Over the space of a few years, activity trackers, which started out as humble pedometers for step counting, have now evolved into powerful wrist-worn training partners.
The good news is that even some of the 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 and sleep with this latest generation of activity trackers. What they all have in common is they can help anyone go from unhealthy to fit and have an affordable price tag too.
We know that a lot of people are looking for fitness tech to buy their loved ones this Christmas and this list is a great place to start. That's because a lot of the options are good all-rounders, tracking a range of activities rather than being geared up for one specific kind of workout.
With that in mind, if you know someone is super serious about running or training for a triathlon they might need a certain piece of tech to help them out. For everyone else who goes to the gym, pounds the pavement or just sits on the couch for now but has high hopes for getting fit in January, there's bound to be an option in the list below to suit them.
The products below are an impartial list drawn from our in-depth reviews. So be sure to click through to the full reviews to find out more.
- Not worried about the price? Check out our best fitness trackers list
- Looking for something even stronger? Here's our best running watch ranking
1. 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 may be a few years old, but it's still 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. Buy this if you're looking for an affordable yet impressive fitness tracker that doesn't constantly try to distract you from your fitness.
Read the Moov Now review
2. Amazfit Bip
A great value fitness tracker with an amazing battery life
Compatibility: iOS and Android | Display: LCD Color | Thickness: TBC | Battery: 45 days | Charging method: Proprietary wired | IP rating: 68 | Connectivity: Bluetooth
The Bip is a really capable but really simple fitness watch that we referred to in our full review as "the layman's Apple Watch" and we stand by nickname.
In terms of a super rich experience and high performance, it can't compete with Apple. Not at all. But for its extremely budget-friendly price tag, the Amazfit Bip is a competent fitness tracker that has a few awesome tricks up its sleeve - most notably the fact it can last more than 30 days on a single charge.
If you’re after a simple wearable that can push notifications from your smartphone, wake you up with a dedicated alarm, and track your workouts with built-in GPS, and more, the Bip makes a strong case for itself.
Gift-wise it's a great buy for anyone who is in the market for a cheap and cheerful fitness device. Its simple set-up also makes it a good choice for complete fitness tech beginners.
Read the Amazfit Bip review.
3. Huawei Band 2 Pro
A slim, capable wearable with impressive battery life
Compatibility: iOS and Android | Display: OLED | Thickness: TBC | Battery: 21 days | Charging method: Proprietary wired | IP rating: Swim-proof | Connectivity: Bluetooth
The Huawei Band 2 Pro is one of our favorite cheap fitness trackers because it offers a lot of decent features for relatively little money.
Fitness band features include your standard step and sleep tracking but it also comes with a heart rate monitor, VO2 Max sensor, GPS for when you're out running and it offers some good battery life too.
There's a very slim screen on the Band 2 Pro, unlike the Moov Now, but interacting with it is a little difficult and while it does show some notifications it's not always easy to read them. As an affordable fitness tracker though, there's a lot to love about the Band 2 Pro.
Read the Huawei Band 2 Pro review
4. Honor Band 3
Basic tracking on a budget
Compatibility: iOS and Android | Display: | Thickness: 10.3mm | Battery: 30 days | Charging method: Proprietary wired | IP rating: Waterproof | Connectivity: Bluetooth
Another super affordable wristband we recommend is the Honor Band 3. The highlights include accurate sleep and swim tracking as well as an impressive wrist based heart rate tracker too.
It doesn't do much to stand out from the rest of the crowd and there's no GPS on board, but the Honor Band 3 does have great battery life to make up for it.
You may struggle to find places to buy the Honor Band 3, but if you can find it for an affordable price it may be a great option as your next fitness tracker. We've seen the Band 3 become much cheaper recently since the announcement of the Honor Band 4.
Read our Honor Band 3 review
What's next? You'll soon be able to buy the Honor Band 4 in the UK, and we hope to have a full review of the fitness tracker soon.
5. Garmin Vivofit 4
A year-long battery with a screen
Compatibility: : iOS and Android | Display: Transflective 8-colour MIP | Thickness: 9.4mm | Battery: 1-year | Charging method: 2 x SR43 user-replaceable | IP rating: Swim-proof | Connectivity: Bluetooth
The key addition over the entry-level Vivofit 3 is the always-on, color display that’s visible in sunlight. This is remarkably achieved without sacrificing the year-long battery life of the stellar third edition. Basic stats like steps, distance, calories and sleep are covered off, while there’s also automatic activity detection thanks to the Move IQ system.
Thanks to the Garmin Connect app you can also customize the display, while setting timers and alarms directly from the wrist. Best of all the Vivofit 4 it also 20 per cent cheaper than the Vivofit 3’s 2015 launch price. Of course you’ll miss out on premium features like heart rate tracking and GPS, but that’s to be expected at this price.
Read the Garmin Vivofit 4 review
6. TomTom Touch Cardio
One of the more affordable HR fitness trackers
Compatibility: iOS and Android | Display: Black and white, OLED | Thickness: 11.5mm | Battery: Up to 5 days | Charging method: Proprietary wired | IP rating: IPX7 splashproof | Connectivity: Bluetooth
Perhaps one of the more innovative devices on this list, the TomTom Touch Cardio is a fitness tracker with a built-in body fat scanner that should be able to give you a clearer picture of your fitness than most other trackers.
Press the button on the top and it will do a scan of your body fat to work out the ratio of flabby bits compared to what you should have.
It also comes with all the other tracking tech you'd expect, including a heart rate monitor and step counter to make sure you're doing your best to keep fit and healthy.
Read the full TomTom Touch Cardio review
7. Xiaomi Mi Band 3
There's a lot to love here, especially the price
Compatibility: iOS and Android | Display: OLED | Thickness: 10.5mm | Battery: 20+ days | Charging method: Proprietary wired | IP rating: Waterproof | Connectivity: Bluetooth
Want the cheapest fitness tracker on this list? It's here and it's called the Xiaomi Mi Band 3, and it's not a completely useless device. In fact, the Mi Band 3 can do a lot considering how much it costs.
It comes with a battery life that should last around a whole month depending on how much you'll be using it, and there is tons of fitness tech built-in. There's no GPS, but it comes with a heart rate monitor and tracking tech for your daily step and workouts too.
It's not the most attractive fitness tracker you can buy, but it has a slimline design and it's light so you won't really notice you've got this on your wrist. The screen can show you stats for your workouts, and it's much bigger than the one on the Mi Band 2.
If budget is your main concern in your search for a fitness tracker, it's hard to go wrong with the Mi Band 3 from Xiaomi.
Read the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 review
8. 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.
Read the Fitbit Flex 2 review
9. 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
Although it's a few years old now, 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.
It's a top choice for Christmas 2018 because it doesn't look bland, plasticky and built solely for fitness. It's genuinely nice-looking and it can be worn on a chain or bracelet, meaning it straddles the line between tech and jewellery quite nicely.
Read the Misfit Ray review
10. Garmin Vivosmart 3
A lot of smarts considering the cost
Compatibility: iOS and Android | Display: Black and white | Thickness: 9.8mm | Battery: 5 days | Charging method: Proprietary wired | IP rating: Water resistant | Connectivity: Bluetooth
The Garmin Vivosmart 4 may have since been launched, but that just makes the Vivosmart 3 suitable for our best cheap fitness tracker list as the price has dropped down - and continues to.
It's not the most affordable activity tracking band on this list, but it's one of the best looking and it'll show all of your stats on its small display including your rep count and other exercises too.
There's no GPS on this tracker, so this is very much designed for the gym go-er rather than a runner plus the Garmin app is second to none offering you all of your stats in an easy to read format.
Read the full Garmin Vivosmart 3 review
- Not on a budget? Check out the best fitness trackers money can buy