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Best fitness trackers in South Africa for 2020

Best fitness tracker 2020
(Image credit: Fitbit; Garmin; Huawei)

We've got all the best fitness wearables listed here. Each of them will get you the critical data you need to live healthier. Be very sure to separate out fitness trackers from smartwatches, which are upgradeable through apps, and sports watches which provide much more detail on sports activities. 

Many products from Fitbit, Garmin, Samsung and others don't qualify as trackers because you can add software to them, while some full-featured watches, like the Huawei watch GT2 and the Huawei Watch GT2e are still classified as trackers .   

So here, then, are the best activity trackers that your money will get you, and how they rank features, specs, price, design, the quality of the software used on the phone.  

Best fitness tracker, at a glance

  1. Fitbit Charge 4
  2. Fitbit Charge 3
  3. Garmin Vivosmart 4
  4. Huawei Watch GT2
  5. Huawei Band 4 Pro
  6. Huawei Watch GT2
  7. Fitbit Inspire HR
  8. Garmin Vivosport
  9. Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 5
  10. Garmin Vivofit 4

Fitbit Charge 4

(Image credit: Fitbit)

1. Fitbit Charge 4

Take charge with the best fitness tracker you can buy

Screen: Yes | Heart rate tracker: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | GPS: Yes | Battery life: Up to 7 days | Compatibility: Android/iOS/Windows

On-board GPS
Fitbit Pay
Spotify controls
No color screen

The Fitbit Charge 4 might look almost identical to the Charge 3, but there's one very important difference: the newer device includes on-board GPS, so you can track your runs 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 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.

Read our full Fitbit Charge 4 review

Fitbit Charge 3

(Image credit: Fitbit)

2. Fitbit Charge 3

Feature-packed, and great for all but serious athletes

Screen: Yes | Heart rate tracker: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | GPS: No | Battery life: Six days | Compatibility: Android/iOS

Light design
Big screen
No onboard GPS
Not a color screen

Although it's now been superseded by the superb Charge 4, the Fitbit Charge 3 is still an excellent fitness tracker, and has seen some hefty price cuts following the launch of the Charge 4.

It has a more lightweight design than the Charge 2 that came before it, and offers a lot of insight into your overall health. The display is bigger and clearer than a lot of other fitness trackers on this list, though it's still a black and white screen.

There's no onboard GPS, like some other trackers on this list have, but it's waterproof and offers a full fitness suite including a heart rate tracker. You can track GPS by pairing your phone with the tracker too.

You have to spend a bit extra on this than other fitness trackers you can buy in this same list, but if you enjoy the whole Fitbit app and experience and would also like access to notifications and Fitbit's fantastic sleep tracking, you'll want to opt for this as it's one of the company's best trackers ever.

Read our Fitbit Charge 3 review

Garmin Vivosmart 4

(Image credit: Garmin)

3. Garmin Vivosmart 4

Tells you how much energy you do (or don’t) have

Screen: Yes | Heart rate tracker: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | GPS: No | Battery life: 7 days | Compatibility: Android/iOS

Slim design
Long-lasting battery
Small screen

Our highest ranked Garmin product in the best fitness tracker list is also one of the most accomplished in its range of health bands.

This device isn't made for serious athletes like a variety of other products from the Garmin brand, but instead this is for those who want to be able to track the odd bit of exercise and have an attractive band to do it.

The screen is bigger on this version than other Garmin products, and it has a battery that should last you around a week depending on how much exercise you'll be doing.

There's also an innovative feature called body battery that helps you learn when exactly is the best time to exercise depending on how much energy you have. This is great for those who are just as interested in their recovery and general wellbeing as they are clocking up the miles. 

Read the full Garmin Vivosmart 4 review

Huawei Watch GT2

Huawei Watch GT2  (Image credit: Huawei)

4. Huawei Watch GT2

Nearly a full smartwatch

Screen: Yes, colour | Heart rate tracker: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | GPS: Yes | Battery life: 14 days | Compatibility: Android/iOS

GPS tracking 
Exceptional battery life 
On-board music
Chunky for a tracker
Phone app needs work

One of our favourite fitness devices ever the GT2 builds on the strengths of its predecessor by offering superior sports tracking in a beautiful full-sized watch format that's classy enough for all-day office wear but still rugged enough for a mountain run. its also one of the only trackers to offer full GPS, essential for accurate fitness scores  

It uses a clever dual chip strategy to economise on battery life. With a few light workouts in between it can go for two weeks on a single charge, which is an extraordinary achievement for something with these smarts and such a brilliant and sharp screen. 

Sadly, you won't find the GT2 on our listing of best smartwatches for one principle reason: it uses Huawei's own Lite OS so it doesn't have access to its own app store to extend its functionality. On the upside it comes with a few rudimentary apps installed (weather, torch etc.), you can make and take phone calls on the watch when its connected to your phone, and it stores your music on-board.

Read our review: Huawei Watch GT2 

Huawei Band 3 Pro

(Image credit: Huawei)

4. Huawei Band 3 Pro

Both style and substance on a budget

Screen: Yes | Heart rate tracker: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | GPS: Yes | Battery life: 14 days standby | Compatibility: Android/iOS

Great battery life
Good looking color screen
GPS can be slow to lock
No 'breathing' feature

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, and it has some amazing features considering how much it costs.

The Band 3 Pro comes with GPS onboard, it has a water resistant design (which means you can take it swimming) and there's a 0.95-inch color screen to display all of your stats on your wrist.

We've found the heart rate monitor to be accurate, and while the GPS could be quicker at locking on we also found it to be precise. If you're looking for an affordable entry-level device for your first foray into the world of fitness tracking, this is a great place to start.

Read our Huawei Band 3 Pro review

Huawei Watch2 GTe

(Image credit: Huawei)

5. Huawei Watch GT2e

This tracker just got more serious about sports

Screen: Yes | Heart rate tracker: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | GPS: Yes | Battery life: 14 days of mixed use | Compatibility: Android/iOS

Full featured, with GPS
Sleek design
Long battery life
Plastic body
App needs work

Continuing the tradition of the Watch GT series the 2e offers the same class leading battery life, but in a more sport-focused package. With a body made of high impact plastic, not metal like previous models, it's much lighter and the buttons are much less pronounced, so they don't dig into your wrists or get depressed by accident when you're working out. 

It tracks 16 sports right out of the box, but it excels at adapting its sensor array to track a bunch more obscure activities like kitesurfing and skateboarding. Like a full-fledged sports watch it measures VO2Max fitness and also SPO2 blood oxygen levels, but performs most smartwatch functions too. You can't add apps but you can upload music and fully customise the watch face, and download dozens more.   

Fitbit Inspire HR

(Image credit: Fitbit)

6. Fitbit Inspire HR

Inspiration to get off the sofa

Screen: Yes | Heart rate tracker: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | GPS: No | Battery life: 5 days | Compatibility: Android/iOS

Premium design
Lots of tracked metrics
Lacks swim tracking
No contactless payments

This isn't the most capable fitness tracker in our best of list, but it does a lot considering its price and you'll get access to all of Fitbit's top-end services. 

The Fitbit Inspire HR unsurprisingly offers a heart rate tracker alongside a variety of other fitness tracking capabilities. 

It isn't as capable as the Fitbit Charge 3 as it lacks swim tracking or Fitbit Pay integration, but that's understandable as this is much cheaper.

It features a slimmer and more comfortable design than a lot of other trackers you can buy, so if you're after a Fitbit that won't be heavy on your wrist you may want to consider the Inspire HR as your next fitness band.

Read the full Fitbit Inspire HR review

Garmin Vivosport

(Image credit: Garmin)

7. Garmin Vivosport

The sportier Garmin

Screen: Yes, color touchscreen | Heart rate tracker: Yes | Waterproof: Water-resistant | Activity tracking: Yes | GPS: Yes | Battery life: 7 days | Compatibility: Android/iOS

Small for GPS tracker
Good battery life
Bland design
No swim modes

It's not as stylish as most of the Fitbit products, but there's a reason the Garmin Vivosport appears in this list before products from the latter company. 

This is cheaper than most Fitbit products and it comes with GPS built-in too. We found the Vivosport offers a solid seven days battery life from a single charge, even when using the GPS features.

Although it's waterproof, it won't track your swimming easily but the Vivosport excels for other kinds of workouts and is great for tracking your jogging and cycling. Plus we found the heart rate tracker to be accurate too.

Read our full Garmin Vivosport review

Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 5

(Image credit: Xiaomi)

8. Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 5

Great fitness features for an extremely low price

Screen: Yes | Heart rate tracker: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | GPS: Connected, via smartphone | Battery life: 14 days of low use | Compatibility: Android/iOS

Bright, vibrant display
Strong heart rate performance
GPS setup is complicated
No NFC outside China

The follow-up to last year's excellent Mi Band 4, the Mi Smart Band 5 features a new, brighter screen, 24/7 activity tracking, continuous heart rate monitoring, 11 different sport modes, and the ability to record outdoor cardio sessions by connecting to your phone's GPS.

The crisp color display (one of the best you'll find on a device this size) also shows notifications, weather reports and app notifications, and you can use it to control music playback on your phone with a tap and a swipe.

While full on-board GPS is more convenient, the incredibly low price of the Smart Band 5 means we don't feel short-changed. Despite its a high quality touchscreen display and an impressive range of features, Xiaomi has managed to keep the price down and make the Mi Smart Band 5 feel much more expensive than it is.

Read our Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 5 review

Garmin Vivofit 4

(Image credit: Garmin)

9. Garmin Vivofit 4

One of Garmin's cheapest fitness trackers

Screen: Yes, color LCD | Heart rate tracker: No | Waterproof: Water-resistant | Activity tracking: Yes | GPS: No | Battery life: 1 year | Compatibility: Android/iOS

Super-long battery life
Small but color display
No GPS or heart rate
No phone notifications

The Garmin Vivofit 4 is one of the best fitness trackers the company has ever created, and that now means it sits in this prestigious list alongside some other fantastic tracking products.

We particularly like the super-long battery life of the Vivofit 4, which means you won't need to recharge your device for a whole year. That means you can wear it all day, then all night for sleep tracking and not have to worry about recharging it.

You'll miss out on phone notifications by buying this tracker, but you do get the benefit of an always-on color display, accurate fitness tracking features - just note these are more limited than some other trackers on this list - as well as access to an in-depth app to break down your stats on your smartphone.

Read the full Garmin Vivofit 4 review

Best fitness tracker at a glance