Fitness trackers are all the rage these days. But with so many available, it is hard to know which one is right for you. You don't have to worry any longer. An editor at Women's Health has done all the difficult work for you and tested 7 different trackers side by side.
Robin Hilmantel says, "I chose seven popular options and reviewed every aspect of them I could: I read the instruction manuals, sure, but I also wore the different models side-by-side to see what each clocked 100 steps at and how far each recorded a mile as being. I paid close attention to how user-friendly each one was, checked how accurate the heart-rate monitors were, and also tested the sleep functionality of the bands that promise to log your Zs."
[bctt tweet="This side by side test will help you find the right tracker for you!"]
Here are her results:
For the purposes of this test, Hilmantel stuck with true fitness trackers and not running watches or other fitness devices you can wear on your wrist, with the exception of the Apple watch and the Moto 360.
All chosen options had the capacity to track steps, distance, and calories burned. She found the set up for all devices to be easy but says that she "couldn’t get the Withings Activité POP to sync with the phone." But, because of the rave reviews she read online, Hilmantel believes her experience to be an anomaly.
Each fitness tracker logged 100 steps as:
Since pedometer technology has been around for a while now, it isn't shocking that all devices were pretty accurate during the 100 step test run.
Each fitness tracker logged a mile as:
*This corroborates my theory that the watch's app uses your smartphone's built-in technology since I ran without my phone during this mile.
This part of the test was a little difficult as you cannot zero out your day's distance when you start your run but with some help from her boyfriend, Hilmantel got it done. She called out her starting totals, and then, after running a mile on the track (4 laps) she gave her boyfriend the final numbers without taking another step.
It is important to note as well that Hilmantel tested the Apple Watch and Moto 360 twice. She says, "I also tested the Apple Watch and the Moto 360 twice: once without keeping my phone nearby to see how they did without any help from a 4G connection and once with my iPhone in-hand." Her findings showed that "the Apple Watch and the Moto 360 don’t actually appear to use your phone’s GPS unless you turn on an app specifically designed to track your run." The Moto 360 had virtually identical readings on both runs while the Apple Watch was less accurate with use of the watch's "workout" app.
The Misfit, Fitbit, and Jawbone all track sleep automatically. Hilmantel reports, "They said I slept between nine hours, 14 minutes and nine hours, 49 minutes (sometimes I like to bank shuteye on Sunday nights, okay…?). They also said I woke up between zero and two times during the night. But since I can’t say for sure exactly when I fell asleep or how restful or restless my night was...there’s no way to know which device was the most accurate on this front." The Pivotal Living band has a sleep tracker you have to activate by pressing a button. Despite doing this, it did not record any of Hilmantel's sleep data.
Hilmantel says, "I also performed one other test: counting my actual heart rate and then using the devices that measure it to see how close they got. I’m happy to report that all of the trackers do a great job on this: The Fitbit was dead-on, the Apple Watch gave a reading 1.89 percent above my actual heart rate, and the Android 360 came in 9.43 percent above it (although my heart rate was 53, so a reading of 58 isn’t so far off)."
So, Which One Should You Buy?
While Hilmantel couldn't find a clear winner, she does have some ideas on which trackers may be right for you: If you’re on a budget: Even with the app renewal fees after your first year of membership, the $12 Pivotal Living band is the most affordable option out there. And for basic step counting, it definitely gets the job done.
If you’re more concerned with how it looks than anything else: Although I couldn’t get the Withings Activité POP to work myself, as I mentioned, the online reviews don’t reflect that other people had this issue—and I loved the coral-pink color.
If you never want to charge it: The Misfit Shine comes with a replaceable coin cell battery that lasts for up to six months, so you don't have to worry about plugging it in once every few days—and can wear it to track your every movement.
If you want advanced tracking features . . . and to be able to see your exact step count on your wrist: While other devices have various symbols that indicate roughly how close you are to hitting your step goal, the Fitbit Charge HR has a screen that lets you check in on your precise progress throughout the day.
If you want more context for the numbers to really improve your health: The "Up" app that works with your Jawbone Up 3 provides personalized tips like “Your REM sleep is most likely to be disrupted in the morning, so it may be a good idea to put in ear plugs before you hit the hay."
If you want a smartwatch . . . and one that doubles as a conversation starter: People will come up to you and ask you what you think of the Apple Watch all the time when you wear one. There’s no way around it. And I also liked that the watch buzzes to remind you to stand for at least one minute of each hour.
If you want a smartwatch . . . but don't want to look like you’re an extra on Star Trek: Everyone who saw me in the Moto 360 commented on how impressed they were that it looked like a real watch. And now that Android Wear works with iOS, anyone with a smartphone can use it.
Just remember, the one that is best for you is the one you are likely to wear and use! If it gets you up and moving, it is perfect for you!
Do you have a fitness tracker? What's your favourite?
Amazon Purchase Links:
Jawbone Up3 Fitbit
Pivotal Living band
Withings Activité POP