Best fitness tracker 2020: track your activity, heart rate and more
Track your runs, swims and gym sessions with these best fitness trackers.
The best fitness trackers have come a long way from counting your steps and little else. Heart rate tracking, pace tracking, stress tracking and even heart health tracking are all possible. The top fitness tech can also be a mini personal trainer (and even a doctor) for your wrist.
UPDATE:A lot of the top fitness trackers on the market have heart rate tracking tech built-in, which take readings from your wrist. But many experts believe a separate device that fits round your chest is the best way to keep tabs on your heart rate. That's why we're excited that Polar has lifted the lid on a new heart rate tracking device called the H9. This chest strap provides a reliable heart rate reading and is compatible with a variety of GPS watches as well as smartphone apps including Nike Run Club, MapMyFitness.
With so many tech companies adding more and more sensors and features to fitness trackers, including brands like Fibit, Garmin, Withings and Huawei, it can be difficult to work out which one is the best fitness tracker for you. Do you need a simple band? One that doubles up as a smartwatch? One that’ll look as good at the office as it will at the gym? There’s lots of options and lots of questions to ask.
The Xiaomi Mi Band 4 is a brilliantly capable activity tracker considering it costs less than most nights out. It has a colour screen and a heart rate sensor.
Proof there's more to a fitness tracker than you can learn from a website product page, the Versa 2 is a delight to live with. Its battery lasts the best part of a week and the large screen makes the most of its many features.
Fitness tracker buyers are in for a treat. You can buy a great tracker band for under £30, and even these low-cost models do much more than just step counting.
Those already knee-deep in a training regime may want a band with GPS, recommended for runners. But we are still wowed by the extra motivation a fitness tracker can provide for less than the cost of a meal out at a mid-price restaurant.
Do consider spending a little more if you want a band to wear 24/7 and replace a normal watch. You might just fall in love with a band like the Fitbit Versa 2.
The expert's view
Best fitness trackers shortlist
1. Fitbit Versa 2
One of the best fitness trackers currently on the market (and the one that came tops in our testing), the Fitbit Versa 2 boasts great activity tracking, heart rate tracking and sleep tracking. You can choose from a range of colours, and then also customise the tracker with different straps. It has a large screen, which means you can use a lot of different apps, set timers, read notifications, and even watch workouts to perfect your form. We love that the battery can last up to 6 days, which is good going for such a capable fitness tracker with a bright screen. If you can't justify the price of the Versa 2, check out the original Versa or the Versa Lite.
2. Garmin Vivoactive 4S
This is a great-looking device from Garmin, which can keep tabs on more than 20 activities, as well as boasting GPS and downloadable playlists for listening to music on-the-move.
It measures a huge range of additional metrics beyond just fitness tracking, including your heart rate, stress level, body battery (which is energy levels), menstrual cycle and respiration too. This makes it a great multi-tasker and a device built for health, fitness and wellbeing in mind rather than just activity tracking. Battery life lasts up to 7 days, which is good going for such a capable tracker.
3. Withings Steel HR Sport
This smartwatch has a great design. With a traditional watch face and smaller dials for activity and heart-rate, it's a top choice for minimalists or for those who want a simple design that'll look good in a range of scenarios – not just at the gym. The Withings app is great to use, as well as simple for those who are new to tracking. Notifications don't always work well here and there isn't the breadth or depth of tracking features on offer, but if you're looking for a simple and stylish gym companion rather than a high-end tracker built for optimal performance, this is a solid choice from Withings.
4. Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 4
One of the best value trackers on the market, there's a lot to love about the Mi Smart Band 4. For starters, its battery life lasts a whopping 21 days – we pushed it to 19 during our testing – which is impressive and perfect for those who resent having to charge their tech every day or two. It tracks most activities well and offers up some great heart-rate tracking too. It has a simple and streamlined design, which makes it comfortable and easy to wear whether you're heading to the office or the gym. The app isn't as slick as other brands and the wealth of data isn't as in-depth as it could be, but for the price it offers unbeatable value.
5. Fitbit Inspire HR
One of the most reliable fitness trackers on this list, the Fitbit Inspire HR is very easy-to-use and has automatic fitness tracking. This is always very accurate, bringing you data about your workouts, as well as your sleep and 24/7 heart rate tracking. During our testing, this tracker lasted an impressive 5 days on a single charge and boasts water resistance and swim tracking too – it's very pool-friendly. Although it may not have a large display or a fancy design, it's simple and our most-recommended because it'll suit almost everyone.
6. Samsung Fit E
This cheap and cheerful fitness tracker is great value for money. It offers highly accurate activity tracking, including steps, sleep and heart rate. Although its screen is small it does its best to offer up notifications – although they're not always clear – which means you can stay connected as you're working out. It has a minimal and sporty design, which is bound to be appealing to those who want a simple device for the gym.
7. Withings Move ECG
A slim, minimal and stylish fitness tracker that will look just as at home on your wrist during the day at the office than it will at the gym. That's because its design is based on a traditional watch, with a clean face and simple hands. There's also another, smaller, dial that tracks your activity throughout the day. It also has a workout mode, which keeps tabs on your activity.
But what's special about the Move ECG is its ECG tracking. Press the button on the side and put your fingers on the metal bezel and it'll take an electrocardiogram reading, which will give you an indication of your heart health. Although not the most advanced fitness-related device on the list, it's one of the best-looking and a great health companion. It runs on a watch battery, which means you won't need to worry about charging it. It'll likely just need changing once a year.
8. Withings Pulse HR
A minimal and stylish tracker that can keep tabs on all of the main fitness activities. It lacks standalone GPS and some added fitness functionality, like prompts as you workout, but for those who workout mainly in a gym this won't be an issue.
It's comfortable and one of the nicest-looking devices on the list and boasts a fantastic 20 days of batter life too, which makes it a solid alternative to other top fitness trackers on our list, like the Fitbit Inspire HR.
9. Huawei Band 3 Pro
A great option if you're looking for fitness tracking on a budget, the Band 3 Pro from Huawei offers up everything you'd expect from a solid fitness tracking, including activity tracking, sleep tracking and some nice handy additions, like a timer.
What makes this fitness tracker stand out is that it has its own standalone GPS – this is good for a cheap tracker and makes it a good option for runners on a budget. We also found this to lock onto our location fairly quickly in testing – and track our location accurately for the whole run. Heart-rate tracking also performs well throughout workouts too.
10. Mobvoi TicWatch S2
More smartwatch than activity tracker, this fitness tech from Mobvoi is a seriously big watch that's focused on fitness. It's one of the most affordable Android Wear OS watches you can currently buy with notifications, apps, a customisable screen and much more. Fitness-wise it boasts standalone GPS, which works well most of the time, as well as accurate fitness tracking. Annoyingly, heart-rate tracking doesn't work as you're working out. This means it may not be able to compete with higher-end fitness trackers, but if you're looking for something that sits between tracker and smartwatch (and you don't mind the bulky design), this could be the fitness gadget for you.
11. Honor 5 Band
One of our favourite fitness trackers for value, the Honor 5 Band has a great design that sits flush against your wrist for maximum comfort, style and no accidental knocking against gym equipment. Its customisable AMOLED touch display also adds serious style points, as does its slim band and simple design. It tracks a number of workouts well and the app is a pleasure to use, with simple stats and a clean design. Its heart-rate tracking is on par for some trackers more than four times the price and it can last nearly two whole weeks on a single charge. It also has an SpO2 Monitor, which gives you an indication of how well your body is adapting to workouts. This tracker proves you don't need to spend a fortune to track your workouts.
Best fitness trackers: how we selected them
Fitness trackers, activity trackers, fitness watches and smartwatches: these labels are often used interchangeably. So how do we choose the best fitness tracker when there are so many different types? We set some rules for our picks.
First up, we wanted trackers aimed directly at fitness tracking. Some smartwatches could have made the shortlist – they will track your fitness – but we went with those with a fitness focus.
Similarly, there are some smartwatches that cost serious cash, like the Apple Watch Series 5. But we felt most people want an everyday tracker, not one that costs a small fortune.
This gave us more than 20 trackers, which we then whittled down to 11 by looking for the newest and best-reviewed. Some we ditched along the way, as they are due to be updated soon, or lag behind the rest whether in terms of sensors, design or features.
The great thing about these 11? They represent a range of very different fitness trackers with a mixture of small screens and hybrid watches and smartwatches across a number of brands. Some are famed for their fitness and health tech, others for their phones.
Best fitness trackers: how we tested them
There's a lot more to test in a fitness band than just their activity tracking.
We tested them on six key areas: comfort, looks, notifications, fitness tracking, added sensors or cool features, and the app.
Some of this is subjective. Luckily we’ve tested a lot of trackers in the past, but we still have preferences that others might not necessarily agree with.
For example, we tend to like the feel of a premium silicone band while working out rather than a metallic, woven or leather band. Similarly, we like larger screens that show stats and notifications. However, as you'll see throughout the reviews below, we've tried to keep different preferences in mind.
Because the fitness tracking element is of the greatest importance, we didn't just make note of accuracy. We also considered if the tracker alerts us while working out, how data is displayed (both on the screen and on the app) and how easy it is to use when we were sweating and tired.
Each tracker was used for three to five days. During that time, each was used for notifications, fitness tracking and whatever else the tracker had to offer, including ECG readings or timers. Some of the trackers were then used again, if we felt we needed a little bit more time to make our minds up about how they work and how they were to use across a range of different scenarios – from walking to the gym, lifting weights, hitting the pool and pounding the pavement.
We were also keen to make a note of plenty of other factors you may not usually think of. Does the charging cable fit easily? Has it picked up some damage after just a few days? And, last but not least, we asked colleagues and friends what they thought about their looks.
Best fitness trackers reviews: the test results
The Fitbit Versa 2 came top in our testing. It feels good to wear for long periods of time, fitness tracking accurate, extremely easy to use and interpret, and all of the added apps and features were great fun to play with on the big screen. (Read the in-depth review below.)
But the problem here is that we enjoyed the larger screen – but not everyone needs it. That's why we were happy that the best value trackers, which were the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 4, closely followed by the Honor 5 Band. The Mi Smart Band 4 offered good tracking, a responsive touchscreen and a very light and comfortable experience – even during HIIT class and some very sweaty runs. (Read the in-depth review below.)
One of our other top fitness trackers was the Garmin Vivoactive 4S, which came in second in our testing. It has a large screen, readable in all kinds of lighting environments, an app that works exceptionally well and makes lots of data accessible, as well as best-in-class tracking of more than 20 activities and plenty of added features. Many fitness trackers boast about being able to track so many activities, but in our testing we found Garmin really delivered.
Added features include heart rate tracking, stress tracking, energy tracking and respiration too, all of which were, again, accurate, fast and had an impact on training and wellbeing. This fitness tracker also feels great to work out with, and looks stylish too – especially if you choose the metallic colour and strap that goes best with your wardrobe.
The Fitbit Inspire HRis another top tracker (and one of our best Fitbits). It came just behind the Garmin Vivoactive 4S in our rankings. If you're not bothered about the larger screen or additional apps and features of the Vivoactive 4S or even the Fitbit Versa 2, and just want to focus on fitness, the Inspire HR is the tracker for you.
That's because it brings you all of the best bits of Fitbit, including highly accurate fitness tracking, 24/7 heart-rate tracking and sleep tracking, with a battery that lasted us 5 days on a single charge. It also serves up notifications fairly well, although some of ours tended to get cut-off a little due to the smaller screen. Looks-wise, there's nothing to get excited about here, but it's a very comfortable tracker, which is minimal enough to look the part wherever you are – it also comes in a range of colours.
Fitbit's app is one of the best out there, and the Inspire HR really allows you to make the most of it, including with Fitbit's great Sleep Stages feature. If you're after simple, reliable fitness tracking without lots of bells and whistles, the Inspire HR is your best bet.
The Withings Steel HR Sport is a different option, because there's no colour display here. It's a hybrid smartwatch but still covers the basics when it comes to tracking options. This scored highly in terms of tracking accuracy and ease-of-use while working out – but doesn't offer the depth or breadth of fitness data of the other trackers.
The best fitness trackers reviewed:
The Fitbit Versa 2 is one of the best fitness trackers we've ever had the pleasure to use. It shows off the expertise fitness veteran Fitbit has gathered over the years.
This is a fitness tracker and smartwatch rolled into one, which means it ticks the box when it comes to notifications and added features. Notifications from a range of apps, as well as calls and messages, are displayed boldly and brightly on the Versa 2's colour AMOLED touchscreen. They also arrive right on time too, so there's no fumbling for your phone.
The display also allows you to interact with apps. There are over 100 to download, from timers to keep tabs on your workouts or your cooking to on-board workouts, which show you small videos of exercises in order to perfect your form. Fitbit Versa apps tend to be simpler than those for Apple and Google smartwatches, but in return you get much better battery life.
Thanks to the Fitbit Versa 2's premium silicone band, it's very comfortable to wear and, importantly, can be secured very well for high-intensity workouts. It's one of a few on the list we forgot we were wearing, which is a testament to its comfort given the display is quite big.
The Versa 2's looks divided opinion among our friends. Some love the larger display and rounded edges, others aren't so sure and prefer a smaller screen. We like that it's big enough to display stats, but doesn't look silly on smaller wrists. There different variations on offer help too. You can choose from a black, silver or rose gold casing and there are lots of straps too. The silicone one is our favourite, but there's also a woven fabric option in a range of colours.
The Fitbit app has long been one of our favourites too. It's easy to use for those new to fitness tracking. And once you get used to it, you can customise your dashboard to see as little or as much info as you'd like.
There's also the option to dive deeper into stats if you want to know more. We particularly love Fitbit's Sleep Stages data, which uses the sleep tracking from the Versa 2 and presents you with detailed information about how you sleep – including different stages, including deep, REM, light and awake.
What makes the Fitbit Versa 2 stand out from the rest is that it also has Alexa built-in. This means once you get it up-and-running you're able to talk to Amazon's voice assistant from your wrist. Some will love this and use the feature to set timers or ask questions on-the-move. Others may want to leave it switched off, in which case check out previous iterations of the fitness tracker like the Fitbit Versa Lite.
Runners be warned: the Fitbit Versa 2 doesn't have standalone GPS. We've found the connected GPS works just as well, but if you really like to leave your phone at home then we'd recommend the Garmin Vivoactive 4S instead. Connected GPS means the band uses your phone's location data. You need to run with your phone if you want to see a map of your route afterwards.
The Fitbit Versa 2 is a fantastic fitness tracker with a lot on offer. It tracks a huge range of activities, with best-in-class heart rate tracking and sleep tracking. Its big, bold display is perfect for stats on-the-go, apps and notifications. You can't go wrong with this tracker.
It's all good news for the Fitbit Versa 2. Well, maybe apart from the price. At £197 this isn't the most expensive fitness tracker on the list, but it could be too much of an investment for those who are new to fitness tech.
The best fitness tracker for value reviewed:
We've chosen two products for our best value fitness tracker, which both scored well in our testing. But, if we had to pick just one to feature first in this section it would be the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 4.
This tracker isn't just a souped-up pedometer either, it has a section filled with additional features, including a timer, the weather, an alarm, a stopwatch and more.
We particularly liked how comfortable it is to wear (we forgot we had it on a few times) and how the minimal design goes with anything because it has such clean, simple lines and a slim band. It's worth mentioning its heart rate tracking was on par with many of the more expensive trackers but the difference here is it isn't 24/7 – you'll need to activate it manually or by starting a workout.
This super simple tracker costs just £28.79 and can do everything you'd need a simple tracker to do. It keep tabs on your activity and heart rate with accuracy similar to trackers that cost nearly four times the price, offers a simple and comfortable design and serves up (as best as it can do on a small screen) notifications on its OLED display.
Long battery life is one of the best features. We managed to push it to 19 days with a fair bit of use and activity tracking. This fitness tracker isn't perfect, but for the price it really does offer unbeatable value.
The Honor Band 5 is such a close second in the value stakes that we decided to present the best value fitness tracker as more of a tie than an outright winner. Most retailers are selling the Honor 5 Band for just £1 more than the Mi Band 4 right now.
This tracker's design is one of the best among the cheap options. It's streamlined and sits very flush against your wrist. Not only does this earn the Honor Band 5 some style points, you're also less likely to knock it on gym equipment while you're working out and it's more comfortable – with a super secure buckle strap.
Honor's fitness tracking works well across a number of activities and the app is a real pleasure to use, with simple stats and a clean design. This won't compete with some of the top fitness trackers in terms of accuracy and the wealth of data you'd have access to, but we didn't expect that for the price. It's also worth mentioning that it fell down at times with notifications – some came through late and others didn't come through at all – and at times sweaty workouts deemed the touchscreen unresponsive, but only very briefly.
For less than £30 this is a tracker than can get you (literally) up-and-running with fitness tracking within minutes and lasted nearly a whole two weeks on a single charge – for the price, you really can't go wrong.
Comparing the rest on test
The Samsung Galaxy Fit Eis another cheap and cheerful fitness tracker that does a lot for such a reasonable price (you can get your hands on one for £34.04 right now). It offers accurate activity tracking, including steps, sleep and heart rate. Although its screen is small it does its best to display notifications – although they're not always clear.
For us, it falls down in the style department. Sure it has a minimal, sporty look but we prefer some of the similarly-priced alternatives. The same goes for comfort. It was mostly nice to wear, but the Galaxy Fit E band can get a little annoying – especially during high-intensity workouts. Having said that, it's a solid option for a fitness tracker at the price.
TheHuawei Band 3 Prohas similar functionality to the pick of our best budget buys, but it comes in at nearly double the price of the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 4. Although this still makes it less than £50, it does mean we're reluctant to recommend it over the Mi Smart Band.
But it ticks the boxes in every other way and has a lot of the same software and features as the Honor Band, including sleep tracking, a "find my phone" feature and some nice additions, like a timer.
Standalone GPS is what makes this fitness tracker stand out. This is unusual for a cheap tracker and makes it a solid option for runners on a budget. We also found this locks onto our location fairly quickly – and tracks our location accurately for the whole run. Heart rate tracking also performs well throughout workouts too.
Although not strictly a fitness tracker, the TicWatch S2 WearOS smartwatch from Mobvoi is marketed as fitness-focused, so we decided to add it to our list. The first thing that'll strike you about this Android Wear OS smartwatch is its size. It's a bulky smartwatch with a huge display.
Although this is fantastic for looking at stats, apps and notifications, it won't suit everyone – particularly those with smaller wrists. Surprisingly, it was comfortable to wear during most workouts though – even though we did knock it against the equipment at the gym a few times accidentally.
Fitness tracking features are good, it keeps tabs on most activities well and has standalone GPS – we took it out for a run without our phone. Although this wasn't the quickest to lock on to the location, it's a nice addition. Fitness tracking lacks constant heart rate monitoring, which is a shame. But otherwise this smartwatch performed well and could be a good option if fitness tracking isn't your sole priority. You have to pay the price of having a smartwatch: only two days of battery life.
The Withings Pulse HRlooks good. It has a very similar, sporty style as some of the cheaper devices on the list, but its comfortable strap and premium feel make it one of our favourite fitness-focused designs. During our testing we found lasts a whopping 20 days between charges, which is very appealing – especially compared to similar designs that need a recharge up every few days.
There's no colour screen here, which will be fine for some who like the simple design and feel but might be a deal-breaker for others.
We loved the pared-back look and feel. It's a slightly sleeker alternative to the Fitbit Inspire HR. There are only a few workouts that you can select from the device itself, but plenty more within the app, which should suit a huge range of people: there's even ping pong!
Fitness-wise, though, it's lacks a few things, including standalone GPS and some other data, like "floors climbed". There are also no alerts as we worked out, but for some people this could be a blessing in disguise. With that in mind, this is a lovely-looking minimal tracker for fitness fans, but possibly not those serious about performance or running.
Notifications are displayed as best they can be on a small display. This isn't a smartwatch-style screen, but then again it's obviously a tracker that cares about fitness above all else.
The Withings Move ECG is a slightly different tracker. It can do most of the things the other trackers on the list can do, including tell the time and track your workouts. But because it's a hybrid smartwatch, there's no bright screen here that can display your stats.
Instead, we like to think of it as a techy watch in disguise, because it tracks your activity and has a very intuitive app to accompany it, but you won't have access to stats – or notifications – from your wrist. This is bound to suit some people very well, especially those who like the design of traditional watches, but may be a big red flag for others.
What makes it special is that it's one of the few fitness trackers on the market right now that can take ECG readings, which means that it can detect atrial fibrillation and other issues concerning the health of your heart.
All you need to do is press the button and put your fingers on the bezel. This isn't ideal – will you really think to take an ECG reading if you have heart palpitations? But it's packaged in a great slim watch and we applaud Withings for pioneering this kind of tech – the latest Apple Watch is one of the few other fitness trackers that can do this.
So although it didn't top our list – and might leave those who like seeing stats and notifications disappointed – it's worth mentioning as a great-looking watch with hidden health features.
Any fitness trackers to avoid?
The fitness tracker to avoid is mostly down to personal preference. All of the trackers tested worked well, tracked activity and provided some extra functionality, whether that's added stat gathering, including ECG or heart rate, as well as notifications or added apps and smartwatch-style features.
But you need to think about what you want from a fitness tracker. For example, the Withings Move ECG was a hit for us. We liked the simple watch face, the data that's collected within the app and the added ECG features. However, if you want to see stats as you run on the screen, set timers or be able to glance at notifications while you're on-the-move, the Withings Move ECG, as well as similar-style fitness trackers, including the Withings Steel HR Sport, are best avoided.
Similarly, if you've had your eye on a high-end smartwatch, like say one of the Apple Watch models or one of the top Android smartwatches, you'll want to find a fitness tracker with some smarter features too.
For example, a simple tracker like the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 4 may be our favourite tracker for value, but fitness trackers with smaller screens and simpler features like this one, the Samsung Fit E, Honor 5 Band and Huawei Band 3 Pro, don't have added apps, features or a big enough screen to compete with smartwatches. Instead, the Fitbit Versa 2 would be your best bet, which is one of the many reasons it's our top pick in this list, as well as the Garmin Vivoactive 4S or the Mobvoi TicWatch 2.