Garmin and Fitbit are vying for the top spot in a competitive marketplace. Apple and Samsung have joined, working their way to becoming leaders in the fitness realm as well. When it comes to finding the best heart rate monitor you have virtually unlimited options. Therefore, the decision-making process can become a little hazy for some. Is a chest or optical monitor the best option? Do "sport-specific" modes matter? How much is too much for you to spend on a fitness tracker?
These are just a few questions that come to mind when you're looking for the best heart rate monitor. And, with each manufacturer claiming to be the best, the decision isn't always an easy one. Apart from brand-name recognition, some characteristics set the best products apart from others. So, how should you narrow down the list when it comes to choosing the best heart rate monitor? Let's consider industry leaders, new competitors, and the vast list of features, to help you find the best pick.
Table of Comparison
The Best Heart Rate Monitor of 2019
The "best heart rate monitor" is a relative term for many. For some, it is the one with the most features. Other consumers want the products with the most metrics and most accurate tracking. So what's the best product for you? These are some relevant aspects consumers should consider when selecting the best heart rate monitor.
Should I choose a chest strap or an optical heart rate monitor?
The debate between whether chest-strap or optical (wrist) are the best heart rate monitor options is an ongoing one. Proponents of chest-strap monitors claim they're more accurate than optical monitors. The reason is that they sit on top of the heart and are better for calculating accuracy in blood flow. The optical sensors rely on electric pulses instead of blood flow. Newer devices today are more accurate than older heart rate monitors with optical sensors. A significant difference between the two is the speed at which the heart rate sensor can detect the heart rate. Straps are faster than optical sensors.
What metrics do the best heart rate monitors track?
Then, there are the metrics that those considered to be the best heart rate monitor tracks. Some are more precise than others, and some watches track far more than others do. Depending on the purpose of wearing the tracker, each consumer will choose something different. Some of the key metrics that the best heart rate monitor should track include:
Some trackers also monitor GPS coordinates, UV levels, glucose, and sweat and body temperature. These trackers are more accurate because they account for more than body weight and gender. So the calculations are more accurate on these products.
Does it track sleep patterns and are sport-specific modes necessary?
Sleep tracking and sport-specific modes are also characteristics some consumers find essential. Some devices produce charts and graphs including information such as deep sleep history. They indicate how much time wearers were in a light vs. deep sleep mode. Furthermore, they can detect disruptions in sleep patterns. Some watches are more precise than others. For athletes or those who want to improve fitness levels, a sport-specific mode is another excellent monitor trait. The function allows owners to choose from a list of sports in which they're engaging to monitor heart rate. These modes are more precise and give better indications of peaks and valleys during workouts.
Our Review of the Best Heart Rate Monitors: What We Considered in the Process
Heart rate monitors come in many shapes and sizes and from dozens of leading manufacturers in the industry. For many consumers, it's about buying the latest watch from the most recognizable manufacturer. Others want a fitness tracker that accurately calculates the metrics. Our review focuses on both extremes. First, we considered the usability. We also focus on tracking accuracy and the leading industry manufacturers. Next, we chose watches with optional tracking features. We considered fitness trackers that utilize chest strap and optical sensors in our review. Ratings from owners of each product were also crucial in our review process. We want to deliver a comprehensive list of the best heart rate monitors and fitness trackers. This information, alongside prices for each product, allows consumers to find the best heart rate monitor for them.
How Much is the Best Heart Rate Monitor Going to Cost You?
The best heart rate monitor is $75 to $500. Prices vary between chest-strap and optical sensors. Additionally, the manufacturer, features, and ability to connect with smart devices also increase product pricing.
What Are the Best Wearable Devices Available Today?
Multiple manufacturers are leading the wearable fitness-tracking industry. Garmin, Fitbit, Apple, and Polar are a few of the most recognizable brands. There are — however, other great products to consider when choosing the best heart rate monitor. These are some of the best products to choose from when selecting a heart rate monitor for 2019.
- PurePulse continuous, automatic wrist-based heart rate tracking to better measure calorie burn all day
- Maximize your workouts using simplified heart rate zones (Fat Burn, Cardio and Peak)
- See call, text & calendar notifications on the OLED display; Automatically track how long and how well you sleep and wake with a silent vibrating alarm
- Get a better understanding of your fitness level and see how you can improve over time with a personalized Cardio Fitness Score; Use Connected GPS during run mode to see real-time stats like pace and distance on your wrist
- Track all-day activity like steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed and active minutes;Find moments of calm throughout your day with personalized guided breathing sessions based on your heart rate, Like all heart rate tracking technologies, accuracy is affected by physiology, location of device, and different movements.
This heart rate monitor includes interchangeable fitness bands. Owners can change the color to match their mood or outfit for the day. It utilizes PurePulse® Heart Rate tracking via the optical wrist sensor. It also has a large OLED screen with a side tap display. This design allows owners to quickly toggle from one metric to another when reviewing workout stats. It features GPS and syncs with Android and iPhone devices. Owners can receive text, call, and social alerts directly to their wrist.
All-day activity monitors steps, calories, distance, and movement throughout the day. An inactive alert vibrates if wearers aren't moving for long durations. Auto-sleep tracking monitors deep sleep patterns and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep to help owners improve sleep patterns. The Smart Track feature allows owners to track different activities. These include running and other fitness activities. The Fitbit app will enable owners to monitor their workouts and sync results onto their smartphone immediately after workouts.
One reviewer indicates this device is an upgrade from the Fitbit HR. She loves the design and usability. Furthermore, the improvements in tracking are excellent. Another reviewer suggests issues with the device not charging. Several times the battery wouldn't charge or didn't hold a charge.
This Fitbit monitor is $100 to $150. The average rating is 4.1 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
- Not Orange Theory Compatible - Heart Rate Monitor Armband Featuring a Large and Small Black Strap. Bonus Pack Includes One Additional Free Orange Armband
- RHYTHM+ works with most popular health and fitness apps, including: digifit, run keeper, mapmyfitness, Strava, and more. Not compatible with Orange Theory Fitness Centers.
- Works with all Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ enabled devices and equipment: watches, fitness equipment, smartphones, and tablets Breathable lightweight Armband - no need for a bulky chest strap
- Ip67 waterproof construction can be submerged up to 1 meter
- RHYTHM plus works with most popular health and fitness apps, including: DigiFit Run keeper MapMyFitness Strava and more
This heart rate monitor relies on patented optical sensor technology to deliver the most precise readings. The breathable neoprene armband fits around the wrist or forearm. With optical sensors, no chest strap is necessary to measure heart rate while exercising. It utilizes the PerformTek® biometric sensor. This sensor is a continuous heart rate monitor, so it keeps track of deviations throughout the day.
Owners can pair this device with over 200 fitness apps. It's compatible with smartphones and watches. It allows owners to stream fitness data real-time via Bluetooth SMART and ANT+. Its IP67 waterproof rating will enable owners to wear it in up to one meter (3.3-feet) of water. So its okay to wear it for jogging, hiking, biking, or running if it begins to rain.
Reviewers like how this device is compatible with other trackers. They can easily monitor their heart rate and sync it with watches and other fitness tracking apps. In another review, the customer indicates the band is a little clunky. This design makes it uncomfortable for long periods of use.
Consumers will pay $70 to $90 for the Rhythm+ tracker. The average rating is 3.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
- You 1st get a sizing set to find your size; ring sent once you select size/color, shipping included. Valid in USA only. (Not for export)
- 24/7 smart Ring: steps and distance tracking, heart rate, activity, calories burned, sleep monitoring
- Waterproof Ultralight titanium; 3-day battery life; charges in 90 minutes
- Online security for your accounts using 2-step verification
- 1-Year. Battery: Lithium ion
The subtle design and 24/7 tracking of this smart device recreate how heart rate monitors operate. It's a waterproof fitness tracker, pedometer, and heart rate monitor in one. It also calculates calories and distance wearers move throughout their day. There are several colors consumers can choose from once they size/fit the ring accordingly.
Security features help keep your identity safe online. The ring is waterproof, and its titanium finish is more durable than other materials. For additional online security, there is a two-step verification process owners can set up. It tracks sleep patterns, with a move indicator for periods of inactivity. The ring is waterproof up to 165-feet in depth. It's compatible with iOS and Android devices. It tracks activity types, minutes, intensity, and sleep duration. There's a find my phone feature as well as social sharing function.
In this review, one customer indicates this is a revolutionary new way to track fitness. Compact, comfortable, and it eliminates those clunky watches that aren't very accurate. In a different review, however, one customer notes it doesn't hold a battery charge. And the ring doesn't always charge consistently.
The fitness tracking ring is $190 to $250. The average rating is 3.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
- See simplified heart rate zones for quickly checking exercise intensity during workouts with PurePulse (continuous, wrist based heart rate monitoring (no uncomfortable chest strap required)
- Use multi sport tracking to track runs, cardio, cross training, biking and more; Effortlessly and automatically record other workouts to your dashboard with SmartTrack
- Enable connected GPS to map your routes and see run stats like pace and duration on display (when your phone is nearby)
The tracker features simple to read heart rate zones. This feature is excellent for tracking intensity levels and determining levels of exertion during a workout. It utilizes an optical continuous heart rate tracking system. So it monitors heart rate during the day and while wearers are sleeping as well.
This product has a multi sport-tracking function. Cross training, running, and biking, are some modes owners can set when exercising. It connects via Bluetooth to track GPS maps. Owners can map routes and outdoor trails for hiking or biking outdoors. It calculates steps, floors, calories, distance, and continuous heart rate throughout the day.
Reviewers like the notification alerts and the fact that it's compatible with iOS and Android devices. The Fitbit app syncs instantaneously after workouts are complete. In another review, however, this customer indicates the device doesn't sync with certain smart devices. This defect limits the usability of the features of the Fitbit watch.
The Fitbit Blaze is $120 to $150. The average rating is 3.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
- Premium multisport GPS watch with Elevate wrist heart rate technology
- Fit for adventure with rugged design that features stainless steel bezel, buttons and rear case. Case material : Fiber reinforced polymer with stainless steel rear cover
- Put key stats at your fingertips with the performance widget that shows the effects and progress of your workouts
- Connected features include smart notifications, automatic uploads to Garmin Connect online fitness community and personalization through free watch faces and apps from our Connect IQ store
- Outdoor sensors, including GPS and GLONASS satellite reception and 3 axis compass with gyroscope and barometric altimeter
The multisport GPS watch is the best heart rate monitor for active outdoor enthusiasts. It features Elevate™ wrist heart technology. Consumers can also invest in the chest strap for greater heart rate tracking accuracy. Smart notifications and GPS and GLONASS satellite technologies allow owners to wear this watch anywhere. In smartwatch mode, the battery lasts up to two weeks. It can last up to 60 hours in the UltraTrac™ battery saver mode.
It features training status monitoring to help athletes improve their current fitness levels. And owners can view their training load to help better enhance workouts and rest periods to enhance future workouts. There are workout profiles for swimming, golf, paddling, and other water sports. Custom watch faces and interchangeable bands allow owners to create their distinct style with this watch.
The latest technology and sapphire glass finish, are two details one customer raves about with this product. The quality and accurate tracking are also superior to other devices. Another reviewer notes that the altimeter isn't correct. Furthermore, the battery life won't last all day in specific GPS or tracking modes.
The Fenix is $400 to $600. The average rating is 4.2 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
- 1.3 Inch (340 x 272) Display, Changeable Faces with Widgets
- Displays Notifications and Runs Apps, Accelerometer and gyroscope, Heart rate sensor
- Water-Resistant to 164 feet (50 meters), Heart Rate Monitor, Built-In GPS, Barometric Altimeter
Owners can adjust the interchangeable watch faces and widgets to create their home screen. It has display notifications. It also alerts owners of text, incoming calls, and social alerts. The distance, calorie, and step-tracking rings help keep wearers moving throughout the day.
It's water resistant up to 165 feet. The watch also gets up to 18 hours of battery life on a full charge. Interval and HIIT (high-intensity training) options allow wearers to take their workouts to new levels. There are different modes to keep motivating and pushing you to new heights. These features, together with the emergency SOS function, keeps owners safe in emergencies.
The watch is elegant, functional, and great at tracking workout metrics. One reviewer claims it's excellent to motivate them to move during the day. Another reviewer indicates issues with hardware updates. And, with the new Fourth-series watch this might be an even more significant issue with this model.
The third series Apple watch is $350 to $400. The average rating is 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
- A distinctive steel bezel that you can rotate to access apps and notifications , Strap with buckle : 2.76 inches,Large strap with holes : 5.12 inches, Small strap with holes : 4.33 inches
- Text, call and get notifications directly from your watch through your Bluetooth connected smartwatch
- Make payments with Samsung Pay almost anywhere you swipe or tap a credit card; Battery Type and Size : 380mAh Li ion
- With military grade performance, the Gear S3 resists water, dust, extreme temperatures and the occasional drop; Typical Usage: up to 3 days
- Compatible with Android and iOS smartphones (compatible with select Bluetooth capable smartphones using Android OS 4.4 and later with at least 1.5GB RAM as well as iPhone 5 and later with iOS 9.0 and above; Gear S3 supported smartphones may vary by carrier and device; For a list of compatible smartphones and features
This smartwatch connects via Bluetooth and has Samsung SmartPay built-in. It's water resistant and links to GPS maps for outdoor running or fitness tracking. It's compatible with MyMapRun, MyFitnessPal, and other online fitness/food tracking apps.
Wrist-tracking heart rate monitor offers 24/7 monitoring. It also tracks calories, distance, steps taken, and floors wearers climb each day. Built-in speaker and hands-free answering allow you to answer calls or text from your wrist. It has an altimeter to track climbing heights. The watch is dust and water resistant. Turning the bezel allows owners to toggle between different apps.
Apart from fitness tracking, one reviewer claims the watch is a smart all-in-one tool. Make payments, answer calls, or even change tracks when streaming music. The Samsung watch does it all. Another reviewer, however, warns against updating the watch. The customer indicates it diminishes its capabilities and usability.
The Samsung smartwatch is $190 to $250. The average rating is 4.1 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
- ULTRA-LONG BATTERY LIFE: The Polar Vantage V Multisport Watch has up to 40 hours of training time with GPS active. As a premium, durable, and waterproof watch, the Vantage V can stand up to your toughest training and gruelling races.
- POLAR PRECISION PRIME HEART RATE: Polar's heart rate monitor watches redefine the gold standard in optical heart rate accuracy by combining the latest in bio-impedance electrodes and optical sensors.
- ADVANCED RUNNING POWER: Accelerate the effectiveness and precision of your training with running power. Captured for the first time EVER directly from the wrist, the Vantage V can help fine-tune your effort. This is the ultimate activity tracker.
- TRAINING LOAD PRO: The Vantage V is the ultimate fitness tracker, separating cardio load, muscle load and perceived load. Polar's Training Load Pro provides an unparalleled look into how your training affects your body.
- RECOVERY PRO: Recovery Pro allows your fitness watch to take into account factors outside of training that can influence recovery, providing a holistic view of not only what you've done, but what you can do next for optimal results.
The Polar smartwatch features active training mode. It also has a battery life of up to 40 hours on sports mode. Owners can track different workouts and sport-specific mode. Furthermore, the watch is waterproof. It uses optical sensors to monitor heart rate.
Additionally, the watch features training pro and recovery pro features. These features allow wearers to maximize their training and output levels. It also allows them to manage recovery times after workouts better, to fully optimize their training days.
There's a running index and running program owners can set with the Polar fitness app. Smart Calories are also more accurate than general heart rate monitors. By using HRMax levels, it accurately calculates effort levels during workouts. Another great feature is the Sleep Plus tracks monitor. It tracks sleep patterns and heavy and light sleep periods overnight.
One reviewer claims the GPS precision is excellent. And for an optical sensor, it's also just as accurate as a chest strap watch. One drawback a reviewer indicates is that a chest strap is necessary for Orthostatic testing. Additionally, the firmware updates might cause issues for some owners.
This Polar smartwatch is $550 to $600. The average rating is 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
What's the Best All-Around Heart Rate Monitor of 2019?
If you're looking for the best heart rate monitor, there are several to consider. The top product on our list is the Garmin fenix 5. Precision in tracking and the option between chest or optical sensors maximize efficiency. The device also features GPS and GLONASS. Owners can wear it for any sport. The waterproof body and durable sapphire glass also help prevent damage.
Additionally, the large face and backlit LCD is easy to read in any outdoor conditions. Furthermore, the backing from Garmin guarantees reliability and excellent performance from this heart rate monitor. Because of this, we consider it to be the best heart rate monitor you can pick up this year.