We Tested the Affordable New Fitbit Trackers — Here’s How They Compare
Let's start this off by collectively admitting that a brag-worthy step count is one of the best souvenirs to bring home from a vacation. After days spent using my own two feet — in comfortable shoes, of course — to explore dense jungles, labyrinthine marketplaces, and ancient ruins, I feel more energized and alive. It's easy to keep moving when there's so much to see. When I'm home, though? There are absolutely days when the only thing that stops me from spending seven consecutive hours sitting at my desk is a gentle wrist nudge from my Fitbit.
Last week, Fitbit announced its newest line of trackers and a new smartwatch — both designed to make the company's core offering of top-notch health tracking features more approachable and affordable. There are four new devices: Versa Lite, Inspire, Inspire HR, and Ace 2 — a kid-friendly device that's built on the Inspire platform and packaged in a far more resilient band. They're all swimproof (water-resistant up to 50 meters) and each launches with a diverse new accessory lineup and more screen personalization options than ever before. The bottom line, though, is that Fitbit's new trackers are less about introducing new features, and more about streamlining the brand's wearable lineup to include only the essentials.
The Fitbit app, however, will be getting a major update in the coming weeks. The redesign will make it easier to view and understand your health and fitness stats, log data that isn't picked up by the device, and better connect with Fitbit’s global health and fitness social community. The update also adds a new section called Fitbit Focus to the top of the dashboard that will deliver motivation and health guidance informed by personalized insights.
Fitbit also announced that it's beta testing a new rewards program that will incentivize health and fitness goals with real, redeemable rewards like discounts on Fitbit products and offers from partner brands like Blue Apron, Adidas, and Deezer. It's just one part of many new software experiences that are being tested in advance of a paid premium service that's intended to launch later this year.
Now, let's get into the two new wearables I road-tested: the Versa Lite smartwatch and the Inspire HR tracker.
Tested: The New Fitbit Versa Lite
The Versa Lite is exactly what it sounds like: a scaled-down version of the Fitbit Versa (fitbit.com, from $200) that offers most of the core fitness and smart features for $40 less. When it comes to form, the trackers feel exactly the same on your wrist, with easy one-button and touchscreen navigation. And a lot of the function carries over, too: the Lite still has 24/7 heart rate tracking and sleep stage analysis, goal-based exercise modes that connect to the GPS on your phone to display pacing and distance, and a discreet vibration to remind you to move or alert you to timers, alarms, and various smartphone notifications when your phone is nearby. There are also still apps available for weather, relaxation, and Strava, and you can control the music that's playing on your phone.
In my personal opinion, the features they've taken out are the ones I used the least: the counters for laps swam and floors climbed, on-screen workouts, and the ability to store and play music. Fitbit also rolled out tons of new band colors and a sport-inspired hybrid band with bold, woven stripes on the outside and smooth fluoroelastomer on the inside.
I'd recommend the Versa Lite if you want an affordable, touchscreen smartwatch that covers all the best basics of health tracking.
Fitbit Versa Lite Health and Fitness Watch
Tested: The New Fitbit Inspire HR
The Inspire and Inspire HR have replaced the Alta, Zip, One, and Flex models, becoming Fitbit's only entry-level trackers. At $100, the Inspire HR is now the brand's most affordable 24/7 heart rate tracking device. On your wrist, it feels most similar to the Alta HR, but the addition of a touchscreen display and a side button is a big dashboard upgrade. The Alta had a tap-based navigation that allowed you to cycle through a series of stats, and most of the customization options were accessible only through the Fitbit app.
Now, you can access the majority of the watch's functionality right on your wrist. That includes all-day automatic activity, exercise, and sleep tracking, connected GPS for workouts, and phone notifications. Inspire also touts up to five days of battery life with day-to-night wear, which is almost as much as the seven days the Charge 3 tracker (fitbit.com, $150) can hold.
I'd recommend the Inspire HR if you want access to all of Fitbit's best health features and insights with a slim look and feel (hello, pretty metal mesh bands!) and a long battery life. If you don't care about the sleep stats and just want the activity and calorie tracking, go for the Inspire. It's also the only model that allows you to wear it either as a watch or on a clip. But note that you'll be opting out of the heart rate tracking, exercise modes, on-device guided breathing exercises, and the ability to connect with your phone's GPS.