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The Best Fitness Trackers Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Best Fitness Trackers of 2022

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The Best Fitness Trackers Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

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Editor's Choice Product image of Fitbit Charge 5
Best Overall

Fitbit Charge 5

The Charge 5 is our favorite fitness tracker for its easy-to-use design, comfortable fit, and wide range of features. Read More

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Easy to use
  • Tracks a lot about your health

Cons

  • Display can feel cluttered
2
Editor's Choice Product image of Garmin Vívosmart 4
Best Value

Garmin Vívosmart 4

The Garmin Vivosmart 4 is a solid activity tracker for folks who are just getting into fitness tracking, who prefer a barely-there band, or who want to spend a little less for a device. Read More

Pros

  • Reliable fitness tracking
  • Very slim profile
  • A good value

Cons

  • Sleep detail lacking
  • Less active community
3
Editor's Choice Product image of Fitbit Versa 3
Best Upgrade

Fitbit Versa 3

If holistic activity tracking plus useful smartwatch features are what you want, the Versa 3 checks the boxes. Read More

Pros

  • Automated fitness tracking
  • Always-on display
  • Battery life

Cons

  • Button design
  • Premium-feature paywall
  • Usability quirks
4
Product image of Fitbit Luxe

Fitbit Luxe

The Fitbit Luxe offers a lot in a slim package, but is specs fall short of the less expensive Charge 4. Read More

Pros

  • Sleek and lightweight
  • Great mix of health and wellness features
  • Easy to change wristband

Cons

  • Small screen
  • Sleep tracking isn’t always accurate
5
Editor's Choice Product image of Fitbit Charge 4

Fitbit Charge 4

The Fitbit Charge 4 offers the best combination of features to motivate you to make real lifestyle changes, whether you’re looking to improve your activity level, your sleep habits, or even train for your first 5K. Read More

Pros

  • Comprehensive activity tracking
  • Easy-to-use companion app
  • Comfortable to wear

Cons

  • Unreliable heart rate monitoring

Whether you already have an active lifestyle or you’re looking to start one to meet new fitness goals, accountability and reinforcement of good habits are essential for keeping it up. A fitness tracker counts steps, records workouts, measures sleep, and nudges you to get moving when you’ve been still too long. An investment in one of these wrist-worn devices could make the difference between making the commitment to improving your health and actually doing it.

Based on our extensive evaluations, we're confident that the Fitbit Charge 5 (available at Amazon for $133.92) offers the best combination of features to motivate you to make real lifestyle changes, whether you’re looking to improve your activity level, your sleep habits, or train for your first 5K using its built-in GPS. It also offers just enough smartphone integration, including call, text, and calendar notifications, to satisfy those who don’t want to pull out their phone every time it beeps or vibrates. If you want a simpler, budget-friendly model, or a smartwatch with fitness features, we have picks for you, too.

That said, if you’re a dedicated runner, we recommend a GPS running watch that also has fitness tracking.

These are the best fitness trackers we tested ranked, in order:

  1. Fitbit Charge 5
  2. Fitbit Luxe
  3. Fitbit Charge 4
  4. Garmin Vivosmart 4
  5. Samsung Galaxy Active 2
  6. Whoop 4.0
  7. Fitbit Inspire 2
  8. Garmin Vivoactive 4
  9. Apple Watch Series 6
  10. Samsung Galaxy Fit
  11. Fitbit Versa 3
  12. Fitbit Sense
  13. Garmin Venu Sq
  14. Withings Pulse HR
A woman looking at the Charge 5 on her wrist.
Credit: Fitbit

The Fitbit Charge 5 is our favorite fitness tracker that does it all.

Best Overall
Fitbit Charge 5

Easy to use, comfortable to wear, and jam-packed with health-tracking features, the Fitbit Charge 5 is our favorite fitness tracker. It’s small enough to satisfy those who prefer the size of a fitness tracker over a smartwatch, but has a screen large enough to comfortably swipe through your stats on the device.

The Charge 5 offers a plethora of fitness tracking features like 24/7 heart rate monitoring, summarized sleep data, exercise statistics, and stress tracking all at your fingertips, which makes it a great pick for those who want their information close at hand.

The Charge 5 is slightly smaller than its predecessor and our former top pick, Charge 4 (it’s 10% thinner, according to Fitbit), and is comfortable to wear both while lounging and exercising. Its screen is twice as bright as the Charge 4’s and has an “always on” display option, which makes it easy to read when you’re outside in the sun. It’s easy to scroll through and responsive to touch, even in the middle of a sweaty workout.

The built-in GPS is easy to use, thanks to the tracker’s exercise shortcuts. To record a walking, running, or cycling workout, swipe on the home screen to the exercise tab, select which activity you want to complete, and tap the start button. If you have your phone with you, the GPS takes only seconds to connect, and we didn’t experience any connectivity issues during testing.

If you don’t have your phone, the GPS takes longer to connect—about 15 to 20 seconds. However, you don't need to wait around for the GPS before taking off. We found the Charge 5 to accurately estimate where an activity began and adjust the distance traveled.

While exercising, you can view information such as your average pace, distance traveled, calories burned, and more on your tracker. You can also keep tabs on your heart rate throughout your workout by turning on the heart rate zone alerts. I used these notifications during a HIIT cycling class and found they helped me push myself into the next heart rate zone during intense periods and gauge when my heart rate finally settled during recovery periods.

That said, the heart rate measured on your wrist will never be as accurate as the heart rate recorded from a chest strap, so if you must track your pulse for medical reasons, it’s best not to rely on the Charge 5.

We found Fitbit’s sleep tracking to be accurate and it comes with some extra bells and whistles users might find interesting. Aside from monitoring the sleep stages (awake, light, deep, and REM), the Charge 5 keeps tabs on your heart rate, restlessness, and estimated oxygen variation (the changes in your blood oxygen saturation). Though this isn’t a diagnostic tool, frequent spikes in oxygen variation could indicate breathing disturbances during your sleep you may want to talk to a doctor about.

The Charge 5 also has electrodermal activity (EDA) sensors that can help you track your stress levels. These EDA sensors measure electrical changes in your skin that can indicate how stressed you are.

To use the EDA scanner, you swipe over to the EDA tab and start a session, then hold the sensors on the sides of the screen between your fingers for three minutes. This helps inform your Fitbit of your stress level, which gets rated on a scale from one to 100, and you can log in the Fitbit app how you are feeling afterwards.

Though all the features of the Charge 5 are helpful to have—or at the very least, interesting to view—the abundance of data can make using the tracker feel overwhelming at times. To make the data easier to understand, Fitbit generates a daily readiness score which indicates whether you should push yourself during your workout or focus on active recovery on any given day.

Unfortunately, Fitbit doesn’t let you customize all the pre-loaded tabs and features, so you can’t get rid of the ones you don’t regularly use. This lack of customization can make the device more difficult to use than it needs to be, and be frustrating for those who aren’t used to having so many data points on their tracker.

Still, the Charge 5 impressed us with its ability to track so many different aspects of health. So for those looking for a fitness tracker that keeps tabs on exercise, stress, and sleep, check out the Charge 5.

Pros

  • Comfortable

  • Easy to use

  • Tracks a lot about your health

Cons

  • Display can feel cluttered

Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Who'd have thought this tiny tracker could measure your every move?

Best Value
Garmin Vívosmart 4

We recommend the Garmin Vivosmart 4 for those who are just getting into fitness tracking, who prefer an even smaller band, or who want to spend a little less for a device.

This ultra-tiny tracker has a whole lot under the hood, including many of the goodies in the Fitbit Charge 5. These include hourly reminders to move, automatic activity and sleep tracking, and some smartphone notifications. What’s more, the Vivosmart 4’s automatic activity detection triggers an actual workout mode to begin once a preset number of minutes of walking or running is detected, which provides great feedback and is something Fitbits don’t do.

As with Fitbit, the details of what is auto-recorded are pretty well buried in the Garmin Connect app, but the Vivosmart 4 also offers dedicated exercise modes—up to 11 that you preset in the device from the app—that you may turn on and off to deliberately record your workouts for greater detail and ‘credit’ in the Activity section of the app.

The Vivosmart 4 has connected GPS for mapping and pace recording during walking, running, and biking activities, as long as you bring along your phone (this is a boon in the value category, as Fitbit’s Inspire 2 lacks any GPS at all).

Another feature that’s front-and-center for Vivosmart 4 is stress monitoring using heart rate variability (HRV) as physiological indication of increased agitation. HRV is the variation in the time between each heartbeat, and when it’s irregular, it’s a sign your body may be undergoing stress.

Garmin takes measurements over the course of a day so you can see what activities may elevate your stress levels at a glance. Fitbit devices also measure HRV, but the Charge 5 doesn’t present the info front and center. (Instead, it’s included with a paid Fitbit Premium membership.)

On the downside, the Garmin sleep tracking overall isn’t as fine-tuned as Fitbit’s: In testing, the Vivosmart 4 would sometimes identify quiet resting or reading in bed as dozing, inflating the sleep records. Garmins in general are also not designed to record naps as separate sleep events, which Fitbits do. The Vivosmart 4, like the Charge 5, takes a Pulse Ox measurement during sleep, as an indication of potential sleep problems you may want to bring to the attention of your doctor.

Other quibbles: Vivosmart 4 also estimates a “body battery” reading, which is supposed to give you an idea of your energy level, though we find it no more useful than a simple self-assessment of how you’re feeling. The Vivosmart 4’s smartphone notifications can be annoying, especially for iPhone users who cannot limit which apps send notifications from the phone to the wrist—it’s all or none. (Android notifications, however, may be customized in the app.) Finally, you also can’t reply to texts on the device itself, not even with canned replies.

The Garmin app, like Fitbit’s, includes menstrual tracking, hydration tracking and a partnership with MyFitnessPal for food tracking (which we prefer to Fitbit’s food logging). It also connects users in a community for challenges and social support, but Garmin’s community is nowhere near as robust as Fitbit’s in terms of general activity tracking. (It provides much better support for runners and other endurance athletes, who are Garmin’s bread and butter anyway.) Therefore, if you really want a budget-minded Fitbit, the Inspire 2 (more below) offers barebones activity tracking features and an entry key to the Fitbit universe.

Pros

  • Reliable fitness tracking

  • Very slim profile

  • A good value

Cons

  • Sleep detail lacking

  • Less active community

Credit: Reviewed / Amy Roberts

Among the Versa 3's great fitness tracking features: built-in GPS for recording runs.

Best Upgrade
Fitbit Versa 3

The Fitbit Versa 3 isn’t the most advanced smartwatch out there. (That mantle falls to Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Active 2). Nor does it offer the most advanced health and fitness features (Apple Watch and Fitbit’s own Sense has it beat there). But for most people who want detailed, actionable activity tracking and who want handy smartwatch features in one reasonably priced package, we recommend you consider the Versa 3 over the others.

The Versa 3 is an upgraded version of the Versa 2, which we reviewed positively on its own merits when it first launched. Versa 3 bests its predecessor—and many competitors—all the way around.

For activity tracking, Versa 3 has all the great fitness and sleep features of our favorite tracker Charge 5, including built-in GPS for recording outdoor walks, runs, and bike rides. It also has an updated heart rate sensor (the first time in years Fitbit has improved this), which supposedly is more accurate. (Wrist-based heart rate monitoring should never be taken as gospel, but the numbers it recorded seemed fine for general workout-exertion guidance.

Either way, Fitbit’s three-zone heart rate scale leaves a lot to be desired. Versa 3 has a blood-oxygen sensor (like several other devices) and a skin-temperature sensor (less common), which it uses to inform sleep tracking. (Your skin temp naturally fluctuates overnight.)

Unfortunately, the advanced analysis in Fitbit’s “Health Metrics Dashboard” is kept behind a paywall in the Fitbit Premium app. While six months of Premium access is currently included with the purchase of a new Versa 3, you have to pay $9.99 per month to keep it up.

Frankly, we don’t love Fitbit’s decision to make users spend more money for details about their health, tracked by the device they already paid for. (Sense has even more, er, sensors—and more data behind the paywall—which are among the reasons we recommend Versa 3 above it. Read more about Sense below.)

Still, what you get for free with Versa 3 is more than adequate to help inform changes and improve habits for better fitness and/or sleep quality. For example, you get the average temperature of your skin while you sleep (in relation to your average waking temp), but you can’t see a chart of how your temp fluctuates, or receive insights into why this matters, without the app upgrade.

Premium users also get access to workout programs, guided meditations, and more, which could be worth the additional cost for you, independent of that “advanced” health data.

Something that may be worth an additional cost is upgrading the band. The one it comes with it is stiff, hot, and tough to close, but you can buy a much more comfortable woven fabric strap for $40.

Smartwatch-wise, Versa 3 has bothbuilt-in Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice controls and audible responses, and the ability to answer phone calls over Bluetooth. (Android users also get voice-to-text replies, which is a nice bonus.) Versa 3, like many other smartwatches, also stores and plays music via Bluetooth to your own wireless headphones.

Fitbit has “Fitbit Pay”, its version of Apple Pay) and an ever-expanding catalog of smartwatch apps, including Spotify, Strava, Starbucks … and that’s just ones that start with S. It’s not as expansive as what you’d get with Apple and watches built on Android, but plenty if you’re looking to dip your toes in using your watch in place of your phone.

The bottom line: If you want a smartwatch-featured, well-equipped activity tracker, Versa 3 offers a great option that’s not too pricey. If you must have a top-of-the-line smartwatch that also provides solid fitness tracking, Apple and Samsung are your better bets.

Pros

  • Automated fitness tracking

  • Always-on display

  • Battery life

Cons

  • Button design

  • Premium-feature paywall

  • Usability quirks

Other Fitness Trackers We Tested

Product image of Fitbit Luxe
Fitbit Luxe

The Luxe wraps a sleeker look around Fitbit’s admirable tracking, aiming to look like a piece of jewelry, with a slim design and a wide range of wristbands (sold separately) that you can switch in and out.

Still, it’s no slouch in the health and fitness department. The Luxe detected exercise within about a minute of starting out and displayed information on the watch one might want to see during exercise: heart rate, workout time, a calorie burn estimate, heart rate “zone,” and pace for walks and runs, which you can cycle through with a tap.

It’s easy to start workouts on the wearable, too. The Luxe limits you to six exercise “shortcuts,” from a general “workout” option to more specific activities like tennis and Pilates—but the “workout” option felt suitable for almost any exercise.

The tracker promises five days of battery life and delivers six and a half—nothing to sneeze at, if not as good as the Charge 5’s seven days and less impressive than the Inspire’s 14 days. It looks sleek, too. We had the plain black version, which didn’t look quite like a piece of jewelry, but wasn’t an eyesore, either.

But the Luxe isn’t perfect. First, there’s the screen—like the rest of the device, it’s small, which usually didn’t mean compromising visibility or responsiveness for its size. However, that went out the window during high-intensity workouts. Then, heavy breathing and sweating made tapping more of a challenge—it was too easy to swipe past the desired stat and have to cycle through each one to go back, or accidentally end the whole workout.

The sleep tracking felt accurate most of the time, but not always. It neglected to record at all some nights, and a few times, it detected super-early wakeup times that never happened.

Overall, the Luxe is a great tracker for someone who wants to keep tabs on their health without having a massive cuff on their wrist—if not for a more serious fitness buff who wants to see everything at once.

Pros

  • Sleek and lightweight

  • Great mix of health and wellness features

  • Easy to change wristband

Cons

  • Small screen

  • Sleep tracking isn’t always accurate

Product image of Fitbit Charge 4
Fitbit Charge 4

The Charge 4 was our previous top pick before the new Charge 5 dethroned it. It’s a great option as you get plenty of the same features that make the Charge 5 our top pick, and it's worth snagging for $50 less than the new upgraded version while retailers still have it in stock.

The Charge 4, offers the standard reminders to move, step count, and automatic exercise tracking, as well as a built-in GPS that can be quick-started from your wrist with the customizable exercise shortcuts, just like the newest version. We found the GPS tracking on the Charge 4 to be accurate, though it doesn’t start up as quickly as with the Charge 5.

We loved the Charge 4’s sleep tracking features and found they captured our nights more accurately than some others on the market. This tracker monitors the same stats the Charge 5 does, including time spent in sleep phases (awake, light, deep, and REM), resting heart rate, and estimated oxygen variation (which could point to breathing issues to discuss with your doctor).

Our main issue with the Charge 4 is the readability of the screen (which the Charge 5 drastically improved). The Charge 4’s screen is dimly lit, which makes it difficult to read in the sun, and turns off almost as quickly as it turns on, which makes it difficult to scope your stats mid-workout compared to a running watch.

Pros

  • Comprehensive activity tracking

  • Easy-to-use companion app

  • Comfortable to wear

Cons

  • Unreliable heart rate monitoring

Product image of Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 (44mm)
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 (44mm)

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is our pick for the best smartwatch for Android users. It offers much of the same functionality as you’d expect from an “advanced” device. This includes automatic sleep monitoring and activity detection, built-in GPS and heart rate monitoring, timed workout modes, and even some on-device coaching for specific workouts (with visual cueing on, say, how to perform a squat) and rep counting.

That said, not all of the data records perfectly: On an easy run, it logged a max effort based on the heart rate detected, and one time the automatic cycling detection began a workout while driving a car. Still, as with most of these, what you get is good enough for providing a holistic look at your activity and homing in on areas where you could improve. The watch itself stores much more of the information than other similar devices, which is a boon because the ho-hum Samsung Health app leaves a lot to be desired.

As an Android smartwatch, the touchscreen display is beautiful to look at and easy to navigate, and it stores and streams music, like most of its brethren. What’s more, the smartwatch capabilities are somewhat compatible with iOS, meaning that iPhone owners could also use this watch, but the Health data doesn’t sync (a huge negative if your aim is to track your fitness). Another major downside: crappy battery life. The watch required charges at least once a day during testing.
It can also detect heart rate arrhythmia or other irregularities with its ECG app, however, an app is not the same as using a medical device, so if you have a pre-existing heart condition or other concerns, check with your doctor. Still, if this aspect of the smartwatch interests you, you can think of it like most of its other metrics—not conclusive, but a good way to increase general awareness about your health.

Pros

  • Large display

  • Good battery life

  • In-depth fitness tracking

  • Advanced sensors

Cons

  • Limited third-party apps

  • Setup is tricky

Product image of Whoop 4.0
Whoop 4.0

The Whoop 4.0 collects and analyzes valuable health and sleep information to help you optimize your exercise and recovery time. It tracks your pulse, heart rate variability, blood oxygen levels, time spent in each sleep stage, and respiratory rate, and translates that data into sleep, strain, and recovery scores that indicate how your exercise habits impact your rest and energy levels.

Whoop offers both automatic and manual activity, sleep, and recovery tracking. You can also manually track other wellness habits such as CBD use, caffeine intake, or meditation habits in the app’s journal tab to see how they affect your sleep, strain, and recovery scores.

Whoop helped me build better habits, but with a few caveats. Unlike many other fitness trackers, the Whoop doesn’t have a screen—the tracker is attached to a cloth band which wraps all the way around your wrist, making it look like you’re wearing a thick elastane bracelet. Without a screen, you’re left turning to the companion app to view your data, which is slow to load and refresh.

Whoop also requires a subscription, which costs up to $360 a year—more than many other fitness trackers we’ve tested. However, you can reduce this cost by committing to a two-year package, and app updates eliminate the need to buy new hardware when new features and functionality are added.

Pros

  • Comfortable to wear

  • Makes data points easy to understand

Cons

  • Higher-than-average price

  • Slow companion app

Product image of Fitbit Inspire 2
Fitbit Inspire 2

It may surprise you that the budget-minded, bare-bones Fitbit Inspire 2 (an upgraded version of the Inspire HR) landed so high on this list, but hear us out. If all you want is a simple, unobtrusive device as an entree into Fitbit’s world of counting steps, tracking sleep and improving habits, this is a $100 well spent.

Once you look past its bland plasticky looks and monochrome display, you’ll find that the Inspire 2 offers an exceptional battery life—it claims “up to 10 days” but it lasted at least two weeks in tests—plus most of the tracking highlights of the Charge 5. This includes automatic activity and sleep recording, timed workout modes, basic heart rate data and, most importantly, access to Fitbit’s motivational community and well-designed app.

What you won’t find: Any GPS functionality for recording outside activities. Curiously, Inspire 2 purchasers get a full year of access to Fitbit Premium’s deeper health insights and programming, double that of what you get with Fitbit’s smartwatches and the Charge 5. That makes Inspire 2 an even greater value.

Pros

  • All-day activity tracking

  • Detailed sleep data

  • Heart rate monitoring

Cons

  • Cheap, plasticky looks

  • No GPS

  • Useless smart features

Product image of Garmin Vívoactive 4
Garmin Vívoactive 4

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is more a multisport watch than a fitness tracker. Its top attributes are the seemingly endless menu of fitness activity modes, its built-in GPS, and the access to free race-training programs via the Garmin app. It could make a good running watch, as long as you don’t mind navigating via its touchscreen. However, many runners hate those as they can be too easily accidentally triggered.

That said, its smartwatch features are limited (moreso for iPhone users than Android)—a shame, considering it has the nice looks and big screen you’d want from a smartwatch.

Pros

  • Unlimited sports workout modes

  • Comprehensive activity tracking

Cons

  • Touchscreen isn't ideal

  • Hard to navigate

  • Limited smartwatch features

Product image of Apple Watch Series 6
Apple Watch Series 6

Apple Watch is the industry leader and our favorite smartwatch of them all, a distinction it earns for its plethora of apps and seamless integration with the iPhone. In addition to automatic activity and sleep tracking, on-board GPS, wrist-based heart rate monitoring, and FDA-cleared ECG app, the Series 6 is the first Apple Watch with blood-oxygen tracking, putting it on par with the other advanced fitness trackers in terms of what activity it tracks and how. (The exception is an EDA sensor for tracking stress, for which Fitbit beat ‘em to the punch with the Sense.)

One big reason to get an Apple Watch is the ability to use Apple Fitness+, Apple’s fitness app that requires Apple Watch ownership to use. It’s free for three months with purchase of a new Watch, free for a month for people who already have one, and $9.99 a month after that.

When we tested Apple Fitness+, we loved the classes that range from HIIT to yoga to outdoor walks, how it integrates the stats the Watch records into each workout, and the relatively affordable cost of the app (well, once you get over the initial sticker shock of the Apple Watch itself).

A big issue with it—and what could be a challenge for a person whose primary interest is in activity tracking is the relatively steep learning curve of the device itself. There are three iPhone apps needed to make the most of Apple Watch. The Watch app is for programming settings, the Workout app is for exercise data, and the Health app is for all the other wellness-related data).

There are also a lot of apps on the watch itself, and more than a dozen tiny icon tiles for accessing all its “smart” functions. New Apple users will find it most difficult, but anyone could feel lost in a sea of possibilities just trying to view your calendar or start a workout.

For someone dedicated to making the most of their shiny new purchase, the Apple Watch delivers in spades. But if you just want a capable fitness tracker with advanced health data acquisition, you simply don’t need to buy an Apple Watch.

Pros

  • Bright, always-on display

  • Great fitness tracking and sensors

  • Smooth, intuitive performance

Cons

  • Battery still average

  • No Android support

Product image of Samsung Galaxy Fit
Samsung Galaxy Fit

The premise of the Galaxy Fit should excite Samsung phone owners, especially because it touts “you won’t have to worry about disruptive battery discharge when tracking your activity”—a real problem with Samsung watches.

All told, it did a fine job as a fitness tracker, but lacked in its “smart” features, such as the ability to reply to text messages, which (ironically) were responsible for the battery drain in the older models. And while the Galaxy Fit works with iOS, it’s a pain, requiring two apps—Galaxy Wearable, for pairing the device to the phone, and Samsung Health, for parsing the activity data—and can be buggy at that.

Pros

  • Good basic fitness tracking

  • Slim profile

Cons

  • Requires two apps

  • Hard to set up

Product image of Fitbit Sense
Fitbit Sense

Fitbit’s introduction of the Sense, touted as “its most advanced health smartwatch,” is admirable if only for the serious technology that went into it. The aim of Sense is to capture an even more holistic look at the wearer’s health and wellbeing, with a major emphasis on tracking stress in order to determine ways to better manage it. For this, the Sense includes an EDA (electrodermal activity) sensor—the first-ever on a wearable device (yes, even before Apple).

The EDA on the Sense works from the touchscreen. When you place your opposite palm over it, it measures “small electrical changes in your sweat response” to ascertain your stress level. You can either take a 2-minute measurement to see where you are (during which time your stress level will likely quiet from when it begins) or you can use the EDA during a guided meditation.

Fitbit offers 15 meditation sessions on the app for free and the rest are (you guessed it) available with Premium. That said, if mindfulness and stress relief are big concerns of yours, this feature alone may be reason to shell out the bigger bucks for the Sense.

The other big addition to the Sense is an ECG app, which measures the electrical activity of the heart to detect irregular rhythms and recently received FDA approval. (Samsung Galaxy Active 2 and Apple Watch also have ECG apps.)

Otherwise, its activity tracking and smartwatch features mirror those of Versa 3, as do the limitations on access to some of the data it collects, which Fitbit cordoned off with its Premium paywall. The good news here is that Sense buyers who haven’t tried Premium in the past can get a six-month trial to see if all the extras make a difference to them.

Pros

  • Advanced activity tracking

  • Stress monitoring and meditation

  • FDA-approved ECG app

Cons

  • Some health data behind paywall

Product image of Garmin Venu Sq
Garmin Venu Sq

The Garmin Venu Sq isn’t a terrible product—it’s just not as good as others on this list. It’s stocked with fitness features, like Garmin’s better-than-most GPS, and some smartwatch features, all of which together seem like a value for its lower-than-the-competition price.

It had two big issues, however. It seemed to disconnect from a Samsung Galaxy S10e phone frequently, rendering smart features like notifications moot. The touchscreen also occasionally lagged to respond and was hard to see in bright light conditions, say, when running (which kinda defeats the purpose of wearing a watch for said activity).

Pros

  • Packed with fitness features

  • On-board GPS

Cons

  • Finicky touchscreen

  • Unstable Bluetooth connection

Product image of Withings Pulse HR
Withings Pulse HR

Setting up the Withings Pulse HR was a bear on Android in particular: Syncing to the app kept failing on my Samsung Galaxy S10e and required restarting the whole setup process from scratch more than once.

The Pulse HR worked well enough as an activity tracker, but just doesn’t measure up to the ease of use of others; it feels like a low-rent Fitbit. The only major attribute it has going for it is the claimed 20-day battery life, more than double what others claim, though we didn’t do long-term battery tests to compare.

Pros

  • Adequate activity tracking

  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Inferior-seeming to Fitbit

  • Hard to set up

How We Tested Fitness Trackers

Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

All of the fitness trackers record bike riding. We pedaled around to see how well.

The Testers

I’m Esther Bell, Reviewed’s health and fitness writer. Before me, editors Sara Hendricks and Amy Roberts tested fitness trackers. I find myself changing up my workouts day-to-day (thanks, in part, to my job) which means a fitness tracker has to be equipped to monitor runs, bike rides, yoga flows, and strength training sessions to keep up.

All of us have a vested interest in providing product recommendations that actually get people moving and making better lifestyle choices, rather than encouraging them to buy into the latest faddish equipment that will end up collecting dust or shoved in the back of a drawer.

A fitness tracker can be that sort of good-idea purchase, provided it’s actually worn and the wearer gets on board with the idea that “step count” as a measure of activity level is a valuable motivator to get off their duffs and move more.

(It’d be nice to turn the world into gym rats or marathoners, but committing to just moving more is the best gateway into fitness—the U.S. government agrees).

The Tests

We reviewed the trackers by wearing them and going about everyday life, much like you would when you first buy your own. We wore each 24 hours a day for several days, walking, sleeping, working out, and interacting with our wrists (and, often, smartphones by proxy). Along the way, we completed an extensive survey, rating everything from the setup to the comfort of the watches themselves to the ease of finding health data in the companion apps.

If the watch had “smart” features like text notifications or built-in Amazon Alexa, we played around with those, too. We based our rankings on how easy and enjoyable the device was to use, wear, and integrate the information captured into improving one’s activity and sleep habits.

Why We Didn’t Test for Data "Accuracy"

In our years of covering the fitness tracker category, we’ve learned that data accuracy is not the most important attribute in evaluating these products. No matter how advanced the technology, the step count in a device worn on the wrist is simply not going to match the movements of the legs. (And vice versa—something like folding laundry could invariably max out your “steps.”)

And that’s OK: As long as you make a concerted effort to improve your “step count” over time, the product is serving its purpose of getting you to move more. Well, unless you’re, say, a piano player (lots of hand movements) or someone who often pushes a stroller (minimal hand movements—in that case, your best bet is to move the tracker to your belt or pants pocket while you walk).

Further, while all of the devices we tested include heart rate monitoring, that data when accumulated from an extremity won’t be as good as what is captured by chest heart-rate strap. If you want to monitor your exertion by heart rate, you need a device that’s compatible with one of those.

What’s Important in a Good Fitness Tracker

Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Regardless of how much these devices cost (and the associated techie bells and whistles you may get by spending more), there are a few core attributes that are essential for worthwhile activity tracking. Namely:

  • Ease of use, both in navigating the device menus and finding your data on the app
  • A battery that doesn't need constant recharging and lasts long enough to track 24/7 for at least several days
  • Data that seems in sync with how much you walked, worked out, and slept—and that is consistent day to day and week to week in how it records that data
  • Adequate motivation, in the forms of: reminders to move and get ready for bed; workout modes that enhance recordings of exercise sessions; and opt-in challenges and/or an online community to keep you on track toward your goals

Meet the testers

Sara Hendricks

Sara Hendricks

Editor

@sarajhendricks

Sara Hendricks is an editor with Reviewed covering health and fitness.

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Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts

Contributing Editor

@Amy3Ro

At Reviewed, Amy edits and writes articles on health, beauty, fitness, fashion, sleep, pets, and more.

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Esther Bell

Esther Bell

Staff Writer, Health and Fitness

Esther is a writer at Reviewed covering all things health and fitness.

See all of Esther Bell's reviews

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