Fitness trackers have become increasingly popular over the past few years. They are great for tracking daily activity, setting fitness goals and keeping up motivation on the journey to becoming healthy. Recently, there has been an influx of fitness tracker apps to track daily activity right to your smartphone. But the accuracy and abilities of these apps alone cannot really give you a full picture of your progress. So to get a more accurate view of your fitness, it can be good to add a fitness tracker into your everyday schedule.
But with so many different devices and apps to choose from, it’s hard to tell which fitness tracker will be right for you. Whether you wish to lose weight, track and monitor your daily activity or use a fitness tracker for a specific sport, we are here to help!
We have put the most popular fitness trackers through their paces to bring you a list of the best fitness trackers in 2016. Each has been judged on: what they measure, battery life, practicality and accuracy for different kinds of activity.
With so many fitness trackers on the market and so much to take into consideration, which fitness tracker will be right for you?
- 1 Best Budget Fitness Trackers
- 2 Best High End Fitness Trackers
- 3 Or maybe.. A Smartwatch
- 4 Soon to be released
- 5 Product Round-Up
Best Budget Fitness Trackers
The Fitbit Charge HR is by far the best mid-range fitness tracker for 2016. Its sleek and simple design makes it discreet and comfortable to wear under clothing. It has a simple display screen that allows you to check your progress throughout the day. It’s waterproof up to 10 meters – robust but definitely not a good fitness tracker for swimmers or wearing in the shower. This little device is simple to sync to your smartphone by using the Fitbit app. Charging is also made simple with the Fitbit Charge HR as it uses a USB cable.
- Altimeter or step counter
- Heart rate monitor
- All day activity monitor (floors climbed, distance and calorie log and much more)
- Sleep tracker
- Workout tracker
- Long battery life (up to 5 days)
- Has a display
- Neutral and discreet with comfortable strap
- Automatic exercise activation
- Has caller ID with compatible devices
- App is simple and easy to use
- Not 100% waterproof (not best suited to swimmers)
- Some of the stats can be a little off at times
Overall unless you’re a serious athlete, this little device is perfect for everyday use. It’s comfortable and very reasonably priced with lots of cool features, making it the top of my list.Get it now on Amazon
The Misfit Shine is a very impressive budget fitness tracker. Its sporty design is underrated and stylish, making it perfect for discreetly wearing to the gym or around the house. It is available in nine different colours and has a screen that is only activated when the face is tapped. It will tell you the time and how well you are doing on your fitness goals. The Misfit Shine is lightweight and waterproof but that isn’t necessarily a good match for swimmers as it doesn’t have a distance tracker. To track your time in the pool, it may be better to invest in the Speedo Shine. Once the app has been downloaded to your phone, it will automatically sync the data. This tracker is functional and does track much of your daily activity, but if you’re looking for something a little more high-tech, it’s worthwhile spending a little extra money on the Misfit Shine 2, which has vibrating notifications from your phone and is even smaller than the Shine.
- daily activity tracker (steps and calories)
- sleep activity
- Simple and easy to use – totally functional and no-nonsense tracker that does exactly what it says on the tin
- Stylish and discreet, minimalist design
- The app syncs straight to your phone without a complex installation process
- It doesn’t measure heart rate
- Minimal functions
With a load of colours to chose from, the Jawbone UP3 is second on my list. It is the best budget fitness tracker for 2016. Jawbone has addressed the issues from the Jawbone UP2, like the loose and unreliable clasp design. Overall it doesn’t look much different from the Jawbone UP2 and is slimline and subtle. Similarly, the Jawbone UP3 is water-resistant but not waterproof, making it unsuitable for swimmers. The accuracy of this device may also be off a little because the heart rate monitor only takes an average of your resting heartbeat per day. But what it loses in perfect accuracy, the Jawbone UP3 makes up in durability and comfort.
- Heart rate
- sleep tracker
- smart coach (aka your personal trainer)
- activity tracker
- calories burnt
- food tracker
- Sleek, low key design
- Good third party app support
- Can sync via bluetooth to laptop, phone, tablet or computer
- Harder to switch between tracking modes
- Some syncing issues occasionally
- Only splash-proof, not waterproof
Like the Fitbit Charge HR, unless you are a professional athlete, the Jawbone Up3 is perfect for tracking your everyday fitness.Get it now on Amazon
Best High End Fitness Trackers
This touchscreen fitness tracker does everything you could ever want… and then some. It’s a smartwatch, activity tracker, heart rate monitor and sleep tracker all rolled into one. Perhaps the most exciting feature of this watch is the connected GPS, meaning it uses your phone’s GPS signal to track things like distance from your workouts. This is where many fitness trackers fall short, as they only use GPS and can take a while to connect to a satellite. You can control music from your phone on this device and it has, by far, the best fitness tracker app available.
Measures: Activity tracker (heart rate monitor, step counter) sleep tracker and distance
- Can control your phone from the watch
- Has connected GPS so accuracy of this data is better and probably faster to use
- Easy to use and detailed app for phone
- Interchangeable band, frames and customisable clock faces
- Have to pop the watch out of it’s frame to charge it
- No reminder to move like the Garmin or Fitbit tracker
The Garmin Vivosmart HR+ is the best fitness tracker for runners. With a built-in GPS tracking device you can record the distance of your workouts. It has a long-life battery lasting around a week with a single charge. It covers all the basic features of most fitness trackers but with added GPS – this tracker is probably the closest you can get to a smartwatch without actually buying one. Not only is it perfect for runners and other sports, it’s waterproof too, making it perfect for a swimmer. And with an activity reminder and alarm for the morning, this tracker really does have it all.
- Daily activity (distance, calories burned, floors climbed and active minutes)
- heart rate
- sleep tracker
- Can receive phone notifications, both iPhone and Android
- Touch screen with movement-activated display
- It’s linked through Bluetooth so it’s easy to sync with your device
- Good accuracy – GPS and heart rate are accurate
- It’s bulkier than some of the other fitness trackers (bigger than the Charge HR and Jawbone 3)
- The app isn’t as good as the other ones that are out there, like Fitbit
- Can take a while to get the GPS signal
- No battery display on the watch
- Backlight cannot be completely turned off
For a super stylish design, the Fitbit Alta is the perfect choice. It’s slimline and discreet, but does lack some basic features that many other fitness trackers include. For example, it doesn’t have a step counter. However, the Alter does come with a handy feature – similar to the Garmin Vivosmart HR+, it includes an activity reminder to prompt you to become more active throughout the day. The Fitbit Alta is able to get notifications from your phone, so you are able to read messages and see caller IDs from your wrist. However, it does not come with an altimeter for stair climbing and heart-rate tracking, which is a basic feature when it comes to fitness tracking.
- Activity (core steps, distance and calories)
- sleep activity
- Can see caller ID and reply to messages
- Lightweight and comfortable to wear
- Can switch the strap to any colour you want
- Does not have an altimeter for tracking stair climbing and heart-rate
- Easily lost – Get third party silicon fastener bands that fit on strap to avoid losing this tracker
- Lack of button, tapping to activate is unreliable and annoying
- Display is vertical and not so helpful (e.g. reads 3k rather than 3427 or 3001)
Although this fitness tracker is a little more sophisticated than some of the other ones on this list, it does not come with an altimeter for stair climbing and heart-rate tracking, which is a really basic and standard feature of most fitness trackers.Get it now on Amazon
Or maybe.. A Smartwatch
If you’re looking for something a little more high-tech to keep up with your daily activity, it may be worth investing in a smartwatch. They have a lot more swanky features, like connecting to your phone and daily organisational tools, not to mention their super stylish designs.
The pebble is a sleek-looking watch with so many different functionalities that it’s hard to include them all. It’s compatible with both iPhone and Android and has a scratch-resistant gorilla glass screen. The classic has up to seven days’ worth of battery life and is water-resistant to 50 meters. And of course, you can receive phone notifications straight to your wrist.
Measures: Tracks steps, sleep, and provides personalised insights to improve your health, along with much more.
- More in-depth than many of the basic fitness trackers
- Straightforward to use and wearable design
- Pretty good value for what it does
- Compatible with many different apps so you can mix and match depending on your daily routine
- Good battery life
- Data is automatically backed up through the smartphone app
- It doesn’t automatically track your activity. You do need to download a third party app to turn the Pebble into a fitness tracker
- It is waterproof but it will only track data if you are connected to your phone and in close range to it. If you’re in the pool then it probably won’t be able to track lengths or your activity
- Relies on your smartphone a lot. If you’re looking for a reliable fitness tracker then it probably isn’t worthwhile
The Apple Watch is an amazing accessory for your smartphone, but coming from Apple, it comes with a hefty price tag. This device is stylish and convenient and comes in two different sizes. You can make it your own with interchangeable straps, but they too come with a comparatively sizeable price tag attached. Just like the Pebble, the Apple Watch needs to be connected to your IPhone otherwise it will not work properly. Every hour, at 10 minutes till the hour, the Apple Smartwatch will remind you to stand up if you haven’t already done so in a while. But as a fitness tracker, the Apple Watch is like a simple version of the many apps out there, like Fitbit and Garmin.
Measures: basic fitness activity (step counter and heart rate and lots more)
- Can get it in two sizes
- Fits nicely under your sleeve
- It’s expensive
- Only has one day battery life
- Only compatible with iPhone – limits the apps you can use with it
- Doesn’t track sleep
- Doesn’t have GPS
- You still need your phone close by
- It’s a little slow – basically a miniature iPhone
The new Apple Smartwatch 2 was released earlier this year which comes with a front-facing camera, built-in GPS and no cellular connectivity, hopefully meaning it will work without the need for your phone. Though the Apple Smartwatch 2 has new features, it should make the Apple Watch drop in price, making it more affordable.Get it now on Amazon
Soon to be released
It’s good to bear in mind that there are a few other exciting new fitness apps that are about to hit the shops. The Fitbit Flex 2 and Fitbit Charge 2 have a lot more added features and are able to track your daily activity, monitor heart rate and even help with meditation. The Fitbit Flex 2 is waterproof, which is exciting news for swimmers. The Apple Smartwatch 2 has just been released and includes a front-facing camera, built-in GPS (meaning no more tedious waiting for your smartwatch to connect to a satellite) and no cellular connectivity so it will work wherever your phone may be.
Although there are many different fitness trackers available, some come with unnecessary features that you may not even want. The biggest decision you have to make is whether the high tech features and extra gadgets are right for you. If you only wish to use the tracker to track your everyday activities and for a couple of workouts a week, then the Fitbit Charge HR or the Jawbone UP3 are the perfect, mid-range trackers for you. They do exactly what it says on the tin, without any high-tech gadgets and flashy features. But if flashy features are exactly what you’re looking for, then a smartwatch will not disappoint. The Pebble is definitely on the cheaper end and they look stylish and sleek.
Fitness Tracker vs. Smartwatch – What’s the difference?
I’m sure that you have heard a lot of buzz about the release of the new Apple Watch 2 that can connect to your phone, receive notifications, answer phone calls and pretty much anything else you could dream of, all from your wrist. But what is the real difference between fitness trackers and smartwatches?
Though they both may have similar features, there is a big difference. Fitness trackers make measuring your fitness a priority. They measure your heart rate, calories burned, your daily activity and even your sleeping pattern. Smartwatches, on the other hand, blend functionality and organisation, essentially giving you a miniature smartphone on your wrist. It means you can receive notifications, messages, send emails, plan an elaborate event… and track your daily activity on top of all that.
What You Need To Know Before Getting Started
If you’ve never used a fitness tracker before, it may be a good idea to try out some of the free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone, like Fitbit or MyFitnessPal. These apps can track your steps, count your calorie intake and work out the calories you’ve burned. Although the accuracy of these apps are questionable, it’s a great way to see if a fitness tracker is worth investing in.
The most important thing to think about before you buy is what would you like to use it for? Did you want a fitness tracker for running, swimming, weight loss, cycling or just to track your every day activity? Once you have answered this question, it’s easier to decide which functions you want your device to track.
It’s also very important to remember that there is no real correlation between the price you spend on your tracker and its accuracy. Even some of the lower end fitness trackers are pretty spot on with the data they collect. Battery life is another thing to take into consideration before you purchase your fitness tracker. Some can last a couple of weeks and others may only last a day on a single charge, depending on their display and how many sensors they have LED lights in the display and lots of fancy, yet unnecessary, functions can drain the battery in a heartbeat.
So there you have it – your run-down of the best fitness trackers of 2016 and which ones are best for certain activities.
What do you prefer to use, a fitness tracker or a smartwatch? Let me know in the comments below.