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The best fitness trackers 2021: activity bands to help develop healthier habits

The best fitness trackers
The best fitness trackers 2021 (Image credit: Diego Cerva / Shutterstock)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

We've tested and ranked the best fitness trackers to monitor your daily activity and nudge you towards healthier habits that will pay dividends in the long run.

With so many fitness trackers on the market, it can be daunting knowing where to begin, so we've rounded up the best devices to help you better understand your health. Whether it's tracking a run, monitoring your sleep patterns or monitoring your stress levels, there's a fitness tracker to help.

Before you go any further, know that we aren't evaluating all the highest-end wristwear like the Apple Watch 6 or Garmin Fenix 6 in this list. For that you'll want our best smartwatch guide, or if you're a serious athlete, our guide to the best running watches.

Right now this guide is designed to show you the best of the best that your money will get you. We'll show you how each ranks in terms of stand-out features, specs, price, design, the quality of the software you'll be using on your phone and much more.

If you're also in need of some new footwear, take a look at our guide to the best running shoes, where we've tested and ranked the best options available today.

Best fitness trackers: Fitbit Charge 4

Fitbit Charge 4 (Image credit: Fitbit)

1. Fitbit Charge 4

Take charge with the best fitness tracker you can buy

Specifications
Screen: Yes
Heart rate tracker: Yes
Waterproof: Yes
Activity tracking: Yes
GPS: Yes
Battery life: Up to 7 days
Compatibility: Android/iOS
Reasons to buy
+On-board GPS+Fitbit Pay+Spotify controls
Reasons to avoid
-No color screen

The Fitbit Charge 4 might look almost identical to the Charge 3, but there's one very important difference that makes it the best fitness tracker around today: built-in GPS, so you can track your runs and walks and leave your phone at home. There's also Fitbit Pay for contactless payments, and if you do decide to take your phone along, you can control your Spotify playlist from your wrist.

It also includes a new feature called Active Zone Minutes. This is a measure of any activity faster than a brisk walk, and is based on recommendations from various health organizations. It's essentially a simple type of heart rate training, encouraging you to spend time at different levels of exertion based on your age and fitness (as measured by the watch).

The Fitbit Charge 4 lacks a color screen, but its icons and menus are well laid out and easy to understand. Whether you're looking for sleep tracking, the weather forecast or breathing exercises, it's only a couple of swipes away.

Slim, neat and packed with features, the Charge 4 bridges the gap between activity bands and serious running watches, and is truly a fitness tracker for everyone.

Read our full Fitbit Charge 4 review

Best fitness tracker: Fitbit Inspire 2

Fitbit Inspire 2 (Image credit: Fitbit)

2. Fitbit Inspire 2

A gentle nudge towards a healthier lifestyle

Specifications
Screen: Yes
Heart rate tracker: Yes
Waterproof: Yes
Activity tracking: Yes
GPS: No
Battery life: 10 days
Compatibility: Android/iOS
Reasons to buy
+Sleek design+Simple to use+Great battery life
Reasons to avoid
-No GPS

If you're aiming to develop healthier habits, and want a device that will give you a gentle nudge to get there, the Fitbit Inspire 2 could be the best fitness tracker for you. It's not overly complex, but has all the essential features to keep you moving and motivated, and is extremely simple to use.

It's controlled entirely through its responsive touchscreen and single side button, and will monitor your activity and heart rate all day (with alerts when you hit your goals). There are over 20 workout modes, and several will start tracking automatically when the fitness tracker detects that you've begun exercising.

All of your data is collected together in the extremely user-friendly Fitbit app, where you can see patterns over time, set new targets and (if you subscribe to Fitbit Premium) find a whole library of video workouts to follow at home.

There's no color screen or on-board GPS for mapping out runs, but the Inspire 2 is a pleasure to use, and ideal for beginners.

Read our full Fitbit Inspire 2 review

Best fitness tracker: Amazfit Bip

Amazfit Bip (Image credit: Amazfit)

3. Amazfit Bip

A watch-style fitness tracker packed with features

Specifications
Screen: Yes, black and white
Heart rate tracker: Yes
Waterproof: Yes
Activity tracking: Yes
GPS: Yes
Battery life: 1 month
Compatibility: Android/iOS
Reasons to buy
+Stylish design+Excellent companion app
Reasons to avoid
-Auto-pause feature doesn't work-Finicky UI

The Amazfit Bip may look more like a smartwatch than any of the other devices on this list, but as it runs its own software and has a very big focus on fitness we've decided to include it in our list of the best fitness trackers.

The Amazfit Bip's design has been influenced by the Apple Watch (there's no denying that) and it comes packed with tons of features including GPS, an accurate heart rate tracker, multi-sport tracking, sleep tracking and VO2 max features too.

If you're looking for a more watch-like design, the Bip will be up your street. It's lightweight too and other highlights include the always-on display and strong battery life that should last around a month depending on your usage. 

Read the full Amazfit Bip review

Best fitness tracker: Garmin Vivosmart 4

Garmin Vivosmart 4 (Image credit: Garmin)

4. Garmin Vivosmart 4

Tells you how much energy you do (or don’t) have

Specifications
Screen: Yes
Heart rate tracker: Yes
Waterproof: Yes
Activity tracking: Yes
GPS: No
Battery life: 7 days
Compatibility: Android/iOS
Reasons to buy
+Slim design+Long-lasting battery
Reasons to avoid
-Small screen-No GPS

Garmin specializes in serious running watches, but the Vivosmart 4 is made for more casual use, with a focus on everyday fitness rather than intense training.

The screen is smaller than most Garmin devices, but is still capable of showing plenty of information about your wellbeing and workouts. The monochrome display is clear, and uses less power than a color equivalent.

There's also an innovative feature called body battery that helps you learn when exactly is the best time to exercise depending on how much energy you have. This is great for those who are just as interested in their recovery and general wellbeing as they are clocking up the miles. 

Read the full Garmin Vivosmart 4 review

Best fitness tracker: Fitbit Charge 3

Fitbit Charge 3 (Image credit: Fitbit)

5. Fitbit Charge 3

Feature-packed, and great for all but serious athletes

Specifications
Screen: Yes
Heart rate tracker: Yes
Waterproof: Yes
Activity tracking: Yes
GPS: No
Battery life: Six days
Compatibility: Android/iOS
Reasons to buy
+Light design+Big screen
Reasons to avoid
-No onboard GPS-Not a color screen

Although it's now been superseded by the superb Charge 4, the Fitbit Charge 3 is still among the best fitness trackers, and has seen some hefty price cuts in recent months.

It has a more lightweight design than the Charge 2 that came before it, and offers a lot of insight into your overall health. The display is bigger and clearer than a lot of other fitness trackers on this list, though it's still a black and white screen.

There's no onboard GPS, like some other trackers on this list have, but it's waterproof and offers a full fitness suite including a heart rate tracker. You can track GPS by pairing your phone with the tracker too.

You have to spend a bit extra on this than other fitness trackers you can buy in this same list, but if you enjoy the whole Fitbit app and experience and would also like access to notifications and Fitbit's fantastic sleep tracking, you'll want to opt for this as it's one of the company's best trackers ever.

Read our Fitbit Charge 3 review

Best fitness tracker: Huawei Band 3 Pro

Huawei Band 3 Pro (Image credit: Huawei)

6. Huawei Band 3 Pro

Both style and substance on a budget

Specifications
Screen: Yes
Heart rate tracker: Yes
Waterproof: Yes
Activity tracking: Yes
GPS: Yes
Battery life: 14 days standby
Compatibility: Android/iOS
Reasons to buy
+Great battery life+Good looking color screen
Reasons to avoid
-GPS can be slow to lock-No 'breathing' feature

Taking over from the Huawei Band 2 Pro is the Huawei Band 3 Pro. This is one of the best fitness trackers you can buy if you're on a strict budget, and it has some amazing features considering how much it costs.

The Band 3 Pro comes with GPS onboard, it has a water resistant design (which means you can take it swimming) and there's a 0.95-inch color screen to display all of your stats on your wrist.

We've found the heart rate monitor to be accurate, and while the GPS could be quicker at locking on we also found it to be precise. If you're looking for an affordable entry-level device for your first foray into the world of fitness tracking, this is a great place to start.

Read our Huawei Band 3 Pro review

Best fitness tracker: Garmin Vivosport

Garmin Vivosport (Image credit: Garmin)

7. Garmin Vivosport

The sportier Garmin fitness tracker

Specifications
Screen: Yes, color touchscreen
Heart rate tracker: Yes
Waterproof: Water-resistant
Activity tracking: Yes
GPS: Yes
Battery life: 7 days
Compatibility: Android/iOS
Reasons to buy
+Small for GPS tracker+Good battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Bland design-No swim modes

It's not as stylish as most of the Fitbit products, but there's a reason the Garmin Vivosport appears in this list before products from the latter company. 

This is cheaper than most Fitbit products and it comes with GPS built-in too. We found the Vivosport offers a solid seven days battery life from a single charge, even when using the GPS features.

Although it's waterproof, it won't track your swimming easily but the Vivosport excels for other kinds of workouts and is great for tracking your jogging and cycling. Plus we found the heart rate tracker to be accurate too.

Read our full Garmin Vivosport review

Best fitness tracker: Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6

Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 (Image credit: Xiaomi)

8. Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6

A super light fitness tracker with a stunning screen

Specifications
Screen: Yes, color touchscreen
Heart rate tracker: Yes
Waterproof: Yes
Activity tracking: Yes
GPS: Connected GPS
Battery life: Up to 14 days
Compatibility: Android/iOS
Reasons to buy
+Very cheap+Slimline design
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't auto-stop tracking-Only connected GPS

The latest addition to Xiaomi's rapidly expanding line of fitness trackers, the Mi Smart Band 6 is super affordable, and packed with many features you'd expect to find on a much more expensive device, including a pulse oximeter for tracking blood oxygen saturation, and all-day stress tracking.

The display is super bright, and in our tests we found it super responsive to even the lightest of touches – essential with a screen this small.

It's just a shame there's no on-board GPS for tracking runs, walks and bike rides. It works well enough piggybacking on your phone's positioning system, but it means you can't leave your handset at home when working out. Otherwise, this is one of the best fitness trackers around if you want to minimize bulk and weight.

Read our full Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 review

Best fitness tracker: Honor Band 5

Honor Band 5 (Image credit: Honor)

9. Honor Band 5

One of the cheapest and best fitness trackers around

Specifications
Screen: Yes, color touchscreen
Heart rate tracker: Yes
Waterproof: Yes
Activity tracking: Yes
GPS: No
Battery life: 7 days
Compatibility: Android/iOS
Reasons to buy
+Decent sleep tracking+Affordable price
Reasons to avoid
-Notifications temperamental-Screen sometimes unresponsive

The Honor Band 5 was a serious step up from the Band 4, with improved fitness features in many areas, as well as a color touchscreen to view all your information.

One of the most useful features is the sleep tracking, that gives you advice to maximise your sleep time, as well as simply monitoring it like many other fitness trackers do.

In addition to being one of the best fitness trackers around, the Honor Band 5 is also one of the most affordable, so if you want an exercise monitor or sleep counter that isn't also a bank-breaker, this is where to look.

Read our full Honor Band 5 review

Best fitness tracker: Fitbit Inspire HR

Fitbit Inspire HR (Image credit: Fitbit)

10. Fitbit Inspire HR

A fitness tracker that'll inspire you to get off the sofa

Specifications
Screen: Yes
Heart rate tracker: Yes
Waterproof: Yes
Activity tracking: Yes
GPS: No
Battery life: 5 days
Compatibility: Android/iOS
Reasons to buy
+Premium design+Lots of tracked metrics
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks swim tracking-No contactless payments

The predecessor of the Fitbit Inspire 2 listed above, this does a lot considering its price, and is still one of the best fitness trackers around if you're in the market for an affordable, slimline device.

The Fitbit Inspire HR offers a heart rate tracker alongside a variety of other fitness tracking capabilities. It isn't as capable as the Fitbit Charge 3 as it lacks swim tracking or Fitbit Pay integration, but that's understandable as this is much cheaper.

It features a slimmer and more comfortable design than a lot of other trackers you can buy, so if you're after a Fitbit that won't be heavy on your wrist you may want to consider the Inspire HR as your next fitness band.

Read the full Fitbit Inspire HR review