Comparing Fitness Tracking Devices

Learn How Different Fitness Trackers Stack Up to the Competition

The market is practically flooded with fitness tracking devices—wrist bands, watches, headphones, and even clothing—all designed to help you monitor your stats as you strive to improve your health. But the reality is, not all fitness tracking devices are created equal, and some really great products get lost in the shuffle.

Rather than leave your fitness monitoring to chance, check out the following fitness wearable reviews. And if you're still left scratching your head about which wearable is right for you, consider these tips from elite personal trainer and fitness technology consultant, Chris Clough:

  • Get a fitness tracker you'll use—it doesn't need to be the most expensive or the one with the most bells and whistles.
  • Ask a personal trainer or someone in the fitness industry who uses a tracker for advice or recommendations.
  • Make sure the tracker you select actually tracks the activities you do—if you're a swimmer, you need one that tracks swimming; if you're cyclist or strength trainer, you need one that monitors those activities, too.
  • Remember it's just a tool—it won't make over your life by itself, you have to actually put in the work and make changes to see success.

Polar M600

polar m600

The Polar M600 is a waterproof, GPS-integrated, heart rate-monitoring device that's powered by Android Wear 2.0. This means that it tracks your activity 24 hours a day and it syncs with your smartphone to give you calendar and email to notifications. Plus, you can read and reply to texts with voice control, and access more than 4,000 third-party apps through Google Play. You can even sync your music through Google Play to listen to it without your smartphone. All-in-all, it offers an array of really cool features.

But aside from all the smart features, this watch also works with the free Polar Flow app so you can set up a personalized running program based on your individual goals. While using your program, you'll receive motivational feedback and advice on your performance.

And just in case you're wondering, the M600 works with both Android and iOS operating systems, so you can use it with your iPhone.

Best Features: Smart features, voice texting, Google search functionality, personalized running programs, and feedback, waterproof

Who It's For: Runners or anyone looking for a tricked out smartwatch to track activity metrics

Drawbacks: Doesn't track multiple sports, has a relatively short battery life (one to two days)


Fitbit Blaze

Fitbit Blaze

The Fitbit Blaze is one of the brand's "smart fitness watches," offering a combination of high-level fitness tracking and smart connectivity. With the Blaze you get a good dose of all the best features:

  • Smartphone notifications for calls, texts, and calendar information
  • Continuous heart rate monitoring and fitness tracking for steps, distance, floors climbed, and active minutes
  • Optional FitStar on-screen workouts you can follow along with
  • Multi-sport tracking that covers everything from general cardio routines, running, cross-training, cycling, and more
  • Sleep tracking
  • The ability to control your music from your watch

The Blaze is also interchangeable with a number of watch bands, so if you're willing to purchase multiple bands, you can change the look of your fitness monitor in about five seconds.

While its smart features don't dive as deep as the Polar M600, it offers just enough breadth and depth to provide a suitable, functional smartwatch for most people. Plus, its overall fitness tracking appears to be accurate and reasonably in-depth, especially for individuals who participate in many different activities.

Best Features: Call and text notifications you can read on the screen, sleep tracking, high-quality app, periodic movement reminders, up to five-day battery life

Who It's For: Anyone who wants a high-end fitness tracker that also functions as a basic smartwatch

Drawbacks: Not waterproof


Withings Steel HR

Withings Steel HR

The Withings Steel HR is a pretty sweet twist to the world of smart, wearable fitness devices. First, it features the classic watch face with a stainless steel case and chrome hands, making it an excellent option for anyone who needs a dressier watch during day-to-day life. Second, it offers 24-hour continuous activity, heart rate, and sleep tracking, not unlike many other fitness tracking devices.

While these features are wonderful, there are two other things that make the Steel HR an especially nice selection: Its long battery life and its water-resistance.

The Steel HR's battery life is practically unprecedented, lasting up to 25 days, with an additional 20 days in power-saving mode. That means you can wear the watch for a full month without worrying about recharging it. Plus, because it's water-resistant up to 50 meters, you can wear the watch while showering, swimming, or just walking through a downpour. Literally, you can wear the watch all the time without worrying about damaging it.

It's also important to note that the Steel HR tracks multiple sports, so whether you're walking, swimming, or cycling, your favorite activity is covered.

And last, but not least, the watch syncs with your phone to provide you with basic smart notifications—it'll give you a heads up when a call or text comes through, and you can set alarms to buzz on your watch for reminders.

Best Features: Incredible battery life, sleek and classic watch design, water-resistance, multiple-sport tracking

Who It's For: Anyone who wants a classic watch with fitness tracking features and a nice, long battery life

Drawbacks: The app is a little less intuitive than some of the other apps on the market, because of the classic appearance the smartwatch notifications are more limited than some


Fitbit Alta HR

Fitbit Alta HR

The Fitbit Alta HR is the upgraded version of the Fitbit Alta, adding the continuous heart rate monitoring to its lineup of features. This sleek, slim wearable is smaller than the Blaze, but offers much of the functionality at a more affordable price point.

As with other Fitbits and most other fitness trackers, you can track your calories burned, log your food intake through the app, and set activity goals. The Alta HR will give you reminders to move around and will track your heart rate zones throughout the day, as well as display your resting heart rate directly on the screen. The wearable also monitors sleep and sleep stages, providing you with insights in the app.

One really nice benefit is that Alta HR users can connect with friends, and join challenges and adventures through the app. Because Fitbits are so popular, the community is extensive, offering a great community to compete against and interact with.

And like the Blaze, the Alta HR can be fitted with different bands, so you can change your look whenever you feel like it. In fact, you can get a designer look by buying one of the Public School or Simply Vera Wang bands to elevate your appearance.

Best Features: Slim design, continuous heart rate monitoring, smart notifications for calls and texts, interchangeable wrist bands, the Fitbit community

Who It's For: Anyone who wants a reliable, sleek wearable that offers heart rate and sleep tracking with interchangeable, stylish bands

Drawbacks: Fewer smart features than some fitness trackers


Jabra Elite Sport Earbuds

Jabra Elite Sport Earbuds

The Jabra Elite Sport Earbuds are true wireless earbuds with heart rate monitoring that offer some pretty sweet fitness-tracking features. For starters, they're truly wireless. For anyone who hates tangling with wires or wearing headphones with bands or wires looped around their head, this feature alone is a significant one.

Second, the integrated heart rate monitor tracks your heart rate continuously during your workout and can connect with your phones GPS to track your distance, pace, and elevation during workouts.

Most significantly of all, the Jabra Elite Sport Earbuds enable you to calculate an estimated VO2 max that should fall within five-percent of your actual VO2 max. This is an important feature for anyone serious about running or racing, as VO2 max is a good measure of cardiovascular capacity. If your training leads to improvements in VO2 max, you're probably doing something right.

The earbuds also connect with the Jabra Sport Life app, where you can plan and track workouts of all types, whether running, cycling or strength training. They're also waterproof and offer a three-year warranty from damage by sweat.

As with most wireless earbuds, the Jabra Elite Sport are a good option for wireless calling, as well.

They come with a variety of wings and buds to help you find the right fit, but because they're larger than most earbuds, it can take time to find the right fit, and unless they fit well, they'll feel clunky and uncomfortable.

Best Features: Excellent app, in-ear heart rate monitoring, GPS connectivity, VO2 max testing, up to 9 hours of battery life with the provided charging case

Who It's For: The serious runner or athlete who's looking for a few extra features from their headphones

Drawbacks: VO2 max isn't perfectly accurate, the earbuds are large and take time to find the right fit, VO2 max test has to be performed outside rather than on a treadmill


JBL UA Sport Wireless Heart Rate

JBL UA Wireless Heart Rate

The JBL UA Sport Wireless Heart Rate earbuds are another cool fitness tracking device in the headphone space. These earbuds offer a comfortable fit and over-the-ear wire that helps them stay in place even during tough workouts.

When it comes to your workout routines, the headphones integrate with the UA Record app, providing you with up-to-date, continuous statistics based on your workouts and intensity. This is particularly accurate due to the in-ear heart rate monitor, and if you choose to follow a program, you can receive live feedback on your progress as well as personalized in-ear coaching.

If you happen to have the UA Band, the headphones sync with the band, further maximizing your tracking capabilities throughout the day. Plus, anyone who buys the headphones gets a year's premium membership to MapMyRun (a $30 value), which also syncs with UA Record, so all your data is tracked and compiled in one spot.

Finally, the headphones provide a solid, five-hour charge—plenty long enough for at least a few workouts—and a sweat-proof design that stays secure in your ears.

Best Features: In-ear heart rate monitoring, great sound, great app, MapMyRun premium membership, good charge

Who It's For: Anyone who wants a wireless earbud that stays in place through workouts and provides high-quality heart rate tracking

Drawbacks: Because the headphones aren't designed to be worn 24/7, some of the UA Record features aren't usable without the UA Band, the over-ear wire may bother you if your ears are sensitive


Fitbit Charge

Fitbit Charge

The Fitbit Charge is a solid fitness wristband that has since been replaced by Fitbit with the Charge 2, which offers heart rate monitoring and more overall tracking capabilities. While you can no longer buy the original Charge from the Fitbit website, you can find them on Amazon and other retail websites.

Overall, when it comes to trackers that are bands that have few, if any, smart features, the Fitbit Charge offers a high-quality experience. It delivers smartphone notifications to your wrist along with the name of the person calling or the text message, and it offers reasonably accurate sleep and fitness tracking metrics. Read the full review here.

Best Features: Decent battery life, high quality metrics, nice app, tracks floors climbed

Who It's For: Anyone who wants a basic fitness tracker with pretty accurate stats and very basic smartphone notifications

Drawbacks: It's not an attractive band, it's priced high compared to other bands that offer similar features


InBody Band

InBody Band

The InBody Band does one thing really well, and it's the thing it's marketing itself for: body fat testing. As the only body fat-monitoring fitness wearable on the market, the feature sets it apart from other comparable products, such as the FitBit Charge and Jawbone UP.

It's a good thing, too, because its other functions—step counting, sleep monitoring and workout tracking—don't seem to be as accurate as its competitors. Also, while the band does sync with your phone to notify you of incoming calls and texts, all it does is buzz and let you know you have a call or message—it doesn't actually let you see who's calling or what the text message is.

If you're looking for an easy way to track your body fat with reasonable validity, the InBody Band isn't a bad choice.

Best Features: Body fat testing

Who It's For: Anyone who wants a basic fitness tracker with the additional body fat testing feature

Drawbacks: Fitness metrics don't seem as accurate as other brands, smart notifications were lacking

Buy on Amazon


Jawbone UP2

Jawbone UP2

The Jawbone UP2 is a stylish fitness-tracking band that's just that—a band. It's not a watch or a smartwatch, so its features are limited. The good news is it looks pretty, but the bad news is it's hard to get it to stay on your wrist, especially while sleeping, due to its funky clasp. The band's app is actually quite nice—one of the best tested, but the metrics don't appear to be as accurate as some of the other well-known brands, like Fitbit. Read the full review here.

Best Features: Stylish band, great app

Who It's For: Anyone who is looking for an affordable, somewhat stylish fitness tracker

Drawbacks: The band comes off easily, metrics may not be accurate, Jawbone is leaving the consumer wearables market, so there are unlikely to be more updates


Star.21 Fitness Band

Star.21 Fitness Tracker
Oaxis Star.21

The Star.21 Fitness Bandis trying to be a more stylish version of one of the original Fitbit bands. While it succeeds in being a slightly more attractive, bracelet-like option, its functionality is left wanting. Or more specifically, its app's functionality is left wanting.

Best Features: General fitness tracking, somewhat more stylish band, long battery life at 15 days

Who It's For: Anyone who wants a less expensive, basic way to track their fitness metrics

Drawbacks: The app is clunky and hard to use, the watch takes a while to figure out


Skulpt Aim Body Fat Monitor

Laura Williams

While it's good that companies are starting to focus on biometrics other than weight and BMI, the Skulpt Aim handheld body fat monitor isn't worth the price point when it basically does what a body fat scale or the InBody Band can do.

Best Features: Body fat testing

Who It's For: Unclear

Drawbacks: The biometric it's tracking is quality, but you can get the same information from other sources that are more than a one-trick pony

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