The Best Fitness Watches to Consider Reviewed and Compared

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Searching for Fitness Watches? Take a look at the best Fitness Watches of 2017, Pros & Cons and what to be aware of before buying them online or in a store.

The first thing you want to do if you’re considering purchasing a fitness tracker or watch is to sit down and really consider why you want it. How will you use it most often? What type of conditions do you need it to work in? What features do you absolutely need and which ones can you do without? For example, runners will mostly appreciate a watch with built in GPS. Someone simply wishing to count calories may not. The thought process above is the way to avoid a watch that doesn’t meet your standards or splurging on one that offers more than you need.

 

Another consideration to make it what type of phone you have. Many (almost all) fitness watches interact with your phone and utilize mobile applications or training software. If there are certain apps or programs you know that you want to try (Nike+ for example) out this needs to go into your forethought as well.

Our Top  Picks

There are a lot of options when it comes to watches if you’re feeling at all overwhelmed we are here to help. We’ve compiled an exhaustive list of the best fitness watches. Some are fancy and some are plain. For details, reviews, pros/cons, specs and discussion read on!

Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR Running GPS Unit

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Rounding out our list we have a real heavy hitter, the Suunto Ambit3 Peak. Dependable, tank-like timepiece is a premium grade multisport GPS watch with over 50 preset modes and rich activity-specific metrics so you can get every last ounce out of your training regime. It provides reliable altitude and weather information with full navigation, so it’s great for running in the mountains. With a battery life of over 200 hours this watch won’t quit, and will be there with you every step of the way. For a full list of impressive features see below.
Pros
  • Enabled 5 sec-GPS accuracy
  • Compass altitude (FusedAltiTM) monitoring system
  • Includes the Movescount training program(s)
  • Ability to create a Suunto Movie and share metrics and photos with friends instantly
  • Records and analyzes all manner of body and environmental metrics
  • GPS / GLONASS tracking and route navigation, also leaves real time breadcrumbs
Cons
  • Some GPS tracking issues in some areas

TomTom Spark GPS Watch

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The TomTom Spark isn’t strapping a computer to your wrist in the same sense some of the higher end model fitness watches are. But that doesn’t mean that it’s less than necessarily. In fact we happen to think it sticks to its task brilliantly. The Spark helps you to capture every minute of your day, not just run time — leaving you with a macro view of your body’s performance over the course of twenty four hours Coming in a lightweight, water resistant body the Spark is your reps coach when it comes to distance, time, steps, stairs, calories — you name it!
Pros
  • GPS and GLONASS capabilities, track what is most vital
  • Easy, and simple training modes, run, bike, swim
  • Has built in active audio feedback if you need a few cues or some motivation
  • Works with Android, Apple iOS, and Windows — so pick your favorite app!
  • Firm and strong wristband/latch combination — won’t slip on your wrist
  • Water resistant to a distance of 40m
Cons
  • Challenging with some bluetooth headphones

Fitbit Flex 2

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Fitbit's Flex is back for round two. The Fitbit Flex 2 is a solid choice for those after something simple, as well as those who are in need of a water-resistant tracker. Its features include: 2 sizes, Android & iOS compatibility, battery lasts 5 days, Bluetooth 4.0. It has a fun software and is very light in terms of weight and comfortable. It’s a simple fitness tracker that is able to note your daily workout routine. One major challenge is that the battery life isn’t good. It is water resistant though, meaning you'll be able to go swimming with the Flex 2 and track how well your dip in the pool has gone. If you're after a waterproof and low price Fitbit, you should go for the Flex 2.
Pros

Comfortable and light

Fun software

Water resistant

Cons

Battery life not great

Slow to charge

Feature-light hardware

Jawbone UP3

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When it comes to fitness tracker style, not many players are on the same level as Jawbone. The UP3 may have shifted how the UP bands connect to your wrist, but it still manages to exude the same Yves Behar flair of its predecessors. Impressive design, oodles of features and sensors. Its features are: size: 220mm x 12.2mm x 3.0mm-9.3mm, Android & iOS compatibility, battery last 7 days, Bluetooth 4.0 LE. The UP3 is an impressive feat of engineering, but doesn't deliver with its inclusion of extra sensors and beefed up price tag.
Pros

More secure design

Impressive UP app

Good sleep tracking

 

Cons

Sensors underused

Expensive

Awkward charging mechanism

TomTom Touch

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The TomTom Touch is a shower-proof fitness tracker which stands out through an unusual fat-scanning feature, but thanks to dull software and poor battery life the full package disappoints. A basic tracker with some advanced features:11.5mm thick, display of 5.58 x 22.38mm screen, weighs 10g, iOS & Android compatibility, Bluetooth. I loved the fat scanner on this fitness tracker. This has been the major selling point for TomTom Touch fitness tracker. It's let down with poor battery life and boring software, but if you're after a fitness tracker that can do something a little different and don't mind recharging it quite often, you'll do fine with the TomTom Touch.
Pros

Interesting body fat scanner

Shower-proof

Built-in heart rate monitor

Cons

Poor battery life

Uninspired software

Numerous usability fails

Fitbit Charge 2

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The best fitness tracker you can buy, though more expensive than the other fitness trackers in the market. Some of its impressive features are: 3 sizes, OLED display, Android & iOS compatibility, battery lasts 5 days, Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, big screen, comfortable strap, limited phone notifications. It serves best to those who like jogging. It connects with the GPS on your phone, has a large screen to display your data, a heart rate tracker and new fitness features we've only previously seen on the Fitbit Blaze. The Fitbit Charge 2 is an improvement in every way over the Charge HR, but you'll only want to upgrade if you're after more fitness tracking and a large display to see your results.
Pros

 Big screen

Comfortable strap

Multi-sport tracking

Cons

Limited phone notifications

No GPS

Expensive straps

Garmin Vivo smart HR+

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The Garmin Vivo smart HR+ is one of the best devices we’ve seen for runners who want more from their fitness tracker. The Garmin Vivo smart HR+ stuffs a lot of functionality into a device that's only a little larger than some other fitness tracker bands on this list. Its feature set that appeals, with both heart rate monitoring and GPS on board. The Garmin Vivo smart HR+ is an ideal device for someone who wants to track daily activity as well as record runs or walks in more detail, but doesn't want to go the whole hog and start wearing a running watch all the time.
Pros

Great activity monitoring

GPS for accurate run tracking

Top battery life and notifications

Cons

Lacking sports other than running

Bit chunky for small wrists

Optical HR still imperfect

Garmin Vivofit 2

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Shifting gears to the other end of the spectrum we have the Garmin Vivofit 2. This is a budget friendly, dependable, and easy to use fitness band/watch. You won’t find any high end glitz here, but what you will find is a handy way to track your fitness and a nice range of functionality for your average runner. The vivofit, alerts you if you’ve been completely inactive for an hour, it tracks daily steps, and it’s waterproof so there’s no stress about getting it wet.
Pros
  • Small lightweight (about as big as two medium sized rubber bands)
  • Audible activity alert, customizable settings
  • Learns your activity tendencies and  develops personalized goals for you
  • Backlit display, never miss a step — also easy to see in low light
  • 1 + year battery life, runs on very low power, no worry about replacing
  • Bluetooth enabled, syncs easily with mobile devices
  • Activity timer — can work in conjunction with a heart rate monitor
  • Includes a USB ANT Stick
Cons
  • Lacks some of the audible alerts found in other similar watches

Fitbit – Blaze Smart Fitness Watch

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A simple way to track any exercise you do the Fitbit Blaze, an easy to use, stylish and medium priced option for the runner who likes quality but doesn’t need to go over the top. With its SmartTrack system the Blaze will instantly recognize when you are exercising, and the GPS will then begin real time tracking. This handy little watch also provides on screen tips and hints to help you train optimally and it even can assist you while asleep (with built in sleep tracking). To state it simply: the features and functionality packed into this sleek little timepiece are a bargain for the price.
Pros
  • Collects data on the following metrics: activity vs. inactivity, calories burned, distance traveled, hours slept, stairs climbed, and of course heart rate
  • Compatible with Android, Apple iOS, and Windows
  • High resolution touchscreen display
  • Syncs easily with any other Fitbit product or software
  • The wristband is made from extremely tough elastomer and the frame of the watch from high grade stainless steel
  • Smart notification system, keeps you in the loop at all times (if you want)
Cons
  • Some aren't crazy about the wristband

Samsung Gear Fit2

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When it comes to screens and displays the Samsung GearFit 2 is a unique and innovative choice. This watch has a AMOLED (which essentially stands for Active Matrix LED) screen which is shiny and vibrant. A lot of fitness trackers and watches have been toning down screen color in favor of battery life (or simply added girth to account for the difference), the Gear Fit 2 goes in direct opposition to this trend. On the fitness side the watch there’s GPS built in for all your run tracking needs and an visual heart rate monitor. Best of all you get this for a very attractive price tag.
Pros
  • Tracks the essentials: step, heart rate, distance, time and even sleep quality
  • Built-in GPS allows for easy geographic tracking
  • Auto-tracking recognizes your activity and sets the mode accordingly
  • Easily syncs with apps and software, take spotify with you if you like
  • Ability to receive and respond to alerts, calls, texts, etc right from your wrist
Cons
  • Use with Samsung's S Health app is required, some preferred use of different apps


Criteria for picking out the best fitness trackers.

Monitoring sporting activities can be difficult, especially bearing the fact that most are physical activities. That’s why a fitness tracker comes in as a very handy device, the perfect device to track your sporting activities with utmost accuracy. It’s more like an electronic finger on your pulse that monitors and measures your vital signs, quality of sleep and step count periodically.

2017 has seen the fitness trackers market filled with very impressive devices, most are able to perform their tracking job effectively. But then we only give the best the utmost attention. It’s important to note that the best fitness trackers are a little costlier, and are not flimsy plastic activity bands.

Here, we’ll showcase the best devices out there, and explain how they rank against each other in terms of stand-out features, price, design and the quality of their companion software – all of which are worth considering when monitoring something as important as your health. While the fitness tracker has exploded in popularity, it’s well worth taking a second to consider what you want from it.

Below are the factors we looked at in making sure we come up with the best fitness trackers for you.

The Right design

Fitness trackers have been made to come in different designs. Being an outwear its important you get the right design that will not only suite you but also be fashionable to you. While most trackers wrap around your wrist, there are dongles that clip on to your clothing and can be more comfortable to wear. Though its trendier to have fitness tracking smarts that are packed into normal looking watches. And while the choice used to be about what color band you went for, or whether it had a screen, smart analogue watches are now offering even more choice

Waterproof

Being water proof is one of the most impressive features that people look for when shopping for fitness trackers. Everyone wants a fitness tracker that they can swim with without the fear of it getting spoilt. There are a handful of fitness trackers that can be taken into the pool and report on your swimming sessions. Even then, it’s all that great to have a fitness tracker that is waterproof.

Heart Rate Monitor

Most fitness trackers in the market monitor your heart rate. But then it’s important to note that these devices are not approved to provide medical advice. The measurements of heartbeat can vary to a great extent at times. Heart rate tracking on activity bands is now commonplace and provides a big boost in accuracy in terms of the calorific burn from your day. However, the type of tracking differs hugely.

The Fitbit – Blaze Smart Fitness Watch, for example, tracks your heart rate 24/7 and makes a note of your resting heart rate when you wake up – which is a huge metric of your improving health. It will also track your heart rate over a timed session. In terms of comprehensiveness the Fitbit – Blaze Smart Fitness Watch is one of the best options, as it includes a heart rate monitor for 24/7 bpm readings, live monitoring of exercise and VO2 Max too, so you can quantify your fitness.

The Garmin Vivo fit 2 range does much the same, and both place a priority on resting heart rate progress and a measure of your underlying health. The Garmin Vivo fit 2 has an activity timer that can work in conjunction with a heart rate monitor, hence be able to track workout sessions and your daily health.

Accuracy

If there is one thing every sports person needs when checking their work out data is accuracy. Before purchasing the fitness tracker it’s important to check how accurately its able to store data. Trackers are not fool proof. They use sensors and algorithms to parse footsteps, punches thrown, stairs climbed, hours slept. That means there’s some degree of imprecision.

If you need hard data, you may want to pursue a function-specific device. In general, heart rate monitors that strap to your chest and transmit info to your activity tracker are more precise than the in-device sensors applied to your wrist. Still the above fitness trackers have been known to record accurate data in terms of tracking fitness activities.

Battery Life

Another important factor. Nobody wants a fitness tracker that has a low battery life or losses charge faster than even your smart phone. Depending on the sophistication of the device, battery life can stretch from one day to several months. But what affects the battery life of a fitness band. A tracker with a colour touchscreen and an armada of sensors will need to be charged more frequently than a simple band with a few LED lights on its face.

It’s also worth noting that not all trackers are rechargeable. Some run on the coin cell batteries often used in cameras and calculators. Battery life is an important factor to take into consideration, as having to charge your band every few days can be a real thorn in the side of your attempts to track your fitness regime, and crucially can mean you need to leave it at home or it runs out during a working day. Bands now fall into two camps: those that require charging every five days via a USB cable and devices that use a watch battery that lasts around six months.

 

Other Important Factors To Consider When Shopping Around

Fitness trackers, by and large, will track your daily activity in terms of steps and calories burned through movement. You set a goal of how active you want to be and they will give you a rough guide as to how successful you are. Once you’ve decided on the functions you want, you can refine your options based on other factors like:

Style

Many trackers are designed to be worn on the wrist, but some can be worn as pendants or clipped to your clothing. In the past, devices tended to look purely functional, but manufacturers are now more conscious of style. Look for a greater variety of materials, shapes, and colors—and some models created in collaboration with bonafide fashion designers.

Choose a look you’ll feel comfortable wearing every day. The trendiest style of fitness trackers being the ones that are worn on the wrists like watches. They tend to be the most preferred in terms of convenience when working out: you can check it without interrupting your training sessions.

Display

The display is very important as it shows you the data collected by the fitness tracker. The more advanced trackers reveal their data—using words, numbers and symbols—on a watch face-like display. Others share that info via a simple LED light display or only via an app.  Most of the above fitness trackers are able to sync to smartphones and computers via Bluetooth.

When you sync the data onto your smartphone or computer, the tracker’s companion app not only archives the information, it also helps you interpret and analyse it. A good display will help a lot in making sure you monitor your fitness goals and that you are able to achieve the fitness goals of each training session.

Compatibility

Most of the fitness trackers you find in 2017 are able to sync with your smartphones and computer, and also have Bluetooth connectivity. Before you make any purchase of a fitness tracker, it’s important to check whether the device is able to sync with your cell phone or computer. Some trackers sync only with Apple’s iOS. Others only with Android. And most do not work with Windows.

Sleep Patterns

The best fitness trackers above are able to monitor sleep patterns. Many trackers provide sleep monitoring and the ones that don’t can use the third-party apps for the purpose. In case, you toss and turn a lot while you are asleep, the tracker will mark you as a light sleeper. It will note down your visits to the washroom as well. The only challenge is that the fitness trackers are not able to offer guidance on how you can get better sleep; the only suggestion they will offer is that you need to sleep for more hours.

FAQ

While shopping for a fitness tracker isn’t an easy thing, especially for a first timer. Several questions will definitely pop up in your mind when you think of buying this expensive gadget. It’s a good sporting investment and since its very costly you should take your time before purchasing one. Below are some of the questions you might have when purchasing the above best fitness trackers.

Q. How Long Does It Stay Charged?

A. Battery life is an important factor to take into consideration, as having to charge your band every few days can be a real thorn in the side of your attempts to track your fitness regime, and crucially can mean you need to leave it at home or it runs out during a working day.

A week? A few days? A single day? For the most part, your tracker will be blend in and work its magic from the background, it still needs some juice in order to work. You’ll have to charge your device when sleeping or in the shower, and you don’t want to have to keep charging it all the time because that means less time to actually use the thing

Q. How Easy Is It to Use?

A. The more user friendly a device is; the more people prefer it. Nobody wants to figure out rocket science while working out. For the most part, you don’t have to do much to your tracker, but you do want to see your progress: how many calories burned, etc. Or maybe you want to compare yourself to your friend’s progress.

Make sure you actually know how to use it or you’ll be wasting precious time that you could be using to get healthier and fitness, which is the point, right?

Q. What Size Should You Get?

A. When it comes to the size of the fitness tracker it needs to fit perfectly. Especially if it’s a wrist fitness tracker, you don’t want it to slip off as you work out. Considering you’re basically wearing your tracker 24/7, you need it to fit. And you need it to fit nicely.

A majority of fitness trackers come with adjustable bands so you can pick and choose the fit. Its highly recommended that if it’s possible simply head to the store and try on different makes and models in different sizes. You don’t have to buy at this visit, but the stop will allow you to know how tightly and comfortably a band will fit.

Q. How Will It Help Your Goals?

A. Different people have different fitness goals. Your fitness goals should be given utmost priority when it comes to buying any fitness tracker. You have fitness goals and they could be big or small, but each person has some unique things that they want to achieve health-wise.

Think about how you can better achieve your goals through reminders and notifications. Gentle encouragement might be another great way to push you in the right direction. Opt for a tracker that helps instead of hinders your performance.

Q. How Does It Hold Up?

A. Everyone wants a tracker that is not only super-efficient but also something durable. It’s, of course, a good idea to find a tracker that can stand the test of time. Sooner or later you’ll be doing something strenuous and your tracker could get banged up.

You want to make sure your beloved tracker doesn’t get smashed, or frayed, or bent up prematurely, so you should pick a model that can withstand everyday wear and tear. You can’t afford to be getting a set of new trackers after each work out session.

Q. Can You Change the Look?

A. Changing the look of the fitness tracker is not only fashionable but also enhances flexibility to those who are fashion sensitive. Since it’s a little difficult to find fitness trackers that come in some colors. Many trackers offer switchable bands so that you can dress up, change colors, or simply change how your device looks.

Ready for an update? All you have to do is swap for a different band and your device will look brand new again. If this is something that’s important to you, you’ll need to find a tracker with this capability. Also take note that brand new models have few color options, while those that have been around for months or years will have much more to choose from. Its best to opt for a look that will be versatile and can serve multiple fashion purposes to you.

The bottom line is whether you’re a road runner, trail runner, ultra marathoner, occasional triathlete, or really any type of outdoor sports enthusiast — a good fitness watch can be an invaluable addition to your gear set. With the right watch your training can be tightly measured, and exponentially more effective. Plus a lot of the gadgets, features, and frills built into these things are just plain fun. There is always something to be said for novelty.

Fitness watches are a complicated topic, there is so much going on here than simple timekeeping. Considering all of the technology, testing and application based development that goes into many of these watches this post barely scratches the surface. For watch aficionados or sports tech geeks the depth can be endless. The intricacies of display technology can be posts in themselves.

We never set out to belabor any of these points. Our hope is that this post has provided a bit more information for the average athlete. If you’re considering purchasing a fitness watch consider yourself armed with more information. Happy Running!


 

Here are some sources we used while we conducted our research

Sources

  1. James Stables, Garmin Vivosmart HR+ review, Fitness Website,
  2. Rob Temple, Garmin Vivofit 2 review, Technology Website,
  3. Nick Broughall, Jawbone UP3 review , Tecgnology Website,
  4. Dusan Johnson, Fitbit unveils the Charge 2 and Flex 2 activity trackers, Gadget Website,
  5. Britta O'Boyle, Best fitness trackers 2017: The best activity bands to buy today, Lifestyle Website,
  6. Jim Martin , Best fitness tracker 2017 UK | 19 best activity trackers: Which fitness tracker should I buy? What's the best fitness tracker?, Consumer Website,
  7. Editorial Team, Best Fitness Tracker 2017: 6 best activity trackers right now, Consumer Review Website,
  8. Simon Crisp, The 6 best fitness trackers of 2016, Sporting Website,
  9. Lisa Eadicicco, The 10 Best Fitness Trackers You Can Buy Right Now, News Website,
  10. Amy Roberts, The Best Fitness Trackers, Lifestyle Website,

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