The 9 Best Fitness Trackers And Smartwatches You Can Buy Right Now

Yes, it’s that time of the year again. After the short holiday break—you used it for quiet reflection and kind thoughts, not excessive indulgences, right?—the new year has begun with its unavoidable emphasis on new year’s resolutions. Since some of them will doubtless involve that getting fitter or healthier promise you could make yourself most years, see what fitness trackers can do to help you keep your resolve, at least past January.

Trackers, as the name suggests, help you monitor just how many steps you’re taking, which is one of the key metrics for taking more exercise. In turn, your step count, and the amount of exertion that goes into them, reveals how many calories you’re burning.

Steps, whether you’re running or walking, are crucial. Apple recognized this from day one of the Apple Watch. It’s why even the first-gen model had a heart rate monitor built in, so the calorie-measuring was more accurate than trackers which worked on an average deduced from your weight and height (and therefore likely stride length).

Incidentally, from Monday, January 9, Apple is expanding its Fitness+ subscription service with a new category, kickboxing, and much more. Full details here.

Things have come a long way since the first Apple Watch, Fitbit, Jawbone or Nike+ Fuelband devices. Now, there are smart alarms which wake you when they sense you are inching from deep to light sleep, to wake you refreshed. Sleep monitoring, a key part of health, can drill down into light, deep and REM slumbers. The motion sensors are now smart enough to know when you’re starting a swim, a cycle ride or a run without you launching a workout. And there’s a greater emphasis on education, deriving lessons about you from your movement that can lead to your device knowing you’re stressed, for instance.

So, do you want something lightweight and affordable or a more comprehensive device that includes mapping, payment capabilities and extensive notifications? Read on for the best of the best: there’ll likely be one for you.

The deals highlighted within this post were independently selected by the Contributor and do not contain affiliate links.

Best: all-rounder

Apple Watch Series 8


From $399, 41mm, $429, 45mm from

If you have an iPhone, this is the perfect smartwatch. It dovetails perfectly with your phone, and even comes in a version with direct cellular connectivity. This is useful if, say, you want to go running without your iPhone but, at the end of your exertions, you want to text or call a friend to meet you for a celebratory drink (or demand they give you a lift home).

Apple Watch models all have a broadly similar design: a squarish face with curved corners. They’re shaped that way so the face can display as much text as possible at a time. There are two sizes, 41mm and 45mm so you can pick the size that fits your wrist best. The Watch SE, below, is slightly smaller, and the Ultra is bigger. Series 8 comes in two metal finishes to choose between, aluminum and the pricier stainless steel.

The Watch has multiple workouts to choose from, including HIIT, hiking, Pilates, yoga and even dance, alongside the walking, running and cycling ones, for instance, that can auto-launch. Accuracy is excellent, whether that’s counting steps, floors climbed or using GPS for extra precision. The Apple Watch Ultra has enhanced GPS capabilities.

There are plenty of health features on board Series 8, such as blood oxygen monitoring and the capability to take an ECG on your wrist. The Watch can also notify you if your heart rate goes surprisingly high or low (the SE and Ultra have this feature, too). Fall detection is in every current Apple Watch so it can contact emergency services if you take a heavy fall and don’t move for 60 seconds after. This also includes a fall from a bike.

Plus, you can ask Siri to give you walking directions, for instance, which is much better than holding your pricey iPhone out in front of you as you navigate a sketchy part of town. Apple Pay is a highly convenient and secure to pay for stuff, at credit card readers or transit payment points. Battery life is reckoned by Apple to be 18 hours. Realistically, it will get you to the end of the day without a problem, but nightly recharges are recommended unless you plan to use it for sleep monitoring, in which case, you’ll need to recharge it either before you go to bed or in the morning. The Series 8 comes with a fast-charging puck, though it still takes an hour or more.

There are hundreds of apps on Apple Watch, mostly companions to iPhone apps. This range of capabilities, the immaculate design and splendid interface make the Apple Watch the best smartwatch and fitness tracker, and Series 8 has the most appeal.

Best: Blood pressure monitor

Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro


$399.99 from

Android users may enjoy the latest Samsung Galaxy smartwatch, which includes something no other mainstream watch does: blood pressure measurements. Once a month, you calibrate the watch by measuring it against a standalone blood pressure cuff (not supplied). This watch will work with more or less any Android phone as your companion device but you’ll get most out of it if you have a Samsung Galaxy phone—some features only work fully, or display maximum data with the Samsung Health companion app, for instance. The Pro comes in one size, 45mm, so smaller wrists may opt for the Galaxy Watch5, though there are more features on the Pro and battery life is much better here, well over a day and closer to three in light usage. Fitness tracking is strong, with more than 90 workouts covered and extensive, in-depth sleep analysis.

The body composition feature is excellent, with readings including body fat levels, for instance, just by touching the display with two fingers. Tiny electrical signals determine through resistance how much of you is bone, muscle and so on.

Chunky and with a hint of ruggedness, the Watch5 Pro is one of the smoothest-performing Android smartwatches.

Best: For stress monitoring

Fitbit Sense 2


$299.95 from

Fitbit’s health measurements are known for their accuracy and accessibility, and that’s the case with the company’s latest smartwatch, the Fitbit Sense 2. It’s a good-looking device that resembles the first-gen Sense, with a 40mm always-on display and soft silicone straps.

As well as a heart rate sensor that allows ECG readings, there’s a skin temperature sensor and an all-day body response tracking sensor. The idea behind all this is that the Sense 2 can notice when there are changes to your body, such as signs of stress, and notify you so you can decide if you’re feeling stressed or sad, for instance. If your heart rate goes unexpectedly low or high, you’ll get a notification then, too. The heart rate sensor can also track blood oxygen levels.

Where the Sense 2 is no match for the best smartwatches here, is in third-party app support. There’s no music support, for instance, which can be disappointing if you like music on your outdoor run, for instance.

Fitness features are good, but this watch stands out for its health smarts, especially for stress measuring, with the complementary elements of guided meditations, for instance. Google owns Fitbit, which may be why this watch is outgunned by the Pixel Watch.

It’s currently $70 off, by the way.

Best: For design

Google Pixel Watch


From $349.99 from

Google’s first smartwatch is tremendous, with sublimely good looks that will appeal to many. It eschews the squarish screen of the Apple Watch or the chunky look of many other smartwatches to deliver an elegant and compact design. The 41mm always-on display is sharp and attractive, and disguises the fact that the watch has a wide bezel around the screen: it’s rarely noticeable. The bands attach in a unique but rather effective way: press the lug just to the left of the strap and swipe the strap sideways to remove it. Attach the next strap by performing the process in reverse.

Like the Apple Watch, it comes in two versions, wi-fi and wi-fi plus 4G.

Features include heart-rate tracking, GPS and ECG reading—though you need to be logged in to Fitbit to use this.

The watch comes with six months of subscription to Fitbit Premium. It’s easy to put Fitbit as a complication on the watch face, for instance. And it means the excellent accuracy of Fitbit devices is here, too, so you can be sure the step count, calories burnt total and so on are what they claim to be. That said, the Fitbit app does look a bit old-fashioned.

The Pixel Watch’s heart rate monitor runs all the time in the background, so you can see with one glance at your wrist what the current state of your heartbeat is. This is very neat, and something the Apple Watch can’t match: on Apple’s timepiece you need to tap the display to see the latest figure. The watch is not as responsive or speedy as many rivals, and this can be frustrating.

Right now, the Pixel Watch is $30 off.

Best: For analog watch lovers

Withings ScanWatch


$299.95 from

Withings smartwatches feature a unique best-of-both-worlds design: the analog face is real, not virtual, with real hands sweeping round the dial. There’s a second dial, also real, which tracks your activity as the day goes on, as a percentage of your target steps. And then there’s the smart display, a small circle of OLED which shows your heart rate, delivers notifications and more.

Battery life is tremendous: the smaller display means less battery drain and a watch that can keep going for a month or more between charges. The heart rate monitor checks your heartbeat regularly through the day.

Withings also makes other health gadgets, such as excellent bathroom scales and a sleep tracking pad that goes under your mattress. All work together seamlessly.

Best: For people who don’t like wearables

Oura Ring


From $299 from

Maybe wearing a watch isn’t for you: you have a favorite timepiece you can’t do without, for instance, or you don’t want something on your wrist when you’re sleeping, perhaps. Well, the Oura smartring weighs about 4g, so you can easily wear it 24/7 without noticing it’s there. It’s made of titanium, which helps keep it light, but on the inside are the smart sensors.

These can read heart rate, temperature and respiratory rate. It’s a slick and capable device. It measures heart rate from the arteries in the finger, which some say is more accurate than from the wrist. The information it gives you is detailed and comprehensive, for instance, offering detailed analysis of your sleep, so when you wake up you know how to optimize the next day.

This is great for athletes who need to know whether they should push themselves in today’s exercise or take it a bit easier. But it’s just as useful for all of us, for anyone who wants to stay on top of how they’re doing. It gives you Sleep, Activity and Readiness scores, along with personalized guidance. More recently, it offers blood oxygen tracking, though turning this feature on reduces battery life.

There are some metrics and insights which require Oura membership, which is free for the first month, then attracts a subscription. There are two designs: Heritage with a distinctive flattish side and the new Horizon which is completely circular but for a discreet dimple on the underside.

Best: Value smartwatch

Apple Watch SE


From $249, 40mm, $279, 44mm from

Because the Apple Watch has been around longer than most rival watches—it launched in 2015—it has really got its act together in almost every way. The apps are the smoothest, the easiest to understand, and the most attractive. So, even though this model doesn’t have all the latest features, has many of the Watch’s strongest benefits. Notifications for surprisingly high or low heart rates, fall detection, noise detection and more are all on this Watch.

What’s missing are the advanced fitness and health features along with—most importantly, I’d say—the always-on screen. This means that to see the time, you need to raise your wrist or tap the display. These are not difficult tasks, but when you get used to an always-on screen, you really can’t go back.

Still, the price difference is considerable and the design is very attractive, though with slightly smaller displays than Series 8. As far as budget smartwatches go, the SE is hard to beat.

Best: Pure tracker

Fitbit Charge 5


$149.95 from

Unlike most of the gizmos here, this is unmistakably a tracker, not a smartwatch. This means it’s slimmer and sleeker, not to mention lighter than most here. It has a pleasing smooth and rounded design. But that doesn’t mean it’s not capable and the inclusion of GPS means you can track runs without any companion device. It also handles contactless payments, shares notifications from your phone and has Fitbit’s excellent sleep tracking, for instance. The heart rate monitor is fast and responsive, notifying you as you move between heart rate zones during a workout, which is useful. It can also take an ECG measurement on device. There’s an electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor, to measure stress levels. Note that there’s no longer any Spotify music control on board, which is a shame. Fitbit Premium is required for some advanced metrics and advice, but it comes with the first six months subscription included. Right now, the price is down to $129.95.

Best: For demanding users

Apple Watch Ultra


$799 from

Bigger and more powerful than any other Apple Watch, the Ultra with its 49mm case and strikingly different design, is the ultimate smartwatch. It has a titanium build which means this lighter, stronger metal isn’t as heavy as it looks, though it’s definitely a lot heavier than the smaller Apple Watch SE, for instance. The design changes include an unmissable side button in international orange which is configurable, to make it easy to start a workout, for instance. There’s also a bigger digital crown so that it’s easy to use with gloves on. Dual-frequency GPS is just one of the upgrades designed for the sportier among us, offering significantly more accurate route tracking in built-up areas. On the other hand, if the Watch sees that you’re in the outback, and all cellular or wifi coverage is vanishing, it will automatically start tracking the route you take so it can guide you back again if you get lost. It’s water-resistant to a depth of 100 meters and a clever app automatically springs into life when it senses you’re in the water, showing your depth (in feet or meters), even if you’re just in the local swimming pool. The app shows the depth in real time down to 40 meters. More than that, there’s an app, Oceanic+ which turns the Watch into a dive computer.

It has all the features of Series 8 such as crash detection, so your Watch can alert emergency services to give your location if, heaven forbid, you’re involved in a car crash. There’s also fall detection, ECG, blood oxygen measurements and heart health capabilities as found on Series 8.

Every Apple Watch Ultra automatically comes with cellular connectivity.