I selected about twenty models, from the simplest to the most successful, and I elected the Huawei Band 2 best-connected bracelet of the moment.
Do not forget to check my shopping guide at the end of the comparison, and ask all your questions in the comments!
The best cheap connected bracelets
Connected wristbands have a beautiful minimalist design, they are sensitive devices that use advanced technologies. So I was very cautious in studying the entry-level offers, which sometimes lead to the scam. And it was difficult to avoid – or to identify – the pitfalls that are sometimes strained in this price range: faulty batteries, programmed obsolescence … That’s why I only retained two models less than 100 € that I can really advise. Their particularity?
Reliable cardio data, good connectivity options, good ergonomics and – most importantly – a battery that holds up. Let’s take a look!
Huawei Band 2: the best cheap
It is a shame that the Huawei Band 2 has so lacked visibility in France. On the other side of the Atlantic, we’re tearing ourselves apart. And for good reason, once again Huawei has reversed the market with one of the cheapest fitness bracelets, yet full of features.
This little silicone bracelet uses a very popular design: the OLED screen is not fully tactile. We navigate through the options of the bracelet via a sensor located below it. If you had to express regret, I would say that the lack of brightness of the screen is a real problem outdoors.
Let’s talk about options now, and there are many! Coupled with the Huawei Wear application, there is access to a clever collection of steps, calories burned, sleep cycles, trips by bike, running, or swimming, and average cardio.
This is an excellent point for Huawei: there are more functions than on the Xiaomi Mi Band for example. The app, however, lacks panache when compared to other competitors like Apple Health. The somewhat bland interface is intuitive but does not offer many satisfying graphical representations of statistics, as Garmin can do.
I note however that with the exception of metric data – a bit approximate – the data collected by the Huawei Band 2 are very accurate for a product sold at that price. It offers all the essentials that will serve a lambda user, for a budget that is accessible to him. If it’s just about setting fitness goals, monitoring your activity and sleep, and being able to compile accurate sports statistics, the Huawei Band 2 does a very, very good job. And this for a price that defies any competition!
Xiaomi Mi Band 2 HR: The entry-level that really has the essentials
Xiaomi is better known for its smartphones. Yet since the investment of the brand in the field of connected bracelets, it has made a box.
If the prospect of “buying Chinese” scares you, you should know that Xiaomi is known in the industry as a brand that produces and sells almost exclusively in Asia. And if entry-level export products can be scary, you have to admit that Xiaomi has a proven track record. The Mi Band 2 is one of the few devices of this brand available on the European market. How is he doing?
Let’s talk about design. It is a silicone band, both narrow and solid, in the center of which is an OLED scrcentrehe good news? The wristband can be purchased separately by pushing the center case out of the sheath. In fact, it is perfectly possible to choose another color or to change the bracelet for a few euros if it is damaged.
More compact than major competitors like Fitbit, it fits all wrist sizes globally. We liked the second point of attachment that ensures that it is in place.
Another smart point, the ability to remove the case allows a much more intuitive load: the power port is at the edge of the device, and it is connected to a suitable charger. This also allows to offer a perfect seal without increasing the price: it is the silicone bracelet itself that prevents water from seeping into the device. More? It weighs only 17 grams. It is designed to be discreet and to be forgotten: and it works.
Because the screen is so small, it can focus more brightness. Unlike other models (sometimes much more expensive), the readability remains very correct in full light. Most actions are done via the Mi app on a smartphone connected in Bluetooth. The attention seems that the coupling of the device is much easier from an iPhone.
For the basic actions offered by this bracelet, the screen is not tactile. It is necessary to use the small pad under this last one: it is sensitive and sufficiently reactive.
It is obviously not equipped with all the options available on the market, but it has the essential. Step counting, calories calculation, sleep monitoring, cardio statistics … Everything is connected to the app, quite intuitive, which has sharing options and graphics. It also vibrates in case of mobile notifications (whatsapp, mail …). And the battery lasts about two weeks if we activate the Bluetooth only when it is relevant!
The best-connected bracelets of mid-range
Beyond 100 €, one can expect systematic cardiac data collection (HR). It is also in this price range that we will have the most complete connectivity options. Ideally, you can export the data and consult it from your smartphone or PC.
We expect more versatility, a nice screen to use, and a neat design.
Samsung Gear Fit 2: the best mid-range
With a midrange bracelet, complete and effective, Samsung succeeds the tour de force to impose simultaneously in the world of activity trackers and connected watches.
You must know the technologies that embark on it to forgive its design more imposing than most other models that we tested. With a thick 1.5 “wide rectangular screen, it is effectively less mat. But the AMOLED technology allows it satisfactory readability, even in full sun. The image quality is certainly superfluous in the field of connected bracelets, but the fact that the screen is in color and with contrasts so deep brings real satisfaction. And it provides 322ppi resolution!
On the wrist, it is comfortable. The curve of the screen is well thought out so that it perfectly matches the morphology without having a sensation of rigidity. And to recharge it? Just put it on its base.
Thanks to integrated 4GO, it allows to embed music, and an effective bluetooth 4.2 allows to connect to wireless headphones.
The OS is not Android, it’s software developed by Samsung: Tizen. This Korean operating system is proven to be fluid and is packed with activities and options. Intuitive health information tracking, tips, motivation, counting calories, number of steps and – of course – cardio information.
You can, of course, pair it with an Android or iOS phone to export, view and share data.
It is also equipped with a GPS, and if this option is always welcome, it is probably where it stuck. Compared to other less comprehensive models, the Samsung Gear Fit 2’s battery life performance seems low. With a battery of the only 200mAh for all these features, it is unlikely that your bracelet is more than 3 days.
Another flaw: it is not waterproof! If it supports without a shower or splash, this device is not thought to be in total submersion. Swimmers: go your way. Your happiness lies further.
But if these last points do not scare you, the Samsung Gear Fit 2 has it all!
TomTom Spark 3 Cardio: A classic that has all the essentials
We start to know TomTom well. The brand, which has specialized in navigation and is well placed to move into the autonomous car industry, launched its Spark three years ago. The idea? Offer a sports-oriented smart watch that does not clutter with any unnecessary flourish. And if Spark 1 and 2 were not quite up to scratch, the 3 deserves a place in our top.
The first thing I noticed was the care that was given to its design. TomTom focuses on comfort and ergonomics. As a result, we have a very strong bracelet, flexible enough to be comfortable, with three points of attachment and a good margin of adjustment. The “Large” model is rather advisable: it is always possible to tighten the bracelet more. Of course, the Spark 3 Cardio is completely waterproof.
With its 76 grams and 22x25mm small screen, he knows how to be forgotten and make himself indispensable. One might think that a black and white screen, in 2017, was a daring bet. But the gain on price and autonomy is undeniable. The small surprise, however: the screen is not tactile. Control and menu are done via buttons, the old fashioned. Disappointment? Not really. The controls are intuitive, and the user becomes more fluid. Especially the imperfection of the touch screen, which can ruin the user experience, has cost many bracelets their place in this top.
Regarding the operating system, TomTom has developed its own firmware, compatible with Android and iOS via the application MySports Connect. It is mainly an app for data collection and statistical consultation, with maps, tracking, calories lost, etc … All this information is also available on the screen in real time.
The version of Spark 3 that we have selected is the Cardio. There are much more complete models that include connectivity to music. But the bill doubles and the performance does not follow compared to other models.
With only a cardio tracker and an onboard GPS, I found that the essential was there. Especially since the quality of these two devices is excellent. GPS is fast and accurate, and for good reason: it’s one of TomTom’s areas of excellence. The monitoring of cardio data is sufficiently scrupulous to be relevant and brings a real added value to your fitness routine.
The programs available are well thought out, fluid, and motivational. It recognizes the type of sport you do, collects cardio data automatically, and lets you set up custom programs. You can set goals, and a point gain option can “gamify” a little training.
The battery is not extraordinary, but it is a very good road. We are entitled to 11 hours of autonomy when using GPS. But for those who just want to track their physical activity, including sleep, the Spark 3 is three weeks!
Garmin Vivosmart 3: The Fitness Alternative
Garmin is another company that specializes in digital mapping. What a surprise, therefore, to discover that their connected bracelet was not equipped with a GPS! If he is part of this top, he has other things to offer.
In terms of design, we finally see the appearance of a touch screen while length. These 21 grams watch is discreet and offers remarkable comfort. The coating is silicone, as for many other models. We particularly liked the exterior design, minimalist and successful. Of course, it is waterproof too.
The screen is quite small, with a matte rendering. It is an OLED that blends with the coating of the watch, which gives it a somewhat futuristic appearance. Touch is surprising in its speed and fluidity of use. The Vivosmart software is quite complete in the field of sport.
While I regret the lack of a GPS – explained by its small size – I could see the speed of response and accuracy of cardio data. In addition, most features are transported to the phone via a Bluetooth system. The watch then acts as a second screen on which we receive including call and message notifications; no way to answer, however. More than the absence of GPS, I found it inexplicable that the watch can not connect to that of the phone. It would have been an acceptable solution, if only.
This particularity allows him to shine on a plane: autonomy. I measured an average battery duration of 5 days, which can go up to a week. And recharging takes less than an hour.
For a device of this size, it is well equipped with sensors – light, cardio, barometer, accelerometer … With these data, the Vivosmart 3 offers a rather accurate estimate of distances traveled and average speed.
Among the features of Vivosmart, we find of course the classics (race statistics, swimming, etc …) but also some surprises. For example, this bracelet can calculate the number of arm raises for bodybuilding.
The social aspect of the companion app is a real source of motivation. It allows you to measure yourself against other users, to consult through an intuitive interface the stats of your performances, and to share this data via social networks. Note that this app is common to all Garmin wristbands launched after 2015.
In short, it is a rather complete connected bracelet for the sportsmen. If it offers some connectivity options with the phone (for messages, calls …), its most effective use is still that of an activity tracker, which he excels in front of other competitors.
The best high-end connected bracelets
The high end is a market a little more complicated to understand. Indeed, one would be tempted to say that the models between 100 and 200 € already cover a large part of the contexts of use. And from there, it seems that the price and features of the most expensive bracelets are a little extra.
But I found for you two models a little different, for two different contexts of use. Their common point? The hardware and comfort is up to the price, with a greater variety of sensors and high accuracy of data. However, it is not in this category that we will find bracelets connected with the greatest autonomy.
Garmin Forerunner 235: the best high-end
It is undoubtedly the oldest bracelet of this classification. So why include it? Revolutionary at the time, it is now much cheaper than its replacements, always more expensive. In the meantime, it remains one of the most versatile and pleasant models to use.
With its comfortable and flexible silicone band, micro-perforated to allow the skin to breathe, it has been thought for action. The 1.23 “(diameter) display is the right size battery to ensure optimal readability without unduly hampering movements. Again – and we can understand it for a screen of this size – Garmin does not rely on touch but buttons. Personally, I preferred this option. A touch of excellent quality can increase the bill; a poorer one can ruin the user experience.
If we decided to include this top, it is thanks to the accuracy of the cardio data, and the fact that we can couple the watch with ANT +. These are sensors that can be placed on the chest for a more precise analysis. Reading the graphs on the smartphone can be a bit difficult at first, as the information is numerous. However, some options can be made apparent or invisible, depending on the type of info that is important.
Because the Forerunner 235 does not only calculate your sporting activity. It is designed to be worn continuously and help you organize your life according to your needs and goals that you set for yourself.
Of course, it is equipped with a built-in GPS to better track your routes and speed statistics. However, it should be noted that as always this option has a heavy impact on the battery and we learn to do without it.
Communication with companion app – and Garmin Connect PC/Mac software – is optimal. It allows you to set schedules, schedule workouts, and combine time series data. Its use is fluid and may be suitable for high-level athletes who need to organize their routine accurately.
In conclusion, we can say this: the Garmin Forerunner 235 was at the time an extremely useful semi-pro connected bracelet. The accuracy of the information and the variety of sensors it has allows a truly complete use. Whether for a medical follow-up or a health routine, this device is a good way to better control your body, but also to better understand it.
The problem? To take advantage of these niche advantages, you have to be ready to sacrifice some of the more playful options that some cheaper bracelets have. In this case, it is the music that goes by the trap … Too bad!
TomTom Adventurer: The champion of the outdoor sport
The adventurer; that’s the idea. This connected bracelet is not the best choice for weight lifters or room lovers. It is a relatively complete device that is rather focused on intense sport: swimming, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, running … And for good reason, TomTom develops above all GPS; and guess what the Adventurer embarks? probably one of the best systems of geolocation for the connected bracelet.
We had to sacrifice something to include so much technology in one device, and we notice it right away. It is a bracelet a little imposing, that one would hardly want to wear daily on his wrist. The screen is wide enough and provides good readability, but it is not tactile. For that, we must rely on the small pad that, is under the screen, which also contains the GPS box.
With 3GB of embedded music, a cable to connect to the PC, a Windows / Mac partner software, an Android / iOS companion app, we are delighted with the options available. We can obviously use it for all that is imaginable: sharing live routes, cardio statistics, calories burned, motivation programs … But we also fear for autonomy. And we do well: if TomTom displays 2 days of battery – which is already a bit low – the use of powerful integrated GPS reduces it to reasonably 24 hours. If you use non-stop GPS, the bracelet will be flat in 11h only.
We must forgive him this point when we know that it has a battery of sensors, all very relevant for outdoor use. Compass, barometer, altimeter, cardio sensors …
It has however been noted that the statistics from this last one are a little exaggerated, and one fears an enthusiasm, worse, positivism sports a little too rushed. To calculate the distance traveled in kilometers when the GPS is off, it establishes immediately that a step represents about one meter. Result? I found that by traveling the same distance, you get different results on the Garmin Vivosmart than on the TomTom Adventurer. In fact, the estimate of calories burned is also to be revised downwards.
Cyclists, hikers, skiers, in a word adventurers, the TomTom is a well connected bracelet. It allows you to ship your music with you, connects to almost anything and juggles fluidly with the data it extracts.
How to choose a bracelet connected? Purchase guide
Simple activity tracker, survival GPS for the modern adventurer or sport-oriented smartwatch? Everyone can find his account on the market of connected bracelets … Provided you know how to navigate!
How much does it cost?
There are bracelets connected between 10 and 300 €. Finding the one you need is all about deciding what you need and adjusting your budget accordingly.
If you’re not a big sportsman and you just want to motivate you to exercise more, a simple step counter is enough: it’s the least expensive and most frequently used feature.
Of all the proposed sensors, which ones are important?
Admittedly, we can find a package of sensors on a connected bracelet. Some models sometimes offer a dozen to monitor and collect data as varied as the intensity of the sun, the number of steps, the route or the heartbeat. It should be kept in mind that each additional sensor will directly impact the battery life. But sustainable autonomy remains one of the main advantages of a well connected bracelet. The idea is still to be able to forget it and let it monitor your activity; not to monitor and plug in every 24 hours.
The important thing is, from the outset, to sort out what interests you. Here are some of the most useful sensors:
Step Counting – This is probably the basis. The first bracelets connected were already equipped with this function. Moreover, it is far from new: pedometers have been around since the 90s. They make it possible to estimate the distance traveled and are much less expensive than GPS. If they are well calibrated, they can replace it – to a certain extent.
GPS – Over long distances, it ensures perfect accuracy, where the pedometer will accumulate errors. It also works for more varied sports activities such as cycling or skiing. The other advantage, and it is not negligible, is that we can share his itinerary on social networks and make it a motivation. Abandonment 10km from the end, when all your acquaintances are watching you, this is no longer an option. An integrated GPS can also supplant bracelets that just use that of your phone. One of the issues trackers, it is precisely to be able to leave his smartphone at home.
Cardio – This sensor will be rated HR (Heart-rate) on the product sheets. Its advantage? It is a passive sensor that consumes little energy, and it allows to generate statistics on a whole day. Athletes will know that it is a precious piece of information to control your physical activity. Disadvantage? With a few exceptions, it is a rather expensive option.
Calories burned – Connected wristbands equipped with HR provide a more accurate estimate of this data. If it remains approximate, it is very valuable for users who want to go on a diet.
Sleep Statistics – This is one of my favorite options. Some days, I feel exhausted without knowing why. Monitoring your sleep cycles helps you understand your body’s behavior. Several sensors make it possible to establish a precise statistic, including a motion sensor. The primary utility? Connected wristbands that monitor your sleep usually have an alarm system that wakes you up when your cycle is over. This feature really changes life for the grumpy waking.
Questions? Suggestions? Do not hesitate to contact me in the comments!