If you're thinking of improving your fitness in the new year, you might be considering a fitness tracker to monitor your efforts and motivate you to keep going. Or perhaps you're not planning on changing your lounge lizard ways but want to buy a nice gift for the gym bunny in your life.
Either way, these fitness trackers are ones to remove from your shortlist. They're the lowest scorers in our test of 19 models on the market. They might look the business (with pricetags to match), but their performance leaves much to be desired.
"Ease of use, comfort and distance accuracy are key components of our test and these devices stumbled in one, or more, of these areas," says CHOICE tech expert Peter Zaluzny.
"Some otherwise decent fitness bands or smartwatches have been let down by OK to borderline performance in some cases."
The lowest-scoring fitness trackers in our tests
Samsung Galaxy Watch5 (BT) 44mm with D-Buckle band
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 68%
- Distance accuracy score: 50%
- Price: $619
One of the most expensive fitness trackers we tested, this Samsung Galaxy failed to outperform every single other product we tested – even ones that were about a quarter of the price.
This smartwatch has loads of features – fall detection, find my phone, body fat percentage monitor, skeletal muscle weight monitor, IP68 rating, supports Samsung Pay, and more – but it doesn't do the basics well.
Our experts rated it at just 50% for distance accuracy, and found that there were significant delays in updating the pace and distance counts while using it. And while it can measure body fat percentage and skeletal muscle weight, it couldn't install the Samsung Health Monitor app which tracks blood pressure and ECG over time.
If you're thinking about buying it for your wife, girlfriend or daughter, don't: none of our female trialists could get a comfortable fit with this band.
If you have $600 to spend on a fitness tracker, you could pick up any one of the models our experts recommend and still have change, so check our review to find the best fitness tracker before you hit the shops.
Samsung Galaxy Watch5 (BT) 44mm with sport band review
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 70%
- Distance accuracy score: 50%
- Price: $549
Same watch, different band – but same issues.
We tested this separately to the Samsung Galaxy Watch5 above because comfort is a significant factor when using a fitness tracker. Fortunately our trialists did find this more comfortable (though it did still only score 58% for comfort), but its other scores are identical to the watch with the D-buckle band.
Needless to say, it's still not great value for money even though it's cheaper than the buckle strap, and you can get far better performance for less money.
Misfit Vapor smartwatch-style fitness tracker
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 75%
- Distance accuracy score: 84%
- Price: $199
This fitness tracker is much more affordable than the two Samsungs, but it's still not a great buy. To be fair, 75% isn't a bad score – it's just that you can get far better performance for the same price or even a bit less.
It was excellent for measuring resting heart rate, but pretty ordinary when measuring active heart rate – which kind of defeats the purpose of having a heart rate monitor unless you're a professional lounge lizard. And it wasn't especially accurate when measuring pace count and distance when our trialists used it with their arm relatively immobile.
It can be worn swimming and is very accurate when your arm is swinging free, plus it has good apps for monitoring data and is easy to read, even in sunlight. But you can definitely find better buys at this price point.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.