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What to Look For in a Fitness Tracker in 2022
While picking a fitness tracker, considering your fitness goals is a good starting point. Are you a beginner trying to be more active, an enthusiast looking to make a better sense of your workouts, or someone preparing for a marathon or something similarly specific? The more specific your goal, the more specific features you’ll need from your fitness tracker, which helps narrow down your search.
In addition, you may want to look for features such as waterproofing, built-in GPS, and the ability to sync with your favorite fitness app, depending on your needs. If you plan on swimming, for example, you’ll want a tracker that can handle being in the water so you can monitor your workout.
Once you are clear about what you are looking to monitor and how detailed you want the data to be, you can check for those features in your prospective fitness trackers. When you know what features you want, you can be sure to pick a tracker you’ll actually want to use.
Next, long battery life is vital if you work out frequently, for long durations, or if a lot of your fitness tracking will involve GPS. In addition, charge time is equally important. When you have forgotten to charge your fitness tracker, and you are about to start a workout, can you get a decent charge in a few minutes?
Comfort is another critical aspect that you shouldn’t ignore. If your fitness tracker isn’t comfortable, it will end up sitting in a drawer somewhere. Also, if you wear it all day, you may want it to go well with your dinner attire or professional look.
Finally, while many fitness trackers have some smartwatch features, you may want to consider a full-fledged smartwatch if you want your fitness tracker to be a companion device to your phone. The best smartwatches generally have a good selection of health and fitness features, though a dedicated fitness tracker will generally give you more information.
With the basics out of the way, now it’s time to look at our recommendations.
- ✓ Accurate activity tracking
- ✓ Connected GPS support and built-in GPS
- ✓ Slim and lightweight
- ✓ Contactless payments support
- ✗ Paid subscription required to access advanced insights
- ✗ Lack of Spotify controls
The Fitbit Charge 5 is our pick for the best fitness tracker overall. It has everything that most people will be looking for in an activity tracker. It looks premium, and its color AMOLED display is bright and crisp. In addition, the slim and lightweight form factor of the Fitbit tracker makes it comfortable to wear.
There are 21 exercise modes, and the Charge 5 is extremely accurate. It can automatically detect workouts and provide you with detailed data about how you are doing, making it great for anyone that wants information without fuss.
You also get 24/7 heart-rate monitoring, and the smart band can alert you if your heart rate is abnormally high or low. Moreover, Fitbit has included an ECG app, and there’s also sleep tracking to help determine how rested you’re getting.
Battery life is good, and you can expect two to three days of backup with an always-on display. However, the tracker will only last around five hours of continuous workouts with GPS. Keep that in mind if you’re planning to go on a long hike or bike ride!
Unfortunately, several of the tracker’s most valuable features, such as the Daily Readiness Score (which tells you whether you are ready for a workout or should focus on recovery) are available only as a part of the premium subscription. Fitbit Premium costs $10 a month or $80 annually.
Best Fitness Tracker Overall
Fitbit Charge 5
The Fitbit Charge 5 is an extremely feature-packed activity tracker. It has everything most people want, from a bright AMOLED screen to a wide array of sensors.
- ✓ Slim and attractive design
- ✓ Swim tracking support
- ✓ Great battery life
- ✓ Helpful body battery metric
- ✗ No built-in GPS or connected GPS support
- ✗ Small display
The Vivosmart 4 is a fantastic fitness watch that is an excellent option if you aren’t looking to shell out more than $100 on one. It’s packed with advanced health and fitness tracking options, all in an attractive design.
One of the highlights of the Vivosmart 4 is its body battery metric. It calculates your body’s energy levels by accounting for heart rate, sleep quality, activity, and stress levels. You can use this data to decide whether it’s a good idea to work out or give your body some rest. In addition, you get the usual tracking for steps, calories, blood oxygen level during sleep, and more.
The Vivosmart 4 also mirrors notifications from your smartphone, allows you to control music playback, and more. In addition, there is support for replying to texts with preset responses, but it’s limited to Android phones.
Battery life for the smart band is pretty good. You can expect around seven days of uptime with 24×7 heart-rate monitoring. However, if you enable blood oxygen monitoring during sleep, you can expect the battery backup to drop to four to five days.
The one area where the Vivosmart 4 disappoints is the lack of a built-in GPS or even support for a connected GPS. If no GPS is a deal-breaker for you, you should consider some of our other recommendations.
Best Budget Fitness Tracker
Garmin Vivosmart 4
The Vivosmart 4 from Garmin can track your heart rate, sleep, activities, and stress levels throughout the day for a modest price.
Best Fitness Tracker for Kids: Fitbit Ace 3
- ✓ Week-long battery life
- ✓ Swimproof
- ✓ Tracks activity and sleep
- ✗ No GPS for location tracking
- ✗ Heart-rate sensor is disabled
- ✗ Short charge cable
If you are looking for a way to get your kids more active, the Fitbit Ace 3 is a great option. It incentivizes having a healthy lifestyle by making fitness fun with motivational challenges.
The tracker has a rugged design, ensuring it doesn’t get damaged during playtime. In addition, it’s water-resistant up to 50 meters and swim-proof.
As you can expect, the Ace 3 is quite different from fitness trackers meant for adults. For example, it has animated clock faces and doles out virtual badges to make completing a fitness goal fun. The Ace 3 also allows children to challenge family members to step competitions so that everyone in the family can participate and remain active.
The usual fitness tracker trappings, such as the ability to count steps, track activities, and monitor sleep, are present. But all tracking is done passively, so kids don’t need to do anything. The Fitbit Ace 3 also shines on the battery front with around a week of uptime on a single charge, making it fuss-free for parents.
You can buy it in two color options—Cosmic Blue with Green accents and Black with Red accents—but the company also offers a special edition Minions Yellow version.
Best Fitness Tracker for Kids
Fitbit Ace 3
The Fitbit Ace 3 makes fitness fun for kids by offering motivational challenges. It’s also swim-proof and can last up to a week on a single charge.
Best Fitness Tracker With GPS: Fitbit Charge 5
- ✓ Long battery life
- ✓ Built-in GPS and connected GPS support
- ✓ Bright and clear display
- ✓ NFC for contactless payment
- ✗ Some features require a paid subscription
- ✗ No music control
The Fitbit Charge 5 (also our best overall recommendation) is an excellent fitness tracker that comes with a built-in GPS. You can track your walks, runs, and bike rides without needing your phone. It has a vibrant and clear display, a comfortable design, and an easy-to-use interface.
The tracker supports over 20 workouts, covering everything from runs and swimming to pilates and kickboxing. And it can automatically detect the most common workouts and its tracking accuracy is top-notch.
You also get a heart-rate monitor, SpO2 sensor, temperature sensor, and multipurpose electrical sensors to track your sleep, stress responses, and vitals, including ECG. This fitness tracker pretty much features everything you need for your health.
The Charge 5 lasts about seven days on a single charge without an always-on display. But the battery life drops to half if you enable the always-on screen feature.
In terms of smartwatch features, the tracker supports contactless payments and app notifications from your phone.
Unfortunately, Fitbit wants you to spend money on getting a premium subscription for features like Readiness Score and personalized insights. Fitbit has also removed Spotify support in the Charge 5, a feature available in previous Charge-series trackers. Keep this in mind if these are features important to you!
Best Fitness Tracker With GPS
Fitbit Charge 5
The Charge 5 is Fitbit’s most advanced fitness tracker, and it can track over 20 workouts. Moreover, it packs a host of sensors to record your vitals.
- ✓ Large, always-on display
- ✓ Unrivaled third-party app support
- ✓ Built-in GPS
- ✓ Optional LTE connectivity
- ✗ Average battery life
- ✗ Only suitable for iPhone users
The Apple Watch Series 7 is the best smartwatch with fitness-centric features for most people. It can track over 15 types of workouts, and you get access to a heart-rate monitor, SpO2 sensor, and an ECG app.
While the Apple Watch’s fitness software is more suitable for casual users, third-party apps can help you get more out of the health and fitness data the watch is collecting.
It’s the smartwatch features where the Apple Watch really shines, though. It has an unrivaled collection of third-party apps, and you get polished software that deeply integrates with your iPhone.
In addition, if you want to get even more out of the Apple Watch, you can subscribe to Apple Fitness+, which gives you access to curated workouts and meditation sessions led by expert trainers.
The smartwatch’s battery life is average, and it will only last about a day with an always-on display or around two days without the always-on screen. Fortunately, this iteration of the Apple Watch supports fast charging.
You can buy the Series 7 in 41mm and 45mm variants with optional LTE connectivity.
The Series 7, like all other Apple Watch models, only works with iPhones. So if you have an Android phone or need an even more fitness-focused smartwatch, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus is an excellent alternative. It has excellent fitness tracking, long battery life, and decent smartwatch features.
Best Fitness Tracker Watch
Apple Watch Series 7
The Apple Watch Series 7 is arguably the best smartwatch on the market. But it’s also a competent fitness tracker for most people.
Best Screenless Fitness Tracker: Whoop 4.0
- ✓ In-depth fitness tracking
- ✓ Multiple ways to wear the tracker
- ✓ Very comfortable
- ✗ Requires pricey subscription
- ✗ Strain tracking more suitable for cardio workouts than muscle workouts
Whoop is one of the most exciting fitness trackers to arrive on the market over the last few years. It not only ditches the screen for a distraction-free experience but also provides multiple ways to wear it, such as a bicep band or wrist band. In addition, the company offers a range of athletic wear called Whoop Body that is fitted with pods to slot the Whoop tracker into.
The latest iteration, Whoop 4.0, is targeted at fitness enthusiasts or athletes who want to optimize their workouts. It takes a data-driven approach to your fitness and gives you the necessary insights into how you can improve it.
Unlike most mass-market fitness trackers that report activity tracking data in steps taken or calories burnt, Whoop gives you cardio-vascular strain, recovery, and sleep performance scores.
In addition, as the Whoop has all the sensors you will find on other trackers, you can get blood oxygen levels, heart-rate information, skin temperature, and respiratory rate data.
Another significant way Whoop 4.0 is different from other fitness trackers on this list is the pricing structure. You buy a subscription worth $30 a month with a minimum of six-month membership to get the device and access to Whoop’s app. You can save some money by opting for long-term plans, but there is no other way to get the tracker.