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A Look at the Hugest Differences Between Popular Fitness Trackers

Dec 24 2015 - 3:10pm

Lately, it seems like no outfit is complete without a wearable fitness tracker. With sleek designs and bright colors, the latest and greatest in self-quantifying technology are making their presence known on arms everywhere. Interested in joining the fitness-tracking pack? We've rounded up some of the most popular fitness trackers — including the Jawbone UP4, the Garmin Vivofit 2, and the Fitbit Charge HR — to help you compare features and prices. Read on to find the right fit for you, then check out which trackers are the most accurate here [1]!

Fitbit Flex

The Fitbit Flex [2] ($100) is a slim, minimalistic wristband. It tracks your activity level, sleep quality, calories burned, and distance traveled; you can program the lights on the band to indicate real-time progress on hitting your goals. The Flex also vibrates to wake you up and wirelessly syncs to automatically update your stats whenever it's in close range of the included Bluetooth-enabled wireless dongle, which plugs into your computer's USB port; you can also wirelessly sync to your iPhone, iPad 3, iPad Mini, or Samsung Galaxy. If you like the features of the Fitbit Flex but don't want to wear a wristband, then try the Fitbit One [3] or Zip [4].

Another FitBit Flex sibling, the FitBit Force [5] (currently unavailable), is a similar-looking tracker. However, in 2014 the Force was recalled [6] due to an allergic reaction some users experienced when wearing the band. Like the Fitbit Flex, the Force tracks steps, calories, and distance as well as sleep stats; unlike the Flex, the Force also can gauge how many stairs you've climbed and elevation, and it features a display, as well. The water-resistant Force syncs wirelessly and automatically to your iOS or Android phone or computer, so you can view your stats on an app or browser. Since the current Force has been recalled, keep an eye out for the next-generation model of the band soon.

Fitbit Charge

The Fitbit Charge [7] ($130) is similar to the Fitbit Flex but with a larger display and caller ID info from your nearby smartphone. Like other Fitbits, it tracks your activity (steps, distance, and calories) and sleep patterns.

Fitbit Charge HR

If you want heart rate monitoring, go for the ChargeHR [8] ($150), which is like the Charge, but with an LED wrist sensor that tracks your pulse [9]. Or, athletes and techies alike may want the Surge [10] ($250), a GPS watch and tracker in one. Check out more on the Charge, Charge HR, and Surge on POPSUGAR Tech [11].

Garmin Vivofit

For a tracker you never have to take off, try the Garmin Vivofit [12] ($100). Its battery lasts for over a year and is waterproof, meaning you can keep it on while you take a shower. The Vivofit tracks steps, distance, calories, and sleep and can also track workout details when paired with a heart-rate monitor (sold separately). An activity bar will show you whether you've been sitting for too long. The Vivofit syncs wirelessly with its free iOS or Android app as well as your computer.

Garmin Vivofit 2

Released in early 2015, the Garmin Vivofit 2 [13] ($100) is a minor update on the original Vivofit: look for a different button, audible alerts, an activity timer, and a backlight on this new version. Even better are the metallic, patterned, and colorful band options that Garmin will be releasing sometime in Spring 2015. Check out more details on the fun color options for the Vivofit 2 here [14].

Microsoft Band 2

The Microsoft Band [15] ($200) works with iPhone, Android, or Windows phones and is designed to be more than a fitness tracker. While it does track your calories, sleep, and steps, the band is also designed to send you email and call notifications, calendar alerts, and social media updates. Add to that its robust fitness capabilities — including GPS mapping, continuous heart-rate monitoring, workout coaching, and sensors that measure the sun's intensity — and you may start to wonder what the Band can't do. Check out more about the Microsoft Band's features on POPSUGAR Tech [16].

Striiv Fusion

Billed as a combination of smartwatch and fitness tracker, the Striiv Fusion [17] ($80) tracks steps, calories, sleep, and more and features calling and text alerts, a vibrating alarm, meeting reminders, and weather reports. If you want a heart rate function, try the Striiv Fusion Bio [18] ($100).

Jawbone UP2

The redesigned Jawbone UP2 [19] ($100) is a slimmer, strappier version of the Jawbone family. The difference? This one doesn't track sleep or heart rate, like the UP3 and UP4 do. The battery lasts up to 10 days.

Jawbone UP3

The UP3 [20] ($180) is an update on its classic UP model. New in this model are advanced sleep and activity tracking capabilities, but the biggest update is the ability for the UP3 to record your resting heart rate using skin and temperature sensors on the tracker. The UP3 has up to seven days of battery life and is water resistant up to 10 meters.

Jawbone UP4

The newest UP tracker, the Jawbone UP4 [21] ($200) has the same capabilities as previous Jawbone models with the addition of heart rate monitoring and American Express tap-to-pay. The splashproof UP4 has an LED light notifiation system and a battery life that can last up to seven days.

Jawbone UP Move

The UP Move [22] ($50), billed as Jawbone's entry-level fitness tracker, tracks the basics: steps, exercise, calories, and sleep, just like the more expensive models. The difference? The UP Move is a clippable model that you can wear anywhere, although you can also purchase wrist straps for $15 each. The UP Move is available now for preorder in several colors, with the purple Grape Rose color available at Best Buy and the Jawbone website later this month.


The Mira [23] ($169) "tracks only what's important": steps, calories, distance and elevation. Designed to be fashion-forward, the tracker has a battery life of up to five days and also features smart coaching and recommendations based on your daily habits over time.

Misfit Shine

If you like your fitness trackers sleek and minimal, then the Misfit Shine [24] ($70) may be for you. The Shine conceals its technology in a metallic orb (choose from four different colors) and tracks steps, calories, and sleep. It can also track activities (running, cycling, and swimming). The circular, waterproof Shine can be worn on your wrist, clipped to your clothing, or worn as a necklace, depending on which accessory you buy, and includes a watch battery that lasts about four months. The lights on the Shine can tell you how much progress you've made that day, but for more detailed information, you'll need the free iOS or Android app; the Shine syncs with the app when you place it on your phone.

Polar Loop

The waterproof Polar Loop [25] ($110) tracks your steps and calories; after syncing via Bluetooth or USB cable, the iPhone-only app also features an Activity Guide that tells you specific things you can do to help you meet your daily goal (for example, going on a 20-minute walk). If you're sitting down for a while, the app will also remind you to get moving. On the bracelet, the display shows the words "Up," "Walk," or "Jog" depending on your activity intensity; you can also sync a heart-rate sensor to the tracker to help you more accurately track your movement. The Polar Loop is available in black, blue, or purple.

Polar Loop 2

The Polar Loop 2 [26] ($120) has all the same features of the Polar Loop, with the addition of smart notifications for calls, messages, and calendar alerts, vibration alerts, and alarms.

Bowflex Boost

The Bowflex Boost [27] ($50) has all the same basic features of any fitness tracker but at a more affordable price. It tracks calories, steps, and distance as well as sleep stats, all of which sync wirelessly and automatically with its accompanying iPhone app (it's not compatible with Android devices). There's no display, but red, yellow, and green lights let you know whether you've hit your goals. For more details on the Bowflex Boost, read Self's review here [28].

BodyMedia Fit Link

The BodyMedia Fit Link [29] (limited availability on Amazon) isn't as sleekly designed as the other trackers, but it has staying power for two reasons: it's simple, and it works. Wear the band on your upper arm throughout the day to track calories burned, exercise intensity, steps taken, and sleep quality. You can also keep track of everything you're eating using the online weight management system. At the end of the day, upload your activity stats to see if you burned more calories than consumed. One big downside of this tracker is that after a free six-month membership, a $7-per-month subscription is required to access the data it collects. The BodyMedia syncs wirelessly with smartphones and also plugs into your Mac or PC to download and view data. BodyMedia was recently acquired by Jawbone, so expect its technology to pop up on the company's sleeker design.

Withings Pulse Ox

The lightweight Withings Pulse OX [30] ($100) is a wrist tracker that also clips onto your clothing and measures steps, distance, elevation, calories, and sleep. When you run, the Pulse shows you how long and how far you've gone. It also measures heart rate and blood oxygen level with a single touch of your finger. Then, sync data wirelessly to your iOS or Android phone with the free Withings app. The Pulse has a battery life of about two weeks before needing to be recharged.

Nike+ FuelBand SE

The Nike+ FuelBand SE [31] (discontinued, but available at some sporting goods stores) includes a few extra features from the previous FuelBand. The FuelBand SE tracks calories, steps, and Nike Fuel points, but the new model now also tracks sleep. It also aims to improve calorie burn and Fuel point accuracy with a new feature that allows you to log different types of workout sessions (such as yoga or weight lifting). The water-resistant FuelBand SE syncs automatically with the iPhone app, so you don't have to push a button to upload data as you do with the older model. Neither the FuelBand SE nor FuelBand is compatible with Android devices.

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