Summer is in full swing which makes it the perfect time to kickstart a new fitness regime or take your current one to the next level.
And if either of those moves sound good to you, then we’d thoroughly recommend investing in a fitness tracker to help you stick to your goals.
Having tested every fitness tracker we could get our hands on since they first became a thing many moons ago, we can confirm that a decent device can help with everything from motivating you to walk more to radically improving your 5km times.
But which one to get? At the moment the market is outright flooded with options. Jump onto any online retailer and you’ll see everything from affordable band design trackers for counting your daily steps up to uber-expensive GPS wearables made for hardcore triathletes.
Here to make sure you get a wearable that’s right for you we’ve created this guide detailing the top performing fitness trackers we’ve tested that are still on sale. Every tracker on this guide has been used by one of our team of reviewers for at least a week. During that time we test every feature we can think of to make sure they deliver accurate tracking data, decent battery life, a gym-ready build quality and good value for money.
Knowing that one size doesn’t fit all, we’ve also made sure to include a good variety of trackers that cover different markets and price points to give readers a full spectrum of what’s on offer.
If you know what you’re after and are in the market for something a little more focussed then you can also check out our best running watch, best Garmin Watch, Best Fitbit and best smartwatch guides for more buying advice.
Which is the best fitness tracker?
How we test
We use every fitness tracker we review as our primary wearable for at least a week – or longer, if the battery life lasts beyond that point or we need more time to trial its features.
During that time we will test it on a variety of different activities. These will range from basic step tracking, to how well it tracks runs, swims, cycling and more.
For distance tracking, we assess how accurately the device records runs on tracks we know the length of. We also evaluate the level of battery life lost per hour using features such as built-in or connected GPS. To check heart rate accuracy, we compare the results from the wearable to a dedicated HRM strap.
Next we combine the data recorded with our general experience of using the wearable day-to-day, revealing whether the device proved comfortable to wear, alongside any issues we may have encountered with unexpected bugs over the review period.
We then evaluate key metrics including app support, usability and battery life.
The best for serious athletes
- Strong outdoor tracking accuracy
- Responsive touchscreen
- Improved battery life
- It’s not cheap
- Not the full smartwatch experience
- Core experience similar to Fenix 6
Garmin devices are consistently high scorers when we get them in for review, with the firm’s overt fitness focus and strong location tracking always impressing our testers. The Fenix 7 continues this legacy and is the best option on the market for hardcore athletes that we’ve currently tested.
The Fenix 7 is one of the top products in Garmin’s current wearable lineup, sitting above its Forerunner and Venu watches. Though it’s not going to win any awards at fashion ceremonies, during testing we found it’s the best fitness tracker on the market at the moment.
The chunky metal chassis may look large, but we found it’s incredibly comfortable to wear, with the rubber strap never chafing or causing irritation, even during prolonged and animated workouts.
The Sapphire Glass variant we reviewed was also near indestructible. During our test period, the watch survived everything from an accidental encounter with a climbing wall rock to being hit full blast with a tennis ball with zero damage.
Garmin’s accurate distance and heart rate tracking also let the watch track pretty much every activity under the sun ranging from indoor/outdoor running to cross country skiing and surfing. This plus the stellar 2 week battery life and robust post workout analytics, which include useful metrics like VO2 Max estimates, recommended rest periods and suggestions for what you should do for your next exercise make it the best tracker you can buy right now.
The best for iPhone owners
- Much faster charging
- BIgger screen is great
- Wide range of easy-to-use fitness features
- Battery life remains a day
- No neutral black or silver aluminium colour options
The problem with a lot of the hardcore fitness trackers we test, like the Fenix 7, is that while they’re great as sports watches, they’re also not that fashionable and don’t have terribly developed smartwatch functionality.
If you care about these two factors and own an iPhone, we’d recommend the Apple Watch 7 over a more focussed fitness tracker. Despite being primarily designed as a smartwatch, Apple’s wearable has a surprisingly developed and useful portfolio of fitness and wellness tracking services.
Our reviewer was able to comfortably use it to track their weekly 5km run, Pilates session and cycle to and from work. In each instance, the Apple watch impressed by providing wonderfully accurate distance and heart rate tracking and enough post-event analytics to help most entry and mid-level athletes keep track of their progress.
As an added bonus you also get full access to Apple’s WatchOS app ecosystem which is significantly more developed than Garmin, Fitbit and pretty much every other fitness brand. We found support for all the apps any fitness fanatic would need, including Strava, Runkeeper, Spotify, Deezer and Tidal.
The only downside is that, because of its smartwatch focus, the Apple Watch 7 doesn’t offer as good battery life as the other dedicated trackers on this list. We didn’t manage to get more than 18 hours of battery life out of the wearable.
The best for fashion conscious buyers
- Huge improvement on battery life
- The new UI is a pleasure to use
- Super-fast GPS connectivity
- Health snapshot is an ingenious idea
- There are more robust wearables for pro athletes
- Garmin Pay is still a letdown
If you want a fashionable fitness tracker that looks just as at home in the office as it does in the gym but you don’t own an iPhone then we’d recommend checking out the Garmin Venu 2S.
The Venu 2S is the latest entry into Garmin’s Venu line of trackers, which are intentionally designed to look as much like a normal timepiece/smartwatch as possible.
We found it’s a great upgrade on the previous generation, featuring a small OLED screen that’s wonderfully bright and colorful, especially when compared to the LCD panels seen on most other fitness trackers.
The fit was also wonderfully comfortable, with the watch remaining free of irritations even during prolonged exercise periods and showing no signs of damage or wear and tear after 2 weeks of heavy use.
Though, like the Fenix 7, we found its app offering is very limited compared to what you’ll get on an Apple Watch, it was good enough for entry and mid-level athletes. The biggest addition is offline Spotify support, which let our tester listen to music while running, without having to lug their phone along while running.
Add to this the watch’s snappy GPS connectivity, reliable distance tracking and clear, easy to understand post-workout analytics and 10 day battery life make the Venu 2S an easy recommendation for most entry to mid level runners.
The only real downside is that it doesn’t support tracking for as many workouts as the Fenix, and the lack of a Sapphire glass option means it’s not as rugged for more adventurous activities. Bash it into a climbing wall or wall and it will crack. It’s because of this we recommend the Fenix 7 over it for more developed and adventurous athletes.
The moist discrete
- Decent-quality AMOLED screen
- Good for resting heart rate monitoring
- Nice straps available
- Works well for sleep tracking
- Notifications feel cramped
- Connected GPS support isn’t always reliable
- Features hidden behind Premium subscription
- No payment support
Fitness trackers tend to be split into watch and band form factors. Watches offer a larger screen to interact with and generally have more developed hardware. But for entry level athletes, or people that don’t want a large wearable on their wrist 24/7, there’s a lot to be said for the smaller band design.
If that sounds like the sort of wearable you’re after then the Fitbit Luxe is the best option we’ve reviewed at the moment.
The Luxe comes with a solid array of band options and its colorful AMOLED panel is the brightest and sharpest we’ve seen on a band design fitness tracker its price. This made it much more pleasant to use than many of the competing band design trackers we’ve used recently, including the Garmin Vivosmart 5, which has a more basic black and white display.
The key selling point here is the Fitbit OS easy to understand and use software and navigation system which offers basic, but easily digestible snippets of workout data that are really good at motivating, rather than intimidating, users. This makes it a really solid option for people who are just getting started or just care about boosting their daily step count. The 5 day battery life we enjoyed during testing also means you’ll generally get through the work week before needing to give it a top up charge.
The only downside is that we found it’s not terribly well suited to even semi-serious athletes, with Fitbit locking the more in-depth data regular runners need behind a paywall and its connected GPS providing less accurate distance tracking than we’d like.
Amazfit GTS 3
The best for entry level athletes
- Great screen
- Good features for the price
- Sleek design
- Heart rate performance
- Zepp OS lacks big-name apps
- Poor battery life when all features are in use
If you’re an entry level athlete looking for a reliable fitness tracker that can handle more than basics, like step count and your morning exercise bike ride then the Amazfit GTS 3 is a solid choice and our current recommendation.
Out of the box, the GTS immediately impressed our reviewer, with it featuring a similar, premium looking design to the Apple Watch despite costing a fraction of the price. The aluminium alloy used in the chassis feels rugged and we’re big fans of its physical crown control which can be used to power the screen up and navigate menus is wonderfully intuitive to use.
The AMOLED screen is also wonderfully bright and remained legible when we used it to track our runs outside, during very bright summer days.
It’s also one of the only wearables at this price we’ve tested to offer accurate distance tracking without being paired to a smartphone, with it featuring an inbuilt chip that supports five satellite systems, including GPS. Testing it against the Fenix 7 we were surprised how well it performed with it never being more than 0.3km out of sync with the more premium wearable.
We were also pleased by the appearance of a few other health tracking sensors traditionally seen on more premium trackers, like an ECG. This let the tracker deliver estimates for more serious metrics, like VO2 Max, that you simply don’t get on most trackers at this price. The only downside is that the heart rate sensor and data isn’t quite as uniform and reliable as what we detected on the Fenix 7, so we wouldn’t recommend it to serious athletes.
Xiaomi Mi Band 6
The best value
- Extremely good value
- Strong battery life
- Excellent display
- Sleep tracking isn’t great
- Clunky app
If you’re on the strictest of budgets but still want a decent tracker for the basics, then the Xiaomi Mi Band 6 is the best value option we’ve tested.
Despite costing less than $50/£50 the tracker has a colorful, sharp AMOLED screen and offers a waterproof design that let our reviewer comfortably wear it 24/7 with zero irritation.
Battery life also proved sold with it uniformly lasting at least a full week, even with power hungry functions like constant heart rate tracking.
If you just want the basics it also performs well, considering its price. Our tests showed that its three-axis accelerometer and a three-axis gyroscope were good enough to offer suitably reliable step counting and heart rate monitoring for basic things, like walking and treadmill running.
The only downside is that it doesn’t have an inbuilt GPS. During our tests, we found this meant that, even when connected to a phone’s GPS, distance tracking was nowhere near as reliable as what we got on the Fitbit Luxe and Vivosmart 5.
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar
The best for cardio
- Snappy and accurate multi-band GPS connectivity
- Comfortable discrete design
- Local music playback
- Limited smartwatch functionality
If you don’t need a ruggedised design that’ll survive the odd accidental encounter with a climbing wall or ocean rock then the Forerunner 955 is the best premium fitness tracker we’ve tested.
The Forerunner is a smaller cardio focussed wearable from Garmin that shares a lot of the best features seen on the more premium Fenix 7. This potent combo seriously impressed our reviewer during testing.
With it being the first 9-series Forerunner we’ve tested to feature multi-band GPS, the watch offered Fenix 7 level distance tracking accuracy. As well as locking a connection in seconds, the watch proved incredibly accurate during our 5km run tests. Running around a track we know is 5.3km the watch offered a maximum variance of just 0.1km, which is excellent.
Add to this its local map support, which let us get turn-by-turn directions on routes we didn’t know and inbuilt music support for both local and Spotify/Deezer and it becomes an easy recommendation at a hardware level.
But what truly sets it apart from competing devices, like the Polar Vantage V2 and its ilk, is its advanced post workout and training analytics. Unlike some brands, such as Fitbit, Garmin offers users complete access to their workout and health data free of charge. So, like the Fenix you get nicely uniform VO2 Max estimates, SpO2 readings and guidance on how effective your workouts have been. But as an added bonus the 955 can also factor races and events you’ve added to your calendar to the coaching advice it gives.
This, plus new HRV and Training Readiness metrics make it great at helping avoid overtraining. The latter is a custom feature that tells you how prepped your body is to train. What’s great is that it also tells you why you may not be in an optimal state for a run. Our tester was frequently told to get more sleep ahead of his next training session and race, an insight that helped him change his routine to get maximum results.
GPS is a key functionality we recommend any buyer who regularly exercises outdoors invests in. The feature uses satellite networks to offer reliable location and distance tracking. This lets most trackers with it provide better analytics on activities like hiking, outdoor running and cycling.
The answer to this depends largely on what you want to use the tracker for. If you want a top end multi-sports tracker to help you train for a triathlon then you’ll want to spend a little more on a tracker with a decent water resistance rating, reliable in-built GPS and lengthy battery life. These tend to cost $400/£400-plus. But if you’re just getting started and only need basic things like step tracking and heart rate zones, then there are plenty of decent affordable trackers, many of which cost less than $150/£150.
You can see a detailed breakdown of all the trackers in this list’s specs in the table below. For fitness tracking the Fenix 7 is the most developed, featuring the longest battery life, ruggedest design and largest amount of internal storage.
First Reviewed Date
Garmin Fenix 7
47 x 14.5 x 47 MM
Apple Watch Series 7
Midnight, Starlight, Green, Blue, PRODUCT RED
Garmin Venu 2S
40.40 x 12.10 x 40.40 MM
Slate, Light Gold, Silver, Rose Gold
17.6 x 36.30 x 10.05 MM
Gold, Black, Silver
Amazfit GTS 3
42.4 x 8.8 x 36.8 MM
Black, Brown, White
Xiaomi Mi Band 6
18.6 x 47.4 x 12.7 MM
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar
46.5 x 45.6 x 14.4 INCHES