The Best Fitness Trackers

The Best Fitness Trackers

Our pick

Fitbit Charge 3

Fitbit Charge 3

The best fitness tracker

It records a wide range of activities automatically and accurately, and its responsive touchscreen display, its well-designed menus, and Fitbit’s best-in-class app make it easy to use and customize.

Buying Options

$100 from Amazon
$150 from Road Runner Sports

Of all the trackers we tested, the Fitbit Charge 3 is the simplest to use and among the most accurate for measuring steps and heart rate—although accuracy isn’t everything. It reliably senses, correctly identifies, and begins to record your workouts—running, walking, biking—after about 10 minutes of movement. A touchscreen display, an inductive “button” on the side, and clearly labeled icons make the menus easy to navigate. The user-friendly app links you to a robust network of other Fitbit wearers, who can help motivate you. Through that app, you can also choose which smartphone notifications to receive so that only the ones you want will buzz on your wrist. In addition, the Charge 3 tracks how long and how well you sleep at night, and it can even detect naps, unlike many of its competitors. Its above-average battery life means you’ll be able to wear it for longer at a stretch, too.

Battery life: up to seven days
Sleep tracking: yes, including naps over an hour
Waterproof: yes, 50 meters
Heart-rate monitor: yes
GPS: yes, when connected to a phone

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Runner-up

Fitbit Inspire HR

Fitbit Inspire HR

Streamlined but fully functional

This is a solid entry-level tracker with a sleek look and an easy-to-navigate experience overall. Compared with the Fitbit Charge 3, it has a smaller screen, can’t track altitude (no floors climbed), and has a slightly shorter battery life.

Buying Options

$80* from Amazon
$100 from Best Buy
$80 $70 from FitBit

You save $10 (13%)

*At the time of publishing, the price was $100.

The Fitbit Inspire HR has a slimmer profile than the Charge 3 and includes fewer advanced features. Like the Charge 3, it tracks sleep stages and measures pace and distance on, say, a walk or a run (when connected to your phone’s GPS), and it offers more than 15 goal-based exercise modes. But it lacks the Charge 3’s altimeter, weather app, and quick text replies for Android phones (if the phone is nearby), and it can’t match the Charge 3 in battery life (it lasts for up to five days versus up to seven)—all features that we think are generally worth spending the additional money for. We found the Fitbit app, which you use with all the brand’s wearables (including the Charge 3), to be the clearest and most intuitive, which goes a long way when it comes to monitoring data for patterns that could help lead to lasting, healthy changes. The Inspire HR usually costs $30 more than the simpler Inspire, but its additional capabilities make it worth that extra cost. As a somewhat entry-level tracker from a trusted brand, the Inspire HR delivers an intuitive, no-fuss experience for anyone eager to start monitoring their movement and sleep.

Battery life: up to five days
Sleep tracking: yes, not including naps
Waterproof: yes, 50 meters
Heart-rate monitor: yes
GPS: yes, when connected to a phone

Upgrade pick

Garmin Vívoactive 4S

Garmin Vívoactive 4S

For the fitness enthusiast

Winning points for accuracy and wearability, this investment fitness tracker combines the best of sport and lifestyle wear for those who lead a workout-fueled life.

Buying Options

$303* from Amazon
$350 from Backcountry
$350 from Garmin

*At the time of publishing, the price was $270.

If you’re especially active and want to keep in-depth records of all your workouts, consider the Garmin Vívoactive 4S. It’s a sporty, advanced fitness tracker with an emphasis on (you guessed it) exercise. The smaller of Garmin’s two Series 4 offerings (it has a 40-millimeter screen versus the Vívoactive 4’s 45-millimeter screen), the 4S is refined and highly wearable—bigger than the two Fitbit models we recommend, but smaller than other watch-like trackers from Garmin and Polar (another brand we tested). Its color touchscreen, though more muted than a few color-screen competitors, is clear and responsive, and buttons beside the screen make toggling between workout modes or starting and stopping workouts easier. Overall, the Garmin Vívoactive is a step closer to a GPS running watch than the Fitbit trackers we recommend. The 4S monitors the basics and offers a robust array of exercise content, as well as the ability to create customized workouts. (Fitbit offers video and audio workouts, but to access them you need to download a second app, Fitbit Coach; they don’t play through your device, and many require a $10 monthly upgrade fee.) Sync a preselected workout to the watch from the Garmin Connect app, and the watch walks you through each move with simple yet surprisingly clear and accurate animation, complete with a rep counter.

Battery life: up to seven days (watch mode), up to five hours (music mode plus GPS)
Sleep tracking: yes, not including naps
Waterproof: yes, 50 meters
Heart-rate monitor: yes
GPS: yes

Everything we recommend

Our pick

Fitbit Charge 3

Fitbit Charge 3

The best fitness tracker

It records a wide range of activities automatically and accurately, and its responsive touchscreen display, its well-designed menus, and Fitbit’s best-in-class app make it easy to use and customize.

Buying Options

$100 from Amazon
$150 from Road Runner Sports

Runner-up

Fitbit Inspire HR

Fitbit Inspire HR

Streamlined but fully functional

This is a solid entry-level tracker with a sleek look and an easy-to-navigate experience overall. Compared with the Fitbit Charge 3, it has a smaller screen, can’t track altitude (no floors climbed), and has a slightly shorter battery life.

Buying Options

$80* from Amazon
$100 from Best Buy
$80 $70 from FitBit

You save $10 (13%)

*At the time of publishing, the price was $100.

Upgrade pick

Garmin Vívoactive 4S

Garmin Vívoactive 4S

For the fitness enthusiast

Winning points for accuracy and wearability, this investment fitness tracker combines the best of sport and lifestyle wear for those who lead a workout-fueled life.

Buying Options

$303* from Amazon
$350 from Backcountry
$350 from Garmin

*At the time of publishing, the price was $270.

Source: NY Times – Wirecutter

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