Looking for a fitness tracker that can keep tabs on your steps taken, calories burned and other health data? Fitbit is among the most popular brands, but there are plenty of other options out there. Some trackers look more like regular watches, while others are feature-packed gadgets for health and exercise nuts.
Here are our top picks for the best fitness trackers as of November 2016, ranked from least to most expensive:
Xiaomi Mi Band 2 ($35)
Why we like it: Bargain hunters won't find a cheaper fitness band. For a fraction of the cost of bands made by companies like Fitbit and Garmin, the Mi Band 2 monitors steps, distance, calories burned, and heart rate, features that are especially rare at this price. A responsive touch sensor on the band's display makes it easy to cycle between these metrics, and bands are available in lots of different colors.
What to know: It's not as fashionable as pricier models made by Fitbit and Misfit, and the app isn't very intuitive. The Mi app also doesn't provide as much data insight as other fitness apps, which makes it harder to make sense of data the band gathers. You can buy the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 here
Misfit Ray ($75)
Why we like it: The Misfit Ray is a simple and stylish fitness tracker aimed at buyers who care about fashion over a feature-packed gadget. The flashy Ray tracks basic stats like steps taken, calories burned, distance moved, and sleep. It's water-resistant enough to swim with, too.
The Ray's thin and light design makes it comfortable to wear to sleep, and the slick app is easy to navigate. Rather than just showing your daily stats, Misfit's app will also tell you exactly how much activity is needed to meet your daily goal (i.e. walk 45 minutes, run 15 minutes.) Another bonus: Since its replaceable battery should last for up to six months, you don't have to worry about charging the Ray every day.
What to know: The Ray's lack of a screen means you can't glance down to see your health statistics or the time. It's also expensive considering its limited functionality compared to other trackers, and the battery can be difficult to insert into the device during setup. You can buy the Misfit Ray here
Garmin Vivomove ($89)
Why we like it: The Garmin Vivomove offers only rudimentary metrics when it comes to fitness tracking, like steps taken and sleep patterns. But the Vivomove's simple and attractive looks earned it a spot on our list.
The Vivomove is essentially an analog watch with basic health tracking features, making it a great choice if you're looking for a wearable fit for a night out or a big meeting. Its face displays two meters alongside the time: one for showing how close you are to your daily fitness goal, and another displaying how much time you've spent idle. Charging isn't a concern here, as the Vivosmart uses a replaceable battery that lasts for up to a year. It's also water resistant enough to withstand splashes, showering, and a bit of swimming.
What to know: You must press the crown in order to sync freshly gathered data with the app, while most other trackers do this automatically. The Vivomove’s large watch face can sometimes feel cumbersome during certain workouts, like planks or pushups. It’s also not as comfortable to wear to bed as other, smaller trackers. The Vivomove’s tracking capabilities are less sophisticated than some similarly-priced fitness bands. You can buy the Garmin Vivomove here
Samsung Gear Fit2 ($130)
Why we like it: Samsung's Gear Fit2 is among the most well-rounded fitness trackers available in terms of the sheer amount of features it offers. The Gear Fit2 includes integrated GPS, a heart rate monitor, water resistance, automatic exercise recognition for certain workouts, sleep tracking, and basic all-day activity monitoring (steps taken, calories burned, distance traveled, floors climbed). The interface shown on the Fit2's colorful touchscreen displays a trove of comprehensive data about individual workouts. When reviewing insights from a previous run, for example, I was able to see how close I was to my goal, a graph that showed how my heart rate correlated with my speed, my minimum and maximum heart rate, and more.
What to know: The Gear Fit2 isn't as slim as cheaper and less feature-packed fitness bands. Samsung doesn't offer customization options for the Gear Fit2, and its battery life isn't as long as that of simpler health trackers, like the Fitbit Charge 2 or Pebble 2 + HR. The Gear Fit2's features are much more limited on the iPhone compared to Android devices. You can buy the Samsung Gear Fit2 here
Fitbit Charge 2 ($150)
Why we like it: Fitbit's Charge 2 includes just about everything a basic fitness tracker should have. It can measure steps taken, calories burned, floors climbed, heart rate, and active minutes, all while automatically tracking more intense exercise and sleep patterns. With its Cardio Fitness Level feature, the Charge 2 can help you put your health statistics in context. Its screen is also larger than the older Charge and Charge HR, offering an easier look at the time, your health metrics, and incoming notifications.
What to know: The Charge 2 doesn't have a standalone GPS sensor, nor is it swim-proof, so hardcore runners and swimmers may want to look elsewhere. There's also no option to control music playback from your wrist while working out. You can buy the Fitbit Charge 2 here
Fitbit Blaze ($200)
Why we like it: Fitbit's Blaze is a solid option for those seeking something that looks and feels more like a smartwatch, but acts like a fitness tracker. The Blaze's bigger, colorful touch screen can display detailed workout summaries and fitness coaching sessions, making you less dependent on your phone. As is the case with many of Fitbit's more expensive wearables, the Blaze can automatically detect certain workouts, show real-time exercise stats on its screen, measure your heart rate, and track your daily activity and sleep patterns. In addition to call, text and calendar notifications, it displays alerts from apps like Facebook and Gmail.
What to know: If you're looking for built-in GPS, you're better off with the Fitbit Surge or Garmin Vivoactive HR. Additionally, the Blaze isn't swim-proof. It's also bulkier than many dedicated activity bands and simpler fitness watches. You can buy the Fitbit Blaze here
Garmin Vivoactive HR ($250)
Why we like it: Garmin's Vivoactive HR is a versatile sports watch with built-in GPS ideal for athletes interested in tracking specific activities. In addition to monitoring all-day movements, gathering heart rate data, and logging regular workouts, the Vivoactive HR offers specific metrics for a range of sports. These include swimming, skiing, rowing, and even golfing, in addition to more common activities like walking and running. For swimmers, the Vivoactive HR can count and track different kinds of strokes. Skiiers, meanwhile, can use the band to measure their speed and distance. It's also advertised to last for eight days on a single charge when not using the GPS, which is about a day longer than Fitbit claims for the Surge.
What to know: It's a little bulkier than other fitness trackers, which makes it unattractive to wear all day. Garmin's app can also be more confusing to use than those made by Fitbit and other companies. You can buy the Garmin Vivoactive HR here
The Apple Watch can track metrics like step count, distance traveled, heart rate, calories burned, minutes spent exercising, wheelchair pushes, and, on the newer Series 2 model, swim styles. It can also log specific workouts, like outdoor runs and indoor cycling sessions. Both generations of the Apple Watch can prompt you to move around once an hour, a feature since aped by Fitbit. Thanks to new software that launched in September, the Apple Watch can guide users in deep-breathing exercises, too.
The more expensive Series 2 model has two important features aimed at runners and swimmers: a GPS sensor and and a water-resistant design.
All told, the Apple Watch is ideal for iPhone owners who want a smartwatch that can help track their fitness metrics, too.
What to know: The Apple Watch only works with iPhones, not Android devices. It's also an expensive choice for those who just want to keep tabs on health stats, and it's more limited than dedicated fitness trackers. The Apple Watch doesn't track sleep without a third-party app, and its battery life means you'll probably want to charge it overnight anyway. Neither model includes an altimeter for measuring the number of stairs you climb in a day, either. You can buy the Apple Watch Series 1 here and Series 2 here