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Gone are the days of basic pedometers being the only option for cheap fitness trackers. These days, even budget-friendly trackers offer advanced training and data-gathering functionality to help you monitor and push toward your fitness and health goals. Most even offer a plethora of smartwatch features to keep you connected when you’re on the move. While these budget options won’t give you the same level of performance as expensive fitness watches, you don’t need to drop a fortune to get a capable device. The best cheap fitness trackers will provide plenty of insight to keep you motivated and moving. 

How we chose the best cheap fitness trackers

As a fitness enthusiast and frequent watch reviewer, I have used countless fitness trackers and smartwatches. When selecting the fitness trackers included in this guide, price was, of course, one of the most important factors. Beyond that, we considered sensors and tracking abilities, battery life, fit, and durability. Although cheap fitness trackers are inherently more basic than expensive fitness watches, we also looked at advanced features, such as sleep tracking, performance metrics, and more. We made our selections on a mix of hands-on experience, editorial reviews, and user feedback. 

The best cheap fitness trackers: Reviews & Recommendations

The best cheap fitness tracker for each person will vary, as your individual needs and goals will dictate which features are necessary. Despite their budget-friendly prices, the options below are highly capable and offer a range of capabilities and designs so that you can find the best device for your lifestyle.

Best overall: Garmin vívosmart 5




  • Built-in GPS: No
  • Heart rate monitor: Yes
  • Water resistance: 164 feet 
  • Battery life: 7 days
  • Display size: 0.41 x 0.73 inches
  • Weight: 0.86 ounces (small/medium), 0.93 ounces (large)


  • Free access to all your data
  • Available in two sizes
  • Lightweight, minimal design
  • Accurate heart rate and sleep tracking
  • Activity tracking for a range of activities


  • No built-in GPS

Garmin’s smartwatches are some of the best fitness watches available, though most come with steep price tags. The vívosmart 5 comes at a much lower price point with more beginner-friendly features. Plus, Garmin doesn’t charge extra to access all of your data and training assistance features, which is why it earns our top spot. 

Despite being a cheap fitness tracker, the vívosmart 5 still gets plenty of Garmin’s advanced technology and accurate data collection so that you can maximize your training without spending too much. The built-in heart rate monitor constantly monitors and can alert you if your rhythm is too high or low while at rest. And it helps you understand how hard you are working during an activity. It also features a pulse ox sensor to check your blood oxygen saturation, though you’ll have to do that during the day manually.

As is typical of cheap fitness trackers, this device doesn’t offer built-in GPS. Instead, it relies on connected GPS with your phone. It also offers limited sports apps for activity tracking compared to Garmin’s more expensive models. But it tracks your sleep, stress, and respiration, and you can log your fluid intake, providing a well-rounded picture of your health. And you can get notifications from your smartphone, which adds a lot of convenience. 

Best for sleep: Fitbit Inspire 3




  • Built-in GPS: No
  • Heart rate monitor: Yes
  • Water resistance: 164 feet
  • Battery life: 10 days
  • Display size: 1.5 x 0.7 x 0.5 inches
  • Weight: 3.5 ounces


  • Lightweight and slim
  • Long battery life
  • Bright AMOLED display
  • Provides helpful sleep insight


  • Requires a subscription for advanced insights and workout suggestions

While tracking your sleep may seem unnecessary, it can provide lots of insight and benefits to help you improve your health and fitness. The Fitbit Inspire 3 automatically tracks your sleep at night, providing information on how long you spent in light, deep, and REM sleep stages. It provides a Sleep Score at the night’s end so you can get the big picture. Plus, you can set a vibrating alarm to wake you up during the optimal sleep stage so that you actually feel refreshed when you wake up.

To keep things fun, the Inspire 3 pairs you with a sleep animal and shares a monthly personalized analysis of your sleep. However, you’ll need to pay for a Fitbit Premium subscription to get this feature. In fact, you need to pay for the Premium subscription for quite a few insights—including detailed sleep data, wellness reports, and a Daily Readiness Score—which keeps the Inspire 3 from earning the top spot. 

Beyond sleep, the Inspire 3 can track your steps and activities. The built-in heart rate sensor and SpO2 sensors provide useful information for tracking your fitness, such as your VO2 Max and heart rate zone information. It relies on connected GPS, so you’ll need your phone for accurate distance and pace information. But you can get all your phone notifications on the watch, which is always an added convenience layer. 

Best for minimalists: Whoop 4.0

Nick Hilden



  • Built-in GPS: No
  • Heart rate monitor: Yes
  • Water resistance: 32 feet for 2 hours (IP68)
  • Battery life: 4 to 5 days
  • Display size: N/A
  • Weight: 1 ounce


  • Comfortable to wear for extended periods
  • Lots of recovery insights
  • Minimal, screen-free design
  • Can be worn in many ways with Whoop accessories


  • Requires a pricey monthly subscription

The Whoop 4.0 comes across as basic thanks to its minimalist design that bucks the trend of fitness trackers turned smartwatches. This unique device doesn’t feature a screen of any sort. You won’t be distracted by notifications popping up on your wrist or be preoccupied with keeping an eye on all those numbers during your workout. However, although the Whoop is basic in looks, it is not basic in capabilities.

The Whoop 4.0 features blood oxygen, skin temperature, and heart rate sensors to provide plenty of data. It can automatically detect a workout, or you can start one manually in the app. If you are strength training, the Whoop can track weights, reps, and sets. Then, the app takes all that data and provides lots of useful recovery information to help you get the most out of your workouts. 

Another benefit of the Whoop is that you can purchase a range of clothing items, including swimsuits, underwear, shirts, and more, that Whoop designed to hold the fitness tracker, allowing you to go wristband-free. That’s an ideal option for a lot of different sports and activities. Despite the lack of a screen, the Whoop 4.0 is the most expensive option on our list. Unfortunately, it also requires a pricey monthly subscription. But this is a unique device that many people prefer over traditional smartwatch-style trackers. 

Best GPS: Fitbit Charge 5




  • Built-in GPS: Yes
  • Heart rate monitor: Yes
  • Water resistance: 164 feet
  • Battery life: 7 days
  • Display size: 0.86 X 0.58 inches
  • Weight: 1.02 ounces


  • GPS is fast to connect
  • Includes an ECG app for monitoring irregular heart rhythms
  • Sleek, slim design
  • Bright touchscreen


  • Lack of buttons can be frustrating

Most cheap fitness trackers only offer connected GPS, which isn’t very accurate and requires you to always keep your phone on you. But the Fitbit Charge 5 features built-in GPS, so you can get accurate pace and distance data even if you leave your phone behind. And it’s quick to connect, so you won’t be stuck waiting for it when you want to start your run.

Another bonus with the Charge 5 is the ECG app for detecting heart rhythm issues. You can even share this information directly with your doctor to assist in diagnosing problems. It also tracks your heart rate all day, including during exercise and at night, in order to provide fitness and sleep insights. The automatic exercise tracking is ideal for those who tend to forget to start their watch when beginning activities. And it offers a range of exercise modes with live stats right on your wrist during your workout. 

The Charge 5 features the classic fitness tracker design profile with a slim, minimal look. Fitbit opted for a button-free design on it, though, which means you’ll need to rely on the touchscreen for everything. That can get a bit annoying at times, but the touchscreen is nice and bright, so you’ll easily be able to see it even in bright sunlight. 

Best value: Xiaomi Band 7 Pro




  • Built-in GPS: Yes
  • Heart rate monitor: Yes 
  • Water resistance: 164 feet
  • Battery life: 12 days
  • Display size: 1.64 inches
  • Weight: 0.7 ounces


  • Large, high-quality display
  • Built-in GPS
  • Affordable price
  • Lots of workout and health-tracking features


  • Sleep tracking isn’t accurate
  • Mi Fitness app isn’t very user-friendly

Typically, if you want more advanced fitness tracking features, such as built-in GPS, sleep tracking, and a large display, you’ll need to spend well over $100. The Xiaomi Band 7 Pro offers a much more affordable alternative while ticking those boxes. 

The most surprising feature for a sub-$100 watch is the built-in GPS. It even supports BeiDou, GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS satellite systems for more accurate location information. Plus, you can load your running course and track your progress right on your wrist. The Band 7 Pro offers 110 plus fitness modes for all levels of athletes and offers all-day heart rate tracking with a blood oxygen sensor. 

Another feature that makes this cheap fitness tracker stand out is the large display. It offers a 1.64-inch AMOLED touchscreen display. It features an ambient light sensor to automatically adjust brightness, which is not typically found in such budget-friendly devices. The battery should last you 12 days, depending on how you use it, and you’ll even have access to Amazon Alexa voice assistant. Overall, the Band 7 packs a lot of features into an attractive and affordable watch. 

Best advanced: Garmin Forerunner 55

Brian Stillman



  • Built-in GPS: Yes
  • Heart rate monitor: Yes
  • Water resistance: 164 feet
  • Battery life: Up to 2 weeks (smartwatch mode), or 20 hours (GPS mode)
  • Display size: 1.04 inches
  • Weight: 1.3 ounces


  • Provides workout and recovery time suggestions
  • Highly accurate GPS and heart rate
  • Easy to use
  • Lightweight


  • Lacks a touchscreen

If you are starting to get more serious with your training, a step above a fitness tracker may be the way to go. The Garmin Forerunner 55 is a beginner-friendly running watch that still comes at a relatively affordable price, especially for what you are getting. For starters, it is lightweight and small, making it ideal even for those with small wrists. 

Garmin packed the watch with highly accurate GPS (as well as GLONASS and Galileo) so you can get detailed pace, distance, and interval data. It also features Garmin’s built-in rate monitor for all-day heart rate monitoring at rest and during activities. And it offers plenty of built-in sports apps for tracking your favorite activities. 

This watch is an ideal choice for runners for a few reasons. It offers cadence alerts to help you keep your cadence consistent. The PacePro technology helps you plan a race strategy for a selected course or distance, and you’ll also get daily suggested workouts based on your training history, fitness level, and recovery time. 

You’ll miss out on some of the more advanced features (sleep tracking, multi-band GPS tracking, and more) of Garmin’s more expensive watches, such as the Forerunner 955. But if you are just getting started on your running journey, you can’t go wrong with the Forerunner 55. To read more about this highly capable cheap fitness tracker, check out our full review

Best budget: Amazfit Band 7

Abby Ferguson



  • Built-in GPS: No
  • Heart rate monitor: Yes
  • Water resistance: 164 feet
  • Battery life: 18 days
  • Display size: 1.47 inches
  • Weight: 0.96 ounces


  • Very lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Accurate heart rate monitor
  • Good battery life


  • Touchscreen is a little finicky

If you’re searching for one of the cheapest fitness trackers available to get you started on the road to better fitness and health, the Amazfit Band 7 is your best bet. The Band 7 features a classic fitness tracker design with a narrow rectangular shape. It’s also very lightweight, which makes it more comfortable to wear, even for days on end. The AMOLED display is colorful and bright, though there is no ambient light sensor, so you’ll have to adjust brightness on your own. But it’s easy to see at full brightness even in full sun. 

The Amazfit Band 7 features a heart rate monitor and blood oxygen sensor wrapped up into one (BioTracker 3.0 PPG biometric sensor), providing accurate data. It can calculate your VO2 Max, stress levels, and sleep. I found those numbers to be on par with the more expensive Garmin watches I’ve used, which is impressive. And Amazfit provides lots of help text to explain what all those numbers actually mean. It can be a great tool for starting a fitness journey. 

As with most cheap fitness trackers, the Band 7 relies on connected GPS, so you’ll need to keep your phone on you for any activities where location, pace, or distance are important. And keep in mind that even with your phone’s GPS, those numbers won’t be very accurate. I found it to vary pretty significantly from my watch with built-in, multi-band GPS. 

Despite the budget-friendly price, the Band 7 promises up to 18 hours of battery life. I got roughly 16 days at a time in my testing, which is impressive for such a cheap fitness tracker. The watch’s touchscreen is almost too sensitive, and there are no physical buttons, so you’ll be stuck relying on that. But despite its shortcomings, I was very impressed with the Band 7. To learn more, check out our full review

Things to consider before buying a cheap fitness tracker

Just like any fitness tracker or watch, cheap fitness trackers come in a range of styles with various features. Which is best for you depends on your goals and how you plan to use the watch. But the following categories will help guide your decision in selecting the best cheap fitness tracker for you. 

Steps & heart rate

If you’re looking for a fitness tracker, you likely want to capture data from your workouts and daily life. Fitness trackers come with a wide range of data-collecting sensors. However, this is the one area where companies make sacrifices in order to offer lower-priced models. The result is that you will see fewer options on cheap fitness trackers when compared to more expensive devices. Nevertheless, there are two key sensors to look for if you want to use your tracker for fitness goals. 

The most basic thing to look for is an accelerometer. The accelerometer constantly senses the movements of the body in order to count your steps. All fitness trackers will at least be able to count your steps (just like the good old days). It will give you basic insight into your activity on a particular day.  

Most will also feature a built-in heart rate monitor. Some will offer additional sensors within the heart rate monitor array, including a pulse ox. This combination allows the device to capture additional data, such as blood oxygen levels, heart rate variability, sleep insight, training status, and more. That’s why a heart rate monitor is such a vital component of a well-rounded fitness tracker, as it gives you a much better idea of your fitness and progression to goals. 


Beyond step counting and heart rate monitoring, you’ll be limited in what the cheap fitness tracker provides. That includes GPS functionality. GPS connectivity helps provide accurate distance and pace information and can also map your activities to show where you ran or biked. 

Most cheap fitness trackers will rely on your phone for GPS, also called tethered or connected GPS. This method isn’t as accurate as built-in GPS, and it means that you have to keep your phone on you. That’s not a problem for some since you would have it on you anyway. And you may not be concerned about super precise pace and distance information either.

Others may get annoyed by the prospect of always carrying around a phone. Or perhaps you want accurate insights. If that is likely to be you, be sure to opt for a fitness tracker that features a built-in GPS unit.

Activity tracking

These days, most fitness trackers will also be able to track specific types of workouts. The types of workouts that a watch can record vary across brands and models, with some only supporting a small handful and others providing a robust list of activities. 

If all you take part in is the most common workouts—such as running, biking, or walking—then a basic fitness tracker with limited tracking abilities will get the job done. However, if you like to participate in racquet sports, swimming, weight lifting, or any other of the less common movements, you’ll want to opt for a fitness tracker with a longer list of options. 

Battery life

Like with any technology, you’ll be at the whim of your cheap fitness tracker’s battery life. The range of battery life across these devices is significant, though. Look carefully at promised battery life numbers, especially if you don’t want to be stuck charging your watch daily. 

Smartwatch abilities

As technology has progressed, the line between fitness tracker and smartwatch has become blurred to the point of nearly being indistinguishable. The result is that even cheap fitness trackers act as connected smartwatches. They won’t offer cell service like the Apple Watch, but they will tell the time and allow you to receive notifications from your phone when you have it nearby. 

Beyond those basic functions, some will even allow you to select from quick responses to respond to text messages. Certain watches may provide weather information or other basic insights that they pull from your phone. If you want a fully connected wearable, look for a device with a long list of smartwatch functions. And you’ll also want to verify that it will work with your phone.  


Q: How much should I spend on a fitness watch?

How much you should spend on a fitness watch comes down to what you want to use the watch for and what your budget is. You can easily spend over $1,000 on a fitness watch, but that doesn’t mean you need to. In general, a fitness watch around $200 or $300 will provide an excellent list of features and tools to help you with your fitness. But you can also spend as little as $50 on a very capable fitness tracker. 

Q: Can I use my phone as a fitness tracker?

Yes, you can use your phone as a basic fitness tracker with the help of various apps. Your phone will allow you to count steps and utilize GPS for distance and pace information on runs or hikes. Some apps even allow you to pair a heart rate monitor to collect heart rate information during workouts. 

However, the steps and GPS data collected by your phone will not be as accurate as a dedicated fitness tracker or watch. And it means that you need to always have your phone on you, which isn’t ideal in some situations. While it will work in a pinch or as a basic introduction to fitness tracking, if you want accurate data for a better idea of your performance and progression, a fitness tracker is the way to go. 

Q: Is it OK to sleep with a fitness tracker on?

It is absolutely okay to sleep with a fitness tracker on. In fact, many offer sleep-tracking functionality to give you a better picture of your overall health and training readiness. That said, whether you want to wear a fitness tracker while you sleep or not is a matter of personal preference, as not everyone enjoys having something on their wrist while they sleep.  

Q: Is GPS necessary for a fitness tracker?

GPS is not necessary for a fitness tracker. Many cheap fitness trackers will not offer built-in GPS in order to keep the price and size of the watch down. Instead, they rely on your phone’s GPS (tethered GPS) for location data. 

The downside to a fitness tracker without GPS is that you won’t get as accurate information for distance, pace, or location. In my testing, those numbers can be wildly inaccurate compared to a watch with GPS. If you just want a basic device to help you keep track of your workouts, it may not matter. But if you are training for something specific or want accurate data, you will want to look for a fitness tracker with built-in GPS.

Final thoughts on the best cheap fitness trackers

Though the fancy, expensive fitness watches are certainly cool, they are, quite frankly, overkill for most people. If you are simply focused on getting or staying active, a cheap fitness tracker will be more than enough. The best option for you will depend on what type of activities you like to participate in, what information you want from your watch, and your style preferences. No matter what you’re looking for, one of the watches included here should meet your needs.

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.