person using fitness tracker
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Update, 01/29/2023: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and are confident these are still the best fitness trackers you can buy.

What to Look For in a Fitness Tracker in 2023

While picking a fitness tracker, considering your fitness goals is a good starting point. Are you a beginner trying to be more active, an enthusiast looking to make better sense of your workouts, or someone preparing for a marathon or something similarly specific? The more specific your goal, the more specific features you’ll need from your fitness tracker, which helps narrow down your search.

In addition, you may want to look for features such as waterproofing, built-in GPS, and the ability to sync with your favorite fitness app, depending on your needs. If you plan on swimming, for example, you’ll want a tracker that can handle being in the water so you can monitor your workout.

Once you are clear about what you are looking to monitor and how detailed you want the data to be, you can check for those features in your prospective fitness trackers. When you know what features you want, you can be sure to pick a tracker you’ll actually want to use.

Next, long battery life is vital if you work out frequently, for long durations, or if a lot of your fitness tracking will involve GPS. In addition, charge time is equally important. When you have forgotten to charge your fitness tracker, and you are about to start a workout, can you get a decent charge in a few minutes?

Comfort is another critical aspect that you shouldn’t ignore. If your fitness tracker isn’t comfortable, it will end up sitting in a drawer somewhere. Also, if you wear it all day, you may want it to go well with your dinner attire or professional look.

Finally, while many fitness trackers have some smartwatch features, you may want to consider a full-fledged smartwatch if you want your fitness tracker to be a companion device to your phone. The best smartwatches generally have a good selection of health and fitness features, though a dedicated fitness tracker will give you more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I connect my fitness tracker to my Android phone?
Most fitness trackers are connected to Android phones via Bluetooth. To do this, you need to turn on Bluetooth on your phone, search for discoverable devices, and link your fitness tracker to the phone. However, these instructions may vary by tracker, so double-check the instructions before pairing the devices.
How do I connect my fitness tracker to my iPhone?
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Like with Android phones, you will connect fitness trackers to your iPhone via Bluetooth. Make sure Bluetooth is turned on, search for discoverable devices, and link your fitness tracker to your iPhone. Apple Watches will start the pairing process automatically.
Does a fitness tracker track blood pressure?
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A fitness tracker cannot track blood pressure. You need to use a blood pressure monitor or cuff in order to track it.
How do you charge a fitness tracker?
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Most fitness trackers have a proprietary charger that you can plug via a USB-A or USB-C charger. Some smartwatches, like an Apple Watch, however, can be charged wirelessly.
How do fitness trackers track sleep?
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Most fitness trackers will measure how long you’re asleep, as well as the quality, using small motion detectors. These sensors will recognize when you’re sleeping and how often you’re moving to measure how well you’re sleeping. Fitness trackers with heart rate monitors can also use your heart rate to measure your quality of sleep.

Best Fitness Tracker Overall: Fitbit Charge 5

Person turning on fitbit charge 5
Fitbit

Pros

  • Accurate activity tracking
  • Connected GPS support and built-in GPS
  • Slim and lightweight
  • Contactless payments support

Cons

  • Paid subscription required to access advanced insights
  • Lack of Spotify controls

The Fitbit Charge 5 is our pick for the best fitness tracker overall. It has everything that most people will be looking for in an activity tracker. It looks premium, and its color AMOLED display is bright and crisp. In addition, the slim and lightweight form factor of the Fitbit tracker makes it comfortable to wear.

There are 21 exercise modes, and the Charge 5 is extremely accurate. It can automatically detect workouts and provide you with detailed data about how you are doing, making it great for anyone that wants information without fuss.

You also get 24/7 heart-rate monitoring, and the smart band can alert you if your heart rate is abnormally high or low. Moreover, Fitbit has included an ECG app, and there’s also sleep tracking to help determine how rested you’re getting.

Battery life is good, and you can expect two to three days of backup with an always-on display. However, the tracker will only last around five hours of continuous workouts with GPS. Keep that in mind if you’re planning to go on a long hike or bike ride!

Unfortunately, several of the tracker’s most valuable features, such as the Daily Readiness Score (which tells you whether you are ready for a workout or should focus on recovery) are available only as a part of the premium subscription. Fitbit Premium costs $10 a month or $80 annually.

Best Fitness Tracker Overall

Fitbit Charge 5

The Fitbit Charge 5 is an extremely feature-packed activity tracker. It has everything most people want, from a bright AMOLED screen to a wide array of sensors.

Best Budget Fitness Tracker: Fitbit Inspire 3

Fitbit Inspire 3 on blue and purple background
Fitbit

Pros

  • Under $100
  • Slim design, packed with features
  • Great battery life
  • Always-On display

Cons

  • Connected GPS only
  • Have to pay $10/month for premium features after the first year

At under $100, the Fitbit Inspire 3 packs too much into its slim frame to be ignored. Whether you’re looking to track your heart rate, Active Zone minutes, calories burned, or sleep score, you can find it all on the Inspire 3’s full-color Always-On display.

Regarding fitness trackers, there are few things worse than having your wearable die on you in the middle of your workout or while you’re sleeping. Thankfully, the Inspire 3 has a battery life that lasts up to 10 days to make sure that doesn’t happen.

And while you’re making use of that stalwart battery life during your daily swim, hike, or run, you can enjoy the additional functionality that comes with one free year of Fitbit’s premium subscription plan.

The upside: you’ll have access to features like advanced sleep and stress insights, a Daily Readiness Score, and an in-depth understanding of what your health metrics mean for you and your workouts. The downside: it’s only free for the first year. If you want to keep using the features Fitbit gets you hooked on, you’ll have to shell out $10 every month after.

Lastly, if built-in GPS is a must-have to track your bike rides and cross country travels, you’ll want to look to another option like the Fitbit Charge 5. The Inspire 3 only offers connected GPS, meaning you’ll need to use your smartphone in conjuction with the wearable itself for location tracking.

However, if you’re on the hunt for a fitness tracker that won’t break the bank, but will give you everything you need for workout tracking and analysis, you can stop the search at Fitbit’s Inspire 3.

Best Budget Fitness Tracker

Fitbit Inspire 3

The Fitbit Inspire 3 is an excellent, affordable workout companion. Track your sleep and activity while keeping your wallet happy.

Best Fitness Tracker for Kids: Fitbit Ace 3

child playing with fitbit ace 3 on
Fitbit

Pros

  • Week-long battery life
  • Swimproof
  • Tracks activity and sleep

Cons

  • No GPS for location tracking
  • Heart-rate sensor is disabled
  • Short charge cable

If you are looking for a way to get your kids more active, the Fitbit Ace 3 is a great option. It incentivizes having a healthy lifestyle by making fitness fun with motivational challenges.

The tracker has a rugged design, ensuring it doesn’t get damaged during playtime. In addition, it’s water-resistant up to 50 meters and swim-proof.

As you can expect, the Ace 3 is quite different from fitness trackers meant for adults. For example, it has animated clock faces and doles out virtual badges to make completing a fitness goal fun. The Ace 3 also allows children to challenge family members to step competitions so that everyone in the family can participate and remain active.

The usual fitness tracker trappings, such as the ability to count steps, track activities, and monitor sleep, are present. But all tracking is done passively, so kids don’t need to do anything. The Fitbit Ace 3 also shines on the battery front with around a week of uptime on a single charge, making it fuss-free for parents.

You can buy it in two color options—Cosmic Blue with Green accents and Black with Red accents—but the company also offers a special edition Minions Yellow version.

Best Fitness Tracker for Kids

Fitbit Ace 3

The Fitbit Ace 3 makes fitness fun for kids by offering motivational challenges. It's also swim-proof and can last up to a week on a single charge.

Best Fitness Tracker With GPS: Fitbit Charge 5

person using fitbit charge 5 outside
Fitbit

Pros

  • Long battery life
  • Built-in GPS and connected GPS support
  • Bright and clear display
  • NFC for contactless payment

Cons

  • Some features require a paid subscription
  • No music control

The Fitbit Charge 5 (also our best overall recommendation) is an excellent fitness tracker that comes with a built-in GPS. You can track your walks, runs, and bike rides without needing your phone. It has a vibrant and clear display, a comfortable design, and an easy-to-use interface.

The tracker supports over 20 workouts, covering everything from runs and swimming to pilates and kickboxing. And it can automatically detect the most common workouts and its tracking accuracy is top-notch.

You also get a heart-rate monitor, SpO2 sensor, temperature sensor, and multipurpose electrical sensors to track your sleep, stress responses, and vitals, including ECG. This fitness tracker pretty much features everything you need for your health.

The Charge 5 lasts about seven days on a single charge without an always-on display. But the battery life drops to half if you enable the always-on screen feature.

In terms of smartwatch features, the tracker supports contactless payments and app notifications from your phone.

Unfortunately, Fitbit wants you to spend money on getting a premium subscription for features like Readiness Score and personalized insights. Fitbit has also removed Spotify support in the Charge 5, a feature available in previous Charge-series trackers. Keep this in mind if these are features important to you!

Best Fitness Tracker With GPS

Fitbit Charge 5

The Charge 5 is Fitbit's most advanced fitness tracker, and it can track over 20 workouts. Moreover, it packs a host of sensors to record your vitals.

Best Fitness Tracker Watch: Apple Watch Series 8

Traditional Strength Training Workout on Apple Watch Series 8
Tim Brookes / How-To Geek

Pros

  • Large, Always-On Retina display
  • Unrivaled third-party app support
  • Built-in GPS
  • Wide selection of health tracking features

Cons

  • Average battery life
  • Only suitable for iPhone users

You could easily argue the Apple Watch Series 7 was the best smartwatch with fitness-centric features for most people. It gave you access to a heart-rate monitor, SpO2 sensor, and an ECG app, not to mention the 15 types of workouts it could track.

Now, enter the Apple Watch Series 8. It does everything the Series 7 could do but better, and it introduces some entirely new features that can give you a more accurate picture of your sleeping habits, send emergency help when you need it most, and provide insights into women’s health with temperature sensors.

It’s the symbiosis with the Apple ecosystem where the Apple Watch really shines, though. It has an unrivaled collection of third-party apps, and you get polished software that integrates seamlessly with your iPhone.

In addition, if you want to get even more out of the Apple Watch, you can subscribe to Apple Fitness+, which gives you access to curated workouts and meditation sessions led by expert trainers. Pair this with Apple’s Workout app for custom activity tracking, goal setting, and additional metrics to gain a more complete picture of your body and how it responds to the workouts you do day to day.

On a less impressive note, the smartwatch’s battery life is average. It’ll only last about a day with the Always-On display enabled or just under two days with the new Low Power Mode active. Fortunately, this iteration of the Apple Watch supports fast charging.

You can buy the Series 8 in 41mm and 45mm variants with optional LTE service. and you can also take your pick from a slew of colors, case materials, and band styles. If you have an Apple Watch band from a previous generation, you can pop it onto your Series 8, provided it’s the same size, to change up the look and feel of your wearable.

The Series 8, like all other Apple Watch models, only works with iPhones. So if you have an Android phone or need an even more fitness-focused smartwatch, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus is an excellent alternative. It has excellent fitness tracking, long battery life, and decent smartwatch features.

Best Fitness Tracker Watch

Apple Watch Series 8

The Apple Watch Series 8 is arguably the best smartwatch on the market. But it's also a competent fitness tracker for most people.

Best Screenless Fitness Tracker: Whoop 4.0

Person holding out blue whoop band
Whoop

Pros

  • In-depth fitness tracking
  • Multiple ways to wear the tracker
  • Very comfortable

Cons

  • Requires pricey subscription
  • Strain tracking more suitable for cardio workouts than muscle workouts

Whoop is one of the most exciting fitness trackers to arrive on the market over the last few years. It not only ditches the screen for a distraction-free experience but also provides multiple ways to wear it, such as a bicep band or wrist band. In addition, the company offers a range of athletic wear called Whoop Body that is fitted with pods to slot the Whoop tracker into.

The latest iteration, Whoop 4.0, targets fitness enthusiasts or athletes who want to optimize their workouts. It takes a data-driven approach to your fitness and gives you the necessary insights into how you can improve it.

Unlike most mass-market fitness trackers that report activity tracking data in steps taken or calories burnt, Whoop gives you cardio-vascular strain, recovery, and sleep performance scores.

In addition, as the Whoop has all the sensors you will find on other trackers, you can get blood oxygen levels, heart-rate information, skin temperature, and respiratory rate data.

Another significant way Whoop 4.0 differs from other fitness trackers on this list is the pricing structure. You buy a subscription worth $30 a month with a minimum of six-month membership to get the device and access to Whoop’s app. You can save some money by opting for long-term plans, but there is no other way to get the tracker.

Best Screenless Fitness Tracker

Whoop 4.0

Whoop 4.0 is a high-quality fitness tracker for people looking for a data-driven approach to health, fitness, and recovery.

The Best Smartwatches of 2023

Apple Watch Series 8
Best Smartwatch Overall
Apple Watch Series 8
Amazfit GTS 2 Mini
Best Budget Smartwatch
Amazfit GTS 2 Mini
Garmin Venu 2
Best Fitness Tracker
Garmin Venu 2
Fitbit Versa 3
Best Smartwatch for Battery Life
Fitbit Versa 3
TickTalk 4
Best Smartwatch for Kids
TickTalk 4
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Best Android Smartwatch
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Apple Watch Series 8
Best Smartwatch Overall
Apple Watch Series 8
Profile Photo for Gaurav Shukla Gaurav Shukla
Gaurav Shukla is a technology journalist with over a decade’s experience reporting and writing about consumer technology. His work has appeared in Android Police, XDA Developers, and NDTV Gadgets 360.
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