Best fitness bands you can get right now (May 2016)

Best fitness bands you can get right now (May 2016)

Some might say that we live in the day and age where technology has made it all too easy for a person to become a couch potato, spending their time in front of the TV, laptop, gaming console, tablet, or even smartphone. But that evil tech has a bright side to it as well – given the right amount of desire and enough willpower to get you started on the long road of becoming an active individual, a certain set of electronic gadgets will actually help you stay on track and keep you motivated throughout that journey.

Yes, some smartphones can offer basic activity tracking, but we are specifically talking about fitness trackers. The little gizmos have become popular among avid fitness buffs and casual joggers alike for the past couple of years, and a lot of companies have entered the market, looking to fill their own little niche. So many, in fact, that if you happen to be looking for a band to augment or just record your training, you may be a bit overwhelmed by the amount of choice.

Well, fear not. We dove in that heap of offerings for you and came up with some of the best fitness trackers in various price tiers and specific usages. Check them out!

Contents:

Cream of the crop
Purely sports-focused
Discreet
Smart
Affordable


Cream of the crop:

Fitbit Surge


Best fitness bands you can get right now (May 2016)

CompatibilityAndroid | iOS | Windows
Band sizeSmall: 5.5" - 6.3" | Large: 6.3" - 7.8" | X-large: 7.8" - 8.9"
Battery durationUp to 7 days (GPS off) | Up to 10 hours (GPS on)
Water resistance5 ATM

Pros

  • Continuous heart rate monitoring
  • Has GPS
  • Multi-sport modes and activity recognition
  • Detects floors climbed
  • Large display gives us direct access to tracked data
  • Wireless syncing to PC software

Cons

  • A bit large for a fitness band
  • Water-resistant, not waterproof

Fitbit is among the most well-known fitness tracker brands out there on the market, which translates into a lot of 3rd party apps supporting the company's products. Combine that with the Surge's wide array of supported activities, multi-sport mode, activity detection, and automatic sleep tracking and you have a daily activity tracker that can easily be your top choice. The device is mostly a “put-on-and-forget-about-it” type, while downloading all of its data to your PC or smartphone can be done wirelessly without much effort. As a downside, however, using its GPS for a long time can easily eat through your battery (within hours), and the Surge lacks waterproofing, so keep it away from the pool!

Jawbone UP3


Best fitness bands you can get right now (May 2016)

CompatibilityAndroid | iOS
Band size5.5" - 7.5"
Battery durationUp to 7 days
Water resistanceSplash-resistant

Pros

  • Stylish and discreet for all-day usage
  • Elaborate Smart Coach feature
  • Automatic activity recognition
  • Heart rate monitor for periodical resting heart rate measurements
  • Excellent sleep tracking

Cons

  • Heart rate monitor doesn't track during workouts, can't be started on demand
  • Water-resistant, not waterproof
  • Tapping input for sleep/wake is a bit iffy

The Jawbone UP3 is more of a lifestyle tracker than a specific tool for the sporty folk. As such, it is stylized more like a bracelet that can stealthily fit under a sleeve, or mingle with your other accessories. The UP app's Smart Coach feature is great at offering various lifestyle adjustment tips once it gets a good feel for your good and bad habits. Its main sources of information are the activities you track with the UP3 as well as the heart rate monitor, which goes off at automatic intervals while you are relaxing, letting the app keep track of your resting heart rate.

Using the tracker outside of a workout is limited, however – for example, you can't monitor your heart rate outside of an actual workout profile. Its fitness tracking capabilities will be a downside for fitness buffs – since the bracelet is limited in input options, one has to rely on its automatic activity detector, and this one doesn't do great with sports that don't involve a lot of frantic movements. To aleviate this issue, users are asked to point out what type of activity they were doing after the training has been completed, so don't forget to visit the app each time you are done with the weightlifts.

Purely sports-focused:


Mio Fuse


Best fitness bands you can get right now (May 2016)

CompatibilityAndroid | iOS
Band sizeSmall: 5.8" - 7" | Large 6.1" - 8.2"
Battery durationUp to 7 days
Water resistance3 ATM

Pros

  • Continuous heart rate monitoring during training
  • Waterproof
  • Heart rate zone notifications for quick reference while training

Cons

  • Limited use outside of training scenarios
  • Only syncs to a phone app

The Mio Fuse is mainly meant as a heart rate monitor for joggers or cyclists. Its LED dot matrix display will glow with different colors, and a vibration motor will give off a slight buzz whenever the user hits a different heart rate zone (blue / green / red), which should help serious sports buffs maintain a steady workout without overdoing it. The displаy also shows the time, goal progress, steps, distance, and other tracked data.

The Fuse is pretty limited as an all-day activity and lifestyle tracker, however. Its heart rate monitor will not work outside of training profiles, and there are no alarms for inactivity to remind you to get up. It also only syncs to a mobile app, so an Android or iOS device is a must.

Polar A360


Best fitness bands you can get right now (May 2016)

CompatibilityAndroid | iOS
Band sizeSmall: 5.1" - 6.7" | Medium: 5.9" - 7.9" | Large: 6.5" - 8.8"
Battery durationUp to 14 days
Water resistanceWR30

Pros

  • Continuous heart rate monitor
  • Waterproof
  • Swappable bands
  • Coaching features
  • Display shows tracked data and phone notifications

Cons

  • Flow app is basic, so it's best to sync with the PC app
  • Doesn't track elevation

The Polar A360 doesn't just track your activities – it also wants to help get you moving with inactivity alert messages and to motivate you to do better in your training with coaching tips and virtual high-fives when you break your own records. The device has a rich choice of sport profiles to help it better fine-tune its calculations to your specific activity and level of fit. It also allows you to change its look with a swappable wristband. Its phone app is not bad, but not as nearly as detailed as the PC software, so if you want to make the most out of your training readings, you will have to hook the tracker to your computer every once in a while.

MOOV NOW


Best fitness bands you can get right now (May 2016)

CompatibilityAndroid | iOS
Band sizeUp to 8.9"
Battery durationUp to 6 months (replaceable coin battery)
Water resistance1 ATM

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Thin and lightweight
  • Advanced coaching features

Cons

  • Smartphone needs to be around for coaching features
  • Tracked stats are not as detailed

MOOV NOW can be used as a bracelet or anklet, or, better yet, grab a pair (for $139.90) and strap one on each leg or each arm during workout. The accompanying smartphone app will read the stats off of the tracker and give you real-time instructions and motivational pep-talk to keep you progressing better through your workout sessions. It's definitely a great choice to look into for users who are not very well-versed in what they are doing.

However, to get the real-time coaching feature, which is a large part of the MOOV's selling point, you need to have your smartphone on you at all times, which is not optimal for some workouts (like swimming). Still, the tracker is waterproof and will record fitness data for up to 90 minutes when it's away from a smartphone that it can sync to.

Discreet:

Garmin Vivosmart


Best fitness bands you can get right now (May 2016)

CompatibilityAndroid | iOS
Band sizeSmall: 5" - 6.1" | Large: 6.1" - 8.7"
Battery durationUp to 7 days
Water resistance5 ATM

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Thin and stealthy
  • Music controls
  • Wide display shows phone notifications

Cons

  • No heart rate monitoring
  • Auto goals are great but can make custom goal setting a bit finnicky

The Vivosmart is a great choice for those that want a stealthy fitness band that still packs a wide array of features, including some found on smartwatches. It offers music controls nad notifications, albeit you can't answer to texts directly from the band. It will alert you when you've been spending too much time sitting down and will automatically set daily goals for you, based on your recent activity. Switching from an automatic goal to a custom-set one can be a bit finnicky, but overally, the Vivosmart is a great lifestyle companion, a good choice for medium to highly active folk.

Fitbit Charge HR


Best fitness bands you can get right now (May 2016)

CompatibilityAndroid | iOS | Windows
Band sizeSmall: 5.4" - 6.2" | Large: 6.2" - 7.6" | X-large: 7.6" - 8.7"
Battery durationUp to 5 days
Water resistance1 ATM

Pros

  • Continuous heart rate monitoring
  • Rich app ecosystem
  • Silent alarms and calls
  • Wireless syncing to PC software

Cons

  • Water-resistant, not waterproof
  • Tiny display doesn't show much data

If you want to make use of Fitbit's great software and have a tracker that can pair to most 3rd party fitness apps, but don't want to shell out for the Surge, the Charge HR may also be a good choice. The smaller bracelet retains the continuous heart rate monitoring as well as the altimeter for altitude measurements, which can be found in a few trackers for the price class. Still, it's a bit basic, for example – when tracking an activity, you can't set a workout profile before the training. Instead, you just start the “active mode”, then tell the app what you were doing after the training is done.

Misfit Shine 2


Best fitness bands you can get right now (May 2016)

CompatibilityAndroid | iOS
Band sizeUp to 7.2"
Battery durationUp to 6 months (replaceable coin battery)
Water resistance5 ATM

Pros

  • Thin and light
  • Stylish bands available
  • Waterproof
  • Can be used as a clip-on or necklace
  • Controls smartphone music or camera
  • Works on a single coin cell battery for up to 6 months

Cons

  • No PC software – Android or iOS app only

The Misfit Shine 2 is a serious fitness tracker in a small elegant body. It doesn't have a display, but 12 LEDs on its face, which will help you track your daily goals. The center of the tracker's face is a touch controller, which can send commands to your phone to control music playback or the camera's shutter. If you want to carry an activity tracker for the whole day, but don't fancy having it around your wrist, the many accessories available for the Shine 2 as a separate purchase can turn it into a stylish necklace or a clip-on.

There is little wrong with the Shine 2, as long as you are OK with the no-display approach to fitness bands. Unfortunately, it only syncs to an Android or iOS app, so keep that in mind.

Smart:

Huawei TalkBand B2


Best fitness bands you can get right now (May 2016)

CompatibilityAndroid | iOS
Band sizeTPU band: 9.5" | Leather band:  9.2"
Battery durationUp to 6 days
Water resistanceIP 57

Pros

  • Cool 2-in-1 concept
  • Premium and stylish looks
  • Can sync to Jawbone's UP software

Cons

  • Water-resistant, not waterproof
  • Headset is not very comfortable, doesn't offer multiple tips

If you just can't get yourself to buy a fitness-tracking bracelet that only does one thing (that is, track activities) for about $150, then maybe this tracker-headset combo from Huawei will interest you. The TalkBand B2 is a very sleek, stylish offering that doubles as a handsfree Bluetooth earphone. And, while the Huawei app that syncs to the device is a bit basic, you can also sync the TalkBand B2 with the Jawbone UP app to get some of that industry-leading software experience. While there are some decidedly better choices out there for the dedicated sports folk, this one is a more stylish accessory for the medium activity, gadget-loving user. Huawei recently announced the next generation TalkBand B3, which is even sleeker and more elegant, but also much costlier.

Microsoft Band 2


Best fitness bands you can get right now (May 2016)

CompatibilityAndroid | iOS | Windows
Band sizeSmall: 5.7" - 6.5" | Large: 6.3" - 7.5" | X-large: 7.3" - 8.5"
Battery durationUp to 48 hours
Water resistance---

Pros

  • Has GPS
  • Tracks wide range of activities
  • Has Cortana integration when synced with Windows smartphone

Cons

  • Not waterproof
  • No automatic sleep tracking
  • A bit bulky still

The Microsoft Band 2 offers a sleek, futuristic look with its curved display, a big enough display for your notifications and stats to comfortably show through, and a vast amount of sensors under its hood, GPS, UV sensor, and barometer included. The Band features a guided workouts features to help the more inexperienced out there, and the Microsoft Health app is impressively large and diversified. If you are a Windows Phone user, you can use the Band 2 to activate Cortana as well as to respond to text messages. It's a nice mix between a potent fitness tracker and an entry-level smartwatch, though, it's appearance is more on the geekish side.

Affordable:

Misfit Flash


Best fitness bands you can get right now (May 2016)

CompatibilityAndroid | iOS
Band sizeUp to 7.2"
Battery durationUp to 6 months (replaceable coin battery)
Water resistance3 ATM

Pros

  • Thin and light
  • Waterproof
  • Can be used as a clip-on or wristband
  • Works on a single coin cell battery for up to 6 months

Cons

  • No PC software – Android or iOS app only
  • Noticeable drop in build quality

The entry-level Misfit Flash looks like the Shine 2, but once one inspects it — it can be seen where corners were cut. Its materials feel cheap and it is a bit more limited in its data gathering capabilities. But it's still a great choice for swimmers and casual activity folks due to its waterproofing, light weight, and the ability to either strap it to your wrist or clip it on. Its data analytics are a bit limited – it does a great job at recording what you were doing and for how long (training or sleeping), but with not much insight. So, casual fitness folk may enjoy it, but serious sports buffs need look elsewhere.

Xiaomi Mi Band 1S $26


Best fitness bands you can get right now (May 2016)

CompatibilityAndroid | iOS
Band size6.1" - 8"
Battery durationUp to 30 days
Water resistanceIP 67

Pros

  • Cheapest fitness band with a heart rate sensor
  • Waterproof
  • Works for 30 days on a single charge
  • Interchangeable, colorful bands

Cons

  • Not very accurate
  • HR monitor is only good for measuring resting heart rate

Also known as the Xiaomi Mi Band Pulse, this is the cheapest fitness band with a heart rate monitor you can find. The drawback is that the gizmo takes a while to detect your BPM and often has a hard time giving you an accurate reading when you are exercising and your heart is racing. The HR monitor on the Mi Band 1S does its best while you are sleeping — the band automatically detects that you've dozed off and it will periodically fire the sensor up to keep track of your resting heart rate.

As a fitness tracker, the Mi Band 1S can often overshoot the steps or distance you've traveled, as it's easily tricked into thinking that sudden wrist movements are actually steps. It's not unusable, of course, but if accuracy is of the utmost importance to you, grabbing one of Misfit's offerings is a better choice here. If you want to be able to measure your resting heart rate without spending too much cash — look no further than the Mi Band 1S.

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5 Comments

1. techguyone

Posts: 214; Member since: May 18, 2013

Why no Sony stuff... Oh wait. Because PA

2. Landon

Posts: 1227; Member since: May 07, 2015

The Fitbit Surge is the cream of the crop? You're kidding me, right? Compare it to the Vivoactive and you'll clearly see which one is better. Oh, and if you want a continuous heart rate monitor, wait until the Vivoactive HR comes out this month. https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/into-sports/health-fitness/vivoactive-/prod150767.html https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/wearabletech/wearables/vivoactive-hr/prod538374.html

3. Theonick

Posts: 17; Member since: Aug 24, 2015

This "list" is bogus !

4. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3061; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

For what it's worth, the Band 2's cross-platform integration (Windows, iOS and Android) makes it the clear choice.

5. Landon

Posts: 1227; Member since: May 07, 2015

Same with the Vivoactive...

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