What is the best Fitbit watch
Which Fitbit is right for me?
The Fitbit brand has become the epitome of fitness trackers for many people in recent years. Rightly so, because the American company is continuously developing innovative models and functions and not only scores with its wearables, the apps are also convincing. Fitbit now has numerous variants on offer, some of which differ significantly in performance, design and price. You can find out which Fitbit is right for you in this article.
The Fitbit models in comparison
Fitbit has a clearly structured range. Two fitness trackers and two smartwatches measure everyday movement and sleep. The higher quality the models, the more functions for athletes are included. The fitness trackers concentrate on the sports and health features and the display of messages from your smartphone. The smartwatches can be expanded with apps and have more smart features. You also have a larger display with which you can show more information in everyday life and during sports. There are also other subtle differences between the models. You can find out the advantages and disadvantages of fitness trackers and smartwatches in the detailed presentation. Our comparison starts with the entry-level models, the functions of which are also included in the higher-quality models.
Fitbit Inspire 2
The Inspire 2 is a compact and stylish fitness tracker and is the entry point to Fitbit's product range. The Inspire 2 focuses on the absolute core functions of fitness trackers, the measurement of movement and sleep. In addition, the diet and the female cycle can be logged via the app. Just like the larger Fitbit models, the Inspire 2 has the ability to record a wide variety of sports. To determine the pace and distance in endurance sports, the Inspire 2 uses the GPS of the connected smartphone. Sports such as running, swimming or cycling are recognized automatically. The recording of yoga, weight training and many other sports can be activated manually on the Inspire 2.
With sleep tracking, you get the same range of functions as with Fitbit's more expensive models. The small fitness tracker uses its motion sensor and heart rate measurement to differentiate between light, deep and REM sleep. The accuracy is not comparable to that of a sleep laboratory. Nevertheless, the sleep analysis can provide indications of potential deficits. The function is also suitable for tracking personal changes, i.e. whether sleep is improving or worsening. But you shouldn't compare yourself to other users. Since the measurement on the wrist is only a rough approximation, the algorithms react differently to each user. This is even more complex with devices of different brands. Since every manufacturer uses its own algorithms to determine the sleep phases, a comparison of the data is not possible.
A particularly practical feature of the Inspire 2 is the long battery life of up to 10 days, which no other Fitbit model can match. Together with the other fitness trackers and smartwatches from Fitbit, the Inspire 2 has a water-protected housing (up to 50 meters deep) and the option of exchanging the wristbands. So you can create very different looks and adapt the tracker to your own outfit. Fitbit itself offers high-quality accessories made from materials such as fabric, metal and leather. You can also find a large selection * of inexpensive ribbons on Amazon, for example.To Fitbit Inspire 2 on Amazon *
Heart rate monitor accuracy
When choosing the bracelet, you should note that a loose fit on the wrist has a negative effect on the accuracy of the heart rate measurement. Typically, straps made of plastic and leather are well supple. In the case of metal straps, there are models that can be finely adjusted. Rather coarse link bracelets, on the other hand, sometimes flutter a little around the wrist. It can happen that the sensor is not so close to the skin and accordingly measures worse.
Even if the tracker sits correctly, you should be aware that the heart rate sensor of devices like the Inspire 2 is more intended for everyday use and does not achieve the same accuracy as devices for ambitious athletes or medical applications. The measurement with the Inspire 2, as with most other fitness trackers and smartwatches, is based on the determination of the blood flow in the skin. Skin pigmentation, tattoos, hair and the course of the vessels under the skin can negatively affect the accuracy.
In addition, the heart rate sensor of the Inspire 2 is optimized for efficiency so as not to drain the battery of the small tracker too much. Therefore, the Inspire 2 does not achieve the same accuracy as special sports watches with more powerful sensors. Nevertheless, the accuracy is sufficient for a determination of the general heart rate level, for example when sitting, standing or during endurance sports at a steady pace. In addition, the heart rate sensor of the Inspire 2 enables you to measure your resting heart rate and improves the accuracy of the calculated calorie consumption and sleep phases. In addition, the Inspire 2 uses the heart rate data to calculate a cardio fitness score, which shows how well trained your circulatory system is.
The measurement is less accurate with dynamic loads, for example weight training or cycling with many stops and changing pace. Ambitious athletes who want to control their training precisely based on their heart rate therefore usually opt for other devices with more powerful LEDs for measuring blood flow or a device with an additional chest strap. These can determine the heart rate even more precisely in live use, but are also correspondingly larger and more expensive. You can find out which Fitbit is suitable for this in the article below.
Fitbit Inspire 2 smart features
Like the other Fitbit models, the Inspire 2 notifies you of calls, SMS and calendar entries on its touch display. These are forwarded from the smartphone to the tracker via Bluetooth. Notifications from apps such as WhatsApp and Co cannot be displayed on the compact fitness tracker, which would also not make sense due to the small display. The Inspire also does without smart functions such as controlling music on the smartphone. The small fitness tracker helps you relax. Like all other Fitbit models, it offers a guided breathing exercise that you can use to reduce stress. Further support is available in the Fitbit app. This includes exercise videos for fitness and relaxation, only some of the functions are free. For the full scope you need the chargeable Fitbit Premium. A 12-month trial subscription is included with the purchase of the Inspire 2.To Fitbit Inspire 2 on Amazon *
Fitbit Charge 4
Fitbits Charge 4 has a similar structure to the Inspire, i.e. it consists of a technical unit with a display and an exchangeable wristband. Compared to the entry-level model, the Charge 4 is wider, has a larger display and integrated GPS. As a fitness tracker, it masters all the functions of the Inspire 2, i.e. the automatic recording of running, cycling and swimming and manually activated training programs for many other sports. In addition, there is the cardio fitness score, the detailed sleep analysis and the guided breathing exercise. In addition, the Charge 4 also recognizes the floors that have risen, a function that the entry-level trackers have to do without.
Integrated GPS of the Charge 4
Unlike the Inspire HR, the Charge 4 does not use the smartphone's GPS for endurance sports, but has an integrated receiver. So you can record the route during sporting activities without a smartphone. However, the battery life of the Charge 4 drops to 4-5 hours in GPS mode. The function is particularly suitable for runners and moderate cyclists. The Charge 4's battery is insufficient for recording day trips. Then there is the option of deactivating the Charge 4's GPS and accessing the location of the smartphone instead. If you use the GPS of the Charge 4 regularly for shorter training sessions, the solid total duration of up to 7 days is reduced. If you regularly jog with the Charge 4, you have to charge more often. The accuracy of the built-in GPS is good and should more than meet the needs of most athletes.
Fitbit Charge 4 compared to Inspire 2
Similar to the Inspire HR, the heart rate sensor of the Charge 4 is optimized for measurement in everyday life. The Charge 4 should deliver somewhat more precise values during exercise, especially during dynamic running with frequent pace changes. When cycling, on the other hand, many fitness trackers find it difficult to accurately determine heart rate. This also applies to the Charge 4, as DC Rainmaker showed in his review. Performance-oriented cyclists prefer to use a bike computer with an additional heart rate sensor anyway.
Compared to the Inspire 2, the Charge 4 has a few additional features. In the sleep analysis, for example, there is a record of the probable oxygen deviation in the blood. If there are abnormalities here, the oxygen supply can be impaired due to breathing problems during sleep. Corresponding information should be clarified with the doctor. The Charge 4 also has Smart Wake, a sleep phase alarm clock. The fitness tracker automatically selects the best time to wake up within a 30-minute window. The aim is to avoid waking up from deep sleep.
Otherwise, the Charge 4 comes with NFC for contactless payments with Fitbit Pay. At least in Germany, the list of cooperating banks can still be expanded. Other features reserved for Charge 4 are Quick Replies, for quickly answering short messages and the ability to remotely control Spotify on a connected smartphone. Compared to the Inspire 2, the Charge 4 has a whole range of additional functions. In particular, the integrated GPS should make the fourth edition of the Fitbit Charge one of the most popular fitness trackers.To Fitbit Charge 4 on Amazon *
Older fitness trackers from Fitbit
The Inspire (1st generation) and the Inspire HR are currently still available. The Inspire 1 comes without the optical heart rate measurement and is therefore particularly suitable as a simple step counter. Among other things, you have to do without the continuous measurement of the heart rate and the detailed sleep analysis. The Inspire HR is already available for just a few € more, which is why I would advise against the model without an optical sensor. The Inspire HR offers almost the same range of functions as the Inspire 2, only the battery life of 5 days is only half that of the Inspire 2. There is also an important difference in the duration of the free trial subscription to Fitbit Premium. The Inspire HR only allows 3 months of use, the Inspire 2 includes 12 months. So if you're interested in the coaching features and advanced health values of Fitbit Premium, the Inspire 2 is the better deal.
To Inspire HR on Amazon * To Inspire 2 on Amazon *
Fitbit Versa 3
The Versa 3 is Fitbit's most popular smartwatch and cuts a fine figure both in sports and in connected everyday life. Like the Charge 4, the Versa 3 also comes with an optical sensor for heart rate measurement, automatic tracking and many manual sports programs. If you don't just want to record your sport, but also want to keep an eye on your values, you will be happy about the large AMOLED display of the Versa. This makes it easier to read values such as heart rate, distance covered and speed when running, cycling or other activities, in particular several values at a glance. Like the Charge 4, the Versa 3 also has an integrated GPS to record routes. Otherwise, the fitness and health functions are almost identical. The Versa 3 offers a detailed sleep analysis, the smart alarm function and counts the floors you have climbed.
New optical sensor PurePulse 2.0
With the current smartwatches, Fitbit has presented the second generation of its optical heart rate measurement under the name PurePulse 2.O, which should enable more precise measurement values than the 1st generation built into the fitness trackers. Compared to PurePulse 1.0, the new version uses several LEDs that shine light onto a larger piece of skin surface. This should make the system less susceptible to interference. However, some reviews of the new PurePulse sensor come to the conclusion that the accuracy of the measured values has tended to decrease during exercise. I was also able to observe this, especially in weight training. However, such problems are common when introducing new systems. Over time, the teething troubles will be resolved and the goal of achieving better results will be achieved. It remains to be seen whether this is also the case with PurePulse 2.0. For most users, the accuracy should already be sufficient and a gradual optimization of the algorithms also occurs at companies such as Apple. The change to a larger sensor unit can also be observed as a trend among Fitbit's competitors. It is therefore likely that the Versa 3 will achieve a higher level of accuracy than Fitbit's fitness tracker with the smaller sensors in the medium term. The smartwatch with the most accurate optical sensor on the market is currently the Apple Watch. I presented the top model Series 6 in this article.
Measuring blood oxygen saturation with the Versa 3
Compared to Charge 4, the Versa 3 offers a correct measurement function for blood oxygen saturation. The measured value is intended to assess the health of the respiratory tract, i.e. it can indicate chronic damage to the lungs or an acute impairment, e.g. as a result of a viral disease. As with most competitors, this is a so-called "lifestyle function", without any review by the European or American health authorities. Fitbit also makes it clear that the function is not intended to diagnose illnesses, even if it could provide clues under certain circumstances. A special clock face must be set up on the smartwatch to use it. This shows the last measured values directly below the time. With Fitbit's Charge 4 fitness tracker, all you can see on a curve is whether there are any deviations at night that could indicate breathing problems. A general assessment of the function of the airways is therefore not possible. However, measuring the blood oxygen saturation of the Versa 3 requires a subscription to Fitbit Premium, for which additional costs are incurred. If respiratory health functions are important to you, you might also be interested in the Withings ScanWatch *. This is currently the only device with medical approval for measuring blood oxygen saturation. The Apple Watch Series 6, which I presented in this article, is also suitable for measuring blood oxygen saturation.
Fitbit Versa as a fitness coach
One advantage of the larger display is that more information can be shown. This is noticeable in sport when several measured values can be shown on the Versa 3 display at the same time, whereas with the fitness trackers you have to change the view to see all values. The display also makes a difference when it comes to coaching content such as the guided fitness workouts. Instead of looking at them in the app, owners of a Versa 3 can have the correct execution of the exercises displayed by an avatar on the smartwatch display. Once you have understood these, you can start yourself and the virtual coach counts you through the repetitions and is motivated to stick with it. For experienced athletes with their own training plan, the function is probably less relevant, but especially as an introduction to fitness training, the exercises can be a practical support.
Fitbit Versa 3 smartwatch features
As a smartwatch, the Versa masters common functions such as displaying notifications, calls and controlling music on the connected smartphone. For Spotify Premium users there is an app that controls playback on the smartphone and enables access to playlists and your own music collection. If the music is playing from another smartphone app such as Apple Music or Tidal, a control panel on the Versa 3 enables the basic functions of play / pause, next / previous track and volume to be controlled. Fitbit Pay is also on board, with the selection of cooperating banks that is still quite manageable in Germany. The Versa 3 also has an integrated microphone for communicating with voice assistants. Amazon Alexa is currently supported, the Google Assistant has been announced but is not yet available.
Otherwise, the Versa 3 can be expanded in terms of functionality with apps. The offer includes apps from well-known brands such as Strava and TRX as well as numerous apps from independent developers. Overall, the offer can still be expanded and cannot keep up with the app store of an Apple Watch. Other smartwatches also have the edge when it comes to dials, the display of notifications and many other smart functions. The Versa, on the other hand, scores with its long battery life of up to 6 days, ease of use and the comparatively low price.This makes it ideal for users who are primarily interested in tracking movement and sleep and who appreciate a large display and simple networked functions.To Fitbit Versa 3 on Amazon *
Fitbit Sense health smartwatch
The Sense is Fitbit's Premium Smartwatch. Just like the Versa 3, it has the new PurePulse sensors. This is why some users complain about inaccurate readings when doing sports. Fitbit will presumably improve the algorithms of the new technology. Compared to the Versa 3, however, the Fitbit Sense has additional sensors and health functions. It is possible to record a single-channel EKG of his heartbeat with the scythe and to carry out special relaxation exercises in which the electrodermal activity is measured. For both functions you have to put your hand on the housing of the scythe. This closes an electrical circuit between the two arms. The EKG should primarily be of interest to cardiac patients. The relaxation exercises measure how much sweat the body secretes. This is how the scythe wants to judge how relaxed you are. This can be useful for longer guided meditations, such as those included in Fitbit Premium. The normal guided breathing exercise, which is also available on all other Fitbit models, is still available for a short relaxation. Whether the measurement of electrodermal activity makes sense is still quite controversial among users. However, the function is still new and could be improved in the future. In addition, the Fitbit Sense has an integrated thermometer for measuring the skin temperature, a function that hardly any other tracker currently offers.
Another unique selling point of the Fitbit Sense is its so-called stress management index, which takes various parameters into account. On the one hand, various parameters for recovery during the night are included, the stress level during the day and the stability of the sleep rhythm. For each of these categories, detailed information can be viewed, such as the heart rate variability and the resting pulse rate as indicators for the state of recovery of the autonomic nervous system. So far, similar functions have only been available at companies such as Polar or the Oura Ring, Fitbit's approach is more stressful and at the same time wants to support relaxation. Overall, however, the additional health functions of the Fitbit Sense are very special, which is why many users should be just as happy with the Versa 3. From a technical point of view, Sense is very exciting and Fitbit is continuously working on the software so that its advantages could become even more apparent in the future. There are no differences to the Versa 3 in terms of smartwatch functions. The Sense can also be expanded with apps and has smart functions such as the integrated voice assistant.To Fitbit Sense on Amazon *
Older Fitbit smartwatches
In addition to the smartwatches presented in autumn 2020, Fitbit's older models are currently also available, with the Versa 2 in particular as a direct predecessor being valued by many as a good and comparatively inexpensive alternative to the Versa 3.
Fitbit Versa 2
The Versa 2 was a very popular smartwatch in the Fitbit range, which, unlike the third generation, does not have an integrated GPS and also has a slightly less powerful processor. In general, Fitbit's smartwatches are not high-performance computers, but rather focus on longer battery life. The Versa 3 should be supplied with software updates for a little longer and also has a new user interface, which the Versa 2 did not get. The Versa 2's smart capabilities, however, are similar; it also has a microphone for communicating with voice assistants. The Versa 2 also offers the option of storing music and playing it back via Bluetooth headphones. However, this only works with music that you own and transfer as a file; songs from streaming providers such as Spotify, on the other hand, cannot be saved. Another difference between the Versa 2 and the Versa 3 is the push button on the side for operating the smartwatch. With the Versa 3 and the Sense, Fitbit uses a touch-sensitive surface instead of a real button, although the button on the older Versa models is somewhat easier to use. If you can do without the integrated GPS and the new user interface of the Versa 3, the Versa 2 is still a good smartwatch at an attractive price.To Fitbit Versa 2 on Amazon *
Fitbit Versa Lite
The Versa Lite is Fitbit's entry-level smartwatch that does without some of the features of the Versa 2. Technically, the Lite version is based on the 1st generation of the Versa, the display and processor of which have been improved in the 2nd generation. Compared to the Versa 2, the Versa Lite dispenses with the altimeter for determining the floors that have climbed. Also not included is the microphone, which enables inquiries to Alexa and answering spa messages by voice input. In addition, the Versa Lite lacks Spotify controls and Fitbit Pay.
The essential functions for ambitious recreational athletes, however, are all included. Only the representation of exercises of the Fitbit Coach is not possible with the Versa Lite. Many users can easily do without the additional features of the Versa 2, whereas users with very high demands on the smart features are unlikely to be satisfied with Fitbit's other smartwatches. The Versa Lite, on the other hand, focuses on the essential fitness and smartwatch features. If you can manage without a voice assistant and Fitbit Pay, the Versa Lite is a good and affordable fitness smartwatch.To Fitbit Versa Lite on Amazon *
The Ionic was Fitbit's first smartwatch, which was characterized by its high-quality design and integrated GPS. It has all the fitness and health functions of the other models and can be expanded with apps. As Fitbit's oldest smartwatch, the Ionic dispenses with the microphone for Alexa and the entry of messages. The Ionic's display does not allow always-on mode and, depending on the setting, only switches on when the wrist is pressed or turned. This enables the comparatively long battery life of up to four days. Apart from these differences, the Ionic has all the smart functions of the Versa 2 such as Fitbit Pay and Spotify control. The biggest advantage of the Ionic compared to the Versa 2 is the integrated GPS, with which routes can be recorded without having to carry the smartphone with you. Unfortunately, as with all Fitbit smartwatches, there is no navigation app that shows the way while running or cycling and when you want to explore new routes. The Ionic is no longer sold on Fitbit’s website. The last copies can still be found on Amazon, among other places.To Fitbit Ionic on Amazon *
Alternatives to Fitbit fitness trackers and smartwatches
As a pioneer in the field of motion measurement, Fitbit has a strong range whose products are ideally tailored to the needs of a broad target group. Nevertheless, there are alternatives in the lower price segment, for ambitious athletes and for smartwatches, which may be the better choice for some readers. In the entry-level area, this is the affordable fitness tracker from Xiaomi *, which makes small compromises in terms of the quality of the device and app, but is available at a bargain price. There are also many other great fitness trackers for different budgets and requirements, 12 of the best models can be found in this article.
For athletes, depending on their ambition and discipline, there are alternatives that enable more precise measurement and evaluation and are also designed for very long-term activities. Triathletes need a device with a long battery life in GPS operation and can find what they are looking for at companies such as Garmin * or Polar *. Performance-oriented cyclists mostly use bike sensors * for speed and cadence as well as a bike computer *, which allow a more precise measurement of speed and other values. Classic chest straps are still popular for measuring heart rate when cycling, as the optical sensors in fitness trackers and smartwatches often have difficulties when cycling.
Fitbits Smartwatches offer the most important smart functions and their strengths lie in their long battery life and good fitness and health tracking. When it comes to the selection of apps, the integration with the smartphone and the user experience, Fitbit companies like Apple * and Samsung * still have to admit defeat. So if you expect the maximum here, you should look around at other manufacturers. Fitbits devices are highly recommended for everyone who wants to record their movement and sleep and who are looking for motivation and guidance for their sporting activities.
The Fitbit models and their alternatives on Amazon
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Older models at special prices
Not the right one? You can find more fitness trackers in the large fitness tracker comparison.
Last update on May 20th, 2021 / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API
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