by Matthias Neuner

December 27, 2016

The next Generation of Fitness Trackers

Fitness trackers have become popular way to stay motivated and monitor your activity. In fact, we’re at the point where many people have owned an activity tracker for a year or two and are now looking for a second one. Most manufacturers are on second or even third iterations of their popular trackers, adding more capability and slowly but surely bringing prices down. If you’re looking to buy a new activity tracker, it’s important to realize that your choices in 2016 are significantly different from your choices just a year ago. What’s new on the market, and what’s the best activity tracker for 2017? Let WT | Wearable Technologies help you figure out.

Fitbit Charge 2

Fitbit’s 2-year-old Charge HR has been in dire need of an upgrade, and thankfully, the company has finally refreshed its lineup. The new Charge 2 boasts better exercise tracking, more informative stats, GPS capability and a larger screen for the same price as its predecessor. For 150 $ the Fitbit Charge 2 brings some brillliant updates to the popular Charge HR. It can now track your distance by tapping your phone’s GPS for more accurate pace info and will automatically detect that you’re working out after 15 minutes. It also has new modes to analyze activities such as weights and interval training, as well as biking and running. It automatically tracks how long and how well you sleep and wake with a silent vibrating alarm Get a better understanding of your fitness level and see how you can improve over time with a personalized Cardio Fitness Score. Plus, its bigger screen means you can see more stats at a glance.

Polar M600

When you turn on the M600, it looks just like the A360 – complete with the funky activity goal progress widget and a push of the button under the screen fires up Polar Flow. Activity tracking on the M600 includes steps, distance, active time, burnt calories and automatic sleep. Your M600 syncs directly to it and not only will your smartphone be able to display all your stats, but all that data is synced in the cloud so you can dig deeper using the Polar Flow desktop client or the browser based version. When doing sports you get an array of screens to swipe through – with loads of detail on offer on pace, distance, time and heart rate zones. A major plus for anyone wanting super accurate heart rate monitoring is that you can pair the M600 with a third-party chest strap. A final nice touch is that, when locking on to GPS and a heart rate before a run, the green icon for the bpm reading will turn blue if a chest strap’s reading is being used instead of the optical one’s.

Fitbit Flex 2

Fitbit Flex 2 is the first swim-friendly fitness tracker from the company and we can almost hear the collective sigh of relief that we can finally have the waterproof tracker we’ve been waiting for. The Flex 2 is as simple as you can get. It’s capable of tracking steps, calories burned, active minutes, hourly activity and sleep, all of which can be auto-detected with the SmartTrack feature. Currently, the exercises that can be auto-tracked include walking, running, outdoor bike rides on pavement, elliptical, aerobic workouts and sports like tennis, basketball and soccer. One thing the Flex 2 really does have in its favour is its swim tracking capabilities. It can be worn up to 50m. Swimming can be auto-tracked with duration and laps of four strokes monitored: freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly. What you do get is an overview of your calories burned in a chart, the amount of time you’ve swam, distance, pace and impact on your day.

Samsung Gear 3

Samsung Gear S3 boasts a 1.3-inch screen with a 46mm body using its predecessor’s 360 x 360 super AMOLED always-on screen. It’s also packed with sensors, GPS, altimeter, barometer and speedometer added to an optical heart rate sensor for beefed up sport creds. Next to skiing and snowboarding you can go for a run, a round of golf, or go exploring on your bike. Gear S3 has a built-in GPS that gives you the freedom to explore and to stay on track even without your phone. GPS and a barometric altimeter are big additions to the mix here: with this on board you’ll be able to take these watches out for a run, learn how high you’ve gone, track your distance and listen to music too. If you’re using the Frontier, you’ll even be able to get phone calls without needing to staple your phone to your arm or stomach. And finally: let’s not forget that these watches are IP68 water- and dust-resistant rated, which means they can thrive under one meter of water for 30 minutes.

Adidas Chameleon

Adidas looks set to take on Fitbit and the activity tracking gang with a new smartband of its own. Details of the Adidas Chameleon “fashion fitness tracker” have been already shared with the new connected band set to launch in 2017. The Adidas Chameleon will come with a low power e-paper display and will sync up with a new Adidas All Day app that will track activity, health and sleep metrics. Adidas might be getting out of the GPS running watch race, but the sports giant is not giving up on wearables altogether it seems. There’s no information about the features and specifications of this Adidas wearable device at this point in time and it’s also unclear what sort of functionality the companion app is going to provide. What many would be most interested in finding out is whether Chameleon features a heart rate sensor, integrated GPS, and additional sports-focused features. None of that is known for sure right now.

These next generation fitness trackers by Fitbit, Samsung and Polar are the best choice for the year 2017 till now. We don´t know which new innovations will come up the next years. So let´s see what happens.