Best Fitbits to track your fitness in 2023 tried and tested – The Independent

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These tried and tested smartwatches will do a lot more than just count your steps
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We wore them day and night, assessing how comfortable they were and their health tracking highlights
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Since arriving on the wearables scene in 2009, FitBits have helped many millions of wearers to manage their health and fitness better. These wrist-worn fitness trackers have given us an accessible new way to monitor how many calories we’ve burned, how fast our hearts are beating – and, yes, the number of steps we’ve taken during the day.
If you haven’t bought a new FitBit in recent years, you may be surprised at the wide range of features some of these devices now offer, in combination with a connected smartphone app. Some of the many health and fitness metrics now tracked by certain models include sleep, stress, skin temperature and more, but it’s worth noting that the exact range of tracking features varies.
As you’ll see from our reviews, there are now a wide variety of FitBits available. Your options range from “traditional” FitBit fitness trackers like the inspire 3, to full-blown sports-watches like the versa 4 and the sense 2. The charge 5, which is sold as a streamlined sports-watch, sits somewhere in the middle.
Some models of FitBit are moving into smartwatch territory, offering useful features that go beyond health and fitness. These include weather, payment, navigation and voice control apps.
When choosing a FitBit, think carefully about which features could play the most important role in your life – whether that means providing the most in-depth sport tracking available, or perceptively managing stress, sleep and general health. Of course, some other factors such as battery life, comfort and aesthetics will also factor into your decision.
We picked out a selection of the latest and greatest FitBit trackers and smartwatches, and then wore each one throughout the day and night – just like a regular user would. We tested for health benefits, connection consistency, ease of use, water resistance and comfort. To get a comprehensive read on the FitBits’ features, we used the devices during exercise activities such as running, walking and team sports, as well as during periods of work or rest.
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Combining a widened tracker screen (or arguably, a streamlined watch face) with a rich feature set that includes smartphone notifications and health scans, the charge 5 is a best-of-both-worlds FitBit that will hit the sweet spot for many users. This FitBit is a joy to have on your wrist. The strap and back of the watch face are very comfortable, and barely noticeable when you don’t need them. Furthemore, the display is excellent, with a stylish interface design and simple swipe navigation. Ironically, the one weakness of this FitBit is its ability to stay charged. The battery life of up to four days is less than half what you’d get with certain other FitBit products, such as the inspire 3 (from £77.12, Amazon.co.uk).
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The sense 2 oozes quality. Its display is fantastically sharp, its strap is supremely comfortable, and its feature set surpasses any other FitBit before it. Going far beyond the average smartwatch (and most sports watches), the sense 2 gleans comprehensive insights into your wellbeing. From your sleep profile and stress levels to your heart health, the FitBit compellingly delivers a spectrum of biometrics through its well-built, attractively designed watch face.
Of course, the sense 2 also delivers the core FitBit functionalities so many of us now count on – staples such as heart rate tracking, step counting and calorie burn calculations. Using the factory settings, the sense 2 is highly communicative, compared to most other FitBits. If you’re getting too many automated alerts (or too few), you can tailor the settings to your liking via the watch face or smartphone app.
The straightforward, fitness-focused inspire 3 is ideal for users who value getting up-to-the-second step counting and heart rate monitoring via their wrist – without quite so much extra “noise” as you’d get with certain alternative models. With this particular FitBit, a high proportion of the captured data, such as variation in your heart rate over time and your exercise activity logs, are accessible mainly via your connected smartphone app, rather than the device interface.
We would have liked a little more touch-responsiveness from the inspire 3’s screen. However, this issue can be worked around by using the tracker’s “always-on” display mode. While using that mode costs some battery life, this is more than made up for by the fact the inspire 3 charges super-fast.
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The FitBit versa 4 looks great, performs excellently and doesn’t cost quite as much as a super-premium FitBit like the sense 2 (£199, Argos.co.uk). Most importantly though, we really enjoyed using this smart watch-style FitBit, both during exercise and throughout the rest of the day.
For a start, the user interface preset combines sporty-chic style with a focused, useful range of features and applications. Speaking of sportiness, this truly is a sports-lover’s Fitbit, with over forty exercise modes including golf, kickboxing, rollerblading and snowboarding. And don’t worry, they feature on top of more commonplace activities such as running and cycling.
Along with the usual heart rate monitoring, step counting and associated health metrics, the Versa 4 gives you some in-depth features such as Google Pay and Amazon Alexa voice assistant. The watch’s smart, understated design is right at home in the office, as well as at the gym.
The sense is one of the best all-round smartwatches we’ve tried. It has the most comprehensive scope of health features in both the Fitbit range and potentially in the smartwatch market full stop. Its holistic approach to your wellbeing is more important in the current climate than ever, with various scan features that measure your stress levels, breathing and heart rate, as well as an EDA app that measures small electrical changes in the sweat level of your skin. It’s all very high-tech but perfectly catered towards ease of use.
Away from the focus on health, the sense is great to use as an everyday smartwatch. It’s supremely comfortable to wear and looks premium, especially due to the stainless steel or gold finishing. The screen’s Gorilla Glass keeps the display consistently crystal clear and will probably protect the watch from getting damaged by anything lighter than a grand piano. Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa are on hand to control the sense hands-free and you can make Bluetooth calls, pay via contactless, and use hundreds of different apps on the generously-sized screen.
The sense is a fitness tracker at its heart but years of development have seen Fitbit create a multi-layered, premium smartwatch that rivals all big tech alternatives.
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Fitbit’s versa model is among its most successful and it’s easy to see why – marketed as the “mass appeal smartwatch”, the third iteration of the versa offers almost everything you’d want out of an everyday smartwatch and fitness tracker. Although the versa 3 definitely has its main focus on the fitness market, there’s also heavy investment in general wellness, through ECG, sleep and blood oxygen saturation sensors.
As noted in our longer review, the versa 3 looks the most like other premium models on the market and its array of features lend themselves to the wider-ranging lifestyle sector, while retaining the versa’s fitness tracker DNA. This is the smartwatch for fitness-focused users that still want a good-looking, contemporary-styled product with enough smart features to help in everyday life.
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The charge 4 is the best of Fitbit’s dedicated fitness trackers. It has almost all of the fitness features you’d find in the sense – along with contactless payments, Spotify and smartphone notifications – but in a stripped-back body. The built-in GPS means that you can leave your phone at home during your workouts and the charge 4 will track your exercise, syncing with your app when you get back. It’s a lightweight, durable, fitness-focused wearable with some impressive tech in a smart, streamlined design.
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The luxe might look and sound like a stylish fashion piece but there’s also plenty of fitness tech hidden within. It covers the essentials well, with Fitbit’s 24/7 heart rate monitoring, 20 exercise modes, swim tracking, menstrual health tracking and stress management tools, and, along with the sense, it is the most sophisticated and stylish product the brand has produced. It’s incredibly slim, so it might get lost on larger wrists, but the stainless steel housing feels sturdy and durable. It looks great and will do you good.
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The robust ace 3 is a good introduction to wearable tech for children. While kids might not necessarily need a watch to tell them to run around, it can be useful for introducing them to the idea of their own health and how to look after their bodies. Fitbit’s features have been streamlined in the ace 3, with a simple layout and clear screen to help cut through the data and provide an easy-to-understand series of health stats. There’s also an option to set up a Fitbit family account on the app to encourage building healthy habits together, with a dedicated “parent view” for adults to see just how far children can actually run in a day with their enviably-infinite energy.
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Inspire 2 is the fitness tracker for those who want the essentials. The cheapest of the latest-generation models, it’s a pure fitness band, packing up to 10 days of battery life and providing almost all of Fitbit’s most sophisticated fitness tracking tech, including sleep monitoring and stress management. There’s also an in-app workout intensity map, where you can see your heart rate zones throughout each workout to realise where you’re taking it too easy. New premium users also get a year’s trial to dive deeper into the tracker’s capabilities.
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It’s the coming-together of the charge 5’s deep health, fitness and lifestyle feature set with a subtle, stylish design that makes it the best FitBit you can buy today. With that said, if you’re looking for holistic health features and a smartwatch-style product, the sense 2 will suit you even better.
The sense is worth the outlay for its sheer breadth of its capabilities, and of the slimline options, the luxe is the most fashion-conscious but won’t suit everyone, while the charge 4 combines its slender looks with strong tech ability to be Fitbit’s best pure fitness tracker.
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