Can you use a fitness tracker without a phone?
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Can you use a fitness tracker without a phone?

04/09/2022  |   374 Views

Does a fitness tracker work without a phone?

Fitness trackers are a great way to remind yourself to stay active, which can have huge benefits on overall wellness. If you've owned one, you may remember using your smartphone to set it up and track your various health metrics. This is because most are designed to be connected to mobile devices to enhance the user experience.

Many people, though, may be wondering if you can use a fitness tracker without a smartphone. The short answer is yes, some models can be used independently. This is because the sensors used to record your fitness information are contained within the tracker itself. However, there are a few things to consider before using one without a smartphone. Read on to learn more.

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Why use a fitness tracker without a phone?

There are many reasons you may want to use a fitness tracker without a phone. Perhaps you are tired of being so dependent on your device and are trying to enjoy life with less screen time. Or maybe you have privacy concerns — it isn’t much of a secret that smartphones track a lot of what we do, from our digital web browsing activities to our physical location. There are also financial considerations; for some, a smartphone may be an out of reach luxury.

It isn't just adults who should be aware of their activity levels, but kids too. Many parents may want to get a kids' fitness tracker for their child but may not think their little one is quite ready to have their own phone, which comes with a whole host of other considerations.

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Whatever your personal reasons for wanting to use a fitness tracker without a phone, you’ll be happy to know that it is entirely possible.

Drawbacks of using a fitness tracker without a phone

There is no question that fitness trackers are generally optimized for use with smartphones. They go hand in hand, with each enhancing the abilities of the other. This means there are some downsides to consider if you don’t want to connect your two devices.

Can you use a fitness tracker without a phone?

When it comes to limited functionality, this is exemplified in many ways, depending on the particular model you buy. For example, most fitness trackers will automatically record things like calories burned, current heart rate, step count and sleep statistics. However, some also allow you to manually input information, which may include diet details, the amount of water you drink throughout the day, weight training sessions and various other metrics. These other factors are important to getting an overall picture of your health. Unfortunately, this can often only be done through the fitness tracker app.

There are also some metrics a fitness tracker may record but doesn’t display on the device itself. Most often, trends fall into this category. While most trackers will show you the current steps or distance you have traveled for the day, they don’t usually show your average daily step count for the month, or how many miles you have walked in total for extended periods of time. This information is also usually shown inside the tracker’s app.

One of the conveniences of linking your fitness tracker to your phone is that it allows you to control some aspects of your phone right from your wrist. If you're working out and listening to music on your earbuds from your iOS or Android device, you may be able to skip tracks or adjust the volume right from your tracker. Many fitness trackers also display phone notifications, and some even allow you to respond to messages or answer and end calls.

Another benefit of connecting your tracker to your phone is the length of time you can store your fitness metrics. Many trackers only store your information for 30 days or less. If you want to track your progress for a longer time period than that, you will have to transfer that data to your phone or another device.

Using a computer or tablet with a fitness tracker

While many fitness trackers are optimized to work with smartphones, they can often just as easily be used with a computer or tablet. The biggest hurdle to using a fitness tracker without a smartphone is often the setup process. Most require you to use the tracker's application to set up the device and input personal information that is vital to accurate tracking. Luckily, this can be done on your laptop, desktop computer or tablet.

In addition to helping with the setup process, linking your fitness tracker to your computer or tablet eliminates the majority of the drawbacks to using one without a phone. So, if you don’t care about receiving smartphone notifications on your fitness tracker or controlling your music from it while working out, a computer or tablet is a completely suitable alternative.

Best fitness trackers that work without phones

When buying a fitness tracker that you intend to use without a phone, getting a model with a display screen is an absolute must. All of the following devices allow for use and offer some, albeit limited, functionality without ever having to connect them to a smartphone or other device.

Garmin Instinct Solar: available at AmazonThanks to a rugged build, this model is ideal for those who participate in a lot of extreme outdoor activities. It is water resistant down to 100 meters, features a barometric altimeter to track your altitude and comes in a wide range of colors. Plus, its battery life is extended through solar charging.

Galaxy Watch Active2: available at AmazonThis watch has a sleek look that will match a range of outfits. You can choose from two face sizes, and Bluetooth or LTE versions, and its vibrant AMOLED display can be customized to your liking. It is also lightweight enough that you'll barely notice it on your wrist.

Garmin Vivoactive 3: available at AmazonIf you are notorious for forgetting to charge your devices, you'll appreciate this tracker's long battery life. It comes preloaded with 15 apps, including programs dedicated to activities like yoga, strength training and swimming.

Brett Dvoretz is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

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Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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