Not too long ago, activity trackers started off as chunky and unattractive devices aimed at fitness freaks and techno-buffs. Thankfully, those days are behind us and the tech community has grasped the importance of designing products that are both functional and attractive.
Essential reading: Wearables that keep you safe
This article is a summary of our favourite activity trackers designed with female fitness enthusiasts in mind. Our criteria is based on a combination of visual appeal, smaller sizes and functionality. These are wearables that are designed to keep track of activity and sleep so should not be confused with safety wearables, i.e. devices which make it easy to call for help in case of emergency.
Fitbit Versa is smaller and better looking than the Ionic, which should appeal to the female demographic. The water-resistant gizmo comes with a high-quality 1,000 nit display and Fitbit says its the lightest metal smartwatch sold in the US.
When it comes to 24/7 activity monitoring the device ticks most boxes. The full list of sensors is pretty comprehensive and includes: a 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, Optical heart rate monitor, Altimeter, Ambient light sensor, Vibration motor, Wi-Fi antenna (802.11 b/g/n) and NFC. You also get Fitbit’s new female health tracking feature, along with on-board storage for music and NFC payments (selected models). There is no built-in GPS though, only connected GPS.
With a battery life of 5 days, this is a stylish device which represents a great compromise between a fully fledged smartwatch and fitness tracker.
Vivoactive 3 is the successor to the Vivoactive HR, a Swiss knife of activity trackers. Garmin has realised that it needs to introduce a less bulky form factor if it is to appeal to a larger demographic. And on that count, the next iteration in the Vivoactive series does not dissapoint. It now has a classy new unisex design.
Apart from the aesthetics, built-in GPS and tracking everything under the sun, the main news here is the inclusion of Garmin Pay, a first for the company. Which means Garmin customers can finally pay for purchases with their timepiece. The new functionality is enabled by FitPay and supports Visa and Mastercard debit and credit cards from major issuing banks.
There are 15 built-in sports profiles, including new ones for snowboarding, cardio, yoga, eliptical and stair stepper. Vivoactive 3 will also let you mix it up by creating customized workouts. Other new features include VO2Max and stress/workout tracking.
Founded in 2014, Bellabeat is a wellness-oriented outfit dedicated to creating attractive connected wearables for women. This smart piece of jewellery is designed to track your health. Wear it as a necklace or bracelet with accessories or items you already own – or clip it to any clothing item as a stylish accent.
The tracker learns about you and provides insights and improvements to your daily routine to help you feel your best. The wearable tracks your breathing, sleep, activity and monthly cycles through the smartphone app. If you are feeling stressed, you can follow one of its breathing routines to try and calm yourself down. Its advanced technology is hidden inside the wood housing, giving it a soft natural appeal.
Right now there are two versions to choose from, Leaf and Urban (although Leaf Chakra should be released soon). Slightly smaller in design, Urban has advanced features to help you deal with stress. The feature analyzes different lifestyle habits to help you not only manage this silent killer, but also prevent it by determining the triggers that cause it.
No need to worry about charging. The tracker is powered by a replaceable battery that lasts up to 6 months. There is also 14 days worth of built-in memory, so you only need to sync it every couple of weeks.
This wearable takes much of what was great about the Activite range and upgrades it with new features including a heart rate monitor and a digital display for smartphone notifications.
There are no buttons to push. Steel HR automatically tracks everything and syncs the info to your app to give you metrics, personal coaching and more. The main novelty for an analogue type device is the addition of heart rate monitoring.
Real-time heart rate info is displayed on the watch during your exercise, and more detailed info including time spent in heart rate zones can be seen in the app. The watch also tracks resting heart rate, one of the most important metrics to assess overall health over time.
This is a watch that is designed to look and feel normal, and it works in pretty much every situation. You can wear it not only during business hours, but also for a formal event, as well as light hiking or other sporting events.
Vivosport is another feature packed device that comes from Garmin. But this one comes in its most slimmest form-factor yet.
This device can be seen as an upgraded version of the company’s popular Vivosmart 3 and Vivosmart HR+ trackers. In a sense, Garmin has taken the best from these two and come up with an entirely new fitness band. This is also Garmin’s first wristband with a color screen.
Measuring 21mm in width, 10.9mm in thickness and weighing only 27 grams, you’ll hardly notice you are wearing it. It feels great on your wrist, fitting very snuggly.
Despite the slim form-factor, Vivosport has some pretty impressive specs under the hood. You’ll get everything you need for 24/7 activity tracking, including detailed info on steps, calories, distance, heart rate, activity, floors and sleep. The built in GPS makes for more precise distance, time and pace tracking, along with route mapping for your runs. It will track your swims in the pool, too.
In additional to all the usual fitness tracking smarts, the novelty of Vivosmart 4 is that it comes with a blood oxygen sensor and it will keep tabs on your body’s energy reserves.
The oxygen saturation feature measures your oxygen levels at night, allowing you to better understand your sleep quality. You can also check your oxygen levels on demand during the day.
The other interesting feature is what Garmin calls Body Battery energy monitoring. This uses a combination of stress, heart rate variability (HRV), sleep and activity data to let you know when to push hard, when to rest.
The other features are fairly standard include the usual step, distance, calories, floors, heart rate and advanced sleep tracking. The wearable will also keep tabs on stress, VO2 Max, reps and sets in the gym. No built-in GPS, though.
Charge 3 is a new and improved version of Fitbit’s best selling Charge 2 fitness tracker. It comes with a much bigger and better OLED display which is fully responsive to touch.
Waterproofing is another important upgrade. Charge 3 has a water-resistance rating of 5 ATM which means you can dunk it down to depths of 50 metres. It will track your swim sessions, too.
Battery life is an excellent 7 days on a single charge. This beats its predecessor by 2 days, allowing it to go 40% longer.
All in all, this is a sleek looking device which comes with everything an average person needs to keep tabs on their activity 24/7. It will even link to the GPS on your smartphone to provide more precise data on pace and distance when you’re running while recording a map of your route in the app. No built-in GPS though.
Last but certainly not least are the smart features. Charge 3 comes with call, calendar, text and smartphone app notifications. There is a host of Fitbit and third-party apps, too. For an additional $20, you can slap on Fitbit Pay to the host of features.
Alta HR is one of the best-looking fitness tracker Fitbit has released so far. The wearable is particularly popular with women and the high-fashion crowd. Just strap it on, without worrying about pressing buttons or logging any activity. Automatic activity tracking is a huge plus.
The device has swappable bands and can track steps, distance, calories and sleep. And just like its predecessor, it displays notifications for incoming calls, text messages and calendar alerts.
With this new tracker, Fitbit has shown that it is possible to bring its Pure Pulse technology to a device this small. The Alta HR will monitor your ticker 24/7 and allow you to better measure your calorie burn, exercise smarter and keep better tabs on your overall health.
This is an activity tracker made from aircraft-grade anodized aluminium that for the first time moves away from the circular shape that Misfit is well known for. Rather than many LEDs, there is only one which displays different colours to alert you to text, call and other notifications from your phone.
The device offers pretty much the same functionality that can be found in Misfit’s other devices. It allows you to monitor sleep duration and quality; see steps taken and distance travelled; tag specific activities such as cycling or yoga; track calories burned; take selfies and control lights and music; and get vibration alerts for calls, texts and alarms. It also features movement reminders.
Misfit Ray runs on replaceable button cell batteries that run up to 6 months – so one less device to recharge in the evening. It is water resistant up to 50 metres.
Apple Watch Series 4
The Series 4 Watch delivers solid improvements over its predecessor. Apple says the screen real estate is larger by 30% on both the 40mm and 44mm version. Other hardware improvements include a revamped digital crown, 50% louder speakers, and a back that is made of black ceramic and sapphire crystal for better cellular reception.
In terms of fitness, the device features a next generation accelerometer and gyroscope which can sample motion data 8 times faster. In addition to dishing out more accurate fitness tracking stats, this allows the watch to identify and send out alerts if you fall or trip.
The previous generation introduced a number of heart rate sensing functions such as high heart rate alerts. This has been expanded now to detect low heart rates. Series 4 also intermittently analyzes heart rhythms and sends alerts for atrial fibrillation.
The most exciting of all is the new FDA-approved ECG sensor. This provides a full report that lets you know if your heart rhythm is normal or there are issues.
As a fully featured smartwatch, there are few wearables on the market today that can rival Apple. With each iteration, the device is getting better at tracking your fitness, too.
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