When it comes to running or cycling outside, figuring out where to put your phone is a big pain in the butt. It can be distracting to adjust an armband on the fly, and worrying you’re going to drop your phone (and probably crack the screen) is no fun when you’re trying to enjoy the scenery.
Here’s why cheaper trackers and smartwatches aren’t the best companions for outdoor activity—they rely on your phone’s GPS to track your distance. All five of our contenders feature built-in GPS, meaning you can safely leave your phone at home. That said, GPS accuracy and signal can widely vary among devices. Water, tall buildings, and even dense trees in a park can mess with a device’s ability to get a good signal.
Smartwatches, fitness trackers, and even jewelry—if it’s technology you can wear, we’ve reviewed it. Whether you’re an Apple diehard or you stan for Android, these are the wearables you should bother with.
Apple haters might groan, but the fact is the Apple Watch is the best smartwatch out there. It’s stylish enough for a night on the town, but durable enough for a hard workout. For health nuts, it’s got accurate activity tracking, and on the medical side, it’s FDA-approved to take ECG readings. The Series 4 also has LTE option for standalone connectivity, can withstand the pool, streams music, and works with Apple Pay. And like all Apple products, the whole user experience is intuitive and seamless.
You start your mornings guzzling protein shakes and are determined to crush that 10,000 step goal every day. You want a wearable with enough battery life to keep up with your epic lifestyle and don’t mind if it’s a little ugly.
Someone who has an Android phone and wants a smartwatch that works intuitively with it.
There’s plenty of Wear OS watches out there, but we like the Fossil Sport best. It’s got the newly-released Snapdragon 3100 processor, and it tested well when it came to delivering notifications and tracking activities. Rapid charging takes the sting out of the relatively short battery life, and with 28 straps, you’ve got style options.
Added Samsung Galaxy Watch Active to the “Also Consider” for best overall smartwatch. Added Polar Vantage M as best fitness smartwatch, moved Fitbit Ionic to “Also Consider.” Replaced Fitbit Alta HR with Fitbit Inspire HR as best budget fitness tracker.