The best fitness tracker will help you develop healthier habits by giving you gentle encouragement to take a few extra steps, go for a run, take the stairs rather than the elevator, and get a little more sleep. It's all about making small changes that can add up to make a big difference to your health over the long term.
When we test fitness trackers, we wear them all day and night to see not only how much data they gather and how accurate it is, but also how comfortable they are to live with. The best fitness tracker is the one you're happy to wear every day, and comfort and looks are both important factors.
During our tests, we also take fitness trackers for a variety of workouts (both in the gym and outdoors) and test their heart rate monitoring and location tracking against dedicated sports watches to see how they compare. We wouldn't expect a budget fitness tracker to match a premium triathlon watch for sports metrics, but even cheap devices can be surprisingly good at monitoring biometrics.
That's why for us, the best fitness tracker is the Fitbit Luxe – a device that's slim, lightweight and attractive enough to wear around the clock, giving you a fully rounded picture of your health. It also has a high-res AMOLED display that shows fitness data in impressive detail, plus remarkably accurate heart rate monitoring to track your workout intensity.
We update this guide regularly, so you can be sure you're getting the very best advice on the latest devices. Read on to discover the best fitness trackers you can buy today, and choose the right one for you.
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The Fitbit Luxe is our number one fitness tracker thanks to its excellent health monitoring tools, stylish design, and the strength of the supporting Fitbit app and ecosystem.
The Luxe tracks everyday activity, sleep, heart rate, respiration and workouts, and when we put it to the test, we were particularly impressed by the accuracy of its heart rate monitoring, which was on a par with much more expensive running watches. Your daily data is all presented on a super-sharp color AMOLED display, which presents an impressive amount of detail in a very small space.
The Luxe is also Fitbit's best looking fitness tracker to date, with a stainless steel case and buckle, and a choice of either a soft silicone band or a gold-toned stainless steel bracelet by jewelry designer Gorjana. In our tests, it was comfortable to wear all day and night, which allowed us to build up a complete picture of our activity and sleeping habits.
Fitness trackers work best when worn every day so they can build up a full picture of your habits and lifestyle, and the Luxe is one that you'll genuinely want to.
The Luxe even comes with a free trial of Fitbit Premium, which lets you get even more out of the watch, including more detailed historical data, a wider range of workouts and meditation sessions in the Fitbit app, and the ability to create a personal health report that you can share with a family member or doctor.
There's no on-board GPS (instead the Luxe needs a connection to your phone's GPS receiver), but other than that, it's very hard to fault.
- Read our full Fitbit Luxe review
The Fitbit Charge 4 is an excellent fitness tracker, which features built-in GPS, so you can track your runs and walks and leave your phone at home. There's also Fitbit Pay for contactless payments, and if you do decide to take your phone along, you can control your Spotify playlist from your wrist. It's an impressive feature set for such a small and affordable device.
It also includes a new feature called Active Zone Minutes. This is a measure of any activity faster than a brisk walk, and is based on recommendations from various health organizations. It's essentially a simple type of heart rate training, encouraging you to spend time at different levels of exertion based on your age and fitness (as measured by the watch).
The Fitbit Charge 4 lacks a color screen, but its icons and menus are well laid out and easy to understand. Whether you're looking for sleep tracking, the weather forecast or breathing exercises, it's only a couple of swipes away. Slim, neat and packed with features, the Charge 4 bridges the gap between activity bands and serious running watches, and is truly a fitness tracker for everyone.
Although there's nothing officially confirmed, we may have received our first glimpse of a forthcoming Fitbit Charge 5 in a leaked image. It's too early to say much about its specifications, but it appears to have a color display, which would be a significant upgrade. We'll keep you updated as soon as we know more.
- Read our full Fitbit Charge 4 review
If you're aiming to develop healthier habits, and want a device that will give you a gentle nudge to get there, the Fitbit Inspire 2 could be the best fitness tracker for you. It's not overly complex, but has all the essential features to keep you moving and motivated, and is extremely simple to use.
It's controlled entirely through its responsive touchscreen and single side button, and will monitor your activity and heart rate all day (with alerts when you hit your goals). There are over 20 workout modes, and several will start tracking automatically when the fitness tracker detects that you've begun exercising.
All of your data is collected together in the extremely user-friendly Fitbit app, where you can see patterns over time, set new targets and (if you subscribe to Fitbit Premium) find a whole library of video workouts to follow at home.
There's no color screen or on-board GPS for mapping out runs, but the Inspire 2 is a pleasure to use, and ideal for beginners.
- Read our full Fitbit Inspire 2 review
The Amazfit Bip may look more like a smartwatch than any of the other devices on this list, but as it runs its own software and has a very big focus on fitness, so we've decided to include it in our list of the best fitness trackers.
The Amazfit Bip's design has clearly been influenced by the Apple Watch (there's no denying that), and it comes packed with tons of features including GPS, an accurate heart rate tracker, multi-sport tracking, sleep tracking, and estimated VO2 max so you can keep tabs on your fitness over time.
If you're looking for a more watch-like design, the Bip will be up your street. It's lightweight too and other highlights include the always-on display and strong battery life that should last around a month depending on your usage.
Unfortunately, during our tests we found that the watch didn't pause its tracking automatically during workouts when we stopped to stretch or cross a road. That means you'll need to make sure you hit the button yourself to halt and restart the activity when you're ready to carry on. It's a small complaint though, and compensated for by the watch's excellent performance elsewhere,
- Read our full Amazfit Bip review
Taking over from the Huawei Band 2 Pro is the Huawei Band 3 Pro. This is one of the best fitness trackers you can buy if you're on a strict budget, costing around the same as the Garmin Vivosport 4 below, and it has impressive specs considering how much it costs.
The Huawei Band 3 Pro comes with GPS, making it a good choice for outdoor activities, and is also suitable for use in the pool thanks to its water resistant design and dedicated swimming mode.
In our tests, we found the color display easily readable even in direct sunlight, allowing you to check your workout stats at a glance, and the heart rate monitor proved accurate, giving results comparable with a much more expensive dedicated sports watch.
The GPS could be quicker at locking on (Garmin devices perform better in our experience, no doubt due to the company's long investment in location tracking), but once it established a connection, it proved accurate even in built-up areas. If you're looking for an affordable entry-level device for your first foray into the world of fitness tracking, the Band 3 Pro should definitely be on your shortlist.
- Read our full Huawei Band 3 Pro review
While it looks very much like the Vivosmart 4, which also features in this guide, the Vivosport's built-in GPS receiver gives it an edge, allowing it to track your speed and location on runs, walks and bike rides more accurately, and without the need to carry your phone. Its heart rate monitoring proved accurate in our tests as well, and like the Huawei Band 3, it compared well with considerably more expensive watches.
We found the Vivosport's battery life particularly impressive, offering a solid seven days battery life from a single charge, even when using the GPS for regular workouts.
It's not the best option for tracking swimming, but the Vivosport excels for other kinds of workouts and is great for tracking your jogging and cycling. All your efforts will sync automatically with the Garmin Connect app, which also links to Garmin's line of smart scales if you're interested in tracking your weight and body composition over time.
- Read our full Garmin Vivosport review
The Garmin Vivosmart 4 has a similar design to the Vivosport above, but with a focus on everyday health and wellbeing rather than intense training, and no on-board GPS. You can still track your location by connecting the Vivosmart 4 to your phone, which is perfectly fine for casual workouts, but won't be quite as accurate.
The screen is smaller than those of most Garmin devices, but still capable of showing plenty of information about your wellbeing and workouts. Unlike the Vivosport, it has a monochrome display, but this helps keen the tracker's cost down and helps improve battery life,
There's also an innovative feature called Body Battery (also available on higher-end Garmin watches) that helps you learn when exactly is the best time to exercise depending on how much energy you have, and whether you should take time to rest before your next effort. Recovery is an important part of any fitness plan, and this tool helps you manage your energy so you don't run out of steam.
- Read our full Garmin Vivosmart 4 review
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, it also offers a pulse oximeter for tracking blood oxygen saturation, plus all-day stress tracking.
The display is super bright, and in our tests we found it super responsive to even the lightest of touches – essential with a screen this small.
It's just a shame there's no on-board GPS for tracking runs, walks and bike rides. As with the Garmin Vivosmart 4, above, it works well enough piggybacking 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 want to minimize bulk and weight.
- Read our full Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 review
The Honor Band 5 is one of the cheapest fitness trackers you can buy right now, and still manages to deliver an impressive set of features to monitor your everyday health and wellbeing.
One of the most useful features is the sleep tracking, which not only monitors your sleep stages throughout the night, as many fitness trackers do, but also gives you practical advice to maximize your sleep time.
Its step tracker produced almost identical results to a more expensive Fitbit device, and there are dedicated workout modes for walking, running, cycling, cross-training, rowing, and swimming. You won't receive as much data as you would from a Garmin device, but you'll see your time, distance, speed and heart rate stats clearly presented in the mobile app once you're done.
As you'd expect from a budget fitness tracker, there's no on-board GPS for monitoring your location during outdoor cardio workouts. We also found that its screen was sometimes a little laggy compared to higher-end devices, not responding quite so quickly to taps and swipes, but at this price it's hard to complain.
- Read our full Honor Band 5 review
The predecessor of the Fitbit Inspire 2, the Fitbit Inspire HR has stood the test of time, and is still one of the best fitness trackers around if you're in the market for something discreet that looks smart and covers the essentials.
As its name suggests, the Inspire HR tracks your heart rate throughout the day (a feature missing from the original Fitbit Inspire), along with daily steps and nightly sleep stats.
There's the usual range of dedicated workout modes, albeit without on-board GPS. The swim tracking is particularly noteworthy; the Inspire HR has a water-resistant design, and is capable of monitoring swim lengths, duration, distance, and pace during pool sessions.
All your workout stats and daily activity data (including step counts) syncs with the Fitbit app on your phone, where you can track your progress, connect with friends, and work towards achievements. It might be simple, but the Inspire HR has a lot to offer if you're aiming to make small lifestyle changes that'll add up over time.
- Read our full Fitbit Inspire HR review
What is a fitness tracker?
A fitness tracker is a device (typically a wristband) that monitors statistics such as your heart rate, the number of steps you take each day, and how long you spend working out. Most fitness trackers have several dedicated modes for recording different forms of exercise, and some also have GPS for tracking your location during runs, walks and bike rides. Most fitness trackers also monitor how long you spend sleeping, and in each sleep stage.
All this data is sent to an app on your smartphone, where you can track changes over time. Most apps give you virtual 'awards' for achieving particular goals, such as taking 10,000 steps per day, or going to bed on time.
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.
- We've also tested and ranked the best cheap fitness trackers