Should you buy a used fitness tracker?
2022 looks like another year of staying local and getting out. With so many vacation trips put on hold – and so many people finding themselves with extra free time – spending time hiking, biking and enjoying the great outdoors has never been more appealing.
But for novice hobbyists and regular athletes, accurately tracking the activity can be a challenge. Knowing how far you’ve cycled, how long you’ve been hiking, or what your heart rate is when you run in a park can help you train and lose weight, guide healthy lifestyle changes. and to motivate you in general. And thanks to their ability to solve these problems, wearables and trackers have grown into a nearly $ 20 billion industry.
While portable fitness devices aren’t new to the market – heart rate monitors and basic fitness trackers have been available to consumers since the early 2000s – they can still be quite expensive, especially with features such as GPS tracking, music storage, sport-specific modes, and solar charging. Combine the high price tag with the current economic impact of COVID-19, and it’s easy to see why buyers are considering second-hand and second-hand trackers.
But is there ever a time when buying a used tracker is better than buying a new one? What are the risks ? What Should Buyers Ask Before Buying? And how should buyers assess whether it’s worth getting into a new tracker or whether a used version will suffice?
Advantage: they are more affordable
The reason to buy a used or second-hand fitness tracker is obvious: they are much cheaper. Liam Howley is the Marketing Director of Decluttr, an online business that buys, renovates and sells used electronics. And, he said, consumers can expect a refurbished wearable device to cost 20-40% or more less than buying a new one.
And for buyers willing to buy direct from a third party on sites like Craigslist or Gumtree, the price may be less than half of the new purchase. A friend recently bought a Garmin Vívoactive 3 for $ 80, which sells for $ 169.99 on Garmin.com.
Disadvantage: technology changes rapidly
But according to Tom Fowler, president of Polar USA, buying second-hand comes with potential disruption risks. “You save a few dollars,” he says. “But I would say that’s a foolish argument.”
Fowler believes buyers who plan to use their fitness tracker every day will find splurging on a new one to be beneficial for several reasons, primarily better technology. It highlights the significant differences between two of Polar’s popular units: the Polar A370, introduced in late 2018, and the Polar Unite, released in June 2020.
“There’s a similar price tag, but completely updated hardware technology, not to mention the algorithms. The Unite is a much better watch than the A370.”
The newer technology will generally run smoother and more reliably than older models, which can be the difference between using it every day or leaving it in a bathroom drawer after the novelty has passed.
Phil McClendon, senior product manager for consumer fitness products at Garmin, agrees. “Look at the difference between the Vívoactive 3 and the Vívoactive 4,” he says, referring to a pair of devices released two years apart. “We’ve added a new heart rate sensor, a more efficient battery, a better display, and tons of new software features.”
According to McClendon, devices from Garmin have historically sampled heart rate more often than any other fitness tracker on the market and have superior battery life. However, newer devices will give you advanced health and fitness features, such as body battery and pulse, which are relatively new to the Garmin lineup.
Of course, on the other hand, the rapid evolution of technology means that products are abandoned. If you particularly like an older model or want a discontinued feature, you may need to buy a used device. “For example, Apple no longer sells the Series 4 watch,” Howley explains. “But you can get a refurbished one cheaply. “
It’s also worth noting that brand new devices may not have a large social media user base in the first few months after release, which can be a challenge if a buyer is hoping to find a network of assistance from other users.
Pros: Buying second-hand helps prevent materials from ending up in landfills
Landfill waste is a growing problem – the world generated 242 million tonnes of waste in 2016 – and e-waste is a major contributing factor: UK landfills added 53.6 million metric tonnes of electronics in 2019.
“But remanufactured is much better for the planet because it offsets some of the emissions associated with making a new product, while also keeping it safe from landfill,” Howley explains.
While Polar and Garmin have pages on their websites dedicated to environmental responsibility and recycling programs for batteries, products and packaging, there is still a long way to go before electronics companies lead the charge. in terms of sustainability and carbon neutrality. Buyers who are trying to reduce their carbon footprint and prioritize recycling might find buying a used tracker to be the more responsible option.
Disadvantage: it may be in questionable condition
While most fitness trackers are designed to be durable, especially those designed for adventure sports and aerobic activities, they aren’t impossible to break. Screens can crack, bracelets can fray, and components can be damaged. And aside from the impact and the crash, there is a certain level of unavoidable obsolescence; even a well-maintained watch will deteriorate over time as the battery drains and holds less charge.
McClendon says it’s hard to predict battery health if you don’t know how the product has been used. “It’s like buying a used car. Did the owner drive 10 miles per day? Hundreds of miles? If someone was doing full charge and discharge cycles every day, it’s much more difficult to use than just wearing it to the office. “
So how do you decide whether it is appropriate to buy a used tracker or not? The key, according to Howley of DeCluttr, is determining why you want a tracker and what features you plan to use. “If you’re just using a tracker to monitor your workouts, you probably don’t need to pay top dollar for a tracker with cellular and a ton of productivity-focused features. On the other hand, a tracker that’s focused only on fitness isn’t going to cut it if you want something to help you manage your day, ”he says.
Fowler and McClendon agree that the answer requires deciding whether the $ 50 or $ 100 in amortized savings over a few years of use are worth it. “It really comes down to being able to make it your own. A new device is yours to shape and use right out of the box, and you know the whole story. This displaces anxiety about whether to buy a new or used one, “McClendon says.” It’s not like buying used jewelry. It must work. ”
For buyers fixed on a used tracker, knowing what to look for when buying is essential. “Ask how long the watch has been in use,” says Fowler. “When did the owner acquire it?” Ask if he is the first owner and how often he has used it. “
Everyone interviewed for this article also agreed that it is essential that the seller resets the device before exchanging money.
“The devices record and store personal information so that you want the previous customer to do a factory restore to remove all their personal data. Once the factory settings are restored, you can customize the device to make it perfect for you by choosing which widgets you want to use show, the watch face, etc., ”says McClendon.
This article is part of TechRadar’s Get Fit in 2022 series – a collection of ideas and guides to get you started on your health goals for the New Year, regardless of your current fitness level.