Best Activity Trackers
Activity trackers, or more commonly known as fitness trackers, are great for both fitness gurus and novices alike. Depending on the type you are interested in, they can be as complex or simple as you desire. No matter, they are great tools that utilize computer programming and software to provide you with essential fitness metrics such as heart rate, calories burned, total distance, speed, etc. But, for some reason, activity trackers are tricky because many (even the great ones) have performance issues and caveats. Given the complexity of their design, this is not surprising just something to take note of. However, if you stick with the bottom ten, you should be all good.
- Fitbit Alta HR
- Stainless steel
- Slim design
- Garmin Vivomore
- Garmin Connect
- Appealing design
- Fitbit Surge
- Sleep monitoring
- Built-in GPS
10 Best Activity Trackers
Fitbit Altra HR
Besides all the basic fitness metrics that you can track, you can also assess your sleep and heart rate. Granted the heart rate monitor is not the greatest, it still gives you the capability of doing so.
All on the OLED display, which is not too large or too small, you can tap to see all the metrics and stats you want to see; in addition to times and notifications from your synced devices.
Thanks to the refreshed rate of the heart rate monitor, the battery life of the Fitbit Alta is improved. On a single charge, this tracker can last up to seven days without needing another one.
Integrated into the tracker is Bluetooth technology and what this allows for you is to sync any device that also has Bluetooth technology. Thus, if you sync your smartphone, you could receive calls, texts, and notifications straight from the Alta.
Besides the basic black colored version that is available, you also have options for either blue and gray, pink rose gold, fuchsia, and coral.
When people think of activity trackers, the first brand that comes to mind is arguably Fitbit. Their name is stamped all over the technology and their Alta HR just so happens to be their pinnacle.
- It is crafted from surgical-grade stainless steel
- This will operate granted it is between 14 and 113 degrees
- Features the slimmest design of a Fitbit
- When you move your hands, the Fitbit counts it as steps taken
- Several users have claimed that the heart rate monitor is unreliable
Not only does this feature 24/7 heart rate monitoring there are also wellness monitoring tools that will help you manage your stress. In addition, you can track basic metrics such as calories, steps, distance, and time.
Overall, the display is sleek and visually appealing. Plus, because it features a touchscreen interface, you can swipe the screen to access your messages and further information.
If you were to utilize this watch’s smart technology without stopping, you could get up to five days of battery life. But, in standard watch mode, it can last up to two weeks.
As this is a smartwatch, it has all the capabilities of Bluetooth technology. So, you can stay connected with your devices and see notifications, calls, texts, uploads, etc.
There are two different design options that you can select from. You can choose from a straight black watch with a black band or a black and silver watch with a brown band.
Truly, this smartwatch does it all. Besides its ability to act as a standard watch, it also possesses the capabilities of tracking all the fitness metrics you need including time, distance, calories burned, steps, etc.
- Features a very appealing and attractive design
- You can automatically upload your tracking data to Garmin Connect
- Gauges your fitness age so you can improve over time
- Some may not like the silicone strap
- Can be difficult to see the screen in bright daylight
Fitbit Surge Superwatch
With built-in GPS technology, you can view distance, your paces, and elevation climbed in an instance. Also, you can track your workouts and monitor your sleep.
While the LED display is on all the time, you have the option of turning on the backlight by simply selecting the corresponding button. In addition, there is a light sensor that increases the contrast.
As GPS technology can suck a battery’s life faster than anything, if you utilize it for as long as possible you could get up to 10 hours. But, if you opt to not use it, you can get around 7 days of battery life.
With the power of Bluetooth technology, you can see call and text notifications straight from the touchscreen display. Plus, if you want to, you can wirelessly upload your data to your computer.
If you do not want to settle for the classic black design of most fitness trackers, you can also choose from a tangerine colored band.
This features all the tech and fun that you expect from an activity tracker. Given that it is designed by Fitbit, this should not be a surprise to you. Perhaps it could have been a little lighter in terms of weight, but that is merely personal preference.
- This allows you to automatically monitor your sleep and set an alarm
- Includes built-in GPS technology for specific tracking
- The display shows all your call and text notifications
- Is a little heavier and bulkier than other fitness trackers
- The four basic options may not be suitable for some
Garmin Forerunner 35
With vibration alerts that are built-in, you will be notified when you hit a milestone, when there is a running prompt, and how your pacing progress is going. Plus, the built-in GPS tracks basic running metrics even while you are under tree cover.
Garmin has been perfecting their design for many years and their Forerunner 35 sports an updated display. Overall, it possesses a high-resolution that is ideal for both indoor and outdoor viewing.
Per Garmin’s estimates, you should be able to achieve up to 13 hours of battery life in the training mode. In simply watch mode, it can last up to nine days on one charge.
While it does possess the ability to sync to your Bluetooth devices to view smart notifications and updates straight from the interface, many users have claimed that they have run into issues when trying to sync devices.
The watch itself stays the same color but you can select what colored band you want. Choices are available from black, white, frost blue and limelight.
Past the minor issues with syncing and the inaccuracy of the heart rate monitor (which is prevalent in many trackers), Garmin proved again with their Forerunner 35 that they are simply ahead of the pack.
- Features a built-in GPS for running metrics
- It is waterproof up to 50 meters
- Can be paired with compatible smartphones
- Several have griped about syncing issues with Bluetooth
- The heart rate monitor is not that consistent
Nokia Steel Activity
With 24/7 seamless tracking, you can track several activities and also general metrics such as calories burned and distance totaled. Also, with sleep analysis, you can track your sleeping progress.
Besides the fact that the Nokia Steel will automatically detect and track all your activity without the need of pressing a button, the rich display is certainly high-class.
Instead of needing to recharge the battery when it dies, this device runs off of a standard button cell watch. As such, it will last up to eight months and when it exceeds its lifespan it will need to be replaced.
With the free Nokia Health Mate app, you can see your data and current trends straight from your smartphone.
Each separate color design will adapt to users’ needs as they are all unique and appealing. This includes black, rose gold and white.
This is a terrific activity tracker for those looking to mix an appealing design with practicality. Plus, with bonus features such as a waterproof design and sleep monitoring, all the goods are present here.
- Constructed from premium materials including stainless steel and chrome
- Includes a battery with an 8-month lifespan
- It is water-resistant up to 50 meters
- When you are monitoring sleep, the watch is not that comfortable
- From the face of the watch, it is difficult to see the exact step count
All the activities you partake in, including running, cycling, boxing, weightlifting, etc., can be improved with the real-time audio coaching that this provides. In addition, it features an advanced swim tracker for stroke type, count, and lap analysis.
The gimmick of this fitness tracker is it provides the same capabilities as others while sacrificing the physical display. But, even without the screen, it holds a lot of power.
The integrated battery that is included in the Now activity tracker will last up to six months before it needs to be replaced.
In conjunction with this device, you will want to download the Moov App to be able to sync all of your data across multiple devices. In addition, the app adds loads of fitness options and stats.
The default tracker is actually pink and that may not appeal to some people. Thankfully, you can also choose aqua blue, sky blue, white, red, black, and orange.
Clearly, the lack of a display will either appeal to you or appall you. Thanks to the application, you can still monitor your progress but it may not be suitable for some. But, it does reduce the bulkiness and you can hardly tell the band is strapped to your wrist.
- To provide better real-time accuracy, this utilizes three times the sensors of basic fitness trackers
- The band is both ultra lightweight and breathable
- Features a fitness coach that teaches you
- Not the most flexible application in the world
- As there is no notification when the band is on, you never know when it is on
Garmin Vivofit 4
Thanks to the moving bar with an audible alert, you are reminded to stay active for the day as after one hour of inactivity, the red move bar will display and an alert will sound. Also, you can record activities with or without the heart rate monitor.
Featuring a display that has a bright backlight, you can see and monitor the screen in broad daylight and pitch darkness. But, you can turn off the backlight to save the battery.
There is no reason to worry about recharging this battery as it is equipped with an internal battery that will last for up to one year. When the time comes, you can simply replace it.
Due to its intelligent design, the Vivofit 4 has an auto-sync feature that will sync to your paired devices at strategic times. For example, if you reach a milestone.
The prices will vary depending on the color of band you choose, but the options remain black, pink, red, white, and navy.
This truly is an innovative and fantastic piece of equipment. One caveat, that has not been addressed, is that when you are walking if you do not sway your arms it may not pick up your steps. While a minor inconvenience that will bother some, it remains great overall.
- Includes move alerts that will keep you active every day
- Every day, you can receive a personalized daily goal
- It is water-resistant so it is safe for the rain
- Amazing battery life
- Unless your arms are swinging, it tends to not pick up your steps
- Tends to be uncomfortable for small wrists
Misfit Shine 2
Without having to do a thing, the MisFit Shine 2 will automatically track metrics such as light and heavy sleep, calories burned, total distance, and steps. In addition, you will also receive vibration alerts for alarms and reminders.
Again, there is not really a digital display. Instead, there are multiple colors that indicate certain progress and an LED makeup. But, the time is displayed for you.
As with some of the other trackers on this list, you do not recharge this fitness tracker. After around six months of use, which is the expected lifetime of this battery, you simply need to replace it.
Choose your favorite app and connect with it as this will sync with all sorts of applications including Runkeeper and MyFitnessPal. Plus, it can connect to compatible household devices.
A few color choices are at your disposal and this includes pure silver, rose gold and carbon black.
Again, the overall design is a matter of taste. While, performance-wise, this is not without its flaws and hiccups, most of the time it manages to perform to its designed capabilities.
- Features an anodized aluminum disc that is waterproof
- Can track swimming metrics as it is water-resistance as a whole
- You can connect to several applications for additional uses
- Some have claimed that the device can be unresponsive in terms of call and text alerts
- Can have performance issues with tracking
Garmin Vovosmart 3
Besides the basic training data that this will track, it will also measure VO2 Max and monitor your stress levels. VO2 Max is widely considered one of the best measures of aerobic fitness.
What is really convenient about this display is that when it is not in use, it disappears which will not only extend the battery life but also not get in the way of your style.
If you were to use this on an extended note without charging the battery once, it could last up five days. Of course, this will vary depending on how you use it.
When paired with a compatible device, you can view all essential information straight from the watch. For example, your text messages, emails and other notifications.
Not too many choices are available here. Still, you can choose from either a black or purple activity tracker.
One special note is anyone who is interested in this terrific tracker, you need to take caution when caring for it. As the watch is one solid piece, if the band accidentally breaks then you can’t replace the band individually.
- The battery will last up to five days
- It is safe for both showering and swimming alike
- Is one of the thinnest activity trackers from Garmin
- Not the best user interface for those looking for details at their fingertips
- The watch is one solid piece so if the band breaks, the entire tracker is useless
Samsung Gear Fit 2
The Gear Fit 2 gives you the ability to track your calories burned, heart rate, step count and even sleeping patterns. Even more so, it has a built-in GPS for tracking exercises as soon as you move.
This is actually one of the better displays out there, for fitness trackers. It is an AMOLED display and overall, it is both easy to read and fun to navigate through.
While the GPS and display are great, it does not lend its way too significantly in terms of battery life. Expect around three to four days’ worth.
Not only can you connect to your smartphone, you can also store and listen to music straight through Spotify.
A few design options are at play here including black, dark gray, pink and blue.
While battery life can be a concern, especially for your phone when it is synced, its music capabilities and overall design still make it worth an investment.
- Includes a built-in GPS
- You can receive and respond to calls and notifications from a synced smartphone
- Has the ability to store and play music
- When synced, it will drain your phone’s battery quickly and does not possess great battery life itself
- The band is very easy to knock off
Criteria Used For The Evaluation
The Software Features and GPS
Most people will be looking for an activity tracker for a specific reason and sometimes that reason is more detailed for some. However, some of you may simply be looking for this device to track your fitness throughout the day. But, some may be looking for a more advanced tool that will monitor your sleeping progress, that will keep track of your heart-rate, and one that will alert you of milestones and allow you to set goals for yourself. No matter, before you start looking, figure out what you are looking for.
If you want all that and more, you need to spring for an advanced activity tracker with all the tech. Of course, there is also the integration of GPS technology which can really set certain models apart. GPS technology for fitness trackers is great because it allows the device to track your distance, pace, elevation, speed, etc., all while outdoors. For people who love exploring the outdoor world, it is highly recommended to get a tracker with GPS technology built into it.
The Overall Design of the Display and Screen
Fitness trackers are not meant to be designed to be overly bulky and add excess weight. As such, you may not run into too many models with extra-large screens that are bloated with features and options. Instead, you are delivered smaller screens that, depending on the model, still allow you to access all the data you need. Still, even with a smaller display, you can still look for LED and OLED displays as they are some of the most efficient displays in the world today. Also, as the display can be responsible for sucking the battery life, handy features such as the ability to dim or completely shut-off the backlight when it is not needed are ideal to look out for.
However, some trackers will not have a display at all. Most of these types will rely heavily on a synced application for you to utilize it. For those who do not want to navigate through a small and minuscule interface, this is not a bad alternative and it could also save on battery life.
The Battery Life
No matter what type of technology device that you want to talk about if it is run off of any internal or external battery of any kind then battery life will always be a point of emphasis. Not necessarily how long the battery will last over time, even though that can be prominent and is for some types of activity trackers, but how long it will hold a charge in one sitting. This is even more important for a device such as this as, typically, you will be using this on the go and you may not have the means of charging it.
One important aspect to remember, with GPS technology, is fitness trackers with GPS capabilities will have slight differences in their battery life. In general, GPS technology is an evil for battery life. It consumes a ton of juice and you can only get away with using it for so long. But, if you do not use it, the battery will last much longer. Plus, some trackers will be run off of a battery that is not meant to be charged so you never have to worry about it (just need to replace it when it dies).
The Bluetooth Technology
In the modern world of technology, designers and manufacturers seem keen on making devices that achieve multiple functions. For example, a video game console that can stream movies, store music, and play video games. This is essentially what Bluetooth technology is as it allows you to sync two devices together to share information. Why is this important with activity trackers? In terms of analyzing your data, it is important if you plan on uploading and syncing your data with fitness apps or on a cloud storage device.
Also, it is a convenience as if you sync your tracker with your smartphone, you get incoming calls, texts, emails, and other notifications straight at your fingertips. This is just one example and there are plenty of other devices that you could sync to. Just make sure, and the manufacturer should inform you, your intended device is compatible with the tracker.
The Different Color Options
Past their performance features and what they provide for you, activity trackers can be used as fashion statements and most of the time, they are. This is not the sole reason you would buy one, as there are cheaper options for that, but you will be wearing it so style will come into play. Why else would manufacturers design their trackers in a vast majority of colors? They understand business philosophy enough to know that people prefer different types of colors and designs, as humans are simply creatures of habit. If someone hates the color pink, why would they want to go around with a pink activity tracker on their wrist? As simple and shallow as it may appear to some, a specific color could end up being the deciding factor (unless the tracker at hand is simply not designed well).
Q: Will Fitness Trackers Work in Your Pocket?
Not all fitness trackers need to be worn around your wrist. In fact, some are designed to be clipped to your waist or worn below your calf. But, will they work if you merely put them in your pockets? After all, some people’s workplace may not allow any excess items to be visible. Let’s take the Alta from Fitbit for example with this question. With this tracker, it is not as if they will not work if you place them in your pockets but the performance may be compromised. As they are designed with a 3-axis accelerometer to track movement from the arms, it can make it harder or impossible to do so with it in your pocket.
Also, with those that have GPS technology, this could also be affected as GPS uses satellites in the sky and the barrier in your pocket could prove enough to strongly affect this.
Q: What Are Ways to Maximize the Battery Life?
If you have ever owned a fitness tracker, then you know how frustrating battery life can be. If you are constantly finding yourself needing to recharge, when the battery life is supposed to last longer, it could be affected by how you are using the device. Certain design features such as notifications, your backlight, and the GPS can all suck down your battery life. So, here is what you should do to prevent this.
Firstly, only utilize these design features when they are needed most. For example, do not constantly leave your tracker synced to your smartphone as frequent alerts and notifications can drain the battery life. This also comes into play with GPS as it can be a battery hog; so, only use it when necessary. Plus, the backlight, if adjustable, should be off in the daylight as there is no reason for it.
Q: Will Activity Trackers Actually Help Lose Weight?
Despite their design, many people may think that simply having an activity tracker will help them lose weight. However, a recent study that was conducted, which was led by John Jakicic (a director of Physical Activity and Weight at Pittsburgh University), may prove otherwise. In their findings, Jakicic revealed that the individuals who were researched in the study ended up either finding these devices useless or giving up altogether.
Jakicic actually admitted that in the team’s hypothesis, they predicted that the devices would help the people who were tested and that the team was surprised with the results. The way Jakicic worded it, they came to the conclusion that fitness trackers are simply not for everyone and some people may think they become stagnant after a while. Basically, what you need to remember, is a fitness tracker is merely a device that tracks metrics and assists you in action. But, it is still up to you to perform.
Q: Can Activity Trackers Cause Cancer?
It seems like every single product in the world has cancer associated with it. Everyone seems to be asking, “can I get cancer from this?” Guess what, this is a question that often gets brought up for fitness trackers. The basis for the concern is the fact that fitness trackers emit radio frequency (RF) energy to allow them to send data to your wireless devices. But, there really is no evidence to base a claim on at the moment. Because these devices emit ultra-low levels of RF energy, many believe that this is not a concern for people. But, it is still RF energy and that can be dangerous if it becomes overexposed.
If you are paranoid about this, just ensure that you do not leave your devices synced to the tracker at all times. If they are not synced, this RF energy will not be emitted and you will truly have nothing to worry about.
Q: What To Do If Your Tracker is Not Syncing?
Technology is great but it is not foolproof. It sure would be nice if it was but the reality is, technology can malfunction through no fault of your own. Sometimes, if you are trying to sync the tracker to your smartphone you will run into issues and it will not allow you to do so. There are a few troubleshooting steps that you can take in case this occurs. Firstly, ensure that you are both indoors and that the two devices are close to one another. The closer they are, the easier it will be to sync and sometimes outdoor light can interfere with the process.
Also, even though it is a simple mistake, ensure that the Bluetooth on your smartphone is turned on. If you are still having issues, reset both your smartphone and fitness tracker.
Q: How Do You “Unpair” Your Devices?
It has been referenced a few times during this guide, that you can consider un-syncing your devices from your fitness tracker to either extend the battery life and stop the emission of RF energy. So, how exactly are you supposed to do that? Well, you are going to want to do so from the device that is synced and not the tracker. Let’s say that you are syncing it with an app on your smartphone, all you need to do is access the main menu of the app and open the Device settings. From there, you can simply disconnect the activity tracker from the app.
If merely on your smartphone, access the Bluetooth settings and the Paired devices section of it. Simply tap the device that you want to unpair (which would be your activity tracker) and you are good to go.
Whether you are after a fitness tracker to obtain new fitness goals or you are merely looking for one to improve your fitness habits, they are fantastic devices. They can vary quite a bit, so you need to be aware of what you are looking for. But, you now should have a better idea of what they are capable of.