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Best Fitbit 2018: Which Fitbit is best?

Fitbit is the undisputed leader in the activity tracker market, and for good reason. But, which Fitbit is best? Here we explore and compare all the different Fitbit products and answer the question “Which Fitbit is best 2018?”

Fitbit offers a wide range of trackers (both wristbands and old-school clip-ons) that are comfortable and good-looking, and accurate. Its ecosystem of challenges, fitness advice, competition with friends, and milestone awards make getting fitter fun. And it has the best general fitness app available – compatible with iOS, Android and even Windows Phone.

See also: Best Golf GPS Watch 2018.

You can customise many of the Fitbit trackers with a range of wristbands, pendants and bangles, so wearing an activity tracker is becoming a fashion statement too.

While a wide range of trackers is great news, deciding which Fitbit is best for you becomes tricky because many seem so similar. That’s why we’re here to help you choose which Fitbit is best for you.

There are three clear types of Fitbit: Clip-on (Fitbit Zip); slim and fashionable (Fitbit Flex and Fitbit Alta and Alta HR); heart-rate monitors (Fitbit Alta HR, Fitbit Charge 2, Fitbit Blaze and Fitbit Ionic); and sports smartwatch (Fitbit Blaze and Fitbit Ionic).

The full range of Fitbit features are: Steps; Calories; Distance; Floors climbed; Time; Heart Rate; Sleep; Sleep Stages; SmartTrack (which automatically recognizes select exercises such as walking, running, outdoor biking, and elliptical, plus the more general Sport – tennis, football, basketball, etc – and aerobic activities such as Zumba and kick-boxing); Multisport (which lets you see real-time stats and a workout summary for the exercise you select, then saves the information in your exercise history); Onscreen workouts; Call and Text notifications; Calendar alerts; Guided Breathing; Music Control; Music storage; connection with phone’s GPS; built-in GPS; smart apps.


The 5 BEST Fitbits 2018

1. Fitbit Ionic

Best Fitbit 2018 - Fitbit IonicRRP:  £299

Amazon price: £239.00

  • OS: Fitbit OS
  • Display: 1.47-inch
  • Storage: 2.5GB
  • Battery: 2-3 days
  • 50M water resistant
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

The Fitbit Ionic is the brand’s first proper smartwatch. It’s more than that though. It’s also Fitbit’s most feature-rich activity tracker too. The watch will suit anyone looking for a device that can track running, cycling, weight-lifting and Fitbit’s latest addition, swimming. The Ionic is water resistant up to 50m and will track laps, time and calories burned while swimming.

It does more than simply track your movement. It’s a smartwatch after all. That means it’ll notify you when you get a call, text or calendar notifications. It’ll also push notifications from your favourite apps too – a feature that most other Fitbits lack. All notifications can be turned on/off to suit your preferences. The Ionic can also replace your contactless debit card as it comes with a built-in NFC that works with Apple Pay and Android Pay.

Finally, it has an impressive four-day battery (and up to 10 hours when using GPS). This means you can track your steps, heart rate, distance, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes, hourly activity and stationary time all day and still have enough battery to track your sleep stages allowing you to see your time spent in light, deep and REM sleep stages.

Like all modern Fitbits, the Ionic comes with the SmartTrack feature that automatically records selected exercises like running, biking and more, and saves them in your free Fitbit app.


2. Fitbit Surge

Best Fitbit 2018 - Fitbit SurgeRRP:  £199

Amazon price: £189.77

  • Screen: Yes
  • Heart rate monitor: Yes
  • Waterproof: No
  • Activity tracking: Yes
  • GPS: Yes
  • Battery: 3 days

If you’re not a swimmer, and you like the design of the Surge better than the Ionic, you could save significantly here. A lot of the two watches have features that overlap. The two biggest omissions are the lack of an NFC chip and it’s not waterproof, this means no Android Pay or Apple Pay and definitely no swimming. Other than that, it’s incredibly feature-rich and is easy-to-recommend.

The Surge will record running, cross-training and cardio workouts, then show comprehensive workout summaries with tailored metrics, workout intensity and calories burned. From a purely activity tracker perspective, excluding swimming, it’s got everything covered. The Surge will automatically record: steps taken, distance travelled, calories burned, floors climbed and active minutes.

High-end fitness tracker features include built-in GPS, continuous heart rate monitoring, auto sleep and silent alarm, Caller ID and the ability to control your smartphone’s music.


3. Fitbit Charge 2

Best Fitbit 2018 - Fitbit Charge 2RRP:  £139

Amazon price: £111.89

  • Screen: Yes
  • Heart rate monitor: Yes
  • Waterproof: No
  • Activity tracking: Yes
  • GPS: No
  • Battery life: 4 days

The Fitbit Charge 2 is all about intelligence. You don’t have to press anything, it will automatically collect data about your day. Start running or biking and it will automatically recognise the action and start recording your workout. The Charge 2 will also use your smartphone’s GPS signal to accurately record your route and speed/distance. The automatic tracking doesn’t stop there – when you fall asleep at night, it will immediately start collecting data about the quality and length of your sleep. The one downside is that it’s not waterproof. If you want a Fitbit device that tracks swimming, you’ll have to get the number one watch on our list, the Fitbit Ionic.


4. Fitbit Blaze

Best Fitbit 2018 - Fitbit BlazeRRP:  £159

Amazon price: £139.97

  • Screen: Yes
  • Heart rate monitor: Yes
  • Waterproof: No
  • Activity tracking: Yes
  • GPS: No
  • Battery: 5 days

The Fitbit Blaze is another solid offering. It very similar to the Surge, but it lacks a built-in GPS chip. If you can do without this feature, and there’s no reason not too as this watch can access your phone’s GPS via Bluetooth, then users can save a few pounds on purchasing the Blaze rather than the Surge.


5. Fitbit Alta HR

Best Fitbit 2018 - Fitbit Alta HRRRP:  £139

Amazon price: £106.00

  • Screen: Yes
  • Heart rate monitor: Yes
  • Waterproof: No
  • Activity tracking: Yes
  • GPS: No
  • Battery: 7 days

The Fitbit Alta HR is a pragmatic activity tracker that strikes a balance between slim, good looks and functionality. There’s no GPS and it’s not water resistance, for example. That said, it’s not a complete bimbo. The Alta HR, as its name suggests has a built-in heart rate monitor that will continuously track your pulse. It’ll also automatically detect when you start exercising and record workout data when you go for a run or start cycling. Like all modern Fitbits, the Alta HR will track your steps, distance, calories burned and active minutes in the background too. Did I mention the 7-day battery life?


Comparison table: Which Fitbit is best 2018?

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Clip-on vs wristband: Which Fitbit is best 2018?

Fitbit sells just one clip-on activity tracker (the Fitbit Zip) and six wristband trackers (Flex 2, Alta, Alta HR, Charge 2, Blaze and Ionic).

The clip-on tracker is the cheapest (£49) and most discreet, but it is also the oldest and barest of features – boasting just Steps, Calories, Distance, and Time.

The least-featured Fitbit wristband tracker, the Flex 2, boasts all those functions (except the time due to its minimalist display) and more, such as basic Call and Text notifications and SmartTrack exercise recognition, plus Reminders To Move. The other wristband trackers throw in a whole bunch of additional fitness functions; see our Fitbit Function Chart.

You can clip the Zip onto your belt or just keep it in your pocket. Fitbit advises women that they can hook it onto their bra if they fancy.

Not having the tracker attached to your wrist means you can continue to wear your watch or other jewellery – although plenty of Fitbit users wear their wristband tracker alongside a standard watch, bracelet, etc – or even as their jewellery.

But in our experience, it is easier to lose a tracker that isn’t on your wrist. Belts are often knocked and you won’t realise your tracker took a fall until it’s too late.

Pockets are emptied and trackers may take a tumble – again without you noticing. Of course, this may just be absent-minded me, but I prefer a tracker that isn’t going to slip off unnoticed.

This is also why we prefer the wristbands that boast a watch-like buckle (Alta HR, Charge 2, Blaze and Ionic) rather than a pop-in clasp (Flex 2, Alta).

Fitbit Zip: £49; US$59; €59; A$79; NZ$99

Available in Charcoal or Magenta colours.

Buy at the Fitbit Store or look for deals online at retailers such as Amazon. We found the Zip selling for under £45. As it’s the cheapest Fitbit you won’t get very great discounts online so it may be worthwhile buying directly from Fitbit.

Fitbit Flex 2 vs Fitbit Alta

Which Fitbit is best - Fitbit-Flex-2-vs-Alta

Fitbit’s two slimmest wristband trackers are the Flex 2 and Alta, plus the Alta HR that’s the same as the Alta but with added heart-rate monitor; see below.

The Flex 2 is the cheaper of the two, but its display shows only how close you are to reaching your step goal. The Flex’s screen shows up to five LED lights that turn on as you pass each 20% of your target. So it’s no good as a watch substitute but does indicate how you are doing in terms of your step goal.

As one of only two waterproof Fitbits (Flex 2 and Ionic) it also can monitor (very) basic swimming stats. The other Fitbits are water resistant but should be taken off in the pool and even in the shower. In our tests they did survive the odd dip, but it’s not recommended.

The Alta’s display shows you not just the time but exactly how many Steps you walked, Calories you’ve burned, and Distance travelled, plus super-useful Caller ID and text notifications and Calendar alerts from your smartphone. It also offers SmartTrack and Guided Breathing Sessions, plus Reminders to Move.

Both bands offer a wide range of accessories, including fancy wrist straps; see the Fitbit Store for the full range. In addition, you can wear the Flex 2 in a pendant or bangle – which cost about the same again as the tracker.

While the Flex 2 is cheaper we prefer the Alta for its onscreen stats. If you want your tracker “always on” even when swimming or in the bath then you have to choose either the Flex 2 or top-of-the-range Ionic.

If you can afford to choose the Alta HR we prefer this to the Alta not just for the heart monitor and Sleep Stages, but as the strap’s watch-like buckle is much more secure than the Alta’s pop in clasp.

Fitbit Flex 2: £69 / US$59 / €79 / A$149 / NZ$169

Fitbit Alta: £99 / US$129 / €119 / A$199 / NZ$229

Buy the Flex 2 (Black, Lavender, Magenta or Navy) at the Fitbit Store or look for deals online at retailers. At the time of writing, we saw the Flex 2 on sale at Amazon for £55 or under $60. You should also be able to find a discount on the Alta (Black, Plum, Black/Gold Special Edition), which we found for under £80 or $108.

 

Fitbit Alta HR vs Fitbit Charge 2Which Fitbit is best - Fitbit-Alta-HR-vs-Charge-2

Both the Fitbit Alta HR and Charge 2 (the successor to the wildly popular Charge HR) boast heart-rate monitors, which are great for general health guidance and fitness plus weight-loss targets and reducing stress. The Blaze and Ionic also have heart-rate monitors.

How do Fitbits measure your heart rate? Using its own PurePulse technology the Fitbits constantly measure your capillaries as they expand and contract. The LED lights on the underside of the tracker reflect onto the skin to detect blood volume changes. The resulting heart-rate you see on the display tells you if you’re in one of three heart-rate zones: Fat Burn (heart rate at 50% to 69% of maximum) indicates low-to-medium intensity; Cardio (70-84%) is medium to high; and Peak (over 85%) is a proper high-intensity workout.

Which heart-rate Fitbit tracker? At 15mm wide the Alta HR is, Fitbit claims, the world’s slimmest activity tracker with a heart-rate monitor. The 20mm Charge 2 is wider but that allows for a fuller display to show off the clock face and all the activity stats.

And the Charge 2 has more features to show off, such as Floors Climbed and Multisport, and can connect to your phone’s GPS.

For everyday fitness you don’t need the Multisport features, although the push to take the stairs at the office or that hill on the way to work is helped by having an altimeter in your tracker, like the Charge 2 has. But, truth be told, this isn’t one of the key metrics for most Fitbit users, and many don’t need the connection with a phone’s GPS either.

While the Alta HR’s display can carry less information than the Charge 2’s wider screen it does convey data and notifications well enough for easy viewing, although we found the Alta HR’s display harder to read in bright sunlight.

Being slimmer, the Alta HR will appeal to those who either want a discreet wristband or to wear a tracker with their normal watch or other jewellery. I actually wear a Charge 2 with my wristwatch but there’s no denying that the Alta HR takes up less wrist space!

Both have interchangeable straps but the Alta HR boasts a wider variety and more fashionable accessories.

It’s clear from the accessories that Fitbit still expects the Alta and Alta HR to appeal more to women than men – the strap is certainly more lady-watch than the Charge 2’s wider band. That said, there is nothing inherently feminine about the Alta or Alta HR, which is good news for men, and, I suspect, a lot of women too!

The Charge 2 boasts a button for more agile navigation of the stats and features. With the Alta and HR you have to tap through the screens, which can take more time and, frankly, effort. For example, the silent alarm on Fitbits is great, but it’s easier to discreetly switch off with the Charge 2’s button than the Alta’s tap screen.

The Alta HR and Charge 2 are priced similarly:

Fitbit Alta HR: £129US$149€149A$249NZ$269

Fitbit Charge 2: £139US$14;  €159; A$249; NZ$269

Buy the Alta HR direct from the Fitbit Store or look around on Amazon and other online retailers, from as little as £104, or on Amazon.com.  Again you can buy the Charge 2 direct from Fitbit, or online for a bargain £109.

 

Fitbit Blaze vs Fitbit Ionic

Which Fitbit is best - Fitbit-Blaze-vs-IonicThe chunkier, colour-display Fitbit wristbands offer greater detail to your fitness statistics. The Blaze and Ionic are quite similar, so if price is a big concern but you want a colour-screen Fitbit the Blaze is the much cheaper option. Both Blaze and Ionic feature onscreen workouts, including Fitbit Coach personal training, plus everything else the heart-rate trackers offer.

The Blaze links to your phone’s GPS, but the Ionic has its own GPS built-in. This, combined with Fitbit Pay (for contactless payments) and 2.5GB of onboard music storage and control means that you can go out exercising without the need for your phone too – which is quite liberating for many fitness fanatics.

The Blaze allows you to control your music from the watch, but the Ionic goes further with its own music capacity.

The Ionic also offers a growing number of smart apps, but these are quite limited right now compared to other smartwatches such as the Apple Watch. That said, its onboard music, built-in GPS, and call, text, messaging (including WhatsApp) and calendar notifications, plus weather and other apps give the Ionic most of what Apple Watch users want from their smartwatch anyway.

If fitness and health are your main aims then we prefer the Ionic to the Apple Watch. It’s also slimmer than the Blaze – and a lot less bulky than the Apple Watch – although some may still find it a little large for their tastes.

But if you can make do with your phone for GPS, music and payments, then the Blaze might be enough for you.

Fitbit Blaze: £159; US$199; €199; A$249; NZ$329

Fitbit Ionic: £299; US$299; €349; A$449; NZ$499

We didn’t find huge discounts on either the Blaze or the Ionic on Amazon or Amazon US, so buying direct might be the best option, but look around anyway as deals might have popped up. We did spot the Ionic (at the time of writing) with £60 off at Amazon UK.

 

See also Best Treadmills 2018 and Best Rowing Machines 2018.