Fitbit, Apple, Garmin, and more

A Fitbit Charge 5 rests on its side on a cement surface.

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Finding the best fitness tracker really comes down to answering four questions:

  • Do you prefer a band or watch-style fitness tracker?
  • What activities do you plan to use the tracker for?
  • Do you care what brand makes it or the platform it runs on?
  • Are there any special features you need like SP02 tracking, GPS tracking, or ECG?

Once you know what features and activities matter the most to you, it becomes much easier to pick the right fitness tracker. Our fitness team puts every wearable device we review through rigorous testing to ensure only the best options make it on our list. We particularly focus on user experience, accuracy, and value. Ultimately, we want to provide you with recommendations that meet or exceed your needs, while hopefully not breaking the bank. Still not sure what to look for in a fitness tracker? We have a guide for how to choose the right tracker below. Just want to get to the results? Keep reading to see our picks for the best fitness trackers you can buy in 2023.

The best fitness tracker is a smartwatch, the Fitbit Versa 3

Fitbit Versa 3Fitbit Versa 3

Fitbit Versa 3

Decent battery life • Accurate health tracking • Built-in GPS

A watered-down version of the Sense

The Fitbit Versa 3 carries all the smart features you could want on a mid-range smartwatch, including Google Assistant support, voice replies, and reliable health tracking. It’s effectively a Fitbit Sense without the pricier specialized sensors.

It might seem a little strange that we picked a smartwatch as the best fitness tracker, but don’t let form factors fool you. In 2023, the biggest differences between a band-style fitness tracker and a fitness-focused smartwatch are size and battery life. That’s why we fell in love with the Fitbit Versa 3 immediately. Comfortable and sleek, the Versa 3 feels like the best of both, occupying a middle ground between the Charge 5 and the pricier Sense. Sure, it’s a bit heavier than a tracker, but it never felt overly bulky or uncomfortable. It’s also feature-packed.

In fact, there are only three sensors on the Sense that you won’t find here: ECG, EDA, and skin temperature. Our Fitbit Sense reviewer felt these three additions weren’t particularly accurate anyhow, so you might not be missing much. We also weren’t blown away by the kneecapped Sense 2. We would actually recommend sticking with the original for now if your heart is set on the Sense lineup. Finally, while the Versa 4 is now available, we don’t recommend the newest generation. During our Versa 4 review, we were disappointed to find that many of our favorite features did not carry over to the latest update. You won’t find third-party app support, WiFi support, or Google Assistant on the Versa 4. For now, we stand behind the Versa 3 as the best choice from the company’s stable.

Battery life is important for a fitness tracker, and that’s why it’s often hard to recommend a smartwatch. Fortunately, that’s not the case with the Versa 3. In our tests, we found that the watch consistently got around three and a half days of use, including sensors like the heart rate monitor and built-in GPS. For a watch, this is stellar and even beats out the Charge 5 by a small margin, which typically got around three days of battery life during our review period. Of course, battery life comes down to what sensors you use and how often, but the bottom line is the Versa 3 has battery life that’s right on par with Fitbit’s dedicated fitness tracker.

Fitbit has a reputation for accurate health tracking, and in our tests, the Versa 3 was no exception. Step counting, sleep tracking, and all other basics were highly accurate when compared to competing devices and even a dedicated pedometer. The Fitbit Versa 3 even has one fitness tracking feature the Charge 5 actually abandoned: an altimeter. This allows for much more accurate elevation scores and was sorely missed in our Charge 5 review.

The Versa 3 is the perfect middle ground between band-style fitness trackers and full-fledged (expensive) smartwatches.

The Versa 3 was the first Versa model to feature built-in GPS which works flawlessly and is much better than the connected GPS results we got with older Fitbits. Even in areas where the GPS connection was a bit weaker due to obstructions, we found the tracker typically stuck to our exact route or very near it. Going under objects like a bridge would throw it off a little, but again, you’ll find that with many GPS-enabled fitness trackers.

One area where fitness trackers suffer is heart rate monitoring, but the Fitbit Versa 3 performs admirably here as well. Sure, a dedicated chest strap is always going to have the most accurate results, but the Versa 3 performed solidly in our tests. The only gripe is that it sometimes takes a while to register heart rate changes during intense workouts, and this was especially true when we first started using the watch. As it gathered more data on us, this improved, though it seemed to take longer than it did with the Versa 2.

Sleep tracking remains a major focus for Fitbit. As with other Fitbits, you’ll be able to track light, deep, and REM sleep, but the company has also added features like snore and noise dedication. Plus, the Versa 3 can detect and analyze noises made during a sleep cycle via the built-in microphone. We found this useful as another metric to better understand any sleep issues we were having. Additionally, Fitbit takes all the information it tracks during your sleep and creates an overall score from 1 to 100 based on heart rate, sleep stages, time awake, and more. In our tests, the results seemed accurate and the Versa 3 compared favorably against the Scanwatch (another watch with great sleep-tracking accuracy). Finally, with a Fitbit Premium account, users can access Sleep Profile, a unique tool that analyzes users’ sleep over the course of each month.

As a fitness tracker, the Versa 3 is solid. Thankfully it’s a decent smartwatch too. While it doesn’t have as many apps as you’ll find from Apple or Samsung, the apps that are there are easy to use and work well. The Versa 3 even adds a few tricks like Google Assistant or Alexa support built into the watch. Conversely, Versa 4 users are left with only Alexa and no third-party app support. Finally, on the Versa 3, you’ll also be able to place and receive calls right from your watch, and there’s even built-in music support (via Deezer or Pandora).

Ultimately, the Fitbit Versa 3 is the best value from Fitbit but it’s also one of the most balanced fitness trackers you can buy. If you want something with a fair amount of smarts, a great price tag, and accurate fitness tracking features, look no further. Those turned off by the size might want to give the Fitbit Charge 5 a look. Conversely, if you are looking for a more advanced smartwatch experience from your tracker you might want to go with the Apple Watch Series 8, Fitbit Sense, or even the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5.

What makes it stand out

  • Value that can’t be beat: You can find fitness trackers for a lot less, but you won’t find one with as many smartwatch features as the Versa 3. Conversely, the Sense has a bit more to offer, but it’s not worth the price hike. The Fitbit Versa 3 is a powerful device and a great value buy.
  • Your choice between two assistants: Most smartwatches and fitness trackers with voice assistant support stick to just one platform, but the Versa 3 allows you to pick from Google Assistant or Alexa during initial setup.
  • The Fitbit companion app is stellar: Especially for those new to tracking, or for users who don’t want to get lost in the weeds, Fitbit’s app offers one of the most intuitive user experiences available while still delivering plenty of data.
  • Built-in GPS and smart features: The best devices make your workout easier, and, dare we say, more enjoyable. Features like built-in GPS, music storage, and voice assistants help the Versa 3 stand out as one of the most well-rounded options available.
  • Voice calling: Sure there are other smartwatches adding voice support, but the Versa 3 is one of the few affordable smartwatches to offer it. In our tests, calling worked flawlessly and essentially felt like using the speakerphone function on an Android or iPhone device.

Best of the rest: 7 other fitness trackers worth considering

For most users, we recommend the Fitbit Versa 3. While there are trackers that have offer more, this watch has a great balance of features, performance, and value. Of course, it’s hard for just one device to fit all user types. Some might need more app support, or others need a few more bells and whistles. There are plenty of other great fitness trackers and watches worth noting. Here’s the best of the rest:

Band-style fitness trackers:

  • Fitbit Charge 5: The Fitbit Charge 5 brings welcome upgrades to the Charge line, including a brighter OLED display and updated sensors.
  • Xiaomi Mi Band 7: For shoppers on a budget, the Mi Band 7 is the best cheap fitness tracker you can buy, thanks to its extremely low price point and solid fitness tracking.
  • HUAWEI Band 7: The best Xiaomi Mi Band 7 alternative, the HUAWEI Band 7 offers a roomy form factor and all-day SpO2 monitoring, plus useful smart features.

Smartwatch-style fitness trackers:

  • Apple Watch Series 8: For iPhone users, the Apple Watch Series 8 is the best fitness-tracking smartwatch. It’s arguably the best smartwatch you can buy and has great workout capabilities.
  • Garmin Venu 2 Plus: The Venu 2 Plus has tons of sport modes, is highly accurate, and has useful extras like voice calling and assistant support for Bixby, Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa.
  • Garmin Forerunner 255: This smartwatch is a much-anticipated update to the Forerunner series and adds features like mobile payments, an improved heart rate monitor, and much more.
  • Garmin vivomove Sport: Looking for a fitness tracker that doesn’t stand out at all? This sneaky hybrid watch could be the perfect fitness tracker for you.

Fitbit Charge 5 is an excellent fitness tracker … for most

Fitbit Charge 5Fitbit Charge 5

Fitbit Charge 5

Bright OLED display • Stress monitor • Accurate sensors

The first stress management watch from Fitbit.

The Fitbit Charge 5 is a major update from its predecessor. Not only does it have a color AMOLED display, it’s the first tracker to come with Fitbit’s Daily Readiness Score — a feature that aims to predict how much activity or rest you should take on for the day.

The Fitbit Charge 5 is an excellent fitness tracker, but there are a few caveats that we first noted in our  Charge 5 review. Namely, the device uses GPS-based tracking instead of the altimeter found on its predecessor and has a $50 higher starting price than the Charge 4. The good news is that the Charge 5 is always on sale. Provided you can get it for the right price, the Charge 5 is absolutely worth picking up if you want an accurate, comfortable tracker with tons of improvements over its predecessor.

We particularly like the Charge 5’s display, which is a dramatic improvement from the small monochrome display found on its predecessor and makes it much easier to navigate due to the added real estate. Plus, despite the upgraded screen, Fitbit even managed to shrink the tracker compared to its predecessor. While new looks and a nicer display are all well and good, it was the new fitness tricks in the Charge 5 that really won us over.

We really appreciate the addition of onboard GPS, which we compared against a dedicated tracker and found to be highly accurate. It’s a battery guzzler, however. Luckily, connected GPS remains an option for times when you need to conserve battery life. Fitbit also added an EDA sensor for tracking stress. The EDA sensor lets you take a reading several times a day and helps you monitor your stress levels. You probably already know if you’re stressed or not, but the real use here is finding patterns. Over time, the watch figured out when we were most stressed and least, which helped us make lifestyle adjustments to further cut down on the stress of modern life.

Two of the Charge 5’s biggest features actually didn’t go live until after its initial launch: ECG and the Daily Readiness Score (DRS). ECGs are slowly making their way into advanced smartwatches from Fitbit and Apple but they are rare in the fitness band world. The ECG feature lets you use atrial fibrillation (AFib) monitoring, which helps you monitor heart health. As for the latter, the Daily Readiness Score takes all the data your tracker collects and turns it into actionable information. For example, during our testing, the app noticed we didn’t get enough sleep the night before, and so the next morning it told us to skip our usual workout. Conversely, on days we slept really well, it told us to push even harder the next day. One downside — the DRS feature requires a Fitbit Premium subscription.

As you’d expect, other fitness features were as accurate as ever, especially sleep tracking and step counting. However, no product is going to be perfect. The Charge 5 has pretty poor battery life for a fitness tracker, with Fitbit’s own Versa 3 smartwatch offering very similar results in our experience. While three days is great for a smartwatch, we expect more from a fitness band-style tracker.

If you are looking for the best fitness band you can buy, the Fitbit Charge 5 is one of the best Fitbits you can buy and is very easy to recommend. If you don’t mind something a bit bigger and with more smarts, we recommend the Versa 3 at around the same price.

What makes it stand out

  • That display is killer: While the Charge 4 introduced a much bigger display to Fitbit’s trackers, the Charge 5 takes this to the next level with a bright, colorful display that almost feels more like a smartwatch than a typical tracker.
  • The Charge 5 is a band-style tracker with smartwatch-like smarts: From mobile payments to notifications, you’ll find a lot of basic smartwatch features on the Charge 5. While the device is still first and foremost a tracker, these additions are welcome.
  • Stress tracking on a fitness tracker: Again, though several smartwatches offer the ability to monitor stress levels, fitness bands typically don’t. Most importantly, in our testing, we found it works pretty well and can be insightful.

Xiaomi Mi Band 7 is the best cheap fitness tracker

Xiaomi Mi Band 7Xiaomi Mi Band 7

Xiaomi Mi Band 7

Bigger, brighter display • Accurate resting heart rate • Continuous SpO2 monitoring

A budget band that delivers more than it’s price tag might suggest

A long battery life, bright always-on display, and impressive health and activity tracking smarts make this affordable tracker a great pick for anyone on a budget. Xiaomi’s Mi Band 7 delivers more than 100 sport modes, plus continuous SpO2 monitoring. You can even personalize your device with tons of animated watch faces.

The Mi Band 7 is one of many best budget fitness trackers available, but we feel it’s still the very best we’ve tested. What makes the Mi Band 7 so great is that it packs in features that you’d normally only find on a fitness tracker double or triple its price, including SpO2 monitoring and stress tracking. Even more impressive, our testing shows that many of these features are just as accurate as those found on expensive wearables from Garmin and Fitbit. This includes basics like step tracking and calorie counting and more advanced features like heart rate monitoring.

In addition to a big bump in display size, the Mi Band 7 adds an always-on display so your stats are always available at a glance. It also offers continuous SpO2 monitoring which means the tracker could catch signs of sleep apnea, though you shouldn’t rely on it in lieu of a genuine medical assessment. We also found the device’s heart rate monitor to be incredibly accurate during resting and low-level activities as well as during workouts. It struggled a bit with weight-lifting workouts but that isn’t out of the ordinary for wrist-based wearables. Many budget trackers struggle to report accurate results at any activity level, even resting.

Aside from plenty of sensors, the Xiaomi Mi Band 7 also offers a truly mind-boggling number of workout modes and an easy-to-use interface. Xiaomi even added new training metrics for the most popular activity modes. The tracker can now monitor training load, training effect, and recovery time as well as VO2 max. The app experience has also improved in recent times, though it’s a bit complicated. There are technically two apps you can use with the Mi Band 7. Zepp Life allows you to sync to Google Fit, while Mi Fitness supports Strava. There are a few other feature differences between the two apps we pointed out in our review, but both are fairly easy to use and navigate. On the other hand, smart features are limited on this device. Users won’t find a voice assistant, NFC support, or music storage.

The Mi Band 7 is an easy-to-recommend tracker for those looking for a basic but reliable way to get into better shape. For an option with even more features, Xiaomi also released the Mi Band 7 Pro. This model offers more of a smartwatch look with a rectangular 1.64-inch AMOLED display, plus built-in GPS and NFC payment support. While not quite as affordable as the base mode, we called the Pro model “a super-sized version of an already fantastic budget fitness tracker” in our review.

What makes it stand out

  • That price tag: The Mi Band 7 is a good fitness tracker, but what truly makes it stand out is the price tag. It’s at least $30-$40 cheaper than most trackers while offering a lot of the same features.
  • Exceptional accuracy for the basics: While the Mi Band 7 struggles a bit with more advanced features, this is a very accurate tracker for the basics like steps and calories. It even handles oxygen level readings and stress tracking very well.
  • Tons of features: Generally “entry-level” fitness trackers lack a lot of advanced sensors like SP02 and heart rate monitoring. That’s not the case here. You’ll find just about every sensor other major fitness trackers offer. There’s even connected GPS, meaning you can link your tracker to your phone’s GPS for tracking your route.

HUAWEI Band 7 gives Mi a run for its money

Huawei Band 7Huawei Band 7

Huawei Band 7

Affordable price point • AMOLED display • Solid tracking suite

An attractive tracker at an incredibly low price

The Huawei Band 7 offers the full gamut of basic fitness tracking plus blood oxygen readings, heart rate tracking, and sleep monitoring. It’s a thin, light fitness tracker with an impressive display for such a low cost.

HUAWEI really surprised us with the HUAWEI Band 6 and the latest generation builds on its predecessor’s success. Blurring the line between tracker and smartwatch, it sports a large 1.47-inch AMOLED display with ultra-narrow bezels. The Band also offers improved phone integration, including the ability to answer phone calls on the wrist as well as music and remote camera control and message quick reply. The device even features support for NFC payments.

In many other ways, the HUAWEI Band 7 is very similar to the Mi Band 7 — and that’s a compliment. Users will find all-day SpO2 monitoring, sleep tracking, 96 workout modes, menstrual tracking, and more. Though we haven’t yet tested the device in-house, we were quite impressed with the accuracy of the Band 6, and the Band 7 is said to improve the user experience even further.

We tested the sleep tracking function on the HUAWEI Band 6 against a variety of devices, including the Fitbit Sense and Garmin Forerunner 245 Music. The results were spot on. In other words, if sleep tracking is something important to you it’s important to note we found the previous generation HUAWEI Band to be more accurate at this than the Mi Band 7.

Above all, HUAWEI’s Band 7 is affordable. The device is currently available to US shoppers for less than $70 from third-party retailers, including Amazon. You can grab the budget device in four colors: black, green, pink, and red. It is water resistant up to 50 meters and boasts up to two weeks of battery life between charges.

What makes it stand out

  • Beautiful full-color display: Hauwei added a vibrant and large display to its tracker line well before Fitbit followed suit. The display here looks great and is shockingly good for a watch at this price.
  • Accurate sleep tracking: If you are on a tight budget and care about sleep tracking, you’ll be happy to know that HUAWEI has a solid reputation for accuracy in overnight data.
  • Tons of workout modes: There are over 96 workout modes on this tracker. This is a lot for even more expensive trackers.

Apple Watch Series 8 is the best tracker for iPhone users

Apple Watch Series 8 (Wi-Fi)Apple Watch Series 8 (Wi-Fi)

Apple Watch Series 8 (Wi-Fi)

Excellent Retina display • Premium design and build • Advanced health tracking sensors

A very powerful device for anyone inside Apple’s walled garden

The Apple Watch Series 8 with Wi-Fi connectivity features advanced fitness and health tracking tools, including a temperature sensor to monitor body variations and better insights into women’s cycles. The device also features a thick front crystal over its display for improved durability. Additional highlights include Crash Detection, Low Power Mode, and extensive third-party app support.

Apple Watches aren’t for Android users, because there’s literally no way to use them on one. If you’re coming from an iPhone, there’s a lot to love about the latest generation. While you won’t find monumental changes from the Apple Watch Series 7, Apple lives up to its reputation by staying consistent. Like the Series 7, the Series 8 features a large display more resistant to cracks and damage than older generations. We loved how big and bright it was in our testing. The upgrade offers plenty of room for tapping into exciting new features on the software side. As always, the device offers all the basics including steps, calories, distance, floors climbed, resting and active heart rate, sleep, VO2 max, blood oxygen saturation, sinus rhythm, and more.

Launched alongside watchOS 9, however, the Series 8 offers more fitness metrics and health features than ever. Users can now tap into more display options in the Workouts app, manage medications, and track sleep stages. Though the software update rolled back to older devices as well, only the newest lineup offers a temperature sensor for deeper insights and more detailed cycle tracking. It also features a powerful heart rate sensor and impressive GPS accuracy. In our testing, we were happy to find a notable improvement over the last generation. Out of the box, the Series 7 would only sporadically record the heart rate during workouts for us. This isn’t the case with the Series 8 which performed accurately throughout our review.

Out of all the devices we’ve tested we have found Apple’s UI to be the very easiest to navigate. Pulling up apps for tracking runs and other activities is just much more intuitive here than on a device like the Fitbit Versa 3. The Apple Watch also remains the best platform for third-party app support. As a result, just about every major health service has an app for this watch. Outside of health and fitness, you’ll also find the Apple Watch 8 has plenty of other apps for all your favorite music services, messaging, and more. Finally, the Series 8 offers new safety features, including Crash Detection, which will alert emergency services if you are ever in an accident.

If you want a smartwatch that has accurate tracking and tons of third-party app support, the Apple Watch Series 8 is a no-brainer. Looking to save some money? The Apple Watch SE 2 drops a few features, but it is still a great fitness tracker. Looking to splurge? The Apple Watch Ultra offers a similar experience on a much more durable device. Don’t have an iPhone and looking for something just as feature packed? If you care about app support, you might want to consider the Galaxy Watch 5. If you simply want accurate and advanced tracking features, get the Venu 2 Plus.

What makes it stand out

  • King of the apps: If you want third-party support, you can’t do better. Apple has worked hard to bring in tons of partners. In addition to the 40-plus apps built in, there are over 20,000 downloadable apps. No one else comes close.
  • ECG support works perfectly: Apple is one of the few brands out there with an FDA-approved ECG monitor. If this is an important health metric to you, you’ll want the Apple Watch.
  • Gorgeous and durable design: The Apple Watch design is iconic at this stage. It looks great and it turns heads. If you care about something that is not only beautiful but highly durable, look no further.

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is a great workout watch for every niche

Garmin Venu 2 PlusGarmin Venu 2 Plus

Garmin Venu 2 Plus

Excellent display • Fast charging battery • Phone calls

Phone calls and a voice assistant on your wrist.

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus takes all of the fitness- and health-tracking features of the original Venu 2 and adds the ability to receive phone calls and access your phone’s voice assistant.

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus might be a premium smartwatch, but it’s also one of the best fitness trackers. While most fitness trackers are great for running and other common activities, the Venu 2 family covers 25 sports modes for a range of activities. These include common ones like running and cycling, plus more niche subjects like bouldering and golfing. Additionally, there is also a ton of variety in 75 workouts available, including support for yoga, pilates, and HITT.

We found ourselves really drawn to the HITT workouts, and this is one of the features we used the most. The exercises work well and the on-device timers are clear and easy to read. You even feel a slight buzz when each interval begins plus every second for the last five seconds before the next interval. This makes performing HITT exercises much easier than using a video or app on your phone. Plus, there are even a few different modes. We found Free Mode appealing because it also keeps tabs on your overall health data. There are also four timed workouts: AMRAP, EMOM, Tabata, and custom. Custom lets you set a time limit for your active and rest times, as well as how many moves and rounds you want to do.

We also really love Garmin’s Health Snapshot feature, which was first introduced with the Venu 2. Basically, the Venu 2 Plus takes a two-minute recording of your health stats like heart rate, heart rate variability, blood oxygen levels, respiration rate, and stress. Once it’s pulling together all the results, it becomes viewable in Garmin Connect. From there, you can even share it with your healthcare provider or a caretaker. Likewise, Garmin recently released a new FDA-approved ECG app for recording on-demand readings and monitoring for signs of AFib. This makes the device an even more powerful health companion.

The rest of the core health fitness features are as accurate as you’d expect from one of the best Garmin watches. GPS testing was almost always on target, as were metrics like tracking steps, calories, and blood oxygen levels. Unfortunately, we did run into some problems with the heart rate monitor. While resting heart rate was accurate enough, we found heart rate readings during workouts could be pretty inconsistent. For example, during a four-mile run, we found the data was not only quite a bit off against our chest strap, but also compared to the Apple Watch we were also wearing.

This is acceptable from a budget device but less acceptable from a high-end fitness-focused smartwatch. Thankfully Garmin has released a few updates since then that have improved the accuracy, but just be aware the data can sometimes be a little off even with the fixes.

Overall, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus is a great fitness tracker. However, it’s pretty pricey unless you are actually into the smartwatch features Garmin brings to the table, such as mobile payments, voice calling, and the ability to use your assistant of choice on the watch. If you want a full-fledged fitness experience with a wide variety of activity support and solid smartwatch features, the Venu 2 Plus is the pick. Want to save some cash? The Fitbit Versa 3 doesn’t have everything the Venu 2 Plus offers, but it comes pretty close and offers great value.

What makes it stand out

  • The ability to make calls. While a growing selection of smartwatches have call and messaging functionality, it’s still not all that commonplace. It’s built right in here and it works flawlessly on the Venu 2 Plus.
  • Assistant support isn’t limited to one platform. Most trackers and watches have built-in assistants, but the Garmin Venu 2 Plus uses the phone in your pocket. This means you can choose between Bixby, Assistant, Siri, and others.
  • Industry-leading fitness tracking features. Garmin is one of the leaders in fitness features and as a result, there are tons of activity modes. There’s also support for a wide range of sports including golf, swimming, and strength training. Just to name a few.

Garmin Forerunner 255 is one of the best fitness trackers for hardcore runners

Garmin Forerunner 255Garmin Forerunner 255

Garmin Forerunner 255

Multiple sizes to fit more wrists • Supports NFC and Garmin Pay • Gyroscope and barometric altimeter

Garmin’s mid-level, fitness-tracking smartwatch loaded with features

The Garmin Forerunner 255 offers accurate GPS tracking and solid battery life in an attractive package. It’s even available in two case sizes with optional music support. With Garmin’s powerful training tools on board including an updated triathlon mode, its easy to recommend to any athlete.

The Garmin Forerunner 255 is easily one of the most impressive running watches we’ve ever used and a much-needed upgrade to its aging predecessor. There are many reasons we adored the watch, but let’s start with the form factor. We applaud Garmin’s decision to offer this watch in two different sizes: a 42mm model and a slimmer 41mm model dubbed the Forerunner 255S. Even better, there’s no premium for getting the bigger model, as both the 255 and 255S have the same retail price.

Previously, the Forerunner series felt a bit too big for those in our team with smaller wrists. We used both models but primarily focused our attention on the 255S. In reality, there are only two major differences between the 255 and 255S. The former has a 1.3-inch display and gets around 30 hours of battery life. The latter has a 1.1-inch display and around 26 hours of battery life.

The Forerunner takes the winning formula of the aging Forerunner 245 and updates it for the current market. The device’s added NFC support worked flawlessly for us. As our reviewer Ryan noted, he never carries cash on a run, so adding this function was helpful when he needed to stop for snacks or refuel with a drink. Even more significant is the upgraded heart rate monitor.

The fourth-gen Elevate Sensor has some of the most accurate heart rate tracking we’ve seen in a watch. While it wasn’t exactly in line with our chest strap’s data, it came extremely close. Garmin also added a powerful triathlon feature. It’s one of over 30 sports profiles, and you can shift from the running phase of your workout to biking or swimming with the push of a button.

Likewise, another feature we absolutely love is Morning Report. Morning Report delivers an overview of your sleep, recovery, and training for the day right when you wake up, even if it’s a rest day. While not new to Garmin (seen in Garmin Lily), it is new to the Forerunner series.

Although no device is flawless, the Forerunner 255 comes close. One small sore spot is the lack of a touch display, but that’s pretty common for a running watch. Instead, the watch uses physical buttons to navigate. There’s also a proprietary cable on the Forerunner, but that’s also pretty typical in the wearable space. Unless you’re really serious about running, there are other watches out there that might be cheaper or better suited. Still, running buffs will absolutely want to consider picking up the Garmin Forerunner 255.

What makes it stand out

  • Options for different wrist sizes: The Forerunner 255 is available in a 42mm model as well as a 41mm S model so everyone can get the perfect fit. Both are the same price, though a music-capable version can be purchased for another $50.
  • Morning report is a useful addition: We really love Garmin’s Morning Report feature. This delivers an overview of your sleep, recovery, and training right from the moment you wake up.
  • Gold standard in heart rate monitoring: Let’s be honest, most trackers struggle for truly accurate heart tracking. The next-gen Elevate sensor in the 255 is one of the few monitors that can yield nearly as accurate results as you’d get from a chest strap.

Garmin vivomove Sport is the perfect hybrid for the incognito fitness buff

Garmin Vivomove SportGarmin Vivomove Sport

Garmin Vivomove Sport

Sleek design • Hidden screen with analog flavor • Multi-day battery life

This Garmin hybrid watch effortlessly balances style with surprisingly good value

This is the smartwatch you get for traditional analog watch lovers. Despite its minimalist looks, it provides plenty of value. It packs Garmin’s well-known health and fitness features, including Body Battery. But this isn’t why you buy the Vivomove Sport. Its attractive, customizable design is its biggest attraction.

Like everything from Garmin, the vivomove Sport offers the full gamut of fitness tracking. Where it stands out is how it houses them. During our review, we fell in love with the device’s hybrid form factor, particularly its spy-tech “hidden” display. This isn’t a device for users who want to broadcast their gym regimen. Instead, with real ticking hands, this watch feels like a classic analog accessory. The aesthetic is completely appropriate for a fancy meal or a night out. Meanwhile, just a double-tap away, it hides an accurate fitness tracker with some of Garmin’s top tools.

Navigating the tiny display real estate on the vivomove Sport takes a little getting used to, but we got the hang of it after just a few hours of digging in. The device records all the basics you’d expect from a tracker plus sleep data, 24/7 heart rate, and stress data. It also offers Garmin’s Body Battery and all-day stress monitoring. Unfortunately, you won’t find a sleep score, which we would have loved to see. You won’t find built-in GPS here either, though you do get connected GPS. Connected GPS isn’t ideal for runs or rides as it necessitates pocketing your phone, but it’s a minor gripe. We were also pretty excited to see a heart rate monitor in a hybrid like this. Overall it works fairly well, though it’s not nearly as accurate as you’d find on a more traditional fitness tracker.

Battery life with hybrids can often stretch pretty far, and the vivomove Sport performs solidly here. In our tests, we were able to get around five days of battery life for the hybrid features. After that, the watch would go into an analog-only mode. This mode let us use the device as a standard watch for about one more day.

The Garmin vivomove Sport is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a stylish tracker that blends in wherever you take it. Metallic accents elevate the device while comfortable silicone bands make it durable enough for a sweaty workout. It never felt out of place no matter where we wore it, including a formal holiday meal, ziplining, hiking, and multiple gym sessions. Thanks to multi-day battery life, we rarely had a reason to take it off to charge either. The vivomove Sport is a very good basic tracker. Anyone hoping for even more advanced results probably isn’t shopping for a hybrid anyway. The relatively approachable retail price of $179 also makes any of the device’s nuances easier to swallow.

What makes it stand out

  • A stylish workout companion: The vivomove Sport is a very good-looking device. It offers a classic look for users that move seamlessly between the office and the gym.
  • We can’t say enough about the display: The device isn’t just good-looking, it’s clever. This type of “hidden” display isn’t new to Garmin but it has never been done better than on this device.
  • Garmin’s reputation proceeds it: Even though this isn’t a dedicated fitness tracker, it is (as the name implies) a capable sports companion. Garmin is known for accurate fitness tracking and the company’s Body Battery feature makes this an attractive pick.

What to look for in a good fitness tracker

For those new to fitness trackers, you might not be completely sure where to get started. Some of you might just be doing it because “all my friends use a tracker.” Others may be trying to get back in shape. Finally, there are users who simply want to maximize their existing workout routine by adding more comprehensive data to the mix. When choosing the right fitness tracker you’ll want to consider all of the following:

Your style of workout matters

What are you using this device for? Do you want something that can do it all fairly well, or a watch that’s more specialized even if it sacrifices some commonplace features? If you’re a swimmer or a diver, you’ll want a tracker that is able to handle certain depths. Likewise, runners will want step tracking that offers accuracy you can count on. For cyclists, you’ll want a device that has bike mode features like GPS to monitor your course. Buying this for a child? You’ll want something that can handle bumps and bruises.

Form over function, or vice versa

Will you want to use the tracker long-term if you find it uncomfortable? Is comfort less important than simply looking good? That’s important to figure out too. Some fitness trackers work really well, but maybe they are bulky or just not particularly aesthetically pleasing. Others are designed with style in mind, but perhaps make a few sacrifices on the feature set to keep them light and comfortable.

How smart do you want your fitness tracker to be?

Some fitness trackers and smartwatches offer advanced features. These included everything from stress tracking to music controls, third-party app support to voice calling or assistant support, and much more. If you want everything and the kitchen sink, a smartwatch is probably the right choice for you or something that crosses the line between a traditional fitness band and a fitness watch — like the Charge 5.

What features do you really need, versus “nice to haves?”

Maybe you’re just buying a fitness tracker to broadly “get into better shape.” In most cases, you probably will do just fine with a basic tracker that handles calories, steps, and sleep. On the other hand, it doesn’t hurt to get a watch with extras. Consider the value of tools like a heart rate monitor, GPS, or SpO2 tracking.

Features for serious health concerns

If you’re getting a fitness tracker due to serious health concerns, you might want to spring for extra features. Relevant options include sensors for monitoring blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and other important metrics.

How crucial is battery life for your fitness tracker?

If you plan to use this for long hikes or situations where battery life is a concern, you’ll want something that can last days if not weeks. Meanwhile, if you want smarts, you’ll have to settle for something that needs more frequent charging. If you do spring for a watch with lesser battery life just make sure it has a quick charging solution.

Will it work with your current device and what’s the app like?

While most of the devices in this list work with both Android and iOS, that’s not always the case. Apple Watch only supports iPhones, for example. Some watches will offer different features or a better app experience depending on your paired device. Unless noted in the descriptions below, all the recommendations in this list are compatible with both major smartphone platforms. The last thing you want to think about is the app itself. For example, the Mi Band 7 is a great fitness tracker in terms of hardware. However, the app isn’t nearly as robust as you’ll find from Garmin or Fitbit.

What’s your budget?

What you spend on your new tracker is up to your personal budget. The Fitbit Charge 5 rings up higher than some cheaper trackers because it’s a higher-quality device. Meanwhile, springing for a fitness-tracking smartwatch will set you back even further. However, it may be worth the investment for a well-rounded experience. On the other hand, if you have a low budget and aren’t sold on how much you’ll use a fitness tracker, we absolutely recommend a budget option.

Why you should trust us & how we test

Android Authority has a long history with wearable devices, spanning back at least as far as the Pebble in 2013. Since then, we’ve reviewed hundreds of wearables and learned a lot along the way. Our team of dedicated health and fitness experts tests dozens of new wearables and fitness trackers every year. Only the very best make it onto recommendation lists like the one you are reading. How do we determine what’s worthy? When testing we have two main focuses in mind: user experience and accuracy. To that end, we start by utilizing the device as a daily driver:

  • We wear the product 24/7, (except for charging time), to evaluate its day-to-day performance, capabilities, and comfort.
  • We note everything from strap materials and display brightness to navigation and battery life.
  • We tap into as many features as possible, leaving no stone unturned.
  • We set alarms, chat with voice assistants, and fire off texts, follow breathing exercises, sweat through workouts, and much more.
  • We test sleep tracking accuracy and wear the watch to bed, comparing its data to other products well-regarded for their sleep analysis.
  • We test SpO2 sensors against other wearables or a pulse oximeter.
  • For heart rate monitoring, we equip chest straps to test the device’s accuracy and push the sensor through interval training workouts.
  • We also test GPS accuracy on outdoor runs and rides wearing the device, along with a notably accurate GPS device, to see how the review unit performs.
  • When possible, we strap on a comparable device from the current market to analyze how the review subject stands up to similarly-priced competition.
  • We dig into the companion app. We look to see how the data is organized and analyzed and evaluate the ease of use.

As you can see, we don’t mess around! There is a ton of variety in smartwatches and trackers, and reviewing each product is quite nuanced. A Garmin Fenix 7 review looks a lot different from a Xiaomi Mi Band review, for example. So, we also determine the wearable’s place in the market in terms of form factor, target audience, and budget. Then, we check to see if the device is missing anything important that users might expect to see. Finally, we verify that it lives up to its brand’s (measurable) claims.

You can trust that our experts put every device through its paces. Typically, our review period lasts about a week. However, we sometimes extend it to weeks or months for especially feature-packed devices. We also revisit watches and trackers regularly to ensure they still hold up over time.


Compatibility is always device-specific but all of the options on this list are compatible with iPhones. Similarly, all of the devices are also compatible with Android devices except for the Apple Watch.

For the sake of this article, we refer to devices with big displays that prioritize apps and notifications as smartwatches. Devices with small displays that look more like a traditional fitness band we refer to as fitness trackers. In reality, many smartwatches have fitness tracking tools, and many fitness trackers have smartwatch features.

If you are shopping for a little one who is just getting started on their tracking journey, check out our list of the best fitness tracker for kids. We even include options for older kids and teens.

The answer to this varies. Typically no tracker is going to be as good as higher-grade medical equipment like chest straps and monitors. However, some brands come closer than others. Fitbit, Garmin, and Apple are three brands known for their accuracy.

Garmin and Fitbit devices are each best suited for different users. Garmin offers a data-heavy experience for serious athletes while Fitbit is a great option for more casual tracking. Read more about the differences between these two industry leaders in our Garmin vs Fitbit comparison guide.