The fitness industry is notorious for fads with a short shelf life. Whether it’s a new exercise regime championed by a celebrity or the latest must-have superfood, trends sweep across the globe with ardent adoption, only to be swiftly discarded when the next evolution in the fitness cycle arrives.
The humble fitness tracker could conceivably have been another craze casualty. Its popularity in the early part of the last decade was unprecedented, with the magic number of 10,000 daily steps becoming a fervent obsession with large parts of the population. However, savvy tech companies were quick to expand the range of features beyond a simple electronic pedometer, extending the concept to encompass health and wellbeing features. Over the last four years the popularity of wearable technology has grown exponentially, but with so many options on the market, what’s the right device for you?
What it does: This stunning looking watch combines the classic look of an elegant timepiece with all the depth and functionality that you’d expect from a premium smartwatch. Available in both 41mm and 45mm, Galaxy Watch 3 features a touch AMOLED screen, a sleek rotating bezel for app navigation, and scratchproof Gorilla Glass for whatever workout you throw at it. The suite of health features is almost mind-boggling. Along with heartbeat monitoring, the Watch 3 tracks stress, heart health, blood oxygen levels and reviews sleep performance. For runners, real-time advanced data provides analysis on foot contact time, asymmetry, flight time, and helps reduce injury. The smartwatch can track 40 different types of exercise and, for the ultimate training regime, 120 videos can be accessed through the Samsung Health app on a Galaxy smartphone. Own a Samsung smart TV? Throw the Galaxy Buds Live into your ears and stream the workout through the DeX app directly onto the big screen – a good example of deeper integration within the Samsung ecosystem. With the LTE version, you can leave your phone at home and stream music, answer notifications and make calls.
Is it for me? If you want a fantastic looking smartwatch packed full of health and fitness tracking features, you’ve found it. Compatible with iOS and Android.
What it does: The all-new 2020 Fitbit line-up begins with the Inspire 2. It may be entry level, but it’s not short on features, with step count, calorie burn, sleep and heart rate monitoring included. The 24/7 heart rate feature doesn’t just track your exercises, it’s constantly monitoring to provide accurate resting heart rate, sleep stage assessment, and a more detailed estimate of calories burned over time.
Is it for me? An excellent entry point to fitness trackers and beyond, with a free one-year Fitbit Premium trial, offering exercises and guidance to get the best from your Inspire 2. Compatible with iOS and Android.
What it does: The smallest size (42mm) in the Fenix 6 series of Garmin’s range, the 6S Pro Solar is equipped with everything the Instinct has – including the solar charge function for extending battery life – and a whole lot more. A robust smartwatch, the layers of features and functions are incomparable, offering data collection and analysis across almost every conceivable activity. The build quality is top shelf, while the colour face display can be customised to suit all tastes and information requirements. So, if you need glasses to read, simply choose a face with a larger font. Music lovers can squeeze 2,000 songs onto the 6S; connect a pair of Bluetooth headphones or earbuds and leave your phone at home. Garmin Pay allows flexibility with contactless payment, and another neat touch is the built-in Fall Alert that sends a message to three emergency contacts if the smartwatch senses a tumble. The unprecedented number of pre-set maps in the watch even includes 41,000 golf courses and 2,000 ski runs!
Is it for me? This is the watch you want if you’re into extreme adventures. Comfortable, dependable, versatile and easy to use, the full scope of features and sport tracking options puts the phenomenal Fenix 6S Pro Solar in a class of its own. Compatible with iOS and Android.
What it does: This is the entry-level Garmin Instinct Solar smartwatch, but that doesn’t mean that it skimps on features. A long battery life is augmented with a clever photovoltaic layer on the watch face that collects the sun and tops up the battery for adventurers permanently on the go. This rugged military-grade watch features Corning Gorilla scratchproof glass and is water-resistant to 100m, and multi-Global Navigation Satellite Support means that you’ll never get lost. Packed with sports tracking features and functions to monitor exercise steps and calories burned, it also has a blood oxygen sensor and a Body Battery mode that assesses the energy levels of your body – a low reading will have you thinking twice about that 10km run in the evening.
Is it for me? The Garmin Instinct Solar has wide appeal and is suited for hardcore trekkers, athletes and casual users looking for a tough, reliable smartwatch to track their every step. Compatible with iOS and Android.
What it does: Like the Fitbit Inspire 2 and Charge 4, the Versa 3 is also a 2020 release. Upgrading from Versa 2, built-in features include Google Assistant, Alexa and GPS. If your smartphone is nearby, you can also take Bluetooth calls from the wrist (coming late in 2020).
Is it for me? The built-in GPS is a good choice if you want a wearable for outdoor workouts. You can easily access information via the always-on display, and then check out the full breakdown of your activities on the in-app map when you return home. Plus, the GPS adds functionality to apps you can download, like Uber. Compatible with iOS and Android.
What it does: Moving up from the Inspire 2, you get Fitbit’s inaugural tracker with built-in GPS. Simply unlock the in-app Workout Intensity Map, which plots your exercise route while overlaying your heart rate and pace, for granular insight on your workout. There’s also tracking of floors climbed and, when tethered to a smartphone, you can access music streaming via the Charge 4. It also delivers up to seven days of battery life.
Is it for me? If you’re thinking about getting outdoors to get fit, the addition of a GPS in the Charge 4 lets you track your progress and improve on your favourite exercise routines. It also has Fitbit pay. Compatible with iOS and Android.
What it does: The extremely comfortable Withings Steel HR Sport hybrid offers a point of difference by combining the look of a classic watch design with the functionality of a smartwatch. Heart rate, calorie counting, excellent sleep tracking and a plethora of recordable exercise events are accessed through a single button. It also includes GPS tracking, and will display all of your smart notifications via a gentle buzz to the wrist. The Steel HR Sport is reliable, easy to navigate and features an exceptionally long battery life.
Is it for me? Not everyone interested in keeping abreast of their health and fitness wants something that looks like a Star Trek communicator strapped to their wrist, and that’s where the Steel HR Sport comes in. A quality build with an accurate tracker, this is a smartwatch that wouldn’t look out of place in a gym, on a dinner date, or in the boardroom. Compatible with iOS and Android.
What it does: Sense is the eagerly awaited new model from Fitbit, and it’s the company’s most advanced offering to date. You get all the features of the Versa 3, and also tools to measure heart health, stress management, skin temperature and more. Stress monitoring is via a world first EDA sensor on a watch, the high precision of which is able to pinpoint your electrodermal activity on a spectrum. Monitoring over time can help you develop habits to reduce stress levels. To get your measurement, place your palm across the watch face while taking regular breaths, then log your mood level correlating to the EDA scan for a better understanding of your personal results. The improved PurePulse 2.0 heart tracking is used for the high/low heart rate notifications feature, so you’re aware of approaching your threshold.
Is it for me? An advanced watch that not only tracks the standard fitness markers but brings a holistic approach to wellbeing. It comes with a free six-month subscription to Fitbit Premium, offering personalised insights and mindfulness practises to make the most out of the Fitbit Sense. A watch to consider if you want to achieve your best in both body and mind. Compatible with iOS and Android.