Fitness trackers are still existent, complete with their purpose of tracking your fitness activity, but they have been losing ground to the smartwatch wearable.
However, while smartwatches contain more than just fitness trackers, like apps, notifications, and notifications, smartwatches are often more distracting compared to the fitness tracker.
Nevertheless, if you're interested in a fitness tracker, then you should be aware that there are plenty of options to choose from, such as the Garmin Vivofit, Fitbit Charge, Samsung Gear Fit2, Fitbit Flex 2, and Jawbone Up3, each with their own features that are suitable for you.
In This Guide
The Best Activity Trackers: Our Top Picks
I'm here to compare fitness trackers, so here are the top fitness trackers, which have been determined based on the price and features.
Garmin Vivofit Review
- 24/7 wearable and water resistant
- Goal Setting feature to plan out your activities
- Relatively inexpensive
- No heart rate monitor
Garmin Vivofit 2 Features
The Garmin Vivofit comes in a variety of types, including the Garmin Vivofit 2, the Garmin Vivofit 3, the Garmin Vivosmart HR Activity Tracker, the Garmin Vivofit Fitness Band, the Garmin Vivoactive Black, and more.
I recommend Amazon's Choice, the Garmin Vivofit 2, which sports the following features for a relatively inexpensive price:
- The Move Bar, which motivates you to stay active throughout the day. This particular Garmin fitness watch will flash a red move bar after just one hour of inactivity, though additional segments will light up after every 15 minutes of inactivity. To remove the light, simply walk around for a couple of minutes.
- 24/7 Wearable, meaning that this wristband can be worn 24/7, even in water, as it is water resistant.
- Goal Setting, as in Vivofit will understand and "learn" your activity level and will thus assign you with a personalized goal every morning.
- Sleep Monitor, meaning that your Garmin sport watch will also keep track of your sleeping habits if you set the sleep mode before you go to bed.
You can also choose between one of four colors - black, red, purple and black, and slate - to stylize your Garmin fitness tracker. However, if you're looking for a Garmin heart rate monitor, you will not be able to find it in this particular Garmin Vivofit fitness band - you should instead consider the Garmin Vivofit 2 Activity Band, the Garmin Vivosmart HR activity tracker, or a similar tracker.
The original Garmin Vivofit fitness band, however, will measure the time, date, steps taken, goal in steps, miles taken (to the second decimal place), and calories burned, so the product can be seen as either a Garmin calorie counter or a Garmin step tracker.
Many have raved over the Garmin Vivofit, touting the product as a superior product over the Fitbit in every way. It's simple, capable of being paired with diet and exercise, and best of all, when it comes to the Garmin Vivofit battery, you won't have to charge the battery for a long time (talking over a year with heavy use). You will have no syncing issues with the Vivofit app either.
Overall, there is a good reason as to why it is dubbed the best wearable fitness tracker.
Samsung GearFit 2 Review
- Measures heart rate, step count, calories burned, and more
- Built-in GPS
- Receive and respond to notifications, texts, and calls
- Support varies by cell phone carrier
- More expensive than the other options
Samsung Gear Fit2 Features
Samsung sports its own fitness watch, in the form of Samsung Gear Fit2. The Gear Fit2 is a fitness band that centers on physical activity.
This Samsung Gear Fit2 comes equipped with a plethora of features to satisfy you, all for a relatively decent price. What features? Well:
- The Samsung Gear Fit2 measures your step count, calories burned, heart rate, sleep quality, and more.
- The Samsung Gear Fit Watch maps your activity quite accurately thanks to the built-in GPS. Furthermore, there is an auto-tracking feature, which will recognize and begin to track multiple exercises whenever you move.
- This Samsung Activity Tracker will allow you to receive and respond to notifications, calls, and texts directly from your wrist.
- Best of all, you can store your favorite music or even connect to Spotify to stream music.
- Is the Samsung Gear Fit 2 waterproof? Well, it is not waterproof but instead water-resistant.
This Samsung fitness watch is compatible with both Android and iOS smartphones. However, the Samsung Gear Fit2 is only compatible with certain Bluetooth capable devices that are using at least Android OS 4.4 with at least 1.5GB of RAM or the iPhone 5 with iOS 9.0 or later.
Additionally, Gear Fit2 supported devices may actually vary by the carrier and the device. For the best results, you should connect the Gear Fit2 to Samsung Galaxy smartphones.
If you're looking for a health tracker with a lot of features, including music storage, and want a Samsung fitness watch that can easily couple with a number of partner apps such as Nike+ and S Health, then you should definitely consider purchasing this Samsung activity tracker.
Fitbit Charge 2 Review
- One of the most popular activity tracker brands
- Syncs wirelessly to tablets, computers, and other devices
- Battery life of 7-10 days with a 2 hour charge time
- Water resistant
- Not swim-proof
- Some customers say the band is of poor quality
Fitbit Charge 2 Features
Fitbit is a mighty popular fitness tracker, having supplied many trackers to the public. However, one of the company's most popular Fitbit bands is the Fitbit Charge 2, which falls just behind the Vivofit. There are several types of the Fitbit Charge available, including the original Fitbit Charge, and the Fitbit Charge HR.
The Fitbit Charge band syncs automatically and wirelessly to tablets, computers and over 150 of iOS, Android, and Windows Smartphones that utilize the Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology. The syncing range is also 20 feet, and you will even receive call notifications.
This Fitbit fitness tracker has also been tested to resist up to 1 ATM, meaning that it can withstand water pressures that are equivalent to a depth of 10 meters. In other words, it's sweat, rain, and splash proof. However, the device is not swim-proof, and it's also best to take the this Fitbit Charge activity tracker off before you shower.
In regards to this particular type of Fitbit watch, the charge time for this Fitbit wireless activity tracker is one to two hours, which grants you with a battery life of seven to ten days, meaning that the battery is consumed much faster compared to the Garmin Vivofit.
The Fitbit Charge activity wristband measures your steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, floors climbed, and active minutes. Not only that, but you'll keep track of your activity with real-time fitness stats and Caller ID. Furthermore, these Fitbit Charge bands will automatically monitor your sleep and you'll be able to set a silent, vibrating alarm.
Of course, if you're looking for a heart monitor feature, then the Fitbit Charge 2 does the job.
Unfortunately, the original Fitbit Charge bands may fall apart within a year, according to some reviews. If that is the case, you should consider opting into the Fitbit Charge HR, which is just a few dollars more and features a wristband that is similar to a watch band.
Overall, the Fitbit Charge 2 is accurate, featuring a bright display, a silent alarm and a double tap function so you can access more data and important information. Best of all, you may not even notice its existence on your wrist, and you will feel a great sense of satisfaction with the tracker.
Fitbit Flex 2 Review
- Can be attached to wrists, pendants, and bangles
- Swim-proof design
- Receive call and text notifications
- SmartTrack function
- Short battery life
- No heart rate monitor
Fitbit Flex 2 Features
The Fitbit Flex 2 comes in a variety of colors, including navy, black, lavender, and magenta. This Fitbit Flex comes with a variety of features:
- The Fitbit Flex 2 tracks the number of texts, the distance, the calories burned and active minutes.
- In terms of design, this Fitbit wireless activity tracker sports an ultra-thin wristband design. Furthermore, it is also removable, capable of being attached to bands, pendants, and bangles.
- What also makes this type of Fitbit watch stand out from the crowd is its swim-proof abilities. You can wear this Fitbit activity tracker in not only the pool but also in the shower, the ocean, and other watery areas.
- This Fitbit Flex wristband features SmartTrack, which automatically recognizes certain workouts and records them directly to your Fitbit Flex app.
- Furthermore, this Fitbit Flex bracelet features call and text notifications on your wrist, complete with unique vibration patterns and color-coded LED lights.
- The Fitbit Flex sleep mode is automatic, meaning that your Fitbit Flex will track how long and how well you sleep. Not only that, but you can set a silent alarm, which will wake you with a small vibration.
- You can keep track of your daily goal progress thanks to the LED display lights. You'll also receive reminders to move as well.
- The Fitbit Flex battery life is also short, much shorter compared to the aforementioned fitness activity trackers. The battery life lasts up to five days.
- This particular Fitbit Flex band does not feature a heart rate monitor, but you can always supplement with your phone's heart rate sensor or heart rate device.
How accurate is the Fitbit Flex?
So how accurate is the Fitbit Flex? While there have been stories about how the Fitbit Flex steps are inaccurate, reviews have otherwise stated that the step count is pretty accurate.
Reviews aside, however, the New York Times reported on a reported that Fitbit's step counter was 'highly inaccurate during elevated physical activity.'
How does Fitbit calculate calories burned?
So how does the Fitbit calculate calories burned? According to the official Fitbit help article, the Fitbit accounts for your basal metabolic rate, the activity recorded by your tracker, and any activities you log manually. Your tracker's calorie count resets at midnight and begins count after.
Overall, the Fitbit Flex is perfect as a fitness tracker for women, due to its size and style.
Jawbone UP3 Review
- Cheap and efficient
- Variety of colors
- Monitors heart rate, sleep, and more
- Smart Coach function
- Charging is awkward
Jawbone Up3 Features
You want cheap and efficient? Then the Jawbone Up3 may be just for you. This Jawbone activity tracker sports a variety of sleek and stylish colors, including Black Twist, Teal Cross, Silver Cross, Sand Twist, Back Gold Twist, Twilight Cross (Amazon Exclusive), Ruby Cross, and more.
This Jawbone fitness tracker features patented multi-sensor technology which will automatically track your resting and passive heart rate and the true stages of your sleep. So yes, the patented Jawbone heart rate monitor is featured in the Jawbone Up3. Not only that, but thanks to the intelligence of the Smart Coach function, you'll be able to view your overall health and receive the guidance you require to reach your goals.
This Jawbone fitness band is the cheapest of the best activity trackers, but while it is cheap, it certainly comes with a variety of functions. After all, this particular Jawbone watch comes with advanced automatic sleep tracking, a Smart Alarm that silently wakes you, and Idle Alert, which reminds you to keep moving and wireless syncing. Another plus? The fact that it is splash-proof and water-resistant for up to 10 meters.
As for the battery life? You'll receive up to seven days of features before the battery dies. You can even customize features with the available companion app.
Despite the price, you'll receive some advanced features with the Jawbone Up3. However, some customers have complained about the undesirable Jawbone customer support and the fact that the product features a loose clasp, constantly coming undone. Overall, the Jawbone Up3 is worth the price, even if it may come with some issues.
Key Considerations When Choosing a Fitness Tracker
So there are certainly pros and cons embedded within the concept of a fitness tracker. Here is what to consider if you're on the verge of purchasing a fitness tracker.
1. What is a fitness tracker?
A fitness tracker is a wearable device (typically on your wrist, though they can be placed on more than just your wrist) that records your daily physical activity as well as a variety of data that is dependent on the device and your activity. For instance, your fitness tracker may record your heart rate, the calories you burned, and your sleep patterns.
2. Why do I need a fitness tracker?
Well, okay, you actually don't absolutely need a fitness tracker, per se. In fact, activity trackers can potentially backfire when it pertains to weight loss. A fitness tracker will make you healthier, certainly, but you may not experience weight loss.
According to a study reported by The Verge:
"...people in a weight-loss study who used fitness trackers dropped about five pounds less than those who didn't, according to a study published this week in JAMA."
About 471 overweight people between the ages of 18 and 35 were randomly assigned to one of two groups. While both groups received diet advice, instructions to exercise, and group counseling sessions, the group that used Fit Core (which has been discontinued) for six months lost about 5.3 fewer pounds on average compared to the group that didn't rely on fitness trackers.
Nevertheless, an activity tracker is not harmful by any means. Again, they can help you become healthier and they tend to be incredibly accurate, but it's been suggested that the data you're viewing can actually be discouraging.
If you're aiming for 10K steps and if you're viewing a monitor, 10K is going to feel like a lot, so whatever you do, do not be discouraged by the data and instead focus on the goals provided for you by the tracker.
3. What features should I consider?
Consider only the features that would be suited best for the particular physical activity. For instance, if you go walking for the majority of your exercise regime, then you shouldn't exactly consider a fitness tracker with a heart rate monitor.
If you're interested in your resting or walking heart rate, you can always use a smartphone app that is designed to measure your heart rate, like the Galaxy Note 5 stock app S Health.
I've researched, evaluated, and compared the available fitness bands to determine the top fitness trackers. Here are the factors I've considered when evaluating the best fitness band:
- The features - What types of features are available with the fitness band? Does it track your sleep? What about your heart rate? Is the band water resistant? Does it feature anything unique, like music storage? What is the best activity tracker in concerns to accuracy?
- The value - What are you receiving for your dollar? Again, I examined the features and studied the reviews to understand what kind of value you would expect when purchasing the fitness band.
- The reviews - What are the fitness tracker reviews? Are there any complaints? Are most of the reviews raves? It's important when determining the best fitness band, but again, do keep in mind that some reviews may not include enough information or may be falsely constructed.
Overall, if you're seeking accuracy and a motivational tool, then you should surely consider purchasing a fitness tracker. Not only will you be healthier, but if you persist and ignore the data (especially if you're easily influenced or overwhelmed by the data), you'll also be able to lose weight.
There are plenty of available trackers out there, and even some smartwatches offer apps that function as a fitness tracker.
If you're looking to supplement your tracker with the perfect exercise routines, then you should consider reading our article on the home workout routines.
Looking for wearable tech with even more features? Then consider reading our buyer's guide to smartwatches.