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.

Last Updated: April 25, 2017
By Edward Otieno:

We have made a few updates to our list which include: FitBit Blaze, FitBit Alta, TomTom Touch and the Jawbone UP3.

In addition to an updated list of suitable products, we have also conducted a little more research and come up with a bunch of helpful information, which we have added right under our list.

TomTom Spark
  • TomTom Spark
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • GPS capabilities
  • Price: See Here
Garmin Vivofit 3
  • Garmin Vivofit 3
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Super-long battery life
  • Price: See Here
Jawbone UP3
  • Jawbone UP3
  • 4.4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Connects to impressive App
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Fitness Watches

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!

TomTom Spark 3

The TomTom Spark 3 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

Garmin Vivofit 3

The Garmin Vivofit 3 is a new entry from Garmin. Bringing in some very impressive features like LCD screen, water resistant, activity tracking ability, compatibility with android and a 1-year battery life. It’s one of the best fitness trackers this year and the one of the best ever created by Garmin. It enjoys the same fame as some of the most fantastic tracking products in the market. Its amazing lifelong battery life means it will take a long time before you start worrying about charging these beautiful fitness track. You'll miss out on phone notifications by buying this tracker, but you do get the benefit of an always-on display and some great fitness tracking features.
Pros

Super-long battery life

Always-on display

Cons

No phone notifications

Not the most attractive tracker

Jawbone UP3

When looking at the style and design of a fitness tracker style, (though most of the trackers can not be said to be in the same category as the Jawbone) the tracker has shifted a little from the normal UP bands, however its still has the same amazing features as 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

The TomTom Touch happens to be a water resistant tracker though its battery life is low. 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

Large body scanner.

Its water resistant

Heart rate monitor is inbuilt

Cons

The battery life is low.

Many usabilty fails.

 

Fitbit Charge 2

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

Fitbit Blaze

Fitbit Blaze is a strangely unique fitness watch from Fitbit. The device looks more like a watch but the solid wearable won’t be able to set the world alight. Some of its impressive features are heart rate tracker, activity tracking, compatibility with Android/iOS/Windows with a battery life of 5 days. The Fitbit Blaze comes with automatic fitness tracking features that make it possible to just jump into an exercise and wait for the results to roll in right away.
Pros

Stunning battery life

Interesting fitness features

Cons

Lacking in notifications

Strange design won't suit everyone

Fitbit Alta

It’s considered one of the most stylish fitness trackers from Fitbit. The Fitbit Alta isn’t feature packed as the other fitness trackers from Fitbit. But then it will definitely catch your eye when paired with additional straps. The Fitbit Alta sadly misses some of the key functions like heart rate monitoring, elevation data, GPS and waterproofing but for basic activity tracking, it's a fabulous device. Accuracy of step tracking is good, smart notifications are useful, the OLED display is lovely and the Fitbit app is one of the best out there. For some the Alta will be a little too basic, but for others, it will be a winner, especially in terms of its looks. However, for basic activity tracking the Alta is fabulous.
Pros

Very Stylish

Good accuracy

Smart Notifications are enabled

Cons

It misses out some key features, such heart-rate monitoring, elevation data, GPS and waterproofing.

Garmin Vivo smart HR+

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

Samsung Gear Fit2

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

Fitbit Surge

Fitbit Surge indeed is a powerful fitness tracker from Fitbit. The tracker has a GPS tracking ability and a fitted heart rate monitoring feature. The tracker has a very big screen that is LCD,additional features make the tracker be a little more expensive.Definitely worth being in the top 10 list of our best fitness trackers. Apart from just tracking the amount of sleep you are able to get every night, this feature determines the amount of sleep you need and the right time to sleep and get up every single day. It's certainly a step up from the Fitbit Force.
Pros

Has an  inbuilt GPS system

Has a heart rate monitoring feature

Has a classic watch clasp

Works with most phones

Cons

Weaker battery life

Not very accurate

Proprietary charger


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 watch or 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 might be 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. The fitness tracker are very popular in the sporting world its very helpful if you think about what you want in terms of fitness goals.

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

The Most Suitable Fitness Watch design

Fitness trackers have been made to come in different designs. Being an outwear its important you get the perfect design that will not only suite you but also be fashionable to you. Many fitness trackers are made to be like the traditional watch, perfect around the wrist. In case you are the stylish type there are fancier  options of  the fitness trackers like those that are worn around the neck like pendants, or clips on your running clothes. Fitness watches/ trackers are becoming more stylish, embracing more variety of color and designs some have even collaborated with fashion designers to make sure that they stand out in terms of style and functionality.  Though its trendier to have workout tracking devices that resemble  traditional looking watch. Gone are the days when you had only to consider the color when picking a stylish trackers, fitness watches now have a wide variety of options to pick from.

 

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 several trackers that are waterproof and can benefit many swimmers in the swimming pool,  and also track your swimming workout. Even then, it’s all that great to have a fitness watch 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. Many trackers are now designed to have the heart rate monitoring feature, though the level and type of tracking activity vary form one brand to another. This feature is a great boost in monitoring ones workout sessions.

Fitbit – Blaze Smart Fitness Watch, for example, has the ability to offer 24 hours tracking of the heart rate. This plays an important role in over role health improvement. The Garmin Vivo fit 2 range does much the same, and both place a major focus on the resting  rate of the heart progress and a measure of your underlying health. The Garmin Vivo fit 2 has an activity timer that can work in conjunction with a HR monitor, hence be able to track workout sessions and your daily health.

Accuracy

Many of athletes look for data accuracy especially when looking at the various fitness trackers that they need in the various sporting activities they take part in. Before making any purchase of a fitness tracker, users are advised to check the accuracy of the tracker with regards to data storage and presentation. The data collected plays an important in determining how effective the training workouts sessions are. They use the pre-installed  sensors and also  algorithms to collect all the data related to your workout.  Simply means you should be prepared to have a certain degree of error in data.

To those who  would prefer more specific  hard data then getting a tracker that is function specific would be the best option. Still the above fitness trackers are the best in market and record very accurate data got from your work out sessions.

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 how sophisticated a device is, the battery life of the tracker can range from a day to a few months.  Fitness watch sophistication: the battery life of the watch can last from 1 day to a few  months. But what affects the battery life of a fitness band. A workout tracker that has more utility features will require a recharge sooner and often than a basic tracker. Though not all trackers can be recharged.  Battery life of most trackers can be grouped into two, trackers  that are  recharged using a USB cable ( after every 5 days), and those that have a watch battery that has a life span of 6  months.

 

Other Factor to Have in Mind When Shopping Around

Once you’ve narrowed down to the functions best for you, you will find it easier to pick a fitness watch based on additional factors like:

Style

Many fitness trackers are made to be like the traditional watch, perfect around the wrist. If you are the stylish type then you can opt for fitness watches/ trackers worn around the neck like pendants, or clips on your running clothes. Trackers are becoming more stylish, embracing more variety of color and designs some have even collaborated with fashion designers to make sure that they stand out when it comes to style and functionality.  Make sure you pick a tracker that you are  comfortable with each 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. Trackers that are advanced have the capabilities of displaying collected data in both alpha numerical format.  Most of the above fitness trackers are able to sync to smartphones and computers via Bluetooth. This means the data collected can be viewed in a much bigger screen and not the watch like screen that maybe strenuous to some people.  Syncing the data to smartphones and computers helps you to  interpret and also analyse it. A good display will help a lot in making sure you monitor your workout goals and that you are able to achieve the fitness objectives 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 it is able to sync with at least a smart phone if not a  computer, or even both. Though its important to note that some fitness trackers  can only sync with Apple devices while others sync perfectly with android devices. Windows isn’t so lucky because there are no fitness trackers yet, that can sync 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.

How are the Fitness Trackers programmed to operate?

All the trackers have sensors that monitor and observe all the movements of an athlete, often they can be connected and synced using wireless connection to one’s computer or a personal mobile device ( very important to get a device that is compatible with your laptop or smart phone) to store the data that was collected during your daily sporting activities. The types and variety of activities monitored by the fitness tracker you have or want to buy tend to be varied most of the time. However the list of activities that can be monitored by a fitness trackers includes:

  • How many steps were taken while walking or running?
  • The amount of calories you consumed in a meal.
  • The number of hours you slept.
  • The rate of the heart.
  • The temperature of the skin.
  • Also the levels of perspiration.

Most of the fitness trackers in the market will have an accelerometer, which is used to measure the steps taken by the athlete during running workouts, also movements made by the body during the sessions.

 

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. Depending on how sophisticated a device is, the life of a battery, of the tracker can range from a day to a few months.  Fitness watch sophistication, battery life ought to  last from a day to a few  months. But what affects the battery life of a fitness band. A  fitness tracker that has more utility features will require to be recharged sooner and often than a basic tracker. Though not every workout tracker can be recharged.  Battery life of most trackers can be grouped into two, trackers  that need to be charged using  your USB cable ( after every 5 days), and those that have a watch battery that has a life span of 6  months.

Q. What are some of the Additional features that a fitness tracker may include?

A. Some of the additional features that you can find in most of the high end fitness trackers are like:

  • Tracking and monitoring the heart-rate monitor, done when one is working out or just during the day.
  • A Gyroscope used to determine whether one is doing any physical activities like swimming, sitting, biking, reclining or one is just sited.
  • A Magnetometer, it also detect and monitors the specific movements made by an athlete, it also determines the direction one is moving in when working out.
  • A Barometer, this is used to measure the altitude, important in determining the number of flights (with reference to stairs one has climbed), can function well with normal daily activities like taking a stairs to one’s office.

Some more advanced fitness trackers have the capabilities of syncing with heart rate monitors or other fitness trackers, (but only if they are compatible & you might run a risk of sharing your data to the wrong device), also bathroom scales that are highly advanced. The advantage of syncing your fitness tracker with other mobile applications in your smart phone or software applications in your laptop is that, it gives the fitness tracker the ability to give an understanding of ones habits and lifestyle and how they affect your sporting life and goals.

New models that act like smart watches even offer features like email features (sending, creating and reading), IM’s, text features and even incoming calls alerts. Its typically functions as a basic smart phone, just that it cannot receive or make phone calls. They also offer social interaction platforms and other features that allow you to link with your preferred social media accounts. Others can even share the data collected with one’s doctor, but remotely shared.

Q. What is an All Day Fitness Tracker?

A. All the fitness trackers in the market are made and designed in a way that enables them to accommodate many requirements that different athletes might have. In case, you want a fitness tracker that keeps collecting data 24 hours in a day, regardless of whether you are in the gym, office or in the shower then you should buy a fitness tracker that is All Day.

But if you are an athlete and want information collected concerning the speed you used while running, the pace used and the strides that you took when running or walking ( route taken can be included), you should get one of those training trackers in the market that are very reliable. These types of fitness trackers will be able to offer detailed data that is both correct and tailored to athletes who are involved in swimming, golfing, weight lifting and marathon running.

So what are some of the physical activities measured by the All Day Tracker? They include:

  • The number of steps taken when running or walking.
  • The flight/ stairways you climbed.
  • The duration of the whole training session or exercise.
  • The amount of calories burned in a given workout session.
  • The amount of calories consumed from taking a given meal.
  • The number of minutes one is active.
  • The amount of time you spend sleeping (regular time and REM).
  • The heart rate (when doing nothing and when working out).
  • The breathing patters, when awake and when sleeping.
  • The miles covered in a given running or walking workout session.
  • When running or walking ( it covers speed used, route covered and the pace)
  • To swimmers it cover the lap times in a swimming pool.
  • The changes in altitude levels (useful to those involved in skiing, hiking and cyclists)

Other will have additional features like music controls.

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. Why should I buy myself a fitness tracker and monitor?

A. This sporting device has become very popular among athletes, but then this doesn’t mean you should buy it because of its popularity but rather you should look at its uses and how it can help you achieve your fitness goals. Look at the features a particular tracker has and counter check you’re your personal preference with regards to working out. And also look at the data accuracy, data collection, and data presentation of the fitness tracker. It’s true that most trackers will be able to track and monitor like 90% of your daily activities especially those that are considered to be sport related. That’s why you should get a fitness tracker that is in line with your fitness goal and not one that is juts trendy and stylish. They are a good investment but then they are also very expensive.

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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