Fitness trackers have come a long way since Dr. Yoshiro Hatano’s manpo-kei, or “10,000 steps meter” was first invented back in 1965. Since then, they’ve become a way of life: fitness tracking helps people do everything from counting daily steps to training runners for marathons.
Now there’s proof that these gadgets really can get users into shape.
A recent study from the University of Minnesota found that fitness tracker watches do help overweight people lose weight and reduce the risk of deadly illnesses including cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. According to the authors, this is the first study “to show that FitBit and other over-the-counter devices motivate vulnerable individuals to meet exercise goals.”
Whether you’re someone who wants to reach 10,000 steps per day or is looking to train for a marathon, there are several models to choose from, with prices ranging from $34 to $649.
Below are seven fitness trackers, the major features they offer, and the pros and cons for each.
Fitbit Charge 4
Price: $129.95 (Amazon)
A barely-there, slim watch that is easy-to-use and affordable given what it offers.
Pros: Built-in GPS can track your activities wherever you go. The battery can last up to seven days. Fitbit’s app is top-notch especially for tracking sleep.
Cons: Battery only lasts five hours when using the GPS function.
Apple Watch Series 6
Price: $399.00 (Amazon)
It’s like a smartphone, only on your wrist.
Pros: Fast charging time, blood oxygen measurements, always-on Retina display creates a brighter screen, stores daily activity data in Fitness app on iPhone.
Cons: It’s expensive.
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
Price: $649.00 (Amazon)
If you’re a hardcore fitness buff, this is the watch for you. It’s especially useful for golfers, skiers and runners.
Pros: Access to more than 41,000 golf courses around the world (so you can see a map of where you are), advanced sleep monitoring, and preloaded maps for skiers at 2,000 resorts. The battery can last up to nine days in smartwatch mode. The watch is also enabled with a recovery time feature that alerts you when you’ll be ready for your next workout based on factors like training intensity and stress, daily activity and sleep. Additionally, it’s equipped with PacePro technology, a tool which helps you stay on track during training.
Cons: It’s the most expensive of the bunch, and the watch itself is rather bulky.
Xiaomi Mi Band 4
Price: $34.37 (Amazon)
A really inexpensive fitness watch that does the basics, but don’t expect more.
Pros: Counts steps, calories burned, and comes with six workout modes. The battery can last up to 20 days fully charged. Water-resistant.
Cons: Due to its price point, you’re not going to get all the bells and whistles that other brands offer. For beginners who want to track the bare minimum, like heart rate and step count, this is a good starter watch before you decide to take it to the next level. People have complained about the accuracy of some of its data tracking.
Garmin vivoactive 4S
Price: $254.99 (Amazon)
Now on sale, the vivoactive 4S gives you the most bang for your buck without confusing you with pointless stats.
Pros: Phone-free to store music for workouts, more than 20 preloaded sports apps, enabled with animated workouts on your wrist, custom workouts available on Garmin Connect app, and smaller watch face.
Cons: The battery can drain quickly when using GPS.
Amazfit Bip S
Price: $59.99 (Amazon)
Super-long battery life at an affordable price gives beginners another option to consider.
Pros: Battery life can last 40 days and can be charged in two and a half hours. Built-in GPS to track step count, distance traveled, calories burned, plus a sleep-quality assessor and smartphone notifications.
Cons: Heart-rate tracking is suspect, according to customers.
Samsung Galaxy Watch4
Price: $249.99 (Preorder at Samsung)
The stylish watch comes in an array of colors and features Wear OS 3, a smartwatch platform developed by Google and Samsung.
Pros: The Google app integration allows you to connect to several apps for fitness and wellness management like Calm, a meditation app, and Spotify for all your music needs.
Cons: It’s not available yet. Preorders have begun, but the watch will be released on August 27.