In this post with videos, we present our picks for 7 of the best smart watches and fitness trackers. All of them are excellent fitness trackers for a wide range of activities, including for cycling. All of these smart watches and fitness trackers offer excellent ways to track your athletic activities and a range of other health stats, plus offer other health features as well. Tracking your athletic activities is one of the best ways to improve your health, because tracking motivates you to exercise more. It also enables you to monitor your progress, which is extremely motivating.
Chart Comparing 7 of the Best Smart Watches and Fitness Trackers
|Fitness Tracker||Fitness and Health Functions||Highlights||Price|
|•This is an all-round fabulous fitness and health tracker that Joe and I both love.|
• The physically rotating bezel makes this watch better than its successor, the Samsung Galaxy 5 (we will NEVER understand why Samsung phased out the beloved physical bezel). You can use the bezel as a quick and easy way to navigate through the user interface.
• Tracks multiple sports.
• Tracks your bike rides and runs, using a built-in GPS.
• Very good at auto-detecting activities.
• Works on land and in the water.
• Offers in-depth sleep analysis.
• Helps you to improve your running with advanced running coaching technology.
• Shows you clearly and graphically the heart rate zones you are working out in, both during and after your workouts. This makes it easier to improve your workout planning, and your fitness.
• Measures your blood oxygen levels.
• In general, just a joy to own and to use.
|• Great looking, and can be adapted with a range of straps and faces.|
• The first smart watch to offer body composition data right on your wrist, On your own schedule, you can get readings on body fat, skeletal muscle, body water, basal metabolic rate, and Body Mass Index.
• Offers the widest possible range of health and fitness monitors available on any smart watch. Including ECGs and blood pressure monitoring.
• Also offers a wide range of fun watch faces (you can see four of them on the left).
• Works really well with the free Samsung Health app, which offers you a wealth of health and fitness metrics right on your phone.
• You do NOT need a Samsung phone - any Android phone will work just fine.
• You can control it with the Google voice assistant.
• Plus you can send text messages using the included keyboard, or download the Google keyboard for easier typing.
• Control your media such as music or Audible books or podcasts.
• Has a built-in mike and speaker so you can make phone calls from your wrist.
• Includes Google Pay.
• With a wide range of straps available, it can look like a smart watch, or pass as a regular watch.
|Best Price right now on Amazon: $319.99|
|• Color touchscreen. |
• Tracks cycling, swimming, running, golfing, and many other activities.
• Sends smart notifications from your phone.
• Tracks your sleep.
• Reminds you to move (if you allow it to do so).
• Body Energy Monitoring.
• Animated Workouts.
• Pulse Ox Sensors.
|• Great display, even in bright sunlight.|
• Built-in GPS.
• Built-in heart rate monitor.
• Great battery life, up to 3 weeks without GPS.
• Impressively fast charging.
• Smaller version available for more petite wrists.
• Change the (physical) strap or the (digital) face to change the look.
• Can be worn in the shower.
• Includes Music.
• Very durable watch that lasts for years, supported by ongoing software updates from Garmin.
|Best Price right now on Amazon: $225.00|
|• Indisputably the world leader in fitness smart watches, with a vast range of features that include endurance and real-time stamina tracking, training status, advanced performance metrics and over 30 built-in sports apps, including (new) kite board and windsurfing.|
• Impressive wellness features, including enhanced sleep tracking.
• Wrist-based heart rate using Pulse Ox.
• Plus stress monitor and respiration monitor.
• Measures your blood oxygen levels.
• Race Time Prediction: predicts your time for half the distance and the entire race, based on your training times over the last 4 wks.
• Titanium bezel and back for added durability.
|• Rugged smart watch that will stand up to your active sporting life.|
• Rugged sapphire glass to withstand scratches.
• Easy touchscreen operation, paired with excellent button operation. Choose or use both!
• Solar charging for unrivalled battery life (up to 37 days). In GPS mode, up to 122 hours in direct sunlight.
• Always-on display.
• Built-in LED flashlight (surprisingly handy).
• Built-in GPS to track rides and runs.
• Best GPS in the world, with new multi-band frequency and GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) network support (GPS, GLONASS and Galileo).
• Preloaded TopoActive maps — plus maps for thousands of golf courses and ski resorts.
• Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity so you can download maps for any continent at any time — without using a computer.
@bull; The touchscreen makes it much easier to scroll maps.
• Smart notifications when connected to your smartphone.
• Music storage.
• Garmin Pay contactless payment solution.
• Very durable watch that lasts for years, supported by ongoing software updates from Garmin.
|Best Price right now on Amazon: $974.69|
|Monitor your heart rate 24/7; track calorie burn; track your heart rate zones as you exercise; store and play music; track sleeping with Sleep Score; track multiple sports including cycling and swimming; provides all stats on your wrist; water resistant to 50 feet||Offers an exceptional 6 days' battery life. Fast charge. Built-in GPS. Accessible by touch - or by voice, as Amazon Alexa is built-in. This watch tracks your activities and health stats to create a Daily Readiness Score that will advise you on whether to take a rest day or do a challenging workout||Best Price right now on Amazon: $149.95|
|Slim powerhouse uses PurePulse to track heart rate 24/7, measure calorie burn, and monitor your sleep. Smart notifications from your phone. Daily Readiness Score analyzes data from your heart rate variability, sleep, and activity, and uses this to advise you if you are ready to work out again, or whether you need to take a recovery day. And it will give you reminders to calm down! Track multiple sports including swimming and cycling. Includes hundreds of guided workouts, a gallery of refreshing mindfulness sessions, plus Active Zone Minutes. Even has built-in GPS for real time pace and distance during outdoor runs and rides||No. 1 best seller in health and fitness trackers, and for good reasons. Gently wakes you with a silent vibrating alarm. Battery will last 7 days, and can be recharged in just 2 hours. See Activity trends, get healthy insights and personalized guidance in one place with Fitbit today.|
Note: ships with two sizes of wrist bands
|Best Price right now on Amazon: $134.95|
|Very motivational. Automatically detects when you are exercising. Tracks sleep. Tracks your heart rate 24/7. Advanced sleep analysis. Wellness reports and video workouts. Can be worn in the shower||No. 1 best seller in fitness trackers AND activity trackers. Gently wakes you with a silent vibrating alarm. A range of bands makes it fun to customize!||Best Price right now on Amazon: $98.95|
|You can easily change straps to achieve different looks. Offers simplified heart rate zones to easily check exercise intensity. Tracks multiple sports, including running, cardio, cycling, and more||No. 1 best seller in Men's Smart Watches. Continuous, wrist-based heart rate monitoring (no uncomfortable chest strap required). Connects with phone to use GPS to map your routes, and provide stats such as pace and duration||Best Price right now on Amazon: $319.94|
No. 1 in our List of Best Smart Watches and Fitness Trackers – Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
We believe this is the best smart watch Samsung has ever made. In fact, after reviewing dozens of smart watches, Joe chose this as his every day watch. And I chose the almost identical Galaxy Watch 4 (the only difference is that it does not have the bezel, which Joe loves).
Why did we choose these Samsung smart watches over all other contenders, including the Apple Watch and the Garmin Fenix 7? Simply because we believe it is better than the much more expensive Apple Ultra. And because we can’t afford a Garmin Fenix 7, and in any case, we are just as happy with our Samsung watches.
The Physical Bezel
Unfortunately, Samsung downgraded the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic when they updated it. They did this by removing the physical bezel that is used to navigate quickly and easily through the user interface. The newer Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 has all the great functions found in the Galaxy 4 Classic – but it lacks the bezel. For that reason, we choose the Galaxy 4 Classic over the Galaxy 5 for best fitness tracker. Of course, if you can live without the unique bezel, then the Galaxy 5 is also an excellent option.
Video Review of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
This video highlights many of the best features of this watch.
This is an all-round fabulous fitness and health tracker that Joe loves. It tracks multiple sports, is very good at auto-detecting activities, and works both on land and in the water. It offers in-depth sleep analysis that we find fascinating and useful.
It shows you clearly and graphically the heart rate zones you are working out in, both during and after your workouts. On both your watch and your phone. We find this motivating, and believe that it makes it easier to improve your fitness.
Health and Fitness Tracking Features of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Series
Joe purchased this watch because of the amazing range of health and fitness tracking features it offers. There is no other watch on the market that offers as many features. Here is a list of them:
- It tracks your steps (of course) and reports these to the Samsung Health app, and any other apps you choose to link to.
- It tracks your activities and calories burned.
- It can track pretty much any exercise, including yoga. It even tracks push-ups!
- You can track your heart rate 24/7.
- You can use it to measure your body fat percentage (one of the very, very few smart watches that can do this).
- You can use it to measure your BMI (Body Mass Index).
- It can tell you how many pounds of muscle you have.
- It can track your stress.
- You can conduct a personal ECG right on your wrist (one of the select few smart watches that can do this).
- You can measure your blood pressure (almost the only smart watch that can do this).
- It tells you the time (!). And the date too!
Advanced Sleep Tracking and Metrics on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
Every night the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 tracks your sleep, and presents the data it collects in great detail. This includes your blood oxygen during the night, your snoring (it can be set to record this), and the amount of time you spent in each sleeping zone. It also provides your sleep score, and information on how you rate relative to other people in your age group.
We find this feature useful and informative. Now that we know that sleep is one of the top three most important things you can do for your health, we work hard to make sure we get enough good quality sleep. (The other two important things are of course exercise and nutrition.)
Daily Activity Tracker on the Samsung Watch
This user-friendly feature gives you a constant update on how you are doing with your daily steps goal and active time goal. It also keeps you updated on how many calories you have burned exercising. All in a multi-colored heart graphic. Of course, this can be viewed on the app on your phone, or on the watch.
We find this feature both useful and motivating.
Advanced Running Metrics and Assistance
As you run, this watch records your time and tracks your route with its built-in GPS. At the same time, it also acts as your personal coach, gathering data and preparing a report on your running performance. You can then review the report and pinpoint where you need help. Click on the Info link of the report to get more information about your strengths and weaknesses.
As you can see in the graphic below, Joe’s watch gave him feedback that he needed to work on his Contact Time and Flight Time. He did that, and a few runs later, he had improved his Flight Time. But his Contact Time still needs some work!
Choose Your Own Watch Face
There is a wide range of choices for your watch face, most of them free. You can update this on the Samsung watch app on your phone, and instantly see the result on your watch. Here are just a (very) few of the faces available.
Some of the watch faces are customizable, so that you can choose what data you see on your wrist. For example, do you want to be able to constantly see your step count? Or your heart rate? It’s a cinch to get this watch to show you that information at a glance, in a variety of attractive formats.
Choose Your Own Watch Strap
With a wide range of straps available, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic can look like a smart watch, or pass as a regular watch. Joe has dressed his up with a metal band for a more masculine look.
Criticisms of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
Some reviews critique the relatively short battery life. Yes, it is true that you cannot use this watch for days on end without recharging. On the contrary, you will need to charge it every day. And the more you exercise and use the GPS, the more often you will be charging it.
However, in practice Joe does not find this a big deal. He just keeps a charger handy, and slips the watch onto it at convenient intervals. Such as when he sits down to work at his desk for an hour or two. This keeps the watch fresh and ready to track his frequent bouts of cycling and other activities.
Accuracy of Measurements on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
We have watched some reviews that complain that the much-vaunted body fat measurement is inaccurate. However, if you watch those carefully, the complaints boil down to the fact that the reading is just one or two percentage points different from a medical measurement. This seems to us to be a ridiculous complaint. Even the medical readings will vary from day to day, depending for example on whether or not you have just finished drinking a large glass of water.
In fact, Joe is working on a successful body recomposition program, and is finding his Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic a very useful and remarkably consistent tool to measure his progress.
Does the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic Work with Non-Samsung Smart Phones?
In a nutshell, yes. Joe uses his with a Pixel phone. This watch will work well with any Android phone. The app you use to review your stats and activities is the Samsung Health app, which works perfectly with any Android phone. You can even use that app to measure your steps if you don’t even own a fitness tracking watch!
Also, the Samsung Health app is free. On the other hand, if you buy one of the new Pixel watches, you get six months of Fitbit Premium free, and after that you have to pay for it monthly. For this reason (and its high price relative to what it offers) the new Pixel watch does not even make our list. Even though Joe waited for it for more than a year before buying his Samsung watch. Once it debuted, the Samsung watch became a no-brainer for him.
Bixby vs. Google Voice Assistant
Some people are put off the Samsung Galaxy Watches because of fear of using Bixby voice assist. Well, the reality is that you can quickly and easily download the fabulous Hey Google voice assistant to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. Then you just set it up as your default voice assistant. The Google voice assistant is absolutely top tier, even with Joe’s accent.
Bottom Line on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
In general, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is a joy to own and to use. If your goal is to really understand and improve your fitness and health, you will not regret equipping yourself with one of these outstanding watches.
You can also buy a used Galaxy Watch 4 Classic at a Lower Price
We have bought used items from Amazon, including a sound system for our TV. Our sound system is still going strong after 3 years of use. Of course, as with any used item, you buy it at your own risk with a reduced warranty. Still, it is a good way to try out new technology without spending a fortune.
No. 2 in our List of Best Smart Watches and Fitness Trackers: Garmin Vivoactive 4 GPS Smartwatch
This is one of Joe’s personal favorites in fitness trackers. He likes the chunky look of it, plus all the features and ease of use – such as the fact you can see the display clearly in bright sunlight. I have been wearing Joe’s cast-off Garmin Vivoactive 3 since he moved on to a Samsung Galaxy watch – and I was pleasantly surprised to find I love it too! Best of all: this watch is now several years old, yet still works perfectly, and still gets regular updates from Garmin. This makes it shine relative to Fitbits, which tend not to last much longer than their warranties.
The Garmin Vivoactive 4 HR GPS Smartwatch ranks no. 1 in Amazon’s Running GPS units and in Handheld GPS units, and ranks no. 2 in Pedometers. Not too shabby!
The popularity of the Garmin Vivoactive stems partly from the fact that it offers tracking for such a wide variety of sports. You can use its color touchscreen to track your cycling, swimming, running, yoga, and golfing. Of course you can also pair it with your phone to get smart notifications.
As it has a built-in GPS and heart rate monitor, you don’t have to carry any other equipment on your rides to record all of your ride stats. Best of all, it has great battery life – if you’re not using GPS, the battery will last for 3 weeks! When you do have to charge it, the charging is impressively fast.
It also has all kinds of features, including contactless pay. And you can monitor how you are handling stress too.
Unboxing the Garmin Vivoactive
Below is Joe’s video that shows him unboxing his Garmin Vivoactive 3, plus how easy it was to set it up and connect it with his smart phone and any other fitness apps. Note that before you can connect this fitness tracker to your phone, you do have to download the free Garmin Connect app to your phone.
The Garmin Connect app is very slick – great looking, and easy to customize. We have been using Garmin Connect to record our bike rides for years, and are very happy with how great it has become. Plus it connects to all our other apps, such as My Fitness Pal and Strava.
No. 3 in our List of Best Smart Watches and Fitness Trackers: Garmin Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar
Of course, we include this smart watch because it is basically the best smart watch available on the planet. Then why isn’t it at number 1? Well, simply because the price puts it out of the reach of most people, including us. However, if you can afford it, it is basically the best possible choice. It is a handsome, robust, and very durable smart watch, which will be supported for many years of software updates by the reliable industry leader, Garmin. The sapphire glass is very rugged and will withstand scratching.
All that said, we don’t see how you could justify the cost of this watch unless you are a very dedicated athlete. For the average person who just cycles a few times a week, takes a few walks, and perhaps likes to swim 30 laps every now and then – this watch really is more than you need. If however you are working on your first competitive race or your first triathlon, this watch would make an excellent companion on your journey. For the rest of us, a Samsung Galaxy smart watch will do the job for about a third of the price.
Garmin Fenix: The World Leader in Fitness Smart Watches
Simply put, the Garmin Fenix 7 is the undisputed world leader in fitness smart watches, with a vast range of features that include endurance and real-time stamina tracking, training status, advanced performance metrics and over 30 built-in sports apps.
This smart watch includes easy touchscreen operation, paired with excellent button operation. And of course, solar charging for unrivaled battery life (up to 37 days). In GPS mode, expect to get up to 122 hours in direct sunlight.
Plus it has a wide range of impressive wellness features, including enhanced sleep tracking. Compared to the Samsung Galaxy watch range, the only things it lacks are body composition measurements, and blood pressure monitoring.
It offers excellent wrist-based heart rate monitoring using Pulse Ox. And also a stress monitor and respiration monitor.
Navigation with the Garmin Fenix
You can download free maps for any place in the world, plus included POIs. And the Sapphire edition has maps pre-downloaded. Plus it has built-in GPS to track rides and runs. This watch sports the best GPS in the world, with new multi-band frequency and GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) network support (GPS, GLONASS and Galileo).
It has preloaded TopoActive maps — plus maps for thousands of golf courses and ski resorts.
Use the built-in Wi-Fi connectivity to can download maps for any continent at any time — without using a computer.
• Built-in LED flashlight (surprisingly handy). Includes strobe lights with various patterns, including a personalized SOS feature (in Morse code). This light could be used as a bike light in an emergency situation.
• Smart notifications when connected to your smartphone.
• Music storage.
• Garmin Pay contactless payment solution.
No. 4 in our List of Best Smart Watches and Fitness Trackers – Fitbit Versa 3 Health & Fitness Smartwatch
The Fitbit Versa 2 is a health and fitness smartwatch that allows you to monitor your heart rate, listen to music, and track your sleeping. Of course it allows you to track multiple sports, including swimming workouts. It provides all of your stats on your wrist, accessible with a touch – or by your voice, thanks to Amazon Alexa being built-in!
You don’t have to activate Alexa, but it does make this great all-round fitness tracker even more handy and accessible. You can use your voice to create alarms, set bedtime reminders, or check the weather with Alexa. This feature elevates this device to the top of our list of best fitness trackers!
Related Post: 7 of the Best Bike Computers – from Budget to Premium
How-To Video – Using a Fitbit Versa to Track a Bike Ride – Best Fitness Trackers
This video shows how to use a Fitbit Versa 3 to track a bike ride:
Battery Life of the Fitbit Versa 3
With a battery life of six days, the Fitbit Versa 2 sets you up for trouble-free, uninterrupted tracking of your bike rides and other athletic activities. The Fitbit Versa 3 comes with connected GPS, which piggybacks off of the GPS on your phone to provide detailed tracking metrics for your bike rides.
Of course, you can also use the Fitbit Versa 3 to track a whole lot of other health indicators. For example, Sleep Score is built into the Fitbit Versa 3. Sleep Score analyzes your heart rate, time asleep and restlessness, and tracks your time in light, deep and REM sleep stages, to assess your sleep quality and give you useful personal insights. Joe and I actually find this quite fascinating, and get quite competitive about who had the better night’s sleep.
Related Post: Review of Joe Friel’s Cyclist’s Training Bible
No. 5 in our List of Best Smart Watches and Fitness Trackers: Fitbit Charge 5 Advanced Health and Fitness Tracker
The Fitbit Charge 5 is the no. 1 best seller in health and fitness trackers on Amazon. No wonder it’s widely considered to be one of the best fitness trackers. It can gently wake you with a silent vibrating alarm. The battery will last 7 days, and can be recharged in just 2 hours. You can see Activity trends, get healthy insights and personalized guidance in one place with Fitbit today.
Note: this watch ships with two sizes of wrist bands.
The Fitbit Daily Readiness Score analyzes data from your heart rate variability, sleep, and activity, and uses this to advise you if you are ready to work out again, or whether you need to take a recovery day. And it will give you reminders to calm down! This smart watch will track multiple sports including swimming and cycling. It comes with hundreds of guided workouts, a gallery of refreshing mindfulness sessions, plus Active Zone Minutes.
The Fitbit Charge 5 even has built-in GPS for real time pace and distance during outdoor runs and rides
No. 6 in our List of Best Smart Watches and Fitness Trackers: Fitbit Inspire Health and Fitness Tracker
The Fitbit Inspire Health and Fitness Tracker ranks as the no. 1 best seller in fitness trackers AND activity trackers.
There are good reasons for the massive popularity of the Fitbit Inspire. Fitness trackers are supposed to motivate, and that is exactly what the Fitbit Inspire does. Unlike many of these devices, this device is smart enough to automatically know when you are exercising.
One thing Joe found really frustrating about his old Apple Watch is that when he forget to tell it he was exercising, it often did not seem to know. (Cue lots of cursing …) Not so with the Fitbit Inspire. When his Apple watch died young and Apple refused to fix it under warranty (one day too late), Joe moved on to Garmin and Fitbit, and more recently, Samsung.
The Fitbit Inspire Fitness Tracker Helps with Sleep
As with all Fitbits, you can track your sleep, and be gently awoken with a silent, vibrating alarm. Sleep is a badly underrated but very important aspect of health. If you’re planning to improve your health, the foundation has to be getting enough sleep. The Fitbit Inspire Fitness Tracker can help with that!
It’s also easy to keep your Fitbit Inspire Fitness Tracker looking good, as there are a range of different bands available for it. And you can keep it on in the shower!
Related Top Content: All Garmin Edge Bike Computers Compared in One Handy Chart!
7th Best Smart Watch and Fitness Tracker: Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch
I suspect this is Joe’s personal top favorite. He reviewed a Fitbit Blaze for weeks, and was really sad when he had to send it back. It’s the no. 1 best seller in Men’s Smartwatches. We have a full review of the Fitbit Blaze here. It’s comfortable, it looks great, and it does everything you could want a fitness tracker to do.
It offers simplified heart rate zones to easily check exercise intensity during workouts with PurePulse, and continuous, wrist-based heart rate monitoring (no uncomfortable chest strap required). It can track multiple sports, including running, cardio, cycling, and more. It piggy backs on your phone to use GPS to map your routes, and provide stats such as pace and duration.
The Blaze also has a neat feature: you can pop the watch easily in and out of its strap, which means that you can buy different straps for it and achieve different looks – much like an Apple watch.
All of these fitness trackers offer excellent value for money, and offer excellent ways to track your bike rides and other crucial fitness stats.
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