While you may think fitness trackers are best for avid runners and gym rats, that’s not the case at all. Anyone and everyone can benefit from a fitness tracker of some sort if they care at all about their well-being and want to track daily activity by logging steps, calories, sleep, and even heart rate.
In this list, you’ll find the best fitness trackers and smartwatches that stand out the most to us in 2023, but the Fitbit Charge 5 is at the top because it’s lightweight, has excellent battery life, and the basic smartphone connectivity features that we all need. And if you’re looking for Fitbit trackers specifically, there are some great Fitbit deals to be had, too, making Fitbit a great choice if you want an affordable fitness tracker.
Though this list consists mostly of fitness bands, smartwatches also do a fantastic job of tracking our health and giving us valuable insights into our well-being. That’s why we have a few of those here as well. But if you’re looking for smartwatches specifically, you may want to take a look at our best smartwatch roundup.
- Fitbit Charge 5
- Amazon Halo View
- Apple Watch SE 2
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
- Fitbit Ace 3
- Oura Ring
- Apple Watch Series 8
- Fitbit Inspire 3
- Whoop 4.0
- Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar
- Frequently Asked Questions
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Fitbit Charge 5
Best fitness tracker overall
- Stylish and comfortable design
- Solid battery life
- Loaded with advanced health metrics
- Onboard GPS with multiple modes
- Supports Fitbit Pay
- Sometimes slow to swipe inputs
- Lacks some basic fitness/wellness tools
- Some features require Fitbit Premium
Why you should buy this: It’s a well-priced, extremely feature-packed fitness tracker with a seven-day battery life.
Who it’s for: Anyone who wants a great fitness charger and doesn’t want a smartwatch.
Why we picked the Fitbit Charge 5:
The Fitbit Charge 5 has reminded us exactly why we love Fitbit’s fitness trackers. Fitbit has updated the Charge’s design language with the Charge 5, adding smooth rounded corners and leaving behind the boxier design of the past. It’s a look that’s more in line with the latest Apple Watch Series 8, and it means the new Fitbit fitness tracker is something you won’t be ashamed to be seen wearing. It’s made from aluminum, glass, and silicone too, so it feels as good as it looks.
So we know it looks good, but good looks that aren’t backed up by great fitness tracking are useless. Thankfully, it’s great. It’s a dedicated fitness tracker, and it’s as capable as you’d hope, with 20 exercise modes. A number of those start automatically, so it’ll capture walks and hikes without you needing to start them, and while the GPS can lag behind slightly when starting a tracked exercise, it always caught up without severely impacting our workouts. Workouts are only part of the story, though, and the Charge 5 also has an impressive suite of wellness features. It can keep an eye on your blood oxygen saturation and your stress levels, and will soon feature support for the Fitbit ECG app.
While it’s certainly not a full smartwatch, the Charge 5 does have some support for notifications from a paired phone. Android users get a few features iPhone users don’t, like quick replies, but iPhone users should really be using an Apple Watch anyway, so it’s not a huge bother.
Unfortunately, it’s tied pretty heavily to the companion app on your phone. But Fitbit’s app is actually pretty good, which sugars the pill quite a bit. The data you need is easy to see on opening the app, and a few taps offer deeper insight into how you’ve been sleeping or performing in your workouts. A Premium subscription is required to give you all the data you might want though, which is an annoyance.
As mentioned earlier, the Fitbit Charge 5 also offers a seven-day battery life, which is pretty standard for this level of fitness tracker. Best of all, it’s reasonably priced, so you won’t be shelling out a huge amount of money for it, and it certainly offers a lot of bang for your buck.
Amazon Halo View
Best fitness tracker on a budget
- Low cost
- Affordable membership
- Focus on wellness
- No GPS
- Not as durable as others
Why you should buy this: Amazon’s fitness band is a strong contender for just $79.
Who it’s for: Someone looking to dip their toe into fitness tracking without spending a large amount of money.
Why we picked the Halo View:
It’s cheap, it’s cheerful, and it’s very, very usable. Amazon’s first forays into fitness tracking weren’t without their problems, but the Halo View is a well-priced and well-featured fitness tracker that won’t break the bank. The design is strongly reminiscent of similar offerings from Fitbit, and while the unit itself isn’t a perfect fit to the band, the band itself is comfortable, and the Halo View itself is extremely light, being about a third lighter than most fitness trackers.
A lack of GPS tracking (even with a paired smartphone) does mean the “fitness” element is a little light compared to some competitors. No GPS means it’s of limited use to cyclists or runners, but it does make that up somewhat with a broad-stroke approach to fitness. Halo Fitness has a good amount of bodyweight exercises to get you moving, and the weekly goals and step counts are solid reasons to start moving and keep moving. It has automatic sleep tracking, too, so you can tell how restful your slumber has been, and the nutrition features can help you to lose weight if that’s your goal.
Like Fitbit, Amazon wants you to sign up for a subscription to get the most out of the service. It’s $4 a month to get the advanced metrics like daily activity scores and personalized insights, but the View does come with a year’s worth of Halo membership, so you get to try before you buy. At $79, it’s cheaper than a lot of fitness trackers out there, and if you’re not put off by a lack of GPS tracking, then this is a great place to start your fitness tracker journey.
Apple Watch SE 2
Best fitness tracker for iPhones
- Comfortable to wear 24 hours a day
- Comprehensive, yet simple-to-use fitness tracking
- Excellent smartwatch software and support
- Latest processor provides all the power needed
- Two-day battery
- No always-on screen
- Slow battery charging
Why you should buy this: You want the best-value fitness tracker and smartwatch for iPhone users.
Who it’s for: You own an iPhone and would prefer a more watch-like design and many more features outside of just activity tracking.
Why we picked the Apple Watch SE:
The Apple Watch SE 2 is much more than an activity tracker. It has a beautiful screen, runs powerful apps, will make and receive calls, shows notifications from your phone, and will even time how long you’ve washed your hands. Obviously, this high level of functionality affects the price, so the Apple Watch SE starts at $249.
Why did we highlight it when it’s much more than a fitness tracker? Mostly because Apple’s health software and activity tracking are superb and incredibly easy to use. There’s a wide range of workout tracking, GPS, a heart-rate sensor, sleep tracking, and a swim-proof body as well. The data it collects is easy to interpret, and the Activity Ring system for daily goals is simple and motivational.
It’s the little things that make the Apple Watch SE 2 a great companion. The automatic hand-wash timer is surprisingly accurate, the watch will remind you to stand up after periods of inactivity, there’s a relaxing mindfulness app called Breathe, and it has a menstrual cycle tracking feature. It runs the latest watchOS 9, which adds new Heart Rate Zones, multi-sport workouts, race routes, automatic track detection, and more.
If you’re considering the Apple Watch SE 2 and health is a top priority, maybe consider the Apple Watch Series 8 as well. It’s more expensive at $399 but has an ECG, SpO2 measurement, optical heart rate sensor, and body temperature sensors designed primarily for fertility in women. Whichever one you choose, it’s by far the best health and activity tracker for iPhone owners.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Best fitness tracker for Samsung phones
- Lightweight, comfortable design
- Robust health tracking
- AMOLED screen looks excellent
- Easy access to Google apps
- Very fast charging speeds
- Skin temperature tracking not yet available
- Falls short of battery life claims
Why you should buy this: The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is one of the best smartwatches for Android users, specifically those with a Samsung phone. It’s lightweight and comfortable to wear, has robust health tracking with easy access to Google apps, and that AMOLED screen looks amazing.
Who’s it for: Someone with a Samsung phone who wants the best smartwatch experience with their health and fitness tracking.
Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5:
Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 is a smartwatch that retains a more traditional watch appearance with a round display, and the aluminum casing comes in 40mm and 44mm sizes. Overall, it’s lightweight and comfortable to wear, which is always important when it comes to a fitness tracker or smartwatch. The Galaxy Watch 5 also has an always-on Super AMOLED display that brings bright and vibrant colors with deep, rich blacks. You won’t have any trouble seeing the watch face in direct sunlight.
With Samsung’s Exynos W920 chip, 1.5GB RAM, and 16GB internal storage, the Galaxy Watch 5 delivers blazing-fast performance on your wrist. Apps will open quickly, scrolling is smooth, and everything is responsive. However, there are some inconsistencies and bugs that you may come across when using it, which is probably due to the chip, but it’s still a very strong performer.
The Galaxy Watch 5 ships with Wear OS 3.5, with Samsung’s custom One UI Watch 4.5 software layered on top of that. Everything is gesture-based, and it only takes a moment to get familiarized with the navigation. You also get a full QWERTY keyboard that supports both tap and swipe typing, dual-SIM switching, more accessibility features, and more customization options.
But how about that health tracking? The Galaxy Watch 5 has step tracking, auto workout detection, manual workout tracking with support for over 90 different exercise types, and sleep tracking with a sleep coaching platform to help you create a personalized sleep program. There’s also the other stuff that you can find in most other trackers: 24/7 heart rate monitoring, SpO2 tracking, ECG, and more, including a temperature sensor. Just note that you will need a Samsung Galaxy device — like the Galaxy Z Flip 4 or Galaxy S22 Ultra — to access all of the health features.
Battery life on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is also pretty great, as you can get between 40 to 50 hours of battery life on a single charge. However, this may be over-exaggerated by Samsung, and your mileage may vary depending on daily use. But charging it is a breeze with the fast charging support, so you can get 45% battery in about 30 minutes.
Fitbit Ace 3
Best fitness tracker for kids
- Easy to use
- Comfortable, kid-sized fit
- Engaging, animated interface
- Fun, family challenges
- Clasp can break
- Works best with a parental Fitbit
Why you should buy this: It’s a feature-packed, reward-filled fitness tracker that encourages kids to keep moving.
Who it’s for: Parents looking for a tough fitness tracker for children ages 12 and under.
Why we picked the Fitbit Ace 3:
It’s a fully-fledged fitness tracker, repackaged for kids. Like most of Fitbit’s earlier bands, the Fitbit Ace 3 is composed of a fitness tracker unit that fits into a silicone band. This modular design means it’s easy to keep clean — since you just have to pop the unit out if you want to give the band a deep clean — but also means it has some pretty strong durability. The silicone itself is fairly strong, but if you’ve got rough-and-tumble kids, then it’s likely you’ll need to swap out a battered band eventually, and Fitbit’s design means it’s easy to do. When they outgrow the more child-focused Ace 3 bands, you can also use any Fitbit Inspire or HR 2 bands to add a more grownup feel.
It doesn’t compromise on features just because it’s a kid’s band. It has a three-axis accelerometer for step tracking and some fairly detailed sleep tracking. There’s also a heart rate sensor, but its use is disabled by default. These sensors mean there are quite a few metrics to break down for you, and we did find the “adult” view in the smartphone app to be, well, a little annoying to use. Swapping between the views requires entering a password every time, and that can get very tiring when there’s no option to use biometric login data.
Thankfully, that doesn’t translate over to Fitbit’s own display for the kids. It gathers a lot of data but doesn’t swamp kids with it, and it mostly focuses on step count. There are a number of fun watch faces to choose from that show your kid’s step count, including one where a rocket launches when the daily step goal has been reached. Much like the urge to close the rings on an Apple Watch, this visual feedback seemed to really help kids exercise more.
While we have some issues with the software from the adult’s side, the Fitbit Ace 3 is an excellent fitness tracker for young children. Older kids may find it too childish, but for those under 12, this should work extremely well.
Best fitness tracker for sleeping
- Light and comfortable to wear
- In-depth, informative sleep tracking
- Long battery life with easy charging
- Stylish, with a choice of finishes
- Well-designed app
- Limited activity tracking
- Expensive compared to other fitness wearables
Why you should buy this: It provides comprehensive sleep tracking in a very convenient, very stylish package.
Who it’s for: Anyone who doesn’t want to wear a watch or band at night to track sleep.
Why we picked the Oura Ring:
If you want to track sleep using a piece of wearable technology, our recommendation is the Oura Ring. What makes it so good is not only the informative and useful data it collects but also its size and convenience. If you don’t like wearing a watch or something on your wrist at night, it’s also a great solution as it weighs very little, and after a few days of wearing it, you’ll forget it’s there.
It measures heart rate, breathing, and body temperature, and also watches for movement while you sleep to show sleep stages, duration, quality, and other stats, which it then puts into an easy-to-understand sleep score. Alongside this is a Readiness score, which helps you understand your level of recovery and whether holding off on another workout would be good.
The accompanying app is attractive and helpful, while the ring’s battery life is about one week before it needs recharging. It’s made of titanium, and it comes in two different designs in several different finishes. What it doesn’t do is track workouts, so to get a really comprehensive picture of your health and fitness it needs to be paired with another wearable. It does count steps and calorie burn though.
The Oura Ring is quite expensive. It starts at $299, and while the features are excellent and work very well, they’re not all that different from fitness trackers that cost a lot less. However, the cool design, high-quality materials, and unique style separate the Oura Ring from the competition. It’s the most comprehensive, least intrusive way of tracking sleep with a wearable.
Apple Watch Series 8
Best premium fitness tracker
- Sleek, comfortable design
- Display is big and gorgeous
- Excellent health features
- Fast charge speeds
- WatchOS 9 is better than ever
- Car crash detection
- Temperature sensors are limited
- Almost identical to the Series 7
Why you should buy this: If you want a smartwatch for your iPhone with some more features than the Apple Watch SE 2, the Apple Watch Series 8 is the way to go.
Who’s it for: Someone who wants an always-on display on a smartwatch, as well as features like SpO2 tracking, ECG, optical heart rate sensor, and the new body temperature sensors designed for family planning.
Why we picked the Apple Watch Series 8:
Though the Apple Watch Series 8 doesn’t look any different from the Series 7 before it, there’s plenty to love about the latest mainstream Apple Watch that is great for most people.
With Apple Watch Series 8, you get a large, always-on display that also has watch faces that are specifically designed to make use of that extra display space, so you get more information on your wrist in a single glance. And with the new S8 SiP processor, the Series 8 is faster than ever, so watchOS 9 runs fast and smooth. watchOS 9 has some new features like heart rate zones, customizable workouts, multi-sport workout that switches between a sequence of swimming, biking, and running, race route that allows you to compete against your own best running time, and so much more.
You also get more health features with the Series 8 than you would with the Apple Watch SE 2 that we mentioned earlier. The Apple Watch Series 8 has ECG, blood oxygen (SpO2) monitoring, an optical heart rate sensor, and new body temperature sensors. Though the body temperature sensor is rather limited, it is primarily designed for women since it’s used to determine ovulation cycles for family planning purposes.
And while the Apple Watch Series 8 won’t have 36 hours of battery life like the Apple Watch Ultra, you’ll still have all-day battery life with the Series 8. It’s even capable of fast charging speeds, so you can juice it up quickly when you need to. The Series 8 also comes with car crash detection, which is a feature that you hopefully don’t want to use, but it gives you additional peace of mind in case you find yourself in that situation.
Fitbit Inspire 3
Best affordable fitness tracker
- Very comfortable
- Accurate fitness sensors
- Battery lasts over a week without a recharge
- Affordable price point
- Lacks an altimeter
- Charger is tricky to disconnect
Why you should buy this: The Inspire 3 is lightweight, comfortable, and packed with basic but accurate sensors to track all of your fitness needs. It’s also super affordable.
Who’s it for: Anyone who wants a great fitness tracker that doesn’t break the bank.
Why we picked the Fitbit Inspire 3:
While a lot of fitness trackers seem super expensive these days, the Fitbit Inspire 3 is one of the best budget options you can pick up. Plus, it has a super minimalist design, so it really just gives you a no-frills health and fitness experience, which is just what you need sometimes.
The Fitbit Inspire 3 is incredibly lightweight thanks to its small size. It comes with a short and long band so you can adjust it to your personal needs, and the band itself is a soft and rubbery material that is comfortable to wear all day long. You’ll also get about two weeks of use out of the Fitbit Inspire 3 before it needs to be charged again, which is pretty great.
Despite the low price tag, the Fitbit Inspire 3 has an AMOLED display, which serves up vivid colors and deep blacks. It’s also easy to see it in direct sunlight, so if you mostly do outdoor workouts, this should help out a ton. However, the actual screen size is pretty small due to the large bezels, but since the Inspire is designed to be minimalistic, it’s perfectly fine for the information that it displays. It is also a touch display that is responsive, so it is easy to navigate.
But how about those fitness sensors? They’re very accurate, considering the cost. In our review, the Inspire 3 was able to accurately track all of our steps on a walk, and the heart rate sensor seems a bit more accurate than other fitness trackers that we’ve used. Sleep tracking is also vastly improved and better than other trackers.
The biggest caveat with the Fitbit Inspire 3 is the fact that it relies on the Fitbit app, instead of just integrating with the native health apps on iOS or Android. But the Fitbit app is very informative with detailed health insights, and if you get the premium Fitbit subscription, you get even more fitness and health analytics. A Fitbit Premium subscription costs $10 a month or $80 a year.
Best fitness tracker without a screen
- Comfortable to wear 24/7
- Informative health data
- Motivational Strain metric
- No notifications
- Awkward, slow charging system
- Monthly charge makes it expensive
- Automatic workout tracking isn’t customizable
Why you should buy this: If you don’t want a screen or any other distractions on your fitness tracker, the Whoop 4.0 satisfies that need and provides valuable and detailed insights on your health.
Who’s it for: Anyone who wants distraction-free fitness tracking.
Why we picked the Whoop 4.0:
The Whoop 4.0 band is simply a band that you wear on your wrist. There is no screen, no notifications, or any other distractions. It is simply a band that has health and fitness tracking sensors on it, and it’s very comfortable to wear all day, every day.
As you wear it, the Whoop 4.0 will track things like steps, calories, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, respiratory rate, sleep, HRV, and more. All of this data gets processed and analyzed into three metrics: Strain, Recovery, and Sleep. It’s similar to the Oura Ring that we mentioned earlier. Once Whoop 4.0 determines your baseline after a few days, your goals for each category are established, and all data is organized into easy-to-read charts. This data should motivate you to meet your goals and live a healthier lifestyle.
However, it’s important to note that Whoop 4.0 does require a monthly subscription, though you get the hardware for free. The subscription price is $30 a month with a mandatory 12-month contract — this means for a year, the Whoop 4.0 will cost $360. In the long run, this may not be worth it, considering the other options available.
It’s incredibly important to take into account the cost of Whoop ownership. It may be cheaper than other trackers and smartwatches in the first year, but after that, the cost will just keep adding up. It does have very detailed health insights and reports, but is it worth the cost in the long run? That’s up to you.
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar
Best fitness tracker for runners
- Incredible battery life
- Consistently accurate GPS tracking
- Touch screen and 5-button navigation
- Easy-to-read screen in all conditions
- Great fitness and health features
- Solar version is overkill for most runners
- Core features identical to lower Forerunners
Why you should buy this: Garmin is a trusted brand among serious runners, and the Forerunner 955 Solar is a robust smartwatch that’s a great choice for those who do triathlons or ultramarathons.
Who’s it for: Serious runners who need a smartwatch that’s designed for triathlons and ultramarathon training.
Why we picked the Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar:
The Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar is probably overkill for most people, but if you are a serious runner who is training or routinely does events like triathlons or ultramarathons, then this is the smartwatch for you. It’s large and clunky to fit all of the components inside, but it’s still pretty light and comfortable to wear.
The Forerunner 955 Solar is expensive at $600, but you get a large smartwatch that packs in the latest and greatest that Garmin has to offer. This includes a 1.3-inch always-on touch screen, pretty much every GPS tracking mode and sensor that you could and would ever need (including some that you probably didn’t even know existed), waterproofing, rugged exterior to withstand any weather or terrain condition, 32GB storage, and a huge battery. Oh, and you can charge it up via solar, hence the name.
Despite the touchscreen display, you still have buttons on the Forerunner 955 Solar. In fact, it still has a 5-button layout to help you navigate through notifications or lists in settings. The touch screen itself is responsive, but having the buttons is helpful because well, you don’t really want to deal with a touch screen while running.
Garmin’s Forerunner 955 Solar also has impressive battery life. On simple smartwatch mode, you can get about 20 days’ worth of battery on a single charge. If you use it in GPS mode, you can get between 42-49 hours of battery. Solar charging is also convenient, as about three hours per day outdoors in 50,000 lux sunlight will get you the 20 days measurement. Confused about lux measurements? That’s about a moderately sunny day at high noon or a completely clear day in the morning or afternoon.
Again, this is not a smartwatch designed for the average person. It’s made for serious runners and athletes who spend a lot of time outdoors. If that’s you, then this $600 smartwatch for Garmin is definitely one of the best you can get.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now is as good a time as any to buy a fitness band. Battery life is improving, built-in GPS tracking is far more common, and heart rate monitors are making their way onto more devices to ensure accurate measurements. The tech isn’t likely to advance too dramatically, for now, so you’d likely get several years out of the options listed — if you stick with them.
Much depends on what you want to get out of it. If you don’t have some motivation and goals to go along with your new fitness tracker, then it may be tough to justify spending the money on one. Smartwatches are a good alternative if you’re concerned about finding that motivation, as most can run apps that can help push you and they also have multiple other functions too, so you won’t feel like it’s wasted money if you don’t immediately meet any fitness targets.
One of the biggest complaints people have with fitness trackers is a lack of accuracy. Wrist fitness trackers are not 100% accurate in step count or heart-rate tracking. Fitness trackers use sensors like an accelerometer or an altimeter to calculate step counts and stair climbs. These sensors are not foolproof — they can and do make mistakes. Any movement of the wrist, when you are driving, for example, can cause the tracker to tack on steps or stairs when you are not walking. Sometimes you’ll miss out on steps, especially when your feet are moving and your hands are still. We encounter this issue with missing steps whenever we use a treadmill desk. Ultimately, steps and stair count should be used as a loose guideline to gauge your overall activity level and not a step-by-step assessment of your day.
The same principle applies to heart-rate tracking. When compared to a chest-strap heart-rate monitor, wrist-based monitors fall short. They do a decent job of measuring your average heart rate but struggle to detect quick changes in heart rate. If you are going from a standstill to a sprint, the chest strap accurately detects the sudden increase in your heart rate. A wrist-based monitor, though, struggles to keep up with rapid changes and will often lag, showing the spike in heart rate a few seconds after it actually happens. For most people, this lag won’t be a deal-breaker, but it is a concern for athletes who are using heart-rate tracking to gauge their effort during an exercise.
Almost all fitness trackers require you to sync the data from the tracker to the app that collects the data and analyzes it for you. Most people sync to their tablet or smartphone, but you also can sync to your computer. Connecting to a computer is not as convenient as syncing to a smartphone, but it can be done. Some smartwatches like the Apple Watch are available with a cellular connection and can perform many functions without a smartphone, but you will need to pay extra on your monthly phone bill to use this feature.
While a fitness band will work without a smartphone, you won’t get all the benefits of syncing the data with the matching app or be able to perform other functions such as easily updating the software.
Fitness trackers can measure your heart rate, but most cannot measure your blood pressure. There are a handful of wearable blood pressure devices, but none of the major manufacturers like Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung, Polar, or Apple have integrated blood pressure into their products yet.
Fitness trackers can typically last up to five years. Problems with the battery charging and broken parts like the strap and the screen ultimately tend to lead to their demise.
While most smartwatches are equipped with GPS, only a few fitness trackers have GPS built into the tracker. GPS allows you to record the route you run, cycle, or walk without needing your phone. Instead of onboard GPS, fitness trackers use connected GPS that relies on your phone to record your route. With connected GPS, the tracker connects to the mobile app on your phone and uses that app to track GPS coordinates during an outdoor activity. If you forget to connect your watch to the app, your distance and pace will be estimated using movement data and not the more accurate GPS data from your phone.
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