Update: We have an updated version of this guide covering the 2019 Fitbit choices. Use that one instead.
The dawn of a new year usually means a strong urge to commit to some new ideas and habits. Tie in all that indulgent eating over the holidays and there’s a good chance, if we’d hazard a guess—you’re keen to be healthy, right? That’s where owning a fitness wearable can help keep you motivated.
By keeping an eye on how many steps you walk, flights of stairs you negotiate, and even just what you’ve been drinking and eating each day, you’ll feel far more in control of how you’re doing in your quest to live a little better than before.
Arguably the biggest name in fitness tech right now, Fitbit offers a wealth of different options when it comes to trackers and wearables. They’re available at a variety of different prices, and offer different features, so how do you know which one is right for you?
That’s where we come into it, with some insight into exactly what each Fitbit wearable offers and why it might best suit your needs.
Fitbit Zip ($60)
One of the oldest Fitbits out there, the Fitbit Zip is also the least like the rest of the Fitbit lineup.
That’s because it’s a small device that you clip onto your belt, pocket or bra, rather than wearing it around your wrist. It looks like an old fashioned pedometer (which, we’ll admit, makes it an unfashionable option) but it comes with a huge battery life.
It’ll track your steps, distance, and calories burned, all via an easy-to-read tappable display. It’s robust meaning you won’t have to worry about it getting damaged along the way, plus it offers a watch battery based lifespan meaning it’ll last about 6 months until you need to change its battery.
The Zip is a fairly old form of Fitbit but it does have advantages. If you’re really against wearing something on your wrist, or battery life is a huge thing for you, this is a decent option. For everyone else though, the days of the Zip being great are long gone.
Fitbit Flex 2 ($60)
The perfect all-rounder for those on a budget, the Fitbit Flex 2 is pretty great on all counts. It’s a slim and easy to wear wristband that does a little bit of almost everything. It’ll do the usual things of keeping track of your steps and calories burned, but it’ll also remind you to keep moving through subtle vibrations every hour. It keeps an eye out any time you perform an exercise too.
Alongside that, it’s waterproof meaning you can use it while swimming or simply while showering. Even when you’re sleeping, it’ll track how effective your sleeping pattern is. Further more, the Fitbit Flex 2 gives you a heads up on any calls or notifications coming via your phone.
Battery life is about 4-5 days depending on what you’re doing with it. From experience, it doesn’t take long to charge up either via USB. Expect to have enough charge for a couple of days after only 30-40 minutes, with a couple of hours giving you a full charge. You can also remove the pendant within the wristband and place it in other receptacles such as more stylish bands or necklaces.
This is the Fitbit that’s right for most people, thanks to its versatility and straight forward nature.
Fitbit Alta ($99)
The regular Fitbit Alta isn’t really worth your time any more, but we’ll tell you why.
It works a lot like the Fitbit Flex 2, albeit at $40 more. Offering the same features as the Flex 2, it also includes a tap display on the wristband. Thanks to that, instead of having to sync with your phone to see how you’re doing, you can instantly see the time, notifications, and how you’re performing steps wise.
Is that worth an extra $40 over the Flex 2? Not in the slightest. Even less so when you consider what the Alta’s newer sibling, the Alta HR, can do. Give this one a miss. Its day is done.
Fitbit Alta HR ($130)
Where the Fitbit Flex 2 was the ultimate wearable for those on a budget, the Fitbit Alta HR is the best option for those with a little more cash to spend.
It’s everything you’ve seen before, only better. I’ll track your steps, exercises, and calories burned, but there’s more to it than that.
Most importantly, it’ll keep an eye on your heart rate at all times, proving particularly ideal during exercise. By using its heart rate zone feature, you can see exactly how hard you’re working while exercising, knowing when to ramp it up and when to tone it down. It also means that the calories burned statistic is far more accurate than before.
Alongside that, its sleep tracking is more efficient than on any other model. Via heart rate tracking, it’ll show you exactly when you’re in light, deep, and REM sleep, using that information to demonstrate how your heart rate affects your sleep quality.
For the fashion conscious, there are customizable clock faces, and the option for different wristbands too.
Fitbit Charge 2 ($130)
Bulkier and older yet the same price as the Fitbit Alta HR, why consider the Charge 2? It’s a pretty situational thing. Except hardly anyone is really going to need that situation any more.
Where the Charge 2 may appeal is through its large OLED screen. If you tap it, it’ll tell you a little more than the Alta HR does without the need for your phone. Things like information on your fat burn zone, as well as what kind of exercise you’re performing, will show up. There’s also a guided breathing session mode too which is great for those trying to find a moment of inner calm.
Ultimately, though? This wearable isn’t as stylish as the Alta HR and it doesn’t offer the functionality of a ‘proper’ smartwatch. This one’s only worth a purchase if you can find it far cheaper than its RRP, or if your eyesight means you need a more prominent screen.
Fitbit Blaze ($149)
The Fitbit Blaze was Fitbit’s first foray into smartwatches back in 2016. While it’s a little dated now, it’s also well priced, making it worth some consideration.
Alongside the usual bunch of features, it offers extensive notification for your smartphone, along with GPS functionality via your phone. With its color touchscreen, you can keep an eye on exactly what your body is doing in a much clearer fashion than before. You can also receive push notifications from apps like Gmail and Facebook, along with being able to control your phone’s music from your wrist.
Its GPS functionality provides you with map-based details on your walks and runs, seeing exactly where your pace changes and improves. There are on-screen workouts via Fitstar too which can be useful if you don’t want to use an app on your phone.
By current smartwatch standards, the Fitbit Blaze is a little simplistic. However, if you don’t want to dive straight into a ‘proper’ smartwatch, it has its uses, and it’s certainly keenly priced these days.
Fitbit Ionic ($270)
The latest and greatest Fitbit out there, the Fitbit Ionic is going to set you back a fair bit, but that’s because it’s a true smartwatch, not just a fitness wearable.
It offers built-in GPS ensuring there’s no need to take your phone everywhere. It’ll also store and play over 300 songs, giving you even less reason to need your phone at your side.
On the fitness side of things, besides tracking everything, it’ll provide you with personal coaching and workouts that play on screen. It’s also water resistant, offering enhanced swim tracking capabilities so it’ll monitor your stroke style as well as the amount of laps you complete.
The guided breathing sequences first seen in the Charge 2 are far superior this time round, all tying together to provide an expansive service to those looking to be healthier.
You can also download new apps to it, as well as pay for certain services through Fitbit Pay, providing your bank supports the service. A battery life of up to 5 days means no excessive need to charge too.
If money is no object, this is the Fitbit for you.
Images courtesy of Fitbit.