The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of tech gear

Best Fitness Trackers and Activity Monitors of 2018

This tracker has some of the most comprehensive fitness tracking features we have seen to date.
Wednesday October 31, 2018
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Searching for the fanciest fitness tracker around this holiday season? We bought the 13 most promising fitness tracking wearables that are currently available and compared their performance head-to-head, walking thousand and thousands of steps, doing workout after workout, and climbing flight after flight of stairs in our quest to find the best. We also compared the ergonomics and determined how comfortable it is to actually wear each of these wearables, as well as ranked and scored their displays and overall aesthetics. Check out the full review below to see which fitness tracker is truly the best you can get, which is the best clip-on, and which is the best option when you are shopping on a tight budget.


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Awards Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award  Top Pick Award  
Price $150 List
$128.96 at Amazon
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$28.00 at Amazon
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$54.99 at Amazon
$60 List$80 List
$49.99 at Amazon
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Pros Excellent set of fitness features, convenient and easy to use, solid displayInexpensive, easy to use, comfortableWaterproof, minimalistic, easy to useInexpensive, minimalistic, solid displayEasy to use, great display, fun variety of appearances
Cons No integrated GPS unit, screen can be hard to read in direct sunLimited set of fitness, health tracking featuresFew features, no heart rate monitoring, sub par fitness trackingLimited set of features, few ways to influence healthy habitsMediocre set of fitness tracking abilities, limited health impact
Bottom Line If you want a top-of-the-line fitness tracker, then the Charge 3 should be your first choiceIf you are searching for a solid fitness wearable without spending a ton of cash, then this is your best betA unique looking tracker that does an alright job counting steps, but is missing many features that its competitors haveThis tiny clip-on tracker is our top recommendation for someone who wants a simple and discreet way to monitor their steps and basic fitnessThis fun fitness tracker is a great way to introduce exercise regimes and help kids and teens establish healthy habits
Rating Categories Fitbit Charge 3 Xiaomi Mi Band 3 Misfit Shine 2 Fitbit Zip Vivofit Jr. 2
Fitness Impact (30%)
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Specs Fitbit Charge 3 Xiaomi Mi Band 3 Misfit Shine 2 Fitbit Zip Vivofit Jr. 2
Heart Rate Monitor Yes Yes No (can get an estimate using app on phone) No No
Altimeter (stair tracking) Yes No No No No
Battery life Up to 7 days Up to 20 days Up to 6 months Up to 6 months Up to 1 year

Updated October 2018
For our Fall update, we have added in a pair of promising fitness trackers — the Fitbit Charge 3 and the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 — to our review, as well as retired some of the older models that are being phased out of production, including a handful of our older award winners. However, both of the new additions proved themselves to be worthy of awards. The Charge 3 claimed the Editors' Choice Award for being our new top performer overall, while the Mi Band 3 merited a Best Buy Award for being the best choice by far when shopping for a fitness tracker in the tightest of budgets. Keep reading to see how these newcomers compared to the rest of the pack and what exactly they did to earn their awards.

Best Overall Fitness Tracker


Fitbit Charge 3


The Fitbit Charge 3
Editors' Choice Award

$128.96
(14% off)
at Amazon
See It

Heart Rate Monitor: Yes | Built-In GPS: No, uses your smartphone's
Extremely easy to use
Very ergonomic
Great set of fitness features
No integrated GPS
Hard to read in bright light

One of the newest additions to our review, the Fitbit Charge 3 immediately swept away the competition and claimed the highest overall score we have seen in the past two years of testing these products. Needless to say, this product easily claimed the Editors' Choice Award and the title of Best Overall Fitness Tracker. This wearable is very accurate, has tons of different activities that can be tracked, and is very comfortable — all in a sleek and stylish form factor. The Charge 3 also has some of the most extensive set of social functions, allowing you to compete and compare your fitness progress with your friends and family.

The Charge 3 does lack a built-in GPS module, relying on your phone's, so you should definitely consider other products if you need the GPS data and don't plan on bringing your phone with you. Additionally, it can also be really hard to read the screen on the Charge 3 in bright sunlight — especially if you are wearing certain types of polarized sunglasses. These flaws are relatively minor and the Charge 3 is definitely the best you can get for the majority of people.

Read Full Review: Fitbit Charge 3

Best Clip-On


Fitbit Zip


Top Pick Award

$60
List Price
See It

Heart Rate Monitor: No | Built-In GPS: No
Inexpensive
Discreet
Limited features and functions
Only splash proof

Earning the distinction of being our favorite clip-on fitness tracker, the Fitbit Zip is an excellent choice if you want to move your fitness tracking off your wrist. This minimalistic and discreet tracker doesn't have a ton of features, but what it does, it does well. It is one of the most accurate products at counting steps that we have tested, is very easy to use and is so small and light that you practically forget you are wearing it. This simple, bare-bones tracker allows you to track your steps and compete against your friends and family, but that is about it. It's more than capable if you don't expect too much, and even better, won't break the bank.

Read Full Review: Fitbit Zip

Best on a Tight Budget


Xiaomi Mi Band 3


The Xiaomi Mi Band 3.
Best Buy Award

$28.00
(20% off)
at Amazon
See It

Heart Rate Monitor: | Built-In GPS:
Inexpensive
Comfortable
Low profile
Lackluster looks
Severely limited fitness tracking abilities

Searching for a fitness tracker without blowing your budget? While the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 can't really compare to the top-of-the-line Fitbit, Garmin, or Samsung offerings, it retails for a fraction of the price of the top products and is an all-around great economical option for basic fitness tracking. It is very discreet and super comfortable to wear — hardly noticeable at all — and has a slim enough profile that it hardly ever gets snagged when donning a light jacket or backpack.

However, its fitness tracking and health tracking abilities are quite limited in scope. It does a solid job at tracking your steps and distance, but doesn't do much in terms of more advanced fitness metrics and we weren't overly impressed with its heart rate tracking abilities. While these are some significant drawbacks, it's hard to argue with the super low price of the Xiaomi, making it your best bet for sure if you are shopping on a budget.

Read Full Review: Xiaomi Mi Band 3


Analysis and Test Results


Exploding in popularity in the past few years, fitness trackers and other wearable pieces of technology have become one of the new hot items. These are designed to improve your fitness by measuring your progress towards various goals and maximize your motivation by integrating you into a community of like-minded individuals. We spent a substantial amount of time researching these trackers, comparing specifications and features, and reading through user reviews and experiences to determine what qualities the best fitness tracker would have, and design a testing regimen to crown the award winners.

We split our testing process into five distinct metrics: Fitness Impact, Health Impact, Ease of Use, Ergonomics, and Display. Each model of tracker received a score in each metric, and these were combined to determine the overall score. We detail exactly what each tracker did well and where it struggled in the following sections.

Value


If you are trying to maximize your value dollar for dollar, then the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 is the clear choice. While it does have a more limited set of functions than the top models, it can count your steps and track the distance traveled quite well, all for around $35. However, the Mi Band 3 is a bit limited when it comes to competing and challenging your friends, so you should consider the Fitbit Zip if you want those additional features. It does cost a bit more than the Mi Band 3 — retailing for around $60 — but has a much more comprehensive set of fitness tracking features and makes it much easier to challenge your friends. If you want the best of the best, then the Fitbit Charge 3 is the clear choice, though it costs quite a bit more, retailing for $150 for the standard editions and about $170 for the special edition that includes mobile payment capabilities.

We wish the Xiaomi Band 3 had a little more when it came to fitness tracking.
We wish the Xiaomi Band 3 had a little more when it came to fitness tracking.

Fitness Impact


The most important metric in our test, and the primary reason that many people will purchase one of these products is to improve their fitness. We rated the products on how the community could motivate you, as well as what activities and workouts each device could track. While health and fitness are arguably the same thing, or at the very least substantially intertwined, we focused primarily on how well each tracker did at recording physical activities in this metric, leaving things like diet and sleep tracking for a separate metric. You can see how all of the products compared in the chart below.


We manually counted how many steps it took to walk a mile course with a mechanical tally counter, then compared it to each tracker on the same course. After multiple trials for each tracker, we computed the average error. We also tested the tendency to record false steps off random arm movements. Finally, we checked how each tracker did at monitoring a high-intensity cardio workout, a cycling workout, and if any models had special features focused on other physical exercises.

Earning the top score of the entire group when it came to fitness impact, the Fitbit Charge 3 earned an 8 out of 10 for its stellar showing. This tracker is highly accurate when it comes to calculating steps taken, stairs climbed, and distance traveled. It perfectly counted the number of stairs climbed in our tests and the step count was within 0.05% of the true count in each of our trials. The distance measurement was similarly accurate, showing a distance within 0.05 miles of the true count. It has extensive metrics on cycling and other workouts — though it does rely on your smartphone's GPS unit to maximize its tracking abilities — and has a whole host of profiles for different trackable activities.

The Charge 3 is very accurate when it comes to step counts.
The Charge 3 is very accurate when it comes to step counts.

Next in the rankings were the Garmin Vivoactive 3 and the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro, both earning a 7 out of 10. The Vivoactive 3 is a smartwatch-style fitness tracker. It has a ton of activity profiles for every activity you might do, such as ski, snowboard, XC skiing, SUP, yoga, or golf — to name just a few. It has a built-in GPS module, allowing it to do a great job at tracking different workouts and is very accurate at counting steps.

With a large selection of activities you might find one that best suits your less mainstream interests.
With a large selection of activities you might find one that best suits your less mainstream interests.

The Fit2 Pro tracks steps exceptionally accurately and provides a handful of metrics for a variety of different activities, such as hiking, elliptical, yoga, pilates, and swimming. This tracker has a particularly impressive set of swimming features, even calculating your SWOLF score while you swim. We also liked that it was quite adept at automatically recognizing an activity and would begin tracking automatically. However, we found its set of community compare features to be a bit sparse and it did an abysmal job at accurately tracking flights of stairs climbed.

The Fit2 Pro was accurate at counting our steps.
The Fit2 Pro was accurate at counting our steps.

Following these two trackers are the Garmin Vivosmart 3, Fitbit Alta HR, and the Garmin Vivosport, all earning a 6 out of 10. Out of these three trackers, only the Alta HR couldn't track stairs. Though stair tracking is available on the Vivosport, it performed abysmally, only counting three out of the ten flights of stairs whereas the Vivosmart, another Garmin tracker, was able to count seven out of ten.

The Vivosmart 3 is alright at tracking steps and counting stairs climbed, but it is a little deficient when it comes to tracking other activities, with a limited set of data. The Alta HR is even worse at dealing with other activities, but it does have a substantially better online community — like other Fitbits — for fun challenges and competitions.

The Garmin Vivosport has a built-in GPS module, allowing to accurately track and monitor a variety of metrics while you are working out. It is very accurate at counting steps, though it did show a slightly larger discrepancy from the true manual count than the Vivoactive 3. However, it does have a much smaller set of activity profiles to choose from and wasn't terribly accurate at tracking flights of stairs climbed in our tests.

The steps screen on the Vivosport.
The steps screen on the Vivosport.

Rounding out the bottom of the pack, the remainder of the group all scored 5 or below. The Vivofit Jr. 2 is limited to tracking steps and timing activities exclusively, lacking the sensors for heart rate or stair climbing, enough to merit it a 5 out of 10. The Fitbit Zip only allows you to track step and distance walked, but also earned a 5 out of 10 for allowing access to the impressive set of community compare features the Fitbit app affords. The Misfit Shine 2 earned the same score, similarly only tracking duration and steps, but it has a few more activities that you can classify your physical activities under in the app.

The Huawei Band 2 Pro and the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 both earned a 4 out of 10. The Huawei isn't the most accurate at counting steps, varying from the true count by much more than other models — about 3%.

The Band 2 did poor matching up to our manual step count over a mile.
The Band 2 did poor matching up to our manual step count over a mile.

The Mi Band 3 is a bit more accurate at counting steps, only having a 1.9% discrepancy in its worst trial and a 0.23% discrepancy at its best. However, aside from step and distance tracking, the Mi Band 3 is essentially a stopwatch, failing to record any other fitness metrics without the use of the mobile smartphone app.

Finally, the Striiv Bio 2 finished last, with a dismal 3 out of 10. It tracked steps accurately, but that's about all it did, proving unreliable at tracking anything else accurately.

Finally, we looked at the companion apps for each manufacturer, as different models utilize the same app. The Fitbit app led this category with its weekly emails including your stats for the previous 7 days, as well as your top 3 friends on the step count leaderboard. The app has non-competitive "Adventures", where you can digitally walk along a path to a point of interest, using your steps. There are also competitive challenges you can undertake against yourself or your friends.

Some of the competitive and non-competitive challenges you can participate in with the Fitbit trackers.
Some of the competitive and non-competitive challenges you can participate in with the Fitbit trackers.

Next was the Garmin Connect app, having a simpler set of features allowing you to track your progress over the past 7 days, month, or year, and allows you to opt into weekly challenges with people in your step range.

The Garmin Connect displays a ton of information about your fitness.
The Garmin Connect displays a ton of information about your fitness.

The Samsung app followed, allowing you to view your trends and duel with your friends, but lacked even more functionality than the Fitbit or Garmin apps.

This tracker can automatically track your sleep and exercises  like walking.
This tracker can automatically track your sleep and exercises, like walking.

Rounding out the bottom were the apps from Xiaomi, Huawei, Misfit, Polar, and Striiv — each of these apps only allowed you to view your past progress and offered little to no ability to challenge or compare with your friends or family.

The Fitbit Charge 3 also has an impressive set of health and wellness functions.
The Fitbit Charge 3 also has an impressive set of health and wellness functions.

Health Impact


The next highest weighted metric in this product category is the health impact of each tracker. To assess this, we started with whether or not the tracker could monitor heart rate, and how accurate it was compared to a chest strap heart rate monitor. Then, we looked at what aids in dieting each model could provide, what other lifestyle changes it could help you implement, and whether or not it could track sleep and wake you, as well as it there were any other health-specific features. You can see which models scored the best in the chart below.


The Fitbit Charge 3, the Alta HR, the Gear Fit2 Pro, and the Vivosmart 3 led this metric, all earning a 7 out of 10. These models all have automatic sleep tracking, as well as a vibration wake alarm to gently wake you and leave your partner undisturbed. Our tester felt that the sleep stats reported by the Fitbit brand trackers and the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro were very close to his recollections of the night, in terms of the number of times woken up. We found the Garmin brand trackers, in general, to be a little more temperamental when it came to sleep monitoring, failing to register any sleep data whatsoever multiple times throughout the course of our testing, with the Vivosmart 3 being no exception.

The Charge 3 did fairly well in our heart rate tracking assessments, although the difference between the heart rate reported by the Charge 3 and out chest strap heart rate monitor did widen considerably when our tester's heart rate became elevated when working out. We did particularly like that the Charge 3 will remind you if you have been sedentary for too long and offers the same great access to dieting aids that the other Fitbit brand trackers do.

You can scan or search for food to help maintain diet in the Fitbit app, as well as monitor hydration. These models all offer reminders to move every hour if you have been too sedentary, and the Charge 3 has the unique feature of guided 2 or 5-minute breathing sessions to help you relax, while the Fit2 Pro will suggest a mini-exercise to do.

The Alta HR didn't perform terribly well in our heart rate test, averaging about 34 bpm off of the chest strap. On the other hand, the Vivosmart 3 scored about the same as the Charge 3, doing very well with resting heart rates, but being about 20-25 bpm off at active heart rate levels. Throughout our trials, we found an average discrepancy of 9 bpm from the chest strap.

The heart rate display on the Vivosmart 3.
The heart rate display on the Vivosmart 3.

The Fit 2 Pro performed a little worse, averaging about 14.5 bpm off of the chest strap.

The Fit2 Pro didn't have the most accurate HR monitor.
The Fit2 Pro didn't have the most accurate HR monitor.

Trailing slightly behind the leaders, four of the trackers earned a 6 out of 10 in this metric, including the Fitbit Alta, Misfit Shine 2, Vivoactive 3, and Vivosport. Only the Vivoactive 3 and Vivosport have a built-in HR monitor, but all of these models are capable at reminding you to move, whereas, we felt the Alta and Shine 2 were lacking in this department. The Alta has a very small vibrate 10 minutes before an hour has ended whereas the Garmin's would have a more noticeable vibrate in addition to producing a "move bar" on the right side of the display. The "move bar" was very helpful especially if we were distracted at the time and didn't feel the light buzz from the Alta.

The Vivosport has a strong display. It is easy to read in both dim and super bright light.
The Vivosport has a strong display. It is easy to read in both dim and super bright light.

The Vivoactive 3 and the Vivosport both were relatively subpar at monitoring heart rate, varying significantly from the measurement we took with the chest strap heart rate monitor. These models both did an alright job sleep tracking and required you to use a third-party app to track calorie intake. This pair also has some basic sleep tracking abilities and a vibration alarm clock.

The Misfit Shine 2 lacks heart rate monitoring, though you can use the app on your phone to estimate it, and requires you to use the same third-party app to monitor calories, MyFitnessPal. This model does offer movement reminders with a customizable duration, anywhere between 20-120 minutes in 20-minute increments. The Misfit can also track your sleep, initiated through a button press.

While you can't measure your heart rate with the Shine 2  you can use its mobile app and your smartphone.
While you can't measure your heart rate with the Shine 2, you can use its mobile app and your smartphone.


The Mi Band 3, the Vivofit Jr. 2, and the Huawei Band 2 Pro all earned an average 5 out of 10 when we evaluated their health impacts. The Vivofit Jr. 2 lacks a heart rate monitor completely, but we weren't that impressed with the performance of the heart rate monitor on either the Xiaomi or the Huawei.


The Huawei Band 2 Pro had a relatively terrible performance in our heart rate monitoring test, averaging by over 70 bpm off of our chest strap control heart rate monitor. This tracker also uses MyFitnessPal to track calorie intake, like the Garmin's, but it does have a notification to alert you to get up and move if you have been stationary too long.

The Xiaomi did a bit better in our heart rate testing, but still averaged about 22 bpm off of the control heart rate monitor. However, it doesn't estimate daily calorie burn, only active calorie burn, and lacks the ability to connect with MyFitnessPal. It will remind you to get up and move if you have been sitting for too long and does have automatic sleep tracking, though we weren't the most impressed with the date it produced.

We usually found quite a big discrepancy between the Xiaomi and our chest strap heart rate monitor.
We usually found quite a big discrepancy between the Xiaomi and our chest strap heart rate monitor.

The Vivofit Jr. 2 is designed primarily for children, with in-app games that are designed specifically to get them up and active. The more active you are or the more chores you complete, the more in-game currency you acquire.

Reaching 60 active minutes you get to make a move in the Adventure game.
Reaching 60 active minutes you get to make a move in the Adventure game.

The Striiv Bio 2 and Fitbit Zipboth scored somewhat poorly in this metric, earning a 4 and 3 respectively.

The Zip lacks a heart rate sensor, vibration alarm, or sleep tracking abilities. However, it does provide access to the excellent diet tracking on the Fitbit app and provides a little motivation to get up and be active, in the form of a smiley face that grows the more active you have been.

The more steps you walk the bigger the smile you earn!
The more steps you walk the bigger the smile you earn!
The Bio 2 measures heart rate, but was the least accurate out of our testing, averaging 61 bpm off of the chest strap. This tracker lacks an alarm to notify you to move and requires you to use MyFitnessPal to track dieting. You initiate and stop sleep tracking through the app, and it gave us an endless amount of problems.


The Mi Band 3 can be fully submerged.
The Mi Band 3 can be fully submerged.

Ease of Use


Next, we analyzed how easy each tracker was to use. These products are meant to be worn daily, and something that is difficult to use isn't exactly conducive to wearing on a daily basis. We evaluated the battery life, how intuitive the device and app was, how difficult it was to sync data from the device to the app, how hard it was to put on the device, and whether or not it was water resistant. The following chart shows which models stood out, and which ones fell flat.


Leading this set of tests, the Fitbit Charge 3, the Xiaomi Mi Band 3, the Gear Fit2 Pro, the Garmin Vivofit Jr. 2, the Fitbit Zip, and the Shine 2, all earned an 8 out of 10.

The Charge 3 has a very intuitive layout of menus on the device itself and we found the Fitbit app to be one of the most user-friendly in general. This tracker has a battery life that purportedly lasts for up to 7 days — depending on use — and syncs your data quickly and reliably to your smartphone whenever you open the app. The wristband has a nice stiffness and the traditional watch clasp make it very easy to put the Charge 3 on or take it off and it is rated as being water resistant to 5 ATM — though we did miss any sort of physical interface, like a button.

The Xiaomi Mi Band 3 is a little more difficult to put on, forgoing the traditional watch clasp, but it is rated to be water resistant to 5 ATM or 50 meters.

The clasp on this tracker is a little more difficult to use than traditional watch clasps.
The clasp on this tracker is a little more difficult to use than traditional watch clasps.

It is one of the easiest trackers to use when it comes to navigating through the menus, relying on both a touchscreen and a single-button interface, with an app that is equally intuitive to navigate. It does take a little longer to sync than the other trackers and has a solid battery life.

The Fit2 Pro is also water resistant to 5 ATM, but is a little more difficult to navigate the menus. It's not overly difficult, it just takes a little time to become accustomed to where everything is. However, we did find the battery life on the Fit2 Pro to be wanting.

The Vivofit Jr. 2 also relies on a coin cell battery, but it is water resistant to 5 ATM. It is also very easy to navigate through the menus on this tracker and the simplified Vivofit Jr. app is much easier to use than the original Garmin Connect app.

Kids can redeem points from chores for rewards.
Kids can redeem points from chores for rewards.

The Fitbit Zip also relies on a coin cell battery, but it is only splashproof. It is very easy to clip on and is quite easy to navigate menus on the device and on the app.

The Shine relies on a coin-cell battery, lasting for a claimed 6 months, but does require you to change the battery when it dies, rather than recharge it. This model syncs well, taking only 6-8 seconds, and happens as soon as the app opens up. The app shows you your fitness stats by day, week, or month, and shows a little graph.

The Misfit app is fairly intuitive to use.
The Misfit app is fairly intuitive to use.

There aren't really any menus to navigate on this device, as it only has a ring of LED's, as a display. The Shine 2 is waterproof to 50 meters, and it is easy to put on.

The Alta and the Alta HR followed this top group, both meriting a 7 out of 10. This pair of Fitbit models sync quickly, and — like the other Fitbit fitness trackers — have the easiest to use and most intuitive app, clearly displaying all the relevant information.

The Fitbit app is by far our favorite of the group.
The Fitbit app is by far our favorite of the group.


The Alta HR matches the Charge 3 in terms of battery life, claimed to last up to 7 days. The Alta last for up to 5 days, and all use a proprietary charger, with the exception of the coin cell of the Fitbit Zip. The Alta HR uses a watch-style clasp, making it substantially easier to put on than the Alta. However, the Alta HR is a little less water resistant, no longer rated for wearing in the shower.

The Vivoactive 3 and the Vivosport followed the Alta and the Alta HR, both receiving a 6 out of 10, losing a few points for their shorter battery life and slightly confusing smartphone app.

The Vivoactive 3 and the Vivosport are similar, lasting for up to 7 days with normal use and 13 and 8 hours respectively when the built-in GPS module is being used. As mentioned above, the Garmin app is a little confusing, and we found that some of these models tended to have some syncing issues in our tests, tending to display some sort of error at first, but then syncing successfully. There weren't many on-device menus to navigate through on this group of trackers, but they were straightforward in their simplicity. All of these are easy to put on, and rated to 5 ATM of depth.

Garmin models are easy to put on with their watch-style bands.
Garmin models are easy to put on with their watch-style bands.

The Huawei Band 2 Pro, Vivosmart 3, and Striiv Bio 2 all were of average difficulty, earning a 5 out of 10. The Vivosmart 3 is waterproof to 5 ATM and is very easy to put on, but we found it to be quite confusing to navigate among the menus on the device and it has a somewhat reduced battery life compared to its peers. The Bio 2 has a claimed battery life of up to 30 days, but we found it depleted extraordinarily fast in our tests. This tracker's app also felt a little outdated, and only had minimal useful information.

We weren't the biggest fans of the Striiv app.
We weren't the biggest fans of the Striiv app.

The Huawei Band 2 Pro has a mediocre battery life and an abysmal app. There wasn't a ton of data displayed and we had a ton of syncing issues, such as lost data in our tests. It's fairly easy to put the Huawei on or take it off and it's water resistant to 5 ATM.

Ergonomics


Ergonomics was a much simpler test for these products, split into three aspects: comfort, aesthetics, and profile design — the likelihood that the fitness tracker would become snagged when performing various common tasks, such as putting on a windbreaker or a backpack. The chart below shows which models were the most comfortable to wear, and which ones were too bulky for our taste.


The Fitbit Zip claimed the top spot for this metric, meriting an 8 out of 10 for its performance. This minuscule tracker is exceptionally comfortable to wear, as it is so small and light that you almost immediately forget that you have it clipped to your waistband or pocket. It has an extremely low-profile and is very discreet, making up for its relatively lackluster aesthetics.

The majority of the models tied for the runner-up position, with the Fitbit Charge 3, the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro, the Alta HR, the Garmin Vivosport, the Alta, the Vivosmart 3, the Shine 2, the Xiaomi Mi Band 3, the Band 2 Pro, and the Bio 2, all earning a 7 out of 10 in this metric. These models all have a relatively low-profile, making it easy to put on a backpack or a light jacket without any of the trackers getting caught.

The Shine 2 is the most comfortable and least obtrusive of this bunch with its exceptionally slim profile.

The Misfit shine has a unique look for a tracker.
The Misfit shine has a unique look for a tracker.

The Bio 2, Vivosmart 3, and the Xiaomi all are very similar in size and overall form factor. Consequently, our testing panel rated them all about the same, finding this trio of trackers to be the next most comfortable to wear behind the Shine 2 and the Zip. This trio was followed by the Garmin Vivosport, the Fitbit Alta, the Alta HR, the Charge 3, the Gear Fit2 Pro, and the Band 2 Pro, all of which our judges found to be just a tiny bit less comfortable to wear. These all have very slim profiles that hardly ever get caught, with the exception of the Charge 3, which is a tiny bit heftier.

The Charge 3 looks great and can get wet without problems!
The Charge 3 looks great and can get wet without problems!

The Charge 3, the Alta, and the Alta HR are, in our opinion, the most visually stunning of that group, available in an attractive variety of colors. The Huawei and the Samsung are a close second, with the Huawei essentially being a visual clone of the Alta and the Alta HR, while the Fit2 Pro stood out for its overall sleek and stylish design, including its curved screen

The Fit2 Pro has an awesome vivid display that is really easy to read.
The Fit2 Pro has an awesome vivid display that is really easy to read.

The Xiaomi, the Vivosmart 3, and the Bio 2 are pretty run-of-the-mill when it comes to looks for these products, all essentially black plastic rectangles of varying dimensions. The Vivosport improves on this, having a slightly sleeker, rubberized exterior available in a variety of colors. The Shine 2 received mixed views from our panel, with people either loving it or hating it, but it's ultimately up to you if it matches your style.

Next, the Vivofit JR. 2 and the Vivoactive 3 both merited a 6 out of 10 for their slightly above average ergonomics. This pair of Garmin models are both similarly comfortable, though the Vivoactive 3 has a larger profile due to the built-in GPS module. However, the Vivoactive HR and Vivofit JR. 2 manage to maintain a much lower profile than many of the others, hardly ever snagging on anything.

This pair of products both stand out a bit when it comes to looks. The Vivoactive 3 is overall visually striking, while the Vivofit Jr. 2 stands out by its patterned exterior, adorned with motifs from popular franchises and movies.

This tracker is designed to be worn by kids or adults with smaller wrists.
This tracker is designed to be worn by kids or adults with smaller wrists.

Display


The final rating metric that we looked at for this category was the quality of the display. The following graphic shows which models had the nicest displays, and which ones fell short.


We evaluated the clarity of information displayed, whether or not the tracker could substitute for a watch, how visible the screen was in different lighting conditions, its responsiveness, what notifications could be displayed, and what other information was shown on subsequent screens. All of these models enter a sleep mode when you are not adjusting settings on them to conserve power, so we defined responsiveness as how easy it was to wake up the device to initiate a workout or look at your progress, and how easy it was to control the device through the touchscreen and buttons.

Delivering the best performance in our set of display assessments, both the Vivoactive 3 and the Vivosport earned a 9 out of 10. These both have exceptionally nice displays, particularly standing out by how easy they are to read in bright sunlight and in low light conditions. These trackers both had highly responsive touchscreens and can display almost every push notification that your smartphone can get, even allowing you to accept or deny a call.

The Vivoactive 3 has a strong display that is easy to read in bright sunlight.
The Vivoactive 3 has a strong display that is easy to read in bright sunlight.


Next up, the Gear Fit2 Pro earned an 8 out of 10 for its superb display. This tracker is very responsive and can receive practically almost all of the notifications that your smartphone can. It is reasonably visible, even in bright conditions, but only when you activate "Outdoor Mode" which maximizes the brightness for five minutes. We found this to be slightly more of a hassle than other trackers, dropping the Fit2 Pro's score a tiny bit.

The Fitbit Charge 3, the Alta, and the Alta HR all finished next, earning a 7 out of 10. The Charge 3 does a much better job at notifications, essentially displaying anything that your phone can, while the pair of Alta trackers can show call, text, or calendar notifications. All three of these devices have decently responsive touchscreens, though it can take a little practice to get used to exactly where and how hard you need to tap the Alta or the Alta HR. These three are also all quite easy to read in dim conditions, but it can be quite hard to read either theAlta or the Charge 3 in bright sunlight.

Next, the Xiaomi Mi Band 3, the Huawei Band 2 Pro, the Fitbit Zip, and the Garmin Vivofit Jr. 2 all earned a 6 out of 10 for their displays. The Xiaomi is almost impossible to read in bright light, but can receive most notifications that your phone can. However, it does cap it at only being able to show 5, with some longer messages counting for multiple in its queue. The touchscreen is quite responsive, though it can occasionally misread the direction of a swipe.

The Mi Band 3 didn't really stand out when it comes to looks.
The Mi Band 3 didn't really stand out when it comes to looks.

The Huawei isn't very easy to read in bright conditions, hurting its score slightly. It's not terribly responsive, but it does get smart notifications and showed a decent amount of basic fitness data.

Neither the Zip or the Jr. 2 can receive smart notifications, but we found them both relatively easy to read, even in bright conditions. This pair of trackers are both reasonably responsive, though the information they display is a little limited.

Finishing out the bottom of the pack in this metric was the Misfit Shine 2, Garmin Vivosmart 3, and the Striiv Bio2, all earning a 5 out of 10. The Misfit lacks a traditional screen, foregoing it in favor of a ring of LEDs. While this severely limits the amount of information conveyed, this model still conveys the current time and progress. These models are responsive, and the Misfit will vibrate when you receive a call or text. The Striiv showed the time and some fitness stats, but it was very hard to read — the worst out of the bunch and was incredibly unresponsive. This model supposedly can receive notifications, but we couldn't successfully get it to work. This model does show your step count, distance, calories burned, and active time on further displays. The Vivosmart 3 is exceptionally difficult to read and is not very responsive, though it does display a decent amount of data and notifications.

Conclusion


It can be difficult to sift through all the currently available models and information to find the perfect fitness tracker for you. Hopefully, this review has helped you narrow down your search to a specific type, and given you a little more info on what each one does well… and not so well.


David Wise and Austin Palmer