Looking to get fit in 2020? The best fitness tracker (aka a fitness band, aka “those things you wear that count your steps”) is a decent place to start, especially if you’re trying to stick to New Year resolutions, even though it’s only autumn. Fitness trackers are not expensive but the best Cyber Monday deals brought the prices down even further.
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With the market extremely well established there really is something for everyone in terms of prices, from around £20 to £200+, with products that do little more than count steps and ‘track sleep’, with varying degrees of inaccuracy, all the way up to devices with heart-rate tracking that are more like scaled down running watches.
After many years of doing very little beyond counting steps, makers of trackers and bands are now realising that many consumers want more useful feedback on how fit they are and how to get fitter. They are addressing this with, it must be said, ‘varying’ degrees of success. Or, if you’re less diplomatic, not much success.
To cut a long story short, if you’re interested in fitness, my strong advice is to get a running watch instead. The term ‘running watch’ is just shorthand – they’re fitness watches that also useful when cycling, hiking, at the gym and even, in a few cases, swimming.
However, if you must have a Fitbit or similar, get the new Charge 4 or one of their more versatile watches such as the Versa 2.
But what is the best fitness tracker?
Okay, it’s a Fitbit. Quite hard deciding which, as they are so similar in terms of functionality but at present we rank them like this:
Fitbit Charge 4: best fitness tracker overall. Finally, Fitbit has given runners, HIIT workout heroes and anyone who likes more intense exercise what they want. There’s GPS to track outdoor activity, improved pulse monitoring accuracy and a new points system that rewards SWEAT.
Fitbit Versa 2: best fitness tracker with smartwatch elements. With fairly good pulse tracking, Alexa, and an excellent app, this is a good fitness band made just big enough to incorporate a smartwatch-style screen and functionality. No GPS built in but you can tap into your phone’s.
Fitbit Versa Lite: best cheap fitness tracker and easily good enough for most people.
Garmin Vivoactive 4: best fitness tracker made by someone other than Fitbit. with built-in GPS, tracking of more intense workouts and impressive accuracy, this is obviously the device that the Charge 4 was built to take on. The look and feel of it, plus the social and app elements are a bit crappier, however.
Fitbit’s app, social network and general ecosystem are just by far the best. Seriously, it’s not even close. Garmin’s new, tightened-up app is a step in the right direction in some ways, but it’s still too sprawling, because it’s designed to be for everyone from 10,000-steps-per-day mums to elite triathletes.