The best fitness tracker used to be a heavily contested area. While some people might gravitate towards more expensive fitness wearables, you're best off getting a cheap fitness tracker if you only need a wearable to track – err – general fitness. Even the most basic fitness bands nowadays tend to include optical heart rate sensors, GPS and great companion apps, so they are well worth considering.
Fitness trackers represent an excellent value for money, making them more appealing than even the best running watches or best triathlon watches to people on a budget. For example, the Fitbit Charge 4 costs quarter as much as an Apple Watch 6, yet it has built-in GPS, an optical heart rate sensor, and tracks steps, sleep and exercise, to mention a few key features.
Most people prefer Fitbits over other brands, and if you want to know what is the best Fitbit at the moment, you'd better read our comprehensive buying guide today. For the best deals on fitness wearables, check out our best Fitbit deals and Garmin watch deals roundups: prices are always up to date (and cheap).
How we test the best fitness trackers
The best and only proper way to test fitness trackers is to wear them continuously throughout the day. This includes wearing them for sleeping, showing, workouts and everything else you can think of – this is exactly what we do here at T3 when we're sent a fitness band for a review.
Modern fitness trackers can track heart rate, and some of them even have built-in GPS. If that's the case, we test the accuracy of these against other wearables we know to be accurate, often running watches or heart rate monitors.
Read more about how we test at T3.
Best fitness trackers to buy right now
The Whoop 4.0 is an excellent fitness tracker but mainly for those who prefer to train hard and would like to know when to slow down a bit. It could also come in handy for people who are generally interested in how well their bodies recover from day to day strain.
We will be surprised if people who are only somewhat interested in their performance are willing to shell out the monthly cost to access their stats. Whoop membership costs can add up over time, and even if you're not using the band, you'll still have to pay the monthly fee.
We enjoyed using the Whoop 4.0 band during the testing period – no wonder we awarded the band four stars in our Whoop 4.0 review. If you’re into fitness and sports, the Whoop 4.0 can help you achieve the optimal balance between rest and workouts.
The Fitbit Charge 5 is a decent update over the Charge 4, and the AMOLED screen is very handsome. In our Fitbit Charge 5 review, we mentioned that the updated Infinity Band is comfortable to wear for both exercising and sleeping. The overall user experience is also great; at this point, Fitbit knows how to create a useable fitness wearable.
The Daily Readiness Score is a good addition, and the fact that the Fitbit Charge 5 can measure ECG is just the icing on the cake. GPS and HR tracking could be more seamless, though. Given the location of the GPS antenna, the Fitbit Charge 5 will either provide accurate heart rate readings or spot-on route tracking, but not both.
Not to mention that at RRP, the Charge 5 is as expensive as a more accurate beginner running watch such as the Garmin Forerunner 55 or the Coros Pace 2. Thankfully, you can already come across cheap Fitbit Charge 5 deals online and should you find one, it's a no brainer to get a Charge 5 today.
The best thing about the Huawei Band 6, as it says in our Huawei Band 6 review, is that it doesn't try to be a running watch or a smartwatch. Instead, the Huawei Band 6 does its best to be the best fitness tracker, and as a result, it ends up being one. Sure, it's slimmer and more band-like than full-blown multisport watches, but its best features set the Band 6 apart from the competition compared to other fitness trackers.
It can track heart rate 24/7, just like big-league smartwatches, with relative accuracy thanks to its TruSeen 4.0 heart rate monitoring technology that "uses an optical lens and AI-based data processing" to provide more accurate readings. The readings are certainly not all over the place, as long as you wear the Huawei Band 6 correctly.
Other sensor-based features include TruSleep 2.0 Sleep Tracking: sleep tracking on the Huawei Band 6 seems accurate enough, not to mention the robust sleep analysis section in the Huawei Health app. TruSleep can even give you customised sleep reports, as long as you wear the band for sleeping more than twice a week.
Battery life is pretty good, although not mind-blowing. The lack of onboard GPS helps battery longevity; this task is delegated to the smartphone, which you're supposed to carry around with you if you want the Band 6 to draw a map of your runs after your sessions in the Huawei Health app.
Talking about running: the Huawei Band 6 has 96 workout modes, can estimate VO2 max, suggest recovery time and give you performance stats/training effect estimations, which isn't too bad from a fitness tracker. The Huawei Band 6 didn't show any big swings in either heart rate or pace readings during our test runs, which is all we can ask for from a fitness band.
In our Garmin Venu 2 review, we noted that the AMOLED screen of this fitness tracker brings the widget view of the Garmin OS to life. Animations for hitting your step goals never looked so pretty!
Not all new features of the Venu 2 are mind-blowing or innovative, but they certainly are interesting enough for the average user. Better still, the extra features were added on top of the existing ones found in other Garmin wearables, of which there were plenty already; you really can't complain about getting more bang for your bucks.
Speaking of price: the Garmin Venu 2 is not a particularly cheap tracker/smartwatch, although it's way more affordable than some other smartwatches that are less capable than the Venu 2.
If you aren't keen on having a dedicated sports wearable wrapped around your wrist and appreciate a good-looking smartwatch with helpful health and fitness features, you'd be silly not to give the Garmin Venu 2 a try.
The Fitbit Versa 3 is a very enjoyable fitness smartwatch. It offers more functionality and better looks than most fitness trackers, but it’s maybe not quite as smart and precise as the Apple Watch Series 5. That comparison might not be fair, though, as the Fitbit Versa 3 offers excellent functionality for much less than the Apple Watch 5.
In our Fitbit Versa 3 review, we praised it for being a well-rounded tracker that comes with built-in GPS, in-app workout intensity maps, and PurePulse 2.0 optical heart rate sensor. The Active Zone Minutes feature monitors your fitness activities, even when you're not actively logging workouts – how convenient! The heart rate sensor and built-in GPS could be more accurate, but they are more than adequate for everyday sports activities.
The Fitbit Versa 3 has a built-in speaker and microphone to take quick phone calls, send calls to voicemail and adjust call volume straight from the wrist. Considering the asking price, the Fitbit Versa 3 is definitely a great buy. Should you find one for a discounted price, we recommend getting one, even if you already have a Versa 2.
The Huawei Watch Fit Elegant is a pretty fitness tracker. In fact, it's one of the prettiest ones you can get right now. It's the posh version of the Huawei Watch Fit, and under the hood, they essentially run the same software.
The main difference is the physical appearance of the fitness tracker; unlike the Watch Fit, the Watch Fit Elegant has a polished stainless steel case and a "fluoroelastomer" strap, which feels like a soft silicone band of the best kind. The stainless steel case does make the Watch Fit Elegant slightly heavier, clocking in at 27 grams (without the strap).
The 1.64 inch AMOLED display has a 456 x 280 (HD) resolution, and indeed, animations and screen transitions look great on it. It also has an ambient light sensor, so it dims the screen when it's dark. In comparison, the Fitbit Charge 4 only has a 1-inch screen (the Charge 5 bumped this up to 1.04-inch). Impressive!
Despite the comparatively large screen, the Huawei Watch Fit Elegant's battery life is excellent. It won't need charging more than once a week, even considering heavy usage. GPS tracking drains battery (as expected): a fully charged Watch Fit Elegant will only be able to track 12 hours of outdoor activity.
Activity tracking is a bit hit and miss. The Watch Fit Elegant has a built-in GPS and an optical heart rate sensor, but the GPS is slow, and heart rate tracking is patchy. For everyday tracking, it's perfectly adequate, but don't expect it to elevate your running training to the next level.
It's very, very pretty.
As noted in our Garmin Venu Sq review, this is a decent fitness smartwatch, especially considering the asking price. Some corners have been cut to keep the cost down, but nothing really spoils the experience.
The "liquid crystal" display is a bit on the small side, but at least it's responsive and bright. The sensors are precise and use Garmin's proprietary algorithm that's proven to give accurate readings, especially during high-heart rate exercise sessions.
The interface of the Garmin Venu Sq will be familiar to people who used Garmin watches before, but even if you didn't, you can rest assured you won't get lost in obscure menus.
The Venu Sq has many premium features, such as built-in GPS, blood oxygen/stress monitoring, and sleep tracking, regardless of the lower price. And measures it all with relative accuracy, too.
The NURVV Run insoles are a different kind of fitness tracker than your average wrist wearable. We would recommend it to runners – it's a running insole, after all – as they can provide some exciting new metrics for them. The NURVV Run sensors make these data sets available for every run, every day and measure/score performance, making them easier to understand.
This data doesn't come cheap, though: you have to pay roughly as much for the insoles as for a Garmin Forerunner 245. But thanks to the constant app updates, the NURVV run is getting there, and soon, runners will need to seriously consider whether they should get the NURVV or a running watch.
Not to mention, you can already connect a heart rate monitor to the NURVV pods and feed heart rate data straight into the NURVV App, the combination of the two effectively replacing a running watch.
Not just that, but even in itself, the NURVV Run system can provide data no running watch will ever will (possibly), such as pronation and footstrike, and recommend ways to improve them, should you want to.
The hardware could be more refined, especially the pods/cradle system, as the current iteration is tricky to uncouple. Thankfully, NURVV is very hands-on with all this, and customer reps are happy to help if you have any hardware or software issues.
Want to know more about the NURVV Run system? Read our full NURVV Run Insoles review now.
The Polar Ignite is a great fitness tracker – we said so in our Polar Ignite review. Mainly aimed at runners, it can track a million other fitness activities like backcountry skiing and fitness dancing. As well as tracking your workouts, it can also monitor sleep and heart rate throughout the day.
Thanks to the built-in GPS, there is no need to carry the phone with you when you go out for an outdoor run. Recording an exercise is as easy as pressing the button on the side and tapping the icon of the desired activity; it shouldn't take you longer than two seconds to start working out.
Wrist-based HR trackers aren't the most precise, but the Polar Ignite does an excellent job of giving you an estimate based on your fitness levels, age, sex, etc. It can also measure VO2 Max with the 'Fitness Test' feature.
The metrics monitored by the Polar Ignite are more than enough for most serious amateurs, the people this fitness watch was designed for. Not only does it give you stats after the exercise has been finished on the watch face, once synchronised with the Polar Flow app, but you can also analyse your training in even more depth.
You can also track your sleep with the Polar Ignite. The only issue is – and this is something all fitness trackers have in common – is that wearing a tracker 'snugly' is not comfortable in the long run.
The Polar Ignite is by no means the cheapest tracker on this list, but given the range of features, it's a worthwhile investment.
The Fitbit Inspire 2 was announced simultaneously as the Fitbit Sense and the Fitbit Versa 3 and got little attention, although it deserves more. This cheap fitness tracker not only has an optical heart rate sensor but also comes fully equipped with features such as the Fitbit Active Zone Minutes and SmartTrack, features we highlighted in our Fitbit Inspire 2 review.
Plus, included in the price is a 1-year Fitbit Premium membership, which would cost more than the fitness tracker itself. You can look at the Inspire 2 as a free fitness tracker when you subscribe to Fitbit Premium – a free fitness tracker with an OLED screen, that is.
The Fitbit Inspire 2 has excellent battery life, too: it can go for up to 10 days in between charges, and since it uses connected GPS, tracking activities outdoors won't drain the battery more either (you will need to carry the phone with you, though). And of course, the Inspire 2 makes full use of the excellent Fitbit App: in the app, you can set up goals, check sleep stats and more.
The Garmin Vivofit Jr 3 sits somewhere in the middle of the kids' fitness tracker market for price and features – and it does everything quite well. Although the screen is nice and colourful, it's also a bit dim and challenging to read when the light conditions are not optimal.
The watch packs in loads of features but lacks a touchscreen, and it’s nicely built and looks quite attractive, but isn’t as sleek as the Fitbit or as impressive as Vodafone’s Neo, for example. In short, it lacks the wow factor and maybe a little middle of the road for gadget-fiends.
However, if you have a child who loves Marvel or Disney, or you hate charging gadgets, this watch will be a big hit and, like Iron Man, will blow the competition away, we concluded in our Garmin Vivofit Jr 3 review.
The Samsung Galaxy Fit2 isn't a lousy fitness tracker; it has a handsome looking AMOLED screen, recognises five different exercises automatically, tracks sleep, and has long battery life.
What we don't understand is why is it essential to download and install three different apps and drivers to connect the Fit2 to the phone in the first place? Not to mention the annoying software update reminders, which will appear out of nowhere when one unlocks their phone. Like, whoever allowed the Samsung app to bug the users with these updates without permission?
Phone-related issues aside, the biggest problem of the Samsung Galaxy Fit2 is that there are cheaper and more capable fitness bands from established brands such as Huawei, to mention one. These bands offer more functions (e.g. built-in GPS) and better specs for less. The Fit2 is only recommended to people brand-loyal to Samsung and can't imagine wearing a non-Samsung fitness tracker.
Check our Samsung discount codes to pick up a saving.
Fitness trackers: what you need to know
So, walking 10,000 steps per day is absolutely better than walking none, but it won't turn you into Sir Mo Farah.
Tracking your sleep may give you some interesting insights, but it won't necessarily help you sleep any better. I've tried to address those shortcomings by picking out the bands that try to do more, rather than just literally being step counters.
Fitness trackers have issues around accurately calculating how many calories you've burned, how much distance you've covered and what your heart rate is, particularly during vigorous exercise.
Perhaps worst of all, most older fitness trackers made no effort to tell you how fit you are or offer any ways to get fitter. Brands are finally addressing this, largely through estimating your VO2 Max during regular workouts. This gives you a base score for how fit you are, which can be rewarding or terrifying, depending on where you sit on the scale.
Is Fitbit or Garmin better?
For those who're planning on tracking everyday fitness activities and don't want to spend a boatload of money, we would recommend getting a Fitbit fitness tracker or smartwatch. Most Fitbits are cheaper than Garmin's wearables and track fitness stats with admirable accuracy.
If you're getting ready for a race, whether it's a running or cycling competition, Garmin watches would be able to help you in training and recovery more efficiently than Fitbits. The Garmin ecosystem is geared towards athletes and able to provide training insights/tips, something you won't be able to access when using a Fitbit fitness tracker.