Fitness trackers tried and tested
Updated: Apr 13, 2021
Unsure about which fitness tracker to choose to upgrade your walking and cycling activities? Some of our staff tested three of the most popular trackers and smart watches available and gave us their honest opinions.
Samsung Galaxy Active Watch - tested by Mike Rowell
I've owned the Samsung Galaxy Active Watch for over 2 years now and I hardly ever take it off. I was initially looking for a watch to get phone notifications from but then chose this one as it not only satisfied my need to be linked to my phone but also helped me track activity, whether it be a long walk or a cycle ride.
The watch automatically tracks walking activity and, the vast majority of time, does this excellently, giving me number of steps as well as distance covered.
The watch comes into its own when I jump on my bike and click on the cycle button as it turns into a speedo, showing speed and distance travelled, then once the ride is over I can login to the Samsung app and it'll show me all stats for my ride as well as a map of where I went. Another benefit of the watch is that when you're exercising you don’t need to have your phone with you - the watch tracks and stores the activity data using its built in GPS tracker, you can even use the built in Spotify app in the watch to store music and link to Bluetooth headphones so you can listen to your favourite workout playlist while cycling.
There's plenty of other functionality to this watch, such as being able to make payments with it at the supermarket - great during these no contact times, to monitoring heart rate and viewing emails and messages. I highly recommend this great bit of kit.
Apple Watch (Series 4) - tested by Alix V
The kingpin of smart watches, the GPS gadget we should all aspire to... or so Apple would have us believe! Don't get me wrong the Apple watch is a brilliant piece of kit, but my main issue is with the price. If money is no object then I'd say the Apple watch is a no-brainer. It does everything you'd want and more with accurate GPS, multiple types of fitness tracking and the delivery of useful health insights including heart monitoring and crucially detection of any heart abnormalities (the watch has even saved lives).
The Apple Watch also offers wearers daily activity goals (rings) that encourage you to stand up more, move more and burn more calories. The more you move about, the closer you get to closing your rings for the day and when you do meet one of the watch's goals, the corresponding ring snaps shut with a satisfying ping to congratulate you on a job well done. This is one of the best features of the watch and is really motivating. It certainly made me far more aware of how much exercise I was (or wasn't) doing each and every day, and as a result I ended up moving about far more than I would have done with an old fashioned bare wrist.
The Apple Watch is a full 'smart watch' and basically provides you with a mini version of your phone on your wrist. If you don't mind being emailed by your watch at 3am while it is supposed to be tracking your sleep, that is fine, but I found it made me too available having all manor of notifications within an arms length of my eyes and ears.
In summary, you are paying for the top brand and the smart watch functionality as well as the fitness tracker features. If you don't mind this, it's a fantastic smart watch, but if you are looking for something to just count your steps, work out calories and track your workouts there are more affordable options out there. Much to the dismay of my husband (aka gadget geek) I ended up selling mine and bought an Honour Band 5 for under £30 which does a great job of the basics.
Fitbit - tested by xxxx
....and finally a useful app to connect your trackers to - STRAVA - as tested by Aileen Straughan
Strava is a running/cycling activity tracker which is easily downloaded and used on your smartphone or smartwatch. I also use it for walking which seems to work well. It is a free app which provides basic information such
as distance, pace, and time. For a monthly fee you can add extras. I just use the basic which is great for what I need it for . It uses GPS tracking to track your activity and provides maps of the routes you have completed so that you can compare times and distance
s as your training progresses. It also gives you monthly/annual analysis of your training. You can also share your data with other users, and you can also follow other users where you can give and receive kudos in support of each other's activity. I have used this for 12 months and find it useful for recording the distance covered for each training session and the pace achieved. I find it a very motivational tool to aid me in recording my running and walking.