Best Fitness Trackers 2019

Product Use case Rating
Fitbit Charge 3 Best Fitness Tracker Overall 4
Fitbit Inspire HR Best Cheap Fitness Tracker 3.5
Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS) Best Fitness-Tracking Smartwatch 4
Garmin Forerunner 235 Best Fitness Tracker for Running 4.5
Garmin Forerunner 25 Best Budget Fitness Tracker for Running 3.5

Every year, a new crop of more stylish, more powerful and more feature-packed fitness trackers debuts with the promise of helping you live a more active, healthier lifestyle. But are they worth your hard-earned cash? We put dozens to the test, spending hours on the treadmill, running, biking, swimming — even sleeping — and found that the Fitbit Charge 3 ($150) is the best overall choice for most people.

The Charge 3 is now swim-proof, and has a larger, touchscreen display that responds instantly to swipes and taps. Fitbit plans to make the band's sleep-tracking capabilities even better with an SpO2 sensor that will be used to alert users if they experience breathing disturbances at night. The Charge 3 also includes the features we've come to expect from Fitbit, such as group competitions, detailed sleep analysis and a design that can be customized with easily interchangeable bands.

Those on a budget should consider the Fitbit Inspire HR, a $100 band that monitors heart rate, tracks sleep and offers connected GPS when you work out with your smartphone. Fitbit also makes a cheaper version of the Inspire, but that $70 tracker lacks a heart rate sensor for deeper insights. If you have more money to spend, consider one of our best smartwatch picks, which track workouts and also offer third-party apps, messaging, e-mail and more.

MORE: Who Has the Most Accurate Heart Rate Monitor?

To help you select the right fitness tracker for your needs, we’ve evaluated all of the latest models based on design, performance and ease of use. We also determine which fitness tracker has the best app for logging workouts. Here are our top picks—both high-end and budget—for each category.

Latest News and Updates (April 2019)

  • If you don't like the look of a run-of-the-mill fitness-tracking band, the $69.95 Withings Move activity-tracking watch is now on sale. We first saw the watch at CES, and appreciated the combination of classic timepiece aesthetic with movement-tracking basics. Stay tuned for our full review.
  • Samsung just announced two new fitness-tracking devices: The $199 Galaxy Watch Active, a GPS watch to rival Apple Watch Series 3, and the $99 Galaxy Fit, which looks like a Fitbit Charge 3 competitor. Stay tuned for full reviews of both wearables.

1. Fitbit Charge 3

The best fitness tracker overall

Rating: 4/5 stars

Sizes: One size, with S, M, L bands | Battery Life (Rated): 7 days | GPS: No | Sleep Tracking: Yes | Swim-Proof: Yes | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes

Pros: Battery life; Touchscreen display; Sp02 sensor; swim-proof

Cons: No on-board GPS; Not the most accurate heart rate monitor

Fitbit's Charge 3 is an upgraded, swim-proof fitness tracker, with a larger touchscreen display, an SpO2 sensor that will be used to diagnose breathing disturbances while sleeping and week-long battery life. It still requires a smartphone to connect to GPS, but overall it's the best fitness tracker for the money.

Read our full Fitbit Charge 3 review.

2. Fitbit Inspire HR

Best cheap fitness tracker

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Sizes: One size, with S and L bands | Battery Life (Rated): 3 days | GPS: Connected to smartphone | Sleep Tracking: Yes | Swim-Proof: Yes | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes

Pros: Accurate sleep-tracking; Slim and lightweight

Cons: Small display; No automatic run-pausing

Fitbit's Inspire HR automatically tracks sleep and a handful of workouts, and offers deeper insights about sleep stages and cardio fitness thanks to its heart rate sensor. (A cheaper, $70 version of the Inspire lacks a heart rate sensor, but that analysis is worth the $30 premium.) When connected to a smartphone, the Inspire HR uses the phone's GPS signal to more accurately log outdoor workouts. The Fitbit app remains one of our favorite fitness dashboards, especially with the inclusion of female health-tracking. 

Read our full Fitbit Inspire HR review.

3. Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS)

Best fitness-tracking smartwatch

Rating: 4/5 stars

Sizes: 38mm and 42mm with S and L bands | Battery Life (Rated): 18 hours | GPS: Yes | Sleep Tracking: No | Swim-Proof: Yes | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes

Pros: Improved fitness-tracking features; Accurate heart-rate-monitoring; On-board music storage; Lower price than Series 4 and LTE Series 3

Cons: Still just 18-hour battery life

The Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS isn't the newest Apple Watch, but it's more affordable than the Series 4, and still has all the great fitness-tracking features baked into watchOS 5. You can track a variety of workouts, including open-water swims and laps in the pool, hiking, yoga and basics like running and cycling. The watch detects when you start a workout and gives you retroactive credit for the time you missed. If you want a fully featured smartwatch that lets you leave your phone at home while at the gym or out for a run, the Series 3 with GPS is the one to buy.

Read our full Apple Watch Series 3 review.

4. Garmin Forerunner 235

Best fitness tracker for runner

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Sizes: One size, with adjustable strap | Battery Life (Rated): 11 hours (using GPS and heart rate) | GPS: Yes | Sleep Tracking: Yes | Swim-Proof: Yes (but no swim-tracking mode) | Heart Rate Monitor: Yes

Pros: Accurate GPS and heart-rate monitor; Thin and light; Easy to read in sunlight; Customizable interface

Cons: App could be better organized; No built-in storage for music

Garmin makes the best running watches you can buy, and the Forerunner 235 is one of our favorites. There aren't a lot of bells and whistles, but this running watch is small and light with built-in GPS and a colorful screen that's easy to see in bright sunlight. The 235 also calculates your V02 max score and offers a recovery advisor to let you know how long to rest between runs. This watch also lasts for about a week of workouts on a charge, which isn't bad for such a fully-featured GPS watch.

Read our full Garmin Forerunner 235 review.

Credit: GarminCredit: Garmin

5. Garmin Forerunner 25

Best budget fitness tracker for runners

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Sizes: One size, with adjustable strap | Battery Life (Rated): 8-10 hours (using GPS and heart rate), 8-10 weeks in watch mode | GPS: Yes | Sleep Tracking: No | Swim-Proof: Yes | Heart Rate Monitor: No

Pros: Long battery life; Easy to use; Waterproof; Inexpensive

Cons: Simple display; No heart rate monitor; No sleep tracking

If you don't need extra bells and whistles and you're on a budget, consider the Garmin Forerunner 25. It's an inexpensive, yet accurate, GPS watch that tracks distance, speed and pace, and it notifies you at every mile you run. With nearly 10 weeks of battery life in watch mode, the Forerunner 25 can also be your everyday timepiece, and will still work when you need it for those impromptu jogs.

Read our full Garmin Forerunner 25 review.

How We Test Fitness Trackers

For each new fitness tracker, we evaluate its hardware design and comfort; you need to be able to wear the device all day, and we’ve found that some larger trackers don’t fit well on smaller wrists. We also evaluate the features, including movement detection (such as step counting and sleep monitoring), distance calculations and when applicable, GPS and heart rate accuracy. We test how well a device pairs with its companion app, and evaluate the experience of using the two together.

We also look to see what features the device's app supports, such as coaching and diet tracking, and if it can sync data with third-party apps, such as MyFitnessPal. Lastly, we wear the device for at least a week to test the manufacturer's battery life claims.

Fitness Trackers vs. Smartwatches: Which Should You Buy?

IDC estimates that sales of fitness trackers are expected to flatten out over the next five years as smartwatches become more affordable with better battery life and performance.

A typical smartwatch has a touchscreen display that offers more information at a glance, in addition to an app store with third-party apps. You can install your favorite workout apps, respond to text messages, pay for purchases and handle lightweight tasks without pulling out your smartphone. Smartwatches also tend to have more sensors than slimmer fitness-tracking bands for tracking more vital stats.

MORE: Best Smartwatches 2018

But there are trade-offs. Smartwatches as a whole tend to be more expensive and have shorter battery life than dedicated fitness trackers. The $199 Fitbit Versa, for instance, is a swim-proof touchscreen watch with 4-day battery life, solid fitness-tracking features and third-party apps, but lacks built-in GPS for more advanced workout-tracking. The Apple Watch Series 4 not only sports GPS, it also offers fall detection and an electrical heart rate sensor for taking FDA-cleared electrocardiograms. However, at $399, it’s much more expensive than basic fitness trackers.

If you can afford to spend more than $150 and use an iPhone, the $279 Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS offer more features than you can find in a fitness tracker. For Android users, the Fitbit Versa is worth a look.

Credit: Tom's Guide

Related Buying Guides:
Do Sleep Tracking Devices Really Work?
Great Smartwatches to Buy Now
Headphones and Earbuds For Any Audiophile
Must-Have Workout Apps
Best Spotify Lists for Working Out
    Your comment
  • yinyang1950
    I was given an UP 2 years ago as a Christmas gift. Started out really liking it until I discovered that it registered movement when I drove my car or rode my motorcycle making it difficult to accurately track my steps. So, stopped using it. I do not see this problem addressed in the reviews. How do these devices handle movement that is not step related?
  • walkabouts3
    Love my Misfit Shine: Waterproof, options for wearing location (I hate things on my wrist), attractive, subtle, syncs well with iPhone. No need to charge (watch battery good for 6 months). Sleep tracker. I've been using one continuously for 2 years.
  • hunyogo
    been using one continuously for 2 years.
  • walkabouts3
    I have been using a Misfit Shine for 2 years and it's fantastic! The magnetic attachment for clothing and optional wrist (or necklace) offer flexibility for wearing. It is waterproof, so I can use it for my daily pool exercise and don't have to worry about being caught in the rain. It is lightweight, attractive, and does not need charging. The app works well. Can't recommend it highly enough. (None of the trackers you mentioned have the combination of attributes that Misfit offers!)
  • Laura_38
    Just FYI, the Moov fitness tracker that you reviewed is not the newest version. I dont believe they even offer that any more. The newest edition is call Moov Now and has many more capabilities than the original Moov
  • code guy
    1434147 said:
    Fitness tracker bands come in many varieties, but the ‘best’ band is the one that suits your lifestyle. Here are our top picks by category. Best Fitness Trackers: Read more

    I watched a special that said the iPhone "health" app, is the most accurate tracker....a little hard to work out with your iPhone while your running.
  • ubercake
    I have a MS Band 2. It's one of few out there that has GPS built into it. You don't need to bring your phone on a run or bike ride. It tracks heart rate. It seems to be very accurate with regard to calorie burn. The MS Health dashboard (browser app) has everything you need with summaries and details of all of your activities. Being able to see all of the stats laid out in front of you and your numbers over time can be very motivating. I'm always trying to beat my fastest time or greatest distance.

    The only things I'd like to see if they ever came out with a Band 3 is the ability to store music on it and Bluetooth to some fitness headphones. Further, I'd like it to be fully water-resistant and incorporate swimming workouts/activities. Also, I've found through almost five months of wearing it, the band holds up well, but the contacts you connect the charger to are prone to corrosion from your sweat. Even if you wipe the thing down or clean it really well where the charging contacts are, it still develops corrosion under the seal by the contacts. This results in the contacts not always matching up with the charger. This became a problem resulting in my returning it. I should have the replacement shortly. But you'd expect something called a 'fitness' band which touts water resistance to be able to deal with sweat five days a week. That issue needs to be corrected for sure. If they make the next device water-proof rather than water-resistant, this will probably be a non-issue.

    I think it's pretty cool device, but they should add the improvements and corrections I've suggested to the next iteration.
  • TesseractOrion
    I agree Ubercake about the MS Band. Another rumour has said they're phasing it out (no Band 3) which I think would be a shame. I like my version 1 a lot, despite the lumpy aesthetics and terrible charging system... but then I'm in a minority with a Windows 10 phone too..
  • Techelle
    I have a FitBit Charge 2 and I love it but the battery life isn't as great as I was hoping it would be.
  • FitnessJunkie
    I have a Fitbit Charge 2 (and used to have a Flex and then a Charge HR) and I love it. It does everything I need very easily: track my steps, my heart rate, and my sleep, and notifies me when I get a call or a text and the battery lasts MUCH longer than my Apple Watch. I also found this company called that makes beautiful accessories - check it out - they have stacking rings and a new frame to make it look more stylish.
  • Cyphus1
    I agree Ubercake about the MS Band.
  • georgemtuson
    I have a Fitbit charge 2 and love it. I want to get the new Fitbit charge 3 for the gorilla glass and swim features. But, I have heard the company is not doing well financially. I don't want to buy the charge 3 and not have software for it down the road.
  • neilzun123456
    On tw, I found useful information about fitness tracker. When I read this article, I find more information about new model and review about property, how test and the comparasion to other product.
  • marvelartlover
    I have recently purchased the MI band 3, its very easy to use but I am not satisfied with heart rate accuracy.
  • vippicold
    Value for money is Xiaomi mi band 3. I use them when I run instead of the daily Apple Watch