Best Fitness Tracker Guide 2020 : 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 a activity band, fitness watch or a clip-on tracker – there’s no shortage to choose from. Fitbit, Garmin, Xiaomi, Misfit, Polar are the leaders in the game, with 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 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.



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. And it’s still our go-to pick if you want the best.

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, Garmin, Xiaomi 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


Current price: $149.95, Amazon



Best tracker for HIIT, Crossfit & weights

Garmin Vivosmart 4





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


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

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

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

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

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


Current price: $129.99, Amazon



Best fitness tracker 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/hybrid

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 Xiaomi Mi Band 3 NFC edition is though only available in China.

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, Amazon







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





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

Yoga support works 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, Amazon



Best fitness tracker for women

Fitbit Alta HR





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




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