A smart HRM bracelet is essentially the next evolution in fitness trackers. While fitness trackers may have really taken off beginning in the mid-2000s with the introduction of the first Fitbit, their popularity has led to growing market where a wide variety manufacturers look to cash in on this useful product. That said, the 2010s have seen heart rate monitor watches become ever more connected to the smart devices virtually everyone owns. Ultimately, this means that modern HRM bracelets often offer functionality that the earlier models could only dream of.
Why should you buy smart HRM bracelet
Even if you are not a fitness guru, heart rate monitor watches can provide plenty of useful information that you can then use to adjust your lifestyle habits. For instance, many of the better models of HRM bracelet have sleep tracking functions, with the most advanced tracking your sleep cycles and more. Of course, it can be helpful to have a device which also encourages you to get up and exercise more as many of the current models do. Regardless, HRM bracelets offer a multitude of tools to help you live a healthier life.
What to consider when buying smart HRM bracelet
With all of the new features constantly being added to HRM bracelets as their interactivity with devices expands, it can sometimes be easy to forget their actual purpose: activity tracking. As such, when looking for a smart HRM bracelet, easily the most important factor to consider is the accuracy of its tracking information. This is especially relevant for the bracelet form as this type of activity tracker uses a variety of tool like accelerometers, axes, and optical heart monitors to record the information.
While our list includes the 10 best heart rate monitor watches under $150, we would like to draw your attention to the first 3 in particular. For most people, a combination of accuracy and convenience is vitally important. That is why we consider the Fitbit Charge 2 (review|price) to be best of the bunch. Of course, not everyone may care for the larger, bulkier size, in which case we recommend the Fitbit Alta HR (review|price) for women. The Garmin (review|price) offers perhaps the best all-around experience combining some of the more advanced features with a reliable tracking system. Of course, you will have to keep reading to find out the full story on these three HRM bracelets and more.
10 Best Smart HRM Bracelets
|Fitbit Charge 2 Our choice #1||versatile, extremely accurate||OLED display, GPS tracking|
|Fitbit Alta HR||for ladies, accurate||OLED display, customizable bands|
|Garmin vívosmart||for sports, accurate||LCD touchscreen display|
|Scosche RHYTHM||for professionals, extremely accurate||8 hours of use|
|Moov Now||for swimmers, solid waterproofing||3D 9-axis sensor, 8 workout modes|
|Garmin vívofit 3||auto activity detection||1-year battery life, audio alerts|
|Letsfit||14 training modes||OLED display, GPS tracking|
|TwobeFit||14 training modes||GPS tracking|
|Lintelek||14 training modes||OLED display, GPS tracking|
|Runme||10 sport modes||OLED display, GPS tracking|
1. Fitbit Charge 2: Most Versatile Smart HRM Bracelet Under $150
If you are looking for a smart HRM bracelet that offers a wider range of top-tier features than pretty much everyone else on the market, Fitbit is the place to go. As one of the first makers of consumer fitness bracelets, there are few features that come out which Fitbit does not add to one or more of their products. Granted, if you want the best, you will certainly have to pay for it. However, that is not much of an issue for those seeking a product that can satisfy the vast majority of their needs.
Of course, Fitbit makes its name on convenience as much as it does effectiveness, and the Charge 2 is no stranger in that respect either. First, this smart HRM bracelet provides a solid OLED display that works as a touchscreen. Though, this product is noted for feeling a bit flimsier than some of the others that we reviewed. This smart HRM bracelet is definitely not made for an obstacle course, but it can actually handle a wide variety of environments exceptionally well.
That is because this the Charge 2 has some of the best ratings for temperature and elevation that we have seen. In terms of temperature, the Charge 2 will function perfectly when it is as cold as 14 degrees Fahrenheit to as hot as 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Though, there is a good chance that you may not necessarily get the full use out of this smart HRM bracelet altitude function because it works up to 30,000 feet in the air. There are few mountains that get that tall and even fewer that are not freezing at that height.
Why We Recommend the Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate
2. Fitbit Alta HR: Best Fitness Watch for Women
If you simply took a look at the spec sheet, it would not surprise us if you confused this Fitbit model for some of their other models. This is in a large part because the Fitbit Alta HR is another in the brand’s high-end fitness bracelet lineup. The good news with this is that you can expect the Alta HR to provide a wealth of features that are not always as common on even many of the other top-tier smart HRM bracelet brands. The downside to this is that the Alta HR is one of the most expensive smart HRM bracelets that we reviewed.
Still, this smart HRM bracelet sets itself apart from some of the other Fitbit options in some aesthetically unique ways. For one, the wristband of this smart HRM bracelet is significantly slimmer than many of the others on our list. However, the wristband has a few other features that shift it towards the fashion-friendly mindset too. For instance, you can quickly and easily switch out the included wristband with a wide range of options –
including many that are distinctly intended to make a fashion statement.
You will not have to worry about missing out on any important calls or messages either. This smart HRM bracelet syncs with your phone and will deliver alerts when you receive a call, text, and for important calendar dates too. This can take the form of a visual cue on the crystal clear OLED display or can be conveyed through a subtle vibration. In fact, the only legitimate complaint about this smart HRM bracelet is that it is not as accurate as some of the best – but still more accurate than most.
Why We Recommend the Fitbit Alta HR
3. Garmin vívosmart: Best Exercise Watch with Heartbeat Monitor Under $100
Garmin may seem like an odd company to be headlining our list – specially when other brands are more notable and have been around for a lot longer, but the Vívosmart does such a great job of blending features and accuracy that it is hard not to be impressed with this smart HRM bracelet. Whether you simply want a convenient companion to help you stay motivated or a legitimate powerhouse to push you to the limit, the Garmin Vívosmart has you covered.
First, this is by far one of the most accurate smart HRM bracelets that we saw. This is easily the most important factor to consider whether you are simply casually working out or training for a marathon. Inaccurate results will not provide you with meaningful information to then tailor your workout. That said, the biking function for the Vívosmart is not the best, but all of the others are exceptionally accurate. The only consistent issue is that there is no automatic tracking function, so you must manually set the Vívosmart to track or monitor every time.
Beyond the accuracy of the Vívosmart, it also comes with a wide range of other features which are extremely convenient. For one, this smart HRM bracelet features an LCD display that will remain bright even in direct sunlight. On top of the clarity of the display, this is also one of the more convenient smart HRM bracelets to navigate due to its touchscreen controls.
Why we recommend Garmin Vívosmart to you
4. Scosche RHYTHM: Best Professional Smart HRM Bracelet for Men
Like some of the other brands on our list, those familiar with Scosche might find it a bit odd to be entering the smart HRM bracelet market. This is because Scosche has made far more of a name for itself in the audio industry – specifically automotive audio products. That said, this has not stopped Scosche from producing one of the absolute best smart HRM bracelets for professional training that we found.
For one, the Scosche is the only smart HRM bracelet we saw which can comfortably and securely be strapped to your upper arm, rather than at your wrist. While it might seem a bit precarious of a location for a smart HRM bracelet, it is noted for not slipping at all. This is likely because the entirety of this product was designed to be IP67 waterproof. This means that not only does it resist sweat, but you can even take it in the pool with you too.
In terms of tracking, the Scosche might actually be the best product we saw. For one, it features an incredibly accurate heart rate monitor. Still, that is not the most impressive part about its tracking features. While it does not feature the breadth of compatibility that some Fitbit models offer, it does still function perfectly with a majority of the most popular fitness bracelet apps on either Android or iOS markets. However, it is the ANT+ integration and the ability to track your progress on multiple monitors through a Smart Bluetooth channel that is the most impressive. This means that you get 100’ of range – the farthest on our list by far –
with multiple coaches and trainers able to access your training information in real time.
5. Moov Now: Best Swimming Smart Heart Rate Monitor Watch
Moov Now is a relative newcomer to the fitness tracking market. Founded in 2014 by three professionals with successful ties across Silicon Valley, it was designed to provide a convenient experience that few others could offer. That said, this is definitely a smart HRM bracelet focused on capturing the casual market as opposed to the enthusiast or competitor markets of our other top-performing products reviewed.
The vocal coaching functions of the Moov Now are ideal for someone who is just starting out or trying to maintain a fairly consistent workout schedule. This function coordinates your real-time action with a pre-set workout level to offer tips on how to best reach your fitness goals. However, you are definitely somewhat limited in those goals, as the coach is not intended to push you to your limit but rather keep you within an “optimal zone.”
Regardless, easily the best feature about the Moov Now has to be the robust swim tracking functions and design that are unparalleled at this price point. Aside from the fact that it is waterproof, though only up to 3 meters in depth – the disk tracks a wide range of swimming features. Using its 3D, 9-axis sensor, this smart HRM bracelet can not only tell you how long your swimming stroke is or how many laps you have done, but it can even recognize what type of swimming stroke you are using and when you make a turn at the wall.
6. Garmin vivofit 3 Activity Tracker: Best Battery Smart HRM Bracelet
Garmin may have made of the better smart HRM bracelets on the market, but this model is definitely geared more for the user who simply wants to put their smart HRM bracelet on and more or less forget about it. That said, this is at least the top-tier of the Garmin Vívofit lineup. However, you will definitely have to accept a bit of limitation when it comes to extended features.
In terms of the good, the Vívofit 3 maintains the high level of accuracy that you would come to expect from a Garmin product. Being as this is arguably the most important factor, you may be able to forgive some of the Vívofit 3’s shortcomings. Potentially just as exciting as the accuracy of this smart HRM bracelet is the fact that the battery lasts a full year. While you cannot recharge this smart HRM bracelet and will have to replace the battery once it fails, not having to constantly remember to charge it may be worth the $5 per year battery cost.
While the accuracy and long battery life are nice, there are still some serious limitations in terms of its breadth. For instance, the actual training regimens available are the least that we saw. Another glaring omission that is a first is the absence of notifications for texts or calls. Considering robust training functions and notification alerts are all but ubiquitous for this market, their absence is potentially deal-breaking for some people.
7. Letsfit Fitness Tracker HR: Best Training Smart HRM Bracelet
Letsfit is close to the least expensive smart HRM bracelet that we saw, though it is not quite the cheapest. Still, it is impressive specifically in that it offers more training modes than virtually every other product we reviewed. While some of the other smart HRM bracelets can meet the 14 training modes, none of them can do so while also offering the custom training features the Letsfit does.
The fact that this smart HRM bracelet allows you custom tailor your workout through their app is actually fairly impressive. Even many of the big name smart HRM bracelet brands do not offer this function. Beyond that, the Letsfit also provides more alerts than most of the other products in this price range extending well-beyond simple texts and calls and including social media alerts as well.
8. TwobeFit: Best Budget Smart Bracelet with Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor
Sometimes you simply want a product that is the least expensive in its market. Whether this is because the product is not inherently that important for your day-to-day activities or you simply do not have the excess cash to invest in something more expensive, the point remains that there exists a demand for the most budget-friendly product in any market.
For the smart HRM bracelet, that product is the TwobeFit. The good thing about this is that the TwobeFit is not appreciably worse than any of the other budget-minded products that we reviewed. The bad part about this is that the TwobeFit is not appreciably better and suffers many of the same issues as other budget-level smart HRM bracelets. The most notable instance of this is that the heart rate monitor is not accurate at the extremes.
9. Lintelek Fitness Tracker: Quickest Charging Heart Rate Monitor Watch
In the budget realm of smart HRM bracelets, you ultimately have to pick your poison. Virtually all of them have consistency and accuracy issues when it comes to tracking, though some of them are able to hone in on a metric or two and provide a reasonably good function. Still, when you venture into the world of budget smart HRM bracelets, you should have a good idea of what is your main desire.
If you opt for the Lintelek, you should definitely be someone who does not have much time to spare. This is because the Lintelek is by far the quickest charging smart HRM bracelet that we found. In fact, this smart HRM bracelet charges anywhere from 50 percent to twice as quickly as its next closest competitor and blows some of the other smart HRM bracelet charging times out of the water. Taking only a single hour to get to a full charge, you should have no issue getting a good work out even if you only charge it for a few dozen minutes.
10. Runme Fitness Tracker: Budget Smart Wristband with Heartbeat Monitor
Runme begins the budget portion of the list which carries with it some distinct limitations which might not make it a great choice for everyone. For instance, if you are a serious fitness enthusiast and especially if you are training for any kind of competitive fitness activity, like a marathon, the Runme is not nearly accurate for your needs. That said, it is a bit more accurate than most of the other budget smart HRM bracelets we saw.
The Runme does offer a fair number of features that do make it attractive. The OLED display is clear and a decent size for a smart HRM bracelet. This bracelet will provide text and call notifications and comes with 10 different sports modes. A surprising addition to a budget smart HRM bracelet is the inclusion of GPS tracking for distance and routes.
What is the best smart HRM bracelet?
As we can see, the smart heart rate monitor watches market has a wide range of prices and qualities. What makes a smart HRM bracelet the best for one person will inevitably fall short for another. The casual exerciser is likely not to need as robust or accurate a product as a someone dedicated to their fitness. Likewise, the person who is simply looking to maintain an extremely healthy lifestyle is unlikely to require the precision and advanced tracking features that someone training for professional endurance might.
In this vein, our recommendations are more geared towards those who demand more from their smart HRM bracelet. For instance, the individual who is serious about their health training but is not actually looking to compete in any kind of marathon or triathlon would likely be fine with the Fitbit Charge 2. This smart HRM bracelet will provide an amazing level of accuracy, but many of its functions are relatively basic – most notably the absence of any kind of specific exercise modes.
Of course, not every model of Fitbit will suit each person’s needs. For instance, women are likely to not appreciate the larger, bulkier profile of the Fitbit Charge 2 but still want the kind of dependability that Fitbit is known for. In this regard, the Alta HR is a solid alternative and even offers the ability to customize the wristband and display. If you are willing to eschew the heart monitor, it can even be worn as a locket. Even better, it comes with all the features of the Charge 2 except GPS.
For a more advanced individual who may want to compete, the Garmin comes within a hair of the Fitbit’s accuracy but provides a wealth of tools absent from the Fitbit. Whether you look at the impressive display, the heart rate monitor, or the laundry list of information available through the app, the Garmin’s touchscreen provides all the information you could need to tailor your workout and training regimen to reach your peak performance.
How to Choose the Best Smart HRM Bracelet: 4 Most Important Parameters
It should go without saying that the best heart rate monitor watches are invariably not only accurate but some of the most accurate options on the market. That said, there is actually a fair amount of variance between a great smart HRM bracelet and a mediocre one. This generally starts with the hardware and the firmware – for those of you unfamiliar, the firmware is the basic programming that controls the hardware’s physical actions.
For the hardware, there are a fair number of different types of sensors used depending on the variable measured, though the most common center around position and, obviously, heart rate. The latter is generally seen as the more important – considering the product type in the first place – but the former is actually the one the users have a tendency to care about more – regardless what they say. Basically, unless you are actively training for competition, you are far more likely to compare the number of steps you take in a day – because it is an easy, definite number – than you are your various heart rates throughout the day. The primary exception to this would be people using the HRM for prognostic purposes as a way to get healthier.
For the heart rate, few of the sensors are truly different in type, though there is a veritable chasm of distance between the higher-end models and the cheaper alternatives in terms of accuracy. For positional sensors, on the other hand, the two major types tend to be GPS and gyroscope – both of which can be exceedingly accurate but also come with potential pitfalls. When it comes to gyroscopes, the rub lies with the fact that it is difficult to make them exceptionally accurate and relatively easy to disrupt the alignment. With a product that is inherently designed to track motion, gyroscopes are simply at significant risk of becoming inaccurate over time and use – potentially even from being shipped. With GPS sensors, the issue instead becomes one of connectivity with innumerable variables potentially affecting the accuracy. Regardless, the sensors are the most important quality when choosing a heart monitor, and the accuracy of such usually sets the floor on the price.
Because heart rate monitor watches both rely on incredibly delicate sensors and are simultaneously put in harm’s way more than arguably any other product you use, their durability is often as paramount when picking one as the accuracy of the sensors – otherwise, you will have a $100 plastic bracelet in a year or two. That said, manufacturers have actually tackled this problem from more angles than arguably any other engineering decision related to HRM bracelets. This provides a plethora of options, but each one will also come with their own inherent drawback.
The most common solution is to simply use materials in the construction that are resistant to a variety of different forces. To this end, the most common type of material used for the bracelet strap is plastic, with various types providing their own minor benefits and flaws. After plastic, there is a sharp drop off with metal coming in at second – generally, aluminum or stainless steel to provide some inherent resistance to rust or corrosion. One potential concern is if the HRM bracelet has a display because the material will be vital in determining the overall durability of the product.
The display can likewise be made of many different materials, but the two most common are glass and polycarbonate. While the best glass displays will provide the clearest and truest image quality, polycarbonate is, strictly speaking, the most durable material commonly used for a smart bracelet display. It is also worth noting that polycarbonate is significantly easier to make accurately and thus is also less expensive when used. On the other hand, if you are willing to spend at the upper limit, there are plenty of glass displays that are just as strong as polycarbonate with significantly better image quality.
One novel approach that many manufacturers have taken to reduce the risk of failure from the display is by removing it altogether. This can be done a couple ways with the most common coming in the form of a memory bank that is then uploaded onto another device. In this instance, you are not able to see the information in real-time – though some manufacturers have avoided this issue by providing a Bluetooth connection. This feature allows you to stream the memory to a secondary device, usually a smartphone. Alternatively, other manufacturers have moved to embed the actual bracelet strap with LED lights that glow from underneath a thin layer of plastic.
Second, to the materials used is the way that the smart bracelet is designed – something that we covered briefly with the display. In this instance though, we are referring more to the protections that the design of the product provides. The most common type of protection a smart bracelet will offer is waterproofing, represented by the IPXX rating where the “X” is a number with the higher the better. For HRM bracelets, the most common type of waterproofing hovers in the 6 to 7 range – though some higher-end models used while diving can go above 8.
As mentioned prior, manufacturers have approached the aspect of displays when considering the durability of the bracelet, but just as important is finding the sweet spot with image quality. This can be difficult because the more durable the displays are, generally the lower the ceiling on image quality. The exception to this rule is if money is not an object and you are willing to spend obscene amounts. As such, a smart bracelet under $100 is going to force some tough decisions in regards to the display.
If you are looking for quick and easy, polycarbonate is incredibly impact-resistant while also providing exceptional optical quality. In fact, most sunglasses lenses are made of polycarbonate specifically because they are shatter-proof and still provide excellent optical quality – to the point that it is used in many professional and industrial applications. The only issue with polycarbonate is that it will not provide the best image quality – though it is still great considering its durability.
Generally, the alternative to a polycarbonate display is glass, but the glass will need to be fairly thick if it is expected to deal with the daily stress of being worn on the wrist without scratching or cracking. This means that the glass will then need to be ground precisely so that the display does not warp or distort either the image or its colors. While this is the ideal solution – especially if a prominent lens manufacturer like Zeiss is involved – it also happens to be significantly more expensive.
After the display material, the next consideration is how the display is lit up which is generally accomplished with either LED or LCD. Keep in mind, LED in this instance does not really refer to the LED embedded light display as that is functionally more similar to an LCD. In this instance, LED refers to the way televisions use LEDs – without the issue of light bleeding from the edges of the image. Though, LED displays are notorious for not being as bright as LCD displays and they are also generally more expensive. Still, LED displays will ultimately provide the best image quality and, as the displays are used for smart bracelets, can provide more information than LCD displays.
Often considered more of a convenience than a necessity, the continued and increasing interconnectedness of our devices means that many features or even the entire bracelet may not function without proper connectivity. As such, it is still a good idea to figure out what the different types of connectivity offer and in what ways they are limited. Broadly speaking, there are wired and wireless connections, but even within the wireless category, the different connections generally serve completely different purposes.
For the wired connection, however, the smart bracelet will generally use a micro or mini USB that plugs into the device while a standard USB port will then charge the device as well as assist with data transfer to other hardware – generally a laptop or PC. That said, the wireless connections include primarily Bluetooth and GPS with each type of connection serving entirely different functions such that you may well want both if you have the option.
GPS connections are often used in lieu of certain gyroscope sensors and provide both micro and macro level information. This information can be anything from how many steps you take in a day to what the route those steps took. In this instance, the GPS connectivity is only as good as the satellite servicing it which can be difficult to impossible to know ahead of time. The best way to figure it out is to look for a brand that already provides exceptional GPS-based products.
When it comes to the Bluetooth connection, this generally has more to do with uploading the information to a secondary device without having to plug in the smart bracelet. This is especially useful if you are using your HRM bracelet to track your workout – whether for training or simply self-betterment. That said, Bluetooth connections are often dependent on the protocol used with the more advanced protocol generally providing the better quality connection. It is also worth noting that Bluetooth protocols below 4.0 will have a short lifespan and the Bluetooth protocols under 3.0 are more frustrating than they are useful at this point.