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Home / Features / Face-off: The best fitness tracker bands from Nike, Jawbone and Fitbit

Face-off: The best fitness tracker bands from Nike, Jawbone and Fitbit

Walk further, sleep longer, and get fitter – these fitness trackers can rebuild you in style. It's the battle of the bands!

If your New Year’s resolution is to get fitter, this is the place to find out how.

We strapped on the best wrist trackers on offer and took to the streets to find out once and for all which of them will do the best job of ushering you towards your healthy new lifestyle.

Jawbone Up

£100, jawbone.com

WHAT? If you’re as interested in fashion as fitness, the Jawbone is the looker of the bunch. It’s also got a really intelligent algorithm for tracking your steps and logging runs, and it’ll even measure your sleep. Its interface uses an audio jack that lets you plug into your phone for a quick sync, battery readout, and change of alarm time or idle vibration alerts – perfect for reminding you to keep active. That’s still more fiddly than the Bluetooth competition, though.

GOOD? Step and run recording is as accurate as you could hope, but what really sets the Up apart is the depth of its sleep tracking. Not only does it track your time with the sandman, it also wakes you up intelligently so you rise more naturally and refreshed. Then there’s the brilliant power nap mode, which knows when you nod off and gives you 45 minutes of shuteye so you awake alert. While connectivity could be better, the lack of Bluetooth does extend battery life to a solid ten days.

SOFTWARE: From your data Up offers extra info. Not sleeping well? The app will give you tips on diet to help your kip. Plus you can record everything you eat on the Up app for a more rounded health view, or sync to MyFitnessPal, which has a far more substantial food tracker.

WORKS WITH: iOS, Android, PC and Mac.

VERDICT: Top looking smart-wrist-kit that’ll not only keep you active but help you sleep better too. Five stars.

Fitbit Flex

£80, fitbit.com

WHAT? We’ve never seen so much tech crammed into such a small form. The Flex is a large pill-sized sensor that slips into a comfy, strong rubberised wrist strap. It packs in – deep breath – Bluetooth 4.0 to feed your phone live tracking info, NFC to activate the mobile app at a touch, an accelerometer for measurements, a week-long battery, a vibrating motor, and a five-light display. Phew. Plus it comes from market-leading step counter Fitbit – whose step-tracking algorithm is ultra-accurate. It’s also the cheapest of the lot.

GOOD? Live tracking your steps on your mobile as you walk will certainly make you feel good, and whether on your phone or a computer you can set goals for distance, steps or calories. Five white lights, each representing twenty per cent, alert you – at a tap – to your progress. It’ll track your sleep and silently wake you up, too, although not as intelligently as the Jawbone. But considering the price the only real complaint we have is that Android support is so far patchy at best. The Flex is a cracking iPhone companion, though.

SOFTWARE: Compatibility with other apps isn’t as broad as with Jawbone, but MapMyRun and MyFitnessPal are onboard.

WORKS WITH: iOS, Android, PC and Mac.

VERDICT: Good gadgets do come in small packages, and being the cheapest of the bunch hasn’t stopped the Flex brilliant. Five stars.

Nike+ FuelBand

£130, store.nike.com

WHAT? The trailblazer in wrist-worn step trackers, the FuelBand’s engineered to perfection, offering strength, comfort, looks and functionality while making you feel like you’re in an eighties-imagined future with its LED display. Yup, it tells the time, too – who’d have thought that could be so handy? A row of coloured lights show your goal while the screen illuminates calories burned, steps taken and Nike Fuel points attained. All this can also be displayed beautifully – and live – on your Nike+ mobile app.

GOOD? While this has been around a long while and accelerometer tech isn’t new to Nike, it still feels the easiest to fool. And while Nike Fuel offers a way to motivate yourself through community competition, we felt more rewarded by real world data like steps and calories. You can pull Nike+ Running app data into your profile but it’s not as all-encompassing as the open platform app offerings of the other two. Bluetooth mobile connectivity and live tracking work well but it is, and probably always will be, iOS only. With a price tag way higher than the others it’s really the brand you’re paying extra for.

SOFTWARE: You can receive achievements and awards to help motivate you to go above and beyond.

WORKS WITH: iOS, PC and Mac.

VERDICT: Engineered to perfection and looking great the FuelBand is close to perfect – if only it were cheaper. Four stars.