Best fitness trackers 2016
The right activity tracker for you will be based on your individual needs; whether that’s accurate step counting, reliable sleep tracking or 24/7 heart rate monitoring. There’s something for everyone out there.
Essential reading: Best smartwatch round-up
We’ve completely reworked our round up of the best fitness trackers and added a new at-a-glance feature list to try and make it easier to spot the right band for you. Got any questions about fitness trackers? Let us know in the comments section below, and we’ll see if we can lend a helping hand.
Best overall fitness tracker
The Fitbit Blaze is the company’s best-looking fitness tracker by a country mile, and while it’s not bringing anything groundbreaking to the party, it’s proof that Fitbit has not lost touch with what makes a good fitness tracker.
Essential reading: The origins of the fitness tracker
The new color display is a step up from the Surge’s monochrome affair, the software is easy for beginners to get to grips with and it still delivers good all-around activity tracking stats.
Hardcore fitness lovers will be disappointed by the lack of GPS and a heart rate monitor that’s up to the rigor of intensive training. If you’re looking for this kind of device, look further down our list. However, the Blaze is versatile, good looking and easy to use – and that means a lot.
Feature check: Step tracking, sleep monitoring, 24/7 heart rate monitoring.
Best for running
Garmin Vivosmart HR+
Our Garmin Vivosmart HR+ review broke the record for an all-time high score for fitness trackers, and for a good reason. A great mix of activity, heart rate, and GPS tracking makes it a no-brainer for those tossing up a Fitbit but dissatisfied with taking a phone along for a run.
While the band is still a little chunky for some and the screen is nowhere near as attractive as the Blaze, it offers up around a week of battery life, is devilishly good when it comes to notifications and it’s water resistant to about 50m – although the lack of a swimming mode is a bitter disappointment.
Run stats are a little light – if you want more than pace, distance or basic HR data then you’ll need to head into proper GPS running watch territory. However, the Vivosmart HR+ nearly claimed our Wearable Top Pick out-right, and for those who run, it’s the best fitness tracker out there.
Feature check: Steps, sleep monitoring, 24/7 heart rate monitoring, GPS.
Best for simplicity
Previously our number one fitness tracker, we still think the UP2 is a great option, but as its rivals start to add more cutting-edge features its found itself knocked off the top spot.
For under $100, it’s still one of the best-looking trackers that deliver accurate data and pretty many nails the basics. The UP software is incredibly easy to use as well, but it’s the data insights that set it apart from the competition.
We’d still recommend this model over the UP3 because, for the money, it offers much better value than its more advanced bigger brother.
If having a screen is a number one fitness tracker priority for you, but you still want to keep things simple, then the Fitbit Alta is worth considering. It’s in the same pricing realms as the UP2 and even gives you the option to switch up the straps for a more customized and stylish look.
Feature check: Step tracking, sleep monitoring, smart alarm.
Think this is the one for you? Read our full Jawbone UP2 review.
Best for style
The Fitbit Alta is the company’s best-looking device to date, and it’s a real head turner. While we’ve often said that devices with screens can’t be alluring, the Alta with its big range of colors straps does an excellent job. On the tech side, it records steps, sleep, and elevation and delivers necessary notifications to the wrist, although support for third party apps is patchy.
Feature check: Steps, sleep, customizable bands, and announcements.
Wearable verdict: Fitbit Alta review
Best for moms
Misfit Shine 2
When the Misfit launched the Shine back in 2012, it proved that you could count your steps from a fitness tracker that didn’t look like an ugly piece of plastic around your wrist.
The Shine 2 remains faithful to those features and now adds a redesigned action clip, smartphone notifications, and vibration alerts. Also, the battery life pretty much kicks the ass of any of the trackers on this page.
Where it impresses though is data accuracy. When we put the Shine 2 up against a GPS running watch recently, there was the 0.1km difference in the readings. If reliable information is your priority, then this is the one to go for.
However, for us, it stands out because of its versatility. It ships with a clip, and has modes for attaching to shirts, waistbands, shoes and pockets, meaning buggy-pushing moms can get the credit for their days – a common request on Wearable’s comments and forums.
Feature check: Step tracking, sleep monitoring, smartphone notifications, waterproof for swim tracking.
Sold on the Shine 2? Check out our full Misfit Shine 2 review.
Best for sleep tracking
We talked, and Jawbone listened. After receiving mediocre reviews for the Jawbone UP3, the San Francisco company went live with new firmware addressing some the key concerns – and automatic sleep tracking is now on offer. That’s great news because the UP3 is incredibly in-depth when it comes to tracking your ZZZs. By monitoring a user’s bpm, respiration rate, body temperature and galvanic skin response, it can give you your REM, light and deep sleep stats.
Feature check: Heart rate (resting and passive), steps, sleep.
Take a look at our revised Jawbone UP3 review.
Best for getting in shape
Moov Now is a small, round element that you clip into a strap to wear around your leg and pair with a smartphone. The aim of the game is advanced sports training plans, at which it excels, with actionable running, swimming and cycling data designed to making you better at the games you love.
The band boasts ever increasing levels of difficulty which offer a gradual but tangible improvement curve, and with both running and 7-minute workout all included, it has all bases covered for a complete workout.
Even better news is that Moov Now – the second generation product – also works as a daily step and sleep tracker, making it a decent activity band when you’re not busting out interval times.
Feature check: Steps, sleep, advanced sports coaching, run/bike tracking.
Want the full verdict? Then read our Moov Now review.
Best for a tight budget
Xiaomi Mi Band Pulse
Now available outside of China, the Mi Band Pulse is cheap and cheerful, yet somehow manages to pack heart rate monitoring onto the wrist for an astonishing price. Xiaomi has shifted over a million of its bands in China alone, possibly making this the ultimate fitness tracker.
Feature check: HR tracking, steps, sleep, smart alarms, incoming call alerts.
Here’s our verdict: Xiaomi Mi Band Pulse review.
Best for multisports
Garmin Vivoactive HR
This everyday sports wearable blends fitness and sports features with reliable notifications in a reasonably priced package. It’s not exactly a looker, but don’t let that put you off – the Vivoactive HR uses GPS to accurately track running, cycling and swimming with live pace and distances. It’s not perfect – the screen is dull, and the heart rate tracking can’t beat a chest strap – but as an easy to live with sports companion with access to Garmin Connect, this is a brilliant buy.
Feature check: Daily steps, 24/7 heart rate, GPS run/bike/golf tracking, notifications.
Check out our full Garmin Vivoactive HR review.
Best for screen quality
When it comes to that AMOLED panel on the front your fitness tracker, the new Samsung Gear Fit2 rules the roost. With so many fitness trackers trading quality color displays for longer battery life, it makes for a rather dull looking crowd. The Gear Fit2 bucks that trend with a beautiful 1.5-inch screen with an eye-popping 432 x 216, 322 pixels per inch screen.
On the fitness side, there’s GPS built in for run tracking and an optical heart rate monitor – all for a very competitive price tag.
Check out our full and definitive Samsung Gear Fit2 review.
Feature check: Steps, sleep, GPS and optical heart rate.
Best for bling
Misfit Swarovski Shine
The Swarovski Shine could be the ultimate ladies’ fitness tracker. Hidden behind that Swarovski Crystal are all the tracking smarts you could ask for, and there’s also a range of accessories from bracelets to necklaces. The tracker comes with a sports strap as standard to track running, cycling and swimming.
Swarovski’s CEO has teased a solar powered fitness tracker for 2016, offering infinite battery life, plus the purple color shown above.
Feature check: Daily steps, sleep monitoring and calorie counting.
Find out what it’s like to live within our Swarovski Shine review.
Best for style
Mondaine Helvetica No.1 Smart
Mondaine watches are gorgeous and the MotionX tech packed inside the company’s first connected timepiece hasn’t altered that fact. It’s just stunning, easily the best-looking piece of wrist-based wearable tech that we’ve come across.
Essential reading: The best smart analog watches
It could have fallen flat on its face if the fitness tracking aspects weren’t up to scratch, but Mondaine avoided that embarrassment by enlisting the Silicon Valley experts and, while it’s expensive, you’re paying for decent Swiss-made quality.
Feature check: Steps, sleep, long battery life.
Find out what it’s like to live within our Mondaine smartwatch review.
Withings Activité Steel
Slightly cheaper is a double header of Withings tech. The Withings Activité Steel is the jewel in the wearable crown, packing step counting, distance checking and sleep tracking into a Swiss-made analog watch that frankly looks glorious. It even comes with a sports strap for the pool, making it as adept for workouts as it is in the boardroom.
Feature check: Steps, sleep, calories, alarm.
Check out our definitive Withings Activité Steel review.
Best clip-on activity tracker
Jawbone UP Move
Not everyone wants to wear a tracker on their wrist, which is where the Jawbone UP Move comes into its own. Steps and sleep are catered for, and a tap of the button will set it to a dedicated tracking mode, which you can later assign to a dizzying list of sports from running to yoga and Zumba.
Feature check: Steps, sleep, basic sports tracking.
Read all about it in our full Jawbone UP Move review.