Your buying guide to the best fitness trackers in 2017
Fitness trackers, which are also called activity trackers, activity monitors or fitness bands, are like high-tech pedometers that can count your steps and then estimate the distance you've travelled and the calories you've burned. See also: Best Fitbit.
Read our pick of the Best Fitness Tracker Deals.
You can use fitness trackers to monitor your activity, but the general idea is that they spur you on to exercise more, helping you to get fitter and/or lose weight.
Some fitness trackers have a display that shows you steps and calories information, and often the time too, and they tend to be worn on the wrist like a watch or clipped onto your clothes.
You might also be able to add friends that use the same brand of fitness tracker to compete against, but not every fitness tracker offers this. Pitting yourself against others can be extremely motivational.
Bear in mind that fully fledged smartwatches also offer fitness tracking but it tends to be basic so very few have made it into this chart. If you like the idea of tracking activity with a smartwatch that also does other cool things like notifications and apps, check out our best smartwatch chart.
You might also find historical data in the app that will tell you whether you're improving.
All basic fitness trackers should be able to monitor steps, distance covered, calories burned and active minutes. Some might also have a clock so you can tell the time, although some are simply a series of LEDs that give you an approximation rather than the exact time.
More advanced fitness trackers will add features like sleep tracking, a built-in vibrating alarm, a barometer to measure height climbed, heart-rate monitoring, session recording for various sports and more.
Few are completely waterproof, but virtually all can withstand sweat and rain. We've also rounded up the best activity fitness tracker for swimmers
Some also have built-in GPS, but that'll add to the price tag and take from the battery life. Without it, though, keep in mind that you'll need to take your phone with you on a run to accurately record distance and the route you took.
Batteries in non-GPS fitness trackers can range from a few days to several months depending on their power source and they type of tracker you opt for.
As well as the fitness tracker itself, the app it uses is a crucial piece of any activity monitor. For some, the software can even be more important than the hardware.
Why? The software provides extra features, such as the ability to compete with friends, track food and drink intake, monitor your weight and more.
Conversely, some apps can be limited or poorly designed which could discourage you from using the fitness tracker at all. Among the best apps are Fitbit's, Jawbone's and Misfit's.
How much should I spend on a fitness tracker?
The cheapest trackers worth buying can be found for as little as £20-£40, with the most expensive (such as the Apple Watch 2) costing over £350. That means there's something in the chart below which will fit your budget.
Keep your eye on Jawbone over the next few months as there may be some good deals to be had as it shifts stock. The company is reportedly exiting the consumer hardware market and will move into the health market, dealing primarily with clinicians and health providers. Equally, though, keep in mind that you will be purchasing a discontinued product.
- Reviewed on: 15 March 2017
- RRP: £139.99, US$149.95
The Fitbit Charge 2 is a worthy upgrade to the extremely popular Charge HR. It will appeal to both the casual get-fit user and the more serious fitness freaks, although runners might prefer a tracker with built-in GPS. Users will love the larger display and interchangeable wristbands, plus the updated fitness features. It boasts most of the features a serious keep-fit enthusiast demands, and can connect with a smartphone GPS for runners who want to track their pace and lap times. Fitbit has more minimalist or fashion-conscious wristband trackers (Flex 2 and Alta, both of which lack the Charge 2's heart-rate monitor and associated benefits such as Cardio Fitness ratings) but the Charge 2 has it all and still looks more chic than the average activity tracker. It remains our favourite mainstream activity tracker.
Read our Fitbit Charge 2 review.
- Reviewed on: 28 September 2016
- RRP: £369, US$369
The new Apple Watch Series 2 takes the main complaints about the original - slow operation, lack of GPS, lack of official waterproofing, short battery life - and solves or at least improves them systematically. If you're into fitness tracking with a sprinkling of notifications and superb integration with the iPhone, this is an almost perfect wearable for you... although, being greedy, we'd still like an even better battery life, and the price remains pretty steep. We thought long and hard about whether to give the Apple Watch Series 2 five out of five, and it was a close-run thing. But those two issues are still, just, keeping it from a perfect score. Great wearable, though, and the only one we've seen that feels like it has any chance at all of taking wearables into the mainstream.
Read our Apple Watch Series 2 review.
- Reviewed on: 16 March 2017
- RRP: £129.99, US$149.95
The Alta HR is Fitbit’s most stylish heart-rate tracker to date. It lacks an altimeter for stair and hill climbing stats, but its 24/7 heart-rate monitor will help you get fitter, lose weight, and better monitor your sleep. You get the core Steps, Distance, Calories and Sleep measurements, and automatic exercise recognition functionality. We love the Activity Reminder prompts which help you get more active during the day. Caller ID and the ability to read texts on your wrist are also big plus points. You really don’t need to wear a separate watch and you’ll hardly know you’re wearing the Alta HR as it’s so comfortable and lightweight. We think the Alta HR is worth the extra £30 over the standard Alta for both its heart-rate monitor and watch-like strap buckle. It challenges the Charge 2 as our favourite Fitbit.
Read our Fitbit Alta HR review.
4. Fitbit Alta
- Reviewed on: 9 March 2017
- RRP: From £99.99, US$129.95
The Fitbit Alta is a mid-range activity tracker for the everyday fitness fan, which is a real winner when it comes to slim, chic looks and a range of fashionable accessories. It tracks the basics (Steps, Distance, Calories and Sleep), plus boasts Caller ID, Text and Calendar notifications, and is cheaper than the more fully featured Fitbits such as the Charge 2, Blaze and Surge. Its higher-end sibling the Alta HR adds a heart-rate monitor if you want to dive deeper into your health, fitness, sleep and weight-loss metrics. But the Alta is a stylish tracker that will appeal to people who don’t want a giant sports watch on their wrist, or need a huge array of stats in the app.
Read our Fitbit Alta review.
- Reviewed on: 2 February 2017
- RRP: £179, US$179.95
If you’re not fussed about a full on touchscreen smartwatch, the Withings Steel HR is stylish, well-made and offers excellent battery life. We’re glad to see the addition of the heart rate monitor and the screen for smart features, even if they are basic. A great semi-smartwatch for the price.
Read our Withings Steel HR review.
6. Misfit Ray
- Reviewed on: 16 August 2016
- RRP: £79.99, US$99.99
We'd recommend the Misfit Ray. It's really good-looking and the choice of colours makes it even more stylish to suit each individual, haptic feedback is a real boon and it compares really well with rivals in the same price range. Battery life is excellent and the app is intuitive too. You'll find that you're motivated to get out there and get fit in no time.
Read our Misfit Ray review.
- Reviewed on: 13 July 2016
- RRP: £33.36, 42.99
With a new OLED screen the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 offers better value than ever. We’d like to see better integration with third-party apps, but at this price the Mi Band 2 is impossible to fault.
Read our Xiaomi Mi Band 2 review.
8. Fitbit Surge
- Reviewed on: 26 January 2017
- RRP: £199.99, US$249.95
The Fitbit Surge is an activity tracker for the serious fitness enthusiast. We’re not saying a more casual user wouldn’t appreciate its good looks and features, but the level of functionality and price put it properly in the market for the power user. The larger, swipeable display is a revelation of on-wrist stats. If you wish to wear a tracker and your regular wristwatch then the Surge may be too large, and you should consider other more minimalist bands. The everyday user who wants a tracker to push them to exercise more is catered for with the Fitbit Flex 2 and Charge 2. If you’re just interested in the heart-rate monitor you could consider the cheaper and very capable Fitbit Charge 2, but if you want to see dedicated heart-rate stats during performance-based workouts, and map your routes with built-in GPS the Fitbit Surge has it all.
Read our Fitbit Surge review.
9. Fitbit One
- Reviewed on: 22 January 2014
- RRP: £80, US$99.95
The Fitbit One is accurate, has great battery life and tracks pretty much everything you'd want it to. The proprietary charging cable is a pain, but it's a minor quibble about what it otherwise an excellent activity tracker.
Read our Fitbit One review.
10. Moov Now
- Reviewed on: 2 February 2016
- RRP: £59.99, US$59.99
The Moov Now is one of the most interesting activity trackers we've tried. It puts workouts and coaching first and the basic activity and sleep tracking second, and that's obvious, but not necessarily a bad thing. The voice coaching itself is motivating, but it's the levels, achievements and personal bests that'll keep you coming back for more. It's a shame that the activity and sleep tracking is so limited, so if that's what you're looking for in an activity tracker you'll want to look elsewhere, but for runners and cyclists of any level and for people who enjoy quick workouts at home, £59.99 will go a long way here.
Read our Moov Now review.
11. Misfit Shine 2
- Reviewed on: 6 April 2016
- RRP: £79.99, US$99.95
Overall, we'd recommend the Misfit Shine 2. It's an all-rounder with some added perks including the haptic feedback for notifications and calls, which we've found enormously useful. Comparing it with rival Fitbit we think it's been priced well, and not having to think about the battery life too often is a huge boon, meaning you'll rarely have to take it off.
Read our Misfit Shine 2 review.
12. Withings Go
- Reviewed on: 1 June 2016
- RRP: £49.99, US$79.95
The Withings Go is perfect for simple activity tracking, with a clean app interface that's easy to read and offers lots of options, a brilliantly long battery life that means much less bother about charging and changing batteries, an always-on screen for at-a-glance progress updates and a tiny, lightweight design perfect for popping into a pocket at the start of every day.
Read our Withings Go review.
13. Fitbit Blaze
- Reviewed on: 6 January 2017
- RRP: £159.99
The Fitbit Blaze is the mnost colourful of the Fitbit range, especially for people looking for a fitness watch smarter than the average timepiece. Like all the Fitbits it's a great activity tracker, supported by a fantastic app and desktop dashboard, as well as an eco-system of competition with friends, collaborative challenges, badges and rewards to keep you motivated. If you're after a stylish watch that is packed with advanced fitness features the Blaze stands apart from the competition. Its colourful display is fun, and its fitness stats seriously good for your health.
Read our Fitbit Blaze review.
- Reviewed on: 2 December 2015
- RRP: £22.04
With a tougher band addressing our issues with the original, and a new heart-rate sensor bringing it into line with rival activity trackers, you quite simply won't find a better-value fitness band than the Xiaomi Mi Band 1S Pulse. It still falls down on social interaction, apps and its use of a proprietary charging cable, but given the price we can accept these shortcomings.
Read our Xiaomi Mi Band 1S Pulse review.
15. Jawbone UP3
- Reviewed on: 17 September 2015
- RRP: £129.99
The UP3 adds a few extra features over and above the UP2, namely the ability to track resting heart rate and REM sleep. Is it worth the extra £40? Only if you really want those features. Don't forget that neither the UP2 nor UP3 can track height climbed, whereas the similarly priced Fitbit Charge and Charge HR can. (They can also tell you when someone is calling your phone, a feature that's particularly useful.) What the UP3 is good at is monitoring your health and fitness, as well as motivating you to become better on both counts. Laying aside the problems I had with my test bands, the UP3 is a good tracker, made better by the recent hardware and software updates. Whether or not it's for you will depend on the features you want. Plus, don't forget that the UP24 is much cheaper these days: you can pick one up for the bargain price of £50 if you hunt around.
Read our Jawbone UP3 review.
16. Jawbone Up Move
- Reviewed on: 26 November 2014
- RRP: £39.99
For under £40, the Move is superb value. Although it doesn't track certain activities or height climbed, its great sleep tracking makes up for that. Soon you'll be able to buy the Up3 which will have considerably better sleep tracking but at this price, the Move is the best-value activity tracker around.
Read our Jawbone Up Move review.
- Reviewed on: 4 August 2016
- RRP: £186
Available for under £200, the Motorola Moto 360 Sport is one of the best smartwatches for fitness. You get the some of the regular 360 style in a design which is practical for activities like running. The GPS tracking is accurate but it's shame the same can't be said of the heart rate monitor and we still find the 'flat tyre' on the screen an eyesore. A solid effort but hard-core fitness fans might need something which is more in-depth.
Read our Motorola Moto 360 Sport review.
- Reviewed on: 19 February 2015
- RRP: £320
The Withings Activité is a stunning watch, the most attractive we've seen by a long shot. The design and build is exquisite and you can quickly glance at your daily steps progress. Other information is provided by the app and we like the sound of an eight month battery life. While it's good to know Android support and tracking for swimming is on the way, the Activité isn't a sure buy. The price is high and there are a few things missing such as a heart rate monitor, elevation tracking and any form of backlight.
Read our Withings Activité review.
19. Misfit Phase
- Reviewed on: 16 March 2017
- RRP: £165, US$175
If you feel comfortable spending £165 to get a stylish watch (albeit rather a chunky one) with smart features, and are confident that you won't miss GPS or heart rate monitor, you'll be pleased with the Phase. But for anyone questioning that price tag I'd recommend looking at Misfit's other trackers or waiting for the new Misfit Vapor smartwatch release.
Read our Misfit Phase review.