Best fitness trackers (December 2018)

Fitness trackers have come an extremely long way over the years. No longer are they glorified pedometers; they’re much more than that. Most standard fitness trackers nowadays can track your steps taken, distance traveled, how many calories you’ve burned for the day, and even your sleeping patterns. They’re handy little devices if you want a better look at how active you are throughout the day, and there are plenty to choose from.

Related: Best Fitbit fitness trackers | Best Garmin watches

We understand it can be a little daunting trying to choose which fitness tracker best suits your needs, so we’ve compiled a list of the best fitness trackers on the market. We’ve divided our list up into separate categories to help you narrow down your options. As always, if you feel like we missed something on our best fitness trackers list, be sure to tell us in the comment section below.

Without any further delay, here are the best fitness trackers you can buy right now.

Best fitness trackers update:December

This month we removed the Fitbit Charge 2 and Withings Steel HR to make room for the Fitbit Charge 3.


The best fitness tracker overall

Fitbit Charge 3

Fitbit’s Charge 3 is the best fitness tracker you can buy for most people. Its classy, versatile design means it’ll look good in the office and at the gym. It’s also water resistant this time around, and has one of the more accurate wrist-based heart rate sensors we’ve tried on a wearable.

Elsewhere, the Fitbit Charge 3 offers a great software experience, plenty of smartwatch features, and a battery that can last almost a week on a single charge. Unless you’re a runner, you probably don’t need GPS. For those folks, the Charge 3 is a great option. If you need a GPS, move on to our #2 pick.

Read more: The best Fitbit alternativesThe most common Fitbit problems and how to fix them

Garmin vivosport

garmin vivo sport

The Garmin vivosport is the best fitness tracker with GPS.

Editor’s Pick

It also packs in a heart rate monitor, which is pretty incredible considering its slim and lightweight design. It’s also waterproof up to 50 meters, will last up to seven days on a single charge, and comes with a Chroma touchscreen display that’s miles better than the display on the vivosmart 3. The display is a little small for my liking, however.

The vivosport is available now for around $149.99. That’s an absolute steal for the best fitness tracker with GPS.

Also read: Best GPS running watches

Garmin vivosmart 4

garmin vivosmart 4 review screen

Garmin’s vivosmart 4 might not have a built-in GPS, but it has almost everything else you could want in a basic fitness tracker.

Don’t miss: Garmin vivosmart 4 review

It’s thin and lightweight, has a much better screen than its predecessor, and it’s proven itself to be a reliable fitness tracker at its core. It also comes with advanced sleep metrics that are right up there with Fitbit’s, as well as a pulse ox sensor for keeping tabs on blood-oxygen saturation levels.

The big downside here is the lack of GPS and GPS phone tethering option, so this is purely a health and activity tracker, not so much for high-intensity workouts. If that doesn’t turn you away, the vivosmart 4 is a great option.


Best multisport fitness tracker: Garmin vivoactive 3 Music

Garmin vivoactive 3 Music

The standard Garmin vivoactive 3 is one of our favorite multisport fitness watches. Naturally, the vivoactive 3 Music made its way to our list right when it was announced.

Everything you loved about the vivoactive 3 is here, along with support for music storage of up to 500 songs. You can load up your favorite songs, or download playlists from iHeartRadio. Deezer support will be added in the future, too.

Don’t miss: Garmin vivoactive 3 review | Hands-on with the Garmin vivoactive 3 Music

Aside from a slightly redesigned bezel on the new watch (and music support, of course), the vivoactive 3 and Music version are basically the same. That means you get a fantastic running watch with a built-in GPS, heart rate monitor, 5ATM water resistance rating, Garmin Pay support, and seven-day battery life. You can check out our full vivoactive 3 review right here to learn more.

Also read: Fitbit vs Garmin: Which ecosystem is right for you?


Best fitness smartwatch

Fitbit Versa

Fitbit Versa

If you were underwhelmed by Fitbit’s first smartwatch offering, the Versa might be just the thing for you.

The Fitbit Versa is much better looking and more compact than the Ionic, and it doesn’t cost as much money. Now, that lower price tag will get you fewer features (no GPS, for instance), but that’s the whole point of this smartwatch — the Versa is a smartwatch for everyone.

Don’t miss: Fitbit Versa review | Fitbit Versa vs Ionic

With the recent addition of quick replies, you can now reply to just about every app notification you receive on your wrist. The Versa also recently received Fitbit’s female health tracking suite, making this a much more powerful health tracker for women.

The Versa also brings Fitbit OS 2.0, 24/7 heart rate tracking, on-screen workouts with Fitbit Coach, over 15 exercise modes, Connected GPS, and swim tracking thanks to its 5ATM rating. There’s also room to store your music, and if you spring for the Special Edition model you’ll have access to Fitbit Pay.

Fitbit Ionic

Fitbit Ionic

The Fitbit Ionic is a great fitness tracker/smartwatch hybrid if you need something a little more powerful than the Versa. It’s an incredible fitness and sleep tracker, comes with a built-in GPS, allows you to pay for things from your wrist, and it’s water resistant.

More: Fitbit Ionic review | Fitbit Flyer review

Just like the Fitbit Versa, the Ionic now has support for quick replies for notifications and female health tracking features.

The Ionic is one heck of a fitness smartwatch. It’s available now on Amazon and Fitbit.com for $269.95, and comes in three different color options.


Best budget fitness tracker

Xiaomi Mi Band 3

If you need a basic fitness tracker and you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg, buy the Xiaomi Mi Band 3. At only $25, it’s hard not to recommend this device.

Not only has the design been improved from the Mi Band 2, it’s also received a few nice upgrades under the hood. The heart rate monitor is fairly accurate for a budget device, and it can still track all the basics — steps taken, calories burned, and sleep.

More: Xiaomi Mi Band 3 review

To get down to this price point, Xiaomi had to make some compromises. It doesn’t support many activity profiles, and the software is a little wonky at times. If that doesn’t bother you, the Xiaomi Mi Band is probably the best bang-for-your-buck activity tracker on the market.

Garmin vivofit 4

Garmin vivofit 4

Garmin’s vivofit 3 was one of our favorite inexpensive fitness trackers of 2017. Is the vivofit 4 a worthy successor? That depends.

Related: Garmin vivofit 4 review | Best fitness trackers for kids

In many ways, the vivofit 4 is an improvement over its predecessor. It’s more comfortable, has a new color display, and plenty of useful extras. But the lack of heart rate monitor connectivity is unfortunate, and we hope it returns with the next model.

Throughout our two weeks of testing, the vivofit 4 was so close to delivering accurate results but ultimately fell short more often than we’d like. To its credit, it does offer users a general idea of their performance levels, which is why most people will buy the vivofit 4. It’s an inexpensive fitness tracker that you basically never have to take off, and it keeps track of the basics. If you need a device you basically never have to take off, the vivofit 4 is for you. If you own a vivofit 3, it might not be worth it to upgrade.


So there you have it, the best fitness trackers on the market right now! How did you like our list? Did we leave anything out? If so, let us know in the comments!

Now is a great time to invest in smart light bulbs, but what should you get?

With Christmas just around the corner many smart home products are on sale, hoping to make their way under the tree. This includes smart light bulbs, but what should you get? Hands down, Philips Hue is probably the best choice for most of you reading this. Yes, you need a hub but Hue bulbs are super reliable and also easier to find at brick-in-mortars in the event you need to get a replacement bulb in a hurry.

Hue offers loads of smart light bulbs and lamps that can be controlled via Google Home and Amazon Echo devices. Don’t have a smart speaker?  You really should, but if you don’t the good news is you can also control smart light bulbs directly from your smartphone via any Hue compatible apps.

You can turn all the lights on or off at once, or just the one in the room of choice. You can also dim the lights to specific percentages and even check with Assistant if you forgot to turn off the one in the bathroom before going to bed. As you’ll find with all smart light bulbs, setup is a breeze. Just plug or screw in the light and follow any included instructions for setting up with an app or smart speaker.

Philips offers a few starter packs worth checking out. They include smart light bulbs and the Hue bridge hub, which is required for the system to work. If you buy the Hue bulbs individually, you’ll still  have to get the Hue bridge, which goes for $60 on Philips’ website.

Philips Hue White starter kit

The cheapest starter kit with the Hue bridge goes for $70 and comes with two smart bulbs that produce a warm white light. For an additional $30, you can get a starter pack with four bulbs that emit different shades of white, from cool daylight to relaxing warm white light. The most expensive option goes for $200 and gets you four bulbs able to light up your room in 16 million different colors.

There are also loads of sexy lamps and lights available that range from $35 to $350. You can check out some of the best ones below, along with a few starter kits:


Runner up: Lifx smart light bulbs

Lifx smart light bulbs

Not impressed by Hue? Lifx is easily the second most popular choice. Lifx smart light bulbs are similar to those from Philips. You can turn them on or off, dim them, change their color, and more via Google Home and Amazon Echo devices. You can even create schedules to automate your lighting. Unlike Philips products, they don’t require a hub to work.

Editor’s Pick

There are many products to choose from. The cheapest bulb will set you back $25 (Lifx Mini White), and only produces white light. You’ll have to dish out $20 more for the Lifx Mini Color, which lets you light up your home in any of the 16 million colors available. Keep in mind most Lifx products come with a discount when purchased in packs of four. Four Mini Color bulbs can be yours for $160, which brings the price of each unit down to $40 and saves you $20.

Two of the most interesting Lifx products are Tile and Beam. Tile costs $250 and comes with five tiles included in the box, allowing you to create a unique layout on a wall. Every tile features 64 controllable zones and you can assign a different color and brightness to each one — check what this looks like in action below.

Lifx smart light bulbs tile and beam Lifx

Lifx Beam is cheaper, at $200, and works pretty much the same way, although it doesn’t feature controllable zones. It also has a different form factor (11.8 x 1.37 x 0.78 inches). There are six “beams” included in the box, which you can set up any way you want to create a unique look. Learn more about Beam, as well as other Lifx products, via the links below:


Best for budget: Xiaomi Yeelight family

Xiaomi Yeelight Color Led Light Bulb

There are tons of light bulb brands but for the most part we recommend Hue and Lifx. The one clear exception is for those looking to make their homes smarter on a budget. If that sounds like you, we highly recommend checking out Xiaomi’s offerings.

We recently reviewed Xioami’s desk lamp, smart plug, and other accessories and found them all great. Particularly impressive is the Yeelight color LED bulb. It works well and is only $20, which makes it much cheaper than the competition. In fact, this pricing wouldn’t even be expensive if we were talking about a white-only bulb, but with full color support this is a steal!

Also worth mentioning: Sengled and Nanoleaf

Another great choice for budget users is Sengled, which offers affordable smart light bulbs under the Element brand. Pricing starts at $10 for the cheapest bulb, with four and eight-packs available to bring down the price even further. But you’ll have to dish out $20 extra to get your hands on a light bulb that can change colors. Also the bulbs require a hub.

If you’re looking for something super modern and stylish, Nanoleaf is the company to go with. It sells light panels you can piece together into any shape you want. You can set schedules and create scenes that Assistant or Alexa can activate. It’s far from the cheapest option out there — nine panels go for $230. If you need more, you can get 15 panels for $315 or 30 for around $550.


There you have it, these are the best smart light bulbs and other lighting products compatible with Google Home and Amazon Echo devices. Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

Related: What is a Smart Home — and why should you want one?

Affiliate disclosure: We may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. See our disclosure policy for more details.

Best of Android 2018: the best audio

We’ve subjected the best Android devices of 2018 to a slew of testing and can confidently inform you of what the best sounding phone is, as well as list other standout products with excellent audio. While we’ve only highlighted one phone, a handful of options produce perceptually perfect audio when it comes to noise and dynamic range. Aside from the models that are virtually indistinguishable from each other, we’ll also address a few other phones that perform well but not perfectly.

What makes something the best sounding phone?

Best sounding phone: Red Hydrogen One headphone jack

As more and more flagships drop the headphone jack, its presence has become a sought-after feature for audio junkies and is required to be crowned the best sounding phone.

As writers from our sister site SoundGuys will tell you, audio is both a subjective and objective experience. While the subjective, experiential part is valid, we’re here to highlight some of the more scientific bits to get you on your way.

When looking for a phone that produces excellent sound quality, there are a few things to keep an eye out for:

  • Noise levels should be under -96.6dB for CD-quality music.
  • Dynamic range should similarly be at or over 96.6dB.
  • Frequency response shouldn’t ever deviate from 0dB in either direction, but you won’t hear it if it’s less than 0.5dB.
  • Smartphone speakers suck.
  • Headphone jacks are the only way to ensure high-quality audio.

Only three phones tested exhibited audible errors

If you were to take a look at our huge, color-coded results spreadsheet, you’d notice right away how most smartphones in 2018 exhibit no audible flaws. When it comes to figuring out which smartphone is better than others for audio quality, only two things separate them: features (like a headphone jack), and Bluetooth.

We don’t like shaming phones around here, but these are the offending models:

  1. RED Hydrogen One
  2. Huawei P20
  3. Huawei P20 Pro

SoundGuys noted some irregularities with the Huawei phones when it came to AAC, but also noted every Android phone has errors with that finicky codec. The phones listed here can handle SBC, LDAC, aptX, and aptX HD on-spec. Additionally, the errors exhibited by those phones are unlikely to be heard by over 70 percent of the population, so be sure to temper outrage on that front.

However, the RED Hydrogen phone has frequency response errors of over 7dB, meaning you’ll absolutely hear it affect your music. It’s the lone “bad” phone for audio here.

The tests tell a very rosy story

We were surprised to find that noise wasn’t really a factor in differentiating phones, as most phones did a great job with it, however, there were a few shortcomings in other areas that thinned the herd considerably.

Dynamic Range

Higher is better

While it’s important for smartphone audio to minimize noise, high dynamic range is just as crucial. Although we’re accustomed to seeing the acronym “HDR” in photography, auditory dynamic range is the ratio of the quietest sound to the loudest sound a device can produce.

Dynamic Range

Higher is better

Speaker loudness might mostly serve to annoy the crap out of everyone around you, but sometimes you need a little boom in your mobile to catch a call or watch a YouTube video with a group. This purely tested how loud a given smartphone’s speaker can get and didn’t take into account distortion. We see quite a bit of difference between our top contenders, with the Nokia 7.1 and LG V40 ThinQ leading the pack.

Speaker Loudness

Higher is better

A fourth metric brings us back to the fundamentals of audio: frequency response. Although consumer headphones and earbuds tend to alter sound with a brand’s specific “house signature,” if you’re looking for accuracy, you want a device’s frequency response to be as neutral as possible. Though much hay is made over the high-end DAC assemblies of the LG V40 and Samsung phones, the truth is most handsets can decode and output a decent enough signal for even picky listeners. Only five phones crossed our +/- 0.5dB barrier, three of which are listed above. 

This is particularly pertinent, as it applies to the best sounding phone. By producing a neutral frequency response, a smartphone minimizes harmonic distortion at the source. Any issues with the DAC’s ability to reproduce an accurate, high-fidelity response may be amplified down the line when you plug your headphones in.

An accurate, neutral-leaning frequency response is imperative for any phone to be considered as the best sounding phone.

Most phones deviate less than 0.5dB in either direction, and score nearly perfect in this regard. Any of the phones listed today are essentially indistinguishable from one another performance-wise, making each smartphone an excellent choice when considering audio quality. While we can easily get lost nitpicking smartphone audio performance, the fact of the matter is smartphones handle audio exceptionally well. Generally speaking, you’re not going to be able to tell the difference between the top 10 smartphones for audio.

However, that brings us to a funny artifact of our scoring: only phones with a headphone jack could top our list. Dongles are a death sentence for our awards.

The current state of smartphone audio

Best sounding phone: The LG V40 ThinQ and the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 standing next to each other on a shelf.

Smartphone audio has come a long way, and we’re confident that any of the notable phones mentioned today will be satisfactory.

Listen to the SoundGuys podcast: The state of smartphone audio

Yes, 10 phones is a lot of models to be indistinguishable — it serves as a testament to how far smartphone audio quality has come. Now, what makes each phone a top contender is its ability to exceed the limits of human hearing.

Human hearing ranges from 20Hz-20kHz — hence why you see that range brandished all over headphone packaging — but this range assumes a young age and unsullied ear mechanics. Most of our hearing abilities degrade naturally by the time we hit our early- to- mid-twenties, which you can put to the test here. If you find that you can’t hear a few of those files, try applying a filter in your phone’s settings (found in Samsung, LG phones). You might be surprised at the improvements you can get.

What’s more, if you’re streaming over Bluetooth, even the highest quality codec can’t keep step with wired listening. In fact, LDAC 330kbps showed itself less reliable than SBC, the lowest-common-denominator of codecs. So, the assumed codec pecking order been skewed up until now. AAC diminishes audio quality a bit when streamed over an Android device, and aptX is what listeners should be sticking to. Even then, however, wired remains king of quality.  

The LG V40 ThinQ has the best sound quality of any handset in 2018

After subjecting each of the 30 contenders to a battery of tests and analyzing the data through our in-house scoring algorithms, the LG V40 ThinQ narrowly reigned victor over the Asus ROG Phone and Samsung Galaxy phones. These phones actually beat out the V40 in some cases, but because many of those measurements lie outside the realm of human perception, they didn’t give those phones an edge with our scoring methods. The LG V40 ThinQ’s headphone jack, Quad DAC, and internal amplifier is a winning combination that’s yet to be bested.

Best sounding phone: LG V40 ThinQ camera

The LG V40’s 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC in tandem with the retention of the headphone jack makes it the best sounding smartphone of 2018.

It’s that internal amplifier that makes the LG V40 ThinQ a special phone. Where LG’s V-series has had it for a long time now, no other phones offer a 2V output, which means you can use power-hungry high-end headphones without breaking a sweat. Though it’s probably not the most practical idea to listen to a pair of planar magnetic headphones on the town, the fact is the LG V40 ThinQ is the only phone that’s going to let you do that. The Quad-DAC certainly sounds flashy, but the power behind the headphone jack is what makes the LG V40 ThinQthe best phone for audio. 

Editor’s Pick

Although it’s important to acknowledge the winner’s weaknesses, we tip our headphones to the LG V40. It — along with the Asus ROG Phone, Vivo NEX, and Samsung Galaxy Note 9 — outperforms its smartphone brethren in dynamic range. Additionally, the V40 frequency response deviates just 0.07dB, outperforming all other potential picks.

Although the V40 can’t outperform its competition in every metric, the top-notch power output makes it the best sounding smartphone of the year.

This year, there’s a wide selection of excellent phones out there for listeners who prioritize audio quality. All of the listed candidates are within a few meager points of one another and remain perceptually indistinguishable — unless you have a set of high-impedance headphones that require a lot of juice.

  1. LG V40 ThinQ
  2. Asus ROG Phone
  3. Nokia 7.1
  4. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
  5. LG G7 ThinQ
  6. Samsung Galaxy S9
  7. Vivo X21
  8. Vivo Nex
  9. Xiaomi Pocophone
  10. Samsung Galaxy Note 9

One more thing about testing

Best sounding phone: focusrite scarlett 2i2 connected to a smartphone.

We use a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 to conduct our smartphone audio tests.

Any of the nine alternatives are very close to the LG V40. We understand if you want a more financially viable choice, or a battery that’s not going to quit after a few hours. In that case, the Xiaomi Pocophone, and Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus remains standout performers. Though they’re technically not the best sounding phones, they’re sure to satisfy any enthusiast’s ears. We’ll have future comparisons coming down the line to help inform you on future smartphone-related decisions.

Although we’re not yet publishing our internal scoring, we implore our readers to learn about how we conducted our testing, and the philosophy behind it. We want to ensure our data tells a story and informs our audience of relevant information. What’s more, we want our data to be accessible to a wide array of readers, be it the computer engineer or the average consumer.

Come back throughout the week for more Best of Android 2018 coverage as we have plenty more to share with you.

Next: Best of Android 2018: The best displays