When it comes to wearables, we’re not just talking about your gramp’s watch anymore.
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Wearable fitness trackers are the sleekest accessories on offer at the moment and for good reason. Strap them on while you eat, sleep, walk and repeat and they’ll seamlessly track your activities — from step counters to sleep quality — all while making a stylish statement.
Tech expert Steve Sammartino tells news.com.au that Apple and Samsung are the better brands to opt for.
“They have the advantage of seamlessly interacting with your other devices, so you get a better read,” he said.
Consider some of these recent models to find one that matches your budget as well as your style.
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Steve’s rating: 6/10
The Fitbit Charge 3 is most people’s go-to when shopping for a fitness wearable. Widely considered to be the most complete fitness tracker on the market, it’s one of the simplest to use and has proven accurate when measuring the wearer’s steps and heart rate. The most obvious downside? Price point.
“It’s expensive compared to other competitors that are not smart watches,” says Steve. “But it’s a lot like a smartwatch, so as a consumer I reckon you’re better off with a smartwatch!”
• Waterproof up to 50 metres (pool and ocean)
• Up to seven days battery life
• Light design
• Big screen
• Sleep monitoring (even naps)
• Can view smartphone notifications
• Responds to notifications (Android only)
• Fitbit Pay support (special edition only)
• Works with iOS and Android (Windows coming soon)
• Interchangeable straps
• Can auto-recognise certain activities if they are more than 10 minutes
• No GPS tracks your workout by tapping into the signal on your phone
• Not a colour screen
Steve’s rating: 7/10
The Garmin Vívosmart 4 offers fitness tracking in a small package. Its itsy-bitsy touch screen is still functional but can be a touch more difficult to use. Its slimmer, sleeker design is well suited to an avid gym-goer but not recommended for serious athletes. One of its key features — the Body Battery metric — does a solid job of estimating how much juice you have in the tank or whether you may need to rest.
Its also comes in two sizes: small/medium (designed to fit wrists with a circumference of 122-188mm) and a large option (for those with a wrist circumference of 148-215mm).
Steve recommends this one for more “casual users”.
• Slim design
• Rep counting for gym exercises
• Heart rate monitor
• Step tracking
• VO2 Max testing (great for those HIIT and Crossfit classes)
• iOS and Android support
• All day stress tracking (comes with an optional ‘Relax Reminder’)
• Body Battery metric (energy monitoring)
• Pulse Ox sensor (estimates blood oxygen saturation)
• Very small touchscreen
• No GPS
• Waterproof but touchscreen doesn’t work in water
• Fixed strap (can’t swap colours)
• Mileage tracker and accelerometer are not as accurate as competitors
Price: From $649
Steve’s rating: 8/10
The Apple Watch Series 5 is at the pricier end of smartwatches. While it doesn’t differ hugely from its previous generation — the Series 4 — there are a few key changes. The latest release has an always-on retina display (which can be disabled if you like), which means you see the time without having to move your wrist.
While Apple didn’t release the Series 5 with a native sleep tracking feature, an accidentally released screenshot for Apple Watch Alarms shows a sleep feature that perhaps hasn’t launched yet. It’s unclear whether that feature will be debuted or what effect it will have on the device’s already lesser battery life.
While it’s designed to be a smartwatch, it also includes basic fitness tracking capabilities making it a perfect choice for those who want an activity tracker that can also do other things.
“You don’t have to check your phone to read messages, you can check your watch — which is great for workers who may not be able to access their messages easily,” Steve explains.
You can even make calls from the watch itself! “I rate it as the best smartwatch on the market,” says Steve.
• Improved heart rate sensor tech
• Titanium case option (exclusive to Series 5)
• Mapping support (including a compass)
• Increased storage (32GB) for apps and music
• Water resistant (up to 50m)
• International emergency calling enabled
• Old bands work on the new model
• Apple warns certain bands can affect accuracy
• Shorter battery life than competitors (an average of 18 hours)
• Can only track sleep through third party app
• Only compatible with iOS devices
Steve’s Rating: 8/10
To most people, the Galaxy Watch Active looks like Samsung created an Apple Watch alternative for Android users at a cheaper price point. But the difference between them is obvious to users. Apple’s Smart Watch acts more like a “Swiss Army knife iPhone on your wrist”, explains Steve, whereas the Galaxy Watch Active is much more health focused.
It’s pretty much wasted if you treat it like a basic tracker. When you manually start a tracked exercise it records everything from pace, heart rate and distance to calories.
And when it comes to the gym, it matches your pace. “It’s very good at tracking small movements like arm curls in a gym,” says Steve. “Nothing is too inconsequential for it to measure.”
• Sleek yet subtle design (looks more like a watch)
• Interchangeable straps
• Very bright screen
• Built-in GPS
• Heart rate sensor
• Can store a small amount of music on it
• Includes NFC chip to allow for payments processing
• Supports most of the fitness apps like RunKeeper and Strava
• Missing Samsung’s trademark rotating bezel (without it, it can be difficult to navigate)
• Longer charging time
• Short battery life in comparison to others (two days average)
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