As exercise-oriented wearables, fitness trackers can measure your heart rate, read your blood oxygen levels, accompany you swimming and tell you if you’re well-rested. Some models even offer on-the-spot ECG readings and can monitor how much time you spend in deep or REM sleep.
- 1 How to choose the best fitness tracker for you
- 2 What do fitness trackers do best?
- 3 When to get a smartwatch instead
- 4 How we test the best fitness trackers
- 5 Can fitness trackers measure blood pressure?
- 6 Why do you need a fitness tracker?
- 7 What makes a good fitness tracker?
- 8 What is better than a Fitbit?
- 9 Is Garmin better than Fitbit?
- 10 How long do fitness tracker batteries last?
- 11 How much does an activity tracker cost?
No matter what your needs are, there’s never been a better time to find a powerful, sophisticated tool that can help you optimize your workouts or jump-start your routine. We’ve tested dozens over the years to bring you these picks.
The best fitness trackers we’ve tested can help you hit your health and fitness goals, get more sleep and track your overall wellbeing, all from your wrist. They can even monitor your progress and provide detailed insights and guidance on how you’re doing or changes you could make.
The 10 Best Fitness Trackers of 2023: Our recommendations
|Best budget fitness tracker||Fitbit Charge 5 Advanced Fitness & Health Tracker||View on Amazon|
|Best fitness tracker for weight loss||Fitbit Sense Advanced Smartwatch||View on Amazon|
|Best fitness tracker for running||Fitbit Versa 3 Health & Fitness Smartwatch||View on Amazon|
|Best fitness tracker with heart rate monitor||Fitbit Charge 5||View on Amazon|
|Best fitness tracker for sleep||Fitbit Sense||View on Amazon|
|Best fitness tracker for swimming||Garmin Forerunner 255||View on Amazon|
|Best fitness tracker with oxygen monitor||Xiaomi Mi Band 6 – Best value||View on Amazon|
|Best All-Around||HUAWEI Sport Bracelet||View on Amazon|
|Runner-Up||Docooler Honor Band 5||View on Amazon|
|Best fitness tracker for recovery||Fitbit Inspire 2 Health & Fitness Tracker||View on Amazon|
- Long battery life
- Comprehensive fitness/health features
- Proactive stress management with cEDA
- No third party apps
Even as Fitbit has faced stiff competition from other manufacturers—most notably, the Apple Watch—its trackers have always won me over. They hit a very specific sweet spot between attractiveness, affordability, accessibility, and ease of use. They’re perfect for everyone who isn’t an ultra-marathoner or a semipro powerlifter trying to hit a PR.
The Charge line has consistently reached the top of our rankings, and the Charge 5 (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is no exception. Last year’s iteration introduced softer lines, a bright AMOLED screen, and almost every sensor you could want, from stress scans to electrocardiograms. Like the Apple Watch does with iPhones, the Charge 5 fast-pairs to Android phones and has both onboard and connected GPS so you can track outdoor workouts without a hitch. It also now has an FDA-cleared feature to detect atrial fibrillation, via Fitbit’s new Heart Rhythm Notifications feature. The major downside is that you do still have to pay $10 per month, or $80 per year, for a Fitbit Premium subscription to access most of Fitbit’s best features. Fitbit is also now owned by Google, which might deter you. All in all, the hardware is still less expensive and easier to use than others on this list.
2. Fitbit Sense2 Advanced Smartwatch
- Long battery life
- Comprehensive fitness/health features
- Proactive stress management with cEDA
- No third party apps
The Fitbit Sense 2 is the company’s top-shelf smartwatch that comes with more advanced health and wellness features that the Versa line. During our testing, we found that the Fitbit Sense 2 helped us gain a better overall view of our overall health.
Compared to the original Fitbit Sense, the Sense 2 features an upgraded design, interface and EDA sensor, making for Fitbit’s most holistic smartwatch yet. An update to the stress-detecting EDA (electrodermal activity) sensor plays a large role in the device’s success: now called cEDA (‘c’ for continuous,) the sensor monitors stress levels or heightened responses throughout the day, prompting the user to take action on mood monitoring with Body Response notifications.
As one of the best fitness trackers, the Sense 2 works with both iOS and Android, and comes with on-board GPS, a native app store, Alexa and more. No longer is Fitbit just a brand with products for tracking our steps: Fitbit devices like the Fitbit Sense 2 make for excellent smartwatches, too.
3. Fitbit Versa 3 Health & Fitness Smartwatch
- Multi-day battery life
- Nicely animated interface
- More distinct design that most
- Requires Premium monthly membership to access extra features
- Issues with HR and altimeter accuracy
- No music or third party apps
If you want a Fitbit that’s similar to the Apple Watch, the Versa 4 has a ton of the same features. It can track heart rate, temperature, blood oxygen level (spO2), as well as the usual steps and calories, but it’s half the price of an Apple Watch Series 8. In fact you could put the money you save toward a Fitbit Premium membership ($9.99/£7.99pm), which opens up access to loads of extra content and features.
One thing Fitbit is really good at is sleep tracking, and the Versa is no exception. You can monitor your sleep patterns through the night and the spO2 sensor will measure your blood oxygen levels so you can track the data when you wake up (although bear in mind some of the stats can only be accessed if you have a Premium subscription).
As you’d expect, the fitness tracker syncs with your smartphone (iOS or Android) and can receive notifications from any app on your phone. You can also talk to Amazon Alexa through a Versa 4, by long-pressing the side button. This works fairly well, but if your phone isn’t nearby, and connected over Bluetooth, Alexa won’t work.Fitness tracking performance is not top-tier, but probably fine for more casual use. Battery life is in step with this style too. We found it can last an estimated 6.2 days with around 45 minutes to 1 hour of GPS tracked exercise every other day.
The Fitbit Charge 5—the newest version of our long-running picks from Fitbit’s Charge series—is our top recommendation for daily activity tracking thanks to its relative ease of use, sufficient accuracy, and intuitive app. In our tests, it automatically and accurately detected activities (such as walking versus running). Its step-count accuracy ranked near the top of all the trackers we’ve tested, and it fared well when measuring distances and heart rates. Fitbit’s basic app was also the easiest to navigate, and one of the most useful. The Charge 5 tracks sleep solidly, too, managing to collect data from naps of at least an hour in duration (not all trackers do) in addition to longer stretches of z’s.
The color display is vivid and clear, even in glaring sunlight. (Fitbit says it’s twice as bright as the Charge 4’s grayscale screen.) You can choose from three brightness levels: dim, normal, and max. The touchscreen is responsive and fairly intuitive to use, allowing you to scroll through menus and make adjustments quickly and easily on the device itself (there’s a lot to negotiate, though—more on that later). The Charge 5 has an optional always-on display, which can be toggled on or off within various workout modes and in the settings. We recommend it for workouts. But while convenient, it will drain the battery life.
Like the Apple Watch, the Fitbit Versa syncs with your phone and can support other apps including Amazon Alexa. Corey Lewis, personal trainer and co-founder of the digital wellness platform 1AND1 Life, wears his Versa for a range of activities including hiking, yoga, bike riding, and weightlifting. He likes how the Fitbit community — much like Peloton’s, in which users can post achievements and network with other members — motivates him to train harder. Fitbit provides a leaderboard with challenges, awards, and the ability to set personal goals. Personal trainer Sean Alexander, founder of Simple Approach, uses his Versa for lifting weights, swimming, tennis, and hot yoga. “One of my personal favorite features is the built-in HIIT timer that allows me to preset intervals for ‘resting’ and ‘working’ times before my workout, and then it will automatically start a timer for my active and rest moments at the push of a button,” he says. It’s much cheaper than an Apple Watch, so it’s a good one to try if you’re just dipping your toes into the world of fitness trackers.
Garmin’s Forerunner line has long been the best GPS-enabled fitness tracker for runners, and the midrange Forerunner 255 (8/10, WIRED Recommends) offers an incredible value for the number of features it offers in Garmin’s lineup.
Do you want a feature? It probably has it, like multiband GPS support and a barometric altimeter, a compass, improved sleep tracking, and Bluetooth compatibility with a number of heart rate monitors. The battery life is incredible—reviewer Scott Gilbertson estimates it at about 30 hours of continuous use—and you can extend the battery life even further by turning off features like continuous Pulse Ox measuring. He especially liked the new Morning Report, which includes Body Battery as well as a daily greeting, the weather, and other tidbits, much like what Apple offers.
It’s also worth noting here that the Forerunner line is quite extensive and meets a variety of needs. A beginning runner or triathlete will probably be happy with the cheaper and more basic Forerunner 35 ($170), while the experienced triathlete will want the Forerunner 945 ($600). Older models also retain their value and go on sale all the time.
7. Xiaomi Mi Band 6 – Best value
- Good battery
- Solid performance
- Colour display
- Strap build quality
- Sluggish raise-to-wake
- Unreliable syncing
The latest addition to Xiaomi’s rapidly expanding line of excellent fitness trackers, the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 is super affordable and packed with many features you’d expect to find on a much more expensive device.
Not only does it monitor steps, heart rate, and workouts, but it also offers a pulse oximeter for tracking blood oxygen saturation, plus all-day stress tracking. This is measured by monitoring heart rate variability, which is less sophisticated than the EDA scanning used by the Fitbit Charge 5 but still works well for monitoring trends.
The display is super bright, and in our tests, we found it very responsive to even the lightest of touches. If you sometimes struggle to make your data on small screens, the OLED technology used here makes a world of difference.
It’s a shame there’s no onboard GPS for tracking runs, walks and bike rides. Like many budget-friendly fitness trackers, it piggybacks on your phone’s positioning system, but it means you can’t leave your handset at home when working out. Otherwise, this is one of the best fitness trackers around if you’re looking for something slim and light.
8.HUAWEI Sport Bracelet
- Two-week battery life
- Good looking color screen
- GPS can be slow to lock
- No breathing exercises
The HUAWEI Sport Bracelet is a fitness tracker that is designed to help you stay active and healthy. It has a large, easy-to-read display that shows your daily activity, including steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, and more.
The Sport Bracelet also has a built-in heart rate monitor and sleep tracking, allowing you to monitor your physical and emotional well-being.The tracker is water-resistant and has a long-lasting battery, making it a convenient and reliable device for tracking your fitness. Overall, the HUAWEI Sport Bracelet is a versatile and affordable fitness tracker that can help you stay on track with your fitness goals.
9.Docooler Honor Band 5
- Accurate sleep tracking
- Cheaper than a Fitbit
- Notifications temperamental
- Screen sometimes unresponsive
The Docooler Honor Band 5 is a fitness tracker that is designed to help you stay active and healthy. It has a large, easy-to-read display that shows your daily activity, including steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, and more.
The Honor Band 5 also has a built-in heart rate monitor and sleep tracking, allowing you to monitor your physical and emotional well-being. In addition, the tracker is water-resistant and has a long-lasting battery, making it a convenient and reliable device for tracking your fitness.The Docooler Honor Band 5 is a versatile and affordable fitness tracker that can help you stay on track with your fitness goals.
10.Fitbit Inspire 2 Health & Fitness Tracker
- Sleek design
- Particularly easy to use
- Over a week battery life
- No onboard GPS
- Monochrome display
The Fitbit Inspire 2 has a slimmer profile than the Fitbit Charge 5. Its touchscreen display is bright and vibrant, though not color (the Charge 5’s is). The Inspire 2 does not have built-in GPS (which the Charge 5 does); it measures pace and distance on a walk or a run when connected to your phone’s GPS—meaning you’ll need your phone with you. Though we found the Inspire 2 to be less precise when recording all-day step counts, it performed solidly in our heart-rate tests. It has guided, on-wrist breathing sessions, which the Charge 5 doesn’t. Like the Charge 5, this Fitbit model offers about 20 goal-based exercise modes, and it tracks sleep stages (though alarms are programmable only in the app; with the Charge 5, you can set alarms on the device). You can wear the Inspire 2 on your wrist or on your clothes with a clip (sold separately).
How to choose the best fitness tracker for you
When buying a fitness tracker, you should first evaluate your needs. What do you want to track? If you’re only using it at the gym to count your steps and your heart rate, a simpler, less expensive fitness tracker will suit you fine.
If, however, you plan to do more outdoor activities, such as running or biking, you may want a fitness tracker with built-in GPS, so you can more accurately see where you’re going, and where you went. Dedicated runners and athletes will want to check out our best GPS watches page, too.If you plan to use the fitness tracker for swimming, you’ll want to make sure it’s not only waterproof, but that it can also track your laps in the pool.
Many of the best smartwatches have fitness-tracking capabilities, too, and have additional features such as responding to text messages and paying for purchases. But there are trade-offs. However, smartwatches as a whole tend to be more expensive and have shorter battery life than dedicated fitness trackers.
What do fitness trackers do best?
The answer seems simple: Fitness trackers are best at monitoring exercise, be it a 10-minute walk around the block or that half marathon you’ve been diligently training for. Obviously, smartwatches can help you reach your fitness goals too, but there are some areas where fitness bands have the upper hand: focus, design, battery life and price.
When I say “focus,” I’m alluding to the fact that fitness trackers are made to track activity well; anything else is extra. They often don’t have the bells and whistles that smartwatches do, which could distract from their health tracking abilities. They also tend to have fewer sensors and internal components, which keeps them smaller and lighter. Fitness trackers are also a better option for those who just want a less conspicuous device on their wrists all day.
Battery life tends to be better on fitness trackers, too. While most smartwatches last one to two days on a single charge, fitness bands offer between five and seven days of battery life — and that’s with all-day and all-night use even with sleep tracking features enabled
When it comes to price, there’s no competition. Most worthwhile smartwatches start at $175 to $200, but you can get a solid fitness tracker starting at $70. Yes, more expensive bands exist (and we recommend a few here), but you’ll find more options under $150 in the fitness tracker space than in the smartwatch space.
When to get a smartwatch instead
If you need a bit more from your wearable, you’ll likely want a smartwatch instead. There are things like on-watch apps, alerts and even more robust fitness features that smartwatches have and the best fitness trackers don’t. You can use one to control smart home appliances, set timers and reminders, check weather reports and more. Some smartwatches let you choose which apps you want to receive alerts from, and the options go beyond just call and text notifications.
But the extra fitness features are arguably the most important thing to think about when deciding between a fitness tracker and a smartwatch. The latter devices tend to be larger, giving them more space for things like GPS, barometers, onboard music storage and more. While you can find built-in GPS on select fitness trackers, it’s not common.
How we test the best fitness trackers
For each new fitness tracker, we evaluate its hardware design and comfort; you need to be able to wear the device all day, and we’ve found that some larger trackers don’t fit well on smaller wrists. If the device has a touchscreen, we look to see how readable it is, especially in bright sunlight. We also examine how easy it is to navigate the fitness trackers’ menus; you don’t want to have to dig through multiple screens to change your music if you’re out running.
We also evaluate features such as step counting and sleep monitoring, distance calculations and when applicable, GPS and heart rate accuracy. And, we see how well a manufacturer’s battery life claims hold up in real-world testing.
Finally, we test how well a device pairs with its companion app, and evaluate the experience of using the two together. We also look to see what features the device’s app supports, such as coaching and diet tracking, and if it can sync data with third-party apps, such as MyFitnessPal.
Best Fitness Tracker Selection Guide for 2023
Can fitness trackers measure blood pressure?
Right now there’s only one mainstream consumer wearable that has true standalone blood pressure monitoring, the Huawei Watch D. And it is not widely available. Samsung has offered blood pressure readings in its top watches since 2020’s Galaxy Watch 3. However, the feature is only unlocked in certain countries/markets, and is much more limited than the Huawei Watch D’s version.
Where the Huawei Watch D adopts the method used by blood pressure cuffs with a specialist strap that inflates, the Galaxy Watch uses the heart rate reader on the back to evaluate pulse transit time. Fitbit(opens in new tab) is researching a similar method, using pulse arrival time. However, such methods that do not demand bespoke hardware do need to be regularly recalibrated using a traditional blood pressure cuff. Samsung says results should be taken with one every four weeks, for example.
Rumors of a blood pressure feature for Apple Watches have circulated for a while, but the latest report suggests we won’t see it released until 2024. However, you can use an Apple Watch to log blood pressure readings taken elsewhere, in the Apple Health app. Apple sells Withings’s BPM Connect smart blood pressure cuff at the Apple Store.
How do I connect my fitness tracker to my phone?
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do you need a fitness tracker?
It can be tough to break old habits and develop new ones, and a fitness tracker can help give you the encouragement you need. Tracking the number of steps you take each day and aiming for a particular target might be simple, but it can push you to make simple changes (like getting off the bus a stop earlier, or walking short distances rather than driving), which can add up to make a significant difference over time.
What makes a good fitness tracker?
A good fitness tracker is one that you’ll wear every day and will help you build up a complete picture of your health. With that knowledge, you can start to make small tweaks that will help you sleep better, lower your resting heart rate, improve your fitness, and generally feel better.
What is better than a Fitbit?
Any modern Apple Watch. If you own an iPhone, one of your best bets for a Fitbit alternative is an Apple Watch. Although the Apple Watch is a full-fledged smartwatch rather than a dedicated fitness tracker like a Fitbit, it’s hard to argue against getting one.
Is Garmin better than Fitbit?
Garmin: The Verdict. These two brands will have something to suit your needs. Fitbit is a great health tool, while Garmin offers products with advanced fitness features. Garmin trackers have a traditional watch look, whereas Fitbit trackers are more sleek and discreet.
How long do fitness tracker batteries last?
You can choose from trackers with replaceable batteries that last for up to 18 months like the Withings Move or rechargeable batteries, such as the one in the Withings Steel HR Sport, that can last up to 25 days.
How much does an activity tracker cost?
For most people, the sweet spot is in the $150 to $350 range. Trackers under $250 have gotten a lot more advanced in the past few years as well. The Fitbit Versa 3 retails for $229.95, but you can often find it on sale for less.