Activity trackers, which started out as humble pedometers for step counting, have evolved into powerful wrist-worn training partners.
Now even those more advanced trackers that offer sleep analysis and heart rate monitoring can be bought for under $100/£100, and we’ve curated a list of the best among them.
Track steps, calories burned, heart rate, distance travelled, sleep and even your children’s activities with this latest generation of activity trackers. What they all have in common is they can help anyone go from unhealthy to fit.
Note: we've ranked these from cheapest to most expensive according to prices at time of writing.
1. Xiaomi Mi Band 2
An amazingly cheap choice
Compatibility: iOS and Android | Display: OLED | Thickness: 10.5mm | Battery: 20 days | Charging method: Proprietary wired | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Bluetooth
China’s Xiaomi has managed to create a pretty comprehensive activity tracker for a super low price. Despite being less than half the price of most rivals it crams in an OLED display, action button, step tracking and even on-the-wrist heart rate data.
The compact wearable is water-resistant and will offer vibrating alerts to keep the wearer from staying still for too long.
2. Moov Now
A tracker tuned to you
Compatibility: iOS and Android | Display: LED | Thickness: TBC | Battery: 6 months | Charging method: Proprietary wired | IP rating: Swim-proof | Connectivity: Bluetooth
The Moov Now wearable is one of the best movement trackers out there thanks to its 9-axis accelerometer - the same one used in missile navigation systems. As a result it can not only track your daily steps, calories and the like but also other movements. That means guided, personalized training feedback.
The Moov Now can measure running impact, gym repetitions and swimming strokes, so you can work out with a virtual personal trainer that knows exactly how well you’re doing and can tell you how to improve. It’s also waterproof and lasts a good six months before the watch battery needs swapping out.
3. Withings Go
Swim-safe and never needs charging
Compatibility: iOS and Android | Display: E-ink | Thickness: 9.4mm | Battery: 8 months | Charging method: Proprietary wired | IP rating: Water resistant to 50m | Connectivity: Bluetooth
Withings offers plenty of value for money in its Go, thanks to the company’s years of experience being filtered into one accessible wearable.
The result is an affordable activity tracker that also features a screen for at-a-glance feedback. This is an e-ink display, meaning low power consumption which allows the Go to last up to eight months before needing a cheap watch battery swap-out.
While on the move the Withings Go will track steps, calories burned, distance and even sleep. It’ll also track running (not with GPS) and even swimming strokes, thanks to its waterproof-to-50m build.
The Go can be worn on the wrist or clipped to clothes and comes in five color options. Everything is also viewable in more detail via the free Withings Health Mate smartphone app.
4. Jawbone UP3
A genuinely stylish option
Compatibility: iOS and Android | Display: LED | Thickness: 12.2mm | Battery: 7 days | Charging method: Proprietary wired | IP rating: Splash resistant | Connectivity: Bluetooth
The Jawbone UP3 looks good, like really good. And there are plenty of colors and styles to pick from for your ideal model. Each features motion sensing smarts to track steps, calories burned and various exercises automatically. But it’s the sleep tracking that Jawbone excels at.
The UP3 will track light, deep and REM sleep variations after automatically kicking into sleep mode as you nod off. It also tracks resting heart rate, which can help to give a more accurate picture of health as it changes.
What’s really useful is actual feedback in the app, with links to relevant scientific articles that could help offer ways to improve your sleep. Since it lasts for seven days on a charge you rarely need to take it off.
5. Polar Loop 2
Awake or asleep, this will give you feedback
Compatibility: iOS and Android | Display: LED | Thickness: 10.8mm | Battery: 8 days | Charging method: Proprietary wired | IP rating: WR20 | Connectivity: Bluetooth
The Polar Loop 2 is all about making you fitter. Sure, it’ll do step tracking and calorie counting, but it’ll also link up to a heart rate chest strap to help you train harder too. Then you can use the Polar Flow app to get personalized training feedback on how to improve.
The battery offers 24/7 tracking, yup that includes sleep, for a good eight days with an hour of exercise each day. And if you’re feeling lazy the Loop 2 will even nudge you to get active. You can also get vibrating smartphone notifications for calls, messages and calendar alerts.
6. Garmin Vivofit Jr.
Makes fitness fun for kids
Compatibility: iOS, with Android coming | Display: LCD | Thickness: 10mm | Battery: One year | Charging method: Proprietary wired | IP rating: Swim-proof | Connectivity: Bluetooth
A little bit different from the others in the list, this one is aimed at parents that want to keep track of their children’s health. Strap one of the varying colored Vivofit Jr. wearables on your little one and get data on movements. You can even set targets and chores that the wearable will remind them to do.
Parents can track steps, sleep, daily activities and more using the smartphone app. This app is also available for the child, and features a game that unlocks based on completion of daily 60-minute activity goals.
7. Fitbit Flex 2
A simple option that works well
Compatibility: iOS and Android | Display: LED | Thickness: 6.8mm | Battery: 5 days | Charging method: Proprietary wired | IP rating: Swim-proof | Connectivity: Bluetooth
There’s a reason Fitbit was one of the first breakthrough activity tracker makers and is still going strong today - it works. And in the case of the Fitbit Flex 2 it works well with lots of features for a low price.
The Flex 2 will do all the usual step, distance and calorie burn tracking using its motion sensor smarts, but it goes further. You can also track sleep and even do exercises that the band will automatically detect and track. Everything syncs wirelessly to the smartphone app and offers clear feedback to help you make health progress.
The Flex 2 is also swim-proof, comes in different styles and uses LED lights and vibrations to notify you about calls and texts from a connected smartphone. All that and it should last five days before needing a charge.
8. Misfit Ray
Style and substance all in one
Compatibility: iOS and Android | Display: LED | Thickness: 12mm | Battery: 6 months | Charging method: Proprietary wired | IP rating: Swim-proof to 50m | Connectivity: Bluetooth
The Misfit Ray is an affordable yet very attractive activity tracker that should appeal to anyone wanting to make sure their wearable enhances their look.
There are plenty of muted color options to pick from and each features the same anodized aluminum central device with LED lights. There’s also a smart button that can be set to control aspects of your smart home, for example.
The swim-proof wearable uses replaceable batteries for a charge-free six months of constant use. That includes step and sleep tracking plus vibration alerts for calls, messages, reminders and alarms.
9. Lumo Run
A tracker that's built for runners
Compatibility: iOS, with Android coming | Display: N/A | Thickness: TBC | Battery: One month | Charging method: Proprietary wired | IP rating: Water resistant | Connectivity: Bluetooth
Some of the most innovative products often start as crowdfunded projects and the Lumo Run is no different. This clip-on wearable is all about enhancing running by using its onboard motion sensors to offer a more detailed look at technique.
The Lumo Run can track cadence, bounce, braking, pelvic drop and rotation to offer a clear picture of running style. This is great for pushing established runners further but also a brilliant way to help new runners get off to the best possible start.
Of course, it’ll track steps like a normal activity tracker too, with a battery life of up to seven days.
10. Polar A300
Feature-packed and long-lasting
Compatibility: iOS, with Android coming | Display: LCD | Thickness: 12.7mm | Battery: One month | Charging method: Proprietary wired | IP rating: Swim-proof | Connectivity: Bluetooth
As fitness trackers go the Polar A300 looks more like a GPS watch with that big display and wide face. That’s because this is all about notifications - read messages, get social media push notifications and be alerted to calendar events all at a glance.
As an activity tracker the watch will offer steps, distance, calories burned and sleep tracking shown on the device and in the Polar Flow app. This allows you to set goals and even do fitness tests - best done with a connected chest strap heart rate monitor.
The Polar A300, crucially, will go for a whopping 26 days on a charge with 24/7 tracking and an hour of training daily.
11. Garmin Vivofit 3
A year of life and a handy app
Compatibility: iOS and Android | Display: LCD | Thickness: 10mm | Battery: One year | Charging method: Proprietary wired | IP rating: 5 ATM | Connectivity: Bluetooth
The Garmin Vivofit 3 features a battery that will keep going for an entire year before it needs changing - yup, no charging required. It’s also water-resistant, so you don’t even need to take it off when swimming.
That means all day tracking of steps, calories, distance, intensity minutes when you train and even sleep tracking at night. Then view it all in the Garmin Connect smartphone app.
The screen is small but does the job of offering instant feedback while also conserving battery. Plus, the display features a move bar to keep you from being too stagnant, which also works with an audio alert if you want. There are plenty of band options too, so you can find the right design for you.
- Not on a budget? Check out the best fitness trackers money can buy