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What's the best fitness tracker? We tested over 40 — Here's our top 8
Finding the best fitness tracker really comes down to answering four questions:
- Do you prefer a band or watch-style fitness tracker?
- What activities do you plan to use the tracker for?
- Do you care what brand makes it or the platform it runs on?
- Are there any special features you need like SP02 tracking, GPS tracking, or ECG?
Once you know what features and activities matter the most to you, it becomes much easier to pick the right fitness tracker. Our fitness team puts every wearable device we review through rigorous testing to ensure only the best options make it on our list. Our team particularly focuses on user experience, accuracy, and value. Ultimately, we want to provide you with recommendations that meet or exceed your needs, while hopefully not breaking the bank. Still not sure what to look for in a fitness tracker? We have a guide for that. Just want to get to the results? Keep reading to see our picks for the best fitness trackers you can buy in 2022.
The best fitness tracker is a smartwatch, the Fitbit Versa 3
It might seem a little strange that we picked a smartwatch as the best fitness tracker, but don’t let form factors fool you. In 2022, the biggest difference between a band-style fitness tracker and a fitness-focused smartwatch is the size and battery life. That’s why we fell in love with the Fitbit Versa 3 immediately. Comfortable and sleek, the Versa 3 feels like the best of both form factors, occupying a middle ground between the Charge 5 and Sense. Sure, it’s a bit heavier than the Fitbit Charge 5 but it never felt overly bulky or uncomfortable. It’s also pretty feature-packed. In fact, there are only three sensors on the more expensive Sense you won’t find here: ECG, EDA, and skin temperature. The good news is that our Fitbit Sense reviewer felt these three additions weren’t particularly accurate anyhow, so you might not be missing much.
Battery life is important for a fitness tracker, and that’s why it’s often hard to recommend a smartwatch. Not the case with the Versa 3. In our tests, we found that the watch consistently got around three and a half days of battery life with average use, and that included using sensors like the heart rate monitor and built-in GPS. For a watch this is stellar and even beats out the Charge 5 by a small margin, which typically got around three days of battery life during our review period. Of course, this comes down to what sensors you use and how often, but bottom line, the Versa 3 has battery life that’s right on par with Fitbit’s dedicated fitness tracker.
Fitbit has a reputation for accurate health tracking, and in our tests, the Versa 3 was no exception. Step counting, sleep tracking, and other basics were all highly accurate when compared to other competing devices and even a dedicated pedometer. The Fitbit Versa 3 even has one fitness tracking feature the Charge 5 actually abandoned: an altimeter. This allows for much more accurate elevation scores, and was sorely missed in our Charge 5 review.
The Versa 3 is the perfect middle ground between band-style fitness trackers and full-fledged (expensive) smartwatches.
The Versa 3 is the first Versa model to feature built-in GPS and the good news is that it works flawlessly, and is much better than the connected GPS results we got with older Fitbits. Even in areas where the GPS connection was a bit weaker due to obstructions, we found the tracker typically stuck to its exact route or very near it. Going under objects like a bridge would throw it off a little, but again, you’ll find that with every GPS-enabled fitness tracker.
One area where fitness trackers suffer is the heart rate monitor, but the Fitbit Versa 3 performs admirably here as well. Sure, a dedicated chest strap is always going to have the most accurate results, but the Versa 3 performed solidly in our tests. The only gripe is that it sometimes takes a while to register heart rate changes during intense workouts, and this was especially true when we first started using the watch. As it gathered more data on us, this improved, but it seemed to take longer than it did with the Versa 2.
Sleep tracking remains a major focus for Fitbit. As with other Fitbits, you’ll be able to track light, deep, and REM sleep, but the company has also added features like snore and noise dedication. The Versa 3 can detect and analyze noises made during a sleep cycle via the built-in microphone, which we found useful as another metric to better understand any sleep issues we were having. Fitbit takes all the information it tracks during your sleep and creates an overall score from 1 to 100 based on heart rate, sleep stages, time awake, and more. In our tests, the results seemed pretty accurate and the Versa 3 compared favorably against the ScanWatch (another watch with great sleep tracking accuracy).
As a fitness tracker, the Versa 3 is solid. Thankfully it’s a decent smartwatch too. While it doesn’t have as many apps as you’ll find from Apple or Samsung, the apps that are there are easy to use and work well. The Versa 3 even adds a few new tricks like Google Assistant or Alexa support built into the watch. You’ll also be able to place and receive calls right from your watch, and there’s even built-in music support (via Deezer or Pandora).
Ultimately, the Fitbit Versa 3 is the best value from Fitbit but it’s also one of the most balanced fitness trackers you can buy. If you want something with a fair amount of smarts, a great price tag, and accurate fitness tracking features, look no further. Those turned off by the size might want to give the Fitbit Charge 5 a look. Conversely, if you are looking for a more advanced smartwatch experience from your tracker you might want to go with the Apple Watch Series 7, Fitbit Sense, or even the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4.
What makes it stand out
- Value that can’t be beat: You can find fitness trackers for a lot less, but you won’t find one with as many smartwatch features as the Versa 3. Conversely, the Sense has a bit more to offer, but it’s not worth the price hike. The Fitbit Versa 3 is a powerful device and a great value buy.
- Your choice between two assistants: Most smartwatches and fitness trackers that have voice assistants stick to just one platform, but the Versa 3 allows you to pick from Google Assistant or Alexa during initial setup.
- The Fitbit companion app is stellar: Especially for those new to tracking, or for users who don’t want to get lost in the weeds, Fitbit’s app offers one of the most intuitive user experiences available while still delivering plenty of data.
- Built-in GPS and smart features: The best devices make your workout easier, and, dare we say, more enjoyable. Features like built-in GPS, music storage, and voice assistants help the Versa 3 stand out as one of the most well-rounded options available.
- Voice calling: Sure there are other smartwatches adding voice support, but the Versa 3 is one of the few affordable smartwatches to offer it. In our tests calling worked flawlessly and essentially felt like using the speakerphone function on an Android or iPhone device.
Best of the rest: 7 other fitness trackers worth considering
For most users, we recommend the Fitbit Versa 3. While there are trackers that have more features, this watch has a great balance between features, performance, and value. Of course, it’s hard for just one watch to fit all user types. Some might need more app support, or others need a few more bells and whistles. There are plenty of other great fitness trackers and watches worth noting. Here’s the best of the rest:
Band-style fitness trackers:
- Fitbit Charge 5 : The Fitbit Charge 5 brings welcome upgrades to the Charge line, including a brighter OLED display and new sensors.
- Xiaomi Mi Band 6: For shoppers on a budget, the Mi Band 6 is the best cheap fitness tracker you can buy, thanks to its extremely low price point and solid fitness tracking.
- Huawei Band 6: The best Xiaomi Mi Band 6 alternative, the Huawei Band 6, offers a roomy form factor and all-day SpO2 monitoring.
Smartwatch-style fitness trackers:
- Apple Watch Series 7: For iPhone users, the Apple Watch Series 7 is the best fitness tracking smartwatch. It’s arguably the best smartwatch you can buy and has great fitness tracking capabilities.
- Garmin Venu 2 Plus: The Venu 2 Plus has tons of fitness tracker modes, is highly accurate, and has useful extras like voice calling and assistant support for Bixby, Siri, Assistant, and Alexa.
- Garmin Forerunner 255: This smartwatch is a much-anticipated update to the Forerunner series, adding new features like mobile payments, an improved heart rate monitor, and much more.
- Garmin Vivomove Sport: Looking for a fitness tracker that doesn’t stand out at all? This sneaky hybrid watch could be the perfect fitness tracker for you.
Fitbit Charge 5 is an excellent fitness tracker … for most
The Fitbit Charge 5 is an excellent fitness tracker, but there are a few caveats that we first noted in our original review. Namely, the Charge 5 uses GPS-based tracking instead of the altimeter found on its predecessor and has a $50 higher starting price than the Charge 4. The good news is that the Charge 5 is always on sale, hovering around $150 or less. Provided you can get it for the right price, the Charge 5 is absolutely worth picking up if you want an accurate, comfortable tracker with tons of improvements over its predecessor.
We particularly like the Charge 5’s new display, which is a dramatic improvement from the small monochrome display found on its predecessor and makes it much easier to navigate due to the added real estate. Despite the upgraded screen, Fitbit even has managed to shrink the tracker compared to its predecessor. While new looks and a nicer display are all well and good, it was the new fitness tricks in the Charge 5 that really won us over.
We really appreciated the addition of onboard GPS, which we compared against a dedicated tracker and found to be highly accurate. It’s a battery guzzler, however. The good news is that connected GPS remains an option for times when you need to conserve battery life. Fitbit also added an EDA sensor for tracking stress. The EDA sensor lets you take a reading several times a day and helps you monitor your stress levels. You probably already know if you’re stressed or not, but the real use here is finding patterns. Over time, the watch figured out when we were most stressed and least, which helped us make lifestyle adjustments to further cut down on the stress of modern life.
Two of the Charge 5’s biggest features actually didn’t go live until after its initial launch: ECG and the Daily Readiness Score (DRS). ECGs are slowly making their way into advanced smartwatches from Fitbit and Apple but they are rare in the fitness band world. The ECG feature lets you use atrial fibrillation (AFib) monitoring, which helps you monitor heart health. As for the latter, the Daily Readiness Score takes all the data your tracker collects and turns it into actionable information. For example, during our testing, the app noticed we didn’t get enough sleep the night before, and so the next morning it told us to skip our usual workout. Conversely, on days we slept really well, it told us to push even harder the next day. One downside — the DRS feature requires a Fitbit Premium subscription.
As you’d expect, other fitness features were as accurate as ever, especially sleep tracking and step counting. Of course, no one product is going to be perfect. The Charge 5 has pretty poor battery life for a fitness tracker, with Fitbit’s own Versa 3 smartwatch offering very similar results in our experience. While three days is great for a smartwatch, we expect more from a fitness band-style tracker.
If you are looking for the best fitness band you can buy, the Fitbit Charge 5 is very easy to recommend. That said, if you don’t mind something a bit bigger and with more smarts, we recommend the Versa 3 at around the same price.
What makes it stand out
- That display is killer: While the Charge 4 introduced a much bigger display to Fitbit’s trackers, the Charge 5 takes this to the next level with a bright, colorful display that almost feels more like a smartwatch than a typical tracker.
- The Charge 5 is a band-style tracker with smartwatch-like smarts: From mobile payments to notifications, you’ll find a lot of basic smartwatch features. While the Charge 5 is still first and foremost a tracker, these additions are welcome.
- Stress tracking on a fitness tracker: Again, while several smartwatches offer the ability to monitor stress levels, fitness bands typically don’t. Even better, in our testing, we found it works pretty well and can be insightful.
Xiaomi Mi Band 6 is the best cheap fitness tracker
The Mi Band 6 is one of many budget fitness trackers available on the market, but we feel it’s still the very best we’ve ever tested. What makes the Mi Band 6 so great is that it packs in features that you’d normally only find on a fitness tracker double or triple its price, including SPo2 monitoring and stress tracking. Even more impressive, our testing shows that many of these features are just as accurate as you’d find on expensive wearables from Garmin and Fitbit. This includes basics like step tracking and calorie counting, but also more advanced features like heart rate monitoring.
We found the heart rate monitor to be incredibly accurate — most of the time. During resting and low-level activities, the Band 6 kept up against our chest strap without a hitch. Unfortunately, more intense activities would report less accurate results, often off by as much as 35bpm. Still, many budget trackers struggle to report accurate results at any activity level, even resting. Overall, the heart rate tracker impressed us and we felt it was still useful. We just had to accept there was a margin of error at higher heart rates.
Oxygen level monitoring is another advanced feature where Xiaomi keeps up with the more expensive brands. In fact, we noticed in our testing that the Mi Band 6’s SpO2 sensor is actually faster than the Forerunner 245 we compared it against. The results were also on par with competitors, with only a medical-grade oximeter offering more accurate readings. One small downside: the feature does not run continuously at night and is better for spot checks, so if you want to use a tracker to monitor for potential sleep apnea signs you might want to pony up the extra money for a Fitbit Charge 5.
Aside from plenty of sensors, the Xiaomi Mi Band 6 also offers over 30 workout modes and an easy-to-use interface. The app experience has also improved in recent times, though it’s a bit complicated. There are technically two apps you can use with the Mi Band 6. Zepp Life allows you to sync to Google Fit, while Mi Fitness supports Strava. There are a few other feature differences between the two apps we pointed out in our review, but both are fairly easy to use and navigate.
Overall the Mi Band 6 performs similarly to devices like the Charge 5, but just be aware some of its more advanced features might not be as accurate. The Mi Band 6 is an easy-to-recommend tracker for those looking for a basic but reliable way to get into better shape. One minor note: the Xiaomi Mi Band 7 was recently announced, though it has no global release date just yet. Once the Mi Band 7 is more readily available it’s likely we’ll be adding it to this list.
What makes it stand out
- That price tag: The Mi Band 6 is a good fitness tracker, but what truly makes it stand out is the price tag. At $50, it’s at least $30-$40 cheaper than most trackers, while offering a lot of the same features.
- Exceptional accuracy for the basics: While the Mi Band 6 struggles a bit with more advanced features, this is a very accurate tracker for the basics like steps and calories. It even handles oxygen level readings and stress tracking very well.
- Tons of features: Generally “entry-level” fitness trackers lack a lot of advanced sensors like SP02 and heart rate monitoring. That’s not the case here. You’ll find just about every sensor other major fitness trackers offer. There’s even connected GPS, meaning you can link your tracker to your phone’s GPS for tracking your route.
Huawei Band 6 gives Mi a run for its money
Huawei really surprised us with the Huawei Band 6. For the first time, someone had given the Mi Band a true challenger in the budget space. While most fitness trackers stick to pretty basic designs, the Huawei Band 6 was a head-turner thanks to its beautiful design and relatively small size. It wasn’t just cosmetics that impressed us. We also found the Huawei Band 6 was much more accurate with sleep tracking than the Mi Band 6.
In many other ways, the Huawei Band 6 is very similar to the Mi Band 6 — and that’s a compliment. Features like SPo2 work as advertised, as do step and calorie tracking. Just like the Mi Band 6, the heart rate tracker is also pretty decent but tends to read a little high. In our tests, the Huawei Band was usually 7-10bpm higher than our chest strap.
The Huawei Band 6 also manages to one-up the Mi Band 6 in several ways. First, we really loved the variety of workout modes, with 96 in total. Of these, 85 are basic activities, but 11 are more advanced. Of all the modes we probably found tracking an outdoor run to be the most useful. It reported tons of data like stride length and frequency, pace, training pressure, recovery, and more. Regardless, the amount of activities this band can work with is impressive when compared to devices like the Mi Band 6 with its comparatively puny 30 activities.
Related: Best Huawei watches and bands
The battery life on the Huawei Band 6 is also better than the budget competition. While Huawei advertises it at two weeks, we found that average use got us around 10 days on a single charge with full use of all its features. In comparison, the Mi Band usually got us around seven days.
Sleep tracking is another major win for Huawei. We tested the sleep tracking function on the Huawei Band 6 against a variety of devices, including the Fitbit Sense and Garmin Forerunner 245 Music. The results were spot on. If sleep tracking is something important to you it’s important to note we found Huawei’s Band to be more accurate at this than the Mi Band 6.
There’s a lot to like about the Huawei Band 6, but one catch is availability. It’s possible to get the Huawei Band 6 in North America by importing it, but you’ll find the Mi Band 6 much easier to get hold of. For those in Europe, it’s easy to recommend the Huawei Band 6 if you want an alternative to the Mi Band series. For everyone in the US, you’ll likely want to stick with the Mi Band or an Amazfit option.
What makes it stand out
- Beautiful full-color display: The Band 6 added a vibrant and large display to its tracker well before Fitbit followed suit. The display here looks great and is shockingly good for a watch that’s around sub-$50.
- Accurate sleep tracking: If you are on a tight budget and care about sleep tracking, you’ll be happy to know that the Band 6 is extremely accurate here.
- Tons of workout modes: There are over 96 workout modes on this tracker. This is a lot for even more expensive trackers but unheard of at this price.
Apple Watch Series 7 is the best tracker for iPhone users
The Apple Watch Series 7 isn’t for Android users, because there’s literally no way to use it on one. If you’re coming from an iPhone, there’s a lot to love here. The biggest change from the Apple Watch Series 6 is the display, which is not only bigger but 50% more resistant to cracks and damage. We loved how big and bright it was in our testing, but even more significant is what Apple did with that extra space. The watch’s UI and apps now feel much less cramped, with the increase in size leading to larger text and room for more on-screen elements.
The Apple Watch Series 7 can track all of the activity metrics we have come to expect: steps, calories, distance, floors climbed, resting and active heart rate, sleep, VO2 max, blood oxygen saturation, sinus rhythm, and menstrual cycles. In our testing, we also found the Apple Watch to be very accurate at nearly all these activities, with a few notable exceptions.
Out of the box, the Series 7 would only sporadically record the heart rate during workouts for us. We tested it multiple times, dug into the settings, checked for software updates, and finally resorted to a full factory data reset. We also talked to others in the industry, and many others also had similar problems. This isn’t uncommon with Apple’s new watches and is likely going to improve over time. When it did work, it worked well enough so hopefully future software updates will further address the issue. If heart rate monitor accuracy matters to you, the Garmin Forerunner 255 might be a better fit.
Out of all the devices we’ve tested we have found Apple’s UI to be the very easiest to navigate. Pulling up apps for tracking runs and other activities is just much more intuitive here than on a device like the Fitbit Versa 3. The Apple Watch also remains the best platform for third-party app support. As a result just about every major health service has an app for this watch. Outside of health and fitness, you’ll also find the Apple Watch 7 has plenty of other apps for all your favorite music services, messaging, and more.
If you want a smartwatch that has accurate tracking and tons of third-party app support, the Apple Watch Series 7 is a no-brainer. Looking to save some money? The Apple Watch SE removes a few things, but it is still a great fitness tracker. Don’t have an iPhone and looking for something just as feature packed? If you care about app support, we might consider the Galaxy Watch 4. If you simply want accurate and advanced tracking features, get the Venu 2 Plus.
What makes it stand out
- King of the apps: If you want third-party support, you can’t do better. Apple has worked hard to bring in tons of partners. In addition to the 40 plus apps built in, there are over 20,000 downloadable apps. No one else comes close.
- ECG support works perfectly: Apple is one of the few brands out there with an FDA-approved ECG monitor. If this is an important health metric to you, you’ll want the Apple Watch.
- Gorgeous and durable design: The Apple Watch design is iconic at this stage. It looks great and it turns heads. If you care about something that is not only beautiful but highly durable, look no further.
The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is a great workout watch for every niche
The Garmin Venu 2 Plus might be a premium smartwatch, but it’s also one of the best fitness trackers. While most fitness trackers are great for running and other common activities, the Venu 2 family covers 25 sports modes for a range of activities, including common ones like running and cycling, to more niche subjects like bouldering and golfing. There is also a ton of variety in 75 workouts available, including support for yoga, pilates, and HITT.
We found ourselves really drawn to the HITT workouts, and this is one of the features we used the most. The exercises work well, the on-device timers are clear and easy to read, and you even feel a slight buzz when each interval begins and alos every second for the last five seconds before the next interval. This makes performing HITT exercises much easier than using a video or app on your phone. There are even a few different modes. We found Free Mode appealing because it also keeps tabs on your overall health data, and then there are four timed workouts: AMRAP, EMOM, Tabata, and custom. Custom lets you set a time limit for your active and rest times, as well as how many moves and rounds you want to do.
Read more: Best Garmin watches you can buy
We really loved the new Health Snapshot feature, which was first introduced with the Venu 2. Basically, the Venu 2 Plus takes a two-minute recording of your health stats like heart rate, heart rate variability, blood oxygen levels, respiration rate, and stress. Once it’s pulling together all the results, it becomes viewable in Garmin Connect, and you can even share it with your healthcare provider or a caretaker. This could be very important for those with health issues that require constant communication with a doctor such as diabetes or a heart condition.
The rest of the core health fitness features were as accurate as you’d expect from Fitbit. We found GPS testing was almost always as accurate as you’d find with other reputable trackers, same with metrics like tracking steps, calories, and blood oxygen levels. Unfortunately, we did run into some problems with the heart rate monitor. While resting heart rate was accurate enough, we found heart rate readings during workouts could be pretty inconsistent. For example, during a four-mile run with the Venu 2 Plus we found the data not only was quite a bit off against our chest strap, but also the Apple Watch Series 7 we were also wearing. This is acceptable from a device like the Mi Band 6, but less acceptable from a high-end fitness-focused smartwatch. Thankfully Garmin has released a few updates since then that has improved the accuracy, but just be aware the data can sometimes be a little off even with the fixes.
Overall, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus is a great fitness tracker, but it’s pretty pricey unless you are actually into the smartwatch features Garmin brings to the table, such as mobile payments, voice calling, and the ability to use your assistant of choice on the watch. If you want a full-fledged fitness experience with a wide variety of activity support and solid smartwatch features, you’ve come to the right place. Want to save some cash? The Fitbit Versa 3 doesn’t have everything the Venu 2 Plus offers, but it comes pretty close and is a much better value.
What makes it stand out
- The ability to make calls. While a growing selection of smartwatches have call and messaging functionality, it’s still not all that commonplace. It’s built right in here and it works flawlessly on the Venu 2 Plus.
- Assistant support isn’t limited to one platform. Most trackers and watches have built-in assistants, but the Garmin Venu 2 Plus uses the phone in your pocket for this functionality. This means you can choose between Bixby, Assistant, Siri, and others. You do have to be in Bluetooth range of the phone for it to work, however.
- Industry-leading fitness tracking features. Garmin is one of the leaders in fitness features and as a result, there are tons of activity modes. There’s also support for a wide range of sports including golf, swimming, and strength training. Just to name a few.
Garmin Forerunner 255 is one of the best fitness trackers for hardcore runners
The Garmin Forerunner 255 is easily one of the most impressive running watches we’ve ever used and a much-needed upgrade to its aging predecessor. There are many reasons we adored the watch, but let’s start with the form factor. We applaud Garmin’s decision to offer this watch in two different sizes: a 42mm model and a slimmer 41mm model dubbed the Forerunner 255S. Even better, there’s no premium for getting the bigger model, as both the 255 and 255S have the same retail price.
Previously, the Forerunner series felt a bit too big for those in our team with smaller wrists, which was a shame as the Forerunner leads the pack when it comes to running watches. We used both models but primarily focused our attention on the 255S. In reality, there are only two major differences between the 255 and 255S. The former has a 1.3-inch display and gets around 30 hours of battery life, while the latter has a 1.1-inch display and around 26 hours of battery life.
Further reading: The best running watches
The Forerunner takes the winning formula of the four-year-old Forerunner 245 and updates it for 2022. There’s now NFC support, which worked flawlessly for us. As our reviewer Ryan noted, he never carries cash on a run, so adding this function was helpful when he needed to stop for snacks or refuel with a drink. Even more significant is the upgraded heart rate monitor.
The fourth-gen Elevate Sensor has some of the most accurate heart rate tracking we’ve seen in a watch. While it wasn’t exactly in line with our chest strap’s data, it came extremely close — much closer than any other entry on this list. Garmin also added a powerful triathlon feature. It’s one of over 30 sports profiles, and you can shift from the running phase of your workout to biking or swimming with the push of a button.
Another new feature we absolutely loved was the Morning Report. Morning Report delivers an overview of your sleep, recovery, and training for the day right when you wake up, even if it’s a rest day. While not new to Garmin (seen in Garmin Lily), it is new to the Forerunner series.
Although no one device is ever perfect, the Forerunner 255 comes close. One small sore spot is the lack of a touch display, but that’s pretty common for a running watch. Instead, the watch uses physical buttons to navigate. There’s also a proprietary cable on the Forerunner, but that’s also pretty typical in the wearable space. Unless you’re really serious about running, there are other watches out there that might be cheaper or better suited. Still, running buffs will absolutely want to consider picking up the Garmin Forerunner 255.
What makes it stand out
- Options for different wrist sizes: Not every watch or tracker has multiple band sizes and so this is a welcome addition with the Forerunner 255. You can pick between a 42mm model or the 41mm S model. Both are the same price, though a music-capable version can be purchased for another $50.
- Morning report is a useful addition: We really love Garmin’s Morning Report feature. This delivers an overview of your sleep, recovery, and training right from the moment you wake up.
- Gold standard in heart rate monitoring: Let’s be honest, most trackers struggle for truly accurate heart tracking. The next-gen Elevate sensor in the 255 is one of the few monitors that can yield nearly as accurate results as you’d get from a chest strap.
Garmin Vivomove Sport is the perfect hybrid for the incognito fitness buff
Like everything from Garmin, the Vivomove Sport offers the full gamut of fitness tracking. Where it stands out is how it houses them. During our review, we fell in love with the device’s hybrid form factor, particularly its spy-tech “hidden” display. This isn’t a device for users who want to broadcast their gym regimen. Instead, with real ticking hands, this watch feels like a classic analog accessory completely appropriate for a fancy meal or a night out. Meanwhile, just a double-tap away, it hides an accurate fitness tracker with some of Garmin’s top tools.
Navigating the tiny display real estate on the Vivomove Sport takes a little getting used to, but we got the hang of it after just a few hours of digging in. The device records all the basics you’d expect from a tracker plus sleep data, 24/7 heart rate, and stress data. It also offers Garmin’s Body Battery and all-day stress monitoring, but unfortunately, no sleep score, which we would have loved to see. You won’t find built-in GPS here either, but you get connected GPS. Connected GPS isn’t ideal for runs or rides as it necessitates pocketing your phone, but it’s a minor gripe. We were also pretty excited to see a heart rate monitor in a hybrid like this and overall it works fairly well, though it’s not nearly as accurate as you’d find on a more traditional fitness tracker.
Further reading: The best hybrid watches you can buy
Battery life with hybrids can often stretch pretty far, and the Vivomove Sport performs pretty solidly here. In our tests, we were able to get around five hours of battery life for the hybrid features. After that, the watch would go into an analog-only mode, which would let us use it as a standard watch for about one more day.
The Garmin Vivomove Sport is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a stylish tracker that blends in wherever you take it. Metallic accents elevate the device while comfortable silicone bands make it durable enough for a sweaty workout. It never felt out of place no matter where we wore it, including a formal holiday meal, ziplining, hiking, and multiple gym sessions. Thanks to multi-day battery life, we rarely had a reason to take it off to charge either. The Vivomove Sport is a very good basic tracker and anyone hoping for even more advanced results probably isn’t shopping for a hybrid anyway. The relatively approachable retail price of $179 also makes any of the device’s nuances easier to swallow.
What makes it stand out
- A stylish workout companion: The Vivomove Sport is a very good-looking device. Available in four color schemes, it offers a classic look for users that move seamlessly between the office and the gym.
- We can’t say enough about the display: The device isn’t just good-looking, it’s clever. This type of “hidden” display isn’t new to Garmin but it has never been done better than on this device.
- Garmin’s reputation proceeds it: Even though this isn’t a dedicated fitness tracker, it is (as the name implies) a capable sports companion. Garmin is known for accurate fitness tracking and the company’s Body Battery feature makes this an attractive pick for anyone who wants tabs on the basics.
What to look for in a good fitness tracker
For those new to fitness trackers, you might not be completely sure where to get started. Some of you might just be doing it because “all my friends use a tracker,” others are trying to get back in shape, and then there are users who simply want to maximize their existing workout routine by adding more comprehensive data to the mix. When choosing the right fitness tracker you’ll want to consider all of the following:
Your style of workout matters
What are you using this device for? Do you want something that can do it all fairly well, or a watch that’s more specialized even if it sacrifices some commonplace features? If you’re a swimmer or a diver, you’ll want to pay attention to ensure the tracker you buy is able to handle certain depths. As a runner, you’ll want step tracking that offers accuracy you can count on. For cyclists, you’ll really want to think about getting yourself a tracker that has bike mode features like GPS to monitor your course. Buying this for a child? You’ll want something that can handle bumps and bruises.
Form over function, or vice versa
Will you want to use the tracker long-term if you find it uncomfortable? Is comfort less important than simply looking good? That’s important to figure out too. Some fitness trackers work really well, but maybe they are bulky or just not particularly aesthetically pleasing. Others are designed with style in mind, but perhaps make a few sacrifices on the feature set to keep them light and comfortable.
How smart do you want your fitness tracker to be?
Extending on the form over function conversation, some fitness trackers and smartwatches offer advanced features like stress tracking, music listening, third-party app support, voice calling, assistant support, and much more. If you want everything and the kitchen sink, a smartwatch is probably the right choice for you or something that crosses the line between a traditional fitness band and fitness watch — like the Charge 5.
What features do you really need, versus “nice to haves?”
Maybe you’re just buying a fitness tracker to broadly “get into better shape”. In most cases, if you are using this as a motivation tool to just move around more, you probably will do just fine with a basic tracker that handles calories, steps, and sleep. Of course, to better future proof your experience it doesn’t hurt to get a watch with extras like a heart rate monitor but maybe you don’t need GPS or SPo2 tracking.
Features for serious health concerns
If you’re getting a fitness tracker due to serious health concerns, you might want to spring for extra features that track oxygen level, heart rate, and other important metrics.
How crucial is battery life for your fitness tracker?
If you plan to use this for long hikes or situations where battery life is a concern, you’ll want something that can last days if not weeks. If you want smarts, you’ll have to settle for something that gets battery life in the eight-hour to 1.5-day range. If you do spring for a watch with lesser battery life just make sure it has a quick charging solution so you can get up and running in no time.
Will it work with your current device and what’s the app like?
While most of the watches and trackers in this list work with both Android and iOS, that’s not always the case. Apple Watch only supports iPhones, for example. It’s also possible that some watches will offer different features or a better app experience depending on if you own an Android or iOS device. Unless noted in the descriptions below, all the recommendations in this list are compatible with both major smartphone platforms. The last thing you want to think about is the app itself. For example, the Mi Band 6 is a great fitness tracker in terms of hardware, but the app isn’t nearly as robust as you’ll find from Garmin or Fitbit.
What’s your budget?
What you spend on your new tracker is up to your personal budget. The Fitbit Charge 5 rings up higher than some cheaper trackers because it’s a higher-quality device. Meanwhile, springing for a fitness tracking smartwatch will set you back even further, but may be worth the investment for a well-rounded experience. If you have a low budget and aren’t sold on how much you’ll use a fitness tracker, we absolutely recommend a budget option like the Mi Band 6.
Why you should trust us & how we test
Android Authority has a long history with wearable devices, spanning back at least as far as the Pebble in 2013. Since then, we’ve reviewed hundreds of wearables and learned a lot along the way. Our team of dedicated health and fitness experts tests dozens of new wearables and fitness trackers every year, but only the very best make it onto recommendation lists like the one you are reading. How do we determine what’s worthy? When testing we have two main focuses in mind: user experience and accuracy. To that end, we start by utilizing the device as a daily driver:
- We wear the product 24/7, (except for charging time), to evaluate its day-to-day performance, capabilities, and comfort.
- We note everything from strap materials and display brightness to navigation and battery life.
- We tap into as many features as possible, leaving no stone unturned.
- We set alarms, chat with voice assistants, and fire off texts, follow breathing exercises, sweat through workouts, and much more.
- We test sleep tracking accuracy and wear the watch to bed, comparing its data to other products well-regarded for their sleep analysis.
- We test SpO2 sensors against other wearables or a pulse oximeter.
- For heart rate monitoring, we equip chest straps to test the device’s accuracy, and push the sensor through interval training workouts.
- We also test GPS accuracy on outdoor runs and rides wearing the device, along with a notably accurate GPS device, to see how the review unit performs.
- When possible, we strap on a comparable device from the current market to analyze how the review subject stands up to similarly-priced competition.
- We dig into the companion app. We look to see how the data is organized and analyzed, and evaluate the ease of use.
As you can see, we don’t mess around! There is a ton of variety in smartwatches and trackers, and reviewing each product is quite nuanced. A Garmin Fenix 7 review looks a lot different from a Xiaomi Mi Band review, for example. So, we also determine the wearable’s place in the market in terms of form factor, target audience, and budget. Then, we check to see if the device is missing anything important that users might expect to see, and verify that it lives up to its brand’s (measurable) claims.
You can trust that our experts put every device through its paces. Typically, our review period lasts about a week, but we can sometimes extend it to weeks or months for especially feature-packed devices. We also revisit watches and trackers regularly to ensure they still hold up over time.
Compatibility is always device-specific but all of the options on this list are compatible with iPhones. Similarly, all of the devices are also compatible with Android devices except for the Apple Watch.
For the sake of this article, we refer to devices with big displays that prioritize apps and notifications as smartwatches. Devices with small displays that look more like a traditional fitness band we refer to as fitness trackers. In reality, many smartwatches have fitness tracking tools, and many fitness trackers have smartwatch features.
If you are shopping for a little one who is just getting started on their tracking journey, check out our dedicated guide to choosing the right device. We even include options for older kids and teens.
The answer to this varies. Typically no tracker is going to be as good as higher-grade medical equipment like chest straps and monitors but some brands come closer than others. Fitbit, Garmin, and Apple are three brands known for their accuracy.