Which fitness wearable is right for me? buyers guide 2017

With the ever-increasing choice of fitness tracker’s and fitness watches from companies like Garmin, Fitbit, Suunto, Polar and then Apple and Samsung. I get lots of people ask me questions both via the Active JR YouTube channel, this website or in person which fitness tracker or fitness watch should I buy and my immediate response is always

  • What do you want it for?
  • What do you want it todo?

Fitness watch and trackers

The reason I ask these 2 questions is that whilst the fitness wearable market has lots of choice with budget trackers, midrange wearables and high-end fitness smartwatches you need to avoid the trap of thinking just because a friend or family member has a fitness watch and rates it, then it does not mean its right for you. Each person is different and has different needs and asks.

So when reading buyers guides for fitness watches or trackers take into account if someone is giving a view, this is a personal view on a watch and then look at your circumstances before deciding on the right fitness watch or tracker for you.

So in my view, I believe the fitness wearable user/buyer is split into 4 categories

Casual fitness tracker user

This user does not care about smartwatch features and happy to just get notifications. This wearable user wants to track basic things like steps, calories, distance travelled and will occasionally want to track activities. In all fairness, this wearable user is a fitness tracker buyer and will not be a fitness smartwatch user but wants to enter the market with a fitness band.

Must read review: Garmin Vivosmart 3 review

If this sounds like you then I would recommend having a look at the following

Smartwatch first, fitness 2nd

This type of user wants solid smartwatch features but also wants the fitness aspect. This person wants to be able to get the latest apps and services including social media. Whilst this person wants a high-end smartwatch the fitness side is equally important, but they just want it to work when it comes to fitness and don’t need all the data screens and sensors to connect.

Must read review: Tag Heuer Connected review

If this sounds like you then I would recommend having a look at the following

  • Apple Watch – This is the best smartwatch in the market at the moment with good fitness features
  • Samsung Gear 3 – Solid smartwatch from Samsung based on Android Wear
  • Tag Heuer Connected – If money is no object then the Tag Heuer connected is a great choice


This type of fitness wearable buyer has either had a smartwatch that does not put fitness features first, or this is their first wearable. This type of wearable user is looking for a good mix of smartwatch features and fitness tracking, with both being equally important. This type of user wants to be able to download apps but wants more control over the data they see during workout and have some control over exporting and analysing data without it getting complicated

Must read review: Garmin Vivoactive 3

If this sounds like you then I would recommend having a look at the following

  • Fitbit Ionic – The latest fitness wearable from Fitbit which offers a good mix of smartwatch and fitness features
  • Garmin Vivoactive 3 – Whilst it’s not a smartwatch 100%, it does have good features with great sports tracking
  • Fitbit Charge 2 – Whilst not a smartwatch hybrid it does offer some great features
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Fitness First

Now, this user is someone that wants fitness features to be a priority with a 2nd thought on smartwatch features. This fitness wearable user does not have to be an athlete, but someone that takes there fitness seriously and wants to be able to customise data they see on the screen during a workout and then have lots of control over the data post workout. This person wants to connect sensors like heart rate, foot pods, power meters and more. This person may want to be able to download third-party apps for fitness also to further enhance the experience with the wearable.

Must read review: Garmin Fenix 5x review

If this sounds like you then I would recommend having a look at the following

  • Garmin Fenix 5 series – This is Garmin’s high-end fitness watch range
  • Suunto Spartan series – This is Suunto’s high-end fitness watch range

Whilst I have categorised the users I feel make up the fitness wearable market today, you have also got to take into account the types of activities you will be doing. So for example, if you are going to be doing open water swimming then a Fitbit Ionic is not going to work, but something like the Fenix 5 will. So when considering which fitness wearable to buy, make sure you know what you want out if it, what you will use it for and remember it can be a big investment so make sure you buy one that will grow with you to some degree.

I hope this helps and If you have a view or a fitness tracker I have missed then leave it below to help others in the comments

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Jon Ratcliffe
I have a huge passion for technology having worked in the sector for over 18 years in a variety of roles. I cover Wearables, tech and smart home. My reviews and information will talk about how the product works in reality and not just what the marketing departments want you to think.

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