While Fitbit was among the first to provide data other than step counting, such as calories burned, sleep data, and more, several brands have built a thriving fitness community around their products, allowing users to connect with others who are trying to lose weight, get in shape, or improve their endurance and speed. That’s why we tested seven highly rated and well-loved fitness trackers for a month. We sprung into action immediately away and went for a stroll. We arose from our mattresses and evaluated the product’s usability, build quality, and accuracy. After a few weeks of being more active than normal, we discovered one fitness tracker that outperforms them all:
The best fitness tracker is the Fitbit Inspire 2.
Since the firm first produced fitness trackers in 2014, Fitbit has been considered the most accessible brand for all health warriors – from beginners to specialists.
Although both Fitbit devices we tested operated wonderfully, the Inspire 2 was smaller and easier to set up and understand than the Charge 4. Its tiny design kept it from snagging on clothes (or anything else) when working out, and the narrow screen seemed more prone to bumps and scratches than others, making it feel less shatterproof. The Fitbit Charge, for example, was just slightly bigger than the other trackers, but the difference was evident. (We admit that comfort is entirely subjective, but we found the thinner Inspire 2 to be less noticeable when wearing and hence believe it would be pleasant even for individuals with smaller wrists.)
Fitbit Charge 4 or Garmin Vivosmart 4 may be better options for people searching for greater heaviness and somewhat bigger faces.) Despite the somewhat smaller screen, we had no trouble seeing our information in the Inspire 2, even when peering rapidly during intensive exercises.
The Fitbit app, which is accessible on Google Play, iTunes, and Microsoft, made setup a breeze. Simply create a free profile, sync through Bluetooth, and charge your tracker to get started. For better accuracy, provide your personal information, such as your height and whether you’re wearing the tracker on your dominant or non-dominant wrist. Your height determines the length of your stride, and the Inspire 2 is designed to track differently based on which hand you’re using (though we did not notice a significant difference in tracking when we tested on different wrists).
You may also establish goals for weight loss, water intake, wellness, sleep, and other things, such as 10,000 steps. When you start the Fitbit app, a semi-completed circle appears on your home screen, displaying how many steps you’ve taken for the day. A quick scroll will provide active minutes (during which your heart rate was elevated), your average resting heart rate, and other data. You may also set up and track your water goals.
You may set a reminder to remind you to take at least 250 steps per hour to meet your daily activity objectives. This is something we’ve found to be extremely useful now that we’re working (and exercising and cooking and existing 24/7) at home. On several occasions, the feature (which is also available on the Garmin and Withings trackers) gave us the push we needed to get up and walk upstairs or grab the dog for a quick walk around the block.
Fitbit claims that it can recognize the type of activity you’re doing automatically, from swimming to bicycle to more than 20 different sports, but our studies revealed that this claim is false. While the Fitbit Inspire 2 was recognized when we were doing cardio, it mistook strength training for swimming (perhaps because our heart rate only rose once or twice throughout those sessions). When we biked, it mistook it for swimming. None of the trackers correctly recognized strength training, so this wasn’t a Fitbit-specific anomaly. Despite that setback, we liked how the Fitbit app alerted us when we were moving and when we were resting. We found this information to be useful, mostly since it provides insight into how many more calories to burn to accomplish goals.
One of the most important — and intriguing — aspects of the Fitbit Inspire 2 is sleep monitoring. It tells you when you wake up during the night, how deep or light your sleep is, and how much time you spend in the REM stage. Our tester, who admits to snoring, found this tracker to be the most pleasant to wear all night. We experienced a problem with other trackers, which you can read about further down. You didn’t have to worry about powering the Fitbit Inspire 2 as it can run for up to 10 days on a single charge; we never had to recharge it after a few days of heavy use.
The Fitbit Inspire 2 is the greatest option for anybody looking for greater clarity and solid data about their health, fitness, and wellness lifestyle for around $100. Each tracker also includes a free year of Fitbit Premium Membership. It grants access to hundreds of Fitbit fitness videos as well as meditation and mindfulness programs. We believe you are getting a lot of bang for your buck.
How dependable are fitness trackers?
A fitness tracker can assist you in keeping track of your daily activities. It keeps us motivated as we work toward a specific health goal. “When your growth is accurately and frequently documented, a pattern of outcomes emerges,” stated certified fitness instructor DeBlair Tate. He guided us through our testing technique. It provides you with a sense of control over your health and fitness goals. When you endeavor to fulfill those figures regularly, you feel a sense of accomplishment that motivates you to set new goals.
“How accurate are fitness trackers, though? When we wore two trackers at the same time, we saw slight step differences of up to 500 to 800 steps. This was true regardless of brand. Given the variations in technology and utility, this is understandable. According to Keegan Draper, a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer and fitness specialist for Mindbody, wrist straps will differ from hip-mounted trackers and chest or arm straps.
He says that a hip-mounted step counter would offer more exact readings, whilst a wristwatch might detect and monitor other actions. “Two different trackers will probably give you different step counts,” Draper says. “However, in the long term, your daily fitness tracker will be quite accurate, and having some type of monitor and tracker is better than having none.”
How we experimented
- Performance Accuracy: We evaluated accuracy by wearing two trackers at the same moment and comparing results, even though statistics might fluctuate. We also utilized the built-in GPS to measure distance and compared the steps to the pedometer on our phone.
- Readability: While the numbers on all fitness trackers are modest, we were delighted by how easy it would be to read the screen. Also how fast we could look at the gadget in the middle of a workout to check our heart rate.
- Navigation: Scrolling is available on all trackers to identify steps, activity, pulse rate, and other data. We gave it a score based on how straightforward it was to look into this.
- Activity recognition: Many activity trackers allow you to pick the type of workout you’re doing before you start. It improves activity monitoring accuracy. We also put some that automatically detect activities to the test.
- App usability: was evaluated based on how easy the app was to use, what is tracked, and how it showed data.
- Ease of use: The last thing you want to feel when buying a tracker to lower your pulse rate and improve your health is anxiety. We looked at how easy it was to follow the instructions, download apps, connect to Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi, and get started.
- Battery life: After a full charge, we timed how long each device lasted.
- Compatibility: Many fitness trackers need you to download their software. While others allow you to sync with third-party apps like Apple Health, Google Fit, MyFitnessPal, Peloton, and others. We looked at how many different third-party apps each tracker could link to.
- Overall convenience: A fitness tracker is designed to be worn all day and, in some cases, all night. This suggests that a high level of comfort is required. We assessed it on fit, as well as how it felt during and after a workout, in the shower, and against sweat.
- Design: We were delighted with the tracker’s aesthetically pleasing and diverse design, particularly the variety of colors and styles offered.
- Waterproofness: We put each of these trackers through their paces in the shower to see whether they lived up to their waterproof rating.
- Warranty: We noted each device’s warranty, if applicable, and assessed its offering.
Other fitness trackers we tried
To be clear, the Fitbit Charge 4 has all of the features that we enjoyed about the Fitbit Inspire 2. But we felt the design of this device to be less comfortable. The screen and band are larger, which might seem cumbersome on tiny wrists. If you’re debating whether or not to acquire an Apple Watch, this device is quite similar in terms of alerts, calendar syncing, and messaging. So it could be a better deal. It’s Spotify-compatible, so you can listen to music with Bluetooth headphones while exercising, albeit a premium subscription is required.
The screen is more sophisticated than the Inspire 2, which we liked, but it is also more prone to scratches.
Garmin Vivosmart 4 in Rose Gold with Gray Band with Pulse Ox and Pulse Rate Monitor (Amazon.com; $109.73, down from $129.99)
In terms of style and feel, the two Garmins we tried were identical to the Fitbit Inspire 2. They have thinner bands in a range of colors, as well as a swipeable home screen. While we liked Fitbit for tracking workouts and steps, Garmin was superior for walks and runs. Because of its GPS accuracy and ability to assist with pace from inside the app. It even gives paths or loops in most cities that you may follow.
Garmin’s software and interface are comparable to Fitbit’s, but they are clunkier and more difficult to use. There are other areas, including a daily screenshot, challenges you may set for yourself, calendar reminders, and more. But it lacks the community-like atmosphere and simplicity of browsing that the Fitbit app has.
The Vivosmart 4 does offer warnings to breathe and relax if your resting heart rate appears to be out of whack. It is a useful function in today’s atmosphere. Place your steps first on your menu if you want them to be the focus; otherwise, if you prefer activities, do so as well. It’s entirely up to you and utterly unique.
Through its Pulse Ox sensor, this tracker also promises to offer more advanced sleep monitoring features. Such as the REM cycle and blood oxygen saturation levels. However, it was uncomfortable to wear while sleeping. So we took it off halfway through the night, resulting in an erroneous reading.
Garmin Vivofit 4 fitness tracker ($79.99 on Amazon.com)
This tracker is smaller and less expensive than Vivosmart. But it does have one distinguishing feature that some may find appealing: a button. It was the only tracker we looked at that included an on-screen UI navigation button. This isn’t needed, but for those who enjoy being physically active, it might be a decisive factor. Like previous Garmin devices, this tracker connects to Google Play, iTunes, and up to 15 additional apps. It allows you to easily integrate several subscriptions into your tracker. You may also get a weather prediction to assist you to decide whether to work out inside or outside. Our main gripe with this device is its home screen. We found it to be the most difficult to read unless we were in full sunlight.
Withings Steel HR Hybrid Smartwatch (Amazon.com, $179.95)
This is the only one of the seven fitness trackers we tested that might be misidentified as a watch. This is a big selling feature for many folks. Its display features a clock, a timer, and all of the information seen in standard trackers. Such as heart rate, calories burned, and other data. However, we found this item to be far too large for little wrists.
The Health Mate app from Withings allows you to track your weight, exercise, and sleep, as well as obtain heart rate information. You may receive SMS or phone notifications and link them to Amazon Alexa to provide spoken cues, just like trackers. To collect fitness data, scroll down to “exercise mode” and choose from running, swimming, and so on. It also promises to track Ping-Pong, windsurfing, kitesurfing, and other unusual hobbies as an added benefit. When you’ve stopped sweating, you’ll get information about the length of your exercise and the number of calories you burned. And its battery life is one of the best we’ve seen – even after wearing it for many days, it never dropped below 70% charge.
It’s a good option for individuals who want more from their fitness tracker and are ready to invest a little extra money.
Xiaomi Mi Band 4 fitness tracker ($37.95, originally $39.99; amazon.com)
At first glance, this fitness tracker looks to be quite similar to its more expensive competitors, but the experience is not the same. While setting the device, our internet browser detected a security risk and flagged the website as hazardous. We eventually got around to downloading the Xiaomi Mi Fit app. We discovered that it included far less information than the others we had tested. You can measure your steps and pick between walking, running, and cycling. But the tracking features aren’t as reliable as they might be. Instead of focusing on health and wellbeing, the app heavily promotes the company’s “skins,” which are customized home screens for the tracker.
The tracker is pleasant to wear and has a sleek appearance (albeit the band is only available in black). But charging the gadget requires you to remove the watch face. It’s not a major problem and takes no time, but it’s an extra step that other activity trackers don’t require. While this isn’t the cheapest gadget on our list, we found it to have the least functionality — not to mention that its app and website are unreliable. It should be upgraded to gain customer trust.
Letsfit Fitness Tracker ($20; now unavailable on Amazon.com)
Even though this tracker was indeed the cheapest in our survey, we picked it due to its appealing design and usability. It is the only tracker that does not need you to establish a profile before using it. You may take it out of the package, charge it for an hour, and use it. It doesn’t provide as much advanced data as the others we tested. But it’s a low-cost option to keep a check on your health if you only want to track your steps and pulse rate (no pun intended). You can view your statistical data without providing one’s email or other personal information by installing the VeryFitPro app.