, fitness watch or clip-on – there's no shortage to choose from. Fitbit, Garmin, Xiaomi, Misfit, Polar are the leaders in the game, with activity bands to suit every budget and fitness level.

And 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.

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 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 Charge 3
Fitbit Charge 3
Fitbit Alta HR - save $20
Fitbit Alta HR - save $20
Xiaomi Mi Band 3
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Xiaomi Mi Band 2 - save 50%
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What is the best fitness tracker?

Fitbit Alta HR

Best fitness tracker 2017: 12 top activity bands selected for your needs

The Fitbit Alta HR was our fitness tracker of the year at the 2017 Wareable Tech Awards, thanks to the amount of tech crammed into its slender body.

Sure, it's not the most technically complete device – and it's not waterproof – but it's still powerful. Heart rate monitoring steals the show and Fitbit really makes it count, with metrics for resting heart rate displayed alongside progress towards your daily step and sleep goals.

The heart rate monitor also allows for a deeper understanding of your sleep, with Sleep Stages offering a glimpse of deep, light and REM sleep time – and should help pick up periods of awake time too. We've found Fitbit's sleep tracking to be top of the class in our testing.

For most people, the Fitbit Alta HR is a top fitness tracker.

  • Sleep tracking
  • 24/7 heart rate monitor
  • Step tracking
  • Customisable bands
  • Smartphone notifications
  • iOS and Android

Current price: $149.95, | Amazon

Best waterproof tracker for swimming

Moov Now

Best fitness tracker 2017: 12 top activity bands selected for your needs

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 Charge 3

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

The Fitbit Charge 3 is finally here and the successor to the Charge 2 is more feature-packed than its predecessor. And it costs less too.

The Charge 3 is a total redesign of the Charge 2, 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 7 days of 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 Sleep Score Beta, which is coming to Fitbit Labs later this year.

  • Sleep Stages via heart rate
  • Sleep Insights
  • 24/7 heart rate
  • VO2 Max data and step tracking
  • SpO2 sensor
  • Guided breathing exercises
  • iOS and Android

Wareable verdict: Fitbit Charge 3 review

Current price: $149.95,

Best tracker for HIIT, Crossfit & weights

Garmin Vivosmart 4

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

We are still putting the Vivosmart 4 through its paces, but the Vivosmart 3 successor is 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

Wareable verdict: Garmin Vivosmart 3 review

Current price: $129.99, | Amazon

Best fitness tracker with heart rate

Withings Steel HR Sport

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

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 Nokia Health ecosystem is pretty robust, too, though not up to Fitbit levels. But, in short, the Nokia Steel HR is a superb fitness tracker that gets the thumbs up from Wareable. As we say, just keep in mind that this likely won't be a Nokia device for much longer, now that the company's digital health arm is shutting down.

  • 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 fitness tracker watch/hybrids

Garmin Vivomove HR

Best fitness tracker 2017: 12 top activity bands selected for your needs

Another 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 budget fitness tracker

Xiaomi Mi Band 3

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

If you're looking for more features with less of an emphasis on design, 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.

The app experience is a bit wonky sometimes, and some of your alerts might be in Chinese now and again, but if you're looking to get the most tech for the least money, this is your best bet.

Just be aware that, with the Mi Band 3 only recently going on sale in its native China, and therefore not on sale internationally just yet, it can be a little hard to get hold of.

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

Current price: $33.49, | GearBest

Misfit Ray

Best fitness tracker 2017: 12 top activity bands selected for your needs

Stylish and sleek, you can pick the Misfit Ray fitness tracker up for less than $50, making it a serious bargain.

The Misfit Ray offers steps and sleep tracking, all within Misfit's sleek and clean app, and will alert users to messages and calls from a paired smartphone. You can also add advanced swim tracking but that requires a $10 in-app purchase to make the Ray more pool-friendly.

As far as activity tracking goes, the Ray will count your steps, measure distance walked and estimate calories burned via a 3-axis accelerometer, as well as track activities such as cycling, yoga and dancing. There's no heart rate here, however, nor GPS.

  • Step and sleep tracking
  • 50m water resistance
  • Six month battery life
  • Basic notifications
  • iOS and Android

Current price: $99.95, | Amazon

Best clip-on fitness tracker

Misfit Shine 2

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

It 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 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 like the Alta HR, 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 it's 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.

  • Showerproof (now 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 2017: 12 top activity bands selected for your needs

The follow-up to 2016's Wareable Tech Awards fitness tracker of the year, 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

Best fitness tracker for yoga

Fitbit Charge 3

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

Again, while theFitbit Charge 2 is one of a few wearables that offer consistent yoga tracking, the Charge 3 is set to offer similar features at the same price.

Yoga support should work in a similar way where you have to add it to your set of exercises via the Fitbit companion app, and once you do you'll be able to accurately track your calories and heart rate during your session.

Fitbit also owns FitStar, which has evolved into Fitbit Coach and does include a host of yoga-centric workouts you can explore if you're willing to pay for the subscription service.

For something more focused, you can always have a look at the Nadi X smart yoga pants that senses how you move to make sure you're doing those moves right. If you own an Apple Watch or a Wear watch, the Pocket Yoga app is definitely worth your time, too.

  • Sleep Stages via heart rate
  • Sleep Insights
  • 24/7 heart rate
  • VO2 Max data and step tracking
  • Guided breathing exercises
  • iOS and Android

Current price: $149.95,

Best fitness tracker for women

Fitbit Alta HR

Best fitness tracker 2017: 12 top activity bands selected for your needs

Choosing a fitness tracker for smaller wrists isn't as tough as it used to be – and you no longer have to scrimp on proper health tracking to get something that isn't pig-ugly.

Instead of choosing some barely smart pedometer, we've highlighted the powerful Fitbit Alta HR as a good fit for women. It's one of the most powerful fitness trackers, with heart rate tech and a small screen as standard, all packed into a slim band.

But it's the effort that Fitbit has made to customise the Alta HR, which we really like. A host of bands, clasps and designs make it a real looker, and it's easy to switch bands for something less sporty. Naturally, ignore black plastic and choose the metal or leather bands for a style boost – and check out the huge array of third party Alta HR bands to save yourself some cash.

  • Huge array of official and non-official straps
  • Step, sleep tracking
  • 24/7 heart rate
  • Resting heart rate
  • iOS and Android

Current price: $129.95, | Amazon


  • synergy1 says:

    Fitbit's software does not support me accessing their software if I'm using a VPN.  Before I buy again I need to know if that functionality exists and where.



  • rdlindg says:

    Don't know anything about these monitors. All I need is "step counting" and want it to be waterproof. Need suggestions on what brand/style would be adequate.

    • j.stables says:

      Fitbit Flex 2

  • MicheleKayJones says:

    I need a tracker/watch that works for laps in the pool as well as counting steps.  I don't need GPS, but want something that really works with as long as possible battery life. Heart rate monitoring can be an option but not required.  What is your recommendation?

  • Kkar says:

    What about Polar A360? 

    It seems to be also a good choice, have anybody comments or experience if comparing to those others?

    • j.stables says:

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

  • davidbaskey says:

    How about a band which is not only a fitness tracker.....but a Health Monitoring device?

    There is a Band which captures real time the following: Blood Pressure ECG/EKG Breath Rate Heart Rate Distance covered, steps taken, calories burnt, sleep analysis (as existing in any other band in the world) Remote Monitoring [ This band helps one remotely track the vital stats of even the loved ones. Also, this sends notification to guardians incase any vitals go beyond normal level - life saving feature] Panic Button - This functionality helps send SOS message to loved ones and guardians incase of any danger or life threatening situation with GPS coordinates. Future updates that will be available on the same device will be

    Blood Sugar Blood Alcohol Blood Oxygen Body Temperature Mosquito Repellent With all these features, which are available in NO OTHER Band in the entire world, makes this the BAND OF THE FUTURE!!

    Do we have a taker??

  • PeteyD says:

    The best "Fitness Device" I have bought recently does not actually track anything. It was the FX-Sport VRX headphones [on the ear style]. They have an integtrated 8GB mp3 player [sound is great] and arrive preloaded with hundreds of workouts in all sorts of categories. I mean there are workouts for everything and lots of them. Even multi-week running programs. They also have real trainers on there [male and female] talking you through any workout you choose. You can still listen to your own music as the workout instructions play over your own tunes. No wires, no need for my phone and I am getting pushed by a real trainer. I have never trained better or harder.

  • thebounder says:

    As a lot of folks here i really like the FITBIT bands ... but have had NOTHING but issues with them .... the fact that their customer service replaces them easily enough does not warrant my shelling out $150 a time for something that doesn't last 4 months .. the Garmin looks viable ... why o why o why don't APPLE make a simple wearable without all the fancy watch functions .. i would be there in a moment 

    • Creepy says:

      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.

  • Floyd says:

    I'm 65 and retired, I have set a goal  for myself in January,  bot a fitbot flex and so far I've lost 33 pounds only 90 pounds to go. I'm thinking of up grading to the fit bit charge 2.But I started reading about the garmin voviomin (not sure of spelling) I'm not sure witch display application would work best I really like the fit bit app. I keep track of every thing good intake,water,steps calories etc. And have friends on fit bit. If I switch to garmin and I transfer all my information or lose it. 

  • Wolfattwilight says:

    Which tracker is best for heavy duty training and day to day? i work at an engineering company and have had bad luck when it comes to trackers, they always break or crack or gets damaged somehow. 

  • PornchaiChantha says:

    Wearables have become such a cultural norm that it seems as if people have them just to have them. I know heart-rate is important to know, but I really don't think half of people who purchase wearables did so for the heart-rate updates. 

    I think the development of wearables could have more influence on cultural norms, future of fashion then fitness and health. Thoughts?

  • munirkiron says:

    Excellent article James. However, I am using the Moov Now, it seems oka for my two mont experiences. 

    • j.stables says:

      Thank you! We love Moov in the Wareable office

      • temper says:

        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 ( 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.

  • MP05 says:

    I've think the garmin vivosport is by far the most advanced tracker in the lightest, smallest package. The one criticism people make about it, is the small size of the screen, but in reality it is very clear even in really bright sunlight. 

  • geefore says:

    Hi! I am looking for a fitness tracker, basically for 24/7. I don't want one that look like a watch, and want it to has heart rate monitor, sleep monitor and vibration wake up alarm, workout tracking, waterproof and for iOS. GPS is not essential but don't mind including. Is there any model you would suggest? Most models seem to have one feature and miss another.

    • j.stables says:

      Gear Fit2 Pro fits the specs, also Garmin Vivosmart 3 looks a good shout also.

  • Ianps22 says:


    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...


    • j.stables says:

      We're working on it, bear with us

  • vasanthi says:

    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 says:

      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.

  • Amity says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

      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.

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