The Best Smartwatches for Tracking Your Health

The Best Smartwatches for Tracking Your Health

This post is part of Find Your Fit Tech, Lifehacker’s fitness wearables buying guide. I’m asking the tough questions about whether wearables can really improve your health, how to find the right one for you, and how to make the most of the data wearables can offer.

Sometimes you want a wearable that is a smartwatch first, and and activity tracker second. Something like an Apple Watch or a Samsung Galaxy Watch has plenty of features to keep tabs on your steps and sleep, but they don’t stop there. They can also take notifications and calls, unlock other devices, play music, and pay for things. If that’s what you want, you’ll probably be happiest if you pick a smartwatch you like, and then explore its fitness features. (Spoiler: It doesn’t even have to be one on this page.)

On the other hand, maybe you want a fitness tracker that isn’t a fancy smartwatch. This is where brands like Fitbit and Amazfit come in: They give you the basic features you actually want, and only add as many smartwatchy features as you ask for. These tend to be a lot cheaper than full-featured smartwatches.

So let’s dive into the wide world of fitness watches, and find the best one for you.

My Picks

Best overall: Fitbit Charge 6 ($US159.90)

Fitbit has owned this market sector for a long time, and if you think of a Fitbit when you think of fitness trackers, look no further—this is probably the one you want.

The Charge 6 is the newest Fitbit, and it hits a lot of sweet spots. It’s bigger than the Fitbit Inspire, but smaller than the Fitbit Versa (and the other smartwatchy options). It isn’t as customizable or feature-rich as the Versa and kin, but it still has Google Maps, Google Pay, and music controls.

If you use an Android phone, the Google apps will feel familiar. And if you have friends who use Fitbits, you’ll be able to connect with them on that platform. If these sound like ecosystems you’d be happy to be a part of, then we predict that you’ll be happy with a Charge 6

Best for iPhone users: Apple Watch Series 9

It used to seem like overkill to recommend an Apple Watch to somebody who just wants to track a few fitness metrics, but fancy fitness watches have exploded in price (and features!), making Apple Watches look like a mid-range option.

There are, of course, many different Apple Watches. For fitness tracking, I’d recommend the Series 9, which is retails for $US329.99 in the version that has GPS but no cellular connection. Upgrade to the cell version and the 45 mm screen, and you’re looking at $US459. The Ultra 2 ($US737.99) is probably overkill if you just want a basic fitness tracker, but it does have dual-band GPS, bringing its location accuracy on par with some Garmins.

All of the Apple Watches track a wide variety of health metrics, including sleep, steps, and heart rate. (They may not have blood oxygen tracking going forward, but you didn’t need that anyway.) There are tons of apps you can use alongside or instead of the native ones, including WorkOutDoors for tracking running and cycling, and Athlytic, a subscription app that tracks athletic recovery.

Apple Watches, like iPhones, tend to stay functional for many generations after they’ve been replaced, so don’t discount older models. Right now, Amazon reports that its best-selling Apple Watches include a second-generation SE from 2022 for $US189 and a Series 4, launched in 2018, for just $US149.

Best budget pick: Amazfit Band 7 ($US44)

If this is all sounding too complicated, and you’re maybe a little miffed at seeing so many three-digit numbers when it used to only take a $US20 pedometer to count your steps, let me introduce you to a solid budget pick: the Amazfit band, now in its 7th generation.

It tracks your heart rate and steps, can detect when you’re napping, and the watch faces are customizable. It’s waterproof, so you can take it in the pool, and it has over 100 activities it can track (four of which are automatically detected). You can even talk to it (with Alexa) and ask it to set reminders for you. Is it going to be the best at any of those jobs? Probably not. But it’s $US44.

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.

At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


Leave a Reply