So, you can’t wear your Apple Watch. Maybe your job doesn’t allow it, maybe you’re planning to be in adverse conditions and don’t want to break it, or perhaps your Apple Watch is already broken, and you need an alternative.
Whatever the situation, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to discover the seven best sports trackers for when wearing your Apple Watch isn’t possible.
1. Mi Band 3
If your main use case for an Apple Watch is sports tracking, the Mi Band 3 is a cheaper and more lightweight alternative.
The device doesn’t skimp on features. It offers heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, a step counter, and a selection of pre-set sports. You can also create your own custom activities. Away from tracking, the Mi Band 3 has several useful features for sports and exercise fanatics, including a stopwatch and weather forecasts.
We even reviewed the Mi Band 3 and gave it a score of 9/10.
If you’ve been a long-time Apple Watch user who’s looking to try something new, you could do a lot worse than the Fitbit Charge 3. We reviewed the Charge 3, and it instantly impressed us. We gave it a final rating of 8/10.
The Charge 3 is primarily a sports activity tracker, though it has hints of a smartwatch too. From a fitness perspective, there’s continuous heart rate measurement and automatic sleep tracking, as well as the ever-important pedometer.
The device also has a new Automatic Exercise Recognition feature; it will sense when you begin a workout and start recording, thus saving you the time and frustration of pre-exercise setup.
Interestingly, the Charge 3 was Fitbit’s first waterproof sports tracker; it’s finally safe for swimming.
Who says that the best sports trackers even need to be worn on your wrist? If you’re lifting weights in the gym, that might not be practical.
Some companies are offering alternative solutions. One such solution is the Moov HR Sweat. It’s a sports tracker that you wear as a headband.
The headband can perform EKG-level heart rate reading. That includes a way to measure the oxygen content of your blood from your temple, as well as a waveform representation of your heartbeat. According to the manufacturer, the readouts can match the accuracy of medical-grade equipment.
The Moov HR Sweat comes with an accompanying smartphone app on Android and iOS. It includes real-time coaching, heart rate training routines, and customizable workout programs.
4. Fitbit Versa
Fitbit dominates the list of best sports trackers, so it should come as no surprise to discover that the company has a second entry on our list of options for when you can’t use an Apple Watch.
Whereas the previous product—the Charge 3—is a fitness band, the Fitbit Versa is more firmly in the smartwatch category. It has a larger display and a more extensive collection of non-fitness apps. For example, Fitbit Pay comes as standard on all Versa devices; it’s only available on the Charge 3’s Special edition.
The slightly different design means its arguably more suitable for formal environments such as the office, conferences, and weddings.
We’ve also reviewed the Fitbit Versa. Like the Charge 3, we gave it 8/10. As such, your decision on whether to go for a Versa or a Charge 3 entirely rests on your planned use case.
There are some outdoor sports to which the Apple Watch is not suited. The issue is most apparent if you’re a long way off the beaten path— we’re talking about hiking, backpacking, skiing, diving, and so on.
If you’re planning to do some serious adventuring, we recommend the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus. The GPS watch offers everything from colored topographical maps to contactless payments. There’s also a step counter, heart rate monitor, a Find My Phone tool, and waterproof protection for up to 10 Atmospheres—that’s roughly 330 feet (100 meters) of depth.
Non-fitness apps include Spotify and Deezer; you just need to download them using the Garmin Connect companion app.
And finally, what about a pair of headphones that double as a sports tracker? After all, almost everyone who exercises already uses earbuds for music—you might as well kill two birds with one stone, right?
The Jabra Sport Pulse headphones come with a built-in heart rate monitor; it feeds data into the associated Jabra app. The app has an additional VO2 monitor (to check your body’s ability to absorb oxygen), a race predictor, and a recovery advisor.
Audiophiles don’t need to worry either. As is so often the case with Jabra products, the audio output is rich, there’s excellent passive noise cancellation, and the bass notes are clear.
Apple users might not want to buy a new sports tracker, especially if it doesn’t fall somewhere within the Apple ecosystem.
If you just want to track your steps and your Apple Watch is out of action, you could try and download a pedometer for your iPhone.
There are lots of pedometer apps in the store, but Pedometer++ is one of the most popular. You can use it to track your daily and weekly step counts. The app can also work out your calories burned, and distance walked.
The data is viewable via the Today View widget on iOS, or through your Apple Watch once you’re wearing it again.
Lastly, Pedometer++ integrates with Apple’s Health app for those who use it.
Download: Pedometer++ (Free)
Which Apple Watch Alternative Should You Use?
There’s no right answer to this question. Much depends on the reason why you’re not using your Apple Watch.
People looking for less bulky options should check out the Mi Band 3, the Moov HR Sweat, and the Jabra Sport Pulse. Anyone who wants a high-quality all-around alternative might consider the Garmin and Fitbit products. And if you want a stop gap so you can keep measuring your steps while your Apple Watch is out of action, use a smartphone app.
If you would like to learn more about the various sports trackers available, check out our article on the best fitness trackers. We’ve also done a more extensive comparison of all the different Fitbit products.