Six of the seven products tested: Small devices, big differences
Photo: Rainer Claassen
There are many methods you can use to push yourself to exercise regularly.
One of them is the use of a fitness tracker.
Not only do the devices track the activities you do while you're wearing them, most can be set to provide regular reminders, daily goals, and small rewards to help ensure you actually stick to your good intentions on a regular basis.
However, the selection of devices is enormous, and there are considerable differences in the prices.
We took a closer look at a few bracelets and were sporty with them.
Conclusion after a few days of testing: The motivation can definitely be increased through the analysis.
How long the effect lasts may also depend on how well the functions, design and structure of the associated smartphone app can be integrated into one's own life.
The products at a glance:
Honor Band 6 fitness bracelet with heart rate monitor (49.99 euros)
– the latest model in the test has a comparatively large 1.47 inch display.
In addition to the daily number of steps and various sports, it can also log sleep and should warn its user of stress symptoms.
Fitbit Inspire Health & Fitness Tracker (68.19 euros)
– the device is particularly slim and weighs just 18 grams. It is available in the colors sangria (purple) and black.
Some settings can only be made via the smartphone app.
Garmin vívosport GPS fitness tracker (94.34 euros)
- the display of the Garmin fitness band is relatively small and does not shine particularly brightly. The device, which weighs 26.5 grams, can record many activities even if the smartphone connected to it is not in is near.
Honor Band 5 Fitness Bracelet (32.90 euros)
- the small device is controlled via the Health app from Huawei - Honor is a brand of this group.
The app offers an enormous number of options, but it is also a bit confusing.
Willful Smartwatch, 1.3 inches (39.99 euros)
– this model is a bit out of line as it is not just a fitness tracker, but also has some SmartWatch functions.
The display is significantly larger than that of the competition, and the weight is relatively high at 34.3 grams.
Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 5 Fitness & Activity Tracker (34 Euro)
one can argue about the design - the no-frills form of this model offers little scope for criticism.
The functional part can be easily detached from the bracelet and can be combined with bracelets in other colors.
Yamay fitness bracelet with blood pressure measurement (23.99 euros)
- the cheapest model in the test has an integrated USB-A connection - it is hidden in the lower bracelet holder.
To charge, the bracelet has to be pulled off, which requires some force.
This is how we tested:
Range of functions
Range of functions
– What can the devices measure and with what precision do they do it?
- do the bracelets get in the way when you're doing sports, or are you hardly aware of their presence?
- How easy or difficult are the bracelets to put on and take off?
Is it easy to connect to the app?
Can the most important functions be used directly on the device?
Can one hope for a long service life from the devices?
Are they suitable for everyday use?
Honor Band 6 fitness bracelet with heart rate monitor
With Band 6, the former Huawei subsidiary Honor is apparently trying to soften the boundary between fitness trackers and smartwatches.
The elongated display is relatively large at 1.47 inches, the color reproduction is very good, although it could be a bit brighter in the sun.
The narrow bracelet closes reliably and is comfortable to wear, the processing quality is good.
The supplied charging cable is magnetically clamped to the device, but can only be plugged in correctly in one direction.
However, this is not necessary all too often.
Honor promises a runtime of 14 days, the test device still had 37 percent remaining capacity after eleven days.
The Honor Band 6 offers a total of ten modes for sports such as running, swimming and cycling.
During running training, the measurement of the stride length was correct, but the measured running distance was below the running distance measured in parallel via GPS in several test training sessions.
Here it is advisable to at least occasionally take a mobile phone connected to the device with you for comparison measurements.
Heart rate readings were accurate.
Remarkably good is the very extensive Huawei Health app, which is absolutely necessary for this fitness band and which is available for both Android and iOS.
In addition, the Band 6 can also be used for sleep analysis and has a mode that recognizes stressful situations and recommends calming breathing exercises.
For playful users there is the possibility to install different dials from a wide range of other designs.
Fitbit Inspire Health & Fitness Tracker
Despite the comparatively high price, the display of this tracker is only about 3 x 1 centimeters and only shows one color.
But at least it matches the color of the bracelet.
Various activities are automatically recorded.
This works particularly reliably for walks and jogging.
It is surprising that the heart rate is not measured, since the Fitbit device simply has no heart rate measuring function.
Movement goals can be defined in the smartphone app.
Regular reminders, which are also signaled on the bracelet, then remind you to keep an eye on them.
This includes things like eating healthy and getting enough sleep.
In order to monitor it, the manufacturer recommends wearing the bracelet in bed as well.
The app offers a lot of background information about a healthy lifestyle.
However, it very often asks to book Fitbit's premium service.
It is free for 90 days, after that it costs EUR 8.99 per month or EUR 79.99 per year.
Garmin vívosport GPS fitness tracker
At 26.5 grams, the Garmin tracker is also one of the lightweights.
At least in the black and yellow variant that we used for the test, the thing also looks sporty.
With a screen area of 20 x 8 millimeters, the display is not for the long-sighted - without good reading glasses they can hardly see anything on it.
This is also due to the fact that the display is not particularly bright.
The device primarily collects data that can then be evaluated in detail in the associated "Garmin Connect" app.
Equipment such as shoes can also be recorded there so that you can keep track of how far you have already run with them.
At least when you first start using it, the app is generous when it comes to giving incentives: after completing the first exercises, it awards the wearer the “Personal World Record” coat of arms.
However, the demands increase with more intensive use.
With the live track function, you can share your position and activity with other users - thanks to the integrated GPS module, this works quite reliably.
Bracelet and tracker are firmly connected - it is not possible to exchange the bracelet.
Honor Band 5 Fitness Bracelet
While attaching the charger is very easy with some competitors, you have to clamp this tracker into a charging cradle quite precisely - it's a bit fiddly.
The Honor brand belongs to the Huawei group.
Accordingly, the device is connected to the "Huawei Health" app, which is available for Android and iOS.
Older versions of the iPhone variant had to take a lot of criticism, but the app now works quite reliably on iPhones.
In the Android version used for the test, there are a few notchy translations, but overall it is easy to use.
In addition to the heart rate, the device can also measure the oxygen saturation of the blood - health experts, however, dispute the purpose of this function.
What is particularly striking about the otherwise soberly designed device is the very bright Amoled display.
The layout of the main screen is very whimsical and colourful, and there are many variants to choose from in the app.
The range of functions is comparatively manageable, but the app does not prompt you to switch to a paid premium version.
While all types of training can be recorded well, GPS tracking is not part of the range of functions.
Willful smart watch, 1.3 inch
The charging port on the back of the Willful smartwatch is reminiscent of the Magsafe adapters used in older MacBooks.
The charging cable is locked to the contacts by magnets.
However, this only works if the plug is put on the right way around.
Controlling the watch takes a little getting used to.
A quick turn of the arm should activate the display.
But that doesn't always work.
The range of functions is manageable - but it is relatively easy to familiarize yourself with the possibilities of the watch.
The "VeryFit Pro" app doesn't have too many functions either - which can definitely be an advantage if you don't want to be flooded with data.
While other models recognize sporting activities more or less automatically, you always have to set the start of training manually.
However, once you have understood the operating concept, it is not too difficult.
A rudimentary remote control of the smartphone via the clock can also be implemented.
This then also shows incoming calls, for example, and can be used as a remote control for the camera function.
Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 5 Fitness & Activity Tracker
The design of the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 5 is simple and sober - what is shown on the display, on the other hand, is strikingly colorful and playful.
As you might know from video games, there is also a reward system here.
Regular training can increase the so-called PAI value.
What exactly it is all about can be displayed on the bright display in a very detailed description - unfortunately only in very small font.
In addition to the heart rate, the device also measures the current stress level.
To do this, the wrist to which the band is attached must be kept still for about a minute.
However, how the value that is displayed after about a minute (it can be between 0 and 100) is calculated is not documented.
The integration into the smartphone app "Mi Fit" has been successful.
In addition to sports activities, the quality of sleep is also evaluated if you wear the smart band at night.
However, the resulting information did not correspond to the individual perception: nocturnal waking times were also documented as light sleep.
Yamay fitness bracelet with blood pressure measurement
The Yamay strap looks elegant with the rose gold rim around the display.
The range of functions is manageable.
By default, you can choose between seven displays by swiping up on the screen.
In addition to the clock, the pulse rate and a measurement of the blood pressure can be selected here.
The latter, however, does not provide any plausible values - this would also require differently dimensioned devices.
Which three sports activities are also shown here can be specified in the smartphone app.
Like the Willful Smartwatch, the band works with the “Veryfit Pro” app.
Their range of functions is also manageable compared to some other tested apps.
A help function offers many explanatory texts, which are poorly translated: What is meant by "Why did I start walking, the bracelet doesn't start pedaling?" is easy to guess, but in other cases the sentences are even more cryptic .
However, the quote points to a noticeable problem: the connection between the tracker and the smartphone was relatively unreliable.
The display is quite dark, the manageable range of functions makes handling comparatively easy.
The demands on fitness bracelets are very different.
It's a good thing that all tested devices can be more or less precisely adapted to the needs of the respective user via an app.
However, the range of functions of these apps is very different.
All devices can help to check habits, remind you of regular activities and also document their execution.
But it takes a little patience and a love of experimenting to really take advantage of the range of functions.
If the setup is successful, the devices not only support you in sports: They also display messages and incoming calls from the smartphone.
The Garmin vívosport GPS fitness tracker has a particularly large range of functions, but its operation is quite complex.
A particularly good all-rounder with a bright display is the Honor Band 5.