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Best fitness trackers 2021: Top fitness bands and watches for beginners up

Best fitness trackers 2021: Top fitness bands and watches for beginners up
(Image credit: Fitbit)

The best fitness trackers help you keep tabs on your health goals, no matter whether you run, walk or cycle. Activity trackers are simple to use and are usually worn around the wrist to log your daily steps count, speed and distance walked or run. Many fitness trackers also track the amount of sleep you get, which is handy if you are looking to improve your overall wellbeing. Meanwhile, nearly all fitness bands track heart rate, with the more expensive options, such as the Apple Watch, offering more accurate results for tracking your home gym workouts. But how much you spend on a fitness band or watch is up to you, as they come in a wide range of prices starting at under $100 for a Fitbit.

The best fitness trackers come in all colors and styles too, including fitness bands and fitness watches, so there is bound to be one that suits you. These range from the slim designs on offer from Garmin with its Vivosmart, to more chunky rugged designs by the likes of Polar. Fitbit and Apple are also stylish choices with fitness tracking devices that have plenty of great features and are compatible with at-home exercise equipment, such as the best treadmills and bike trainers too. 

The top-rated fitness bands and watches can also be paired with your phone via a companion app, giving you even more great ways to see your data and monitor your progress. These activity tracker apps also enable you to add extra information such as weight and height, for a more personalized approach. While most fitness bands now offer heart rate tracking, there’s a big difference in accuracy between the best fitness trackers and the budget models. For example, hardly any come close to the accuracy of the Apple Watch, one of the world’s best smartwatches. Let’s have a look at the top options now, and for cheap trackers, read our roundup of the best Amazon Prime Day Fitbit deals.

11 best fitness trackers

1. Fitbit Charge 4: Best fitness tracker overall

Best fitness trackers: Fitbit Charge 4 Fitness Band

(Image credit: Fitbit)

Fitbit Charge 4

Simply the world’s best fitness band right now


Screen: Yes | Heart rate tracking: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | GPS: Yes | Battery life: Up to seven days

Reasons to Buy

On-board GPS
Simple to use
Spotify on your wrist

Reasons to Avoid

No color display

When you first look at the Fitbit Charge 4, you might quickly mistake it for the Charge 3. However, there are some key differences under the hood. Namely, the Fitbit Charge 4 has on-board GPS, which means you can leave your phone at home when heading out for a run, walk or hike and your exercise will still be tracked. When you’re out, you could also use Fitbit Pay for contactless payments.

We also love Fitbit’s new feature called Active Zone Minutes, a form of heart rate training. Based on your age and current fitness level (gauged by the fitness tracker and your ongoing workouts), it encourages you to exert yourself a little harder or for longer to strengthen your heart and elevate your fitness. Every bit of activity counts here too, so you may find that you’ll feel more encouraged to stay active throughout your day. If you sign up to Fitbit Premium, the brand's online fitness program, you'll gain access to a variety of workouts too.

In terms of design, the Fitbit Charge 4 is slimline and lightweight. It’s also so comfy you’ll probably forget you’re wearing it. While it doesn’t have a color screen, the icons and apps viewable on the display are well laid-out and easy to see at a glance. Swiping through them is also fast and simple. 

The sleep tracking and period tracking features are decent too, though we would still recommend using a period tracking app in the beginning if you have an irregular cycle.  Overall, the Fitbit Charge 4 really is the best fitness tracker for the majority of people, and is simple to use even if you’re new to exercise and the world of fitness bands. To learn more about the digital exercise platform, read our Fitbit Premium review.

2. Apple Watch 5: Best fitness tracker for heart health

Best fitness tracker: Apple Watch Series 5 in White

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Watch Series 5

The best fitness watch to boost your fitness and help you sleep well


Screen: Yes | Heart rate tracking: Yes | Waterproof: Yes, to 50m | GPS: Yes | Battery life: 1 day

Reasons to Buy

Large, great-looking display
ECG heart tracking

Reasons to Avoid

Short battery life

The Apple Watch Series 5 is a stunning exercise-focused smartwatch and activity tracker. While it's more expensive than most other devices in our best fitness tracker guide, for the money you get a highly customizable build of a superb quality. The watch sits comfortably on the wrist and looks great while tracking your daily activity and workouts. 

If heart rate monitoring is what you prize most from a fitness tracker, Apple has some of the most impressive heart tracking tech on the market, which includes its ECG (electro cardiogram) monitor. 

Apple's latest-gen watch is capable of helping you track menstruation too, giving you insight into your monthly cycle and when your period is likely to start (based on your menstruation history). It will even take care of your hearing by using noise-tracking to alert you if you're in a high-decibel environment.

The only downside in our eyes is battery life: it tops out at a day or, as Apple claims, 18 hours. But if you use the LTE connection and GPS a lot, it'll run out of juice faster.

3. Fitbit Versa 2: Best fitness tracker for wellness

Best fitness trackers: Fitbit Versa 2 in Teal with Rose Gold

(Image credit: Fitbit)

Fitbit Versa 2 Fitness Watch

Track your steps, heart rate and sleep with this activity tracker


Screen: Yes | Heart rate tracking: Yes | Waterproof: Yes, to 50m | GPS: Only with phone | Battery life: Up to 6 days

Reasons to Buy

Beautiful-looking fitness tracker
Smart assistant support
Customizable with various apps

Reasons to Avoid


The Fitbit Versa 2 is one of the most stylish-looking wearables out there thanks to its curved edge screen, which is full color and high-resolution, making it easier to read when you're out exercising in bright daylight. It also feels good on the wrist, thanks to an interchangeable soft silicone strap, and sports easy-to-use touch controls.

It's made our list of the best fitness trackers for its stunning mix of style and smarts, and will get you up and running quickly when it comes to tracking your daily activity, workouts and how well you sleep (you'll need to wear the tracker in bed).

The Fitbit Versa 2 is waterproof to 50m, so making it suitable for swimming, and tracks steps taken, elevation, heart rate, and your sleep cycle – the latter comes via a personalized Sleep Score with actionable insights on how you can sleep better. 

If you enjoy taking your workouts off-road, Fitbit's super-popular tracker can be paired with your phone to access GPS. Elsewhere it offers Spotify music control, supports contactless payments, and utilizes Amazon Alexa Voice Assistant for voice control. That's handy if you want a fitness tracker to perform tasks while you're in the middle of a workout.

4. Garmin Forerunner 245 Music: Best fitness tracker for runners

Best fitness trackers: Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

Love running to music? Add your playlist straight to this fitness tracker


Screen: Yes | Heart rate tracking: Yes | Waterproof: Yes, to 50m | GPS: Yes | Battery life: Up to 7 days

Reasons to Buy

Pulse Ox sensor
Support for Spotify
Superb tracking with GPS

Reasons to Avoid


The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music is a superb fitness tracker from a company that's been working on perfecting these devices for decades. As a result, this one is crammed with features for fitness: GPS, heart rate and VO2 Max monitoring. There's also running dynamics, pulse ox sensing, training status, post-workout recovery advice, plus plenty more thanks via the Garmin app store.

The battery life is a decent seven days when in use as a smartwatch and fitness tracker. Fire up the GPS for a tracked workout and you can expect it to keep going for up to six hours, which includes music playing via Bluetooth headphones. Overall, this is a solid offering that will take whatever you throw at it.

5. Fitbit Charge 3: Best fitness tracker for various sports

Best fitness trackers: Fitbit Charge 3

(Image credit: Fitbit)

Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Band

This lightweight band monitors your periods as well as your workouts


Screen: Yes | Heart rate tracking: Yes | Waterproof: Yes, to 50m | GPS: Only with phone | Battery life: Up to 7 days

Reasons to Buy

Good-sized screen
Light and comfortable

Reasons to Avoid

No color screen

The Fitbit Charge 3 is a lightweight fitness tracker that's comfy and unobtrusive enough to wear day-to-day, so not just when you're exercising. It has a simple black and white screen, which may be smaller than a smartwatch display but is actually bigger than many of its competitors and reads clearly too. This alone could make it the best fitness tracker for those of you with vision issues. 

Unfortunately there's no onboard GPS here, but the Charge 3 is fantastic for health and fitness in every other way, with accurate onboard 24/7 heart rate monitor, water-resistant (down to 50 meters) for those of you who love to swim, and plenty of dedicated workout modes to choose from. The Fitbit SmartTrack function automatically recognizes swimming, elliptical training, walking, or cycling using one of the best exercise bikes or one of the best bike trainers.

Like Fitbit’s other more recent devices, it’s a solid option if sleep-tracking is also important to you – the app presents Sleep Stages and plenty of data about your sleep patterns and how you could improve them. There are move reminders here too, making it a good choice if you often forget to stand up and move about during those hours when you're not exercising.

6. Polar Ignite: Best fitness watch for gym use

Best fitness trackers: Polar Ignite in Yellow

(Image credit: Polar)

Polar Ignite

The best fitness tracker for people who love detailed exercise stats


Screen: Yes | Heart rate tracking: Yes | Waterproof: Yes, to 50m | GPS: Yes | Battery life: Up to 7 days

Reasons to Buy

Pre-planned workouts
GPS onboard
Excellent Flow app

Reasons to Avoid

Lacks wider app support

The Polar Ignite wearable is a smartwatch style device which offers not only workout tracking and sleep analysis but also onboard GPS for training metrics. The sleep tracking is detailed with a handy Nightly Recharge metric for at-a-glance status of how well you slept. Rather uniquely, the Polar Ignite also offers a breathing exercise called Serene to help you relax for better sleep.

The FitSpark daily training guide is a great way of keeping an eye on your history, recovery and readiness to train more. The use of VO2 max and continuous heart rate tracking help to make this genuinely useful data. You can also use this in the pool for tracking and when out and about you can get smartphone notifications from a connected device. 

7. Withings Move ECG: Best fitness tracker with ECG

Best fitness trackers: Withings Move ECG

(Image credit: Withings)

Withings Move ECG Fitness Watch

If you need ECG analysis but don't want the Apple Watch, try this


Screen: No | Heart rate tracking: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | GPS: Only with phone | Battery life: Up to 12 months

Reasons to Buy

Looks great
Long battery life

Reasons to Avoid

A little expensive
Minimal fitness features

The swimming-friendly Withings Move ECG is, as the name suggests, an advanced heart rate tracking wearable. You still get the analogue watch design Withings is famous for, only now with heart rate tracking that is capable of electrocardiogram level analysis. That makes it an ideal choice for anyone who wants to  track their heart daily.

The Move ECG also tracks steps, distance covered and calories burned, and will work with a connected phone for GPS clout. The sleep cycle monitoring and smart wake up features are great – the latter enables you feel like you've woken up naturally, which could help you feel more refreshed in the mornings. 

If you're having trouble sleeping, or feel this is one area of your health that needs some work, take a look at our guide to the best mattress and the best pillow for different sleep styles to ensure you're sleeping on the right ones for you.

Buy the Withings Move ECG direct from Withings 

8. Huawei Band 4 Pro: Best fitness tracker for small budgets

Best fitness trackers: Huawei Band 4 Pro

(Image credit: Huawei)

Huawei Band 4 Pro Fitness Band

Get pro sports guidance based on your heart rate VO2 max and more


Screen: Yes | Heart rate tracking: Yes | Waterproof: Yes, to 50m | GPS: Yes | Battery life: up to 20 days

Reasons to Buy

Good battery life
Very affordable for GPS enabled
Powerful sleep tracking

Reasons to Avoid

Design won’t appeal to everyone

The amount of health and fitness features packed into the Huawei Band 4 Pro is impressive considering its low price tag. Not only do you get a high-resolution color display, which is simple to read in varying light, but also onboard GPS, heart rate tracking and smart sleep tracking. 

It tracks a range of popular indoor and outdoor exercises, including running, cycling walking, rowing and swimming. The Huawei Band 4 Pro also tracks sleep and offers personalized suggestions for how to improve it. 

Built-in GPS means you can track without a phone when you go for a run or bike ride, and you can wear this fitness tracker in the swimming pool and ocean too, making this a genuine potential triathlon training buddy. 

The addition of VO2 Max and aerobic training effect data further adds to this very affordable and very capable tracker that treads on the toes of its bigger, more expensive GPS-enabled competitors.

9. Garmin Vivosmart 4: Best fitness tracker for post-workout recovery

Best fitness trackers: Garmin Vivosmart 4

(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin Vivosmart 4 Fitness Band

The wealth of health features here could help you avoid workout burnout


Screen: Yes | Heart rate tracking: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | GPS: Only with phone | Battery life: up to 7 days

Reasons to Buy

Good battery life
Simple, slim design

Reasons to Avoid

Small screen
No customizable strap

The Garmin Vivosmart 4 is a solid all-rounder for those who workout, but aren’t training seriously. Instead, it’ll monitor your heart rate, VO2 max to help you understand your current fitness levels, and can automatically track swimming, running, cycling and elliptical training too. It keeps tabs on other types of exercise too, but you’ll have to add those manually.

It’s also got a number of smart health features, including stress-tracking, and a full body battery metric – essentially, this tells you how worn down you are. Not only does the Vivosmart 4 help your boost recovery after working out, it’s a really good indicator of your overall wellbeing too, especially combined with that stress tracking feature.

The main drawback of the Vivosmart 4? The screen is on the small side, meaning that we’d recommend it for those who want fitness tracking smarts but prefer to look at stats in more depth via the Garmin Connect app.

10. Honor Band 5: Best fitness tracker for swimmers

Best fitness trackers: Honor Band 5 in Black

(Image credit: Honor)

Honor Band 5 Fitness Band

The best fitness tracker if you want a longer battery life


Screen: Yes | Heart rate tracking: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | GPS: No | Battery life: Up to 14 days

Reasons to Buy

Super AMOLED display
Long battery life
Oxygen saturation tracking

Reasons to Avoid

No app support

The Honor Band 5 is a super affordable health and fitness tracker that somehow manages to cram in a gorgeous AMOLED screen, despite that low price. You also get heart rate tracking and even SpO2 monitoring meaning this will calculate your blood oxygen saturation levels. You can track all sorts of sports, including swimming thanks to waterproofing, and can get sleep tracking metrics too. 

The battery is good for up to 14 days in standby mode but with real world use, with heart rate and sleep tracking on, expect to get six days on a charge. You also get smartphone notifications as well as remote music and picture taking controls, so if you use them a lot expect that to affect the battery life too.

11. Garmin Vivosport: Best fitness tracker for hiking

Best fitness trackers: Garmin Vivosport

(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin Vivosport Fitness Band

The best fitness tracker for exploring the outdoors


Screen: Yes | Heart rate tracking: Yes | Waterproof: Water-resistant | GPS: Yes | Battery life: Up to 7 days

Reasons to Buy

Slim design
Good battery life
GPS now onboard

Reasons to Avoid

No swim tracking

This fitness tracker from Garmin may look super simple, but it’s packing a lot of great tech inside that minimally design tough outer. The updated Vivosport (2020) has built-in GPS-tracking, a heart-rate sensor, VO2 max and an altimeter, making it a solid option for runners, cyclists and those serious about fitness. The only main feature it lacks is swim tracking, even though it is waterproof. A shame when many others do now offer this feature.

Its basic design might be a bit boring for some, but because it’s so understated, and not to mention slim, it’s got a wide-ranging appeal. That means we’d recommend it for those who need a reliable fitness device, but aren’t too fussed about customization options or scoring style points.

Best fitness tracker deals

Best fitness trackers FAQ

How much do the best fitness trackers cost?

On average, you can expect to pay between $60 and $650 for a fitness tracker, which is a very wide price range. It starts from the basic step-tracking wearables at the entry level end of the market, and goes right up to the all-singing, all-dancing GPS and VO2 max-tracking devices that pack in music and Bluetooth headphone connections, contactless payments, Wi-Fi, LTE and so much more.

There are plenty of options in between these two extremes, meaning there's sure to be an ideal fitness tracker out there for you. Before you shop, jot down the main features you're looking for, especially the absolute must-haves. These vary for each of us, but could include robust heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking or automatic workout recognition for running, cycling or aerobics so that you don't have to fiddle around with any menus.

Best fitness trackers: A women uses the Fitbit Charge 4 in a yoga class

Fitbit Charge 4 (Image credit: Fitbit)

How to choose the best fitness tracker for you

We covered a lot of this in the introduction, but essentially choosing the best fitness tracker for you depends on what level of fitness you currently have, what types of exercise you enjoy, what level of stats you want available to you, and whether you're interested in sleep tracking and period tracking smarts too. 

Most of today's fitness trackers offer contactless payment support, while a good range offer GPS, either integrated or when connected to your phone. 

Also think about how you want the fitness tracker to feel on your wrist: whether a lightweight tracker that you can leave on at night for sleep tracking is your top priority, or whether you need a super-robust tracker that can withstand any rough and tumble during outdoors exercises and bootcamps. 

Looking for more health and fitness content? The don't forget to check out our guides to the best online fitness services.