Best Fitness Trackers and Activity Monitors of 2018

Looking for the latest and greatest wearable to help you get fit? To find out which fitness tracker is truly the best, we researched these products thoroughly, then bought the top 16 products on the market today and pitted them head-to-head to determine which tracker topped them all. In total, we walked tens of thousands of step, climbed dozens and dozens of flights of stairs, and did workout after workout to compare their fitness tracking. We also evaluated and compared the comfort, ergonomics, and aesthetics of each fitness band, as well as the display and the different tactics each product uses to encourage healthier habits. Take a look at the complete review below to see which fitness tracker is right for your wrist.

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Test Results and Ratings

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Analysis and Award Winners


Review by:
David Wise and Austin Palmer

Last Updated:
Thursday
February 15, 2018

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Updated February 2018
For this update, we've added three new trackers to the ranks: the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro, the Garmin Vivofit Jr. 2, and the Fitbit Zip. We have also removed some of the older models that have since become outdated or are no longer in production. The individual reviews of these products are still live, but we have pulled them from the main review below as they are no longer relevant. While these three new products all delivered solid performance, only the Zip claimed an award, being our new favorite when it comes to clip-on fitness trackers. The Gear Fit2 Pro is an excellent tracker and a close second to our overall favorite, the Fitbit Charge 2, but it just couldn't quite claim the top spot. The Vivofit Jr. 2 finished in the middle of the pack, but it is the best bet to get kids and younger teens interested in tracking their fitness and aid them in cultivating healthy habits. Check out the full review below to see how these new products performed in more detail and how they stacked up against our previous recommendations.

Best Overall Fitness Tracker


Fitbit Blaze


The Fitbit Blaze.
Editors' Choice Award

$169.70
(15% off)
at
See It

Heart Rate Monitor: Yes | Built-In GPS: No, uses your smartphone's
Sleek
Stylish
Great Display
Large
Pricey

Earning one of the top scores overall, the Fitbit Blaze handily claimed an Editors' Choice award and the title of Best Overall Fitness Tracker. This semi-smartwatch delivered a superb performance in our Fitness Impact and Health Impact metrics and has a fantastic display. It is one of the most accurate trackers around when it comes to counting flights of stairs climbed and steps taken. It has a phenomenal display and a fantastic online ecosystem that makes it easy to compete with friends and family in fitness challenges or in non-competitive "Adventures" with yourself. In addition to being an exceptional fitness tracker, the sleek and stylish Blaze is packed with a decent amount of smart features and functions, receiving text, call, and other notifications from your phone right on your wrist. It is also compatible with a large assortment of different bands to match every occasion, whether you are going to the bar or the boardroom. However, we did find the Blaze to be a bit on the larger side and isn't necessarily the best choice for those that want a more petite tracker.

Read review: Fitbit Blaze

Best Bang for the Buck


Fitbit Charge 2


The Fitbit Charge 2.
Best Buy Award

$129.95
(13% off)
at
See It

Heart Rate Monitor: Yes | Built-In GPS: No, uses your smartphone's
Stylish
Great display
Petite profile
Not very water resistant
Awesome value
Shopping for fitness tracker on a budget? Then look no further than the Fitbit Charge 2. This model performed exceptionally well, tying for the top score in our test with the Blaze and costing about $50 less. This is an exceptionally well-rounded tracker, excelling at basic fitness tracking and has several features focusing on your wellness. These include a series of guided relaxation exercises to help you unwind when you are too stressed out. This model is also much slimmer and stylish than the larger, bulkier trackers with built-in GPS and comes in an attractive variety of colors. This is definitely the model to consider if you are shopping on a slim budget and want to keep a fat wallet.

Read review: Fitbit Charge 2

Best for Outdoor Activities


Garmin Vivoactive HR


Top Pick Award

$179.00
(28% off)
at
See It

Heart Rate Monitor: Yes | Built-In GPS: Yes
Amazing display
Tons of trackable activities
Packed with sensors
Bulky
Mediocre looks

Tying for the second highest score of the entire group, the Garmin Vivoactive HR is an overall excellent fitness tracker, earning our Top Pick for Outdoor Activities award. This rugged and durable fitness tracker is rated to 5 ATM of water resistance and is packed to the brim with different sensors, including everything from an accelerometer to an altimeter. It has a ton of preloaded activity profiles for all of your different outdoor adventures and has some of the most detailed and comprehensive fitness data displayed after a workout that we have seen. It is a little on the pricey side and is a bit hefty, but it is still surprisingly comfortable to wear and has a decently minimalistic profile on your wrist. For those looking for some wearable tech to accompany them on all of their outdoor exploits, then this is the one for you.

Read review: Garmin Vivoactive HR

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 review: Fitbit Zip

Best for Navigation


TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + Music


The TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + Music

$198.00
(21% off)
at
See It

Heart Rate Monitor: Yes | Built-In GPS: Yes
Built-in music storage
Displays GPS tracks
Large
Expensive
Looking for the most detailed GPS stats available right on your wrist, or looking to leave the smartphone behind? The Spark 3 is a rugged, 5 ATM waterproof fitness tracker with a built-in GPS module and audio player. This model will display your route right on your wrist or allows you to upload .GPX files and shows your location relative to your planned route, helping you stay on track. This tracker also has up to 3 GB of onboard music storage and can pair directly with a pair of Bluetooth headphones. However, this model doesn't have the most interactive of an online community and the app isn't quite as full-featured as other brands.

Read review: TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + Music

select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Our Take
73
$150
Best Buy Award
Fantastic fitness tracker for the price, but is hydrophobic with a shorter battery life
72
$200
Editors' Choice Award
A fashionable yet still very functional tracker without built-in GPS
72
$200
This sleek and stylish product is the perfect option for someone who wants their tracker to make a style statement
72
$250
Top Pick Award
The Vivoactive HR is our Top Pick for Outdoor Activities with its wide variety of activity profiles and its rugged and waterproof design
67
$150
While it did improve on the Alta, the Alta HR still left some things to be desired
66
$250
Lacks the notification features of other models, but great for solo outdoors
66
$300
One of the newer models from Garmin, the Vivoactive 3 this model has a great display but just can't quite compete with the top models
65
$200
Delivering a wholly unremarkable performance, the Vivosport wasn't our favorite and failed to distinguish itself
62
$130
A straight forward tracker with a more minimalist design and no HR monitor
61
$140
Falling a little flat, the Vivosmart 3 can't quite hold up to the Fitbit Charge 2 as a fitness tracker for daily wear, though it is waterproof to 5 ATM
61
$80
This tracker is a great option to encourage kids and teens to get up and get active
59
$80
A budget model that tracks activities a little better than a stop watch, with good battery life and is waterproof
59
$100
A minimalist tracker in features and profile, but can be used for swim tracking with an in app purchase
59
$60
Top Pick Award
By far the most discreet way to count step, the Fitbit Zip is our absolute favorite when it comes to clip-on trackers
51
$70
Searching for a budget fitness tracker? The Huawei Band 2 Pro is one of the cheapest products with a built-in GPS, but falls a little short overall
45
$100
Not a case where you get what you pay for, you get much less

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 bought the highest rated products currently available and put them through a veritable barrage of tests to see which one came out on top.
We bought the highest rated products currently available and put them through a veritable barrage of tests to see which one came out on top.

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 searching for a fitness tracker on a tight budget and you are ok with a very simple set of functions, the Fitbit Zip is your best bet — the only award winner that retails for less than a hundred dollars. If you want more functionality than the Zip offers and are still shopping on a budget, then the Fitbit Charge 2 is the clear choice.

The lineup of fitness trackers  ready to be assessed.
The lineup of fitness trackers, ready to be assessed.

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.

To check the step count of each tracker  we manually compared with a tally counter over a mile walk.
To check the step count of each tracker, we manually compared with a tally counter over a mile walk.

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.

The Garmin Vivoactive HR, Fitbit Blaze, and Fitbit Charge 2 all finished in a tie for the highest fitness impact score with an 8 out of 10. These three models all won awards, and particularly excel at tracking physical exercises. The most accurate step counter out of all the wrist-mounted models we tested was the Vivofit 3, averaging a minuscule 0.3% discrepancy. However, this model was more prone than the others to pick up false steps off random arm movements.

The Vivosmart HR+ records the route you traveled with its built-in GPS.
Heart rate and elevation data from a cycling workout on the Garmin Connect app.

The Vivoactive HR only averaged a slightly higher discrepancy when it came to step counting accuracy — 0.47%. This model has a whole host of different trackable activities and has some of the most detailed fitness stats that we have seen in these products. It has a built-in GPS, as well as a ton of other sensors, making it an awesome choice for tracking cycling or other outdoor activities.

Some of the different activities that this model can monitor.
Some of the different activities that this model can monitor.

Both the Blaze and the Charge 2 can connect to your phone to add GPS capabilities — a great feature, but only if you are ok bringing your mobile device along with you. Both of these models have similar recording metrics for cycling, or with other workouts. In addition, the Blaze does have Fitstar — three-part workouts that last about 20 minutes if you need some added inspiration. We also found that the Blaze was slightly more accurate than the Charge 2 when it came to counting steps.

Next in the rankings were the TomTom Spark 3, Garmin Vivoactive 3, and the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro all earning a 7 out of 10. The TomTom is exceptionally similar in fitness performance to the Charge 2, but it is severely deficient at allowing you to compare and compete with your friends — the worst of the group. It also lacks the ability to track flights of stairs climbed, thus bringing down its score. Despite these shortcomings, the TomTom is exceptionally accurate at tracking steps and distance. It also does a solid job at tracking a whole host of other activities.

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, our last 7 trackers all scored 5 or below. The Garmin Vivofit 3 and the Vivofit Jr. 2 are limited to tracking steps and timing activities, 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 earned a 4 out of 10, getting docked for its step counts that varied off of the true count by much more than other models, which was 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.

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.

A competitive challenge with the Fitbit app to help you get up and get active.
Taking a virtual "Adventure" to Vernal Falls with the Fitbit app.

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 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 Misfit, Polar, and Striiv — each of these apps only allowed you to view your past progress, not really allowing you to challenge your buddies at all.

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 Charge 2, Alta HR, Gear Fit2 Pro, Vivoactive HR, Vivosmart 3, and the Blaze 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 to be a little more temperamental when it came to sleep monitoring, with it failing to log any data at all plenty of times. The Blaze and the Charge 2 were off an average of 23 and 16 bpm from the chest strap heart rate monitor, with larger discrepancies occurring the more active you are — and higher your heart rate was.

The Blaze did an alright job at monitoring heart rate  though its accuracy dropped the higher your heart rate was.
The Blaze did an alright job at monitoring heart rate, though its accuracy dropped the higher your heart rate was.

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 Garmin models — the Vivoactive HR and the Vivosmart 3 scored very well in our test, only averaging about 8 and 9 bpm off of the chest strap, respectively.

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.

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 2 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.

Breathe in....
And breathe out.

Trailing slightly behind the leaders, four of the trackers earned a 6 out of 10 in this metric, including the Alta, Misfit Shine 2, Vivoactive 3, and Vivopsport. Only the Vivoactive 3 and Vivosport have a built-in HR monitor, but all of these models are capable at reminding you to move. 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". The move bar was very helpful especially if we were distracted at the time and didn't feel a vibrate.

The need to move bar  on the left side of the screen  will fill up the longer you have been sedentary  and takes a proportional amount of activity to reduce it.
The need to move bar, on the left side of the screen, will fill up the longer you have been sedentary, and takes a proportional amount of activity to reduce it.

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.

The Shine 2 recommends when it is best to use their HR app.
The Misfit app allows you to measure your pulse using the camera on your phone.


The Vivofit Jr. 2, Spark 3, Huawei Band 2 Pro, and Garmin Vivofit 3 all earned an average 5 out of 10 when we evaluated their health impacts. The Vivofit Jr. 2 and the Vivofit 3 both lack heart rate monitoring. We found the Spark 3 to be more effective at tracking calorie intake while the Garmin models are better at reminding you to get up and move. The Vivofit 3 will also automatically track your sleep.

The Spark 3 has a heart rate monitor that works reasonably well but offers very little in terms of help implementing a lifestyle change or a diet. While it does estimate calories burned, it does nothing to monitor caloric intake and it doesn't have any sort of reminder to get up and move when you have been stationary for too long. This model also did an unremarkable job at tracking your sleep, only showing the duration with no additional data.

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 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 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 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!

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 Zip, Garmin Vivofit Jr. 2, Gear Fit2 Pro, and the Shine 2, all earned an 8 out of 10. 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.

Sleep tracking stats captured with the Misfit.
The home screen on the Misfit app.

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 Charge 2 was an average comfort level.
The Charge 2 was an average comfort level.

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 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.

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 main bulk of the trackers closely followed, with the Alta, Alta HR, Blaze, Charge 2, TomTom Spark 3, and Vivofit 3 all earning a 7 out of 10. The Fitbit models sync quickly, and have the easiest to use and most intuitive app, clearly displaying all the relevant information.

The home screen on the Fitbit app displaying your current progress towards your daily goals.
The step count leaderboard on the Fitbit app shows you which of your friends ( or you!) has been the most active for the week.

The Vivofit 3 uses a coin-cell battery, lasting for up to one year before needing replacement. This model is rated to up to 5 ATM of depth, and the single button interface made it easy to navigate through the menus. The Garmin app isn't quite as intuitive as the Fitbit, with the sheer amount of information causing it to be slightly overwhelming at first. This model was also the most reliable and easiest to pair out of the Garmins.

The step leaderboards on the Garmin app.
Current progress towards your daily goal  displayed on the Garmin app.

The Alta HR lead the pack of Fitbits in terms of battery life, claimed to last up to 7 days. The other Fitbits last for up to 5 days, and all use a proprietary charger. The Blaze is the easiest to navigate through the menus on the device, much better than the slightly finicky Alta, Alta HR, and Charge 2. None of these four models are waterproof, only water-resistant, and only the Alta gave us some difficulties with its clasp when putting on.

The clasp on the Alta gave us some difficulties when putting it on.
The clasp on the Alta gave us some difficulties when putting it on.

The Alta HR uses a watch-style clasp, making it substantially easier to put on than the Alta. The Alta HR also has an improved battery life, but is a little less water resistant, no longer rated for wearing in the shower.

The TomTom Spark 3 has a solid battery life, with the manufacturer stating it can last for up to 3 weeks with normal activity tracking and 11 hours when using the GPS. This model is also water resistant to 5 ATM, very easy to put on, and has a handy directional pad to navigate between menus.

The directional pad underneath the display took a little getting used to but is a very reliable and easy interface method.
The directional pad underneath the display took a little getting used to but is a very reliable and easy interface method.

However, while this model synced to a smartphone reasonably well, we found the companion app to be underwhelming. We had quite a few issues with it crashing and it was much harder to use than the Fitbit app and had a reduced set of features when compared to Garmin's Connect app.

The Vivoactive 3, Vivosport, and the Vivoactive HR all earned a 6 out of 10, losing a few points for their shorter battery life and slightly overwhelming app. These models last for up to 5 days, with the Vivoactive HR only lasting for 13 hours with the GPS enabled. 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.

Sleep tracking metrics captured by the Striiv tracker.
The home screen with basic stats on the Striiv mobile 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 Alta, Alta HR, Vivosmart 3, Vivofit 3, TomTom Spark 3, Shine 2, Garmin Vivosport, Huawei Band 2 Pro, Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro, and Bio 2 all earned 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. The Shine 2 was the most comfortable and least obtrusive of this bunch with its low-profile. The Bio 2, Spark 3, Vivofit 3, Vivosmart 3, Vivosport, and the Huawei were next, being decently comfortable and having lower profiles. These were followed by the Fit2 Pro, Alta, and the Alta HR, which had very low profiles, but still weren't the most comfortable to wear.

The Alta was one of the smaller wrist-mounted trackers.
The Alta was one of the smaller wrist-mounted trackers.

The Alta and Alta HR are, in our opinion, the most visually stunning of that group, available in an attractive variety of colors. The Huawei is a close second, essentially being a visual clone of the Alta. The Fit2 Pro comes next, having a sleek and stylish design with 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 TomTom, Vivofit 3, Vivosmart 3, and the Bio 2 are pretty run of the mill for these products, all 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.

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

Next were the Vivofit JR. 2, Vivoactive 3,Vivoactive HR, and the Charge 2, all earning a 6. These models were all similarly comfortable, though the Vivoactive 3 and the Vivoactive HR have a larger profile due to the built-in GPS module. The Vivoactive HR and Vivofit JR. 2 manage to maintain a much lower profile than the others, hardly ever snagging on anything. The other three models were all equal when we tried to put on a backpack or jacket, only experiencing some slight snags. We felt the Vivoactive HR looks about average when it came to appearance, but the Charge 2 and the Vivoactive 3 stood out as being much more visually striking.

The Charge 2 is particularly striking in appearance.
The Charge 2 is particularly striking in appearance.

The Vivofit Jr. 2 stands out by its patterned exterior, adorned with motifs from popular franchises and movies.

The Blaze is about average in ergonomics, deserving a 5. This tracker is the closest to a smartwatch out of the bunch, with a larger, higher-resolution display and interchangeable bands to match any style. However, this model is quite large, and wasn't the most comfortable, especially for those with more petite wrists. However, this tracker definitely qualifies as visually appealing.

The Blaze is somewhat large  especially for those with more petite wrists.
The Blaze is somewhat large, especially for those with more petite 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.

The Blaze has an exceptionally clear and easy to read screen.
The Blaze has an exceptionally clear and easy to read screen.

Four models tied for the top score in this set of tests, all earning a 9 out of 10. The Vivoactive 3, Vivosport, Blaze, and Vivoactive HR, all have exceptionally nice displays, with a distinguishing factor being how easy all of these models were to read in direct sunlight. While all of these models can receive text and call notifications, all of the models from Garmin are able to receive email notifications as well.

The three models from Garmin were also slightly more responsive than the Fitbit model, something to consider if you become easily frustrated by a finicky tracker. This primarily presents itself by not being able to wake the device up, or by having a touchscreen that is unresponsive to commands. This can actually be a surprisingly differentiating factor between models, as the less responsive ones were incredibly infuriating over time.

Next up, the Gear Fit2 Pro, TomTom Spark 3 and the Fitbit Charge 2 all scored an 8 out of 10. The Charge 2 mainly getting knocked down by its lack of visibility in bright sunlight, but sharing all the other features that the top scoring models had. The Charge 2 also has calendar event notifications, to ensure that you never miss an appointment.

The Charge 2 receiving a text message notification.
The Charge 2 receiving a text message notification.

The Spark 3 had an exceptionally easy to read display that was highly visible in direct sunlight. However, it lacks notifications entirely, severely dropping its score in this category. It also does not have a touchscreen, instead relying on a directional pad below the display. This input method is highly responsive but takes a little bit of time to become familiar with.

The Spark 3 had one of the easiest to read displays of the entire group  especially in bright light.
The Spark 3 had one of the easiest to read displays of the entire group, especially in bright light.

The Gear Fit2 Pro 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.

Tying with the TomTom: the Fitbit Alta, Alta HR, and the Garmin Vivofit 3 all earned 7 out of 10 as well. The Alta and Alta HR do a much better job at notifications, displaying text, call, and calendar events, but both are dismal when it came to responsiveness. This pair of models requires the most delicate of touches in a specific spot to cause it to wake and caused us an endless amount of frustration. The Vivofit 3 is highly responsive, and extremely visible in bright light, but to our dismay, lacks any sort of backlight, making it impossible to see in the dark. This model also lacks any notifications.

We felt this was the most visible display of the group.
We felt this was the most visible display of the group.

Next, the Huawei Band 2 Pro, Fitbit Zip, and Garmin Vivofit Jr. 2 all earned a 6 out of 10 for its display. This 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


Which fitness tracker is the best? The one that gets you up and active!
Which fitness tracker is the best? The one that gets you up and active!
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

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