A fitness tracker or smartwatch is a brilliant tool to assist you to pay greater attention to patterns in your health, get serious about fitness training, or even simply extend your each-day step count.
One of the brands at the forefront of the enterprise is Fitbit, a company whose wearables track everything from each day’s steps and exercise pace, to sleep patterns and stress levels. A Fitbit can assist you better understand when you to push yourself extra in a workout, when your stress levels are too excessive and you want to take a second to decompress, or when that fatigue or irritability you feel is certainly the end result of bad sleep quality.
As an avid runner, personal trainer, and fitness journalist, I’ve tested extra fitness trackers than I can count, even earlier than they grew to be a staple on most people’s wrists. My first tracker, the Fitbit Flex, would light up with simply a few red dots to notify me that I’d hit my step purpose for the day. At the time, these were once progressive facts and I loved it. Since, I’ve tried infinite smartwatches and fitness trackers from brands like Apple, Garmin, and Polar.
Over the previous number of months, I’ve examined out the latest in Fitbit’s current lineup. My experience the usage of them on runs, hikes, running errands around town, and even sleeping can hopefully assist you to decide what fits quality with your lifestyle and which can also be in a position to assist you to reach your own fitness and health goals.
At the backside of this guide, I’ve additionally covered some useful insight into how to save for a Fitbit, as properly as the trying-out methodology I used for narrowing down which models ultimately made the cut.
Best Fitbit overall
With automatic activity tracking and a huge screen for both mid-run stats and the relax app, the Versa 3 has nearly all the perks of the Fitbit line at a not-totally-absurd price point and with a stylish design.
Pros: Automatic activity and sleep tracking, in-depth exercise and sleep stats, 24/7 heart rate tracking, heart rate zones, built-in GPS, water resistant up to 50 meters, oxygen saturation reading, mindful minutes, battery life
Cons: Occasionally uncomfortable, sometimes needs to be manually synced
Battery life: 6 days
Charge time: 12 minutes
Exercise modes: 20
Built-in: GPS and music storage
The Versa 3 stands out for its bright, colorful face and large display that virtually shows any stats. There are a lot of pros to this watch:
During a run or bike ride, the massive display is mainly high-quality for quick glances at your pace in actual time as you move. You can additionally easily take a look at different stats whole time, average pace, heart rate zones simply via tapping the watch face, even mid-activity. The device buzzes to let you be aware of when you have switched between fats burn, cardio, or height zones.
In the Fitbit app, you can see the whole overview of your cardio numbers, which includes time spent in these various heart rate zones, active region minutes, average, minimum, and maximum heart rate, calories burned, and steps are taken. With all this data, the Fitbit additionally determines your VO2max, the pinnacle marker of fitness level.
The Versa 3 has built-in GPS, so you can additionally go for a run or walk barring your phone, which I in particular love to unplug and focus on your steps besides losing the data in the back of how many I acquired in today.
The Versa 3 additionally has automatic activity tracking, which is such a nice feature when you forget to hit start on your runs. In addition to straight cardio workouts, you additionally have effortless shortcuts to tracking Bootcamp, Pilates, yoga, circuit training, and weight workouts.
The sleep tracking on the Versa 3 additionally stands out amongst different devices in the line, as it reveals your time awake, in REM, deep sleep, and light sleep, plus the percentage of time you spend beneath resting heart fee (aka “restoration”). All these stats lead to a usual sleep score that makes it handy to see the great of your sleep.
You additionally get health-promoting tips based totally on sleep and activity, like when the watch informed me I spend extra minutes in deep sleep on days my step depends on hits greater than 11,000 (fascinating!).
The final issue well worth mentioning about Fitbit, in general, is the Relax app. This comes on every watch, however, it is first-class on the Versa 3 due to the fact you just have to press play and it offers you a pretty visual of the Versa’s giant screen. You then simply follow alongside for deep inhales and exhales. You can take a look at the
tap on the Fitbit smartphone app to see what your beginning and ending heart rate is, as properly as log how you are feeling from very calm to very stressed.
The Versa 3 (as properly as the Sense) will connect to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant
to assist you to check off errands or set reminders, except for your computer or phone. You can even pay thru the watch.
Lastly, you can control music from Spotify, Pandora, or Deezer, and even reply to calls properly on the watch face. If you have an Android, you can send voice-to-text responses, too.
The solely huge downfall to the Versa (and the Sense) is that occasionally the watchband caught to my skin in particular at night time or when I did not dry it off after a workout. I do have sensitive skin, however, it left a mark at one point, which went away quickly.
Also, due to the fact I close all the apps on my smartphone pretty often, now and again I’d want to manually sync the watch to the smartphone app to see my full listing of stats. This from time to time took longer than I wanted it to, specifically after software program updates.
Lastly, this is actually now not the most inexpensive watch on our list, however, it nonetheless comes in under competitor models like the Apple Watch.
Best for monitoring health
The Sense smartwatch has a ton of added features, focusing on heart health and stress management, giving you a more holistic look at your well-being.
Pros: Automatic activity and sleep tracking, in-depth exercise and sleep stats, 24/7 heart rate tracking, heart rate zones, built-in GPS, water-resistant up to 50 meters, oxygen saturation reading, mindful minutes, EDA scan, ECG readings, stress management score
Battery life: 6 days
Charge time: 12 minutes
Exercise modes: 20
Built-in: GPS and music storage
The Sense offers a extra entire picture of your health, tracking no longer simply your physical activity however additionally your mental state.
For starters, the Sense offers automatic workout and sleep tracking, and the stats that come with those readings.
More excitingly, this smartwatch offers electrodermal activity (EDA) readings. This is a measurement of tiny electrical modifications on the skin which is intended to point out your stress levels. To get a reading, you open the EDA scan app on the watch, maintain your palm on the screen, and then do a mindfulness
session as it reads your EDA. After, the watch will inform you how many EDA responses it calculated (fewer capacity you had been calm), plus your beginning and ending heart rate. It offers you a choice to log how you are feeling (calm or stressed), too. Using these EDA readings, heart rate data, sleep patterns, and your exercising for the day, the Sense will additionally provide you a stress administration score.
I used to be amazed by way of how low my score was once when I actually felt stressed, however, I chalk that up to a balance of physical activity and a healthy amount of sleep.
Lastly, the Sense additionally reads your blood oxygen levels at night time and can act as an electrocardiogram (ECG) reader with the accompanying app. This means with the touch of the screen, the watch analyzes your heart rate and appears for atrial fibrillation (or AFib, which shows an irregular heart contraction and can signal the main health issue).
The much less flashy however great beneficial aspects such as the ability to answer calls by Bluetooth, sync your calendar, pair the watch with Alexa or Google Assistant
, and pay via your watch.
To get all these features, you do have to pay an alternative hefty price, and it can take some time to add things like EDA scanning to your normal health routine. But if you are attempting to significantly clean up your general health or choose accountability to remain on track, Sense’s many aspects are well worth the price.
Best for tracking fitness
The Charge 4 hits a budget-friendly price point while offering stellar activity tracking in a smaller footprint than a smartwatch.
Pros: Automatic activity and sleep tracking, in-depth exercise and sleep stats, 24/7 heart rate tracking, heart rate zones, built-in GPS, water resistant up to 50 meters, mindful minutes, slim design, long battery life
Cons: Black-and-white display, smaller screen, no music storage
Battery life: 7 days
Exercise modes: 20
If you want a tracker to report your exercises and daily movement with a few nice-to-haves, however, you do not care about fancy elements like a big, colorful screen; answering calls by using your watch, or connecting with Alexa or Google Assistant
, then the Charge 4 is your match.
This tracker information and shows you all the stats you choose from your workout: current and average workout pace, distance, heart rate zones, complete-time, steps taken, and calories burned. Within the Fitbit app, you can additionally see a map of your run, whole with intensity zones displaying the place your heart rate climbed highest and dipped lowest.
The Charge 4 has built-in GPS, so you can run barring your smartphone if you prefer your hands free or the battery is low, which is rarer for a tracker this small.
You additionally nonetheless have the choice to sync your calendar and get indicators on events, plus you can read text messages and see when you are getting calls. The Charge four additionally comes with access to the Relax app for two minutes of deep breathing with dots to observe for every inhale and exhale as an alternative to a video. This device additionally has Fitbit’s in-depth sleep tracking.
The battery life on the Charge 4 is longer than both Versas or the Sense. The design is smaller and takes up much less space around your wrist, which is first-rate for extra petite people.
However, that additionally makes the screen smaller for reading and navigating, which can be a large drawback for some.
Best budget Fitbit
If you want a straightforward activity tracker to tell you how much you’ve moved today and how good of a workout you got, the Inspire 2 offers the best of Fitbit’s basic features at under $100.
Pros: Automatic activity and sleep tracking, in-depth exercise and sleep stats, 24/7 heart rate tracking, heart rate zones, water resistant up to 50 meters, mindful minutes, slim design, battery life
Cons: No built-in GPS, smaller screen
Battery life: 10 days
Exercise modes: 20
This mini-sized watch has the best of Fitbit’s signature features, which include automatic sleep and activity tracking, constant heart rate tracking, and mindfulness encouragement by the Relax app. Better yet, it has the longest battery life of all the Fitbits and it is underneath $100.
On Inspire 2, you can get smartphone notifications like calendar alerts, texts, and calls (though you cannot answer the smartphone on the watch).
The slim design is high-quality for people who are not used to something on their wrist, and the minimalist display, whilst small and tougher to read for some people, makes it easy to see what’s important barring being inundated with stats and info.
The largest downfall is that you want your phone each and every time you head out for a walk or run in order to track mileage and different stats. But it is no longer even a huge concession for most people.
Best budget smartwatch
If you want the bigger screen of the Versa 3 and the Sense but don’t need to answer calls from your watch or have a built-in GPS, the Versa 2 is a fabulous option to save a little money ($50).
Pros: Cheaper than the Versa 3 or Sense, automatic activity, and sleep tracking, in-depth exercise and sleep stats, 24/7 heart rate tracking, heart rate zones, water-resistant up to 50 meters, mindful minutes, long battery life
Cons: no built-in GPS, music storage only works with Deezer and Pandora’s premium service
Battery life: 6 days
Exercise modes: 15
Built-in: Limited music storage
The Versa 2 has the big, shiny display screen of Fitbit’s leading smartwatch models (i.g., Versa 3 and Sense), albeit with a little much less modern-looking display (though the clock face and straps are all customizable).
It automatically tracks activity and sleep, offers a sleep score, has 24/7 heart fee tracking, and affords guided respiration exercises. It displays real-time pace and distance when you’re on the move. The Versa two has 15 workout modes to record, which is 5 much less than the more recent models, however nonetheless includes all the biggies like running, biking, hiking, swimming, weights, and Bootcamp.
You can connect the watch to Amazon Alexa and control music by means of apps like Spotify. You additionally get smartphone notifications like texts and calls (you cannot answer calls via the watch, even though you can use voice replies to texts) and can pay with the watch.
The major aspect you are giving up by way of opting for the older model is the built-in GPS. That means you will need your smartphone with you when you go out for a run, walk, bike ride, or hike. But realistically, most of us take our phones with us running for protection or communication, so this would possibly no longer be as massive of a deal-breaker as it sounds. Plus, built-in GPS drains your battery faster, so you will rating a longer battery life.
Should You Buy a Fitbit? the best Honest Questions to Ask Before You Do
1. Do You Lack the Determination to Exercise?
This is the first question to ask yourself because it’s a trap that many people fall into. Simply put, a Fitbit is not a magic solution that will suddenly give you the motivation to exercise.
Some people give every excuse imaginable for why they don’t work out. They claim that they can’t begin until they have suitable clothes, or that they’ll start once the weather changes, or when they have the right gadget. But the truth is that these secondary aspects don’t prevent them from starting people keep themselves from exercising.
If you don’t have the motivation to consistently work towards your exercise goals without a Fitbit, buying one is not going to suddenly change your ways. A fitness tracker is meant to track your habits and give you actionable data.
Know yourself and whether you’ll actually commit to a plan. Someone who won’t go for a walk today because they’re waiting for their Fitbit to arrive tomorrow will always find an excuse to avoid exercising.
2. Will You Actually Wear and Use Your Fitbit?
Once you’re committed to exercising, you need to decide if you’ll actually wear your Fitbit regularly. If you dislike the feeling of wearing a watch or bracelet, you won’t like a Fitbit either.
For a fitness tracker to do its job, you have to wear it almost all the time. Failing to wear it during a walk means it won’t record your steps. And if you care about sleep tracking, you’ll need to wear it at night, too. If you buy a Fitbit only to have it sit in a drawer, what’s the point?
The smaller Fitbit Zip clips onto your pocket, but since that device is discontinued, you’d have to find it second-hand. Plus, that basic Fitbit can only tell you so much.
The modern lineup of Fitbit devices, such as the latest Versa and Charge models, all use strap setups similar to a watch. You’ll have to pay extra for an alternative-style band.
Those with sensitive skin could end up with irritations from wearing the Fitbit all the time. If your job prevents you from wearing a watch, you can’t wear your Fitbit during the day either.
Additionally, no matter which Fitbit tracker you use, you’ll need the free app to access all the information it collects. Will you install the app on your phone to keep up with your progress, or ignore them?
3. Do You Enjoy Fitness Data?
The basics of losing weight and becoming healthier are simple, but the specifics for each human’s body can vary wildly.
Some people benefit from using the Fitbit device and app to record exactly how active they are and what they eat, keeping track of that data over time. Other people just try to eat fewer unhealthy foods, go for a jog every day, and don’t worry much about it.
If you’re in the latter camp, you might not care about everything a Fitbit offers. Most of the devices can tell you exactly how far you ran, how high your heart rate goes during a workout, and how active you’ve been during a day.
If you don’t care about any of those specifics and are happy with just getting some exercise in, a Fitbit might be a waste for you. On the other hand, if you need to keep an eye on certain statistics for a medical condition, then having organized and detailed information at your fingertips can be a fantastic resource.
Those who thrive on information (like how many calories you’ve consumed and how far you’ve walked) will love what a Fitbit offers. But they’re a waste for someone who estimates those and doesn’t care to take the time to track them.
4. Is a Fitbit Alternative Better for You?
Did you know that as long as you have a smartphone, you can try out a lot of what a Fitbit offers without paying?
You’ll find hundreds of fitness and pedometer apps on both Android and iOS that can help with your health goals. Google Fit is Google’s solution on Android, while Apple’s Health app is built into iOS. Fitbit’s mobile app can also perform some basic tracking, even without a device connected.
Before you commit to buying a Fitbit, try using its app without a device. Or, if you prefer, give either Google Fit or Apple Health a test run. Do this for two weeks.
Perhaps they do everything you’re interested in great! Then you don’t need to spend money on a Fitbit. On the flip side, if you can’t commit to using one of these apps regularly for a few weeks, buying a new device won’t change that.
If you try the apps and love them, but wish you had more data, then a Fitbit is probably a good fit for you. But even then, don’t forget that there are lots of budget fitness trackers that can save you money, too.
5. Do You Enjoy Competition?
There’s one key aspect of Fitbit we haven’t touched on yet: the social factor. The Fitbit app allows you to add friends and check how their step counts compare to yours. You can choose to post status updates to your friends letting them know that you’ve hit your goal for the day, or highlight when you earn a milestone badge.
Beyond that, you can create groups and challenge your friends to specific challenges. For instance, Workweek Hustle challenges two to 10 people to get as many steps in as they can from Monday to Friday
These are great features, but are they for you? If you don’t seek out friends that also use Fitbit, you won’t stay as accountable for your goals, which could sap your motivation. You don’t have to know other people who use Fitbit to enjoy having one, but you’re missing out on a whole sphere of the service if you don’t take advantage of this.
Taken to the extreme, though, the competition could become unhealthy if you obsess over it. So don’t take it too seriously everyone’s goals are different.
6. Do You Trust Google With Your Fitness Data?
There’s one other major factor you should consider when deciding whether a Fitbit is worth it. As of early 2021, Fitbit is now owned by Google. This might give you pause, seeing as Google is the largest advertising company in the world. Google has so much other data on you; do you really want to give it your fitness data as well?
Because fitness data is quite personal, you might look to a Fitbit alternative if you want to avoid feeding Google more information about yourself. See our discussion on the privacy implications of Google owning Fitbit for more info.
Which Fitbit Device Is Best for Me?
Fitbit offers several devices for different uses, but the company has slimmed down its offerings recently. The highest-end devices, like the Fitbit Sense and Fitbit Versa, are hybrid fitness trackers and smartwatches. If you don’t need all those features, other devices like the Charge and Inspire lines to provide more streamlined fitness tracking.
A detailed comparison of each Fitbit model is beyond the scope of this discussion; have a look at the best Fitbit devices for an idea on what to buy.