Whether you’re just getting into a fitness routine or you’re an experienced athlete looking for a tool to enhance your training, a heart rate monitor is a smart investment. If you want to use your smartphone during your workout to keep track of your heart rate, a Bluetooth heart rate monitor is a must. Many Bluetooth heart rate monitors on the market today cost between $50 and a few hundred dollars.
Many of today’s heart rate monitors offer wrist-based heart rate monitoring. The advantage of wrist-based monitoring is that you don’t have to deal with a bulky chest strap. In many cases, all you need to do it secure the device to your wrist and begin your workout. However, you can still find several heart rate monitors with chest straps. Some fitness enthusiasts believe that chest heart rate monitors are more accurate than wrist-based devices.
Basic heart rate monitors usually keep track of your continuous heart rate data, along with highs and lows that occur during a workout. If you’re looking for more features and don’t mind spending a bit more, you can find monitors with extras such as target zones and time spent in target zones, speed and distance monitoring, and the ability to wirelessly transmit data to your smartphone.
Battery life is an important consideration for many athletes. In general, the more features a monitor has, the more power it will use during a workout. In turn, it may need to be recharged more than a basic model. Many heart rate monitors are USB rechargeable, while others have a user-replaceable coin battery.
1. Scosche Rhythm+ Heart Rate Monitor Armband
The Scosche Rhythm+ heart rate monitor features optical sensor technology for precise heart rate monitoring and measurement. The result is an easier and more efficient way to monitor your progress and intensity during workouts. Aside from heart rate monitoring, the device also tracks distance, calories burned, pace and more. A breathable neoprene armband ensures your wrist will stay comfortable, even if you wear the monitor for hours at a time. The armband is also available in small and large sizes, and comes in a variety of colors. Whether you already have a favorite fitness app or want to find one to match your fitness needs, the Rhythm+ works with many of the most popular apps on the market today. The monitor works with any Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ enabled device.
- Long battery life
- Compatible with most fitness apps
- Available in many colors
- Off button in awkward place
- Adhesive material can lose effectiveness over time
2. Zephyr HxM BT Wireless Heart Rate Monitor
The Zephyr HxM is compatible with Windows, Android and iOS operating systems. Bluetooth live data transmission makes it easy for you to keep tabs on your stats during a workout. Highlights include a comfortable fabric chest strap that accurately measures heart rate, and a rechargeable battery that can provide over 24 hours of use per charge. The monitor is water resistant and machine washable.
- Compatible with Windows, Android and iOS operating systems
- Bluetooth live data transmission
- Rechargeable battery lasts over 24 hours per charge
- Several note contacts need to be wet for accurate results
- No low battery indicator
- A few note it’s not compatible with popular fitness apps
3. Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor
Polar is well-respected brand name in the world of fitness technology, and this Bluetooth heart rate monitor doesn’t disappoint. The Polar H10 Heart Rate Sensor stands out for its improved electrodes, which promotes accurate heart rate monitoring, along with a soft, comfortable material. Silicone dots prevent the material from slipping. You can use the Polar H10 with popular fitness apps as well as gym equipment and other Bluetooth devices. Built-in memory allows you to store heart rate data from a single training session. You can also transfer data to the Polar app. As an added bonus, you can keep the Polar sensor fresh with software updates. The Polar H10 is waterproof and can even transmit heart rate data in water.
Price: $89.95 – $148.50
- Soft, comfortable strap
- Silicone dots hold material in place
- Compatible with gym equipment and popular fitness apps
- Only stores data for one exercise
- Some wish the band was more comfortable
- Doesn’t work with some pieces of gym equipment
4. Wahoo TICKR FIT Heart Rate Monitor
The Wahoo TICKR FIT is the latest addition to the Wahoo TICKR family. This Bluetooth heart rate monitor is compatible with iPhone and Android devices. It’s also the first TICKR with a rechargeable battery, rather than the coin cell battery found in the others. All TICKRs have an IPX7 waterproof rating, which means that they are waterproof up to five feet. Additionally, each model comes with LED lights and dual band technology for Bluetooth and ANT+ compatibility.
The TICKR FIT comes with the latest optical heart rate technology for accurate heart rate monitoring and calories burned. The rechargeable battery is designed to last up to 30 hours per charge. The heart rate monitor is compatible with a variety of popular fitness apps, including Strava, Wahoo Fitness, Runkeeper, Cyclemeter and more. The TICKR FIT is designed to be worn on the forearm, and comes with a comfortable adjustable band for land and water-based workouts. You can find the band in small and large sizes.
The TICKR is the most basic unit, and offers accurate heart rate monitoring and calories burned for the most efficient workouts.
If you’re looking for a few more features, including the ability to track indoor spinning workouts and analyze your runs based on cadence, contact time with the ground and vertical oscillation, consider the TICKR X.
The TICKR RUN is a running-specific device that also captures key running metrics and can be used for outdoor and indoor workouts.
- Optical heart rate technology
- Battery lasts up to 30 hours per charge
- Bluetooth and ANT+ compatibility
- Not designed to specifically track running or cycling workouts
- Only comes in one color
- Some may find the forearm positioning a bit awkward
5. Polar M430 GPS Running Watch
While it’s specifically designed for runners, the Polar M430 GPS Running Watch is useful for a variety of activities, and lets you choose between several activity profiles. Highlights include advanced running metrics and GPS technology, along with LED optical heart rate technology for accurate results. A combination of GPS and accelerometer technology makes it easy to accurately track indoor and outdoor runs. A smart coaching program is included to help you get started, or to improve your workouts. There are three different GPS recording options to help preserve battery life. You can expect up to 30 hours of training time with the rechargeable battery.
Price: $214.00 (7 percent off MSRP)
- Ideal for runners
- Smart coaching available
- Wrist-based heart rate monitoring
- Some with smaller wrists find it a bit bulky
- A few have trouble pairing the watch with their phone
- Initial setup can be frustrating and time-consuming
6. 4iiii V100 Viiiiva Heart Rate Monitor
The Viiiiva Heart Rate Monitor provides accurate beat-to-beat heart rate measurements to help you better keep track of your workouts and fitness level. The device also saves up to 65 hours of data, at which point you can transfer it to another device. Depending on the amount of use, you can expect the user-replaceable coin operated battery to last up to 200 hours. Other features include the ability to pair with a variety of cardio equipment, and tap-to-pair connectivity that lets you tap your iOS or Android device for an instant connection. The monitor also functions as an ANT+ sensor bridge so that you can collect data from various ANT+ sensors then transfer it to your device via Bluetooth.
- Beat-to-beat measurements for more accurate results
- Saves up to 65 hours of data at a time
- Functions as ANT+ sensor bridge
- Users with larger chests may find the strap a bit tight
- Some complain of periodic connectivity issues
- A bit pricey
7. Garmin vívosport Smart Activity Tracker
The Garmin vívosport Smart Activity Tracker offers continuous wrist-based heart rate monitoring along with steps, distance and calories. You can use the tracker indoors or outside with built-in GPS for accurate tracking. A daily fitness monitoring tool lets you keep track of your progress and set realistic workout goals for each day. You can also share activities and store data via Garmin Connect. In terms of battery life, the rechargeable battery yields roughly up to eight hours in GPS mode or up to seven days in smartwatch mode. Available sizes include small/medium and large.
Price: $169.99 (15 percent off MSRP)
- Built-in GPS
- Slender, lightweight design
- Bands aren’t interchangeable
- Some find the screen a bit too sensitive
- A few mention GPS connectivity can take awhile
8. Mio SLICE Heart Rate + Activity Tracker
The hallmark feature of the Mio SLICE is the inclusion of PAI. In case you’re not familiar, Personal Activity Intelligence is a unique tracking metric that takes your heart rate and translates it into a personalized score. With this number, you can determine the amount of activity you need to remain healthy. This technology also provides real-time intensity feedback during workouts. Other key features include 24/7 heart rate tracking and activity tracking. The watch is water resistant up to 100 feet and can also be used for sleep tracking. Notification alerts let you know when you’ve received a phone call and text messages.
Price: $69.99 – $230.61
- Doesn’t require a chest strap
- Band comes in several sizes
- Comfortable wrist band
- Doesn’t have GPS
- Lacks a countdown function
- Some note Bluetooth connectivity issues
9. Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR Running GPS Unit
The Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR Running GPS Unit features Bluetooth connectivity along with a number of more advanced features for serious outdoor adventurers and explorers. Some examples include an altitude profile with ascents and descents during activity, along with detailed weather reports. However, it also functions as a more basic heart rate monitor. The watch is specifically designed for running, swimming, and cycling. You can use it to track your running performance as well as recovery. There’s also Bluetooth Smart bike power support and a 30 hour battery life.
Price: $295.78 (41 percent off MSRP)
- Route tracking and altitude profile
- Smartphone connectivity
- Specifically designed for running, swimming, and cycling
- Lacks a touchscreen
- Several mention its bulky size
10. Polar OH1 Heart Rate Sensor
If your idea of an enjoyable workout is one that doesn’t involve a cumbersome or uncomfortable chest strap, consider the Polar OH1 Heart Rate Sensor. This heart rate monitor works with a variety of popular apps, and can store over 200 hours of data from your training sessions. It’s also compatible with Bluetooth-enabled fitness trackers, cycling computers and Polar watches. The rechargeable battery gets up to 12 hours of run time per charge. This sensor is waterproof up to 30 meters.
Price: $72.65 (9 percent off MSRP)
- Stores over 200 hours of training data
- Rechargeable battery gets up to 12 hours per charge
- Compatible with Bluetooth-enabled cycling computers and fitness trackers
- Small on/off button
- A few note battery life isn’t as good as advertised
- Some find arm-based strap awkward
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