Fitness trackers are one of the hottest gadgets of 2021 and that means that there are more of them than ever before to choose from. Of course, that also means choosing a fitness tracker is harder than ever before, too.
Use this comparison chart to see how your fitness tracker choices stack up against each other. Just drag the name of the trackers into the slots to compare up to three activity trackers at the same time.
2021 Fitness Tracker Comparison Chart
These are some of the most popular and best general purpose fitness trackers available. If your needs are activity-specific, you might want to check out some other fitness trackers offer specialty features such as waterproof fitness trackers for swimming, or cycling trackers, or fitness trackers for runners.
How to Select the Best Fitness Tracker for You
Shopping for a new fitness tracker is complicated. It’s tricky because there are tons of options available from clip-on step counters, to fitness bands, and even fancy (plus expensive) smartwatches that do it all. While there are some crummy fitness trackers out there that don’t work well, most of the options are excellent little pieces of tech that provide all kinds of insight into our activity levels, fitness performance, and overall health. So when it comes time to buy a new fitness tracker, the biggest stumbling block is figuring out what you need. Maybe a smartwatch is overkill, but you do want to be able to control music while you run. Or you need to count steps throughout your day but you occasionally swim at the local pool. Taking your person situation into consideration can make finding the right activity tracker seem overwhelming. We’ve broken down several things to consider while you select the perfect tracker for you.
Figure Out the Best Form Factor for You
There are three main form factors for fitness and activity trackers. The first and original fitness trackers were simple clip on pedometers and step counters, which are now also available as more advanced Bluetooth trackers that sync with smartphones. The next form is fitness bands, minimalist trackers that may or may not have a display and sync your activity data with a smartphone. The newest and coolest form fact is the smartwatch or hybrid watch, which either has a digital or traditional display. It functions like a watch with fitness tracking built-in and optional apps for other uses.
Your lifestyle, budget, and personal preferences and fashion style will be the main determining factors in which of these tracker styles is best for you. If you need minimal tracking or step counting, a cheap fitness tracker or pedometer may be all you need. If your budget is unlimited and you want all the features you can get–including music control, apps, and messaging or calling–consider a smartwatch for fitness tracking. Many people will fall somewhere in between on their budget.
As far as lifestyle goes, if you work a job where any type of jewelry (including watches) is not allowed, you may want a clip on tracker that can be slipped in a pocket, attached to a waistband, or bra. If you’re a bit clumsy and constantly cracking your cell phone screen, you may want to opt for a utilitarian activity tracker band instead of a pricey smartwatch with a touchscreen display. Smartwatches are also bulky in design, so a band or clip might be better for you if you have problems with them.
The form factor is really up to your personal preferences.
Identify Your Tracking Needs
What do you need to track and what are your fitness goals? Most fitness trackers will have the basic feature of counting steps, distance walked, and estimating calories burned. If your main form of exercise is walking, that’s probably all you need. If running is your main form of exercise, you’ll need features like heart rate tracking and GPS for outdoor runs, while you might also be interested in things like lap counting and other advanced running metrics. Swimmers have completely different tracking needs, plus they need a waterproof band that works in and out of the pool. If you like variety in your fitness or live an active lifestyle, you may need an all-in-one tracker that works for a variety of activities and exercises.
What are your fitness goals? If you are trying to get healthy, prepare for a marathon, or lose weight, then a comprehensive tracking app will be very helpful for keeping up with your progress. If your focus is weight loss, an app with built-in coaching and progressive goals will be particularly helpful.
Pick Your Must-Have Features
A lot of trackers have tons of cool bells and whistles, but when it comes down to selecting the perfect fitness tracker, you want to focus on the must-have features that fit your needs. Here are some good ones to consider:
Display – Do you need a display? Are you comfortable just checking stats on your phone? Do you need the time easily displayed and will this tracker be a replacement for a traditional watch? Do you need a sturdy tracker and want to avoid a touchscreen display that can shatter?
Smartphone Compatibility – Most trackers these days sync with a smartphone app. Pay close attention to compatibility requirements. Many trackers will work with both Android and iPhone, but some are one or the other. Even fewer trackers are compatible with Windows phones.
GPS – Having a tracker with built-in GPS takes a big toll on the price and the battery life of a tracker. If you’re an outdoor runner this is probably a must-have, but other people may be able to pass on this feature.
Heart Rate Monitoring – This feature is becoming more and more common, even in cheaper trackers. Fitness trackers with heart rate monitoring are generally more accurate when it comes to estimating calories burned and other statistics. You may want this feature if accurate performance tracking is important to you.
Waterproof – If you’re a swimmer, outdoor enthusiast, or forgetful, a waterproof tracker may be non-negotiable. While this feature is becoming more and more common, an accidental run through the washing machine or forgetting to take the tracker off before a shower can absolutely fry the device.
Sleep Tracking – If monitoring sleep is an important part of tracking your overall health, look for a tracking band that has that feature built in. Often the sleep tracking in bands isn’t the best. Some people (me included) have trouble sleeping while wearing a fitness tracker or smartwatch. There are sleep monitoring devices that sit next to or attach to your bed that could be a better option.
Those are the main features you should take into consideration while shopping for a fitness tracker. You may also want to consider if stress tracking and meditation guidance, mood monitoring, women’s health tracking, emergency SOS calls, and other niche features are important to you.