We review 2015's best fitness activity trackers available to buy in the UK right now. Keep track of your steps, distance, calories and even sleep with one of these fitness monitors. Best activity trackers. Best fitness bands. Best pedometers. Best GPS watches. They're all here.
Activity trackers or fitness monitors are the hot new gadget to have in 2015. Like high-tech pedometers, they can count your steps and then estimate distance and calories burned, once you tell them your age, height and gender.
Best Activity Tracker 2015 UK: Buyers' guide
You can use fitness trackers to monitor your activity, but the general idea is that they spur you on to exercise more, helping you to get fitter and/or lose weight.
Some, but not all, have a display which shows this information, and they’re either worn on your wrist like a watch or clipped onto your clothes.
First, you can see a more detailed view of your activity, such as when you were most active during the day. You might also be able to see extra information, including very active minutes and sleep patterns, depending on the particular tracker and software.
Second, you can use the app or website to compete with friends (not every tracker offers this, though). Pitting yourself against others is even more motivational than the data from the tracker itself, since you won’t want others to beat your steps tally.
Third, you can see historical data, allowing you can see how well you’re doing, and whether you’re improving or slacking off.
A basic activity tracker will record your steps, distance covered, calories burned and active minutes. It might also have a clock so you can tell the time. The clock may be a series of LEDs, so it may be an approximation rather than the exact time.
More advanced models add one or more of the following: sleep tracking, a built-in vibrating alarm, a barometer (for measuring height climed), on-demand heart rate measurements, session recording (for running or other sports). The most advanced now have continuous heart-rate tracking, negating the need to wear a separate (and uncomfortable) chest strap.
Few are completely waterproof (the Polar Loop being the best for swimmers), but virtually all will withstand sweat and rain.
Few also have built-in GPS. Without it, you'll need to take your phone with you on a run to accurately record distance and where you went. GPS is notoriously hard on batteries, so expect hours - not days- of battery life when using an activity tracker's GPS.
Batteries last anywhere from a few days to several months depending on their power source.
As well as the hardware, software (the app) is a crucial piece of any activity tracker. For some, it will be more important than the hardware. Why? The software often provides extra features, such as the ability to compete with friends, track food and drink intake, monitor you weight and more. Conversely, the app can be severely limited, poorly designed or worse.
Some apps are more motivational than others, and this can be the difference between merely recording what little exercise you do and actually improving your fitness and health.
Two of the best apps are Jawbone and Fitbit's, with Nike's a worthy contender too.
Best Activity Tracker 2015 UK: Prices
The cheapest trackers worth buying – the Jawbone Up Move and Fitbit Zip – can be found for as little as £35-£40, with the most expensive (such as the Withings Activite) costing around £300. See: Which Fitbit is best.
The Best Activity Trackers 2015 UK
- Reviewed on: 17 July 14
- RRP: £50 inc VAT
It may cost only £50, but that doesn’t make the Activity Tracker good value. It’s a glorified pedometer and lacks features you’ll find in other trackers such as the Fitbit One, Jawbone Up24 and Nike FuelBand SE. Its only saving grace is the handy clock.
Read our Archos Activity Tracker review.
- Reviewed on: 10 October 13
- RRP: £149.99 inc VAT
The TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch is for the ever-increasing triathlon market. It's a great gizmo that lets athletes track everything they could want to know about their workouts on one convenient device.
Read our TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch review.
21. Samsung Gear Fit
- Reviewed on: 28 April 14
- RRP: £180 inc VAT
The Samsung Gear Fit is a lightweight and good looking, but has too many drawbacks, including accuracy issues and the fact that it's only compatible with Samsung Galaxy devices.
Read our Samsung Gear Fit review.
- Reviewed on: 15 January 14
- RRP: £99 inc. VAT
If you want a good-looking gadget to inspire you to do more, especially in the pool, the Misfit Shine is a good bet. Just don't expect it to accurately measure distance or calories burned, or to be able to compete against other Shine users. Things could improve with future updates, but this is currently an unrefined system.
Read our Misfit Shine Activity Monitor review.
19. Jawbone Up
- Reviewed on: 22 January 14
- RRP: £99.99 inc VAT
Simplicity is the UP’s greatest strength, but for some people it’s just too basic. The absence of a display and wireless synching is annoying, especially when the UP costs considerably more than monitors such as the Fitbit One which have many more features.
Read our Jawbone Up review.
- Reviewed on: 3 January 14
- RRP: £130 inc VAT
The FuelBand SE is a reliable and motivational activity tracker with good battery life and handy automatic synching. However, it’s expensive, works only with iOS and lacks proper sleep tracking and movement reminders. If the list of missing features doesn’t worry you, it’s a great choice but for other people, it’s going to be worth waiting for the Fitbit Force to launch in the UK.
Read our Nike+ FuelBand SE review.
17. Apple Watch
- Reviewed on: 1 May 15
- RRP: From £299
We can't help but think that Apple has tried to do too much with this first generation Apple Watch. There are so many ways of interacting with it and so many different features and elements to get used to that the learning curve is surprisingly steep. It takes a lot of getting used to, and at times it feels counter-intuitive, something we're not use to with Apple devices.
That's why we'd struggle to recommend spending the £299 or more it'll cost you to buy this smartwatch. As is often the case, waiting for the second generation of the Apple Watch is likely to be a wise move, because Apple is going to learn a lot from this first generation smartwatch and from the customers and fans that are using it.
Read our Apple Watch review.
16. Polar Loop
- Reviewed on: 11 March 14
- RRP: £79.50
The Polar Loop is a cool-looking activity tracker that’s lightweight and comfortable and gives you up-to-date stats right there on your wrist – something the comparably priced Fitbit Flex can’t do to the same degree. We didn’t like the fact that you have to cut the wristband to size and we found set up to be overly fiddly. Polar also needs to update the app as ours crashed frequently while syncing. It’s a shame as with a more intuitive strap setup we would recommend the Polar Loop as its display is better than that on the Fitbit Flex. If you want to go the extra fitness-tracking mile then the Polar Loop has the unique feature of working with the company’s £50 heart-rate sensors, which will excite the more serious sportsperson. With the heart-rate sensor option and the fact that it’s waterproof for swimming the Polar Loop should really appeal to the multi-sports crowd.
Read our Polar Loop review.
15. FitBit Zip
- Reviewed on: 16 January 14
- RRP: £49.99 inc VAT
The FitBit Zip is ideal if you want to join the life-logging brigade but can't or won't spend £80 upwards on an activity tracker. It's basic, but unless you really want sleep tracking or the stair-tracking features of Fitbit's other trackers, it's a bargain.
Read our FitBit Zip review.
14. Garmin Vivofit
- Reviewed on: 15 April 14
- RRP: £99 inc VAT
The Vivofit is a great activity tracker, but there's still some work to be done on the software side of things. Also consider the Polar Loop.
Read our Garmin Vivofit review.
13. Fitbit Flex
- Reviewed on: 2 December 14
- RRP: £79 inc. VAT
The Fitbit Flex is a cool-looking, lightweight wristband that tracks and monitors your daily activity and sleep patterns. It syncs with a desktop dashboard and mobile app to give you up-to-date activity data in gorgeous graphs. You can compete with Fitbit-using friends and even upgrade to a premium Daily Trainer service. I found the Fitbit Flex gave me added motivation to walk or run that bit further, and keep an eye on my weight and fitness activities. It’s addictive and fun, and if that gets you moving more and generally fitter and leaner it’s better for you than most other computing or mobile devices. Also consider the next step up: the Fitbit Charge also counts floors climed, and shows you your stats right there on your wrist.
Read our Fitbit Flex review.
- Reviewed on: 19 February 15
- RRP: £320 inc VAT
The Withings Activité is a stunning watch, the most attractive we've seen by a long shot. The design and build is exquisite and you can quickly glance at your daily steps progress. Other information is provided by the app and we like the sound of an eight month battery life. While it's good to know Android support and tracking for swimming is on the way, the Activité isn't a sure buy. The price is high and there are a few things missing such as a heart rate monitor, elevation tracking and any form of backlight.
Read our Withings Activité review.
- Reviewed on: 26 November 14
- RRP: £49.95
I've enjoyed my time with the Misfit Flash, and I'm going to continue using it, however I'd hesitate to recommend it over some of its rivals, including the Fitbit One, which sits at the top of our activity tracker chart. For £50, though, it's got a decent set of features, a simple and intuitive app and the potential to get better over time if Misfit releases an update or two to include better analysis and calorie counting capabilities. Plus, being waterproof is a real boon, and the automatic sleep tracking is great for those who're interested in monitoring their sleeping patterns on a regular basis.
Read our Misfit Flash Activity Tracker review.
10. Jawbone Up24
- Reviewed on: 20 May 14
- RRP: £125 inc VAT
If you can afford it, the Jawbone UP24 is a great activity tracker. It doesn't have the most features - and the lack of a display is frustrating - but as a tool for motivating you to exercise and generally live a healthier lifestyle, it can be very effective. There's still strong competition from the cheaper Fitbit trackers, though, and these are better value overall.
Read our Jawbone Up24 review.
- Reviewed on: 26 November 14
- RRP: £39.99 inc VAT
For under £40, the Move is superb value. Although it doesn't track certain activities or height climbed, its great sleep tracking makes up for that. Soon you'll be able to buy the Up3 which will have considerably better sleep tracking but at this price, the Move is the best-value activity tracker around.
Read our Jawbone Up Move review.
8. Jawbone UP2
- Reviewed on: 29 June 15
- RRP: £89 inc. VAT
Leaving aside the somewhat feminine look of the grey-and-silver model I really like the UP2. It is comfortable to wear and robust. And it is well priced. Most importantly, the new UP app builds on the success of its predecessor, and is a great way of quantifying and improving your health. This is not a sophisticated runners watch, or a smartwatch. The lack of GPS or an on-device display attest to that. But for those who want a pedometer that can track all sorts of exercise without making them look like a Tech Liberace, the Jawbone UP2 is a great package.
Read our Jawbone UP2 review.
- Reviewed on: 3 March 15
- RRP: £28.99 inc VAT
At £28.99 the Xiaomi Mi Band is an excellent-value, lightweight fitness band with outstanding battery life. It's as accurate as any other fitness band, and we particularly like its sleep monitoring, vibration alarm and phone call notifications. The Mi Band companion app is very easy to use, but falls down only in its integration with other fitness and social apps.
Read our Xiaomi Mi Band review.
6. Basis Peak
- Reviewed on: 5 May 15
- RRP: £170
Overall, we think that the Basis Peak is a great fitness and sleep tracker. The amount of data it processes provides you with a holistic overview of your fitness and sleeping habits. The accuracy of the tracker itself is great – we tried to fool it into thinking we were walking by shaking our wrists, which is a trick that many fitness trackers fall for, but not the Basis Peak! Sure, the optical heart rate sensor can become a bit irritating at times but that’s one small drop in an ocean of good features. If you’re looking for a comprehensive fitness and sleep tracker, the Basis Peak is a good – even if slightly expensive – option to take.
Read our Basis Peak review.
- Reviewed on: 17 December 14
- RRP: £99 inc VAT
The Fitbit Charge is a superb activity tracker wristband beats other fitness wristbands by showing the stats right there on your wrist, and – combined with the excellent Fitbit app and dashboard – offers real motivational tools to get you fitter, healthier and maybe a little lighter. Our one concern (and the reason we scored it half a star lower) is its wriststrap that isn't as secure as that of the superior Fitbit Charge HR.
Read our Fitbit Charge review.
- Reviewed on: 28 April 15
- RRP: £169 inc. VAT
The Microsoft Band is the most Microsoft product imaginable. It does useful stuff. And mostly it does that stuff well. But it is ugly and uncomfortable and no-one is ever going to point at a Microsoft Band and say 'I want one of those'. Which is a shame, because having used it for a while - and despite issues with battery life and distance measurement - I like it and will probably keep using it. Whether that is enough to make people drop £169 inc VAT to get one when they can buy an Android Wear watch for an additional £100 is the key question. I suspect they won't.
Read our Microsoft Band review.
3. Fitbit One
- Reviewed on: 22 January 14
- RRP: £80 inc VAT
The Fitbit One is accurate, has great battery life and tracks pretty much everything you'd want it to. The proprietary charging cable is a pain, but it's a minor quibble about what it otherwise an excellent activity tracker.
Read our Fitbit One review.
2. Fitbit Surge
- Reviewed on: 8 February 15
- RRP: £199.99 inc. VAT
The Fitbit Surge is an activity tracker for the serious fitness enthusiast. We’re not saying a more casual user wouldn’t appreciate its good looks and features, but the level of functionality and price put it properly in the market for the power user. The larger, swipeable display is a revelation of on-wrist stats. If you wish to wear a tracker and your regular wristwatch then the Surge may be too large, and you should consider other more minimalist bands. The everyday user who wants a tracker to push them to exercise more is catered for with the Fitbit Flex and Charge. If you’re just interested in the heart-rate monitor you could consider the cheaper and very capable Fitbit Charge HR, but if you want to see dedicated heart-rate stats during performance-based workouts, and map your routes with built-in GPS the Fitbit Surge has it all.
Read our Fitbit Surge review.
- Reviewed on: 8 May 15
- RRP: £119 inc. VAT
The Fitbit Charge HR activity tracker wristband offers a lot of real-time fitness stats right there on your wrist, which is an advantage over the rival Jawbone Up24 that doesn’t have a display or the altimeter and heart-rate trackers of the Charge HR. The Charge HR is only £20 more than the Fitbit Charge, and offers both continuous heart-rate monitoring for the more active user and a better-designed strap and buckle. As such we think the Charge HR is a compelling option to its less expensive sibling – and a minimalist (and cheaper) alternative to its bigger brother, the Fitbit Surge.
Read our Fitbit Charge HR review.