Top 8 Fitness Trackers of 2024: In-Depth Reviews and Testing

15 March 2024 1827
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Section Overview

The progress made in fitness trackers from the time when they only functioned as pedometers to guide you to achieving your daily goal of 10,000 steps is nothing short of amazing. Contemporary fitness trackers not only monitor and log your workouts effectively, but are typically equipped to send text messages.

Noelle McKenzie, an accredited trainer by the American Council on Exercise and co-founder of Leading Edge Personal Trainers, finds fitness trackers useful in promoting and sustaining healthy habits because they keep you accountable by constantly reminding you of your pending goal. They also enable you to celebrate little daily victories and boost your morale.

In a bid to guide you through selecting the most suitable fitness tracker that will meet your individual needs, we carried out rigorous testing on some of the popular models from notable brands such as Apple, Fitbit, among others. These fitness trackers are worthwhile and are guaranteed to assist you in accomplishing your forthcoming wellness objectives.

Battery lifespan: A maximum of 5 days | Waterproof: Yes

The Garmin vivomove Sport has emerged as the winner overall. This hybrid smartwatch blends the aesthetic appeal of a classic analog timepiece with the coexistent technical aspects therein in a fitness tracker. This device conveniently monitors heart rate, blood oxygen levels, steps, and calories, with the additional features of menstrual cycle and hydration levels. This gadget is lightweight and sports a silicone band which is comfortable on the wrist and also appealing enough for office attires or evening outfits. The exceptional battery lifespan that extends up to five days was another notable aspect, in addition to rapid charging capabilities. However, texting with vivomove Sport requires an Android smartphone.

Battery lifespan: Lasts for 18 days | Waterproof: Yes

We were impressed with the budget-friendly Amazfit Band 7 which stood out due to its lengthy battery life of up to 18 days. Moreover, this gadget charges significantly quickly; we observed it fully charge from only 10 percent within roughly one hour. The device's capability to monitor heart rate and stress levels, coupled with sleep insights, is brilliant.

Battery lifespan: Lasts for 10 days | Waterproof: Yes

The Inspire 3 provided us with useful observations into several different areas of health. However, most of the admirable features require a Fitbit Premium subscription, making this fitness tracker slightly less appealing for individuals on a budget.

Battery lifespan: A maximum of 36 hours | Waterproof: Yes

The Apple Watch Ultra is perfect for fitness enthusiasts who want a full-package fitness tracker. It is not only sturdy and durable but also includes advanced health sensors and has a user-friendly interface.

That said, this is a lot of watch for a casual fitness user. We found the Apple Watch Ultra too heavy to wear consistently, especially on smaller bodies. In fact, we wouldn’t recommend wearing this if sleep tracking is one of your main reasons for buying a fitness tracker — the watch was that clunky on our female testers.

Battery life: Up to 5 days | Waterproof: Yes

If you’re a style-conscious shopper, you may have put off buying a fitness tracker since so many of the options available are clearly meant for sports or look too casual for everyday wear. Unless you're ready to dabble in smart-tech workout clothes, your best bet is the Garmin Lily, which is pound for pound the most attractive fitness tracker on the market. The slim band, patterned lens, and design-forward features impressed us — and earned us plenty of compliments — during testing. The smartwatch has many of the same features as our choice for best overall fitness tracker, the Garmin vivomove sport, but packaged into a smaller watch case (34mm compared to the vivomove’s 40mm). You also have the choice to stick with a sporty silicone band or upgrade to an Italian leather band, which set this tracker apart for us.

Battery life: Up to 40 hours in training mode | Waterproof: Yes

Walkers, runners, cyclists, and hikers often need a fitness tracker or running watch with GPS to stay on track during their fitness adventures, and we found the Polar Vantage V2 to be the best fitness tracker with GPS tracking. It uses global navigation satellite systems for accurate, up-to-the-minute maps, giving you exact insight into your training. We also noted that the built-in GPS was surprisingly helpful for driving, since the watch buzzed as we approached upcoming turns. The TrackBack feature (which guides you back to your starting point) was especially handy, and we loved seeing our route and elevation profiles visualized on the display. On the downside, we found that using the Polar Vantage V2 in GPS mode drained its battery quickly, so be aware of battery life if you’re planning to use this watch for longer workouts (also, the Vantage V2 doesn’t store music, so you’ll need another device to play your tunes).

Many typical fitness smartwatches (such as the Apple Watch or Garmins) are a little too bulky or sensitive to use for high-octane cross-training workouts. For example, you might feel nervous about doing a kettlebell snatch in case the weight knocks into your wrist tracker, or your Apple Watch might incorrectly detect a “crash” during a set of burpees. That’s why we recommend the Fitbit Charge 5 for cross-training workouts. The wrist tracker features a slim band and touchscreen display that’s unobtrusive enough for all kinds of high-intensity workouts. We also noticed the Charge 5 quickly detected when we started workouts on our own (that is, without manually starting a workout on the tracker), and it was able to accurately determine how long we did each workout for.

Battery life: Up to 20 days (daily use) | Waterproof: Yes

As the lightest GPS watch on the market at time of launch, it’s no wonder we loved the Coros Pace 2 for a minimalist-feeling fitness tracker. The band never irritated us throughout our month-long test, and the included strap had plenty of holes to get the perfect not-too-tight, not-too-loose fit. Despite being a lightweight fitness tracker, the Coros Pace 2 has all the fitness-related features you’d want in a premium fitness watch. It has dozens of options for tracking your workouts, and it allows you to put in even more details (such as reps or sets) to further log your progress and keep you motivated. We were continuously surprised by all the off-the-beaten-track data included: barometric pressure, time spent in recovery, running performance, elevation gain, and muscle heatmap, just to name a few.

There was only one design flaw we found during our testing: We had to unlock the screen every time we wanted to change anything or stop/start a workout. For example, in order to stop a run, we had to unlock the screen, then push and hold a button for 3 seconds, which made the run distance and time tracked less accurate.

As a fitness editor who remembers the first Fitbit, Kristen Geil has over 10 years of experience testing and covering the latest fitness trackers. She’s used her fitness trackers for everything from running to boxing, and she recently led Shape’s first-ever Best in Fitness Awards, with a whole category dedicated to wearable tech and trackers. Kristen is also a NASM-certified personal trainer with experience teaching group fitness. For this piece, Kristen worked closely with the testing team to gain insights from our real-world test and determine our winners for best fitness trackers across various categories.