Fitbit Inspire HR vs Alta HR: should you upgrade?

Inspire HR is Fitbit’s latest activity band. It was launched alongside its lower spec brother Inspire, the budget friendly Versa Lite and kids fitness tracker Ace 2. The new range makes Alta HR and older models such as the Flex 2, Zip and One obsolete. This consolidates Fitbit’s range of devices.

Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets

But what if you already own the Alta HR? After all, the wearable has been a popular seller since its launch in early 2017. This is the device Fitbit refers to as the “world’s slimmest” wrist-worn tracker with a continuous heart rate sensor.

To help you decide whether it’s time to upgrade, here’s our overview on how Alta HR differs from its successor.

Fitbit Inspire HR vs Alta HR: Design

Inspire HR features Fitbit’s trademark look. You can still recognise it as one of the company’s wearables. But with rounded edges, a slightly more modern looking wearable than its predecessors.

The tracker is built of very lightweight material including a plastic housing and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 display. In terms of dimensions, Inspire measures 16.2mm in width, 12.6 mm in depth and weighs a just 20 grams.

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Image source: Fitbit

Fitbit Inspire HR vs Alta HR: should you upgrade?Alta HR is not all too different. But it’s smaller and comes with a more premium aluminium casing instead of a plastic one. It is also narrower and lighter, measuring only 15mm in width and weighing a mere 15 grams.

Both trackers come with an OLED, touch-responsive screen that is off by default and springs to life when you flick your wrist or tap on the wearable. Of the two, Inspire HR’s display is slightly easier to read as it’s a bit larger. It’s also grayscale whereas the display on Alta HR is black and white. Not a huge difference, but worth noting.

Inspire HR has a single physical button on the left for returning to the main menu and quick access to settings. You will need to tap on the sides of the display to navigate the Alta HR.

Both trackers feature rubberised bands that come with standard watch-style clasp mechanisms. You can easily change wristbands to make sure they fit any occasion.

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

When it comes to aesthetics, the two fitness bands are actually quite similar. Both are minimalistic and put function over form. The slightly bigger screen size of Inspire HR may make a difference to some. On the other hand, Alta HR may appeal to women more. It has a more premium aluminium casing, and is so small, it could be worn as a stylish accessory alongside a watch.

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Image source: Fitbit

Under the hood, the two are pretty much identical. They share an optical heart rate monitor, 3-axis accelerometer and vibration motor. Neither has an altimeter for counting floors or built-in GPS.

Fitbit Inspire HR vs Alta HR: Battery life and water resistance

Battery life is important for a device that aims to track your activity around the clock. On this count, Ata HR performs slightly better. It has enough juice to keep going for up to a week between charges, while Inspire HR will stop functioning after 5 days.

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Fitbit Alta HR
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The bigger difference is to do with water-resistance. Alta HR is only splash-proof, whereas Inspire HR comes with a fantastic 5 ATM water-resistance rating. The latter will automatically track your swimming sessions, too, but only with basic detail.

Fitbit Inspire HR vs Alta HR: Features

Fitbit devices are hard to beat when it comes to 24/7 activity tracking. After all, this is what the company is known for. Both Inspire HR and Alta HR come with all-day heart rate monitoring, steps, distance, active minutes, calories burned and advanced sleep tracking (Light/REM, Deep sleep).

Considering they have the same sensors under the hood, you might thing their features are identical. Well, they’re not. There are a couple of differences to be aware of.

The first and probably most important is that Inspire HR packs Connected GPS. This allows it to tap into your smartphone to obtain a GPS reading. A very useful addition for those who run or cycle on a regular basis, as it makes your stats more precise and offers a map of your route. This also allows for some more advanced performance metrics such as VO2 Max/Cardio Fitness Level.

But the list does not end there. Let’s not forget Breathing Sessions to keep you stress free and Female Health Tracking. You’ll find both of these on Inspire HR but not on Alta HR.

Finally, as Alta HR has no physical buttons another feature you’ll have to do without is manual tracking of exercises. Relying on auto-recognition or manually adding the activity afterwards are your only options. You are able to manually start/stop an activity on Inspire HR.

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Image source: Fitbit

Fitbit Inspire HR vs Alta HR: The bottom line

Fitbit Inspire HR and Alta HR are quite similar in many aspects. Both are minimalistic and lightweight, and offer most things an average person needs for tracking their fitness. They also come with pretty much the same specs under the hood.

Obviously, as the successor, Inspire HR comes with a few extras. This includes a slightly larger, grayscale display, the physical button on the left, Connected GPS, Vo2Max/Cardio Fitness Level, Female Health Tracking and Breathing Exercises. The thing that works in Alta HR’s favour is the slightly longer battery life (7 versus 5 days).

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Fitbit Inspire HR
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If you’re in the market for a new fitness band it’s a no brainer – Inspire HR is the obvious choice. Particularly considering it’s slightly less expensive.

If you already own an Alta HR, the choice is not as simple. In our view, the Connected GPS and manual starting/stopping of activity is the biggest difference. If you are an active runner or cyclist, these extra features may push you to upgrade your fitness band.

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Ivan Jovin

Ivan has been a tech journalist for over 7 years now, covering all kinds of technology issues. He is the guy who gets to dive deep into the latest wearable tech news.

3 thoughts on “Fitbit Inspire HR vs Alta HR: should you upgrade?

  • I recently could not charge my Alta HR, which I’ve had for over a year. I was able to obtain a 25% Fitbit discount for a new tracker. I now own the Insperion. It is lighter than the Altra HR. The views for steps are tiny. It feels like a cheap plastic tracker. If I can get my Altra HR to work again, I’m sending the Insperion back.

  • I have a altra hr and it won’t charge. Can the battery be changed? If so were can I get it. I really love my altra hr. I just got new bands for it will the bands from the altra Hr. Would on inspire hr?

    • I’m not sure that it can. You’re better off asking Fitbit directly. Or purchasing an altra hr – Fitbit doesn’t sell them any more but you can get them on Amazon.


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