Product Review: Wearable Fitness Trackers

Written by Chad Pilkington

After years at America’s favorite electronics specialty store (hint-it’s blue), I’ve learned a thing or two about what’s good in the consumer tech market. I recently wrote about the use-case and benefits of fitness wearables. Here, I’ll discuss some of the levels of functionality across different wearables. Now, this is far from a comprehensive list, as there are way too many wearables out there to cover, but here are some of the bigger names in wearables:

Entry-level fitness trackers

At the entry-level, fitness wearables offer basic activity tracking, including heart rate, Calories burned, sleep tracking and step counters. They are very limited in their other smartphone integrations, however. You probably won’t be using these to make calls from your wrist or shoot off text message replies. But for under $130, you are definitely getting solid health-tracking features. 

The Garmin vivosmart 4 and Fitbit Inspire 2 are excellent wallet-friendly options if you’re just in need of basic tracking functionality. My personal recommendation goes to the Garmin, as it does have a few more features that round it out as a top contender in the entry-level category.

Advanced fitness trackers

At the next level up, we begin to see more advanced health tracking features, as well as some more advanced smartwatch integrations. These options typically have advanced sensors to track your stress levels and your blood O2, and they feature GPS capabilities so you can go for that run or walk without having your phone by your side. Most of these options add to your smartphone integrations by giving you access to additional apps directly on the watch. 

The Garmin Venu Sq, Fitbit Charge 5 and Amazfit GTR 3 are some of my recommendations for this category, though again I’m going to have to give the win to the Garmin for this category. You can find any of these for under $220.



These are the heavy hitters – fully integrated smartwatches with multiple apps you can access right from your wrist. They offer numerous ways to integrate fitness tracking metrics into your lifestyle. All features previously discussed can be found in these devices, as well as cross-app tracking and data sharing.

Remember how I talked about using my iPhone and Apple Watch to combine data and track exactly how I should portion out my meals for that particular day? This is the kind of advanced functionality you can expect from these wearables. You’ll also have the ability in most cases to use your watch as if it were a phone. Some even come with their own sim card so even without your phone nearby you can have everything from texting, making and receiving calls, turn-by-turn GPS, and viewing social media posts available on your wrist.

These wearables will run you anywhere from $300-$600. If utilized correctly, they will absolutely give you a comprehensive picture of your overall health. Having access to other fitness tracking apps instead of the generic options built into other dedicated fitness trackers is a huge win for smartwatches.

Call it a slight bias, but my choice here is going to be the Apple Watch (currently on Series 7) due to its overwhelming integrations into the Apple ecosystem and ease-of use. If you’re not an iPhone user, you may find better options in the Moto 360, Samsung Galaxy Watch4, Garmin Venu 2 or the Fossil Gen6.

Sport-specific smartwatches

The final category belongs to smartwatches that are $650+ and are typically designed with a specific outdoor activity in mind. If you’re upping your game to one of these, you are likely well-versed in these options. Garmin is the de-facto leader in this category, so be sure to check out their site if this sounds more like something you’d need.


As with anything wearable, aesthetics play a pretty significant role in the purchasing decision. Fortunately, many of these have customizable options to make them match your style more effectively. Personally, I think the Fossil Gen6 and Samsung Galaxy Watch4 look the best on my wrist.

Hopefully this list helps guide some of your own research before purchasing. There are plenty of options to meet every price point and desired feature; it really comes down to if and how much you are ready to invest for the features you desire!

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