Note that we're focusing on trackers launched during 2017, and it has been a relatively quiet year – Fitbit, for example, limited itself to one new tracker and one new smartwatch in 2017. We're also not including smartwatches that have fitness tracking capabilities.
That means you'll find a much broader range of devices on the shelves if you head out shopping for a fitness tracker, but these are our picks for the best of the 2017 crop.
1. Fitbit Alta HR
As we mentioned in the introduction, the Alta HR is the only fitness tracker Fitbit launched this year, adding a heart rate sensor and improved sleep tracking to the original Alta. That doesn't mean it gets in this list by default though: it's a very impressive tracker in its own right, and in many ways the perfect compromise between the simplest fitness trackers and more advanced (and bulky) smartwatches.
The Alta HR shows the time, for example, but doesn't bother with individual apps (you can get basic smartphone notifications if you want). The display is simple and customizable, and just about every useful tracker feature is here: reminders to move, heart rate monitoring, and sleep tracking, plus all the usual step and activity monitoring. The seven-day battery life is very welcome too.
2. Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro
Don't try and make sense of Samsung's wearables naming policy, because you won't get anywhere – all you need to know is the Gear Fit2 Pro is the manufacturer's newest and most advanced fitness tracker below the level of a smartwatch, building on the features available in its predecessor the Gear Fit2, adding swimming tracking and other extras.
Like the Alta HR from Fitbit, it comes close to being a fully-fledged smartwatch, with its curved, 1.5-inch AMOLED display showing fitness stats and the time and date, as well as limited alerts from your smartphone. Impressively, it has integrated GPS, and can even sync Spotify playlists for offline listening, so you can really break free from a connected smartphone. A full suite of tracking features is of course available too, including heart rate monitoring and sleep tracking.
3. Misfit Flare
If you're after basic but good value activity tracking, few manufacturers do it better than Misfit, which is now owned by Fossil. The Flare is Misfit's new tracker for 2017, and it doesn't buck that trend of simplicity and low cost, following a straightforward bracelet form and monitoring steps, distance, calories, and both light and restful sleep. What's more, it's swimproof up to 50 m (164 ft), and can track swims with a paid-for upgrade.
As is usual for Misfit trackers, the Flare uses a replaceable rather than a rechargeable battery, similar to those used in regular watches, and that means you can go for months without having to worry about losing power. You can even get the single button on the front of the tracker linked up to various bits of smart home kit, so you're getting a lot of functionality in return for your cash.
4. Garmin Vivosmart 3
Garmin is also getting on board the trackers-that-are-almost-smartwatches trend, and the Vivosmart 3 is the most recent example. It's not quite a smartwatch, but it packs in plenty of features, including stress and sleep tracking, and even breathing exercises, alongside the usual gamut of activity tracking options and heart rate monitoring.
It's not quite up there with the top-tier fitness trackers – there's no integrated GPS, for example, and the design isn't as appealing as some of its competitors – but this is still a strong entry from Garmin. It can also measure VO2 Max, a more advanced measure of fitness that tests the level of oxygen your body can make use of when exercising, and coupled with Garmin's excellent mobile app, it's an easy choice for one of the best trackers of 2017.
5. Huawei Band 2 Pro
Not content with releasing smartphones good enough to take on the titans of mobile, Huawei is also pushing out wearables and fitness trackers too, and the Huawei Band 2 Pro is the latest and the best of its offerings. Like the Alta HR from Fitbit and the Vivosmart 3 from Garmin, it has a small display for showing the time and basic notifications.
Behind its rather plain (and waterproof) appearance it packs in just about everything you could want from a tracker: integrated GPS, sleep monitoring, VO2 Max support, and even some mindfulness features to make sure you're taking care of yourself and not working or exercising too hard. Swimming can be tracked too, besides the basics of steps, distance, calories, and elevation. It leaves no box unticked.
6. Polar A370
Polar might not have the same brand recognition as a Fitbit or a Garmin, but it's been putting out top-quality fitness trackers and wearables for a while now, and the A370 is its well-equipped entry for 2017. If you're looking for a fitness tracker that looks good, is comfortable to wear, and tracks just about anything you need it to, then it might well be the tracker for you.
Included in its suite of features you've got heart rate tracking, integrated GPS, insights into your sleep patterns, plus all the basic steps, distance, and calorie tracking that you'd expect from a device such as this. It's topped off with a big, color display that shows the time, your vital statistics, and notifications from your phone. Battery life is in the region of three to four days, which is solid enough, and you've got six wristband colors to pick from.
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