The 3 Best Fitness Trackers of 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

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The Ozo Fitness SC 3D Digital Pedometer, which we previously recommended for basic step count and distance tracking, is no longer available. Track Light Kitchen

Several Fitbit Charge 5 owners have reported that their devices no longer work as they once did. A company representative said that a recent firmware update is not to blame for these issues and recommended that customers with affected devices “continue to update their devices to the latest firmware and contact Fitbit customer service” if they experience problems.

People who own an affected Charge 5 that is within Fitbit’s one-year warranty period are eligible for a replacement device, the rep added.

Wrist-worn fitness trackers that can monitor your steps and heart rate were once seen as cutting-edge devices. Now these wearables are becoming more high-tech with each release, equipped with features like personalized workout programs and the advertised ability to monitor stress or sleep quality.

Since 2015, we’ve been running, walking, swimming, cycling, sleeping, and basically living with 46 different fitness trackers day and night, to assess their accuracy, ease of use, and comfort. Although no tracker perfectly recorded every metric we tested, we found that the simply designed yet feature-packed Fitbit Inspire 3 is the best option for most people who want to monitor their activities, with metrics like distance traveled, step count, heart rate, and estimated calories burned.

This easy-to-use tracker is comfortable to wear all day and provides accurate measurements, without too much clutter on the homescreen.

The latest version of the Charge series continues a tradition of accurate activity tracking, but many of the new additions require Google integration.

The Apple Watch SE delivers some of the most precise readouts and—with a mobile plan—can be used for calls and messaging. But its battery life is much shorter than that of our Fitbit picks.

We paid close attention to battery life, comfort, ease of menu navigation, and customizability.

We wore each device for two days straight, comparing step-count data to that of a pedometer we know to be precise.

We walked, jogged, and ran with each fitness tracker to see how well it documented workout data.

We performed two tests with each device using a chest-strap heart-rate monitor as a comparative control.

This easy-to-use tracker is comfortable to wear all day and provides accurate measurements, without too much clutter on the homescreen.

The Fitbit Inspire 3 was the most accurate fitness tracker for step count and near the top of the rankings for every other test we performed. The touchscreen display is only 1.5 inches tall but is simple to navigate, thanks to its sharp colors and easily readable text and icons. The thin, half-inch band doesn’t feel clunky during workouts or everyday use, and the Inspire 3 weighs just 0.32 ounce—lighter than a typical USB flash drive.

Fitbit has a free app where you can connect with other Fitbit users, log information to learn about stress management, and dig deeper into data such as heart-rate history (a premium version of the app costs $10 per month or $80 per year) and offers access to apps like Calm for sleep and meditation). The Inspire 3’s battery is advertised as lasting 10 days before charging, although we found it to come in a fair bit short of that mark.

Battery life: up to 10 days Water resistance: yes, for up to 50 meters GPS: when connected to a phone

The latest version of the Charge series continues a tradition of accurate activity tracking, but many of the new additions require Google integration.

The Fitbit Charge 6 offers a few upgrades from the Charge 5 , which we previously recommended as a runner-up pick. The most notable upgrade is a haptic side button that allows for easier screen navigation than swiping on the touchscreen (which, we found, sometimes isn’t responsive). The Charge 6 also has built-in GPS, which the Inspire 3 doesn’t have, in addition to access to Google Maps, Google Wallet, and YouTube Music (with subscription). But when it comes to tracking distance, the Inspire 3 performed better in our tests.

Battery life: up to seven days Water resistance: yes, for up to 50 meters GPS: built in

The Apple Watch SE delivers some of the most precise readouts and—with a mobile plan—can be used for calls and messaging. But its battery life is much shorter than that of our Fitbit picks.

The second-generation Apple Watch SE has a vibrant, clear display and the best intuitive touchscreen of the devices we tested. Even if you’re not connected to an iPhone, you can take advantage of a large library of apps. Performance-wise, the Apple Watch SE—also our budget pick smartwatch for iPhone users—accurately measured heart rate, steps, and distance. But for people who want to go on a run and just track, say, their pace and distance, the Apple Watch SE might be overkill, especially given its higher price and limited battery life.

Battery life: up to 18 hours Water resistance: yes, up to 50 meters GPS: built in

To understand the various components and accuracy of fitness trackers, we consulted cardiologists, professors who study the accuracy of the devices, as well as running coaches and physicians who regularly use wearables in testing.

Fitness trackers can give you a better idea of how you move your body throughout the day. They’re useful for people who want to set goals to increase daily movement and gain a better picture of their health.

Any device that you wear on your wrist is actually tracking the swinging of your arm, which pretty closely matches what your legs are doing when you’re walking or running. But humans do a lot more than just walk and run, and these devices can and do perceive any movement your arms make (say, while you’re folding laundry or clapping your hands) as “steps.” The often-lauded touchstone of 10,000 daily steps seems to be arbitrary at best, though moving more throughout the day is rarely a negative.

There are also specialized GPS running watches and smartwatches that provide the same health-related information and much more. The lines between fitness tracker, GPS running watch, and smartwatch are blurrier than ever. Generally, fitness trackers are less bulky to wear than GPS running watches or smartwatches and cost less. They can also run for a week or more between charges, while you generally need to charge a smartwatch daily.

Many fitness trackers, GPS running watches, and smartwatches have accompanying apps that also track data related to sleep, hydration, or menstrual cycles. Aric A. Prather, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco Weill Institute for Neurosciences, said that, in general, most wearable devices are capable of accurately estimating total sleep time and sleep fragmentation, but “this is less true when it comes to sleep architecture, like minutes in deep sleep for instance.”

None of the wearables covered in this review are medical devices, and none of the data they collect is regulated or legally protected in the same way that other health data is.

If you have concerns about the appropriateness of a new exercise routine or suspect that you may have a health condition, see a medical professional. And if an abnormal heart rate is a health concern for you, don’t rely on an activity tracker to help manage your condition.

Approach some metrics with caution. Trackers do not replace the need to discuss any cardiovascular symptoms with a medical professional to ensure an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan, said Meagan Wasfy, a sports cardiologist at Mass General Brigham. The devices can provide a general idea of your health, though. For example, as one gets more fit, resting heart rate tends to decrease because the heart is stronger and more efficient at pumping oxygen-rich blood to the body, said Seth Martin, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins who specializes in cardiology. “So fitness trackers can help give us insight into how our heart rate trends over time, and store this information for our review.”

A tracker’s GPS accuracy (whether it has its own onboard GPS or uses your smartphone’s) is okay but not perfect (GPS rarely is). More-advanced metrics—such as breathing rate, blood oxygen saturation, and A-fib (atrial fibrillation) detection—are best viewed as guides, not replacements for medical assessments.

Most fitness trackers provide an estimated tally of calories burned that’s based in part on an estimate of your basal metabolic rate. Andrew Jagim, PhD, director of sports medicine research at Mayo Clinic Health System and the co-author of a study on fitness-tracker accuracy, pointed out that each company uses its own proprietary algorithm to calculate that number. Some rely on heart rate, for instance, while others factor in accelerometer data.

Max Paquette, an associate professor at the University of Memphis who also consults athletes on optimizing performance, warned that trackers ​​often make people less in tune with their bodies. “They’re so reliant on data, and they forget to feel what they’re doing. They like to be told by their watch what they’re doing. To me that is a disadvantage, honestly. You can learn so much from your body while training.” Nicole Hagobian, a sport psychology consultant at California Polytechnic State University, added that for a person who fears failure and tends to engage in negative social comparison, a tracker can add anxiety and unnecessary stress to workouts.

To capture data like heart rate, fitness trackers—and other wrist-worn devices, such as GPS running watches—use photoplethysmography, a technology that uses light (most often green, the most commonly used LED color to measure hemoglobin) to measure changes in blood volume within the wrist. It is, of course, open to foibles. How a tracker is worn—how it’s positioned on the wrist, how tight the band is cinched—can affect readings. Studies have been conducted on other factors too, like skin tone, body hair, and tattoos might affect the accuracy of wrist-based heart-rate readings. Studies into skin tone specifically have had mixed findings.

For this guide, we focused on evaluating the key features that people who might choose a dedicated fitness tracker are looking for: step count, distance, and resting heart-rate readouts. We also considered smaller bands and displays (something that looks more like a traditional fitness tracker than a watch) and price. (We have also tested the daily-activity-tracking capabilities of the comparatively pricier Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, Apple Watch SE, and the screenless Whoop 4.0).

Most of all, we wanted a device that was accurate, dependable, and durable.

Throughout our testing, we aimed to answer the following questions:

How easy is the fitness tracker to use and live with? Because these devices are meant to be worn all day, every day, we put a lot of emphasis on comfort, wearability, and user friendliness—of both the device and its companion app. We also paid attention to battery life and syncing capabilities.

How well does it track activities? To gauge how accurately the trackers record all-day step counts, we wore the devices in pairs, one on each wrist, for two days straight (we switched wrists on the second day). We also compared their step-count readings with the results from an Ozo Fitness SC 3D Digital Pedometer we know to be reliable.

How well does it record workouts? For all of the devices, we tested how well they estimated distance traveled by walking a mile on a treadmill.

For any device meant to track active heart rate during a workout, we performed two separate tests on the treadmill: a steady-state run of five minutes at an easy pace, and a six-minute walk-jog-run of two minutes at each pace. We compared heart-rate readings from the device against readings from a Polar H10 heart-rate sensor with a chest strap, and later also compared resting heart rates from each fitness tracker with the Polar H10.

The first column shows how far off each tracker was in measuring the distance (1 mile) we walked during treadmill workouts. The second column is a tabulation of step count error percentage between readouts from a tested fitness tracker and our pedometer. (Many wrist-worn fitness trackers inflate all-day step counts, in part because they register certain arm movements as “steps.”) The percentages in the third column of the table below show the company’s advertised battery life; the last column shows how much of the battery remained after two days of continual use.

This easy-to-use tracker is comfortable to wear all day and provides accurate measurements, without too much clutter on the homescreen.

The Fitbit Inspire 3 gives precise readings, has a good battery life, and includes plenty of features to appease people with varying health goals. In some ways it’s a throwback, with its simple interface and small size, which we appreciated. A fancy display and dozens of specialized health metrics doesn’t always equate to a product that can handle the basics, such as measuring step count and resting heart rate accurately, which is all some people need from a wearable.

This device is especially easy to use. The display is activated with a swipe across the screen. When the Inspire 3 is synced through the Fitbit app, the home screen can be changed to a variety of backgrounds that show time, heart rate, step count, and other information. A swipe up on the home screen will give you other metrics like distance traveled that day and SpO2 (blood oxygen), while a right swipe on the home screen brings you to timers, exercise programs, and other features.

Swiping down on the home screen gives you access to settings that will allow you to adjust how often you receive notifications and a general settings feature with which you can adjust how long the screen stays on and choose from three brightness levels: dim, normal, and max. Before changing these settings, warnings pop up telling you how switching levels might affect battery life.

Its app is easy to use, too. Fitbit’s free app is very easy to navigate, and peppered with tips and information on specific metrics. It connects you to a large and active social network, which may help motivate you to meet your goals.There’s also Fitbit Premium, the upgraded version of the Fitbit app, which costs $10 per month or $80 annually. Guided workouts and audio mindfulness sessions are among the perks with this option.

Through the free app you can also (manually) track blood glucose and connect to your phone’s GPS. The app also offers the ability to set reminders to move, set fitness goals, and log details like heart rate, sleep, and activity for a stress management score. The app can also aid you in taking note of food and water intake. While not essential, these are nice add-ons that are presented in easy to understand language for someone interested in recording their nutritional health on another level.

Google purchased Fitbit in 2021, and the newest Fitbit devices are fully integrated with Google accounts. People who buy certain wearables (including our runner-up pick, the Fitbit Charge 6) new now or who do not already have a Fitbit account are required to sign up for Fitbit with a Google account. For now, you can still buy a new Inspire 3 and link it to an existing Fitbit account. Support for existing Fitbit accounts “will continue until at least 2025,” a company representative told us, after which Fitbit owners will be required to use a Google account for their devices. The representative added that the company will “be transparent with our customers about the timeline for ending Fitbit accounts through notices within the Fitbit app, by email, and in help articles.”

New Fitbit users are not only required to register with a Google account, but they have to accept Google’s terms and services, which includes Google’s privacy policy. These terms include how data from your Fitbit is collected and stored by Google and what data from your Fitbit that Google shares with third parties. A Google representative confirmed that existing Fitbit account users who choose not to migrate their account to Google before 2025 can continue to use a Fitbit under the Fitbit terms of service and Fitbit’s privacy policy.

It’s the most accurate and has a long-lasting battery. In our tests of step count accuracy, the Fitbit Inspire 3 was off from our pedometer readout by just 0.32% over a two-day period—the best of all the fitness trackers tested. In a one-mile test of how accurately it recorded distance, the Inspire 3 had one of the better tallies, being over by only 0.03 mile.

It also showed signs of a decent battery life; some testers found it middle of the road, while others had excellent results. After wearing the Inspire 3 for two days and two nights, which included several recorded workouts and auto-detected activity, our testing had the Inspire 3 lasting about seven days before needing a charge—it’s advertised as lasting 10 days.

However, one tester, who has both an Inspire 3 and a Fitbit Charge 5, reported having to charge the latter much more frequently, while “I cannot remember the last time I plugged in my Inspire 3.” In a test measuring resting heart rate, the Inspire 3 was off by 1 bpm, one of the best readouts we saw.

The Inspire 3, like all Fitbit products, has a one-year warranty. Additional bands in various colors and materials like stainless steel (as well as a clip-on option) are available for an additional cost.

The Inspire 3 has a flexible silicone band that closes with a plastic buckle and tang (think of how you fasten a belt buckle). While this is not uncommon for fitness trackers, it sometimes took a few tries to close—this is one instance where the slim design of the Inspire 3 may be a drawback. The band doesn’t lay flat like, say, that of a thicker Apple Watch SE, and the tang is a bit flimsy, causing it to not stay in place when adjusting on the wrist.

Sometimes when flicking through the touchscreen, we pressed too hard, causing the Inspire 3 to activate a mode we didn’t want or bring up another screen that we had to swipe out of. Again, this may be a slight drawback to the tracker’s relatively minimalist design and smaller-than-most screen.

In one of our tests, the battery fell about three days short of the advertised 10 days of life, not great but not terrible.

The latest version of the Charge series continues a tradition of accurate activity tracking, but many of the new additions require Google integration.

When it comes to tracking distance, the Fitbit Charge 6 performs well and has built-in GPS, which the Inspire 3 does not. Its predecessor, the Charge 5, was previously a pick in this guide and is still widely available, but several reviewers have noted difficulty syncing the fitness tracker to the Fitbit app. We did not experience any such difficulty with the Charge 6, but you’ll need a Google account even if you already have the Fitbit app. The Charge 6 added a helpful haptic side button for easy screen navigation.

It’s still very good at tracking. The Fitbit Charge series of fitness trackers have always been reliable in tracking steps and distance. In our 1-mile distance test, the Charge 6 was -0.02 miles off and had an error rate of 1.3% in our step-count test, performing just below our pick. After two days of use, our battery was at 68%, putting it slightly off pace with the company’s estimate of lasting seven days.

There’s an easier-to-use display and band. Many Fitbit Charge users lamented the lack of a haptic side button on the Charge 5, so its return is welcome. It is a small cosmetic change, but it makes screen navigation so much simpler, particularly when you are sweating during a run or wearing gloves (when the touchscreen may not be as responsive). The Charge 6 also comes with a thick, flexible silicone band that is easier to adjust than the Fitbit Inspire 3’s slim band, with its sometimes-difficult-to-close clasp. The colorful AMOLED on the Charge 6’s display is vibrant indoors and outdoors. It weighs 1.02 ounces

More exercise options. The Charge 6 comes with 40 exercise modes, a noticeable upgrade from the Charge 5, which displayed just six modes (you could switch different exercises onto the Charge 5 through the app, but six was the limit it could store). Also new to the Charge 6, you can now broadcast heart rate via Bluetooth to some third-party apps like Peloton.

A gaggle of Google. Fitbit is fully immersing itself into the Google universe, which was anticipated after Google acquired Fitbit in 2021. The Charge 6 comes equipped with Google Maps, Google Wallet, and YouTube Music (subscription needed). You also need a Google account to use the Charge 6, even if you already have a Fitbit account (you can still track workouts through the Fitbit app).

There are still some connection problems. While the Charge 6 has built-in GPS and the Inspire 3 doesn’t, the GPS could still use some improvement. We had some connection problems we didn’t encounter when testing GPS running watches.

The Apple Watch SE delivers some of the most precise readouts and—with a mobile plan—can be used for calls and messaging. But its battery life is much shorter than that of our Fitbit picks.

If you’re already immersed in the Apple ecosystem, the second-generation Apple Watch SE, our budget smartwatch pick for iPhone users, is a reliable choice for tracking step counts, distance traveled, and heart rate. (Technically, you can use workarounds to use an Apple Watch with an Android phone, but it’s not a straightforward pairing.)

The display and design are top notch. The Apple Watch SE has a vibrant screen that is customizable in the Watch app, where you can add shortcuts like weather reports or connect to the Nike Run Club app. The rubber band is comfortable and the easiest to put on among the trackers we tested; after choosing which peg fits your wrist size, you tuck the remainder of the band underneath a slit. (Dr. Mary Delahoussaye, director of Split Second Cares, a reintegration program for people who have suffered from a neurological disorder, suggested an elastic or Velcro band should be a standard accessory with Apple Watches, for people who may have difficulty with the multistep process. She noted that while Apple has the most options for universally designed bands, some of the more inclusive designs are more expensive or not available for the SE.)

It tracks several unique metrics, some more useful than others. All Apple Watches, including the SE, measure activity by encouraging you to close a trio of rings—red for “Move,” green for “Exercise,” blue for “Stand”—each day, but they’re not necessarily meaningful in gauging your personal health feedback, instead serving more as a daily competition. Unique among trackers we’ve tested, the Apple Watch has a wheelchair option, which tracks pushes instead of steps.

See Apple’s privacy policy.

It has lots of add-on modes but does the simple stuff well, too. There are dozens of workout modes to choose from—more than Fitbits offer, including activities like Tai Chi and pickleball—so you can really get specific. We found that the watch trailed the Fitbit Inspire 3 only when it came to measuring step counts accurately. The SE also performed solidly in our distance testing.

The battery life is very short. The SE doesn’t have an always-on display, and it has a mere 18 hours of projected battery life, falling far below that of most designated fitness trackers. In a test, we found that the battery had dropped to 9% after 18 hours of use, so if you’re traveling overnight, be sure to bring a charger.

The Apple Watch SE is covered by a one-year warranty.

If you’re a serious athlete who doesn’t care about tracking steps: You may like the Whoop 4.0, a niche tracker that uses a subscription model ($30 a month/$239 annually). It’s a good tracker for people seeking specialized health feedback or data on every workout, movement, and resting period they complete. The band, made of poly Lycra and pima cotton, is comfortable to wear, and the tracker sends information to an app where your workouts and recorded health information lives. A coaching feature suggests how much recovery is needed after a workout and provides insight on how hard certain muscles work during training. You can track recovery trends, and monitor respiratory rate, SpO2 (blood-oxygen levels) and temperature.

If you want a budget tracker: The Amazfit Band 7 provides fairly accurate readouts and has a very strong battery life. It’s advertised as lasting 18 days, and after two days of continuous use we found it still had 90% juice. The Amazfit Band 7 is strikingly similar in aesthetics to the Mi Xiaomi Smart Band 7—a representative for Amazfit noted the company shared equipment manufacturing for Xiaomi until late 2022. The Amazfit Band 7 performed better than the Mi Xiaomi Smart Band 7 in our tracking and distance tests, but still below the capabilities of our top pick.

The 45 wrist-worn wearables we’ve tested over the past eight years have included the discontinued predecessors of many of the devices reviewed here. In early 2023, we tested the Amazon Halo View before the company announced that it would stop supporting the Halo series on July 31, 2023. (The devices and app no longer function; Amazon said it would refund unused and prepaid Halo subscription fees and help owners recycle Halos for free.

Along with the Mi Smart Band 7, we also tested the Garmin Venu Sq 2 and Garmin Vívomove Sport in 2023. Both devices underperformed in our step count tests, but they do have perks, such as accurate heart-rate readouts and integration with the easy-to-use Garmin app. Both Garmins could easily qualify as smartwatches—the Vívomove Sport is designed like a fashion piece—if you seek more style over substance.

The Fitbit Luxe has a slim, jewelry-like profile, with optional accessories that feel more like bracelets and less like sporty bands. We had a few hiccups, like when the Luxe blacked out during heart-rate testing and we couldn’t get back to the display.

If you want to keep in-depth records of your workouts, the Garmin Vívoactive 4S is a sporty, advanced fitness tracker with an emphasis on exercise. Its color touchscreen is clear and responsive, albeit more muted than those of a few color-screen competitors. Buttons beside the screen make it easier to toggle between workout modes or to start and stop workouts, and workout-data screens display more than one metric simultaneously.

The best thing the Garmin Vívofit 4, a former pick for basic fitness tracking, has going for it is that you don’t need to charge it, since it runs on a watch battery that’s good for a year. It also looks dated.

Instead of using step counts as the primary stat, the Mio Slice claims to measure all-around activity with a proprietary “personal activity intelligence” based on heart-rate monitoring.

The third-generation Oura Ring did not track our tester’s workouts as well as the wrist-worn devices she tested alongside it. See Wirecutter’s review of the Oura.

The Polar Unite has the sporty look of a fitness watch, and it can hold up to 20 sport profiles. We had a hard time getting it to connect to our phone for GPS use. It was comfortable—its heart-rate sensor is flat, which is a nice touch.

We’re fans of the minimalist aesthetic of the Withings Pulse HR; a reinforced polycarbonate surface coating over the screen has a cool, matte finish. The company, perhaps best known for its smart scales, has built in a seemingly impossibly long battery life—20 days—which held up in our testing. Step counts were hit or miss, sometimes nearly spot-on and other times far off. And it didn’t perform as well in our active-heart-rate tests as we expected.

Ingrid Sjkong and Amy Roberts contributed reporting. This article was edited by Tracy Vence and Kalee Thompson.

Andrew Jagim, PhD, director of sports medicine research at the Mayo Clinic Health System, phone interview, September 9, 2021

Seth Martin, professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology at Johns Hopkins Hospital, email interview, January 17, 2023

Max Paquette, associate professor in the College of Health Sciences at the University of Memphis, phone interview, January 19, 2023

Nicole Hagobian, running coach, sport and exercise scientist at California Polytechnic State University, email interview, January 30, 2023

Meagan Wasfy, sports cardiologist at Mass General Brigham, email interview, February 6, 2023

Dr. Mary Delahoussaye, director of Split Second Cares, email interview, March 3, 2023

Aric A. Prather, PhD, professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and interim director at University of California, San Francisco’s Center for Health & Community, email interview, May 10, 2023

Seth Berkman is a staff writer at Wirecutter, covering fitness. He previously covered sports and health for several years as a freelancer for The New York Times. He is passionate about making fitness reporting accessible to people of all levels, whether they’re serious marathoners or first-time gym-goers. He is the author of A Team of Their Own: How an International Sisterhood Made Olympic History.

by Seth Berkman and Ingrid Skjong

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