As a runner and cyclist, I went down the Garmin rabbit hole and now use the obscenely expensive Garmin Fenix 6. Recently I reviewed the Huawei Watch GT, and I am currently reviewing the Honor Band 5, which sits at the opposite end of the spectrum at just £30.
This made me wonder what are the best options for someone
wanting basic fitness tracking at an affordable price.
Like many, I started off with Fitbit, and it was a good introduction
to fitness tracking, as I got into running, I eventually moved to a GPS enabled
device for accurate tracking. While Fitbit dominated the step tracking market
scene for years, dozens of new products have launched at more attractive prices,
and in the past few years, they have started to struggle.
Letsfit Fitness ID115U or Letscom – £15 – 20.00
- Does not have heart rate monitor slim and stylish design with interchangeable bands (sold separately); it’s not only a fitness tracker with high performance but a great complement to your fashion look
- Accurately records your all-day activities like Steps, Distance, calories burned, and active minutes; view your fitness data on the tracker screen
- A great sleep starts a productive day; It trackers your sleep duration and consistency automatically with comprehensive analysis of sleep quality data so you can get a better routine
- Get call and message notifications on the tracker with Caller ID and message contents displayed on screen, keeping you in touch
- Wearing The tracker running in rains, washing hands will not damage the tracker, but Do Not wear it To shower, swim or dive
I have reviewed the Letsfit Fitness ID115U, and there are several other options around this price point. They are about as cheap as you can get, but they do work quite well and are very much like the older versions of Fitbit charge.
Honor Band 5 – £29.90
- [Intelligent Assistant]: Incoming call notification, band rejection, SMS, email, SNS notifications, vibration alarm, smart alarm, timer.
- [Heart Rate Detection]: 24 hours real-time heart rate monitoring; Night infrared heart rate monitoring; Heart rate warnings; HUAWEI TruSeen 3.0 heart rate technology; a new generation of Huawei 2012 Lab dynamic heart rate algorithm, dozens of algorithms to optimize the training scene, more accurate measurements.
- [Huawei TruSleep Tracking]: Automatic record of REM times, stable sleep, unstable sleep and wake. Use HUAWEI TruSleep monitoring technology to analyze sleep quality, sleep monitoring is over 95% accurate. By combining AI technology from Huawei, six categories of sleep problems, it offers over 200 tips to improve
- [Swim tracker]: Can automatically detect swimming tracking, swim speed, distance, calories and measure middle swolf. Water resistant to 50m when washing hands, swimming or rain.
- Multi-sport: Multi-sport mode, better training experience: real-time tracking of heart rate/heart rate area on the band, heart rate alerts reduce the risk of exercise, running time/distance/speed/running. Support connected GPS devices, distance and more accurate data.
Depending on your requirements, I think the Honor is the
best affordable option on this list. £30 is just insane value for money for what
you are getting, the price is well worth the extra compared to Letsfit.
This has an AMOLED touchscreen display which is easy to use
and provides useful phone notifications including the contents of text
messages. Step and sleep tracking are accurate, while it doesn’t have GPS natively
it can use assisted GPS from your phone to track a run. Following a recent
update it will even monitor your blood oxygen levels.
Xiaomi Mi Band 4 – £30.99
- Upgrade 0.95″ Color Screen: Bigger screen displays a comprehensive and obvious activity information; Simply lift your wrist to view directly the time and tap the button for steps, heart rate and other activity information; Also it can not only remind you via vibrating when your phone receives calls, messages or other notifications such as from Facebook, Twitter, or WeChat, but also displays details on the screen directly, such as readable content of massage and name or ID of the caller etc
- Upgrade 135mAh Battery Capacity: With built in 135mAh Lithium ion polymer battery, long battery life, charge it once, the battery will last for over 20 days under normal use; With a skin-friendly strap made from soft thermoplastic elastomer, and a secure locking mechanism that makes the Mi Band 4 comfortable to wear during low and high intensity activities
- Bluetooth 5.0: Download “Mi Fit”, Connect via Bluetooth (Android 4.4/iOS 9.0 phones or later) to see notifications from app messages (WhatsApp, Facebook, etc.), incoming calls, caller ID, SMS and activity goals; Note: Currently only support Chinese and English, Before the device is paired with your phone, its default language is Chinese; If your phone language is English, then the device shows phone language regardless where you are
- 50 Meters Swimming Waterproof Smart Band: 50M Waterproof Rating, Xiaomi Mi Band 4 can work well 50m under water, which can fulfill all your daily routines, whether you are surfing, swimming or running in the rain; 5ATM (Swim or Shower in not-hot water), showing swimming time, speed, distance, calories and other data
- Heart Rate Monitor and Sleep Monitor: This fitness tracker can track your heart rate 24 hours automatically and continuously. You can check the dynamic curve chart of your heart rate throughout the day on the App by analysing the data thoroughly such as sleep time, sleep depth and sleep awakening, driving to improve sleep quality
I have not used the Mi Band 4, but functionally, from what I
can tell, it is almost identical to the Honor Band 5. The app will be different,
and some people may prefer how Xiaomi do
things, but the Huawei Health app has marginally better reviews on the play
store. The Mi Band does not track blood oxygen levels from what I can tell.
Amazfit Bip Smartwatch – £63
- Look as Good as You Feel: With a range of colors and options, the Bip is designed to be worn as an extension of your personal style. Weighing only 1.1oz (32g), and with a bright, transflective always-on 1.28″ display, the Bip can be worn all day.
- Go the Distance: Use the Amazfit Bip for up to 30 days on a single 2.5-hour charge.
- Don’t Miss a Beat: Optical heart rate monitoring and built-in GPS allow you to accurately track in real-time your steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, and quality of sleep. Special sport modes (running, treadmill, cycling and walking) give you even more detailed insights into your most frequent activities.
- Be in the Know: The perfect companion to keep you organized and productive all day long. Receive one-way notifications for emails, SMS messages, and incoming phone calls (prompting you to take action on your smartphone), as well as alerts for Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Snap, Slack, weather forecasts, and other mobile apps
- SatisfactionBuy with confidence. Amazfit offers a 30-day policy, and 12-month new
This is the cheapest GPS enabled watch on the list and well
worth considering for anyone that wants to track activities outside. It has a
rated battery life of 45 days which is longer than any other device on the list.
Unfortunately, it only supports four sports profiles, and if you want to export
your data to any third party service, such as Strava, it is extremely difficult.
Fitbit Inspire HR – £88 (Prices have been as low as £69.99)
- All-Day Activity Tracking
- Sleep Tracking
- Automatic Exercise Recognition
- Reminders to Move
- Calorie Burn Tracking
While Fitbit doesn’t offer the best value for money, it is
not always the cheapest that is the best. Fitbit still has a large user base, and
their step count tables and challenges have always been one of the selling
points of the Fitbit ecosystem. While a lot of people will buy a tracker and
then barely use it, many users, including me, would always try and hit their
daily goals or try to walk further to get to the top of the league tables/challenges.
Garmin Forerunner 35 – £99.99
- Lightweight and easy-to-use running watch with high-resolution display and built-in GPS that tracks how far, how fast and where you run
- Tracks heart rate at the wrist day or night, to provide more accurate calories burned information
- Connected features include smart notifications, music control, automatic uploads to Garmin Connect and the ability to track your runs with LiveTrack software
- All-day activity tracking counts steps and intensity minutes and reminds you when to move. Compatibility – Android: 4.4 OS or Later & Bluetooth 4.0 or Later. Apple: iOS 9.0 or Later. Display Size: 23.5 x 23.4 mm
- Meet your fitness goals with activity profiles, run/walk mode, intervals and vibration alerts to keep you motivated
The Amazfit Bip is a cheaper GPS enabled device, but getting
your data to Strava or other apps is hard, Garmin will happily sync to Strava,
and they make it easy to download your GPX/Fit file for import into other services.
Garmin are the leader in sports tracking devices, they have
a large user base, and you can have friends list with various challenge options.
The whole Garmin connect service is well designed and makes fitness and health
tracking much easier.
The newer Forerunner 45 is out now, but you will have to pay
a premium for that.
My recommendations, depending on your budget and requirements,
would be the Honor Band 5 for basic tracking at an incredibly low cost, or the
Garmin Forerunner 35 for anyone that want to accurately track outdoor activities.