Buying Guides

The 7 Best Fitness Trackers

Rob Nightingale 01-09-2016

If you’re an active person, the data provided by activity trackers (AKA fitness trackers) is incredibly valuable for logging, improving, and understanding your fitness 5 Remarkable Websites to Help You Understand Your Health & Fitness Do you want to understand your body, and how exercise and nutrition affects it? These five quality websites will help you reach your fitness goals with education. Read More . But among the many devices out there, finding the right activity tracker can be difficult.


That’s why we’ve put together this breakdown of the top activity trackers available in 2016 to help you choose the right tracker to fit your lifestyle. This list is compiled in no particular order, as each of these trackers has its pros and cons, depending on how you want to use it.

Fitbit Surge

Fitbit Surge Fitness Superwatch, Black, Large (US Version) Fitbit Surge Fitness Superwatch, Black, Large (US Version) Buy Now On Amazon

If you’re a fitness addict looking for what Fitbit calls the “Ultimate Fitness Super Watch”, the Fitbit Surge could be just what you need. The Surge is a powerful tracker that offers the features of practically all of Fitbit’s other products combined.


Within the Fitbit Surge (read our full review Fitbit Surge Review and Giveaway There is a single benchmark for the efficacy of a fitness wearable: does it help optimize your workout? The FitBit Surge claims it can do just that. Read More ) are sensors that can track more than just the basics of distance traveled, calories burned How Do Fitness Apps Count Calories? Did you know apps can count calories as well as keep track of your exercise? How do apps calculate the calories you've burned? Read More , active minutes, and steps. The device also has an altimeter, wrist-based heart rate tracking, multi-sport modes, sleep tracking, and control music functions.

Most impressive, however, is the built-in GPS that can map workouts on Google Maps, even if you don’t have your phone with you.

  • Claimed Battery Life: Up to 7 days, or 10 hours if using GPS.
  • Screen: Black and white LCD
  • Works With: Android, Windows, Mac, iOS, or browser
  • Verdict: 5/5 from PC Mag. 8/10 on Reevoo. 7/10 from Wired.
  • Expect to Pay: $250

Jawbone UP2 [No Longer Available]

For anyone looking for a basic, but super-affordable fitness tracker, the Jawbone UP2 is still a great option. Its longevity isn’t just because of its subtle design, but also because of its ease of use, and better value compared to the UP3.


As the Jawbone UP2 doesn’t have a screen, this is pretty much a set-it-and-forget-it option which, according to, “gets the basics right and that’s enough”.

During the day, the splash-proof UP2 tracks calories burned, steps, and exercise intensity. During the night, it tracks the length and quality of your sleep, while also offering an alarm that wakes you up during the lighter part of your sleep cycle 6 Smart Gadgets to Help You Sleep Better Not getting a good night's sleep is never a good way to begin a day. Luckily, there are plenty of home gadgets that can help you get a great night sleep. Read More . All data collected can be reviewed within Jawbone’s impressive mobile app (which can also track food eaten This Daily Food Tracking Habit Can Transform Your Health Tracking the food you eat can change your health. Life benefits include losing weight and better sleep. And food tracking isn't tough -- you can do it easily with a few easy tools. Read More ).

  • Claimed Battery Life: 10 days
  • Screen: None
  • Works With: Windows, Android, iOS,
  • Verdict: 4/5 on, 4/5 on CNET, 7.8/10 on The Verge.
  • Expect to Pay: $30–50

Garmin Vivoactive

Garmin vívoactive Black Garmin vívoactive Black Buy Now On Amazon $149.66

With similar features compared to the Fitbit Surge, the Garmin Vivoactive is aimed at those who take their workouts seriously.


This 8mm thin, lightweight sports watch features a built-in app that allows you to review your activity and sleep data without needing to turn on your phone. The Vivoactive requires manually setting each exercise, so you must let the device know when you’re biking, running, walking, working out indoors, swimming, or even golfing. You’ll then be able to keep track of steps, speed, pace, calories burned, distance, and a whole lot more. The built-in GPS also maps workouts without needing access to your phone. Unfortunately, there is no built-in heart rate monitor, but the device does work with some chest straps.

The Vivoactive also syncs with your smartphone so that you can see incoming notifications on your wrist. You can even download various screens and widgets so you can review things like the weather, or stock prices.

  • Claimed Battery Life: 3 weeks, or 10 hours if using GPS.
  • Screen: Sunlight-readable color dot-matrix LCD touchscreen
  • Works With: Android, Windows, Mac, iOS
  • Verdict: 4.5/5 from PC Mag, 4/5 from, 4/5 from TechRadar.
  • Expect to Pay: $150–250

Since this article was released, Garmin has released a new model of the fitness tracker, the Garmin Vivoactive HR.
Garmin Vivoactive HR GPS Smart Watch, WW, Regular Fit - Black Garmin Vivoactive HR GPS Smart Watch, WW, Regular Fit - Black Buy Now On Amazon $309.99

Microsoft Band 2

Microsoft Band 2 - Medium Microsoft Band 2 - Medium Buy Now On Amazon $69.94

Regarding functionality and affordability, Microsoft’s curved-screen Band 2 is up there with the Fitbit Surge, making it great for those who want to take their tracking a bit further than just the basics.


Microsoft Band 2 tracks pretty much everything you’d expect. This includes sport-specific exercise tracking (from running to yoga), calorie burn, heart rate, stairs climbed, and sleep quality. You can even download guided workouts to the tracker, along with other sports specific apps.


As with other relatively higher-end trackers. The Band 2 sports a GPS sensor, along with a barometer, and UV sensor. Users can also view their workout data on a browser or mobile app (including VO2 Max calculations), so you can analyze your results, and work on ways to improve them further.

This device works best with newer Windows phones, but many features that don’t require using Cortana are still available on Android and iOS.

  • Claimed Battery Life: 48 hours, less when using GPS
  • Screen: AMOLED
  • Works With: Microsoft, Android, iOS, or browser
  • Verdict: 4/5 from TechRadar, 3.5/5 from TrustedReviews, 3.5/5 from
  • Expect to Pay: $130-$200

TomTom Spark Cardio + Music

TomTom Spark Cardio + Music, GPS Fitness Watch + Heart Rate Monitor + 3GB Music Storage (Large, Sky Captain/Scuba Blue) TomTom Spark Cardio + Music, GPS Fitness Watch + Heart Rate Monitor + 3GB Music Storage (Large, Sky Captain/Scuba Blue) Buy Now On Amazon

The TomTom Spark GPS fitness watch is comparable to others in its fitness tracking functionality. But its 500-song music storage capacity makes this a sensible choice for those who use playlists to push their workouts even further.


Regarding tracking, the Spark Cardio tracks sleep, steps, heart rate, distance (using GPS), pace, and you can quickly select which sport you’re doing from the touch screen menu. You can also set daily and weekly goals, and quickly see how you’re progressing toward each of these.

When it comes to loading music on the device, you can do this via iTunes or Windows Media Player. You can then stream this music wirelessly via Bluetooth headphones (included), so there’s no more wrestling with wires at the gym.

All stats sync to the TomTom MySports app, which also integrates with other apps such as MyFitnessPal and NikePlus.

  • Claimed Battery Life: up to 3 weeks for activity tracking, up to 5 hours if using GPS and music.
  • Screen: Black & White LCD
  • Works With: Android, Windows, iOS
  • Verdict: 4/5 from PC Mag. 4/5 from 7/10 from Tom’s Guide
  • Expect to Pay: $250

Since the article was published, TomTom has released a new model, the TomTom Spark 3 Cardio.

Fitbit Charge HR

Fitbit Charge HR Wireless Activity Wristband (Black, Large (6.2 - 7.6 in)) Fitbit Charge HR Wireless Activity Wristband (Black, Large (6.2 - 7.6 in)) Buy Now On Amazon $123.58

Where the Fitbit Surge helps you improve performance, the Fitbit Charge is for more general lifestyle improvements. Users can track their vitals and contribute to making life-improving choices.


Track the most important stats, including steps, floors climbed, calories burned, distance, active minutes, sleep, and heart rate with the Fitbit Charge HR.

This is an affordable tracker that automatically detects the kind of activity you’re doing (this isn’t perfect), as well as when you’re asleep. You can also set a silent alarm, and take a glance at how much time you’ve spent active or sedentary each day.

Once all this data is synced up with the Fitbit app, you’ll have an impressive, graphical understanding of your fitness to help you make better decisions in the future.

  • Claimed Battery Life: 5 days
  • Screen: OLED
  • Works With: Android, Windows, iOS, Mac, or browser
  • Verdict: 4.5/5 from PC Mag. 4/5 from CNET. 7/10 from Wired.
  • Expect to Pay: $125

Samsung Gear Fit2

Samsung Gear Fit2 Smartwatch Large, Black Samsung Gear Fit2 Smartwatch Large, Black Buy Now On Amazon $109.99

With the Gear Fit2, Samsung, at last, has a fitness tracking device to contend with the others on this list. Unfortunately, it’s only compatible with Android phones.


The Gear Fit2’s design permits exercise out without needing your phone anywhere near you. The tracker can still map your runs and bike rides using GPS. And you can store music on the device to listen to using Bluetooth headphones.

Along with this is a continuous heart rate monitor, and auto-detection of the kind of exercise you’re doing (running, cycling, rowing machine, etc.). The stats you’ll have access to include steps, distance, pace, calories burned, and sleep quality.

Pairing the Gear Fit2 with your phone using Samsung’s S Health app gives users full access to their biometric workout data. Within the app, you can log plenty of other metrics such as caffeine intake, as well as integrate this with many other third party apps (including Spotify).

  • Claimed Battery Life: 3–4 days, 9 hours if using GPS.
  • Screen: OLED
  • Works With: Android
  • Verdict: 7.3/10 from CNET. 4/5 from PC Mag. 4/5 from TechRadar.
  • Expect to Pay: $150-180

Since this article was published, Samsung released a new version of this model, the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro
Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro Smartwatch Fitness Band (Large), Liquid Black, SM-R365NZKAXAR – US Version with Warranty Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro Smartwatch Fitness Band (Large), Liquid Black, SM-R365NZKAXAR – US Version with Warranty Buy Now On Amazon $265.00

Which Fitness Tracker Will You Choose?

The differences between most fitness trackers are pretty small. Which one you choose depends on exactly what exercises you hope to track, and whether or not you want to store music on your tracker.

If you want to take your health and fitness tracking even further, there are a range of fitness gadgets 17 Best Health and Fitness Gadgets to Improve Your Body Over the past few years, innovation around health and fitness gadgets has exploded. Here are just a few of the amazing pieces of kit you'll be able to use to keep you feeling great. Read More that can shine even more light on your current health to help you improve your performance even more.

Which fitness tracker will you be choosing?

Related topics: Fitness, Health, Wearable Technology.

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  1. Wes
    September 11, 2016 at 8:18 pm

    You guys should also check the selection from Polar. They have some truly nice fitness trackers available.

    • Rob Nightingale
      October 7, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      They are pretty good, though not quite up to the standard as others in this list (personal opinion).

  2. n
    September 2, 2016 at 6:36 pm

    Nothing from Withings? The Go tracker is really good.

    • Rob Nightingale
      October 7, 2016 at 5:43 pm

      They're good, but I didn't think good enough to make this list, I'm afraid.