The first fitness tracker I personally remember was those goofy little things you used to clip to your clothes. Then came those high tech devices that went on your wrist. It wasn’t until recently that fitness trackers really started gaining some traction and more and more people are wearing them. At the same time different companies like Apple, Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung, and Huawei have continued to make their trackers better.
Today many fitness trackers are fully synced with your phones and there are apps where you can track how many steps you take in a day, your heart rate throughout the day, how much sleep you get throughout the night, your weight, cardio fitness level, guides you with your breathing and you can even download apps where you can link up with your friends and compete to see who is more active and more.
Almost all fitness trackers today have some sort of screen, some just display time, date and heart rate while others have notifications, apps and are more like smartwatches.
So which one is the best for you? Well, that depends on the features you want and how much your budget is.
So let me show you which devices are the best fitness trackers in 2018.
A Brief History
Fitness trackers only recently got popular, but did you know activity tracking has been around for a while. Before all the tech and gadgets people just manually logged their activity by writing it down.
Early development of fitness trackers were for athletes, and after that slowly started showing up commercially at gyms.
Very early devices were worn on your clothes and tracked your movement using an accelerometer. It wasn’t until around 2013 when high tech wearable wrist devices were starting to come out on the market. It started with the Fitbit Flex. The Flex was simple with only 5 LED lights that indicated the progress towards your goal, and it tracked movement 24 hours a day along with your sleep.
Today in 2018, a mere 5 years since the first wrist fitness tracker came out a whole lot has changed so Let’s take a look at some market-leading devices.
These are in no particular order and they are each reviewed individually.
Fitbit Charge 2
COMPATIBILITY: Android / iOS / Windows 10 / Mac OS X | DISPLAY: OLED | STORAGE/MEMORY: 7 days motion data / Daily totals for 30 days | SIZE: 0.61″ | SWIMPROOF: No | HEART RATE: Yes | ACTIVITY TRACKING: Yes | GPS BUILT-IN: No, but can connect with phone | APPS: No | SMARTPHONE NOTIFICATIONS: Yes | SLEEP TRACKING: Yes | MULTI-SPORT: Yes | BATTERY: 7 days | WEIGHT: 32g | RETAIL COST: $149.95
|Long 5 Day Battery Life||Not Water Resistant|
|All Day Fitness Tracking||No Built-In GPS|
|Heart Rate Tracking and Logging|
|Auto Sleep Tracking|
The Fitbit Charge 2 is the top of the line for Fitbit as far as fitness trackers only behind Fitbit’s smartwatches/fitness tracker combos. The Charge 2 essentially has every feature the Alta HR has except for a couple extra features. You still can’t swim with the Charge 2, so if your looking for a non-swimming tracker then this is a great one. Let’s take a look at the features of the Charge 2.
- 3-axis accelerometer & altimeter – Not only does the Charge 2 track your all-day activity like steps, calories, distance, but with the altimeter, it can also detect how many floors you climbed during the day.
- Multi-Sport Tracking – The Charge 2 can track various specific exercises like running or biking and display them in real time. With the SmartTrack feature, the Charge 2 automatically logs your workouts just in case you forget to log it.
- Connected GPS – The Charge 2 does not have a built-in GPS, but you could connect to your phone’s GPS to give you real-time stats of your running pace and distance on your display. After your workout, you could get a map of your workout route.
- Battery Life – The Charge 2 has a battery life of up to 5 days. Although this isn’t as long as some other fitness trackers 5 days is plenty of time to go without a charge.
- Auto Sleep Tracking – The Charge 2 automatically tracks your sleep duration and consistency. It uses your heart rate to track your time in light deep and REM sleep to help you have better sleep quality.
- PurePulse Heart Rate – The Charge 2 uses Fitbit’s PurePulse technology to detect your heart rate activity throughout the day. Using the data from your resting heart rate the Charge 2 gives you an idea of your cardiovascular health.
What Comes In The Box – The Fitbit Charge 2 is packaged in a box with a magnetic clasp on the front. In the Box, you have the fitness tracker itself on the top portion of the box. Below that it comes with a USB Charger and the user manuals. One thing to note is that the charge is only a USB charger so if you wanted to charge it with the wall outlet you will need to supply your own adapter.
Verdict – Despite being on the market for a while, the Charge 2 is arguably still one of the top fitness trackers out there. The multi-sport tracking allows you to keep track of many more exercises than just your steps. There are also features like guided breathing to go along with the heart rate tracker.
Notifications support from your smartphone is generally fairly limited and lacks a built-in GPS so you have to carry your phone with you on your outdoor runs if you want to be able to map out your workout route.
if you are looking for a non-swimming fitness tracker that is packed full of features and won’t break the budget then the Charge 2 is the tracker for you.
Apple Watch Series 3
COMPATIBILITY: iOS | DISPLAY: OLED | STORAGE: GPS 8GB / GPS + Cellular 16GB | SIZE: 38.6 x 33.3mm / 42.5 x 36.4mm | SWIMPROOF: 5 ATM / Up to 50m (160ft) | HEART RATE: Yes | ACTIVITY TRACKING: Yes | GPS BUILT-IN: Yes | APPS: Yes | SMARTPHONE NOTIFICATIONS: Yes | SLEEP TRACKING: Yes with third-party app | MULTI-SPORT: Yes with third-party app | BATTERY: 18 Hours | WEIGHT: 38mm (GPS) 26.7g / 38mm (GPS + Cellular) 28.7g / 42mm (GPS) 32.3g / 42mm (GPS + Cellular) 34.9g RETAIL COST: Starting at $329
|Built-in GPS||Battery Life|
|Connects to Gym Equipment|
|A lot of Third-Party Fitness Apps|
|Beautiful OLED Display|
|Cellular Model Available|
|On Board Music Storage|
The Apple Watch Series 3 dubbed as the “Ultimate Sports Watch” by Apple themselves, but is it really?
This smartwatch comes packed with so many features that if you are like me you discover a feature you didn’t know about all the time. Let’s take a look at some main features that come with the apple watch series 3:
- GPS and Altimeter – The apple watch series 3 comes with a built-in GPS and Altimeter which is used to record the distance, speed and could even map out the route of your outdoor workouts. The Altimeter keeps a note of your elevation on those hikes, and mountain climbs. The data is synced with your smartphone so you get detailed stats of your workouts afterward.
- Swim-proof – If you like to go to the beach, spend some time by the pool, or enjoy doing your cardio by swimming laps in the pool, the Apple watch has got you covered as long as you don’t go down past the rated 50m (160ft). Whenever you get the apple watch wet there is a handy vibration feature to push the water out.
- Heart Rate Monitor – Heart rate monitors are fairly standard with most activity trackers these days. Nevertheless, The Apple watch has one that easily syncs with the iPhone’s Health app and other third-party apps.
- Sync with Gym – One of the awesome features of the Apple watch is its ability to pair with compatible gym equipment. This way you will be able to note metrics like heart rate, speed, and calories completely synced so you know exactly how you did during your workout with great precision. This feature works with many popular equipment brands including TechnoGym, LifeFitness, Schwinn, StarTrack, StairMaster and more.
- Third-Party Apps – There are so many third-party apps that use the apple watches high-tech hardware to help you with tracking your workouts, Some are even able to use the hardware to learn your movements for weightlifting exercises, there are even third-party apps to track your sleep patterns.
- Cellular – This feature is intentionally toward the end on this list because you can get the apple watch without it and you wouldn’t be losing much. For those of you who do decide to get the version with cellular, you will be able to use your apple watch at the gym for your music, calls, texts without having to have your phone on you. Could be a neat feature to have but not essential.
- Battery Life – The battery life for the Apple watch is 18 hours. This is where there is some disappointment for me. Don’t get me wrong how great the device is overall more than enough to make up for the short battery life. I would just like to wear my device for more than 18 hours without having to charge it. The short battery life also makes it a little difficult to do any kind of sleep tracking.
What Comes In The Box – I have purchased everything made by Apple since I have been alive and Apple never fails to impress when it comes to the layout of the product in the box. Everything is placed in the box with the customer experience in mind and every tab is there for a reason. Apple Watch comes with the charging cable along with the adapter for the wall. Inside the box, you will find the extra band piece and instruction manuals.
Verdict – Dubbed as the “Ultimate Sports Watch“, so does it actually live up to its name? It sure most definitely does, There is a huge selection of third-party apps that take advantage of the device’s high-tech hardware. These apps can accurately track workouts whether you are running, doing some interval training, biking, weight lifting, even swimming and much more.
The watch shares the same design as its predecessors and the band is comfortable to wear all the time. I was able to wear my Apple Watch throughout all of my workouts except for when I was doing cardio on the punching bag, the watch doesn’t fit under the gloves. The Apple Watch performs well during swimming, the screen is locked during time underwater so you don’t accidentally touch it while under water.
The battery life of the Apple Watch really leaves a lot of the desired in that department. I wish you were able to at least get 2 full days out of it, but this is only a minor problem. Aside from the short battery life and cost being on the higher side, the Apple Watch Series 3 is the “Ultimate Sports Watch” and has everything you need to help you achieve your fitness goals and more.
Fitbit Alta HR
COMPATIBILITY: Android / iOS / Windows 10 / Mac OS X | DISPLAY: OLED | STORAGE/MEMORY: 7 days motion data / daily totals for 30 days | SIZE: 0.84″ | SWIMPROOF: No | HEART RATE: Yes | ACTIVITY TRACKING: Yes | GPS: No only through smartphone | APPS: No | SMARTPHONE NOTIFICATIONS: Yes | SLEEP TRACKING: Yes | MULTI-SPORT: Yes | BATTERY: 5 days | WEIGHT: 23g | RETAIL COST: $149.95
|Long 7 Day Battery Life||Not Water-Resistant|
|All Day Fitness Tracking||No Manual Workout Logging|
|Heart Rate Tracking and Logging||No Apps|
|Auto Sleep Tracking|
|Slim Sleek Design|
The Fitbit Alta HR is Fitbit’s slimmest fitness tracker on their line up. Despite this fitness tracker’s small size, this is one of my favorite fitness trackers made by Fitbit. This device is simple but has great features to help you track and achieve your fitness goals, it also comes in multiple colors so you can match with your look for any special occasions.
Let’s take a look at all the features packed into this slick device:
- 3-axis Accelerometer – This little piece of hardware tracks your steps, calories & distance all day long. Tracking your motion throughout the day, it can automatically detect workouts like running, elliptical, and biking. The activity is then logged into your dashboard and accessible through your app.
- Battery Life – This is where this tracker shines. You can wear the Fitbit Alta HR for 7 days without charging it. I have to say this is the favorite thing for me about this tracker. You can wear it for a week without charging it.
- Auto Sleep Tracking – The Alta HR automatically tracks your sleep so you can understand if you need to adjust your sleeping schedule to get better sleep. It can track your sleep stages to show you how much time you spend in light, deep & REM sleep. This feature combined with the extremely long battery life makes this device a great tool for sleep management. Sleep affects all aspects of your life, from your body recover after a workout to how efficient that workout was, it is all affected by how good your sleep quality is every night.
- PurePulse Heart Rate – The Fitbit Alta HR uses the heart rate monitor to constantly track your heart rate throughout the day. It then takes your resting heart rate and calculates how your cardiovascular health is based on this data. You could use this data to track how you are doing over time. The heart rate monitor can also be used to track your heart rate during workouts to see how much time you spend in each heart rate zones and optimize your training for your goals.
What Comes In The Box – This box is packed exactly like how the Charge 2 is packed with the device on top and charger right below that. Like other Fitbits the Alta HR comes with a USB charger without an adapter for the wall so if you wanted to charge it with the wall outlet you would have to provide your own. Other than the device, charger and usual user manuals that’s about it inside the box.
Verdict – I personally love the Alta HR. With the heart rate sensor added to this device, this is a great simple device to keep track of all your fitness needs. With the Alta HR and the Charge 2 currently priced at the same price point, the Charge 2 is obviously the better buy if you want the added features.
I personally liked the Alta HR more because of the slim design, plus I also have an Apple Watch so I wear that on my other hand. If I was using the Charge 2 it would look like I was wearing two watches instead of a watch and a fitness tracker. So if you like the slim design and don’t mind missing a couple features then the Alta HR is the one for you.
Garmin Vivoactive 3
COMPATIBILITY: Android / iOS | DISPLAY: Color LCD | STORAGE: N/A | SIZE: 43.4 x 43.4 x 11.7mm | SWIMPROOF: 5 ATM / Up to 50m (160ft) | HEART RATE: Yes | ACTIVITY TRACKING: Yes | GPS BUILT-IN: Yes | APPS: Yes Built-in | SMARTPHONE NOTIFICATIONS: Yes | SLEEP TRACKING: Yes | MULTI-SPORT: Yes | BATTERY: 7 days in smartwatch mode /13 hours in GPS mode| WEIGHT: 43.0g | RETAIL COST: $269.99
|Built-In GPS||13 Hour Battery Life with GPS on|
|7 Day Battery Life in Watch Mode||Metal Ring Scratches Easily|
|Swimproof||No On board Music Storage|
|Sleep & Stress Tracking||Battery Life is Shorter than Advertised|
|All Day Fitness Tracking|
The Garmin vivoactive 3 is a smartwatch/fitness tracker combo that is packed with just about all the features that you would expect from a fitness tracker but can still look classy and stylish during a dinner date. This device is packed full of features and is the smartwatch to fit everything you do in your active lifestyle. Let’s take a look at some features of the vivoactive 3:
- GPS & Built-in Apps – The Vivoactive 3 uses its GPS tracking and a decent selection of apps that are all designed to keep track of a range of activities from golf, to a bike ride, even track your yoga class. The sensor on the vivoactive 3 can even detect your running stride whether your running outdoors or on a treadmill.
- Swim & Shower – You can take this tracker into all kinds of weather. You could even go swimming or take a shower with it. The vivoactive 3 is rated for 50m (160ft).
- Heart Rate Monitor – Honestly for as nice as this device is if they took the heart rate monitor out to make it thinner and lighter I would still purchase this. Nevertheless, the vivoactive 3 has a heart rate monitor that works 24/7.
- Battery Life – The vivoactive 3 comes with a stunning 7 days battery life in smartwatch mode, and up to 13 hours with the GPS on. For a device packed full of all these features 7 days in smartwatch mode is amazing.
- Sleep & Stress Tracking – The vivoactive 3 tracks your heart rate variability (HRV), which then it takes and uses to track your stress levels. The vivoactive 3 will let you know whenever your stress levels rise due to physical or emotional sources. You could then use that information to find ways to relieve yourself of the stress. The long battery life of the vivoactive 3 makes it great for tracking how well you sleep throughout the night.
What Comes In The Box – The box design is nice, featuring the watch on a couple sides and one side with the main features of the device. When you open the box up the device is packed like how a watch would be right in the center. The device itself seems a bit smaller than other Garmin devices. The design is really sleek with a metal ring around the front, and a metal backing with the proprietary charging port (Ew) in the middle. Pulling the rest of the box out there is the charging cable which is only the cord without the wall adapter, so once again if you want to charge with the wall outlet you will need to supply your own adapter.
Verdict – The vivoactive 3 does all the steps, calories, heart rate and all the daily extremely well. The metal ring around the front might look sleek, but it seems to be prone to scratching. The device itself is very comfortable to wear, it might feel heavy for certain people but its still comfortable.
The screen does very well in sunlight, you don’t ever need to have the brightness all the way up to see the screen. The lack of onboard music storage is a bit of a disappointment, I don’t understand why that wasn’t a feature since the device has GPS.
The battery life is good but doesn’t quite get to the 7 days that is stated. If you are switching GPS on and off then you might get 2-3 days, not using GPS at all you can maybe get 6 days. The screen is super sensitive, almost too sensitive your sweat could trigger the display. The device is loaded with built-in workouts so you could build your workout profile.
Overall this is a great device. It has tons of features to help you along your fitness journey. The Garmin app could be a bit weird to navigate but the data that it provides you is very relevant. With the recent updates, the correct information is displayed on the home screen. If you are looking for something that can be a stylish watch when you want and an exceptional fitness tracker when you’re working out then the Garmin vivoactive 3 is the device for you.
COMPATIBILITY: Android / iOS / Windows 10 / Mac OSX | DISPLAY: Color LCD | STORAGE/MEMORY: 2.5gb for music / 7 days motion data / Daily totals for 30 days | SIZE: 1.34″ Screen / .9478″ Band | SWIMPROOF: 5 ATM / Up to 50m (160ft) | HEART RATE: Yes | ACTIVITY TRACKING: Yes | GPS BUILT-IN: No only through smartphone | APPS: Yes | SMARTPHONE NOTIFICATIONS: Yes | SLEEP TRACKING: Yes | MULTI-SPORT: Yes | BATTERY: 4 days | WEIGHT: 38g | RETAIL COST: $199.95
|Swimproof||No Built-in GPS|
|Stylish Design||Small App Store|
|Stores Music On Device|
|On Screen Coach|
|Heart Rate Tracking and Logging|
|Good Sleep Analysis|
|Female Health Tracking|
|4 Day Battery Life|
The Versa is the newest member of the Fitbit lineup. This stylish, compact and lightweight smartwatch/fitness tracker combo is everything you need to track your daily fitness but looks good enough to go out to the club for drinks later. This tracker also comes with a brand new feature to debut on the Fitbit lineup more on that later. Let’s take a look at what features the new kid on the block brings us.
- Female Health Tracking – Yes, you read that right female health tracking. This is a brand new feature to debut in the Fitbit line of fitness trackers. The Fitbit Versa can track your period, gauge ovulation and you can log your symptoms. This is could be a game-changing feature and could help women get more insights into their health. Although this tracking feature is rolling out to the Fitbit app, you could track it on the Versa’s watch face if you have one.
- Swim-proof – The Fitbit Versa is water-resistant up to 50m (160ft). It has the ability to track laps, duration and calories burned during swim exercises.
- Connected GPS – The Versa does not have a built-in GPS and relies on connecting to your phone to be able to track your running pace and distance in real time. The GPS maps out your route and the data is available after your workout.
- Multi-sport Tracking – The Versa can automatically track sports such as yoga or biking giving you stats in real time. This feature automatically detects your various workouts and logs them for you automatically.
- 3-axis accelerometer & altimeter – Steps, distance, calories, floors climbed, and active minutes are constantly being tracked throughout the day to give you the most detailed look at your daily activity.
- Auto Sleep Tracking – The Versa automatically tracks your sleep duration and consistency. It logs your time in various stages of sleep so you can see the quality of your night’s sleep.
- PurePulse Heart Rate – Fitbit’s PurePulse heart rate tracking continuously tracks your heart so you can see trends over time and see which heart rate zones you are in during your workout. It also tracks your resting heart rate to track cardiovascular levels.
- On-Screen Coach – You can personalize your workouts and get coached through every workout with the dynamic on-screen workouts. These on-screen workouts adapt to you based on your feedback.
What Comes In The Box – The box is the familiar box that you normally get from Fitbit. The device on the top and the charger and manuals below it. The Versa comes with the USB charger, and as with other Fitbit devices does not come with an adapter for the wall outlet. It does come with an extra band that is a different size. The device itself is extremely light, it is about 1/3 the weight of the Apple Watch.
Verdict – This is an amazing device, and for the price, you can easily consider this device as an alternative for the Apple Watch. This device does all the daily tracking activities really well. The device does not have an onboard GPS built-in so you will have to bring your phone with you when you go outside for your workout.
The female health tracking feature is neat but it does leave much more to be desired. It does just about as much as an app on your phone would do to track your cycle. Hopefully, in the future, Fitbit will integrate this more and maybe show how the monthly cycle affects women health.
The screen looks really nice and bright. The black edge around the screen is a bit on the thicker side but it still looks really nice.
Overall this is a great device, it has a good balance between a smartwatch and fitness tracker. If you are someone that prioritize smartwatch features then you might want to consider something else that is more like a smartwatch. If fitness is your priority then the Fitbit Versa is the device for you.
All these devices all have their pros and cons, you should evaluate how you plan on using your device before you make a final decision on which fitness tracker to go with. You should see what workouts you do on a daily basis and what smartwatch features you want. Not all of these devices can do both really well, but all these devices can track your daily activities exceptionally well and help you achieve your fitness goals.
Do you own a fitness tracker? Which one do you own? How do you like it? Leave it in the comments below!