Image source: Fitbit

Choosing the right Fitbit tracker

Fitbit is the global leader in wearables sales. There is a reason its trackers sell so well. They are simple to use, reliable, look smart, provide great vitals statistics and have an excellent app behind them.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

The company has recently consolidated its range of devices for tracking steps and calories by replacing the Alta and Alta HR with Inspire and Inspire HR. This also means the Flex 2, and much older Zip and One trackers will not see new iterations. You can still purchase all of these, though, while stocks last. For the sake of completeness, we include the complete range in this article.

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Inspire | Inspire HR | Charge 3 | Versa LiteVersa | Ionic Ace/Ace 2 |  older models

View tech specs comparison of recommended models


Fitbit Inspire

First released: March 2019 | View technical specs

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Image source: Fitbit

Fitbit’s new fitness band comes with a touchscreen, on-device dashboard, all-day activity, sleep tracking, female heath tracking and smartphone notifications. It has an OLED touchscreen, and is swim-proof (water resistance up to 5 ATM).

There’s a single physical button on the left. You navigate the device by tapping the screen, swiping up and down, or pressing the button. To preserve battery (which lasts up to 5 days), the tracker’s screen turns off when not in use.

The device keeps tabs on all-day steps, distance, active minutes and calories burned. It automatically recognises workouts like walks, runs, swims, bike rides and more, then records them for you in the Fitbit app.

This is a decent fitness device that will suffice for many. But if you want more bang for your buck, we suggest opting for the slightly more expensive HR version.

A clip-on accessory is available, so the tracker can be detached from the strap and attached on to clothes. This is to cater for those who would previously have opted for Zip.

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Fitbit Inspire HR

First released: March 2019 | View technical specs

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Image source: Fitbit

Launched alongside Inspire, the HR version slaps on a heart rate monitor to Fitbit’s new tracker. This allows it to do some more clever things.

Inspire HR will dish out heart rate info, sleep stages (light, deep, & REM) and 15+ goal-based exercise modes. There’s also Vo2Max/Cardio Fitness Level, as well as breathing exercises. The only thing that’s missing is an altimeter for counting floors. Not a deal-breaker for most.

It will even link to the GPS on your smartphone to provide more precise data on pace and distance when you’re running while recording a map of your route in the app. No built-in GPS though.

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Fitbit Charge 3

First released: September 2018 | View technical specs

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Image source: Fitbit

Next up the chain is Charge 3. This is our choice for the best fitness tracker in 2018. At first glance the device comes across very much like its predecessor. But look closely and you’ll spot some important differences. The most obvious is the much bigger OLED display. Furthermore, the high-resolution, backlit screen is fully responsive to touch.

All in all, this is a sleek looking device which comes with everything an average person needs to keep tabs on their activity 24/7 including an altimeter for counting floors. There’s also something Fitbit calls a relative SpO2 sensor. This measures blood oxygen levels and could be used to identify sleep apnea in the future. We are still waiting for the company to put it to real-world use, though.

Waterproofing is another important upgrade. Charge 3 has a water-resistance rating of 5 ATM which means you can dunk it down to depths of 50 metres. It will track your swim sessions, too.

Battery life is an excellent 7 days on a single charge. This beats its predecessor by 2 days, allowing it to go 40% longer.

Last but certainly not least are the smart features. Charge 3 comes with call, calendar, text and smartphone app notifications. There is a host of Fitbit and third-party apps, too. For an additional $20, you can slap on Fitbit Pay to the host of features.

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Fitbit Versa

First released: April 2018 | View technical specs

choosing the right fitbit tracker - Choosing the right Fitbit tracker
Image source: Fitbit

Fitbit Versa is smaller and better looking than the Ionic, which should appeal to the female demographic. The water-resistant gizmo comes with a high-quality 1,000 nit display and Fitbit says its the lightest metal smartwatch sold in the US.

When it comes to 24/7 activity monitoring the device ticks most boxes. In addition to everything from the lower-spec models, you get on-board storage for music and NFC payments (selected models).

With a battery life of 5 days, this is a stylish device which represents a great compromise between a fully fledged smartwatch and fitness tracker. It’s no wonder it has been selling so well since its launch last year.

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Fitbit Versa Lite

First released: March 2019 | View technical specs

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Image source: Fitbit

Fitbit says the stripped back version of Versa is designed for people who have been left out of the smartwatch market. The fact that the new watch has cut some corners means that it sells about $40 below the full edition price.

What’s missing as compared to the full version are two additional physical buttons for navigating the display, an altimeter for counting floors, on-board storage for music and NFC for contactless payments. If you opt for the Lite version, you will also miss out on guided workouts on-display and lap tracking for swimming.

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Fitbit Ionic

First released October 2017 | View technical specs

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Image source: Fitbit

With its blocky, retro design, Ionic is not exactly a looker but at least it packs some decent specs under the hood. The most important difference as compared to the other devices on this page is the inclusion of built-in GPS. This allows for a phone-free experience when running and cycling outdoors.

The exercise mode captures real-time stats on 20 different types of activities such as biking, golfing, kickboxing and tennis. Because the watch is water-resistant down to 50 metres, it will track your swim sessions too, with lap count, duration and calorie burn.

Just like on Versa, you also get 2.5GB of internal storage for music, notifications and a built in NFC chip for payments. There is also an App store with Strava, Accuweather, Flipboard, Starbucks and more.

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Fitbit Ace / Ace 2

First released October 2017 / March 2019 | Compare technical specs

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Image source: Fitbit

This is an Alta lookalike that is specifically designed for kids 8 and older. The showerproof device automatically tracks steps, active minutes, sleep and provides encouragement to be active. It has up to 5 days of battery life and comes in two vibrant colours.

Because it has an OLED tap display, your kid can see their progress in real time. The tracker dishes out rewards for moving with celebratory messages and fun, collectible badges. And, if you have a Fitbit yourself you can promote a bit of friendly family competition.

Fitbit has introduced a new family account which allows parents to safeguard their kids’ privacy and stay on top of their activity. The Parent view lets you navigate between your view and your kid’s view to check their activity and progress. It also allows you to manage who your children connect with and what information they see.

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Image source: Fitbit

The company has recently introduced Ace 2. This tracker is designed for the 6 and up. The kid-friendly device is quite a bit more durable than its predecessor. The screen is also larger, so much that the gizmo looks more like a smartwatch than a fitness tracker. Availability is expected this summer.

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Older models

Fitbit One

First released: September 2012 | View technical specs

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Image source: Fitbit

Fitbit One is also a belt-clip/carry on activity tracker, but goes a bit further than Fitbit Zip. In addition to tracking your steps, distance, calories burned, Fitbit One measures stairs climbed. Come nightfall, the device also keeps tabs your sleep quality, helps you learn how to sleep better and wakes you up in the morning.

While Fitbit One and Fitbit Zip were novel and innovative back in 2012 when they were released, these days the metrics they track are fairly standard. However, if you are looking for a basic device to measure your activity, the Fitbit Zip and Fitbit One both represent a great choice due to their reliability, excellent value for money and a first class app. You may also be able to purchase them at a discount.

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Fitbit Zip

First released: September 2012 | View technical specs

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Image source: Fitbit

Fitbit Zip can be worn in your pocket, on a belt or on a bra, as it is as discreet or as visible as you want it to be. This entry level fitness tracker monitors steps, distance, calories burned and syncs everything to your computer or smartphone. The wearable has a silicone clip and is rain, splash and sweat-proof. The battery is replaceable and lasts up to six months.

The mobile app which is used across all Fitbit trackers, remains a well-designed, easy to navigate tool for looking at your data, monitoring your fitness progress, and also tracking your food intake and water consumption. Any metric can be tapped to show historical data, and weekly totals. If you are only after a simple pedometer, this is the one to go for.

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Fitbit Flex

First released: May 2013 | View technical specs

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Image source: Fitbit

The Fitbit Flex is slim and comfortable wrist worn gadget. It monitors steps, distance, and calories burned and shows you how you’re stacking up against your daily goals.

At night, the device monitors your sleep cycles. LED lights show how your day is stacking up against your goal while stats are synced wirelessly and automatically.

The Flex is an old model, probably not worth the money even if at a discount. We suggest you go with one of the newer trackers instead. For a small difference in price, you will get a screen and heart rate monitoring. Or you can go for the new and improved Flex 2.

Amazon | Fitbit*


Fitbit Flex 2

First released: September 2016 | View technical specs

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Image source: Fitbit

The Flex 2 is the company’s slimmest tracker yet and for the first time for a Fibit device is water resistant.

The device is 30% smaller than the original model and features a removable core unit and interchangeable slim, classic fitness bands in seven colors. A simple LED display uses color-coded lights to show progress toward your daily goal, and keeps you connected with call and text notifications.

More importantly, this is Fitbit’s first swim-proof wristband. The device is water resistant up to 50 meters, whether you’re in the shower, pool or ocean, and it automatically tracks your pool swims including laps, duration and calories burned in the Fitbit app.

What it doesn’t do is monitor your heart rate or count the floors climbed. You will need to opt for one of Fitbit’s more advanced fitness trackers for that.

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Fitbit Charge

Released: November 2014 | View technical specs

choosing the right fitbit tracker 5 - Choosing the right Fitbit tracker
Image source: Fitbit

Fitbit Charge sports a monochrome OLED display, which is very vibrant and easy to read, despite being roughly the size of a fingernail.

The screen shows your basic stats, and you cycle them using the button on the left. The tracker can also an display caller ID information from a connected smartphone through the Fitbit app.

This is a device for everyday users who want to get fitter and see how they are doing in real time on the wristband and also via the excellent free app and graphics-heavy desktop dashboard.

We suggest though, dishing out a few extra bucks and going for the upgraded Charge 2. It also monitor your heart rate and looks better!

Amazon | Fitbit*


Fitbit Charge HR

First released: January 2015 | View technical specs

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Image source: Fitbit

The main difference between this device and the Charge, is that there is now a heart rate sensor onboard. The Charge HR has also improved the Charge’s clasp for a more secure fit.

When your heart beats, your capillaries expand and contract based on blood volume changes. Fitbit’s proprietary PurePulse optical heart-rate technology uses safe LED lights on the underside to detect blood volume and capillary-size changes under pressure.

When compared to trackers with no heart rate monitor and those which only measure heart rate on demand, the ones that continuously measure provide a much more accurate calorie burn figure. Knowing your heart rate means the wearable knows the intensity of the exercise. Plus you get info on your resting heart rate, probably the most important indicator of your health and fitness.

This was our choice for the best fitness tracker in 2015. You would now be better off going for the Charge 2 though.

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Fitbit Charge 2

First released: September 2016 | View technical specs

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Image source: Fitbit

Charge 2 is the Editor’s choice for the average user who is looking to boost their fitness and does the occasional run here and there. It covers all the bases and sells at a decent price.

The device features an enhanced exercise experience, new health and fitness tools, detailed sleep metrics and an upgraded design with a screen that is four times larger than before. You get everything you would expect from a fitness tracker, along with a few new features that are powered by your personal heart rate.

The one that is most useful is called Cardio Fitness Level. This gives you a snapshot of your fitness level which is based on your estimated VO2 Max (calculated using your user profile and resting heart rate). You also get to see how you compare to those of the same age and gender.

The other new addition are Guided Breathing Sessions. This is a relaxing mindfulness experience that calms your body and mind through personalised deep-breathing sessions called “Relax”.

For most people, this fitness tracker should suffice as it tracks all your activity, sleep and heart rate. It doesn’t have built-in GPS but does have the ability to tap into your smartphone for readings.

Its worth noting, there are rumours of an updated version coming later this year so watch this space.

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Fitbit Surge

First released: October 2014 | View technical specs

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Image source: Fitbit

This is Fitbit’s first attempt at a ‘ultimate fitness’ tool. But its stepped up specs and touchscreen LCD make it bigger in size and price.

The device records all the usuals including steps taken, distance travelled, calories burned, stairs climbed, active minutes, caller ID and sleep. However, the Surge goes a step further than other Fitbits by including GPS mapping.

Essential reading: Gone for a run: top GPS watches for running and training

The real-time heart rate monitoring gives reasonably accurate results and the automatic sleep function is a plus. On the negative side, the Surge is not perhaps as accurate as the top-tier fitness sports watches, and the display is not really attractive for a night out or for use in the workplace. Plus Fitbit is now phasing out Surge as it looks to push its new Ionic smartwatch.

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Fitbit Alta

First released: March 2016 | View technical specs

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Image source: Fitbit

The Alta has a slim stylish design, a major step up in the looks department from the retro feel of its 2015 lineup. The device features a discreet, slightly curved, touch-screen, OLED display.

In terms of price, this is one of the cheapest trackers sold by Fitbit. The company has not included a heart rate sensor, which has allowed it to offer it at a discount compared to its other wearables. It also does not contain a GPS or an altimetre for counting floors climbed.

What it does contain is a 3-axis accelerometer and a vibration motor. This means Alta is able to track steps, distance, calories burned and active minutes. It is also equipped with reminders to move, nudging you to stay active throughout the day, while providing visual feedback on your progress and keeping you connected with smart notifications.

Essentially, with Alta Fitbit is styling up what it already offers. There is no ground-breaking new technology on board. But if you’re looking for a stylish fitness tracker that does the essentials from a recognised brand, this could be the device for you.

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Fitbit Alta HR

First released: April 2017 | View technical specs

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Image source: Fitbit

Fitbit calls the Alta HR the “world’s slimmest” wrist-worn tracker with a continuous heart rate sensor. With this fitness band, the company has shown that it is possible to bring its Pure Pulse technology to a device this narrow. Until now, continuous heart-rate tracking has only been available in Fitbit’s larger devices.

In addition to heart rate, the Alta HR can track steps, distance and calories. It is also the first to benefit from Fitbit’s new sleep features. ‘Sleep Stages’ uses accelerometer and heart rate data to more accurately estimate how long you spend in Light, Deep, and REM sleep stages each night. The only thing it won’t do is count floors.

As you’d expect, there are some non-fitness features as well. The gizmo, which weighs only 15 grams, also displays notifications for incoming calls, text messages and calendar alerts.

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Fitbit Blaze

First released: February 2016 | View technical specs

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Image source: Fitbit

The Blaze is Fitbit’s first wearable with a color touch-screen, which pops out so you can swap bands. The device tracks activity and records heart rate, but lacks the built-in GPS of the Surge and Ionic. Just like the Charge 2, it taps into your smartphone’s GPS for readings.

Blaze is sweat, rain and splash proof, but unfortunately is not swim proof. Its optical heart rate sensors take heart rate readings every five seconds during the day and every second during workout sessions. This should, in theory, give wearers relatively accurate stats.

With a battery life of 5 days, this is a device which represents a great compromise between a fully fledged smartwatch and fitness tracker.

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Amazon | Fitbit*

 

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