Fitbit has a large, diverse range of fitness trackers. Variety is great, but all of those options can actually make it difficult to figure out which Fitbit is right for your unique needs. There are Fitbits that you wear on your wrist, as well as options you can clip to your clothes. There are some Fitbit models that track your heart rate, while others are a bit less feature-rich (but the lack of bells and whistles means a cheaper purchase price).
There are a few features that are only available on select Fitbit models. However, there are many features that are available on every single Fitbit, no matter the price point. Every Fitbit model on the market today has the following features: tracking for active minutes during the day, tracking for steps, tracking for calories, and tracking for distance. Most, but not all, will track your sleep. Many of the Fitbit devices will track floors climbed or offer you a silent alarm to wake you without waking your partner. Many Fitbit trackers have a display for the time.
If you’re confused by the huge lineup of Fitbit fitness trackers, we’re here to help. Here’s a guide that breaks down the entire Fitbit line, with the aim of helping you figure out what you want in a fitness tracker, and understanding which Fitbit (if any) will meet your needs.
Serious about getting fit? Check out our posts on the best running shoes for women, and the best running shoes for men. You might also appreciate our guides to the best Bluetooth heart rate monitors and the best road bikes.
1. Fitbit Fitness Trackers With GPS
Some fitness trackers have GPS built right in. GPS is a nice feature for people who are trying to keep a regular fitness routine, as well as those who are training for an event. GPS-enabled fitness trackers are ideal for both cyclists and distance runners. Because GPS can pinpoint your location, you can expect accurate fitness data. However, since GPS relies on satellite signals, it may not work perfectly indoors, during storms, or in areas where trees or buildings cause signal interference.
Only one Fitbit wearable, the Fitbit Surge, has GPS built in. This is the most expensive Fitbit model available, as it is the most feature-rich. In addition to GPS, the Surge also monitors your heart rate, tells the time, and gives you call and text notifications. Unlike some other fitness trackers out there, the Surge doesn’t need to be told when you are going to sleep, since it has automatic sleep detection functionality. You can also control your workout playlist from your Surge. Another option to consider is the Polar M400 GPS sports watch. The Polar watch retails for the same amount as the Surge, but you can usually find it online for noticeably less than the MSRP.
Want another option? The newest addition to the Fitbit family of wearables is the Fitbit Blaze, Fitbit’s first tracker with a full-color touchscreen. It comes in three different colors, and also offers GPS. Well, sort of. Unlike the Surge, which has built-in GPS, Blaze utilizes your smartphone’s GPS to get your position. If you exercise without your phone, this means you won’t be able to use GPS on the Blaze.
When you enable Connected GPS, you can map your running routes and see run stats like pace and duration on the display. The Blaze should last up to 5 days with continuous heart rate monitoring and activity tracking before needing a recharge.
One cool perk is the ability to begin a FitStar workout on your wrist and get step-by-step instructions and graphics to ensure you complete each move correctly. Three standard FitStar workouts are available on the device without a FitStar account. While the device is rainproof and splashproof, Fitbit does not recommend using this wearable while swimming.
Price: $249.95 for the Surge, $199.95 for the Blaze
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2. Fitbit Fitness Trackers With Heart Rate Monitoring
A couple of Fitbit trackers have heart rate monitoring, including the afore-mentioned Surge. There’s also the Charge HR. The Fitbit Charge HR is one step above the the Fitbit Charge, which lacks the heart rate monitoring you’ll find in the Charge HR. The lack of continuous heart rate monitoring on the Charge does have an upside, however: a lower price tag. We’ll talk a bit more about the Charge later on.
The Charge HR was named “best overall choice for the money” in a Tom’s Guide article about the best fitness trackers of 2015. While it lacks the GPS, music controls, and notifications you’ll find on the higher-end Surge, the Charge HR still has some great features. Real-time heart rate monitoring gives you a more accurate estimate of your calorie burn, and it also helps you to keep your heart rate in the right zone while working out. The Charge HR also has caller ID, which is a nice feature when you get calls during a run or visit to the gym.
3. Customizable Fitbit Fitness Trackers
Looking for a fitness tracker that has lots of customization options? Fitbit is positioning the new-for-2016 Alta as the Fitbit of choice for those that love, well, choice.
Like many other Fitbits out there, this model has multiple interchangeable bands. These are sold separately, and are made from premium materials like leather or metal. In addition, the Alta offers a slim OLED display with a variety of clock face options to choose from. You can also choose whether you prefer a vertical or horizontal display orientation. Basic fitness tracking features are included, along with notifications when you get a call, text, or calendar update (but only when your smartphone is nearby). If you’re looking for a slim Fitbit with a blend of fitness tracker and smartwatch features, this is a solid option to consider.
4. Cheap Fitbit Fitness Trackers You Don’t Wear on the Wrist
One New York Times article makes the argument that trackers you wear on your body may be more accurate than those worn on the wrist. Some feel that body-worn trackers are better are tracking your whole body’s physical activity, and not just when your wrist or arm is moving.
Fitbit offers two trackers that you can keep in a pocket, or clip to your clothes. The Fitbit Zip and One also have the benefit of being less expensive than most trackers worn on the wrist. The One retails for $99.95, the same as the Fitbit Flex.
The major difference between the Zip and the One is simple: the One offers sleep tracking. The One also offers tracking for floor climbing and silent alarms, which the Zip does not. The Zip, however, comes in a lot more fun colors.
Another key difference is the battery. The One has a rechargeable built-in battery. The Zip is powered by a 3V coin battery, which means you don’t have to recharge the device. The battery will last up to six months before it needs to be replaced. If you don’t like the look of an on-the-wrist tracker, one of these two options might be ideal for you.
Price: $59.95 for the Zip, $99.95 for the One
5. Basic/Classic Fitbit Fitness Trackers
When most people start looking for a Fitbit, they’re thinking of a simple Fitbit tracker that can be worn on the wrist. The base level band tracker is the Fitbit Flex wristband. The Flex does not offer some of the more premium features, such as heart rate tracking or GPS. It also does not have a numerical display for the time or other fitness info. However, the Flex does offer sleep tracking and a silent waking alarm (though no automatic sleep detection).
The Fitbit Charge is more expensive than the Flex, but it does have the added advantage of a display that tells you the time. Other advantages that the Charge has over the Flex are as follows: a clock, auto sleep detection, caller ID, and tracking for floors climbed in a day.
Like the look of the Flex or the Charge, but want something a little more current? Fitbit has announced the Flex 2 and Charge 2 fitness trackers. The announcement of these updated versions of the classic trackers means the OG trackers are likely to see a price drop. If you don’t mind paying a premium for newer trackers, the Flex 2 stands out for its swimproof features and small form factor (including an ultra-thin tracker that can be removed in placed in jewelry). The Charge 2 outdoes the original Charge by offering heart rate monitoring, guided breathing exercises, and a couple of fun new colors.
Price: $99.95 for the Flex, $129.95 for the Charge
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6. Fitbit Fitness Trackers: Final Thoughts & Things to Consider
The right Fitbit for you can be hard to find. Everyone’s needs are unique. Some people want a simple activity monitor, while others need more features for advanced fitness training. Some people want to track activity, but don’t care about sleep tracking. If you are lightly active, you will probably be happy with what Fitbit calls their Everyday Fitness trackers. That category includes the Zip, the One, the Flex, and the Charge.
If you are a bit more athletic and need a heart rate monitor, the Charge HR is probably going to be your best bet. The Fitbit Surge and Fitbit Blaze are the only models with GPS, so it’s your only choice if GPS is really important to you. If you go with a Surge, you might want to get a screen protector to protect your investment. And if you’re a swimmer, then the new Flex 2 is definitely the best option for you.
Both the Charge HR and Surge are quite bulky, and those who prefer a more streamlined look might prefer one of the less-feature rich Fitbit models. Those who like a slimmer look, lots of optional wrist bands, and custom watch faces may find that the new Fitbit Alta is the right option for their lifestyle.
To get the most out of your Fitbit, you may want to pick up some additional accessories. The Fitbit Aria smart scale will upload your weight and other stats automatically via Wi-Fi to the Fitbit website. If you want a Fitbit, but don’t particularly like the default colors, you can also opt for some colorful replacement bands. We like the ones made by French Bull, but the multipacks from GetFitBand are also a great value.
Starting to question whether a Fitbit is really the right wearable for you? If you want to explore some Fitbit alternatives, you may be interested in our guide to the best fitness wristbands, which includes lots of non-Fitbit options.
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