The Best Fitness Trackers for 2024 – PCMag UK

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There has never been a better selection of fitness trackers available, but with choice comes confusion.
Each year, we test and review dozens of models to help you find the best one for your needs and budget. We evaluate numerous factors including accuracy, battery life, ease of setup and use, features, price, specs, and style. 
With so many excellent options on the market, which one is right for you? We’ve gathered the best models we’ve tested here to help you decide. Read on for our top picks, followed by what to look for when choosing a fitness tracker.
The Apple Watch Series 9 offers a broad suite of built-in fitness, health, and safety tools, along with the best selection of third-party apps (such as AllTrails, Nike Run Club, Peloton, and Strava) for any smartwatch. In testing, the Series 9 offered accurate workout pulse readings compared with a chest strap and a dedicated optical armband heart rate monitor. Moreover, while many wrist-based optical heart rate trackers exhibit a slight lag when detecting rapid pulse change during workouts, Apple Watches tend to be spot on.
Its Activity, Exercise, and Stand rings can help motivate you to get moving, while its companion Fitness+ workout streaming service ($9.99 per month or $79.99 per year after a three-month trial) offers a variety of studio-style classes with excellent music and instruction for the home or gym. It goes beyond the basics with a Multisport tracking option for triathletes and advanced running metrics such as real-time power, stride length, ground contact time, and vertical oscillation.
On the health front, it accurately tracks your activity, blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), body temperature deviations, fertility windows, menstrual cycle, overnight respiration, sleep, and more. The Series 9 can alert you if it detects a high or low heart rate, irregular heart rhythm, and loud sounds that can damage your hearing. It also supports Emergency SOS and international emergency calling, as well as automatically calls for help if it detects a hard fall. We also like the Apple Watch automatic 20-second handwashing timer, which keeps you honest when you scrub up.
The Apple Watch Series 9 is best for iPhone users in search of a capable fitness tracker with excellent connectivity features. It requires an iPhone XS or later with iOS 17, so it’s not an option if you use Android. 
It’s a particularly excellent choice for runners, swimmers, and cyclists. Its wrist-based running power measurements help you gauge your effort in real time, a WR50 rating makes it safe for shallow-water activities like swimming in a pool or the ocean, and automatic bike ride detection ensures you never lose credit for an Outdoor Cycle workout. Meanwhile, the $799 Apple Watch Ultra 2, which features a more rugged build and longer battery life, should strongly appeal to outdoor adventurers, endurance athletes, and ocean enthusiasts with deep pockets. With its WR100 water-resistance rating, the Ultra 2 is suitable for high-speed water sports and recreational diving.
The Fitbit Charge has long been among the most value-rich fitness trackers, and the sixth-generation model extends that legacy. It now offers 40 sport profiles (up from 20 last generation) and a new feature that lets you send your heart rate via Bluetooth to gym equipment. In addition, the Charge 6 has a color touch screen, a 5ATM water-resistance rating, multi-day battery life, a built-in GPS, sensors to monitor key overnight health metrics like skin temperature and SpO2, and support for on-demand ECG heart health and EDA stress readings. Though it’s primarily for fitness and health tracking, the Charge 6 features several Google lifestyle apps, including Google Maps, Google Wallet (which replaces Fitbit Pay), and YouTube Music. We also appreciate its newly revamped companion app, which allows for more customization to highlight metrics related to your goal.
With ample tools for monitoring your activity and health, key lifestyle features, and a fantastic companion app, the Charge 6 is the best standalone fitness tracker for most people. Fitbit’s latest tracker is compatible with most phones running at least Android 9.0 or iOS 15 via the Fitbit app (which requires a Google Account to log in).
If you’re new to fitness or don’t see yourself tracking outdoor runs, bike rides, or hikes, consider a more affordable wearable without a built-in GPS like the excellent Fitbit Inspire 3. And if you want a tracker that looks more like jewelry than gym wear, check out the midrange Fitbit Luxe.
With long battery life, a color AMOLED touch screen, and all the basic activity and sleep features you need, the Fitbit Inspire 3 is the best fitness tracker you can get for less than $100. Its design screams basic unlike the pricier, jewelry-inspired Fitbit Luxe, but we appreciate its bright screen that can stay on all day. The tracker’s simple interface and well-designed companion app make it easy to monitor key fitness and health metrics, including your steps, heart rate, calories burned, sleep, overnight SpO2, and more. Despite a slight decrease in battery life from the previous model, it’s still the longest-lasting Fitbit available, and the most affordable. 
The Fitbit Inspire 3 is a top choice for fitness beginners who are just starting on a path to better health, as well as those on a budget. It lacks a built-in GPS, so it must connect to your phone to accurately track your pace and distance during outdoor walks, runs, hikes, and bike rides. This won’t be a problem if you plan to tote your phone during outdoor workouts, but it may be a drawback if you prefer to disconnect while you work up a sweat. 
In the crowded fitness smartwatch market, Garmin’s Venu Sq 2 stands out for its practicality. It’s the least expensive of the excellent Garmin Venu 2 lineup, with a squarish design that improves text legibility and a battery that lasted for up to nine days in testing. It doesn’t track the number of floors you climb and lacks animated workout graphics, but otherwise offers all the excellent health and fitness features of the round Venu 2 for $150 less, including an integrated GPS, support for on-demand SpO2 readings, and Garmin Pay.
If you’re searching for a reasonably priced smartwatch with a fitness focus, the Garmin Venu Sq 2 is worth checking out. The similarly priced Apple Watch SE and Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 offer more apps and lifestyle features, but can’t last nearly as long per charge.
The Fitbit Versa 4 offers 40 exercise modes, up from 20 last generation, covering all the basics like walking, running, biking, swimming, rowing machine, spinning, treadmill, yoga, pilates, and more. It also offers tracking modes for popular gym activities like elliptical, indoor climbing, kickboxing, martial arts, powerlifting, and stair climbing, as well as outdoor activities such as canoeing, cross-country skiing, golf, hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding, skating, and snowboarding. If it doesn’t offer a specific tracking mode for your preferred activity, you can always use a general option like Sport, Workout, or Other Workout. 
For health and fitness tracking, the Versa 4 packs a GPS/GLONASS satellite navigation sensor, an optical heart rate sensor, red and infrared sensors for blood oxygen saturation monitoring, an altimeter for elevation tracking, a three-axis accelerometer, and a device temperature sensor for overnight skin temperature variation measurements. Depending on your display settings, the Versa 4 lasts between four and seven days on a charge, a very good battery life result for a wearable with a large color touch screen. In addition to its robust fitness and health capabilities, it has a small but useful selection of lifestyle features, including Amazon Alexa, Google Maps, and Google Pay.
The Versa 4 is a strong option for anyone in search of an attractive fitness-focused smartwatch that keeps things simple. With an always-on color touch screen, long battery life, and ample fitness and sleep tracking tools, it offers tremendous value for the price. 
While the Versa 4 offers preinstalled Amazon Alexa, Google Maps, and Google Pay apps, it doesn’t support other third-party software with the exception of clock faces. The Apple Watch SE offers a more robust app selection and connectivity capabilities, while the Garmin Venu Sq 2 delivers more wellness and performance insights. The Versa 4, however, is still an excellent alternative for casual fitness enthusiasts who don’t care about advanced features. For even more health insights, check out the Fitbit Sense 2, which adds a continuous electrodermal activity (cEDA) sensor for all-day stress tracking with notifications, an ECG sensor, and a dedicated skin temperature sensor for more accurate measurements. 
Samsung’s smartwatches offer some of the most innovative health-tracking features we’ve seen, including wrist-based body composition measurements and overnight snore tracking, tools that are not available on the Apple Watch. After a 15-second scan, the watch displays your skeletal muscle mass, fat mass, body fat percentage, body mass index (BMI, a measure of body size based on your weight and height), body water mass, and basal metabolic rate (BMR, or the minimum necessary energy needed in an inactive state). It also shows whether your results for each metric fall within the low, normal, or high range.
When you wear the watch to bed and place a compatible smartphone on your nightstand, they can work together to listen for snoring and even record it. The watch also tracks your sleep duration, stages (awake, light, deep, and REM), and overnight SpO2. For fitness tracking, the Watch 6 series supports more than 100 different workouts (everything from walking and running to archery and flying disc), and can automatically detect certain activities. It also gives you access to many third-party fitness, health, and sports apps via the Play Store, including C25K, Cardiogram, Golf GPS Rangefinder, Komoot, MyFitnessPal, Seven Minute Workout, and Strava.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 series is best for Android users in the market for a feature-rich smartwatch with cutting-edge fitness- and health-tracking tools. Similar to how the Apple Watch only works with iOS devices, the Galaxy Watch 6 series is exclusive to Android.
If you like a bit of bling, the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, which features a shiny stainless steel case (vs. matte aluminum on the standard model) and a rotating bezel for quick scrolling, is worth its $100 upcharge. As a more rugged option, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro offers longer battery life and exclusive outdoor features including turn-by-turn cycling and hiking directions. It’s a nice choice for mountain bikers, runners, hikers, and those who work outdoors, as well as anyone who wants a fully-featured Android-compatible smartwatch that lasts more than a single day on a charge. 
The Watch SE is the smallest and least expensive smartwatch in Apple’s lineup. Except for an always-on display and a few health sensors (ECG, SpO2, and temperature), it includes almost all the same connectivity, safety, and fitness features of the Series 9 for $150 less. 
The second-generation SE, which launched in the fall of 2022, looks just like its predecessor, but costs $30 less and packs some nice under-the-hood upgrades, including a faster processor, a new motion sensor for Crash Detection, and significantly more battery life. It offered excellent performance overall in testing, with a responsive touch screen and 37 hours of battery life per charge.
The Apple Watch SE is a solid option for its target audience of first-time smartwatch users, children, teens, and older adults. The Series 9 is our top pick for most Apple Watch buyers, but the second-gen SE is a worthy alternative for staying active, connected, and safe on a budget. 
It notably works with Apple’s Family Setup feature, which lets you set up and manage an Apple Watch for a family member who doesn’t have an iPhone. During the setup process, the iPhone-based Watch app asks if you’re setting it up for yourself or a family member, then guides you through the process.
Designed specifically for women, the Garmin Lily fitness tracker and smartwatch hybrid stands out for its classic, jewelry-like design. It features a beautiful, patterned face, an aluminum or stainless steel bezel, and a 14mm band that’s much slimmer than most smartwatch straps, so you can wear it alongside other bracelets. More than just attractive, the Lily can track health stats such as your calories burned, energy level, heart rate, respiration, sleep, SpO2, steps, stress, and workouts. It also offers smartwatch features such as phone notifications, music playback controls, and useful calendar and weather widgets. It’s water-resistant to 164 feet and can last up to five days on a charge. 
If you want a fitness tracker that doesn’t look like one, the Garmin Lily might be perfect. Its attractive, female-focused design is its biggest selling point, but the Garmin Lily also offers an impressive feature set for its small size. 
It lacks a color, always-on display and several other features you get with the Garmin Vivoactive 4, but it also costs significantly less. And while it isn’t quite as value-rich as the similarly priced Fitbit Versa 4, the Lily is a top choice if you’re looking for a fitness-focused tracker and smartwatch hybrid that prioritizes style.
The Oura Generation 3 is like a mood ring on steroids: It looks like a basic metal band, but it houses small sensors to keep tabs on your activity, physical and mental health, and sleep. It can even monitor your heart rate and body temperature around the clock, as well as predict your next period. This finger-based fitness tracker also keeps tabs on your HRV, overnight SpO2, and respiration rate. 
The previous-generation Oura was terrific for monitoring your sleep and recovery but fell short as an activity tracker. That’s still largely the case, but the latest model is a bit better on this front with a Workout Heart Rate feature that can help you understand how exercise impacts your health.
It’s about as thick as the average wedding band, super lightweight, and can last about a week on a charge. The ring is water-resistant up to 328 feet, so you can wear it while swimming, showering, diving, or just doing the dishes. Offering more sensors than its predecessor, an excellent companion app, and long battery life, the third-generation Oura is the best fitness-tracking ring we’ve tested. 
If you’re not into watches or wristbands but still need some motivation to improve your health and fitness, check out the Oura Ring Generation 3. Like the Garmin Lily, the Oura’s biggest differentiator is its stylish design.
Keep in mind that the Oura Generation 3 requires a membership ($5.99 a month) for in-depth metrics. The Oura membership also offers a library of about 80 guided meditations and breathing exercises, and daily personalized guidance to help you tailor your workouts. Without a membership, you can see only your daily Activity, Readiness, and Sleep scores. 
If you don’t mind something less discreet, the Charge 6 is better for fitness tracking. 
The Polar Pacer Pro running watch helps you level up your training with a number of tools and features designed to safely maximize your workouts, including running power measurements, ascent and descent tracking, sleep and recovery stats, personalized recommendations, and more. The wrist-based power meter lets you seamlessly monitor your real-time output, a useful metric for sprints, short intervals, and hilly terrain. It’s also comfortable to wear 24/7 and lasts up to a week on battery.
If you want to run faster or have another goal in mind, such as achieving a six-minute mile or completing a 5K in less than 30 minutes, the Polar Pacer Pro is a worthy training companion. If you’re new to running, the more affordable Pacer is a compelling option, with most of the same features as the Pro model, including the running test that calculates your VO2Max and custom training zones. But for advanced runners, the Pro version is easy to recommend for its extra insights, including wrist-based running power measurements, Komoot turn-by-turn route guidance, and Hill Splitter ascent and descent tracking.
The Fitbit Ace 3 is a fun, attractive fitness band for younger kids that keeps tabs on activity and sleep without a monthly subscription fee. It focuses on basics such as step counts and rest, but it doesn’t offer location or GPS tracking. The Ace 3 is safe for swimming and offers about eight days of battery life per charge.
If you’re interested in ensuring your child is getting adequate activity during the day and enough sleep at night, the Fitbit Ace 3 does that reliably and affordably. Parents who want to keep tabs on their children from afar should consider a dedicated tracking device such as the Verizon Gizmo Watch 3.
Fitness trackers range in price from $25 to $400 or more. The simplest and least expensive trackers often lack a display, so you can’t check your step count unless you look at your smartphone.
More expensive trackers usually include built-in optical heart rate monitors and GPS. Often, these features are meant to tempt athletes and exercise enthusiasts. Don’t get suckered into buying an expensive tracker if your primary activity is walking. If you walk and don’t do much else, there are great options in the $25 to $99 range. If you work out a lot and want ample fitness-tracking features, we recommend spending at least $99 to get the tracking tools you might want or need.
With most fitness trackers, you pay one price for the device and can access all or most of its accompanying software features for free. Some, like the Whoop strap, have a different pricing model. Whoop offers its basic black wristband for free with the purchase of a membership, which unlocks access to its app. Whoop justifies its ongoing membership fees through regular app updates and timely features.
One important question to ask yourself before choosing a fitness tracker is the type of design you want. Most trackers are wrist-based, though there are also clip-on options and fitness-tracking rings. Bracelets and watches are typically hard to lose. That said, they can get in the way of some daily activities, such as sleep and computer work, for example.
A clip-on is another option, although this style isn’t nearly as popular anymore. Fitbit sells a clip for the Inspire 3 that can be helpful if the included bands don’t fit, but it prevents heart rate and sleep score measurements. Clip-on devices, moreover, can fall off or accidentally end up in the wash.
The Oura Ring, meanwhile, brings health tracking to your fingers. The Oura’s ability to track workouts is pretty basic compared with a wrist-worn model, but it offers comprehensive sleep tracking and is more comfortable to wear to bed than a watch or wristband.
There are also trackers for children, like the Fitbit Ace 3. And don’t forget about Fido. That’s right, there are even trackers specifically for pets.
Training intelligently means using heart rate data to guide your workouts. Sometimes you might want to keep your heart rate relatively low to burn fat or pace yourself for a longer workout. Other times you might want to push it higher for different health benefits, like building stamina.
Chest straps are slightly more accurate than wrist-based wearables for heart rate tracking because you wear them closer to your heart and they measure its activity directly. For comparison, the optical heart rate sensors in wrist-based fitness trackers calculate your heart rate by shining light into your skin and measuring blood flow. So, for the most precise heart rate readings, consider a dedicated chest strap. Not all smart home gym machines work seamlessly with fitness trackers, but most support chest straps.
The main benefit of a wrist-based heart rate tracker is that you can comfortably wear it all day long. They’re more convenient than chest straps and give you a picture of your heart rate 24/7.
If you’re simply interested in knowing your resting heart rate, you don’t necessarily need a heart rate-tracking device to find it. Many smartphone apps let you take your heart rate in about 15 seconds via your phone’s camera.
For more, see the best heart rate monitors.
Many fitness trackers record your sleep. When they do, they generally watch for movement using a three-axis accelerometer to a more sensitive degree than they do during the day. Most devices offer graphs in their companion app that show the duration of your light, deep, and REM sleep. Some also track your overnight respiration (the number of breaths you take per minute), a feature that is available on the Apple Watch. Samsung Galaxy Watches can even track your snoring.
Some dedicated sleep trackers attach to your mattress, but we haven’t found them to offer an appreciable advantage over wrist-based trackers. And wearable trackers can do a lot more than simply track your rest. But if you don’t like the idea of wearing something on your wrist to bed, you can always spring for the sleep-tracking Sleep Number 360 Smart Bed or the Eight Sleep Pod Pro Cover smart mattress topper. As a more affordable option, the second-generation Nest Hub can track your sleep from the bedside table without being in contact with your body.
Swimmers who want a waterproof tracker need to keep in mind that not all water-safe trackers actually record swimming data. Runners should probably pick a watch that shows time, distance, pace, and lap time, at the very least. If you want good accuracy for those metrics without also carrying a smartphone, you need a runner’s watch with built-in GPS.
You also need to consider the display. If you want to view your stats at all times or simply use your tracker as a wristwatch, look for one with an always-on display. How you control the tracker is also important. If you like to run in the cold, or wear gloves, you might want to steer clear of devices that use touch-screen controls.
Cyclists have even more to consider. There’s a difference between tracking how many miles you pedal and the calories you burn versus monitoring your power and cadence. If all you want is the former, a few fitness trackers support bicycling as an activity. More serious cyclists should opt for a device that pairs with additional bike equipment, like a cadence sensor, and should consider devices from sport-specific companies, like Garmin and Polar.
A fitness tracker’s app (or website) matters because it is where you view and process the information the tracker collects. Fitbit has one of the best apps and websites we’ve tested. It lets you record all kinds of data, such as your weight, menstrual cycles, calories and water consumed, and stress level.
As part of a recent app redesign, the Fitbit app now lets you choose a Focus, with options like improve heart health, get more active, sleep better, manage weight, or manage stress. The metrics highlighted at the top of the app’s Today section reflect your selection. If your Focus is to manage weight, for instance, the app shows your weight (synced from a connected scale or manually added), calories logged, calories burned, and steps.
If you want total body analysis, look for a system that incorporates a smart bathroom scale. The Fitbit Aria Air sends your weight directly to your account, so you can’t cheat the system by entering a lower number.
Most fitness trackers have some smartwatch functionality, and most smartwatches these days offer a wide range of fitness- and health-tracking features. Generally speaking, if you want a wearable with calling and texting capabilities, a wide selection of third-party apps, and fitness-tracking features, get a smartwatch. If you just want a device to track your daily activity, health, and workouts, a dedicated fitness tracker should suit you just fine.
The Apple Watch and the Samsung Galaxy Watch place more of an emphasis on health and fitness tracking than any other smartwatches we’ve seen. The Google Pixel Watch 2 is another compelling option, with full Fitbit integration and new sensors to monitor your stress and overnight skin temperature.
Keep in mind that most true fitness trackers are compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones, but many popular smartwatches are platform-specific including the Apple Watch, the Galaxy Watch, and the Pixel Watch. Naturally, the first thing you should consider before you buy a wearable device is compatibility. We include these details in our reviews of each product.
For more, check out our list of the best smartwatches overall, as well as our roundups of the best Apple Watches, the best Samsung watches, and the best Android-specific watches.
With so many good fitness trackers available and more promising ones on the horizon, it’s hard to contain them all in just one list. We’ve limited our picks here to trackers that scored four stars or higher, though there are lots of other good options that might fit your needs. We update this article often, so make sure to check back for our latest recommendations. And also make sure to consult our latest fitness tracker coverage.
I’m PCMag’s managing editor for consumer electronics, overseeing an experienced team of analysts covering smart home, home entertainment, wearables, fitness and health tech, and various other product categories. I have been with PCMag for more than 10 years, and in that time have written more than 6,000 articles and reviews for the site. I previously served as an analyst focused on smart home and wearable devices, and before that I was a reporter covering consumer tech news. I’m also a yoga instructor, and have been actively teaching group and private classes for nearly a decade.
Prior to joining PCMag, I was a reporter for SC Magazine, focusing on hackers and … is a leading authority on technology, delivering lab-based, independent reviews of the latest products and services. Our expert industry analysis and practical solutions help you make better buying decisions and get more from technology.
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Originally posted 2023-12-31 12:00:52. Republished by Blog Post Promoter