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The best fitness trackers (November 2021): Fitbit, Garmin, Xiaomi, and more

The Best
By
November 23, 2021
xiaomi mi band 6 review display close up
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
Table of contents

Fitness trackers have come an extremely long way over the years. No longer are they glorified pedometers; most standard fitness trackers nowadays can track your steps taken, distance traveled, caloric burn, and even your sleeping patterns. They’re handy little devices if you want a better look at how active you are throughout the day, and there are plenty to choose from. It can be a little daunting trying to choose the best fitness tracker to suit your needs, so we’ve compiled a list of the best fitness trackers you can buy in 2021.

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Buying the right fitness tracker for your needs

Everybody needs something different out of their fitness trackers, so we listed each model in a different category to help you choose the right device for your needs. If you’re buying a wearable for running, we’d recommend looking into a device with built-in GPS or connected GPS functionality. If you’re looking for a great smartwatch experience above all else, you should look into something with a bigger display. If you want something to track your activity and don’t care about the extra features, a smaller fitness tracker will do the trick.

Before we get into it, let’s talk about an important distinction — smartwatches vs. fitness trackers. For the sake of this article, we are referring to devices with big displays that prioritize apps and notifications as smartwatches. For devices that have smaller displays and look more like a traditional fitness band, we’ll refer to those as fitness trackers.

The best fitness trackers

  • The Fitbit Charge 5 is the best fitness tracker you can buy. It brings welcome upgrades over the Charge 4, including a brighter OLED display and new sensors.
  • The Xiaomi Mi Band 6 is the best cheap fitness tracker you can buy, thanks to its extremely low price point and solid fitness tracking.
  • The Huawei Band 6 is a fantastic Xiaomi Mi Band 6 alternative, thanks to its roomy form factor and all-day SpO2 monitoring.
  • The Fitbit Inspire 2 is another great inexpensive offering. It’s not the flashiest piece of tech, but it integrates with Fitbit’s fantastic app.
  • The Garmin Venu 2 is the best fitness tracking smartwatch you can buy. It’s constantly on sale and is one of the most well-rounded products we’ve ever tested.
  • The Apple Watch Series 7 is the best fitness tracking smartwatch for iPhone users. It’s arguably the best smartwatch you can buy, and it has a solid fitness tracking feature set.
  • The Fitbit Sense is another solid fitness tracking smartwatch. It’s expensive but not quite as pricey as some of its Garmin competitors.
  • The Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite is a cheap smartwatch that’s great for basic fitness tracking.

Fitbit Charge 5: The best fitness tracker

Fitbit Charge 5 Review On Side
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

It was a tough decision relegating the venerable Fitbit Charge 4 from its perch, but the Charge 5 brings too many upgrades to ignore. Its bright OLED display and slimmer design make peeking at and wearing the band more comfortable. You also get an SpO2 sensor, EDA stress sensor, and skin temperature tracking with built-in GPS.

This isn’t to say the Charge 5 doesn’t have flaws. It’s asking users to spend $50 more than the Charge 4, which is a steep demand for those satisfied with Fitbit’s older band. Several features aren’t available at launch, either, nor is the battery life that stellar. However, if you are a new Fitbit user, it’s tough to argue against going with the Charge 5.

fitbit charge 5 steel blue platinum 2
Fitbit Charge 5
Same form factor, way better display
The Fitbit Charge 5 is a major update from its predecessor. Not only does it have a color AMOLED display, it's the first tracker to come with Fitbit's Daily Readiness Score — a feature that aims to predict how much activity or rest you should take on for the day.

Pros

  • Bright, beautiful full-color OLED display
  • Smaller and slimmer than Charge 4
  • EDA, SpO2, and skin temperature tracking
  • Usual quality of Fitbit tracking accuracy

Cons

  • No altimeter
  • Battery life isn’t great
  • Promised features unavailable at launch
  • Expensive

Check out our full review to learn more about the Fitbit Charge 5.

Xiaomi Mi Band 6: The best cheap fitness tracker

xiaomi mi band 6 review header image on cement
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Xiaomi’s fitness trackers are popular because they’re good and cheap. Really good and really cheap. Regarding fitness features and accuracy, the sub-€50 Xiaomi Mi Band 6 rivals the likes of some more expensive fitness trackers. It’ll track most of the same activity metrics as the other devices and even has two-week battery life if you use it minimally.

Xiaomi is heading in the right direction with the Mi Band line, though it shouldn’t rest on its laurels. Competition from Huami and Huawei is heating up, and we may not see the Mi Band line at the top for long.

xiaomi mi band 6 press render orange blue strap bands
Xiaomi Mi Band 6
Now with SpO2 tracking and more sport profiles
The Xiaomi Mi Band 6 (aka Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 in some regions) is Xiaomi's flagship fitness tracker for 2021. True to form, the Mi Band 6 offers more features than you'd expect for a sub-€50 wearable.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Good battery life
  • Bigger, colorful display
  • Lots of sports tracking modes
  • Useful smart features
  • Accurate resting heart rate readings

Cons

  • Battery life takes a hit with advanced features
  • Heart rate sensor struggles with high-intensity workouts
  • Sleep tracking can be off
  • Xiaomi Wear app still needs work
  • No NFC, voice assistant outside China

Check out our full review to learn more about the Xiaomi Mi Band 6.

Huawei Band 6: Giving Xiaomi a run for its money

Huawei Band 6 review watch face on wrist 1
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Huawei came out of nowhere with a solid Xiaomi Mi Band 6 competitor. The Huawei Band 6 offers 10-day battery life, lots of workout modes, and all-day SpO2 monitoring. Our favorite feature, though, is the roomy AMOLED display. You likely won’t miss your bulky smartwatch after wearing the Huawei Band 6.

Sure, we’d change some things about the Band 6 — we wish it had standalone GPS, and the straps are not removable. But if you’re looking for an alternative to a cheap Xiaomi fitness tracker, the Huawei Band 6 is it.

huawei band 6 press image
Huawei Band 6
Huawei's entry-level fitness tracker
Looking for a Mi Band 6 alternative? The Huawei Band 6 might be what you're looking for. It has 96 workout modes, all-day blood oxygen monitoring, and a battery that can last up to two weeks.

Pros

  • Comfortable, roomy form factor
  • Great value
  • Solid battery life
  • Lots of workout modes
  • All-day SpO2 monitoring

Cons

  • Limited smartwatch features and apps
  • Non-removable straps
  • Heart rate sensor struggles during workouts

Check out our full review to learn more about the Huawei Band 6.

Fitbit Inspire 2: Fitbit on a budget

fitbit inspire 2 review fitness tracker display on table 3
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

The Fitbit Inspire 2 is a great fitness tracker, health tracker, and sleep tracker. It’s just $100, too!

It’s small and lightweight, supports interchangeable straps, and offers smartphone notifications on your wrist. It might be small, but it doesn’t skimp on the features. The Fitbit Inspire 2 offers connected GPS, a heart rate sensor, as well as 10-day battery life.

Think of the Fitbit Inspire 2 as the “Fitbit Charge 4 Lite.” It removes a few notable features like notification history, an altimeter, and a bigger display to reach that $100 price point. If you don’t need those things, though, the Inspire HR is a fantastic option. Plus, it comes with a full year of Fitbit Premium.

fitbit inspire 2 press image white pink
Fitbit Inspire 2
Fitbit's cheapest fitness tracker
The Fitbit Inspire 2 is an inexpensive alternative to the Charge 4, but the real value comes from the free year of Fitbit Premium included with purchases for new users.

Pros

  • Low price point
  • Small, lightweight design
  • Accurate fitness, health, and sleep tracking
  • Connected GPS is a nice addition

Cons

  • Bland design
  • The display isn’t great
  • Side buttons can be unresponsive

Check out our full review to learn more about the Fitbit Inspire 2.

Garmin Venu 2: The best fitness smartwatch for Android users

garmin venu 2 review watch face display on wrist 1
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Not only is the Venu 2 the company’s best-ever smartwatch, it’s also the best fitness smartwatch you can buy if you’re an Android user. The Venu 2 sees many under-the-hood improvements over the Venu and Vivoactive 4 lines.

The Venu 2’s new Health Snapshot feature is quite useful. It takes a two-minute snapshot of essential health stats like heart rate, heart rate variability, blood oxygen levels, respiration rate, and stress. Afterward, you can view your results in Garmin Connect and generate a PDF of your stats to share with your healthcare provider.

Garmin improved GPS accuracy over the original Venu, though the new Elevate heart rate sensor still needs tweaking. Still, the watch can deliver accurate, reliable health stats, day in and day out.

Garmin Venu 2 press image
Garmin Venu 2
Garmin's new mid-range multisport watch
If you liked the original Garmin Venu, you're in for a treat with the Venu 2. It comes in two sizes, has lots of new features, and refines many of Garmin's existing health tracking modes to make an all-around more comprehensive wearable.

Pros

  • Now comes in two sizes
  • Crisp AMOLED display
  • Accurate fitness, sleep, and health tracking
  • Excellent GPS accuracy
  • Health Snapshot is useful
  • More music storage

Cons

  • Battery life can be finicky
  • Uneven heart rate sensor data
  • High price tag

Check out our full review to learn more about the Garmin Venu 2.

Apple Watch Series 7: The best fitness smartwatch for Apple users

The Apple Watch Series 7 on a wrist showing the Meridian watch face
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
Meridian

The Apple Watch Series 7 is probably the best smartwatch money can buy, period. Apple beefed up its new smartwatch with a more durable watch face, larger dial sizes, and a host of new colorways. For those who loved the Series 6 but found it too fragile or too small, the Series 7 is a welcome step up.

However, concerning fitness tracking, you won’t see any real upgrades over the Series 6 on the new watch. Sure, you’ll still get good heart rate monitoring and baked-in GPS tracking, but it effectively includes identical health smarts. That might be a strike against the Series 7 for some, but considering it keeps its $399 starting price, the minor physical upgrades alone are welcome.

If you’re looking for something a little cheaper but still in Apple’s ecosystem, check out the Apple Watch SE.

apple watch series 7 press render green leather strap
Apple Watch Series 7
Bigger display, faster-charging battery
The Apple Watch Series 7 boasts a larger edge-to-edge display, tougher durability, faster charging, and more color options than before. If you want the best of what Apple has to offer, the Series 7 is it.

Fitbit Sense: Fitbit’s most premium offering

fitbit sense review design display watch face 3
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

For as much complaining as we’ve done about the Fitbit Sense, it does get a lot right. The basics are all here: accurate heart rate monitoring with Fitbit’s new PurePulse 2.0 heart rate sensor, onboard GPS that’s quite accurate, fantastic sleep tracking (as always), and a much-improved design.

The new EDA and SpO2 sensors aren’t that well implemented and don’t do a very good job explaining the data they collect and how it affects users’ health, which is why this one is further down on our list. If you don’t need the ECG, skin temperature, or EDA sensors, we’d also recommend checking out the cheaper Fitbit Versa 3.

fitbit sense white gold
Fitbit Sense
Manage your stress and heart health
The Fitbit Sense is Fitbit's flagship health-focused smartwatch. It has built-in ECG, GPS, and heart rate sensors, plus a new EDA Scan app that measures your body's stress levels. This is by far Fitbit's most advanced health watch so far.

Pros

  • High-end, premium design
  • Improved quick-release straps
  • (Mostly) accurate GPS and heart rate sensors
  • Skin temp sensor provides useful data
  • Detailed sleep tracking
  • ~6-day battery life

Cons

  • Bad inductive button
  • EDA and ECG sensors need refining
  • Fitbit OS still needs work

Check out our full review to learn more about the Fitbit Sense.

Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite: A cheap and basic fitness tracking smartwatch

xiaomi mi watch lite review all apps screen
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

The Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite surprised us. Not that we didn’t expect Xiaomi to deliver on basic fitness tracking (Xiaomi does make Mi Bands, after all), but we didn’t expect the Mi Watch Lite to offer as many fitness features as it does. You get onboard GPS, an accurate heart rate sensor, post-workout analysis powered by Firstbeat, and nine-day battery life.

The on-device software isn’t great, and the Xiaomi Wear app needs a ton of work. If you can get past those two caveats, the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite is a fantastic fitness tracker for well under $100.

xiaomi mi watch lite
Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite
A Xiaomi smartwatch for just €50
The Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite is one of the cheapest smartwatches you can find. With onboard GPS, all-day heart rate monitoring, and 11 different sport tracking modes, the Mi Watch Lite boasts a surprisingly capable spec sheet.

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Plenty of fitness data and sport profiles
  • Workout analysis from Firstbeat
  • 9-day battery life
  • Good heart rate monitoring

Cons

  • Limited smartwatch features
  • Xiaomi Wear app needs a lot of work

Check out our full review to learn more about the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite.

Honorable mentions

That’s it for our list of the best fitness trackers you can buy, but it’s only a fraction of what’s out there. We also want to give an honorable mention to the following products:

  • Fitbit Charge 4: It might not feature the AMOLED display, slimmer design, or newer sensors of its successor, but the Charge 4 remains a decent choice for runners thanks to its accuracy and built-in GPS. It’s also $50 cheaper.
  • Xiaomi Mi Watch: The Xiaomi Mi Watch is one of the best cheap smartwatches for fitness you can buy. At €99, it offers plenty of fitness and health features and a great design. We wish the software experience was a little more polished.
  • Garmin Vivosmart 4: Garmin has essentially abandoned the fitness tracker form factor, but the Vivosmart 4 is the most recent device in that lineup. However, it’s a bit small for our liking.
  • Garmin Vivoactive 4 and Garmin Venu: The Garmin Venu 2 might be the company’s new mid-range fitness watch, but the Vivoactive 4 and original Venu are still solid fitness tracking smartwatches. Everything you loved about the Vivoactive 3 and 3 Music is here, along with about 3.5GB of onboard storage for music.

Looking for more brand-specific recommendations? Check out the following guides: