Choosing the best tracker for you

Image of Professor Colin Espie
by Professor Colin Espie

It feels like the number of trackers available to us grows daily. To help you find the best tracker for you, we’ve developed a short list of criteria to help you navigate the ocean of options and find the best tracker for you.

Know your goals

Before purchasing your tracker, it’s important to know your goals – what are you interested in tracking?

If you are looking for an all-round tracker, consider the activities that you do now and the activities you want to take up. For example, if you’re keen to track activities, such as running, your ideal tracker might include GPS tracking so that you can track the routes you take on your run. If you’re a swimmer, you’ll be looking for a waterproof tracker vs. a “splash-proof” tracker.

If your priority is tracking your sleep, you might be looking for a tracker that focuses on sleep and providing accuracy on your sleep data vs. a wide-feature set, such as daily activity tracking.

To make sure your sleep data is always tracked, look for a tracker with automatic sleep detection. If you’re looking to make improvements to your sleep based on what your tracker tells you, make sure it includes a detailed view of your sleep in the tracker’s companion app – this includes, your sleep duration, sleep quality, sleep stages and even external factors that affect your sleep.

Take a moment to list out your goals and the features you would like your tracker to have, then keep this list nearby when searching for your tracker to make sure it ticks all the boxes.

Know your budget

As well as knowing your goals, it’s important to know your budget. The majority of trackers range from $50 – $300, usually increasing in price with the number of features that they offer.

When considering your goals, keep in mind that an all-round tracker with a wide range of advanced features, such as automatic sleep detection, smart alarm and heart rate tracking is likely to come with a higher price tag than the more basic trackers, such as the Jawbone UP Move, which is the cheapest tracker that we covered earlier in this guide.

However, if you’re serious about tracking your sleep and activity and want a tracker that you’ll be happy with for a long time, it can be worth spending the extra money to get a tracker that meets your needs.

Review the companion apps

When purchasing a tracking device, you’re not just getting the device itself – devices will come with a companion app for your smartphone. This is where you can view your data and, commonly, your progress against your activity and/or sleep goals (depending on if your tracker monitors both). There are usually other benefits that come along with each companion app, such as social features to engage with your friends and keep each other on track as well as leaderboards and rewards for hitting your goals.

Before choosing your tracker, it’s worth taking the time to review the tracker’s companion app and check that the features they offer meet your needs. For example, do they present your sleep and activity data in a way that is easy for you to analyze and understand? Or, if connecting with your friends is important, are you able to do that in this app?

Once you’ve set your goals and know what you want from the companion app, you’ll be in the best position to choose the best tracker for you.