8 Best Fitbits Compared and Reviewed

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Fibit has become a leading brand name in the fitness tracker industry. While once a company that strictly sold “step-trackers”, Fitbit has expanded to adapt and compete with the overwhelming “smart-watch” market and the plethora of Fitness tracking devices available.

Once upon a time before companies like Fitbit came along, avid runners and fitness enthusiasts had to use expensive and invasive chest straps to record accurate, continuous heart rates of which synced with a watch. Fitbit was one of the first fitness tracking watches to successfully and profitably engineer affordable wrist-read continuous heart rate, along with calories, steps, distance, etc. Fitbit took that watch model and continually adapted it, with watches that include more “smart-watch” features like music control, caller ID, and text/calendar alerts.

Before deciding to purchase a Fitbit, it is important to note some of the requirements. While a Fitbit does not require a synced phone for heart rate, calories and other basic fitness tracking, syncing is recommended.  Firstly, for daily fitness logging capabilities, a synced bluetooth-enabled phone is required. Secondly, an installed Fitbit App is required for full functionality on most watches (especially on higher-end models) . This app is available on all platforms: Windows, iOS, and Android.

Fitbit Surge
  • Fitbit Surge
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • For Performance Fitness
  • Price: See Here
Fitbit Charge HR 2
  • Fitbit Charge HR 2
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Phone features
  • Price: See Here
Fitbit Blaze
  • Fitbit Blaze
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Colorful touch screen
  • Price: See Here

8 Best Fitbits

Surge

The Surge is Fitbit’s first self-sufficient smartwatch, advertised strictly for “performance fitness”. This is the only Fitbit that does not require a synced phone for GPS and other capabilities, which makes this the most ideal Fitbit for runners who want light pockets.
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Features
Includes a touch-screen display, with built-in GPS tracking, continuous heart-rate reading, calories burned, distance, steps, and a built-in altimeter able to show vertical distance via floors climbed. The watch itself is advertised as rain, sweat, and splash proof. You can also track specific workouts via the multi-sport feature. This watch also automatically tracks workout data with its unique “Smart-Track” feature. As added bonus, the Surge includes music control, caller ID and text notifications, as well as sleep tracking and a silent, vibrating alarm.

Battery life
7-10 day battery life, depending on use. If using constant GPS feature, the watch will last 10 hours.


Design
The watch itself includes is a bulky, square-shaped screen. The screen design is strictly black and white, and is not customizable like the Fitbit Blaze, which includes different fonts/watch faces. The watch band comes in tangerine, blue, and black. If you are into matching accessories with outfits, keep in mind that the Surge bands are not interchangable, much like other Fitbit watches.

Cost
Depending on color and size of watch, you can find it in the higher-end price range when compared to other Fitbits. But when considering the features, this watch may be worth it.
Pros
  • Only Fitbit aimed at "Performance Fitness" 
  • Most ideal for runners with built-in GPS/distance measurements, meaning a connected cell phone is not necessary - freeing up pockets.
  • Large, bright screen
  • Music control, call/text ID are an added bonus
Cons
  • Constant GPS use will limit batterylife to 10 hours.
  • Lack of interchangable bands/colors

Charge HR 2

The Fitbit Charge HR 2 includes the most features per price, and the most color options of all Fitbits. A well-balanced range of features for runners.
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Features
Includes a high-resolution, large OLED tap display, with phone-connected GPS tracking, continuous heart-rate reading, calories burned, distance, and steps. There is also a unique “reminder to move” of which will help those motivated by reminding that they have been sitting too long. Not only will the Charge HR 2 provide silent vibrating alarms, it will also monitor sleep and sleep stages. The Charge HR 2 tracks specific workouts via the multi-sport feature, and uses the "Smart-Track” log feature to log workouts on the connected app. Call and Text notifications are included, with a unique guided breathing feature that will assist with lowering heart rate when needed. One missing feature in this watch is music control,

Battery life
Up to 5-day battery life, depending on use.

Design
The Charge HR 2 boasts some impressive color and customization options. While the watch face itself has monochrome font colors and limited customizable options, besides font style changes, the watch band is interchangeable and 3rd-party retailers sell bands that match any outfit or style. Initial band colors include: blue, black, plum, teal, and the special editions (22k gold-plated tracker/rose gold band, gunmetal stainless steel tracker/black band).

Cost
The cost of the Charge HR 2 is in the mid-high price range in comparison of other Fitbits, with two special editions, 22k Rose Gold plated, and gunmetal stainless steel at the highest end.
Pros
  • Well-rounded Fitbit with a large OLED display
  • Features include "Smart Track" workout logging, sleep tracking, “move reminders", guided-breathing
  • Phone features include connected GPS, caller and text IDs
  • Interchangable bands, and 2 “special” edition colors.
Cons
  • Needs phone-syncing to use GPS features, which could mean heavy pockets for runners
  • Limited phone-connected features

Blaze

The FitBit Blaze is a cross between a fitness and a smart-watch, with features for the “best of both worlds”. Also, the Blaze is easily the most stylish Fitbit with interchangeable bands and customizable watch faces.
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Features
The Blaze features some unique smartwatch capabilities, which other FitBits do not. This includes a full-color touch screen, with not only caller and text alerts, but also e-mail, calendar notifications and music controls.

Unique from FitBit’s other smartwatch the Surge, the Blaze features include customizable clock faces, guided breathing, and sleep stage analysis. Other standard FitBit features include continuous HR, calories burned, distance, cellphone-synced GPS, and automatic fitness tracking. One of the most unique features of the Blaze is called "on-screen workouts" which works with the Fitstar app to guide you step by step through whichever workout you choose.

Battery life
Up to 5 day battery life, depending on use.

Design
The watch has tech-like square-shaped screen. The screen displays multiple colors and images, as well as clock faces to match your outfit, watch band, etc. The initial band colors come in blue, black, silver, and gold/pink gunmetal/black (the latter being special editions.) Because the Blaze screen itself is removable, there are many watch bands (leather, metal, and others), as well as different color frames for the screen.

Cost
The Blaze cost is in the mid-high range when compared to other fitbits, similar to the Charge HR. The Blaze also comes in two special editions: 22k rose-gold plated and gunmetal stainless steel, each at the higher-end of price.
Pros
  • Most ideal for runners who enjoy tech-enabled runs.
  • Features like on-screen workouts, Music control, call/text ID/e-mail/calendar alerts are added bonuses
  • Colorful, functional touch-screen experience
  • Interchangable watch bands and frames
Cons
  • Phone required for GPS use.
  • Special editions are costly.

Charge HR

Charge HR
Although not the latest incarnation of Fitbit's flagship HR watch, the Fitbit Charge HR still incorporates basic needs of most runners and fitness gurus for a low price.
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Features
Most of the same features as the Charge HR 2 are here: phone-connected GPS tracking, continuous heart-rate reading, calories burned, distance via miles/steps, sleep tracking and silent alarms. Unfortunately, because of the small display, there are no text alerts or specific workout tracking. Phone-connected capabilities are limited to caller ID.

Battery life
Up to 5-day battery life, depending on use.

Design
The Charge HR color options are limited. There are 6 color options, that are not interchangeable (once you choose a band, you are stuck). Colors include: pink, plum, tangerine, teal, black and blue. The screen itself is very slim, about 1 in. wide x .25 inch tall. The screen also shows text in watch color font (blue watch, blue text).

Cost
Depending on color, the cost of the original Fitbit Charge is on the low-mid range, when compared to other Fitbits.
Pros
  • Basic features for runners on a budget
  • Comes with Fitbit’s “gold-standard” HR and fitness tracking
  • Phone-connected GPS included
Cons
  • Synced phone needed for GPS features.
  • Colors not interchangable
  • Limited phone capabilities

Alta HR

Alta HR
The Alta HR is the lightest, most “slim” designed screen-included Fitbit, aimed at active lifestyles whom prefer to not wear any “bulky-tech” on their arms. The watch includes a small display, and slightly less features than the charge HR, but boasts a 7 day battery life, many accessories, interchangeable colors and style wristbands for the fashionable.
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Features
Like the Charge HRs’, the Alta HR includes an OLED-tap display, with continuous heart-rate reading, calories burned, distance, and steps. Like others, the watch itself is advertised as “rain, sweat, and splash proof.” Other basic features like caller/text ID and calendar alerts are included. Newer features like sleep and sleep-tracking is included. Unfortunately for the running enthusiast, the Alta HR does not include either phone-connected or stand-alone GPS. Also absent are music control, guided breathing, and “on-screen workouts”.

Battery life
Up to 7 day battery life, again depending on use.

Design
The Alta HR is FitBit’s slimmest screen-included watch, dimensions being 1.6 inches wide, by 1.3 inches long, .6 inches height (for the actual screen). The screen itself is also monochrome such as the Charge HR. The Alta HR comes in some brillant color options such as fuchsia and coral. While initially there are 6 color options to purchase, Fitbit also offers what it calls “designer accessories” strictly for the Alta HR, which range in styles like metal bands, leather, and classic straps.

Cost
When compared to other Fitbits, The Alta HR is in the low-middle to high price range, depending on color. The pink/rose-gold color is the only “special edition” available at the higher-end of pricing. The interchangable bands vary im price, mostly in the low-range of accessory pricing.
Pros
  • Most slim screen design available
  • Heart Rate and Fitness Tracking
  • Call/text/calendar alerts
  • Customizable appearance and interchangable colors, able to hide the “fitness”-look of the watch
  • Lightest watch option, weighing .8 ounces
Cons
  • No GPS included.
  • Thin, monochrome screen

Flex 2

Flex 2
The Fitbit Flex 2 is the most slim, and lightest screen-less Fitbit, as well as the only Fitbit watch that is completely waterproof. Although limited on capabilities (including a visible clock), accurate fitness tracking is still included.
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Features
The Flex 2 features no LCD screen, meaning no clock, text/caller alerts, or other screen-provided capabilities. Instead, the Flex 2 provides fitness tracking by lights that monitor progress in multiple areas. The lack of LCD screen does mean that this Fitbit is completely waterproof, for those worried about running in wet conditions. Unfortunately, the Flex 2 does not read heart rate, so calories burned are estimated through movement/steps. Also, neither phone-synced, nor stand-alone GPS is available on the Flex 2. Regardless, the Flex 2 syncs to a phone which will then read out calories burned (through movement), steps, distance, and sleep tracking.

Battery life
Up to 5 day battery life, depending on use.

Design
The Flex 2 comes in 4 basic, non-interchangeable colors, the tracker itself is removable. The watch is very slim, 0.4 inches wide, and is ideal for runners who don’t care about instant read-outs, but rather slim and light equipment. This watch also has 2 unique accessories available from Fitbit, one a “pendant” which turns the Flex 2 into a silver necklace, and one a “bangle”, which covers the Flex 2 to become a sterling silver bracelet. Each of these accessories are in the high price range, when compared to other Fitbit accessories.

Cost
In comparison to other Fitbit watches, the Flex 2 is listed in the low to mid price range depending on color. The color options include: navy, black, lavender, and magenta.
Pros
  • Completely waterproof
  • light and slim
  • unique jewelry-like accessories.
  • Fitness areas tracked by “lights” and connected fitbit-app.
Cons
  • No GPS, distance tracked through steps
  • Lacking heart rate monitor
  • No screen for instant readout, which also means no clock

One

One
The Fitbit One is clip-on device for the casual fitness enthusiast with slightly more features than the Zip, phone-sync capabilities, and a long battery life.
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Features
The One is another limited-feature device that clips onto the user in multiple areas (shirt, belt, bra, etc.) for incognito use while running. Unlike the Zip, the One not only features steps, distance, calories and time, but also floors climbed, sleep tracking and silent/vibrating alarm, accessed by push-button scroll. The One is also Fitbit app compatible via bluetooth, which will transmit and store all of the information logged.


Battery life
Up to 14-day rechargeable battery life, depending on use.

Design
The One measures 1.89 inches tall, .076 inches wide, and .38 inches thick, fitting easily in a pocket or under clothes. The dongle itself is removable from a silicone cover, of which a multitude of colors are available via Amazon (there is even an off-brand silicone watch cover available for those who want to wear it via wrist.) Unlike the Zip, the Fitbit One has a black-and-white OLED display, which is backlit and easy to see in directly sunlight, or dark environments.

Cost
The Fitbit One comes in 3 colors and is in the low price range when compared to other Fitbits. They include black, dark grey and burgundy.
Pros
  • Will not add any bulk to a runner, able to clip under clothes, in pocket, on belt, etc.
  • Most functional non-watch Fitbit offers
Cons
  • Only reads calories and distance based on steps taken
  • No GPS, HR, or call/text alerts

Zip

Zip
The Fitbit Zip is a clip-on pedometer-like device for the casual fitness enthusiast with simplified, yet limited features, phone-sync capabilities and a very long battery life.
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Features
The Zip is very limited on features compared to other Fitbits. The Zip clips onto the user, on a pocket or waistband and scrolls through information with a tap-display. While similar to a pedometer, the Zip calculates only calories and distance through steps taken, all of which can be synced to a Fitbit-app enabled phone (via bluetooth, like all other Fitbits.) Also featured on the Zip is a clock with customizable font, on a monochrome display. It does not include HR monitoring, or text/call alerts.

Battery life
Up to 6-month battery life, depending on use with replaceable watch battery.

Design
The Zip comes in 6 vibrant colors such as pink, “zip” blue, and magenta and measures 1.2 wide by 1.8 inches high. The Zip itself is removable and interchangeable with other clip cases available via Amazon. The screen is strictly monochrome LCD (which may be difficult to see in direct sunlight), with customizable clock font via connected Fitbit app. For avid runners, a clip-on step tracker may not be the best choice of comfort or reliability.

Cost
The Fitbit Zip lists 6 bright colors and is in the lowest price range, when compared to other Fitbits.
Pros
  • 6-month battery life 
  • Useful for those who do not want anything on their wrists.
  • Cheapest alternative to other Fitbits
  • Small size, interchangable cover and colors
Cons
  • Features limited to Steps, distance, calories and clock
  • No phone-enabled features like GPS or text/call alerts

The Criteria We Used To Find The Best Fitbits

The following Fitbits were ranked with scientific and thorough research regarding specific metrics. These metrics are among the most important to runners.

They include the following:

Features

Each Fitbit on the list includes a variety of features of which are important for runners. The watches on this list include rankings by what features are most important for runners. Some of the following important features include: 1) GPS for runners who like to map their mileage and/or location during a run, 2) Heart Rate continuous tracking for runners who want to increase aerobic endurance through heart rate zones, and 3) Calories for runners who care about tracking calorie burn and weight loss . Other features listed may not be as important, but are helpful for runners who care about being completely undistracted during runs. Some of these include: text alerts, caller IDs, e-mail/calendar alerts, and music control.

Battery Life

Battery life is another important feature for runners for many reasons. Firstly, an avid runner would ideally like to avoid a dying Fitbit in the middle of a run, especially when fitness tracking matters. Secondly, it may get frustrating to have to charge a Fitbit often (or in some cases, change a battery), especially for those who enjoy tracking fitness during other daily activities. Because of these, battery life is considered important when ranking these watches

Cost

Cost of each Fitbit is considered during this process because if the cost is higher, more features are expected. Oppositely, if the cost of the Fitbit is lower, it may be lacking in features in comparison. Runners whom purchase a Fitbit would expect the most “bang for your buck”, which is why cost is an important metric. Because of changing costs, the following Fitbits do not have specific pricing but rather “lower-to-higher” end ranking, as goes with accessories.

Design

Design is a metric for Runners who consider color options, watch styles, and fashion accessories important. This metric considers that people may enjoy having different options of styles/colors of watches. Some Fitbits include accessories like watch band styles, casing, and jewlery. Design also relates to the Fitbit interfaces of each watch/fitness tracker, which vary greatly on almost every Fitbit.

Other Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Fitbit for You

Being “hands-free”

Having empty pockets, and running truly “hands-free” is important for distance-runners and sprinters alike. One reason people choose to purchase a Fitbit is to not be attached to a cellphone during a run/workout. Many of these Fitbits differ in “hands-free” ability. Some require a phone for syncing for GPS, music, and other features. Oppositely, other Fitbits are more “independent” and are the better choices for runners who would want more features directly on the watch/fitness tracker than having a phone in their pocket.

HR and Calorie Accuracy

The accuracy of the continuous heart rates and calorie counts of Fitbits is what makes Fitbit a top contender in the fitness tracker industry. Fitbit uses what they call “PurePulse”, stating on the Help section of the Fitbit website:

Using this algorithm, along with entering your age, height, and weight (entered in the Fitbit App) is how the tracker calculates the calorie burn throughout the day. Each HR-enabled watch also has a “workout mode” that will reset your daily calorie count, time, distance and other metrics until the workout is over.

If knowing your heart rate zone, or setting your customized zone is important for you during a workout, you will be pleased to know that heart rated-enabled Fitbits allow the user to set these zones either through the connected Fitbit app or on the tracker itself.

The Fitbit website claims that HR accuracy can be affected by a few things. Firstly, each HR-enabled watch is supposed to be worn “3 finger widths” below the wrist bone for accurate reading during workouts and “1 finger width” below during normal activity (meaning that it will never be worn like a “watch” over the wrist bone. Fitbit claims that this is because “blood flow in your arm increases the farther you go up”. Also, keeping the watch “snug” but not too restricting will allow for the most accurate reading. Lastly, keep in mind that high-intensity activities such as sprinting and other high-intensity activities (especially when the arm is moving often) may cause for temporary pauses in accurate readings. FYI – Fitbit watches are able to be used ambidextrously.

 

FAQs

Q. Are Fitbits waterproof?

A. The only truly “waterproof” Fitbit is the Fitbit Flex 2, listed below. The standard for each Fitbit are that they “rain, splash and sweat-proof”. This means that it is not recommended to shower, bathe, surf or swim with these trackers (besides the Fitbit Flex 2).

Q. How do I know what size Fitbit I need (for watches)?

A. Fitbit.com has printable sizing guides that allow you to cut out an “actual size” band of each watch and determine which fit works best for you. Because there are different sizes for each watch, I have conveniently listed the sizing links of each watch from this guide in the sources section.

Q. Will a Fitbit work accurately for steps on an Elliptical?

A. Because some runners enjoy low-impact training from time to time, it is important to know what differences may occur when tracking steps vs. an actual run. Fitbits that measure steps measure forward motion, so jogging in place/elliptical use may impact step counting slightly. Luckily, on the Fitbit App, you can manually choose “elliptical” as your exercise, along with the estimated time you are going to workout and the Fitbit will adjust to track steps more accurately. This same process works for other types of exercises, anaerobic or aerobic.

Q. What kind of things will affect my HR accuracy?

A. As stated in the “Other factors” section of this article, the placement and tightness of a HR-enabled Fitbit watch may affect the accuracy of HR readings. Please refer to that section for details on how to adjust this. Also, high-intensity exercises may slightly, briefly impact HR accuracy. As stated above, the Fitbit App makes up for this, to allow  you to choose what type of exercises you are performing, allowing the watch to adjust its readings.

Q. Will a Fitbit work without a phone?

A. You do not need a phone to use the features of a Fitbit. The Fitbit will read all metrics right out-of-the-box including HR, calories, time and distance without phone syncing.  Special tracking features like heart rate zone customization and workout type require a synced phone with an installed Fitbit App. GPS will only work via The Surge without a connected phone, all other GPS-enabled Fitbits require a phone for this feature. Obviously, all other features like music, text/Caller ID and calendar alerts require a synced phone for use.

Q. What phones are Fitbits compatible with?

A. Fitbits sync with most Android, Windows and iOS operating systems, via bluetooth. The Fitbit app is available on all 3 platforms as well (Google Play Store, Apple Store, and Windows).

 

Sources

  1. James Peckham, Best Fitbit 2017: Which is right for you?, Informative Technology Article, May 17, 2017
  2. CNET, Wearable Tech Reviews, List of technology reviews, May 17, 2017
  3. The Wirecutter, The Best Fitness Tracker, Technology Reviews, May 17, 2017
  4. Courtney Jespersen, Fitbit Comparison: Which Fitbit Activity Tracker Is Best for You?, Technology Reviews, Aug 31, 2016
  5. Michael Sawh, Best Fitbit 2017: How to choose the right tracker for your goals, Technology Reviews, Apr 04, 2017
  6. Tucker Cummings Miller , Which Fitbit Is Right for Me?, Technology Comparison, Mar 26, 2015
  7. Simon Jary, The best Fitbit for 2017, Technology Comparison, Apr 26, 2017
  8. Fitbit, What should I know about heart rate data, FAQ, May 17, 2017
  9. Fitbit, Please explain how elliptical tracking works, Community Message Board, Dec 13, 2015
  10. Fitbit, Surge Sizing Chart, Sizing Chart, May 17, 2017
  11. Fitbit, Charge HR/HR 2 Sizing Chart, Sizing Chart, May 17, 2017
  12. Fitbit, Blaze Sizing Chart, Sizing Chart, May 17, 2017
  13. Fitbit, Alta HR Sizing chart, Sizing Chart, May 17, 2017
  14. Fitbit, Flex 2 Sizing Chart, Sizing Chart, May 17, 2017
  15. James Comstock, Eight years of Fitbit news leading up to its planned IPO, Informative Article, May 11, 2015
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