1. Moov Now
It’s among the cheapest trackers on this list, but the Moov Now has some features that even the most expensive devices can’t match. It can be worn on the ankle or the wrist and will provide live feedback during your training session to help you improve or coach you through a workout. It can analyse your running form and provide pointers that can reduce the risk of injury. If you wear it for a circuit training session it will count your reps, and if you try one of Moov’s boxing workouts it will tell you exactly what punches to throw and when. It’s also a brilliant swim tracker, providing detailed stroke analysis and tips for improving your technique, and because you can wear it on the ankle you get smarter cycle tracking too. All this comes in a package that costs less than £50, though if you really get into the boxing you might want to buy one for each wrist.
2. Huawei Band 3 Pro
The Band 3 Pro is laden with the kind of features you’d expect to see in a mid-range tracker, like built-in GPS, 24/7 heart rate tracking and an AMOLED touchscreen. It’s also waterproof, if you fancy taking it to the pool. There simply isn’t anything else out there that can match the Band 3’s bumper feature set at its low price, so if you’re all about getting bang for your buck it’s a stellar option.
3. Amazfit Bip
The Bip is by no means a perfect device, but you can certainly forgive the accuracy issues it sometimes suffers from when you consider the following: it’s a GPS tracker with a one-month battery life, a big screen and a heart rate monitor, and it costs well under £100. It doesn’t look half bad on the wrist either. One important thing to note is that the Bip only tracks running, cycling and walking, so if you get your fitness kicks in some other way, you’ll find it limited.
4. FitBit Inspire HR
Fitbit’s new entry-level trackers, the Inspire and the Inspire HR, are both impressively full-featured devices that cost under £100, but we reckon the heart rate tracking of the Inspire HR is worth the extra £20. That’s because the heart rate monitor unlocks several first-rate features, including an estimation of your Cardio Fitness Score (equivalent to VO2 max) and resting heart rate, which are both helpful indicators of your overall cardiovascular fitness. The former is especially useful as it compares your score to other people of the same sex and age. Alongside heart rate tracking the Inspire HR logs all your everyday activity and sports, is waterproof so you can use it for swimming, and will link with your phone to offer Connect GPS tracking for outdoor activities.
5. Garmin Vivosmart 4
One of the best things about Garmin is that once a new feature has appeared on its high-end trackers, it usually trickles down to the brand’s cheaper wearables. The Vivosmart 4 is laden with impressive features, including automatic rep counting, estimates of VO2 max and fitness age, all-day stress tracking and automatic activity tracking, as well as being waterproof so you can take it swimming. It also has a built-in heart rate monitor for 24/7 tracking and a resting heart rate measurement, and it will even estimate your energy levels with the new Body Battery feature.
6. Fitbit Charge 3
The latest version of Fitbit’s wildly-popular Charge is more stylish than its predecessors, with a variety of attractive interchangeable bands and a bigger screen, and it’s waterproof to boot. The Charge 3 doesn’t have its own GPS, but will use Fitbit’s Connected GPS feature to use your phone for more accurate distance tracking on outdoor runs and rides. The special edition of the Charge 3 also has Fitbit Pay, so you can make NFC payments. All in all the Charge 3 offers the package you get from the array of smartwatches that have cropped up around the £200 mark but is much cheaper and, crucially, is not a watch, which will appeal to people who don’t want a fitness tracker that steals their traditional timepiece’s thunder.
7. Polar Ignite
The Ignite is a fully-fledged multisport GPS watch that can track pretty much any sport you can think of, but what really sets it apart is its unique ability to shape your training routine. The Ignite will rate how well you’ve recovered overnight and tailor a range of guided workouts for you to choose from, based on how ready your body is to train. It also has a bright touchscreen and a stylish design that you can wear everywhere to track your daily activity.
8. Garmin Forerunner 45
The Garmin Forerunner 45 is the successor to the excellent Forerunner 35, which we rated as the best beginner running watch out there. Despite the high quality of its predecessor, the 45 is an impressive upgrade, with perhaps the key feature being its integration with Garmin Coach. This allows you to load training plans for events like a 5K or half marathon onto the watch, which will then guide you through all of the sessions on the plan and even give you a prediction of what you might achieve on race day. The 45 has built-in GPS, a heart rate monitor and tracks several other activities alongside running, though the latter is very much its forte. Alongside the Forerunner 45 Garmin also launched the 45S, which has the same features but is slightly smaller to better fit slim wrists.
9. Coros Pace
It can be tricky for newcomers to match the evolved offerings of fitness tracker behemoths like Garmin and Fitbit, but Coros pretty much nailed it with its first GPS watch. The Pace offers a compelling package for triathletes in particular. The Pace tracks only running, cycling and swimming, with a customisable multisport mode to flit between them for races or brick sessions, but it does that tracking very well indeed with accurate, in-depth data on your training. It also boasts a 30-day battery life (25 hours of GPS) and perhaps the most accurate optical heart rate monitor we’ve tested. The design is probably too plasticky for most people to wear everywhere, but as a pure sports tracker, the Pace is a terrific option for those who don’t want to splash out £350 plus on a high-end Garmin or Suunto.
10. Fitbit Versa 2
The Versa 2 improves upon its popular predecessor by tweaking the design to make it more stylish, adding an always-on screen and introducing Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa, which we found matched up to Siri on the Apple Watch. The Versa 2 still doesn’t have built-in GPS (though you can connect to your phone’s GPS to track outdoor activities), which puts it at a disadvantage compared with several other watches in its price bracket, but it’s still a great smartwatch with music storage and streaming that offers excellent everyday activity tracking.
11. Apple Watch Series 3
This Series 3 is a couple of years old now, but when its price was reduced to £199 recently, it immediately became a major player in the mid-range smartwatch market. The Series 3 doesn’t have the larger, always-on screen of the Series 5, but it is a terrific smartwatch that has Apple’s latest watchOS 6 software, built-in GPS, a heart rate monitor and, most importantly of all, access to the thousands of apps on the App Store.
12. Coros Apex
The Apex looks like a £500 multisport watch and has most of the key features of one too, yet it only costs £269.99 for the 42mm version and £299.99 for the 46mm. The battery life clocks in at a massive 35 hours of GPS on the larger version (25 hours on the 42mm) and the Apex offers detailed tracking of running, cycling and swimming, including a nifty Stamina stat for running that estimates how much energy your body has left. However, it does lack other sports modes, customised workouts are restricted to a simple intervals mode, and we have found the heart rate monitoring to be a little spotty while running. Still, given the price, this a stand-out option for triathletes and keen runners who don’t want to splash out big bucks on something like the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus.
13. Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
This is our top recommendation for a running watch. It has all the essential features runners of any level need, plus handy extras like breadcrumb navigation and music playback, including the ability to wirelessly sync with a Spotify Premium account. The 245 Music will track your runs, guide you through structured workouts and training plans, and advise on the training effect of your runs, including estimating how long you should spend recovering. There are better, more expensive Garmins, but in truth those are overkill for virtually all runners – wonderful, delightful overkill, but overkill nonetheless.
14. Apple Watch series 5
There is simply no better smartwatch out there. The Apple Watch Series 5 offers brilliant everyday tracking through the addictive activity rings system, solid native sports tracking plus the widest range of popular apps like Strava, music streaming and an easy-to-use wallet that can store cards and tickets. The latest version of the Apple Watch Series 5 didn’t add a whole lot in the way of new features compared with the Series 4, but the long-awaited arrival of an always-on screen is significant, especially for sporty types who can now see their workout stats at a glance without having to wake the display. The Watch also has the exceptionally accurate heart rate monitor that was introduced with the Series 4, which can take an ECG reading from your wrist.
15. Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
If money is no object, the Fenix 6 Pro is the best sports watch available today, offering runners and triathletes unparalleled detail on their training as well as smart features like music and colour maps that allow you to create routes on the fly. With the Fenix 6 range Garmin also introduced its smart PacePro feature, which can help runners pace their events perfectly based on mile or kilometre split targets that take into account the hills in that section, plus your overall time goal.