What’s the best budget fitness tracker to buy in 2022? If you really don’t want to spend big on something to track your daily step counts or take to bed to make sure you get close to that magic eight hours of sleep, the good news is that you have plenty of strong options to choose from.
Cheap doesn’t mean bad, either, and while you might miss out on some of the cutting-edge features that appear on pricier trackers, these budget fitness trackers will provide what you need to keep active and pay closer attention to your health.
We’ve tested a lot of cheap fitness trackers and while some undoubtedly do miss the mark, there are more than enough good ones to choose from. Our choice below offers a good mix of design and features and deliver a level of accuracy that makes them worthy of a place on your wrist.
This is true of anything you’re going to slap around your wrist but, when you’re probably planning to keep this tracker on most of the time, you want something that’s going to be a good fit for all scenarios.
Definitely pay attention to the materials used in all elements of the design, particularly the strap. Ideally, you want something made from hypoallergenic materials that will minimise the chances of it causing discomfort or irritation when sitting against the skin for long periods.
And it’s always useful to know whether the straps are interchangeable. Most fitness tracker makers will make a big deal about this element of design, but it means if you have any sort of issues with the strap or it breaks, you know you can grab another one to put in its place.
Another element is waterproofing or water resistance. If you’re looking for something you can keep on in the shower or the pool, you’ll want a tracker that carries a 5ATM or IP67/IP68 rating, which should make it safe to do that. A 5ATM rating (water resistant to 50m for ten minutes) makes it well suited for submerging in shallow water and pool and ocean swimming.
If you want the best fitness tracking experience, there are some key sensors you want to see on the specs list to make sure you get the data that’s most useful. You should find a three-axis accelerometer to track motion and those all-important step counts; that’s the sensor that enables automatic sleep monitoring as well.
A heart-rate sensor will give you the ability to monitor your heart rate throughout the day and night and will also track your heart during exercise to measure effort levels.
Some trackers also offer built-in GPS, and this allows it to plot your route on a map and track your speed and distance accurately. Not all have GPS chips but they may be able to achieve the same effect by using a technique called “connected GPS”, effectively piggybacking off the GPS sensor in your phone. You will, however, have to take your phone out with you on workouts.
Other less common sensors, include barometric altimeters, which count the number of flights of stairs you’ve climbed, and blood oxygen (SpO2) level sensors.
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Outside the tracking staples, there are other features your budget fitness tracker can offer up that you might find desirable.
Most will let you view notifications from your phone when it’s paired or in close proximity. While you’re unlikely to find built-in music players, many will let you take control of music playing on your phone, allowing you to do basic things like play, pause and skip tracks. If you want a choice watch faces, then some trackers offer more than others preloaded and available in an additional store on their companion phone apps.
The good news is that most good budget fitness trackers are well equipped to last a week before needing to be charged, and potentially even longer if you’re willing to sacrifice features such as continuous heart-rate monitoring or animated watch faces.
One thing to think about before you buy, however, is the type of screen, which can also play its part in how long the battery lasts. A tracker that has a simple reflective LCD display will typically have much longer battery life, for instance, than one with a full-colour AMOLED screen.
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Price: £39 | Buy now from Amazon
If you don’t want to spend big and want a good mix of fitness, wellness, sports and smartwatch features in a band, the Xiaomi Mi Band 6 is the one you want on your wrist. It isn’t the prettiest or the most exciting but you do get a bright, AMOLED touchscreen display and a strap that, while pretty basic, is comfortable to wear 24/7.
Xiaomi piles in the sensors to count steps and monitor sleep and heart rate, and includes connected GPS support to track outdoor workouts with your phone. It lacks an altimeter, which means it won’t track when you’re climbing up flights of stairs. There are sports modes aplenty though, and, while the connected GPS support is a bit clunky, indoor tracking for activities such as rowing is pretty reliable, while heart-rate accuracy during exercise is solid.
It can display notifications from and control music on your phone. Xiaomi offers some slick watch faces to liven up that otherwise ordinary look. Battery life is decent at up to a promised 14 days, although if you put all the features to use, it’s half that. If you’re not fussed about looks, the Mi Band 6 is a feature-packed budget tracker with a lot to like.
Read our full Xiaomi Band 6 review for more details
Key specs – Screen type: AMOLED; Battery life: 14 days; Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Connected; Heart rate: Yes; Altimeter: No
Price: £39 | Buy now from Amazon
It’s taken a while for Samsung to nail the cheap fitness tracker genre, but it’s finally on the right track with the Galaxy Fit 2. It might look simple but the strap feels super comfortable to wear and its AMOLED screen is one of the best you’ll find on a fitness tracker.
When it comes to tracking, it delivers the staples such as tracking steps, sleep and heart rate, although we found heart rate and sleep tracking did on occasion throw up some suspect data.
It has the sensors onboard to track indoor and outdoor workouts, but there’s neither onboard GPS nor connected GPS to use your phone’s tracking tech, which means you’re not getting very reliable pace or distance tracking.
Samsung does make room for some nice smartwatch features, however, including music controls and notifications alerts, and you can throw some lovely watch faces onto that AMOLED display.
A claimed battery life of up to 21 days (we found it typically lasted just short of two weeks) is good going and this, coupled with the style and comfort, make the Samsung Galaxy Fit 2 worth picking up.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Fit 2 review for more details
Key specs – Screen type: AMOLED; Battery life: 21 days; Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: No; Heart rate: Yes; Altimeter: No
Price: £45 | Buy now from Amazon
If you like the idea of a fitness tracker that gives you plenty of screen, then the Huawei Band 6 is going to be just your cup of tea. Front and centre is a big, bright and colourful 1.47in AMOLED touchscreen, which is partnered with a silicone strap that comes in a range of bright colours.
Away from that display-dominated design, the Band 6 can track steps, heart rate, blood oxygen, stress and sleep and, as a bonus, can also capture breathing quality throughout the night, all of which is clearly displayed on that large display. Huawei also finds room for almost 100 exercise modes, and you can track both indoor and outdoor workouts. The lack of onboard GPS means you’ll need your phone nearby to get the best accuracy, however.
That larger screen is ideal for viewing your notifications, weather forecasts and controlling music playing on your phone, while the promise of up to 14 days’ battery life gives the Band 6 some of the best longevity you’ll find attached to a budget tracker. Overall, it’s a great all-rounder.
Key specs – Screen type: AMOLED; Battery life: 14 days; Replaceable strap: No; GPS: No; Heart rate: Yes; Altimeter: No
Price: £89 | Buy now from John Lewis
The Fitbit Inspire 2 is the cheapest Fitbit you can buy and, while you don’t get the same breadth of features you’ll find on its pricier wearables, it still offers the core Fitbit experience.
It’s not the sleekest-looking band and the greyscale touchscreen display isn’t the finest in terms of outdoor visibility, but it’s light, comfortable to wear and you can keep it on when you jump in the shower.
It will count steps and monitor heart rate continuously in an accurate fashion. It has some of the most reliable sleep tracking out there, too, and it can track workouts indoors and outdoors using your phone’s GPS.
It offers up to ten days of battery life, which is the best battery any Fitbit tracker has to offer currently, and helps to make this an affordable Fitbit that does the basics very well.
Read our full Fitbit Inspire 2 review for more details
Key specs – Screen type: OLED; Battery life: 10 days; Replaceable strap: Yes; GPS: Connected; Heart rate: Yes; Altimeter: No
Buy now from John Lewis
Price: £79 | Buy now from Garmin
While the Vivosmart 4 isn’t the latest version of Garmin’s fitness tracker, it actually offers pretty much all of the same features as its successor in a much slimmer design. Plus, you can pick it up for significantly less than the newer Vivosmart 5.
What you get is a tracker that can deliver staples like count steps, heart rate and sleep and also manages to fit in blood oxygen sensors to offer another layer of wellness data. There’s also Garmin’s useful adaptive step counts and MoveIQ Bar to keep you up on your feet during the day.
This is the tracker that saw Garmin debut its Body Battery Energy monitor feature, which can help give you a better sense of whether you’re ready to tackle a tough day based on data like heart rate, activity tracking and sleep.
You can also track outdoor workouts by piggybacking off your phone’s GPS, although the slender OLED screen doesn’t give you much room to soak up that data on the move. It’s a similar story when you need to view your phone notifications or see when someone’s trying to call you.
Add in battery life that’s good for a week and if you’re not desperate for that bigger screen you get on the Vivosmart 5 and some small added software extras, grab the Vivosmart 4 for less and you’ll get a strong Garmin tracking experience.
Read our full Garmin Vivosmart 4 review for more details
>Key specs – Screen type: OLED; Battery life: Up to 7 days; Replaceable strap: No; GPS: Connected; Heart rate: Yes; Altimeter: Yes
Buy now from Garmin
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