All time top 5 greatest fitness trackers

With Christmas just around the corner fitness trackers are sure to appear on many a wish list but which one should you go for? There’s a plethora of choice making it difficult to know which is the best. We review the top five fitness trackers on the market to help you decide the best option for you. We’re only including fitness trackers here and not smart watches. If you’re looking for a new smart watch be sure to keep your eyes open for our smart watch feature coming soon.

Fitbit Charge 3

  • Screen type: Backlit OLED touchscreen
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
  • Works with: iOS/Android
  • Heart Rate: Yes
  • Sleep Tracker: Yes
  • Battery Life: Up to 7 days
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Built in GPS: No

Since launching it’s Charge range a few years ago Fitbit have refined this highly popular model and it’s third incarnation is no exception, a bold statement since the Charge 2 has been voted the best fitness tracker for two years in a row now. 

Being made of aluminium rather than stainless steel (like the Charge 2 is) the Charge 3 is much lighter than it’s predecessor while the screen, now 40% bigger, despite still being black and white has a proper touchscreen, rather then the ‘tap to change’ screen of both the Charge HR and Charge 2. It’s not just the aesthetics that have been updated though. The Charge 3 is now waterproof up to 50 meters so you can track your swimming too. It’s sleep sensors have also been improved while Fitbit have added a Female Health feature to help women track things like their ovulation. Sadly though there is still no GPS, instead you have to reply on your phones built in GPS if you want to track your route. The best price we’ve found for the Fitbit Charge 3 is on Amazon.

Pros: Waterproof, up to 7 days charge
Cons: Still doesn’t have GPS

Moov Now

  • Screen type: No screen
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
  • Works with: iOS/Android
  • Heart Rate: Yes
  • Sleep Tracker: Yes
  • Battery Life: Up to 6 months
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Built in GPS: No

Without a built in screen it’s clear to see that Moov have decided to go down the fitness route rather than the fashion one, that said though it’s still has a funky design to it. You’re probably think if this aimed more that the serious fitness fan it must some great tracking features? If that’s the case you’d be spot on, not only does it offer the usual plethora of step tracking, sleep and heart monitoring it also encourages you with regular fitness updates as well as cross training and fitness coaching. It allows you to track your workout with incredible accuracy and even allows you to track cardio boxing, circuit training, swimming, cycling and of course running. Unlike most other trackers the Moov Now will also watch the impact of your footsteps to help you minimise the chance of injury. After scouring the web we found the best deal for the Moov Now on was here on Amazon.

Pros: Provides in app coaching and records how you exercise.
Cons: Not rechargeable, no screen

Garmin vivofit 4

  • Screen type: 8-colour memory-in-pixel
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
  • Works with: iOS/Android
  • Heart Rate: No
  • Sleep Tracker: Yes
  • Battery Life: Up to 1 year
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Built in GPS: No

Despite not being brand new to the market (it was released in 2017), the Garmin Vivofit 4 is still competing pretty well with some of the newer trackers on the market. Sure it doesn’t have a heart rate monitor but you have to ask yourself what are you buy a tracker for? Most people will say, unsurprisingly to track their fitness and this is where this little (it’s only 9.4mm think) fella comes in. It’s packed full of features that allow you to share your workout and compete with friends or challenge your kids to step competitors (even allowing you to wireless connecting to their vivofit jr. 2). If you start a workout but forget to set your tracker fear not, Garmin have developed what they call Move IQ which automatically sets the device running and can even detect various activities such as cycling and swimming. If you’re after a good online deal on the Garmin Vivofit 4 this was the best we found.

Pros: Outstanding battery life with replaceable batteries, tells you the weather.
Cons: Released over a year ago, no heart rate monitor.

TomTom Touch Cardio

  • Screen type: Monochrome OLED touchscreen
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
  • Works with: iOS/Android
  • Heart Rate: Yes
  • Sleep Tracker: Yes
  • Battery Life: Up to 5 days
  • Waterproof: Only splash proof
  • Built in GPS: No

As you would expect from a product that has the word ‘cardio’ in it’s name this is going to be a pretty nifty heart rate monitor and you wouldn’t be far wrong. Not only does it track your heart rate throughout the day but it also finds your resting heart to help you tailor your workouts to your specific needs. It boast a great sports mode which the manufacturers claim will allow you to track your activity and compare it your previous activity to see how you’re improving. We have to say though we were somewhat disappointed by the lack of built in GPS. Yes it uses your phones GPS and you could argue that most cheaper trackers don’t have built in GPS but from one of the world’s SatNav giants we expected this product if any to have one. The TomTom Touch Cardio is widely available online but we found Amazon was the best price to be found.

Pros: Outstanding battery life with replaceable batteries, tells you the weather.
Cons: Poor battery life – needs charging every few days

Huawei Band 3 Pro

  • Screen type: AMOLED touchscreen
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
  • Works with: iOS/Android
  • Heart Rate: Yes
  • Sleep Tracker: Yes
  • Battery Life: Up to 30 days
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Built in GPS: Yes

Following on from the immensely popular Huawei Band 2 Pro this incarnation is even better. From an aesthetic point of view it now has a bigger touchscreen display which this time round is colour. The improvements don’t stop there though, it’s built in GPS now has a stamina reading too which means it can not only track you how far you’ve run but it also provides a real-time evaluation of various training effects such as VO2 max (or maximal oxygen consumption) which is the maximin amount of oxygen you consume during exercise and what your recovery time. In our opinion this has to be one of the best fitness trackers out there today. For the best online price on the Huawei Band 3 Pro we found this.

Pros: One of the best trackers out there.
Cons: The calorie count isn’t quite as reliable as others.

Summary:

After spending time reviewing all five of these trackers it was tough to decide which one was the overall winner but after careful consideration and taking into account every single one of their features we opted for the Huawei Band 3 Pro. For starters is was the only one that had a built in GPS tracker which meant we didn’t need to carry our phone with us while running or cycling. Yes this meant it drained the battery much more quickly but we felt that it was a price worth paying. It also has a pretty decent battery life too, it lasted the longest out of all of the rechargeable trackers!

Although we think the Huawei is the overall winner we feel that the Moov Now does deserve a special mention. It might not have a screen but as a dedicated tracker it’s got everything going for it, except for having a built in GPS tracker, and at a very reasonable price too.

For those of you who might be interested here’s a few surprising tracker facts about where the tech originates from:

While the fitness tracker (or activity tracker) is a relatively new invention the technology behind it is actually much older than you might think.

The heart rate monitor despite being a relatively new wearable bit of tech does if fact owe it’s origins to 1920’s and lie detectors. Dating from 1921 it used various sensors to measure the subject’s galvanic skin response, pulse rate and blood pressure in an effort to detect signs of the subject not telling the truth. This, although somewhat refined since then, is the same technology that is now employed by many fitness trackers today.

Remember the 10,000 steps a day goal? I bet if asked when the this goal became part of our daily lives you’d probably say the 1980s. If you do that wouldn’t even be close! It was a Japanese professor called Dr Yoshiro Hatano who, after researching a way of combating obesity in his home country, came up with the ’10k step plan’ back in 1965. He even brought out the Manpo-kei pedometer which translates to 10,000 steps measure.

Even the motion detection abilities of trackers dates back many decades. It was the emergence of the space race that saw the birth of the accelerometer but was Ford that used this to detect sudden deceleration (which they used in their development on the airbag) and this is the forerunner of the motion detectors in every fitness tracker out there today.

You may be surprised though to know that the GPS technology your tracker uses for knowing it’s position is a relatively new invention, at least compared to the heart rate monitor. In 1995 under the Presidency of it’s 42rd president, Bill Clinton, the USA declare their navigation system dual use. This meant that the positioning satellites they launched way back in 1973 could now be used by the public and not just the military, paving the way for the GPS we know of today.

It’s not just the technology that is older than you think but some of the features are too. For example most fitness trackers today give you the ability to ‘level up’ by offering you badges or medals for achieving certain goals. This is a subtle way of encouraging us to be active but it’s a feature of the highly popular Dungeons & Dragons game of the 1970’s and 1908’s. It was designed to make the game more addictive and immersive, exactly the same applies to fitness trackers.