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The best fitness trackers 2021: the best activity bands you can buy today

The best fitness trackers
(Image credit: Future)
PRICE
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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best fitness tracker will give you extra incentive to get active and provide you with a wealth of statistics on your workouts and general health so you have the data you need to achieve your fitness goals.

With so many fitness trackers on the market, it can be daunting knowing where to begin, so we've rounded up the top options we'd recommend 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.  

Best fitness tracker: 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: the newer device includes on-board GPS, so you can track your runs 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 fitness tracker that will give you a gentle nudge to get there, the Fitbit Inspire 2 could be the one 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: Garmin Vivosmart 4

Garmin Vivosmart 4 (Image credit: Garmin)

3. 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

Our highest ranked Garmin product in the best fitness tracker list is also one of the most accomplished in its range of health bands.

This device isn't made for serious athletes like a variety of other products from the Garmin brand, but instead this is for those who want to be able to track the odd bit of exercise and have an attractive band to do it.

The screen is bigger on this version than other Garmin products, and it has a battery that should last you around a week depending on how much exercise you'll be doing.

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)

4. 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 an excellent fitness tracker, and has seen some hefty price cuts following the launch of the Charge 4.

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)

5. 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: Fitbit Inspire HR

Fitbit Inspire HR (Image credit: Fitbit)

6. Fitbit Inspire HR

Inspiration 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, this isn't the most capable fitness tracker in our best of list, but it does a lot considering its price and you'll get access to all of Fitbit's top-end services. It's now been replaced by the Fitbit Inspire 2, which we're currently in the process of reviewing, but if you're in the market for an affordable, slimline fitness tracker the Inspire HR is still a great choice.

The Fitbit Inspire HR unsurprisingly 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

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: Honor Band 5

Honor Band 5 (Image credit: Honor)

8. Honor Band 5

One of the cheapest options on the list

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 on.

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.

The Honor Band 5 is also one of the most affordable fitness trackers on the market, 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: Xiaomi Mi Band 4

Xiaomi Mi Band 4 (Image credit: Xiaomi)

9. Xiaomi Mi Band 4

Xiaomi's budget fitness tracker

Specifications
Screen: Yes, color touchscreen
Heart rate tracker: Yes
Waterproof: Yes
Activity tracking: Yes
GPS: Connected GPS
Battery life: 20 days
Compatibility: Android/iOS
Reasons to buy
+Very cheap+Slimline design
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't auto-stop tracking-Only connected GPS

The Xiaomi Mi Band 4 is run-of-the-mill affordable fitness tracker, in that it has a slimline design, a smallish color screen with a capacitive button, and a selection of workouts to track. 

It has a few great perks for fitness buffs though, like its 20-day battery life, useful heart rate monitor and easy-to-view screen, so if you're looking for a new heart rate monitor there are far worse devices you can buy.

It's worth noting that a successor to the Mi Band 4, the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 5, is now available to buy. Once we've had a chance to test it, we'll update this guide accordingly if we find the new fitness tracker worthy of a place.

Read our full Xiaomi Mi Band 4 review

Best fitness tracker: Amazfit Bip

Amazfit Bip (Image credit: Amazfit)

10. Amazfit Bip

Looks like a smartwatch, but it's more fitness tracker

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

This 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 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 than everything else on this list, 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