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19 October 2020

Most reliable fitness tracker brands

Unique Which? reliability data can help you to choose a fitness tracker that lasts. We survey owners of a wide range of brands, including Fitbit, Garmin, Honor, Huawei and Samsung, to reveal how long you can expect them to last.
Activity-tracker-reliability-advice
CW
Christina Woodger

The most common issue people experience with their fitness trackers is a broken strap. In fact, 30% of all faults reported by participants in our survey were strap breakages.

Fitness trackers are designed to be worn day in, day out. These days they can come packed with technology for exercising in all kinds of conditions and exploring the great outdoors, so you'd expect them to be powerful, robust and built to last. 

Knowing how long a brand will last you is invaluable to making a smart buying decision, along with which brands develop the most faults, and when you can expect to start seeing problems arise. That's why, each year, we ask more 15,000 Which? members to tell us about the problems and experiences they've had with brands over the past eight years. 

Our unique survey data reveals when popular brands developed a fault, how serious this fault was, and the reasons why products are replaced. We also look at brand loyalty to find out who you turn to time and again, and, crucially, reveal how long you can expect fitness tracker brands to last. 

How long do different fitness tracker brands last?

To find out how long you can rely on your fitness tracker, we calculated an average estimated lifetime for each brand, based on how long respondents were able to keep a product before having to replace it because of an issue that was out of their control. 

Estimated lifetimes should only be used as a guide – there's nothing to say your fitness tracker will suddenly stop working when this time period is up. However, it's a useful way to get an idea of how a product you own, or are shopping for, compares with others.

Brand Estimated lifespan
Brand 1 5
Brand 2 5

The above data is based on a survey of Which? members in July 2020, covering 2,205 fitness trackers.

How quickly do different fitness tracker brands need replacing? 

The graph above shows how the brand that stays fault-free for longest compares with the worst brand, as well as the overall average. We were only able to gather enough data for two of the most popular brands. As a result, you'll see there aren't enormous differences between them after one year, and all participants replaced their tracker after five years. The three-year point was where the differences were most marked. 

Which? members can see how brands compare for faults over a five-year period in the table below.

Fitness trackers replaced because of a fault

Brand One year Three years Five years
M 20% 88% 100%
M 19% 65% 100%

The above data is based on a survey of Which? members in July 2020, covering 2,205 fitness trackers.

How satisfied are customers with different fitness tracker brands?

Our survey also reveals how satisfied people are with a brand overall. We use this to calculate a customer satisfaction score, based on how likely people are to recommend it. 

Loyalty is also an important factor. Some brands have what it takes to keep customers coming back time and again. Our loyalty score is based on whether people stuck to the same brand when they upgraded. We didn't gather enough responses to be able to report loyalty scores for all brands. 

As you can see, customer satisfaction (or lack thereof) doesn't always correlate with loyalty. So there may be other reasons, such as inertia or wariness about trying a new brand, for sticking with the same brand as before.  

Brand Customer loyalty score Customer satisfaction score
M n/a

75%
M n/a

68%
M 65%

67%
M n/a 67%
M n/a

66%
M 82% 62%

The above data is based on a survey of Which? members in July 2020, covering 2,205 fitness trackers. 'n/a' for loyalty score means we did not get a large enough sample size for that brand.

Common fitness tracker problems

Strap breakages are the most common fault, accounting for 30% of all faults reported with fitness trackers. This was also the case in our 2019 survey. As a result of seeing this problem crop up year on year, we've decided to remove our Best Buy award from any fitness trackers that don't have removable straps. 

Even if a broken strap can be replaced, it's still annoying. A fitness tracker is a workout tool, and you'd expect it to be as tough as you are. 

You can look after your strap by cleaning it with water if it comes into contact with chemicals, sweat, dirt, dust and mud. Don't use soap, hand sanitisers, cleaning wipes or household cleaners, as these can be too harsh. Also try to avoid getting insect spray, alcohol, make-up, sunscreen or other lotions on your strap. 

The next most common fault was fitness trackers not synching properly with a smartphone. Of those who had a fault with their fitness tracker, 15% reported this synching issue. 

In our tests, we’ve noticed some devices taking a while to transfer data on to the dashboard on the app, so check our reviews to make sure you don’t buy one that has this problem from day one. The two should sync every time you open the app. If that’s not happening, check your Bluetooth or wi-fi connection. If you’re still experiencing problems, check the manufacturer’s website for advice or contact it directly.

Other faults reported included issues with tracking, screens cracking and other problems with the screen (touchscreens not working or pixels missing, for example). These were far less likely to happen, though. 

Fitness trackers brands rated

Choose a brand from the list below to find out more detail about its performance in our survey.

Fitbit fitness trackers overview
Number tested in the past three years 5
Number of Best Buys
Member icon
Estimated lifetime
Member icon
Customer score (%)
Member icon
Loyalty score
Member icon
  • Find out how well Fitbit compares with other brands for reliability
  • Discover the most common issues for fitness trackers. We’ve collected data on a range of faults, including straps breaking and devices not syncing properly with apps.
  • See how customers rate Fitbit devices – we asked those in our survey how satisfied they were with their Fitbit devices and, crucially, whether they would recommend them to a friend.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
Garmin fitness trackers overview
Number tested in the past three years 4
Number of Best Buys
Member icon
Estimated lifetime
Member icon
Customer score
Member icon
Loyalty score
Member icon
  • Find out how well Garmin compares with other brands for reliability
  • Discover the most common issues for fitness trackers. We’ve collected data on a range of faults, including straps breaking and devices not syncing properly with apps.
  • See how customers rate Garmin devices – we asked those in our survey how satisfied they were with their Garmin devices and, crucially, whether they would recommend them to a friend.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
Honor fitness trackers overview
Number tested in the past three years 2
Number of Best Buys
Member icon
Customer score (%)
Member icon
  • Find out how well Honor compares with other brands for reliability
  • Discover the most common issues for fitness trackers. We’ve collected data on a range of faults, including straps breaking and devices not syncing properly with apps.
  • See how customers rate Honor devices – we asked those in our survey how satisfied they were with their Honor devices and, crucially, whether they would recommend them to a friend.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
Huawei fitness trackers overview
Number tested in the past three years 3
Number of Best Buys
Member icon
Customer score (%)
Member icon
  • Find out how well Huawei compares with other brands for reliability
  • Discover the most common issues for fitness trackers. We’ve collected data on a range of faults, including straps breaking and devices not syncing properly with apps.
  • See how customers rate Huawei devices – we asked those in our survey how satisfied they were with their Honor devices and, crucially, whether they would recommend them to a friend.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
Samsung fitness trackers overview
Number tested in the past three years 3
Number of Best Buys
Member icon
Customer score (%)
Member icon
  • Find out how well Samsung compares with other brands for reliability
  • Discover the most common issues for fitness trackers. We’ve collected data on a range of faults, including straps breaking and devices not syncing properly with apps.
  • See how customers rate Samsung devices – we asked those in our survey how satisfied they were with their Honor devices and, crucially, whether they would recommend them to a friend.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
Xiaomi fitness trackers overview
Number tested in the past three years 3
Number of Best Buys
Member icon
Customer score
Member icon
  • You might not be as familiar with the name Xiaomi as with Fitbit and Garmin, but does that mean it's any less reliable?
  • We reveal the problems you’re most likely to experience with your fitness trackers. We’ve collected data on a range of faults, including straps breaking, devices not charging and devices not syncing properly with apps.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.

How we calculate the best and worst brands

Which? has a wealth of information on Britain's favourite computing brands. Every year we ask Which? members to tell us about the technology products they own – from how likely they'd be to recommend a brand, to how reliable the products are once they get them home. This year more than 15,000 Which? members told us about nearly 100,000 devices. We calculate a brand's reliability and its customer score based on the results of our annual survey.

Our brand surveys, combined with our extensive lab tests, mean we can recommend the best fitness tracker you should buy.

This data is crucial for our testing, too. If a brand falls far below the category average, we take away the manufacturer’s Best Buy awards and won’t recommend any of its products unless there's a marked improvement in the longevity of its products.

View all Fitness trackers