Fitbit currently sells six activity tracker wristbands – the Fitbit Flex 2, Alta, Alta HR, Charge 2, Surge, and Blaze – and two clip-on activity trackers: Fitbit Zip and One. That’s a confusing range, and there are rumours of a Fitbit smartwatch too.
Activity trackers can motivate you to exercise more or improve your sports and fitness regimes. Even moderate exercise can have a positive effect on your physical and mental health.
Like Hoover and vacuums many people regard all activity trackers as “Fitbits” but there are other makes so be sure to read the best activity trackers currently available to buy too. Fitbit is by far the market leader, and has quality trackers for most people.
Super-serious sports, running and fitness fanatics – for whom even the high-end Fitbit Surge isn’t sophisticated enough – may prefer the more expensive top-end Garmin or TomTom trackers, which focus on specific sports such as running, cycling or swimming.
Which Fitbit is best for you?
Here’s a brief summary, before we go into more detail about features, price, battery life and more.
|Zip||One||Flex 2||Alta||Alta HR||Charge 2||Blaze||Surge|
|Shop at Fitbit||Buy||Buy||Buy||Buy||Buy||Buy||Buy||Buy|
|Steps, Calories & Distance||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Sleep Tracking & Silent Alarm||–||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Sleep Stages (Light, Deep, REM)||–||–||–||–||Y||Y||Y||–|
|Reminders To Move||–||–||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||–|
|PurePulse Heart Rate||–||–||–||–||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Call & Text Notifications||–||–||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Guided Breathing Sessions||–||–||–||–||–||Y||–||–|
It’s possible to look at the Fitbit activity trackers in three groups.
The clip-on Zip and One offer the least features but are perfect if you don’t want to wear a wristband. We do worry that these are easier to lose than the wristbands, though.
The watch-buckle Charge 2, Charge HR, Blaze and Surge wristbands boast the most features, including Floors Climbed via the altimeter. They also show more right there on their displays, including Call and Text Notifications from your phone, including Caller ID. The Alta HR boasts the watch buckle but not the altimeter for Floors Climbed.
The slimmer pop-clasp Flex 2 and Alta wristbands are more chic, and arguably aimed at women, although there’s nothing in the design to put off men. However, neither model has an altimeter, a heart-rate monitor or multi-sport functions.
One solution is to own more than one Fitbit! You can sync multiple trackers to your Fitbit account, so maybe wear a fully featured sporty tracker during the day, and slip on a slimmer, more chic Alta or Flex 2 in the evening.
We love the Flex 2 minimalist display, but think the Alta’s better display gives you more data right there on the wrist. In some ways the Alta HR is the best of both world’s, being super slim but still having the heart-rate monitor.
The Zip is the cheapest Fitbit, and if you can live without the altimeter and sleep tracking then this is a great entry point. Sleep tracking is fun but not at the top of most people’s fitness lists, but the buzz is a great way to know you’ve reached your key target. Is that worth an extra £30 for the One or £20 for the Flex 2? That’s really up to you.
When it comes to choosing between the four Fitbit watch-buckle wristbands it’s really a matter of price vs features. The top-end Surge, with its GPS, is the obvious choice for the serious fitness nut – or you can wear one, and pretend to be a performance fitness nut, and just use it to count your steps and tell you the time.
But the multi-sport functions and smartphone GPS connectivity of the Charge 2 and Blaze should satisfy most fitness enthusiasts. Their lack of built-in GPS might disappoint some, but most runners take their smartphone with them for music or call, so their wireless connection to the phone’s GPS does the same trick.
The Alta HR misses some sports features but is the slimmest heart-rate monitor you can wear on your wrist.
The Fitbit Blaze is similar to the other Fitbits but comes with a flashier colour display. It will appeal to those people who want an activity tracker but also a watch-like timepiece. Its colourful displays are also going to attract attention.
Finally, it’s not long since Fitbit discontinued the popular Charge HR wristband tracker, so look on Amazon for any available bargain prices.
Your buying guide for the best Fitbit in 2017
Choosing the best Fitbit for you will come down to features and price, but you should also consider size, battery life and of course looks. There’s a Fitbit tracker for everyone. If you’re unsure you can always later sell up and upgrade to a higher-spec Fitbit tracker. Getting fitter now is the main thing, so get started soon.
How much should I spend?
Let’s start with a key factor: cost. None of the Fitbits are pocket change like the Xiaomi Mi Band, but we’ve listed the best prices for each Fitbit below. You can also order direct via the Fitbit Store.
Although it’s officially discontinued (replaced by the Charge 2) the Fitbit Charge HR can still be found online at discounted prices. We’ve seen it on Amazon for less than £80.
For more detailed reviews of each model, see our full reviews, listed below.
How do they compare on features?
The cheap clip-on Fitbit Zip lacks the sleep tracking and silent wake alarm found on the Fitbit One. Neither clip-on tracker features a heart-rate monitor, or the sports functions and notification alerts.
The cheapest Fitbit wristband is the Flex 2, but this lacks some features of the more expensive Fitbits, such as an altimeter to measure “floors climbed”, multi-sport functions, heart rate, Caller ID, text notifications and GPS tracking. But casual users don’t really need the heart-rate monitor or sports capabilities, and only the top-end Surge actually boasts a built-in GPS anyway. The Flex 2 is also the only waterproof, swim-ready Fitbit tracker.
The Alta is one step up from the Flex 2, but quite a jump in terms of price. For the extra money you gain Caller ID and Text Notifications, which many will find very useful. If your phone is a short distance from you but not in your pocket or in Silent mode then that little vibration alert that a call is incoming can be super handy.
If you do jog, run or exercise in any way as well as walking we think that it might be worth paying for the extra heart-rate-monitoring functionality you get with the Alta HR, Charge 2, Blaze and Surge. Monitoring heart rate can also be used if weight loss is one of your key goals. But if you’re just interested in everyday exercise the Fitbit Flex 2 or Alta will suffice, and are excellent trackers.
We also prefer the watch-buckle strap found on the Alta HR, Charge 2, Blaze and Surge. It feels more secure, and again is worth the paying extra for. If you want a wide range of straps and other accessories the Flex 2 has the most options, including a bangle and pendant, but the Alta and Alta HR also boast a large array of accessories.
Remember to factor in the cost of the straps and accessories to the price of the wristband trackers if you fancy something different to the included Classic bands. Having a choice of straps is appreciated, but it does make the pricing harder to compare.
You can also compare the models with Fitbit’s own interactive comparison tool.
Which trackers have these features?
All Fitbits have an accelerometer that measures motion patterns to determine your calories burned, distance traveled, and steps taken. All but the Zip also monitor sleep quality.
The One, Flex 2, Alta, Alta HR, Charge 2, Blaze and Surge also contain a vibration motor, which allows it to vibrate when alarms are set to go off.
The One, Charge 2, Charge HR, Blaze and Surge boast an altimeter that measures stairs (or height) climbed. Despite its name the Alta does not include an altimeter.
The Fitbit Surge boasts eight sensors, and is the only model in the lineup to have GPS without the need for a smartphone to be linked. Users can see distance, pace and elevation climbed, and review routes and split times.
Heart rate monitor
The Alta HR, Charge 2, Blaze and Surge monitor your heart rate on your wrist. They use Fitbit’s PurePulse technology that gives continuous, automatic, wrist-based heart rate, plus simplified heart-rate zones.
Additionally the Charge 2 and Blaze feature Cardio Fitness Level, which provides a snapshot of your cardiovascular fitness. Based on estimated VO2 Max – calculated by your user profile, heart rate and exercise data – you can see how your fitness level relates to others of the same age and gender, and get guidance on how to improve over time.
Caller ID and text messages
The Charge 2, Alta, Alta HR, Blaze and Surge will all show Caller ID when linked to a smartphone. All the wristbands also display text notifications on its display, and the Blaze and Surge allow you to control your music from the touchscreen display.
Automatic sport recognition
The Alta, Alta HR, Charge 2, Blaze and Surge feature multi-sport exercise tracking. A recent software update means the Charge HR and Surge can now automatically detect which activity you’re doing. They know when you’re cycling, running, hiking or playing sports including football, tennis and basketball. They will also recognise aerobic workouts such as Zumba, cardio-kickboxing and dance workouts, and log the workout in the Fitbit app along with an exercise summary.
Reminder to move
This is available on all trackers except Charge, Charge HR, Flex, One, Surge and Zip. It encourages you to meet a mini-step goal of 250 steps each hour (approximately 2-3 minutes of walking). These prompts can be personalised to your schedule; for example they can be put on “Do Not Disturb” during long meetings or appointments.
All the Fitbits, except the Zip, check your sleep, too. They measure the time you spend asleep and check the quality of sleep – noting when you are restless or wake up during the night. Fitbit’s new Sleep Stages measurements (on Alta HR, Charge 2 and Blaze) utilises heart-rate variability to estimate the amount of time you spend in Light, Deep and REM sleep, as well as time awake each night, to better understand your sleep quality.
The Charge 2 and Blaze offer Relax Guided Breathing sessions that can help calm your body and mind through two- and five-minute sessions personalised to your breathing rate. The benefits of guided breathing practice are supposed to help reduce stress and anxiety, as well as lower blood pressure.
Which has the best display?
The Zip display has five modes: Steps; Distance; Calories burned; Fitbit Smiley (highlights your recent activity level); and Clock.
The One’s display has six modes: Steps; Distance; Calories burned; Floors climbed; Flower (grows and shrinks based on your recent activity); and Clock.
The Flex 2’s display is the most minimal, consisting of a series of flashing dots that show you how your day is stacking up against your goals. Each light represents 20 percent of your goal. You just tap the display twice to see your progress against your daily goal.
The Fitbit Alta and Alta HR take a longer, vertical view of its displays.
The Charge 2‘s OLED display (below) shows Time; Steps; Heart Rate; Distance; Calories burned; Floors climbed; Very active minutes; Caller ID; Text Notification; and Alarm.
The Blaze‘s colourful display wins hands down, although you won’t see it if you put your hands down…
The Surge‘s larger display (below) shows even more data to fitness and sports nuts. Its display is a touch screen monochrome LCD with backlight (for low light visibility).
Which has the best battery life?
The Zip is easily the best for battery life but you will need to buy a new battery two or three times a year. The 3V coin (CR 2025) battery is cheap, though – you can buy a pack of five for under £2.50 (US$3). The other models have rechargeable batteries. Here’s roughly how long each lasts between charges:
One: 5-7 days
Zip: 4-6 months
Flex 2: up to 5 days
Alta: up to 5 days
Alta HR: up to 7 days
Charge 2: Up to 5 days
Blaze: up to 5 days
Surge: Up to 5 days
Which models are water resistant?
Only the new Flex 2 is officially sanctioned as waterproof (to 50M), and has swimming tracking features.
Sadly none of the other Fitbit activity trackers can monitor your swimming, and Fitbit says you should not swim while wearing them. However, they won’t immediately break if they get wet.
The One and Zip are just splash proof, while the Alta, Alta HR, Charge 2, Charge HR and Blaze are water resistant to 1 ATM (Atmosphere), so theoretically can be submerged up to 10 metres (33ft).
The Fitbit Surge is water resistant to 5 ATM, which means it is wearable around household sinks, while playing sports and while swimming in shallow water. Experts recommend that you don’t wear it while bathing, snorkeling or scuba diving, and Fitbit calls it water resistant rather than properly waterproof.
If you need something to monitor your aquatic efforts, then check our our round-up of the best trackers for swimmers.
Do they all use the same app?
Yes. They all use the same iPhone, Android and Windows Phone apps. You can also see the data on Fitbit’s website and sync a tracker with a laptop or PC using the included Bluetooth USB dongle.
The apps look wonderful, and display all your daily and historical stats in beautiful graphs that expand in landscape orientation as well as display in portrait view.
The desktop dashboard is another visually attractive and informative place to monitor your activity and fitness statistics.
And as an incentive you can link with friends, family and colleagues to compete against each other on the leaderboard, get involved in daily or weekly Challenges, and win badges determined by passing goals, and historical milestones. These aspects of the Fitbit system really set it apart from the other trackers.
Which colours are available?
The Fitbit Zip is available in either Charcoal or Magenta.
The Fitbit One is available in either Burgundy or Black.
The Flex 2 wristband is available in four colours: Black, Lavender, Magenta and Navy Blue.
You can buy extra bands for the Flex 2 (without the tracker) in packs of three for £24.99.
The Fitbit Alta is available in a classic strap (extra £19.99 or US$29.95) in Black, Blue, Plum or Teal; in leather (extra £39.99/£99.95) in Graphite or Blush Pink); or in Stainless Steel Links (extra £69.99/$129.95).
The Fitbit Alta HR is available in a classic strap (extra £19.99 or US$29.95) in Black, Blue Gray, Fuchsia or Coral; in leather (extra £39.99/£59.95) in Lavender, Indigo or Brown; or in Stainless Steel Links (extra £69.99/$99.95) or Gold Plated (extra £109.99/$129.95).
The Fitbit Charge 2 is available in its Classic Band model in Black, Plum, Blue and Teal.
There are also Special Edition models of the Charge 2, available in Lavender/Rose Gold and Black; and Luxe Leather in Brown, Blush Pink and Indigo.
The Fitbit Blaze is available in a classic strap in Black, Blue or Plum; in leather (extra £59.99/£99.95) in Black, Camel or Mist Grey); or in Stainless Steel Links (extra £89.99/$129.95).
The Fitbit Surge is available in three colours: Black, Blue and Tangerine.