The best fitness trackers and smartwatches: Keep tabs on your training

Sporty watches and fitness bands to keep you motivated in the gym and out on the trails
The best fitness trackers and smartwatches

Fitness trackers and smartwatches are formidable workout partners. And it’s not just about steps and sleep – fitness trackers now have advanced powers such as heart rate monitoring, GPS, stress tracking and rich sleep insights to make sure you’re getting the best recovery.

You don’t have to spend big to get those features either. But if you do yearn for something more advanced, you’re well served with the tracker options out there.

We’ve tested the majority on offer at the moment and these are the ones that stand out as the fitness trackers worth spending your money on.

Best on test: Apple Watch Series 4

Buy now: Apple (UK) / Apple (US) / Amazon | $399 (GPS)

Keep tabs on your training with the best fitness trackers and smart watches

The Apple Watch is a smartwatch first and foremost, but it also doubles as a formidable fitness tracker to rival the best of those dedicated devices.

If you’ve ever heard Apple Watch-owning friends talk about closing their rings, they’re talking about Apple’s simplistic approach to keeping track of your daily activity progress and making sure you’re staying active throughout the day.

When a bit of self motivation isn’t having its desired effect, you can tap into competition features to take on other Apple smartwatch owners, giving you that added push to close those Move, Exercise and Stand rings. You’ll even get nudges when you’re falling behind and pick up trophies when you’ve won your activity tracking duel.

One inbuilt feature the Apple Watch lacks is a sleep tracker, but you can delve into the App Store and download a host of apps that can add that functionality if you need it.

If you can live with charging it every night, this is a fitness tracker in a watch body that really delivers the goods.

Best value

Polar Ignite

Buy now: Polar (UK) / Polar (US) / Amazon | $229.95

Keep tabs on your training with the best fitness trackers and smartwatches

Polar's most recent entry into the world of fitness trackers is one of the most impressive we've seen. Taking a large amount of the features from the Vantage series and then some, the Ignite manages to be both a beautifully designed general fitness watch and an extremely competent sports tracker.

Despite its slight size and build, the Ignite comes with a host of features including extremely detailed sleep tracking, nightly recharge stats to show you how much energy you're using and accumulating, FitSpark daily training guidance and Smart Calories.

For the sport and fitness users there's not much it won't do, from tracking for a massive range of activities to detailed information on VO2 Max, running plans, activity training benefits and training load data to show how effective your workouts are for your fitness. It'll even help create a training plan for you based on your goals and your current fitness level.

In addition to all of that, the watch comes in a wide range of colourways and designs, has GPS tracking, a touch screen, is waterproof and includes handy little features like breathing exercises and a fitness test. You'll also get 17 hours battery in training mode and up to five days in watch mode with continuous heart rate tracking. You won't find many watches that give you as much for so little.

Fitbit Versa

Buy now: Fitbit (UK) / Fitbit (US) / Amazon | $159.95

Best fitness trackers for GSG

Another smartwatch with serious fitness tracking powers, the Fitbit Versa has an Apple Watch-esque look but at a fraction of the price.

The best of Fitbit is housed inside the slim watch body including 24/7 activity tracking, some of the best sleep monitoring in the business and a heart rate sensor that unlocks additional features like resting heart rate trends and a host of richer sleep metrics.

Guided breathing will help keep your stress in check while all of your data is housed inside one of the most intuitive smartphone apps out there. There’s also a dedicated app store to add new features to beef up the Versa’s abilities.

With over four days of battery life, you won’t need to put it on charge overnight to keep on top of your tracking. You can also save yourself some money and pick up the Versa Lite edition, which drops some smartwatch features but still keeps all that activity tracking goodness.

Xiaomi Mi Band 4

Buy now: Amazon | $43.99

Best fitness trackers for GSG

If you don’t want to spend big and you’re just after a competent fitness tracking band, Xiaomi’s affordable Mi Band 4 is one to cast your eye over.

Ignore the budget price tag because the Band 4 will cover your tracking bases. It will count your steps, track distance covered and it does automatic sleep monitoring too.

It’s waterproof up to 50 metres depth so you can wear it all day, including in the shower, and it can even track your pool swimming sessions. The onboard heart rate monitor can keep tabs on your ticker 24/7 and lets you take on the spot readings of your resting heart rate to get a better sense of your current fitness level.

All of your fitness data is synced to the Mi Fit companion app, which is available for Android and iPhones, and with a 20-day battery life you won’t be grabbing that charger for a while.

It’s cheap but it’s crammed with features, and a new colour touchscreen means it looks nicer on the wrist than previous Mi Bands.

Fitbit Charge 3

Buy now: Fitbit (UK) / Fitbit (US) / Amazon | $149.95

Best fitness trackers for GSG

The Fitbit Charge 3 is the company’s top end fitness band which houses the best of its activity tracking features as well as throwing in some smartwatch add-ons for good measure.

With a wide array of official and unofficial bands, you can dress up the Charge 3’s look a fair bit. It's also water resistant up to 50 metres, so you can keep it on when you’re in the shower.

24/7 tracking includes steps, heart rate monitoring and all-day calorie burn to help take better advantage of supported weight management features.

The slim design makes it the ideal device to take to bed and make use of Fitbit’s insightful sleep monitoring features, which uses the built-in heart rate sensor to help establish the quality of your sleep.

The seven-day battery life is longer than you’ll get from Fitbit’s smartwatches, and if you're willing to pay more for the Special Edition, you can have the added ability to make payments from your wrist.

Samsung Galaxy Fit

Buy now: Samsung (UK) / Samsung (US) / Amazon $99.99

Best fitness trackers for GSG

Another band option, Samsung’s Galaxy Fit comes in with a sub-$100 price tag but doesn’t scrimp on features.

It does the activity tracking basics, although the missing altimeter means you can’t track steps climbed. There’s waterproofing up to 50 metres as well as one of the best touchscreen displays to view your data with during the day and night.

There’s also a heart rate monitor in tow, which unlocks additional stress tracking features and monitoring of your HR throughout the day. If you want to track outdoor runs and rides it’ll do that automatically but without GPS it’s not the most accurate device.

Up to seven days' battery life means it’s up there with other fitness bands in keeping you away from the charger for at least a week.

It’s well priced and impresses with its core tracking abilities, and has some nice smartwatch features to make it a good investment if you’re after a slim fitness tracking band.

Withings Steel HR Sport

Buy now: Withings (UK) / Withings (US) / Amazon | $199.95

Best fitness trackers for GSG

If fitness bands or full fat smartwatches don’t do it for you in the looks department, there are alternatives out there – and Withings’ hybrid smartwatch is one to definitely take a look at.

Half analogue watch, half smartwatch, the Steel HR Sport bakes a digital display inside a traditional-looking watch face. That way you can view a host of data including daily step counts and current heart rate. The sub dial also offers a more discreet way to monitor your daily progress.

It’ll automatically recognise and track a range of activities, and sleep monitoring means you can take it to bed too. Up to 25 days of battery life (depending on what features you use regularly) means it has greater stamina than all of the other devices on this list.

All of your data lives inside of the Withings Health Mate app, which keeps the interface nice and simple and to the point. If you want the best of both wearable worlds, this is a great tracker.

Garmin Vivosmart 4

Buy now: Garmin (UK) / Garmin (US) / Amazon | $129.99

Best fitness trackers for GSG

Garmin makes great fitness trackers, and in the Vivosmart 4 it’s delivered one of its best in a really slimline design.

Along with ticking off the fitness tracking staples like step counts and automatic sleep monitoring, it also offers great motivational features to keep you moving. The Move bar displayed on the device gives you a nice visual and glanceable cue as to how active (or inactive) you’ve been. It will even adapt step counts based on your progress to subtly keep you moving for longer.

Garmin’s Body Battery feature also gives you a better idea of your body’s energy reserves. It does that using heart rate variability data along with other monitored metrics to give you a simple score, then it’ll let you know whether you’ve got enough in the tank for a big training session or even a hectic work day.

For your money you’re also getting some decent workout tracking features and smartwatch extras, like the ability to view notifications and train by heart rate.

It’s a fitness tracker that brings some interesting features to the party and it’s not badly priced either.

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus

Buy now: Garmin (UK) / Garmin (US) / Amazon | $699.99

Best fitness trackers for GSG

Garmin’s feature-packed sports watch is built for the outdoors, but it also makes room for fitness tracking features that mean you’ll want to keep it on in between those impromptu hikes and treks.

Everything you’ll find in Garmin’s fitness bands can be found inside of all of Garmin’s Fenix 5 series models. So that’s step counting, the useful Move bar and auto goals to adapt daily step goals – whether you’re hitting them or falling short.

Sleep monitoring is also onboard if you wear your watch under the duvet, and while it might not be as insightful as Fitbit’s sleep features it still does a fine job offering insights into your bed time.

Along with all those fitness tracking features, you’ve also got all of the sports to track you could ever want, and up to 12 days of battery life means you’ll be monitoring for almost two weeks before it’s time to power up again.

Tags:    Workout    Running
Tagged    Workout    Running