The most effective earbuds for 2021

Whether you go wired for an old-school experience or wireless for cordless freedom, picking the right earbuds can be tricky — there are so many choices out there. But we’ve tried hundreds of models from a wide variety of manufacturers, so you don’t have to.
In our opinion, the best wired earbuds you can buy are the 1More Triple Drivers, which offer a sweet mix of style and performance at a reasonable price, while Sony’s WF-1000XM4 offer the best overall feature set in a pair of true wireless earbuds.
But there are tons of great models out there, some of which really excel in specific areas. So if the 1More and Sony models aren’t quite what you’re looking for, we’ve got several awesome alternatives.
Don’t forget, we also keep updated lists of the best true wireless earbuds, the best cheap true wireless earbuds, and the best noise-canceling true wireless earbuds, in case you’re looking for something specific.
The best earbuds at a glance

The best wired earbuds: 1More Triple Driver

Why you should buy them: They’re a sweet mix of style, performance, and shocking affordability.

Who they’re for: The discerning listener who craves quality but hasn’t yet landed that corner office.
Why we picked the 1More Triple Driver:
We could have gone many ways for this pick, but 1More’s unassuming Triple Driver just wouldn’t stop popping up into the picture. The 1More in-ear headphones aren’t at the top of the class in performance, but what they do have going for them is unrivaled quality and value at their (very reasonable) price point. The company has created plenty of iterations since, including the recent Dual Driver ANC Pro Wireless, the Quad Driver, and even an over-ear version, creatively called the Triple Driver Over-Ears. But when it comes to value for the money, we always come back to the original wired earbuds.
China-based upstart 1More blew our minds when we discovered how little the company wanted for the Triple Driver headphones, the first pair we’d ever heard from the brand. For this kind of build quality and performance, we’d expect to pay at least double. And while these aren’t wireless earbuds, if you don’t mind some strings attached, they more than make up for their wired constraints with sweet sound for the dough.
So what specifically do the Triple Driver offer your ears? A gorgeous aesthetic, solid construction, and — you guessed it — three drivers within each earbud for excellent sound. That includes one dynamic driver for warm and full bass and a balanced armature driver for both the midrange and treble to create clear and articulate sound. It’s an intriguing design that one might think is a gimmick, but we can assure you that when it comes to the results, it’s anything but.
Along with the earbuds, you get a carry case, an airplane travel adapter, a cable clip, and a huge assortment of silicone and foam eartips to help you find the perfect fit.
The 1More Triple Driver’s sound signature provides sparkling clarity, smooth and powerful bass, and balanced sound that outdoes everything we’ve heard at a similar price point. These headphones provide exceptional sound for anything you listen to, from electronica to acoustic folk. Unlike many dedicated wired earbuds, the Triple Drivers include an inline mic and playback controls. Oh, and if you’re rocking a new iPhone and you using Apple’s headphone adapter, there’s a Lightning version, too.
If the 1More Triple Driver appeal to you, but you want to spend less, check out the Strauss & Wagner EM205. They sound almost as good but cost half the price. They’re also tiny and very lightweight — perfect for tossing in a backpack. If, on the other hand, you want to level up your wired listening, both the $159 Final Audio A4000 and $199 Campfire Audio Satsuma will deliver gorgeously detailed audio. The only caveat: As true in-ear monitors (IEMs), they do not have a mic for calls or buttons for music control.
Read our in-depth 1More Triple Driver review
The best true wireless earbuds: Sony WF-1000XM4
Sony
Why you should buy them: They’ve got brilliant sound quality, battery life, noise-canceling, and tons of extra features.

Who they’re for: Those who want one set of earbuds that do it all and do it really well.
Why we picked the Sony WF-1000XM4:
Sony’s previous flagship earbuds, the WF-1000XM3 were already some of our favorites, so when the company released the follow-up WF-1000XM4, we knew they’d be pretty hard to beat. We were right.
With the XM4, Sony has essentially improved on every aspect of the XM3. The design, battery life, ANC, and transparency are all better than before. Meanwhile, Sony kept the price the same, while dropping the price of the XM3, giving buyers two fantastic choices.
At the top of the improvement list is the new, compact shape. Though only 10% smaller than the XM3, the XM4 fit almost entirely inside your outer ear, making them appear way smaller. The new shape makes the touch controls easier to use, but some with especially small ear openings may actually find them to be less comfortable.
The earbuds are more robust too, with an official IPX4 rating for water resistance. Don’t swim with them, but you need not fear sweat, rain, or the occasional splash.
The charging case was put on a diet too. At 40% smaller, it also packs wireless charging, something the XM3’s case didn’t offer.
Total battery life is the same at 24 hours with ANC on and 36 hours with it off, but the earbuds can now go longer between charges: Eight hours with ANC on, and a huge 12 hours when it’s off.
Sound quality is generally better as well, but not across the board. The low-end bass response has been improved, with an uncanny ability to render tiny details from the lowest frequencies. However, there’s been a little loss of energy at the high end of the spectrum as compared to the XM3. We attribute this to Sony’s decision to ship the XM4 with foam eartips only, which can affect the sound.
As with the XM3, ANC and transparency are excellent and even moderately improved. A big bonus is Sony’s speech-sensing tech, which switches transparency on and mutes your music when the earbuds detect that you’ve started talking.
Add to this a slew of features like being able to use wake words with Alexa and Google Assistant on Android phones, and Sony clearly has another winner in the WF-1000XM4.
Read our in-depth Sony WF-1000XM4 review
The best earbuds for running: Sony WF-SP800N
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends
Why you should buy them: With astonishing battery life, sound quality, and noise cancellation, they’re great workout companions.

Who they’re for: People who want total wireless autonomy for demanding workouts.
Why we picked the Sony WF-SP800N:
Sony has a reputation for making stellar audio products, and the WF-SP800N take all of Sony’s know-how and squeeze it into a compact set of workout-friendly earbuds. Their IP55 water- and dust-resistant rating means they can take pretty much whatever you can throw at them, and their battery life is enormous: Nine hours if you leave their active noise cancellation on and 13 hours if you turn it off.
Though bulkier than some other workout buds like the Elite Active 75t, the SP800N won’t budge once they’re sitting in your ear thanks to their silicone wingtips that provide a secure three-point anchor in your concha.
Sound quality, as you would expect, is excellent, and the Sony Headphones app lets you tweak the equalization to your heart’s content, including turning on and off the ExtraBass feature. If you’re curious about Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format, which can give you the feeling of being at a live performance, the WF-SP800N are compatible with the streaming services that offer it, like Deezer and Amazon Music HD.
The adjustable ANC is also a high point, though this feature tends to work best in non-windy environments. You can engage a transparency mode any time you need it or simply use the quick-attention mode, which automatically switches to transparency and lowers your music volume temporarily while you press the left earbud.
Call quality is very good, whether indoors or outside. Our only real complaint about the WF-SP800N is their charging case. It’s definitely on the bulky side and doesn’t offer wireless charging.
Looking for alternatives to the WF-SP800N? These models are all excellent options:

Jabra Elite Active 75t
Powerbeats Pro
JBL Reflect Mini NC
Jaybird Vista 2

Read our in-depth Sony WF-SP800N review
Best earbuds for bass: JVC HA-XC90T
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends
Why you should buy them: Their enormous bass is matched with the longest battery life we’ve ever seen.

Who they’re for: Those who want big bass, clear sound, and a battery that will outlast anything else out there.
Why we picked the JVC HA-XC90T:
While some true wireless earbuds attempt to offer something for everyone, JVC’s HA-XC90T (also known as JVC XX) are unapologetic about their mission to provide the biggest bass you’ve ever heard.
The black earbuds with the red rings deliver what can only be described as a subwoofer-grade bass response, and that’s before you engage their bass boost mode, which makes them downright thunderous.
Amazingly, this powerful low end doesn’t prevent the mids and highs from taking their place on the soundstage, though make no mistake: If you’re not a fan of deep notes, the JVC XX are not the buds for you.
Along with that incredible boosted bass is a boosted battery. The JVC XX can go a whopping 15 hours on a single charge, making these earbuds the stamina kings of the true wireless world. The charging case holds another two full charges, which means you can use the JVC XX for almost 48 hours before needing to plug the case into a power cord.
Speaking of the charging case, it’s a big, solid affair made of aluminum. The slide-out tray feels sturdy and locks into place with a satisfying click. There’s no wireless charging option, but given how infrequently you’ll need to grab a USB-C cable, that’s not such a bad thing.
Other caveats include no app for customizing the equalizer or button controls, no active noise cancellation, and no auto-pause when you remove an earbud.
Those are a lot of missing features on a set of earbuds at this price, but they have IP55 protection from dust and water and a “touch and talk” feature, which gives you a temporary transparency mode when you need it.
When you consider that, plus the JVC XX‘s two big benefits (bass and battery), these earbuds still manage to justify their asking price for those who value what they offer.
Read our hands-on impressions of the JVC HA-XC90T
Best earbuds for swimming: Sony Walkman NW-WS413

Why you should buy them: You want a water-safe device so you can listen to your favorite tracks while hitting the lap lanes.

Who they’re for: Swimmers and athletes who prefer to leave their phones at home.
Why we picked the Sony WS413 Walkman W-Series:
It doesn’t matter how waterproof you make them, true wireless earbuds won’t be able to play your tunes when you dip below the surface. It’s simple physics: Bluetooth can’t travel through the water like it can through the air. And should an earbud become dislodged while you’re swimming, your odds of retrieving it are slim to none.
That’s why the Sony W-Series Walkman Sports MP3 player wins this category, even though they don’t possess any wireless capabilities at all. Not only can they be completely submerged and continue to play music, but they can operate in salt or fresh water at depths of up to 2 meters — so go ahead and jump in the deep end.
They’ll even stay on after that cannonball, kept in place by both around-the-ear hooks and a tiny band that snugly stretches around the back of your head. The headphones also feature unique earbuds that are designed to keep water from entering the driver casing — which would otherwise ruin the headphones for good.
The Sony WS413 Walkman WS Series is an all-in-one device that doesn’t need to be connected to a phone or other playback source; instead, it has 4GB of storage to hold your music, and you can load up songs and playlists on your PC via the included USB cable.
Sure, 4GB might not sound like much space, but that adds up to about 1,000 to 2,000 tracks, depending on their file size. All playback is controlled with tiny buttons on the sides of each earbud. Speaking of charge, the W-Series Walkman will last up to 12 hours per charge, and Sony claims you’ll be able to charge them in no time via their quick-charge feature.
The WS413 is perfect for swimmers who want total immersion in both the water and their tunes, but sometimes we need to be more aware of our surroundings. Whether it’s being able to hear a swim coach’s instructions, a lifeguard’s warnings, or just other swimmers, earbuds that block out the outside world aren’t always the best tool for the job.
In these circumstances, the $150 Aftershokz Xtrainerz are the way to go. They offer the same 4GB capacity as the Sonys, but they use bone conduction to transmit sound to your ears, which leaves your ear canals open. That means you can hear everything going on around you and your music, plus you can insert your favorite swimming earplugs if you want — and they won’t interfere with the audio.
The best earbuds for iPhone: Apple AirPods Pro
Digital Trends
Why you should buy them: As long as they’re synced to an iPhone, the AirPods Pro have features few other devices can match.

Who they’re for: Apple die-hards who want a fully wireless option.
Why we picked the Apple AirPods Pro:
The truth is, there are better-sounding earbuds out there that can work with iPhones, but even so, we still think the AirPods Pro are the best iOS-specific choice thanks to how Apple they are.
For better or for worse, AirPods Pro have all the hallmarks of an Apple product: They’re sleek, feature-rich, and extremely easy to use. The design includes simple controls and no-fuss compatibility with other Apple products. That last point is probably the most important reason why the AirPods Pro are our pick for the best wireless headphones to use with iPhones. Unlike other Bluetooth devices, AirPods Pro are designed to automatically sync with your device.
Perhaps most importantly for Apple users (apart from the iconic style), these earbuds couldn’t be easier to pair and set up. Just open the case, hold the new AirPods next to your iPhone, and you’re ready to listen. Once the AirPods Pro are paired, they’ll also show up automatically on any of your iCloud-connected Apple devices, including a companion iPad or MacBook. Switching can be done with a single click, but if you’re on the latest versions of iOS and macOS, that switching can even happen automatically.
The main difference between the AirPods Pro and the AirPods 2 with Wireless Charging Case, which used to hold this spot, is the addition of noise-canceling. They also offer a more discreet, fitted design that makes use of silicone tips to, A) keep the Pods firmly fixed to your ears during intense exercise, B) make them more pleasant to wear for extended periods, and C) create the seal that’s required for noise-canceling to function as intended.
They’re also IPX4 sweat-resistant and offer much better sound quality. Earlier in 2020, Apple added spatial audio to the AirPods Pro, making them an intriguing companion for watching movies on Apple’s devices. When iOS 15 launches in the fall of 2021, the AirPods Pro will also be able to offer hearing enhancement in situations where conversations may be more difficult due to competing sounds.
For all these reasons, the Apple AirPods Pro are a solid choice for Apple’s products, especially the iPhone.  But we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that every other pair of fully wireless earbuds work great with iPhones too. And you can find a pair that sound just as good as the AirPods Pro for a bit less money. It’s a big world out there, so before you just jump into the most obvious Apple pairing, we suggest shopping around a bit.
Read our in-depth AirPods Pro review
The best earbuds for Android: Samsung Galaxy Buds 2
Samsung
Why you should buy them: They’re chock-full of the latest features like ANC and wireless charging, but cost way less than the AirPods Pro.

Who they’re for: Android fans looking for comfortable, great-sounding buds with noise cancellation.
Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2:
Our previous pick for this category was the Google Pixel Buds A-Series. With their $99 price and virtually all of the features from the $179 Pixel Buds, they were an obvious choice.
But Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 have forced us to change things up. For an extra $50, they offer ANC, transparency mode, and wireless charging — three very desirable features you won’t find on the Pixel Buds A-Series. What’s more, the Galaxy Buds 2 are even comfortable and secure than the A-Series, making them a welcome change for folks who have traditionally struggled to find a good fit.
Sound quality is very good if not quite up to the standard set by the Sony WF-1000XM4 or the Master & Dynamic MW08, and you get several EQ presets within the Samsung Wearables app. That app also provides a fit test to make sure you’ve got the right size of eartips installed, and a find my buds feature for when they inevitably go missing.
Battery life is solid: Five hours per charge and 20 hours total with the charging case if you keep ANC on, and that rises to 7.5/29 hours if you turn the feature off. An IPX2 rating means you probably shouldn’t expose them to much water, but they’ll at least be able to handle a bit of rain and sweat without incurring any damage.
Our only real caveat with the Galaxy Buds 2 is their touch controls. They’re a bit too easy to accidentally trigger when inserting or adjusting the earbuds, but we do appreciate that you can customize these controls or even turn them off entirely within Samsung’s app. Why do we only recommend these buds for Android users? That awesome app just isn’t available for iOS, which drastically reduces the Buds 2’s value to iPhone owners.
Read our in-depth Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review
The best earbuds for listening to music: Master & Dynamic MW08
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends
Why you should buy them: They have huge battery life, sound incredible, and have a unique, stylish design.

Who they’re for: Anyone who wants a no-compromises listening experience in a set of true wireless earbuds.
Why we picked the Master & Dynamic MW08:
When it comes to true wireless earbuds that deliver audiophile-grade sound quality, it’s a small crowd. Leading that pack are the Master & Dynamic (M&D) MW08, a beautifully crafted set of buds that sound as good as they look.
M&D is no stranger to the true wireless space. Its MW07 and MW07 Plus models were both very well received for their top-notch sound, and the MW08 take the design even further. They’re smaller and more comfortable than the previous models and their battery life is incredible, with up to 12 hours between charges when you turn off active noise cancellation (ANC) and keep the volume level under 50%.
Their stainless steel charging case provides another 30 hours of capacity, for a total of 42 hours before you need to plug them back in using a USB-C cable.
But the real story here is the MW08‘s sultry sound. Across the frequencies, from the lowest lows to the highest highs, these earbuds deliver a crisp and precise response, letting you appreciate each element of a song. Whether it’s the booming bass of hip-hop or the delicate resonances of jazz and classical, the MW08 sacrifice nothing.
M&D has used some pretty exotic materials on the MW08 including ceramics and aluminum, which give them a sophisticated, high-end look and feel that stands apart from the all-plastic designs from Sony, Bose, Apple, and Sennheiser. They also feature physical control buttons instead of the touch controls that are becoming ubiquitous. These controls give you access to every feature, from volume to voice assistants, and have a very precise operation.
Our only real critique of the MW08 is that their ANC isn’t as good as what you’ll find on the AirPods Pro, WF-1000XM3, or Bose QuietComfort Earbuds. However, when you consider just how good the MW08 sound, we think it’s worth the tradeoff.
If wireless charging is a big feature for you, the Master & Dynamic MW08 Sport edition adds that capability in a much lighter weight Kevlar-wrapped charging case.
Read our in-depth Master & Dynamic MW08 review
The best earbuds for Amazon Alexa fans: Amazon Echo Buds 2
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends
Why you should buy them: They’re very affordable, sound great, and let you summon Alexa whenever and wherever you like.

Who they’re for: Folks who love Amazon’s virtual assistant and want an affordable set of true wireless earbuds.
Why we picked the Amazon Echo Buds 2:
We were already big fans of the original Amazon Echo Buds, so when Amazon released the next version (technically named Echo Buds 2nd Gen) for the same price, but with some nice upgrades, we knew they’d be a solid pick.
What sets the Echo Buds 2 apart from other earbuds (other than Alexa, which we’ll get to) is the sheer value they offer. For $120 ($140 for the version with wireless charging), you get a small and comfortable set of buds, with an equally small charging case. They have active noise cancellation (ANC) and a transparency mode, they auto-pause the music when you pull an earbud out, they can be used independently, and they even have a basic workout tracking feature.
Using the Alexa app (which you pretty much need for all of the advanced features) you can adjust their EQ settings, fine-tune the side-tone (how much of your own voice you hear during calls), and even locate your earbuds if they go missing.
To put that in perspective: A feature set like this would normally cost $180 — the price of the Jabra Elite 75t — so $120 feels like a bargain.
The sound quality is very good. Not quite what you’d get from pricier earbuds, but close enough for folks who just want great tunes or podcasts for their daily commutes.
Being able to simply say “Alexa,” followed by hundreds of different commands (including all of the earbud and playback functions like ANC and call answer) is a major convenience, and the Echo Buds 2 are the only earbuds (other than the original Echo Buds) that let you do this.
Battery life on the buds themselves, at five hours with ANC and Alexa turned on, and 6.5 hours with these features off, is a little better than Apple’s AirPods Pro, but nothing stellar when compared to other earbuds at this price. Unfortunately, the case only holds two full charges, so you may have to adjust your habits accordingly.
We didn’t think that Amazon’s ANC was a big improvement over the previous generation’s Bose tech but given how much more comfortable the new design is, it’s not a deal-breaker by any means and we definitely recommend the Echo Buds 2.
Read our in-depth Amazon Echo Buds 2 review

Research and buying tips

Can earbuds damage your ears?
Yes, because of their isolation and because the drivers are closer to your eardrums, it is not recommended to listen at higher volumes for extended periods of time. Check out our helpful noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) explainer for how to avoid this from happening.
Are earbuds waterproof?
Many are water-resistant, few can be fully submerged. We recommend checking for an IP rating if you want to make sure you are treating them properly.
Can earbuds sound as good as over-ear headphones?
Yes, at the high end, in-ear monitors can sound as good as virtually any headphones on the market. That said, you’ll have to pay a hefty premium to get top-tier sound.
How should earbuds fit?
Comfortably and securely. You may want to find a pair with earfins or earclips if you are planning on working out.
Should I use earbuds when driving?
No. It is dangerous and illegal in many regions.
Glossary

Driver: The unit that produces sound in a headphone, made up of magnets, voice coils, and other materials. Typically, the larger the driver, the more power a headphone has, and bigger drivers inside in-ear headphones generally indicate that a better range of frequencies can be reproduced.
Dynamic driver: A single driver capable of covering the entire frequency range. The diaphragm is connected directly to a voice coil in the headphone, with the voice coil moving between magnets to produce sound.
Balance armature driver: In a balanced armature driver, the headphone’s diaphragm is connected to the armature, with micro-vibrations producing the sound. Most balanced armature drivers are best within a specific frequency range, which is why many headphones contain multiple balanced drivers, with certain frequencies divided between drivers for full-spectrum sound.
Soundstage: The perceived size and depth of the sound coming through the headphones.
Passive noise isolation: Noise that is blocked out by the headphone or earbud based on its physical shape and size in your ear.
Frequency response: The spectrum of frequencies that a headphone can reliably reproduce. Typically, this is 20Hz-20kHz — a spectrum that is widely regarded as the limits of human hearing. However, some models claim a frequency response as high as 40kHz, which some regard as necessary to reproduce hi-res audio.

How we test
We test headphones and earbuds the way normal people live.
We run every pair of earbuds through a rigorous process over several days. That includes playing them in all sorts of scenarios — be it on a bus, in the listening room, or at the office — and playing back from a wide array of sources. We know most people use their headphones with a smartphone, often with lower quality MP3 resolution tracks, so we test that, too.
We also move up to high-resolution audio files, as well as a wide variety of sources, including plugging in directly to a PC or Mac, using USB DACs (digital-to-analog converters), and employing high-quality dedicated portable players and amplifiers. Finally, we compare the earbuds to some of our go-to models, both in their class and price point, as well as a level or two above, to find out if they can punch above their weight.

Editors’ Recommendations

The most effective health trackers for 2021

Fitness trackers aren’t only for runners and avid gym-goers. They are great accessories to help anyone maintain a healthy lifestyle, providing data on everything from steps to sleep to heart rhythms. We’ve worn, tested, and reviewed more than 100 fitness bands and smartwatches, so we have a good grasp of which ones are best.
Here are the models that stood out the most, and the Fitbit Charge 4 is at the top of the list, thanks to its lightweight body, long battery life, and basic smartphone connectivity features. We’ve got a host of great deals on Fitbits if one is at the top of your shopping list. And if you can’t justify the price of a Fitbit, we’ve got some cheaper alternatives to track your activity here.
While this list concentrates mostly on fitness bands, smartwatches also do a great job of tracking fitness and activity, so if a more watch-like design and greater functionality appeals, make sure to look at our list of the best smartwatches.
Best fitness trackers at a glance:

Best overall fitness tracker: Fitbit Charge 4

Why you should buy this: It has simple yet comprehensive fitness tracking features, a battery that lasts for a week, and a great accompanying app.

Who it’s for: People with an active lifestyle who want all-day health tracking.
Why we picked the Fitbit Charge 4:
There are good reasons why Fitbit is the top brand in the fitness-tracking market: Fitbit continues to release updated models with new features and designs, and the Fitbit Charge 4 is a perfect example of this. The design isn’t all that different from the Charge 3, so it still offers a relatively sleek look and a button-free design. The band is small enough to work well for any wrist size, plus the shape means it’s relatively comfortable too. The display on the device may not be the most impressive out there, but it gets the job done.
The tracker has a full roster of workout and health tracking features, ranging from automatically detecting workouts, to tracking menstrual cycles for women. From the app, you’ll be able to see all your fitness metrics and workouts at a glance, as well as your sleep if you use the sleep-tracking feature. New for the Charge 4 is GPS support — meaning that you’ll be able to physically track your workouts and their distance without having to take your phone on the road with you.
One thing to be aware of when buying a Fitbit is that, to unlock all the features and data, you have to pay a monthly subscription. Fitbit Premium costs $10 and includes guided workouts, more challenges, mindfulness, and access to more personalized data. Not everyone will need Fitbit Premium, but if you expect your use and requirements to change over time, it’s something to consider.
The Fitbit Charge 4 offers other features too. For example, it has a nice auto-stop feature to pause your workout at an intersection, plus it’s great at tracking goals and helping you achieve them without making it too easy to do so. It can also receive text messages and call notifications from your phone.
If you want a Fitbit that looks a little more like a smartwatch, we recommend the Fitbit Versa 3. It has all the same features, but is matched with a better screen and a smartwatch-like design, giving it true 24-hour wearability. It’s more expensive at $230, though.
Read our full Fitbit Charge 4 review
Best fitness tracker for iOS: Apple Watch SE
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Why you should buy this: You want the best value fitness tracker and smartwatch for iOS.

Who it’s for: You own an iPhone and would prefer a more watch-like design and many more features outside of just activity tracking.
Why we picked the Apple Watch SE:
The Apple Watch SE is much more than an activity tracker. It has a beautiful screen, runs apps, will make and receive calls, shows notifications from your phone, and will even time how long you’ve washed your hands for. Obviously, this high level of functionality affects the price, and the Apple Watch SE starts at $279.
Why did we highlight it when it’s much more than a fitness tracker? Mostly because Apple’s health software and activity tracking are superb and incredibly easy to use too. There’s a wide range of workout tracking, GPS, a heart rate sensor, sleep tracking, and a swim-proof body too. The data it collects is easy to interpret, and the Activity Ring system for daily goals is simple and motivational.
It’s the little things that make the Apple Watch SE a great companion. The automatic hand wash timer is surprisingly accurate, the watch will remind you to stand up after periods of inactivity, there’s a relaxing mindfulness app called Breathe, and it has a menstrual cycle tracking feature for women as standard. It runs the latest WatchOS 7 software, which makes it easier to unlock your iPhone when wearing a mask by bypassing FaceID when the Apple Watch is on your wrist.
If you’re considering the Apple Watch SE and health is a top priority, maybe consider the Apple Watch Series 6 too. It’s more expensive at $399 but has an ECG, SpO2 measurement, and a new optical heart rate sensor too. Whichever one you choose, it’s by far the best health and activity tracker for iPhone owners.
Read our full Apple Watch SE review
Best fitness tracker for kids: Fitbit Ace 2

Why you should buy this: The Fitbit Ace 2 is high on the fun factor, making it a no-brainer for kids on the move.

Who it’s for: Parents looking for a fitness tracker for the 12-and-under crowd.
Why we picked the Fitbit Ace 2:
Fitbit nailed it with its kid’s fitness tracker, the Ace 2. We strapped two of the fitness trackers on our kids, and the pair survived being dropped, stepped on, lost in the backyard for a week, and more. The tracker has a soft band that fits comfortably on a kid’s wrist and is adjustable to accommodate a variety of sizes. We had no problem fitting it on kids ranging from 5 to 11 years old. The band is available in either Night Sky and Neon Yellow or Watermelon Teal and is replaceable if it breaks or your child wants a different color. The Ace 2 is waterproof up to 50 meters, a must-have feature for kids who like to jump into the pool, pond, or ocean.
The tracker has a kid-friendly interface that tracks steps, active minutes, and sleep. You can choose between a variety of different clock faces from a simple digital watch face to animated faces that change as the child reaches their fitness goal. The watch has several data screens that show the daily step count and active minutes. These real-time stats allow kids to track how much they move during the day, while at night, kids can get reminders to go to bed and see how long they slept in the morning.
The Fitbit Ace 2 syncs to the companion Fitbit app, either using the parent’s device or the child’s mobile device. The dashboard is customized for kids with an easy-to-use interface that shows the child’s stats with little to no social features. Kids can view messages from parent-approved friends, but there is no tie-in to Facebook or any other social network. If the child has a phone, then the watch can be configured to receive messages from these trusted contacts.
Read our full Fitbit Ace 2 review
Best fitness tracker on a budget: Samsung Galaxy Fit 2
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Why you should buy this: The Samsung Galaxy Fit 2 costs $60, and offers all the basics you want from a fitness tracker.

Who it’s for: Anyone who wants a basic fitness tracker for steps, sleep, and overall fitness from a recognized brand.
Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Fit 2:
If you don’t want to spend much on a fitness tracker, it’s possible you won’t be preparing for a marathon or cycling 100 miles every weekend. If that’s you, then a simple fitness band will suit you best, and they don’t get much more simple than the Samsung Galaxy Fit 2. At $60 it’s one of the cheapest bands you can buy, but don’t mistake the low price for it being low-quality or feature-light.
The 1.1-inch AMOLED screen is bright and colorful, the band comes in several different colors for variety, and it’s comfortable to wear all day too. On the back is a heart rate sensor, the band tracks steps and calories, plus it has a range of tracking options for different workouts too. All this is presented in simple-to-use software, which you interact with using the touchscreen and a single touch-sensitive button.
It’s water-resistant and can be used to track swimming, and has the option to monitor sleep patterns too. The band connects with your iPhone or Android phone and will show notifications on the screen, but using all these features does mean the battery will need recharging every ten days or so. If you don’t track sleep, or use the notifications, this can be extended.
While the Samsung Galaxy Fit 2 doesn’t have GPS, a blood oxygen sensor, or an ECG, it doesn’t cost anywhere near those bands that do have these features. Instead, it’s cheap, pretty, reliable, and covers the basics very effectively. Alternatively, if you want to spend even less, the Xiaomi Mi Band 5 is regularly available for around $40 through Amazon and has essentially the same features as the Galaxy Fit 2. Just make sure you find the global version, rather than the China-only model.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Fit 2 review here
Best waterproof fitness tracker: Garmin Quatix 6

Why you should buy this: More than just another high-priced boating smartwatch, the Garmin Quatix 6 is the ultimate smartwatch for anyone who swims or spends time in the water.

Who it’s for: Fitness enthusiasts who want to swim with their fitness tracker, whether it’s in the pool or the sea.
Why we picked the Garmin Quatix 6:
Leave aside all the boating connectivity features of the Garmin Quatix 6, and you’re left with a comprehensive fitness tracking smartwatch with all the right features for swimmers. It’s suitable for all surface swimmers (it’s not a dive watch), and will measure distance, pace, stroke rate, and distance, plus swim efficiency (SWOLF) in open water and pool swimming activities.
The heart rate sensor works underwater, plus it’ll connect to an external heart rate monitor, and it has stroke detection for freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly. The Garmin Quatix 6 is water-resistant to 10ATM, weighs 80 grams, has a 47mm case size, and a 1.3-inch screen. It connects to iOS and Android devices, has GPS, and a battery for up to 14 days use before recharging.
Apart from its excellent swim tracking, the Garmin Quatix 6 also connects to a wide range of Garmin boating equipment, including the autopilot and GPS transceivers. If that’s not enough, there’s also comprehensive tracking for other activities including cycling and running. Finally, it’ll show notifications from your phone, store and play music, and make contactless payments with Garmin Pay.
It’s not a cheap smartwatch, but the Garmin Quatix 6 is probably the most comprehensively equipped model for anyone who spends time in, or on, the water.
Read our full Garmin Quatix 6 review
Best fitness tracker for sleeping: Oura Ring
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: It provides comprehensive sleep tracking in a very convenient, very stylish package.

Who it’s for: Anyone who doesn’t want to wear a watch or band at night to track sleep.
Why we picked the Oura Ring:
If you want to track sleep using a piece of wearable technology, our recommendation is the Oura Ring. What makes it so good is not only the informative and useful data it collects, but also its size and convenience. If you don’t like wearing a watch or something on your wrist at night, it’s also a great solution as it weighs very little and after a few days wearing it, you’ll forget it’s there.
It measures heart rate and breathing, body temperature, and also watches for movement while you sleep to show sleep stages, duration, quality, and other stats, which it then puts into an easy-to-understand sleep score. Alongside this is a Readiness score, which helps you understand your level of recovery, and whether holding off another workout would be good.
The accompanying app is attractive and helpful, while the ring’s battery life is about a week before it needs recharging. It’s made of titanium, and it comes in two different designs in several different finishes. What it doesn’t do is track workouts, so to get a really comprehensive picture of your health and fitness it needs to be paired with another wearable. It does count steps and calorie burn though.
The Oura Ring is quite expensive. It starts at $299 and while the features are excellent and work very well, they are not all that different from fitness trackers that cost a lot less. However, the cool design, high-quality materials, and unique style separate the Oura Ring from the competition. It’s the most comprehensive, least intrusive way of tracking sleep with a wearable.
Read our full Oura Ring review
Best fitness tracker for bargain hunters: Honor Band 6
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: It’s a great combination of good design and strong functionality, that costs less than the competition.

Who it’s for: Someone who doesn’t mind doing some research before buying, and wants to get an excellent product for a low price.
Why we picked the Honor Band 6:
Do you consider yourself a shrewd bargain hunter? If so, there are a couple of excellent fitness bands available that may not be on everyone’s radar, but by picking one up you’ll have one of the most capable activity trackers on your wrist and not have paid much for it. Our pick is the Honor Band 6, which can be found for around $60 and is just the right mix of fitness band and smartwatch.
Equipped with a 1.47-inch screen the Honor Band 6 has more display than many rivals, and it helps it better show notifications, and make exercise data easier to read on the move. The case is light and slim so it fits under your cuff, and is comfortable enough to wear overnight. This is important because Band 6 uses Huawei’s comprehensive and data-rich TruSleep system for sleep tracking, and it’s great.
It has a heart rate sensor and a blood oxygen monitor (SP02) and a range of workouts it’ll track, although it’s not designed for hardcore sportspeople, more for the casual exerciser interested in improving. There are some concerns over step count accuracy, but this never seemed to affect completed workout data, and software updates may cure issues in the future. The overall software experience is pleasant, with swipes and taps needed to navigate the clear menus, all displayed in crisp, colorful detail on the screen.
Why do you need to be a bargain hunter to get one? The Honor Band 6 isn’t officially sold in the U.S., so you’ll have to use an import service or grab one from Amazon. It’s important to make sure the one you pick is the “global” model, and not a Chinese version, which has features that don’t work outside China. But other than this, it will connect to your iOS or Android phone without a problem, and as it’s sold officially in the U.K., it’s fully localized so you can buy with confidence.
The good news is if you can’t find the Honor Band 6, we recommend looking at the Xiaomi Mi Band 6 instead. It’s the same story regarding availability, so you won’t find it in retail stores, and you should ensure you buy a global version from Amazon or another online importer. It’s also sold officially in the U.K.
The Mi Band has been around for years and has evolved nicely, with the Mi Band 6 having a larger screen and more sensors than predecessors, yet still with a compact body and low price. It’s equally as good as the Honor Band 6, but has a design that’s more fitness tracker than hybrid smartwatch/fitness tracker like the Honor band.
Yes, you’ll have to work a little harder than just picking up a Fitbit at the store to get one, but the saving on both of these is considerable, without any real compromise on functionality and design.
Read our full Honor Band 6 review
Research and buying tips

Should you buy one now?
Now is as good a time as any to buy a fitness band. Battery life is improving, built-in GPS tracking is far more common, and heart rate monitors are making their way onto more devices to ensure accurate measurements. The tech isn’t likely to advance too dramatically, for now, so you’d likely get several years out of the options listed — if you stick with them.
Much depends on what you want to get out of it. If you don’t have some motivation and goals to go along with your new fitness tracker, then it may be tough to justify spending the money on one. Smartwatches are a good alternative if you’re concerned about finding that motivation, as not only can most run apps that can help push you, but they have multiple other functions too, so you won’t feel like it’s wasted money if you don’t immediately meet any fitness targets.
Are wrist fitness trackers accurate?
One of the biggest complaints people have with fitness trackers is a lack of accuracy. Wrist fitness trackers are not 100% accurate in step count or heart rate tracking. Fitness trackers use sensors like an accelerometer or an altimeter to calculate step counts and stair climbs. These sensors are not foolproof — they can and do make mistakes. Any movement of the wrist, when you are driving, for example, can cause the tracker to tack on steps or stairs when you are not walking. Sometimes you’ll miss out on steps especially when your feet are moving and your hands are still. We encounter this issue with missing steps whenever we use a treadmill desk. Ultimately, steps and stair count should be used as a loose guideline to gauge your overall activity level and not a step-by-step assessment of your day.
The same principle applies to heart rate tracking. When compared to a chest strap heart rate monitor, the wrist-based monitors fall short. They do a decent job of measuring your average heart rate but struggle to detect quick changes in heart rate. If you are going from a standstill to a sprint, the chest strap accurately detects the sudden increase in your heart rate. A wrist-based monitor, though, struggles to keep up with rapid changes and will often lag, showing the spike in heart rate a few seconds after it actually happens. For most people, this lag won’t be a deal-breaker, but it is a concern for athletes who are using heart rate tracking to gauge their effort during an exercise.
Do all fitness trackers need a smartphone?
Almost all fitness trackers require you to sync the data from the tracker to the app that collects the data and analyzes it for you. Most people sync to their tablet or smartphone, but you also can sync to your computer. Connecting to a computer is not as convenient as syncing to a smartphone but it can be done. Some smartwatches like the Apple Watch are available with a cellular connection and can perform many functions without a smartphone, but you will need to pay extra on your monthly phone bill to use this feature.
While a fitness band will work without a smartphone, you won’t get all the benefits of syncing the data with the matching app or be able to perform other functions such as easily updating the software.
Can fitness trackers measure blood pressure?
Fitness trackers can measure your heart rate, but most cannot measure your blood pressure. There are a handful of wearable blood pressure devices, but none of the major manufacturers like Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung, Polar, or Apple have integrated blood pressure into their products yet.
How long do fitness trackers last?
Fitness trackers can last up to five years. Problems with the battery charging and broken parts like the strap and the screen ultimately lead to their demise.
What is connected GPS?
While most smartwatches are equipped with GPS, only a few fitness trackers have GPS built into the tracker. GPS allows you to record the route that you run, cycle, or walk without needing your phone. Instead of onboard GPS, fitness trackers use connected GPS that relies on your phone to record your route. With connected GPS, the tracker connects to the mobile app on your phone and uses that app to track GPS coordinates during an outdoor activity. If you forget to connect your watch to the app, your distance and pace will be estimated using movement data and not the more accurate GPS data from your phone.
How we test
We test fitness bands just like we test smartwatches. That means using them every day and testing out all the marquee features. We strap them to our wrists (no matter how silly they look) and walk around town with them, take them to bed with us, and hit the gym to test out the workout features. It’s also key to pair them with different phones and test the experience when the band is connected to phones with different operating systems.
If a fitness band is water-resistant, we dunk it in water, and if it has GPS, we go on a hike. A fitness band’s companion app’s reliability and ease of use are just as important because it’s certain frustration if it refuses to sync with your phone.

Editors’ Recommendations

One of the best health trackers for 2021

Fitness trackers aren’t only for runners and avid gym-goers. They are great accessories to help anyone maintain a healthy lifestyle, providing data on everything from steps to sleep to heart rhythms. We’ve worn, tested, and reviewed more than 100 fitness bands and smartwatches, so we have a good grasp of which ones are best.
Here are the models that stood out the most, and the Fitbit Charge 4 is at the top of the list, thanks to its lightweight body, long battery life, and basic smartphone connectivity features. We’ve got a host of great deals on Fitbits if one is at the top of your shopping list. And if you can’t justify the price of a Fitbit, we’ve got some cheaper alternatives to track your activity here.
While this list concentrates mostly on fitness bands, smartwatches also do a great job of tracking fitness and activity, so if a more watch-like design and greater functionality appeals, make sure to look at our list of the best smartwatches.
Best fitness trackers at a glance:

Best overall fitness tracker: Fitbit Charge 4

Why you should buy this: It has simple yet comprehensive fitness tracking features, a battery that lasts for a week, and a great accompanying app.

Who it’s for: People with an active lifestyle who want all-day health tracking.
Why we picked the Fitbit Charge 4:
There are good reasons why Fitbit is the top brand in the fitness-tracking market: Fitbit continues to release updated models with new features and designs, and the Fitbit Charge 4 is a perfect example of this. The design isn’t all that different from the Charge 3, so it still offers a relatively sleek look and a button-free design. The band is small enough to work well for any wrist size, plus the shape means it’s relatively comfortable too. The display on the device may not be the most impressive out there, but it gets the job done.
The tracker has a full roster of workout and health tracking features, ranging from automatically detecting workouts, to tracking menstrual cycles for women. From the app, you’ll be able to see all your fitness metrics and workouts at a glance, as well as your sleep if you use the sleep-tracking feature. New for the Charge 4 is GPS support — meaning that you’ll be able to physically track your workouts and their distance without having to take your phone on the road with you.
One thing to be aware of when buying a Fitbit is that, to unlock all the features and data, you have to pay a monthly subscription. Fitbit Premium costs $10 and includes guided workouts, more challenges, mindfulness, and access to more personalized data. Not everyone will need Fitbit Premium, but if you expect your use and requirements to change over time, it’s something to consider.
The Fitbit Charge 4 offers other features too. For example, it has a nice auto-stop feature to pause your workout at an intersection, plus it’s great at tracking goals and helping you achieve them without making it too easy to do so. It can also receive text messages and call notifications from your phone.
If you want a Fitbit that looks a little more like a smartwatch, we recommend the Fitbit Versa 3. It has all the same features, but is matched with a better screen and a smartwatch-like design, giving it true 24-hour wearability. It’s more expensive at $230, though.
Read our full Fitbit Charge 4 review
Best fitness tracker for iOS: Apple Watch SE
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Why you should buy this: You want the best value fitness tracker and smartwatch for iOS.

Who it’s for: You own an iPhone and would prefer a more watch-like design and many more features outside of just activity tracking.
Why we picked the Apple Watch SE:
The Apple Watch SE is much more than an activity tracker. It has a beautiful screen, runs apps, will make and receive calls, shows notifications from your phone, and will even time how long you’ve washed your hands for. Obviously, this high level of functionality affects the price, and the Apple Watch SE starts at $279.
Why did we highlight it when it’s much more than a fitness tracker? Mostly because Apple’s health software and activity tracking are superb and incredibly easy to use too. There’s a wide range of workout tracking, GPS, a heart rate sensor, sleep tracking, and a swim-proof body too. The data it collects is easy to interpret, and the Activity Ring system for daily goals is simple and motivational.
It’s the little things that make the Apple Watch SE a great companion. The automatic hand wash timer is surprisingly accurate, the watch will remind you to stand up after periods of inactivity, there’s a relaxing mindfulness app called Breathe, and it has a menstrual cycle tracking feature for women as standard. It runs the latest WatchOS 7 software, which makes it easier to unlock your iPhone when wearing a mask by bypassing FaceID when the Apple Watch is on your wrist.
If you’re considering the Apple Watch SE and health is a top priority, maybe consider the Apple Watch Series 6 too. It’s more expensive at $399 but has an ECG, SpO2 measurement, and a new optical heart rate sensor too. Whichever one you choose, it’s by far the best health and activity tracker for iPhone owners.
Read our full Apple Watch SE review
Best fitness tracker for kids: Fitbit Ace 2

Why you should buy this: The Fitbit Ace 2 is high on the fun factor, making it a no-brainer for kids on the move.

Who it’s for: Parents looking for a fitness tracker for the 12-and-under crowd.
Why we picked the Fitbit Ace 2:
Fitbit nailed it with its kid’s fitness tracker, the Ace 2. We strapped two of the fitness trackers on our kids, and the pair survived being dropped, stepped on, lost in the backyard for a week, and more. The tracker has a soft band that fits comfortably on a kid’s wrist and is adjustable to accommodate a variety of sizes. We had no problem fitting it on kids ranging from 5 to 11 years old. The band is available in either Night Sky and Neon Yellow or Watermelon Teal and is replaceable if it breaks or your child wants a different color. The Ace 2 is waterproof up to 50 meters, a must-have feature for kids who like to jump into the pool, pond, or ocean.
The tracker has a kid-friendly interface that tracks steps, active minutes, and sleep. You can choose between a variety of different clock faces from a simple digital watch face to animated faces that change as the child reaches their fitness goal. The watch has several data screens that show the daily step count and active minutes. These real-time stats allow kids to track how much they move during the day, while at night, kids can get reminders to go to bed and see how long they slept in the morning.
The Fitbit Ace 2 syncs to the companion Fitbit app, either using the parent’s device or the child’s mobile device. The dashboard is customized for kids with an easy-to-use interface that shows the child’s stats with little to no social features. Kids can view messages from parent-approved friends, but there is no tie-in to Facebook or any other social network. If the child has a phone, then the watch can be configured to receive messages from these trusted contacts.
Read our full Fitbit Ace 2 review
Best fitness tracker on a budget: Samsung Galaxy Fit 2
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Why you should buy this: The Samsung Galaxy Fit 2 costs $60, and offers all the basics you want from a fitness tracker.

Who it’s for: Anyone who wants a basic fitness tracker for steps, sleep, and overall fitness from a recognized brand.
Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Fit 2:
If you don’t want to spend much on a fitness tracker, it’s possible you won’t be preparing for a marathon or cycling 100 miles every weekend. If that’s you, then a simple fitness band will suit you best, and they don’t get much more simple than the Samsung Galaxy Fit 2. At $60 it’s one of the cheapest bands you can buy, but don’t mistake the low price for it being low-quality or feature-light.
The 1.1-inch AMOLED screen is bright and colorful, the band comes in several different colors for variety, and it’s comfortable to wear all day too. On the back is a heart rate sensor, the band tracks steps and calories, plus it has a range of tracking options for different workouts too. All this is presented in simple-to-use software, which you interact with using the touchscreen and a single touch-sensitive button.
It’s water-resistant and can be used to track swimming, and has the option to monitor sleep patterns too. The band connects with your iPhone or Android phone and will show notifications on the screen, but using all these features does mean the battery will need recharging every ten days or so. If you don’t track sleep, or use the notifications, this can be extended.
While the Samsung Galaxy Fit 2 doesn’t have GPS, a blood oxygen sensor, or an ECG, it doesn’t cost anywhere near those bands that do have these features. Instead, it’s cheap, pretty, reliable, and covers the basics very effectively. Alternatively, if you want to spend even less, the Xiaomi Mi Band 5 is regularly available for around $40 through Amazon and has essentially the same features as the Galaxy Fit 2. Just make sure you find the global version, rather than the China-only model.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Fit 2 review here
Best waterproof fitness tracker: Garmin Quatix 6

Why you should buy this: More than just another high-priced boating smartwatch, the Garmin Quatix 6 is the ultimate smartwatch for anyone who swims or spends time in the water.

Who it’s for: Fitness enthusiasts who want to swim with their fitness tracker, whether it’s in the pool or the sea.
Why we picked the Garmin Quatix 6:
Leave aside all the boating connectivity features of the Garmin Quatix 6, and you’re left with a comprehensive fitness tracking smartwatch with all the right features for swimmers. It’s suitable for all surface swimmers (it’s not a dive watch), and will measure distance, pace, stroke rate, and distance, plus swim efficiency (SWOLF) in open water and pool swimming activities.
The heart rate sensor works underwater, plus it’ll connect to an external heart rate monitor, and it has stroke detection for freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly. The Garmin Quatix 6 is water-resistant to 10ATM, weighs 80 grams, has a 47mm case size, and a 1.3-inch screen. It connects to iOS and Android devices, has GPS, and a battery for up to 14 days use before recharging.
Apart from its excellent swim tracking, the Garmin Quatix 6 also connects to a wide range of Garmin boating equipment, including the autopilot and GPS transceivers. If that’s not enough, there’s also comprehensive tracking for other activities including cycling and running. Finally, it’ll show notifications from your phone, store and play music, and make contactless payments with Garmin Pay.
It’s not a cheap smartwatch, but the Garmin Quatix 6 is probably the most comprehensively equipped model for anyone who spends time in, or on, the water.
Read our full Garmin Quatix 6 review
Best fitness tracker for sleeping: Oura Ring
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: It provides comprehensive sleep tracking in a very convenient, very stylish package.

Who it’s for: Anyone who doesn’t want to wear a watch or band at night to track sleep.
Why we picked the Oura Ring:
If you want to track sleep using a piece of wearable technology, our recommendation is the Oura Ring. What makes it so good is not only the informative and useful data it collects, but also its size and convenience. If you don’t like wearing a watch or something on your wrist at night, it’s also a great solution as it weighs very little and after a few days wearing it, you’ll forget it’s there.
It measures heart rate and breathing, body temperature, and also watches for movement while you sleep to show sleep stages, duration, quality, and other stats, which it then puts into an easy-to-understand sleep score. Alongside this is a Readiness score, which helps you understand your level of recovery, and whether holding off another workout would be good.
The accompanying app is attractive and helpful, while the ring’s battery life is about a week before it needs recharging. It’s made of titanium, and it comes in two different designs in several different finishes. What it doesn’t do is track workouts, so to get a really comprehensive picture of your health and fitness it needs to be paired with another wearable. It does count steps and calorie burn though.
The Oura Ring is quite expensive. It starts at $299 and while the features are excellent and work very well, they are not all that different from fitness trackers that cost a lot less. However, the cool design, high-quality materials, and unique style separate the Oura Ring from the competition. It’s the most comprehensive, least intrusive way of tracking sleep with a wearable.
Read our full Oura Ring review
Best fitness tracker for bargain hunters: Honor Band 6
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: It’s a great combination of good design and strong functionality, that costs less than the competition.

Who it’s for: Someone who doesn’t mind doing some research before buying, and wants to get an excellent product for a low price.
Why we picked the Honor Band 6:
Do you consider yourself a shrewd bargain hunter? If so, there are a couple of excellent fitness bands available that may not be on everyone’s radar, but by picking one up you’ll have one of the most capable activity trackers on your wrist and not have paid much for it. Our pick is the Honor Band 6, which can be found for around $60 and is just the right mix of fitness band and smartwatch.
Equipped with a 1.47-inch screen the Honor Band 6 has more display than many rivals, and it helps it better show notifications, and make exercise data easier to read on the move. The case is light and slim so it fits under your cuff, and is comfortable enough to wear overnight. This is important because Band 6 uses Huawei’s comprehensive and data-rich TruSleep system for sleep tracking, and it’s great.
It has a heart rate sensor and a blood oxygen monitor (SP02) and a range of workouts it’ll track, although it’s not designed for hardcore sportspeople, more for the casual exerciser interested in improving. There are some concerns over step count accuracy, but this never seemed to affect completed workout data, and software updates may cure issues in the future. The overall software experience is pleasant, with swipes and taps needed to navigate the clear menus, all displayed in crisp, colorful detail on the screen.
Why do you need to be a bargain hunter to get one? The Honor Band 6 isn’t officially sold in the U.S., so you’ll have to use an import service or grab one from Amazon. It’s important to make sure the one you pick is the “global” model, and not a Chinese version, which has features that don’t work outside China. But other than this, it will connect to your iOS or Android phone without a problem, and as it’s sold officially in the U.K., it’s fully localized so you can buy with confidence.
The good news is if you can’t find the Honor Band 6, we recommend looking at the Xiaomi Mi Band 6 instead. It’s the same story regarding availability, so you won’t find it in retail stores, and you should ensure you buy a global version from Amazon or another online importer. It’s also sold officially in the U.K.
The Mi Band has been around for years and has evolved nicely, with the Mi Band 6 having a larger screen and more sensors than predecessors, yet still with a compact body and low price. It’s equally as good as the Honor Band 6, but has a design that’s more fitness tracker than hybrid smartwatch/fitness tracker like the Honor band.
Yes, you’ll have to work a little harder than just picking up a Fitbit at the store to get one, but the saving on both of these is considerable, without any real compromise on functionality and design.
Read our full Honor Band 6 review
Research and buying tips

Should you buy one now?
Now is as good a time as any to buy a fitness band. Battery life is improving, built-in GPS tracking is far more common, and heart rate monitors are making their way onto more devices to ensure accurate measurements. The tech isn’t likely to advance too dramatically, for now, so you’d likely get several years out of the options listed — if you stick with them.
Much depends on what you want to get out of it. If you don’t have some motivation and goals to go along with your new fitness tracker, then it may be tough to justify spending the money on one. Smartwatches are a good alternative if you’re concerned about finding that motivation, as not only can most run apps that can help push you, but they have multiple other functions too, so you won’t feel like it’s wasted money if you don’t immediately meet any fitness targets.
Are wrist fitness trackers accurate?
One of the biggest complaints people have with fitness trackers is a lack of accuracy. Wrist fitness trackers are not 100% accurate in step count or heart rate tracking. Fitness trackers use sensors like an accelerometer or an altimeter to calculate step counts and stair climbs. These sensors are not foolproof — they can and do make mistakes. Any movement of the wrist, when you are driving, for example, can cause the tracker to tack on steps or stairs when you are not walking. Sometimes you’ll miss out on steps especially when your feet are moving and your hands are still. We encounter this issue with missing steps whenever we use a treadmill desk. Ultimately, steps and stair count should be used as a loose guideline to gauge your overall activity level and not a step-by-step assessment of your day.
The same principle applies to heart rate tracking. When compared to a chest strap heart rate monitor, the wrist-based monitors fall short. They do a decent job of measuring your average heart rate but struggle to detect quick changes in heart rate. If you are going from a standstill to a sprint, the chest strap accurately detects the sudden increase in your heart rate. A wrist-based monitor, though, struggles to keep up with rapid changes and will often lag, showing the spike in heart rate a few seconds after it actually happens. For most people, this lag won’t be a deal-breaker, but it is a concern for athletes who are using heart rate tracking to gauge their effort during an exercise.
Do all fitness trackers need a smartphone?
Almost all fitness trackers require you to sync the data from the tracker to the app that collects the data and analyzes it for you. Most people sync to their tablet or smartphone, but you also can sync to your computer. Connecting to a computer is not as convenient as syncing to a smartphone but it can be done. Some smartwatches like the Apple Watch are available with a cellular connection and can perform many functions without a smartphone, but you will need to pay extra on your monthly phone bill to use this feature.
While a fitness band will work without a smartphone, you won’t get all the benefits of syncing the data with the matching app or be able to perform other functions such as easily updating the software.
Can fitness trackers measure blood pressure?
Fitness trackers can measure your heart rate, but most cannot measure your blood pressure. There are a handful of wearable blood pressure devices, but none of the major manufacturers like Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung, Polar, or Apple have integrated blood pressure into their products yet.
How long do fitness trackers last?
Fitness trackers can last up to five years. Problems with the battery charging and broken parts like the strap and the screen ultimately lead to their demise.
What is connected GPS?
While most smartwatches are equipped with GPS, only a few fitness trackers have GPS built into the tracker. GPS allows you to record the route that you run, cycle, or walk without needing your phone. Instead of onboard GPS, fitness trackers use connected GPS that relies on your phone to record your route. With connected GPS, the tracker connects to the mobile app on your phone and uses that app to track GPS coordinates during an outdoor activity. If you forget to connect your watch to the app, your distance and pace will be estimated using movement data and not the more accurate GPS data from your phone.
How we test
We test fitness bands just like we test smartwatches. That means using them every day and testing out all the marquee features. We strap them to our wrists (no matter how silly they look) and walk around town with them, take them to bed with us, and hit the gym to test out the workout features. It’s also key to pair them with different phones and test the experience when the band is connected to phones with different operating systems.
If a fitness band is water-resistant, we dunk it in water, and if it has GPS, we go on a hike. A fitness band’s companion app’s reliability and ease of use are just as important because it’s certain frustration if it refuses to sync with your phone.

Editors’ Recommendations