The Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro isn't just the ultimate fitness tracker, it's everything you'd want in a wearable.
WINNER: Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro
Samsung has been delivering some excellent fitness trackers over the years but not everyone was expecting the company to dominate the market as much as it did in 2017, with the Gear Fit2 Pro Fitness Tracker proving to be the ultimate offering in this product category in virtually every aspect. The Korean tech giant successfully managed to blend style and functionality into a smart band that's both compact and robust, being designed to sustain not just the everyday wear and tear but also withstand dust and water submersion up to 50 meters, i.e. 165 feet. Simply speaking, the build quality of the Gear Fit2 Pro is next to none and this fitness tracker both looks and feels like a truly premium device that you'll appreciate every time you put it on your wrist.
As far as features are concerned, the Gear Fit2 Pro has virtually everything you'd come to expect from a fitness tracker, boasting a built-in heart rate monitor, GPS capabilities, and support for S Health, providing you with access to what's one of the most advanced digital fitness coaches today. Despite its versatility, Samsung's wearable is surprisingly easy to navigate and serves as a fantastic entry point into wearables while simultaneously offering so many options that it will feel like an upgrade for owners of any other fitness tracker on the market. Still, the most impressive aspect of the Gear Fit2 Pro isn't its portfolio of fitness tracking features or an excellent design but the fact that you're able to use it to its near-full potential even without a smartphone. Sure, syncing it with an Android or iOS handset is convenient but the ability to just put it on your wrist and go running while leaving your phone at home is nothing short of liberating. With 4GB of internal flash storage, the Gear Fit2 Pro will easily host your Spotify workout playlist, and while many of these features are also supported by its more affordable predecessor, the IP68 certification and a case made in accordance with the MIL-STD-810G military durability standard easily set this wearable apart.
Finally, besides stellar hardware, Samsung's new fitness tracker also ships with a massive portfolio of software, boasting not just Samsung's own services but a wide variety of third-party apps specifically optimized for it. Solutions like UA Record, MapMyRun, Endomondo, and Speedo Go are all highly specialized offerings that are a natural fit for a high-end fitness tracker and while setting everything up takes a while, a fully operational Gear Fit2 Pro virtually has no competition in the premium end of the market, save for Samsung's own Gear Fit2 from last year. As far as fitness wearables are concerned, the Gear Fit2 Pro certainly doesn't offer the best value for money but consumers not willing to make any compromises won't find a better smart band anywhere else.
Runner-up: Fitbit Charge 2
Despite strong competition, Fitbit continues to deliver excellent wearables, and its 2017 portfolio left little to be desired. While the Charge 2 may lack some of that ultra-premium feel offered by the Gear Fit2 Pro, it's a worthy runner-up in this year's fitness tracker race and the ultimate choice for people on the lookout for a highly value-oriented device. Connected GPS, VO2 Max, SmartTrack, and phone notifications are all part of the package here, as is one of the most useful features ever integrated into a fitness tracker - Multi-Sport Mode. This simple yet ingenious service allows you to not just track any workout but monitor related stats in real time so that you can correct your routine on the go if needed and possible. While the functionality isn't as useful to people who aren't gym buffs or highly engaged in another activity such as running or swimming, that doesn't make the fact that the Fitbit Charge 2 can revolutionize your routine any less impressive.
The Fitbit Charge 2 is also the best pure fitness tracker on the market with interchangeable straps, which is a major selling point for a portion of its target audience. Coupled with five-day battery life and a robust yet lightweight case that will serve you well in a wide variety of scenarios, this wearable is an incredibly easy recommendation to make when it comes to consumers who are looking for a high-quality product at a relatively inexpensive price, and yet another great example of why Fitbit's name is gradually becoming synonymous with fitness trackers.
Honorable Mention: Fitbit Alta HR
While not as feature-packed as the Charge 2, the Alta HR vowed us by being different than the competition in the sense that it focuses on a massive yet poorly serviced demographic - people who only exercise casually. Yes, the Gear Fit2 Pro and Charge 2 are incredibly useful tools for fitness buffs but if you aren't able or willing to go on a strict workout routine, you probably don't need to pay for the ability to always be aware of changes in your maximal aerobic capacity or some other niche features offered by the high-end competition. That isn't to say the Alta HR isn't a premium device; its build quality is still excellent, Fitbit's analytics and digital fitness coaching are both here, and its battery actually beats the Charge 2 by two whole days, lasting up to a week.
Couple all of those advantages with the fact that the Alta HR is one of the most intuitive wearables ever created, and you end up with an excellent choice for people who are only getting into the fitness tracking market, as well as consumers who already have some experience with this product category but are looking for an upgrade over their $15 band they got on a holiday sale two years ago. Yes, hardcore users can find a few better options but those who are afraid of being overwhelmed with features and are just looking for a reliable wearable they can use for years without having to worry about charging it every few days will find the Fitbit Alta HR to be everything they ever hoped for and then some.