Nowadays, almost every runner we see on the roads seems to keep looking at their wrist. And, the reason is very simple – they keep checking to see if they are on track, literally, or not. Smartwatches and fitness trackers (there is some overlay between them) are hugely popular ways of staying active, inspiring people to keep tabs on their health. For 2019, the most popular devices keep improving, offering new functions including sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring and a whole array of different exercises.
Picking the right fitness tracker and smartwatch will depend on what you plan to use it for. Do you want to do some casual step counting? Do you want a detailed breakdown of a workout? Fitness trackers and smartwatches can monitor your daily step count, sleep, heart rate and activity levels.
Fitness trackers, unlike smartwatches, and are not made to support multiple apps, although they do share similar functions. Smartwatches support fitness apps and also tell the time. So, for many fitness enthusiasts, keeping fit and keeping track entails having a smart watch on their wrists. So, which smart watch is the best one for you – to keep track of your health?
Apple Watch Series 3
Most people generally use this smartwatch for more than telling time or accessing email and messages – it’s also used as a fitness tracker. The on-watch extra sensor is a barometric altimeter, which lists stair-climbing stats like a Fitbit. And the Series 3 includes the big fitness improvements from two years ago: GPS and “swim proofing” — it’s waterproof to 50 meters, even in seawater. Heart rate, previously a ping-as-needed tool, now lists more graphs for all-day averages in resting heart rate and walking heart rate.
The cell connection for the Apple Watch Series 3 works well for phone calls, email, Siri and messages. The auto-switching between Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cellular is managed by Apple’s new W2 wireless chip – which saves some battery life. Music syncs more easily. There have been improvements made in the fitness tracking app and a selection of improved watch faces.
The Apple Watch Series 3 is the best overall smartwatch you can put on your wrist but battery limitations and add-on fees prevents it from being a must-have upgrade. However, the Apple Watch Series 3 is the best phone watch on the market. Cellular supports data and voice and the watch uses the same number as your iPhone. Setup is easy, and toggling from cellular to Bluetooth and back again is really quite seamless.
The Fitbit Versa is compact and lightweight – a smartwatch and fitness tracker, with an improved interface for easier fitness stat readouts. It’s water-resistant down to 50 meters, and works with iOS and Android. Many of its apps and watch faces are useful and enjoyable.
While its multiday battery life beats the Apple Watch hands down, its battery life doesn’t live up to other Fitbit fitness trackers. Music transfer to the watch is complicated and limited but the improved music remote is a neat improvement. It doesn’t have an on-board GPS. And the charger is a little bulky, but it’s great on comfort, notifications and daily fitness tracking.
Ultimately, the Fitbit has done away with unnecessary extras, and concentrated on the basics. Providing you can overlook its limitations, the Versa is the best fitness-friendly casual smartwatch in its price range.
This one is a complete fitness smartwatch – and a major bargain, at that. It gets notifications, has an always-on display, along with extras such as heart rate, GPS and water resistance. Works with Android and iOS. The Amazfit Bip is actually very affordable, has unbelievable battery life, and is the finest low-key casual smartwatch around. It’s easy to use, cost effective and offers battery life that can be counted in weeks not just days.
This fitness tracker has the robust features ideal for a fitness band. According to Garmin, it delivers up to seven days of battery life and, like Garmin’s other smartwatches and activity trackers, this model is completely waterproof. Along with a pretty accurate, built-in optical heart-rate monitor, there’s:
- GPS tracking
- Color touchscreen display
- Notification alerts
- 15 built-in sports widgets for everything including strength training, cycling and cardio
In addition to the GPS, the Vivosport also has the LiveTrack5, a feature that tracks your activity and location in real time, sends alerts to designated friends and family members -telling them your location on a web-based map. The Vivosport automatically tracks activity, including:
- Floors climbed
- Calories burned
- Intensity minutes
- Sleep… and more
As part of its 24-7 heart-rate monitoring, the Vivosport also measures your heart-rate variability, converts it into a stress levels, then urges you to breathe and relax when the level is elevated.
Huawei Watch 2 with cellular
This is one of the few smartwatches that supports 4G connectivity – sadly not in the US. And it does fitness tracking as well as any other wearable. The Watch 2 is a great device, a classic, traditional-looking round sports watch with its most distinctive feature being cellular connectivity. To find this connectivity useful, you need to be doing stuff that needs internet access.
The Huawei Watch 2 is a smartwatch that runs on Android Wear 2.0. The only apps that currently offer 4G support on the platform are Uber, Google Play Music, Facebook Messenger and Foursquare. Obviously, Uber is useful. Google Play Music lets you stream music without your phone but it’s disappointing that the more popular Spotify doesn’t offer support.