Wearable activity trackers or fitness monitors can sense your body’s movement and can tell you how many steps you are taking, how many calories you are burning or a combination of both. Some of them go as far as tracking your sleep habits to let you know your quality of sleep. They can be a helpful tool to get you a snapshot of your current lifestyle. If you are not sure of how much activity you actually do during the day, these fitness gadgets can give you an accurate idea of your complete physical activity.
Wristband fitness trackers are the most popular while others can be clipped on to your belt or shoes. Fitness band trackers typically work round the clock and provide data to track your health and fitness. Even for a non-fitness person, it is an insight to your habits and behaviors.
The latest fitness wristband trackers go beyond basic pedometers and have additional features like synchronization with the Smartphone, call notifications, perspiration monitor, skin temperature and heart rate monitor. Brands such as Jawbone, Nike, Fitbit and Samsung all have such devices. There are many new entries from the likes of Microsoft and Garmin as well. So, with so many options available, how do they compare?
Best Selling Fitness Tracker Comparison and Review for products from Fitbit
|Product Model||Fitbit Zip (No Wristband)||Fitbit One (No Wristband)||Fitbit Flex||Fitbit Charge||Fitbit Charge HR||Fitbit Surge|
|Steps, Calories, Distance||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Sleep Quality & Silent Alarm||–||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Track Floors Climbed||–||Yes||–||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Track Active Minutes||–||–||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Display Caller ID||–||–||–||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Continuous Heart Rate Monitoring||–||–||–||–||Yes||Yes|
|Music Control & Notifications||–||–||–||–||–||Yes|
|Estimated Price Range||$||$$||$$||$$||$$$||$$$$$|
Fitbit Charge HR (Heart rate plus activity wristband)
Fitbit Charge HR delivers automatic continuous heart rate right on your wrist without an uncomfortable chest wrap. With all the activity and sleep tracking, Charge HR gives a complete picture of your health. It automatically synchronizes your mobile and online dashboard. Therefore, you can access your progress anytime and anywhere.
See your efforts in action with real-time run stats. View incoming calls with caller ID. Maintain your intensity, maximize calorie burn and make the most of your workouts to push your fitness further.
The Fitbit Charge HR is made of a soft rubber material with a diagonal pattern texture that runs along the exterior. A small optical sensor on the inside measures your pulse. On the outside, a small OLED screen displays health data. The heart rate monitor continuously tracks your pulse throughout the day.
When you get an incoming call, your Charge HR will vibrate and ID the caller, but it would not display your texts or other Smartphone notifications. The Fitbit app displays steps, calories burned, floors climbed (altimeter), distance, sleep and heart rate metrics.
Tips and features
- Users have reported inaccuracies in heart rate monitoring while doing high intensity workouts or sports that involve sudden changes in heart rates. However, it seems to work well while performing light steady exercises like walking, jogging or a bike ride. If you want a device, which monitors the heart rate more accurately, you may purchase a device with a chest strap.
- The device is water resistant with a rating of 1ATM (10meters) to prevent rain or sweat but is not meant to be submerged under water.
- The OLED display turns off after some time to conserve battery life. You can double tap or press a button to turn on the display. The display is difficult to read in direct sunlight.
- Apart from tracking your heart rate, this device calculates total miles travelled, counts steps (pedometer) and calculates estimated calories burned. It also monitors your sleep patterns if you wear it at night.
- It synchronizes wirelessly with most android phones, iPhone or iPad.
- The Charge HR does not have an inbuilt GPS. However, you can use the Fitbit Smartphone app to track the distance and speed accurately.
- The device can display date and time but does not show the day of the week. It also has a stopwatch.
- You will need to synchronize the device with your Smartphone or PC to save historical data. You do not need to carry your phone along every time. When Fitbit Charge HR comes within range of your Smartphone or a Bluetooth enabled device, it automatically synchronizes and transfers the recorded data to the Fitbit app.
- The device comes with a USB charging cable and you can use a Bluetooth wireless sync dongle to connect with a computer. It synchronizes automatically when it comes within Bluetooth wireless range (approx. 7 to 10 feet) of your phone or PC.
- According to the users, the battery lasts for an average of 3.5 days and takes about 2 hours to charge completely.
- You may charge using a USB port.
- You will not be able to switch the wristband to change colors as the electronics are embedded inside the band.
- It also features a vibrating alarm, which wakes you up at a pre set time.
- Fitbit Charge HR also displays caller ID when you receive a call on your Smartphone.
Fitbit Flex Activity Plus Sleep Wrist Band
The Fitbit Flex is a simple wristband that wraps discreetly around your arm measuring your activity day and night. It is designed to be slim and lightweight so that it fits comfortably without getting in the way of your daily routine. The tracker is placed inside the wristband housing and is easily removed for charging in another Fitbit device. There is not much difference between Fitbit Flex and Fitbit One. Fitbit Flex lacks elevation tracking and an OLED display.
There are two wristband sizes included in your startup pack. You just need to download the Fitbit app and set your goals. Once you have signed up for an account, you can sync the Fitbit Flex with your PC, tablet or Smartphone and edit your targets from the dashboard.
The device will track everything from the number of calories you burn in a day to the distance you travel and the number of steps you take. Therefore, you might use the Flex to set a rigorous training target or as a prompt to make sure that, you are active enough during the day.
Just keep an eye on the band’s five LED’s to monitor your progress. Each one is about 20% of your target and lights up when a milestone is cleared. The Fitbit Flex will also track your sleep and count how many times you wake up at night. Flex encourages to get up and get moving every day and is the perfect companion to your lifestyle.
The Fitbit Flex appears in the first position on the fitness tracker comparison chart above, which means that it is the most popular fitness band compared to other wearable activity devices.
Tips and features
- The Fitbit Flex is water resistant with a rating of 1ATM (10meters) but should be removed before swimming and showering. However, users have worn it while swimming, showering and in hot tubs without any harm. The device will not record swimming any swimming activity.
- Charger and USB sync dongle are included in the package.
- This device does not display time.
- The Fitbit Flex will only track steps and activity level. Activities like biking, stair climbing, swimming, treadmill and elliptical workouts will not be monitored accurately. These activities need to be logged manually in the app. To track treadmill workout accurately, you may wear Flex on your ankle.
- The Fitbit app is free to download and use. Check the manufacturer website for compatibility of your device. (https://www.fitbit.com/app)
- The battery lasts for about six to seven days.
- This device does not have GPS and does not monitor heart rate.
Fitbit Surge (Activity band with heart rate monitor)
The Fitbit Surge is a fitness super watch with a built-in GPS to measure distance, pace and elevation. Use automatic continuous heart rate measurement to maintain intensity, monitor calorie burn and maximize results.
It goes beyond workouts with all day stats, text/call notifications and music control. It also has the ability to tell you what kind of workout you are doing whether its yoga, weightlifting, or using an elliptical machine.
Fitbit Surge is on the eighth position in the fitness band comparison chart above. This is due to the relatively higher pricing of this fitness watch.
Tips and features
- The monochrome LED display remains on at all times. You also have an option to turn on/off the display backlight to view in the dark.
- Fitbit Surge can display text notifications but you will need a phone to reply.
- This device is water resistant with a rating of 5ATM (50meters) but users have suggested to keep it dry and not to shower or swim while wearing it. Some users reported formation of condensation droplets when exposed to water while showering or swimming.
- You can use Surge to access the playlist from your phone. You have the option to select, pause or play music while connected to your phone via Bluetooth.
- Users have reported that the battery lasts for about four or five days and depends on what features you use. For e.g. GPS functions drain the battery most. Therefore, you should switch off GPS when you do not need it. You also have the option to turn off the heart rate sensor and the Bluetooth radio to save battery.
- With the new software update, the Surge has an improved silent alarm with snooze and now vibrates multiple times to wake you up instead of vibrating only once.
- The heart rate monitor is not a replacement for medical advice and may be inaccurate at times. For a greater accuracy in measurements, the Surge should be worn a little higher up the wrist as directed. You may also visit the Fitbit forums where users have compared and analyzed the heart rate monitor data log with various other devices. (https://community.fitbit.com/)
Best Selling Wearable Fitness Tracking Band Comparison and Review for products from Polar
|Product Model||Polar FT4 (Measures only heart rate)||Polar Loop||Polar A300||Polar M400||Polar V800|
|Heart Rate Tracking||With H1/H7 sensor, also in water||With H7 sensor||With H7 sensor, also in water||With H7 sensor||With H7 sensor, also in water|
|24/7 Activity Tracking||–||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Polar Flow Web service and App||–||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Adjustable training views||–||–||–||Yes||Yes|
|Estimated Price Range||$||$$||$$||$$$||$$$$$$|
Polar Loop Activity Tracker Band
Polar specializes in heart rate monitors for the fitness community. The Loop wristband works in connection with your Smartphone providing visual data and record keeping.
The band is made up of silicone rubber like material with chrome accents and a metal buckle type fastener. The LED display lights up with indications about your progress such calories burned, steps taken, time, etc. It also displays a bar that fills throughout the day indicating how much activity is required to reach your preset goals.
The Loop also displays how many minutes of walking or jogging you need to do to reach your goals.
In the inner part of the band, there is a data port for syncing the Loop to your computer, which is also used for charging.
Polar provides its proprietary magnetized cable for connecting with the band. Even though the connection is exposed, the band is waterproof which means that you can even wear this while swimming. The Polar Loop has Bluetooth technology to synchronize data with your phone or device. The Polar Loop does not have a built-in heart rate monitor. The Loop works in conjunction with an external Polar H7 Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Sensor with a chest strap, for greater accuracy.
The Polar Loop shows up at the eleventh position in the fitness band comparison table after Fitbit Flex, Fitbit Charge and Garmin Vivofit in the similar price range with good ratings.
Tips and features
- Although you can wear it while swimming, the Polar Loop will track any swimming activity as steps. Also, note that the Bluetooth H7 heart monitor will not transmit data in water for some trackers since most radio frequencies fail to propagate under water.
- The H7 heart rate transmitter with chest strap comes at extra cost. The Loop works without it, but it is recommended to purchase one, for greater accuracy in activity and calorie measurements.
- The Loop is a cut to fit band. For a comfortable fit, you will need to measure and cut the band as instructed, very carefully since the only makes the band smaller. It is better if you make small cuts until you are happy with the fit.
- The loop comes with a USB charger and the battery takes less than 30 minutes to charge.
- The Loop does not measure different phases of sleep quality. It will only track periods of inactivity.
- The Polar Flow app is designed to work natively with iPhone 4S or later. You should check the manufacturer website for compatibility of your device. (https://flow.polar.com/)
- The display remains inactive and you will need to press the button to check time and other stats.
- Many users complain that the button is not responsive at times. This is due to the capacitive nature of the button. It will work properly when the USB metal ring below is in contact with the skin. To ensure this you will need to wear the Loop a little tightly on your wrist.
- According to users, the battery lasts for around two days between charges. It depends heavily on the frequency of Bluetooth synchronization with the app and heart rate transmitter.
- The Loop does not have vibrating silent alarm functionality.
- The sleep mode activates automatically.
- The Polar H7 Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Sensor does not store data but can transmit data to Polar Loop or phone directly via Bluetooth. The H7 chest strap sensor has a replaceable non-chargeable battery. The battery lasts for many months. The heart rate sensor automatically shuts off after you remove it from your chest.
Polar M400 GPS Sports Watch & Activity Tracker Wristband
The lightweight Polar M400 is designed to be worn continuously, so you can keep an eye on your activity 24/7. With a 3D accelerometer, it tracks your daily movement and records your activity level throughout the day. It even offers notifications when the user has been inactive for too long during the day.
This watch tracks your distance, pace, time and altitude in real time with a GPS. The watch is fully water resistant up to 30 meters, so you can shower with it and even go swimming. It charges with a standard micro USB cable rather than some specialized proprietary cable as in most other fitness trackers.
The activity guide shows how active you have been during the day. The status bar fills up when you are moving and rewards you when you have reached your daily activity goal. The activity guide also tells how much you need to do to reach the global recommendations for physical activity.
The M400 works together with the Polar Flow mobile app and Web Flow service which give you a perfect overview of your activity. The watch can synchronize with an external H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor to track the heart rate and can also be set up for zone specific training.
The Easysync function synchronizes the activity data to the Polar Flow app with the push of a button. The watch also has a ‘finish time estimator’ function that provides motivation to complete your goals. Simply set the distance you are running and the watch calculates your estimated finish time based on your current running speed.
The Polar M400 appears at the nineteenth position in the fitness band comparison table with one of the highest ratings.
Tips and features
- Polar M400 has a great battery life. It lasts for about 24 days if you use it for activity tracking only. However, the battery drains quickly when you use GPS and Heart Rate monitor, lasting for about 8 hours only.
- This watch does not have an in-built heart rate sensor. You can purchase Polar H7 heart rate sensor separately or you can buy the package, which includes the heart rate monitor with a chest strap.
- The watch can pair with a foot pod for accurate cadence measurements during cycling.
- More than 50 sports profiles to choose from.
- The watch mode has four watch faces, which you can select to display time.
- The M400 does not have a temperature sensor.
- The sleep measurement is not very detailed. The Polar Flow app displays sleep statistics after syncing with the watch where you can view the total sleep time, restful sleep and restless sleep.
- The watch has a flight mode where you can turn off the Bluetooth and GPS.
- You can turn on the backlight while viewing the screen in the dark.
- You can put the activity tracker on pause manually during a workout and start it after taking a rest. In GPS mode, the watch auto detects long pauses for e.g. Long halts during a red light.
- This watch also features ‘Back to start’ function that helps you to find your way back to where you started. This feature is helpful in unfamiliar neighborhoods.
Best Selling Wristband Fitness Tracker Comparison and Review for products from Garmin
|Product Model||Vivofit||Vivofit 2||Vivosmart||Vivoactive|
Heart rate compatibility
Find my phone
Music player controls
|Estimated Price Range||$||$$||$$||$$$$|
Garmin Vivofit2 Fitness Band
The Garmin Vivofit2 is a fitness band with a big always-on transflective LCD backlit display, a one-year battery life and it tracks your steps, calories burned, distance travelled and sleep at night.
It syncs to the Garmin connect app on your Android or iOS device and to your computer with a small USB dongle. It can also pair to an external compatible heart rate monitor.
The Vivofit2 is water resistant up to 50 meters and it can be worn in the shower or while swimming, so there is no need to ever take it off.
This fitness band is available in a number of colors and you can detach the actual fitness module itself, so you can buy replacement bands to customize the Vivifit2 as you please.
It also has audible reminders for inactivity, so if you are overly lethargic for the past hour, it will prompt you to move by beeping. It will also beep to let you know that you have achieved your daily steps goal. The Vivofit2 has a locking mechanism, which prevents it from randomly falling off.
The Garmin Vivofit2 comes at the seventeenth position in the fitness band comparison table with a rating of 3.8 and a low price range.
Tips and features
- The Vivofit2 does not have silent vibrating alarms to wake you up in the morning.
- It does not have auto sleep recognition, which means that you need to enter and exit sleep modes manually.
- No call notification and music control functionality to improve battery life.
- You can pair this band with an external heart rate sensor that follows ANT+ protocol, which needs to be purchased separately.
- You can use it as a watch with always-on clock display.
- You have the option to turn off the audible alerts.
- Some users have difficulty pairing the device with their Smartphone or PC. You will need to press and hold the sync button till you see ‘start’, ‘sync’ and ‘pair’ on the screen.
- It has stopwatch functionality.
- Tracks swimming strokes by sensing arm movements and not GPS.
Garmin Vivoactive (GPS Smart Watch with built-in sports apps)
Garmin Vivoactive is a GPS smart watch and an activity tracker. The Vivoactive activity tracker senses your motion and steps all day long.
When outdoors, you can start a GPS enabled workout like walking, running, biking, hiking and many more. For high intensity workouts like weight lifting, cardio, crossfit, martial arts or yoga, you have the option of wearing an external dedicated Garmin heart rate monitor to track your heart rate for optimal calorie burning information.
When paired with your Smartphone, you will receive notifications like text messages, emails, phone calls and any other notification you have set up on your Smartphone.
You can quickly see if there are any upcoming events in your calendar, or look at the weather forecast and even customize your watch face or install new applications on your Vivoactive. All this data is available via the touch-screen color display that uses ambient light for super clear viewing in any lighting situation including darkness by using the built-in backlight when required.
You can get the Vivoctive in black or white colors and there are options to customize the watchband to a different color.
Garmin has developed their connect IQ store where you will find downloadable watch faces, applications, data fields, widgets to customize your Garmin Vivoactive.
The Garmin Vivoactive falls in the twentieth position in the fitness band comparison chart with the best rating in the higher price category.
Tips and features
- The battery charges within two hours and lasts for up to 2 weeks without GPS usage. With GPS on, it lasts for about 10 hours.
- It has wake up alarm function but it vibrates only once and it does not have multi alarm or snooze function.
- Smartphone notifications will work only when the phone is within the Bluetooth range. You can also turn off the Smartphone notifications. You cannot respond to notifications without your phone.
- Vivoactive is water resistant up to 50 meters and it tracks swimming metrics.
- It detects sleep automatically without having to press any buttons.
Best Selling Activity Monitoring Wristband Comparison and Review for products from Jawbone
|Product Model||UP Move||UP2||UP3|
|Smart coach/Activity tracking/Steps/ Calories burned/ food logging/ Sleep tracking/ Goal setting /Leaderboards/ Duels||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Smart alarm/ Idle alert||–||Yes||Yes|
|Heart health monitoring/ Advanced sleep tracking||–||–||Yes|
|Estimated Price Range||$||$$||$$$|
Jawbone UP 3 activity wristband with patented multi-sensor technology
The Jawbone UP 3 is an activity, sleep and heart rate monitor which looks more like a fashion accessory than a fitness tracker. The device is adjustable and locks completely around your wrist.
It does not have a display but that should not stop it from buzzing to notify you of incoming phone calls and other silent alarms. The LED lights aboard the UP 3 shine blue for sleep, orange for activity and white for notifications.
It tracks your steps, calories burned, distance travelled, sleep and your resting heart rate, which is determined after a few moments after you wake up in the morning.
UP 3 can also track your skin temperature and ambient temperature. The heart rate sensors are bio impedance and not optical as with most other fitness trackers in the market.
The Jawbone UP3 is at the fifteenth position in the fitness band comparison chart with the second best rating after Fitbit Charge HR in the medium price category.
Tips and features
- UP 3 syncs automatically via Bluetooth Smart to the Jawbone iOS and Android mobile app. It does not yet have the capability to synchronize with a laptop, PC or a Windows Smartphone.
- This fitness tracker has an idle or inactivity alert (it buzzes when you remain inactive for more than a certain period of time) and automatic activity tagging, which should pick up on select workouts and automatically log them accordingly. You can also log the activities manually via the mobile app.
- You have the option to turn off the alarms and activity alerts.
- The Jawbone UP 3 is not water resistant. It is only splash resistant, hence you cannot swim with this tracker on.
- The package comes with a magnetic USB charger that is very easy to use. It takes about one hour to fully charge.
- It does not track heart rate while exercising. It only tracks resting heart rate while sleeping.
- It does not track bike riding as it does not have inbuilt GPS functionality.
- You can tap to switch between modes. Users have found the tapping mechanism non-responsive at times. Either you can switch to sleep mode manually by tapping or the band will automatically switch to sleep mode at a pre-defined time.
- The battery lasts anywhere from 4 to 5 days.
- This device has deep sleep and REM sleep measuring capabilities.
- The company claims to deliver firmware updates for this fitness tracker in the future via the app, to unlock more features, like constant heart rate monitoring, without changing the hardware.
- Users found the D-ring clasp at the end of the strap very annoying.
Best Selling Wearable Fitness Tracker Review for products from Misfit
Misfit Shine Wristband with replaceable coin cell battery (no charging)
Misfit Shine fitness band measures your calories burned, distance walked, your sleep patterns throughout the night, and attempts to encourage you to be more active through their points system.
The unique thing about Misfit Shine is that you can wear this almost anywhere on your body. The package includes a magnetic clasp that you can fold over your shirt, sleeve, shoe, etc. unlike other bands in the market. You can also leave Shine in your pocket and it will record your activity. In addition, the package includes a one size fits all rubber sport band to wear this band identically like a watch. The battery lasts for up to four months and is replaceable.
The aluminum construction of Misfit Shine allows it to go underwater up to 50 meters without damage. The sleek and modern looking 12 dot circular LED display shows the clock when double tapped. The LED lights make a circular movement when you have completed your goal. However, the LED lights are difficult to view in direct sunlight.
The Misfit Shine appears at the sixth position in the fitness band comparison chart showing that it is one of the best selling fitness tracker due to its low price.
Tips and features
- There is no alarm functionality or vibration alerts.
- The battery is not rechargeable and you will need to open the battery cover using the clip provided to replace the discharged battery.
- It does not track inactivity.
- Syncs with Smartphone only via Misfit activity monitor app.
- Tracks sleep automatically.
- You can set the smart alarm feature on the Misfit Smartphone app, which will wake you up at the most optimal sleep cycle. You will need to synchronize Shine with your Smartphone first. Remember that the alarm will ring in your phone and not in your Shine fitness tracker.
- The tracker will not show you the activity statistics since the display is limited to circular LED lights. You will need the app to set goals and to view daily activity charts. This device will not work without an app.
Misfit Flash (Sleek, stylish and sporty fitness tracker)
Misfit Flash is made up of polycarbonate plastic material to reduce costs. The band provides a comfortable fit with a smooth finish.
The coin battery lasts for up to six months and is easy to replace by removing the back case.
It is waterproof up to 30 meters and comes with a magnetic clasp. The Flash’s design has a cool red LED 12 dot circular readout that not shows you daily progress but also time after tapping.
The Misfit app works with Windows, iOS and Android phone. The app is cleanly designed and also connects with additional fitness tracking softwares like Runkeeper.
The Misfit Flash is at the tenth position in the fitness band comparison chart with a low rating but sells well due to its very low price.
Tips and features
- Has all the functionality of Misfit Shine.
- Users have experienced water leaks while swimming and showering. Make sure to seal the back case properly after replacing the battery.
- For accurate tracking while cycling you can clip it to your shoe or wear it on your ankle.
- Flash can also connect with My Fitness Pal, Map My Fitness and Apple iHealth Apps.
- No vibration alarms.
- There is no heart rate sensor compatibility and no GPS.