As one of the biggest names in fitness trackers, Fitbit is an easy pick for recording your daily steps or sleep patterns. Selecting the best Fitbit model for your needs, however, isn’t quite as simple.
The different Fitbit trackers have a lot of overlap in features, and so it’s not straightforward which one is the “best.” That’s where we come in. We’ve boiled down the options into simple picks that should match most people’s activity levels and styles.
As a hybrid smartwatch, the Fitbit Charge 3 offers the best features of fitness trackers and devices like the Apple Watch in a single, affordable device.
In addition to step tracking, continuous heart-rate monitoring, and sleep tracking, the Charge 3 offers water resistance up to 50 meters, automatic exercise tracking, silent alarms, and the ability to display your phone’s notifications on its sizeable OLED screen. An NFC-enabled special-edition Charge 3 supports Fitbit Pay as well.
Even with these advanced features, you can expect 7 days of battery life on average.
The one caveat about this superb Fitbit is the risk of encountering a defective unit. We’ve had the unfortunate experience of two Charge 3 units quitting on us early on, though we believe most users won’t have any problems—our third Charge 3 unit has survived for months now.
Having trouble deciding between the Fitbit Charge 3 and the Inspire HR? Read our article comparing the two trackers against each other.
Add to that a growing library of apps and clock faces, as well as a slick fashion sense, and you’ve got a lot of watch for the money. We can debate the merits of upgrading to the Versa 2 all day, but for straight value, the Versa Lite takes the crown.
Most people interested in a fitness tracker just want a device that records steps, sleep, and heart rate accurately and displays the information in a straightforward way. The Fitbit Inspire HR provides that and more in a slender, stylish hybrid device.
The Inspire HR is essentially a streamlined version of the Charge 3. In addition to basic tracking, you get automatic exercise tracking, silent alarms, reminders to exercise, water resistance up to 50 meters, and the ability to read your phone’s notifications on your phone.
As a more affordable option, battery life is smaller than Charge 3’s—just several days. This device also lacks the ability to track stairs climbed and oxygen saturation in your blood. You can’t access notifications after you’ve cleared them from the Inspire HR’s screen, either. Unlike on the Charge 3, they’re gone for good.
But these trade-offs in exchange for $50 in savings are fair. The Inspire HR gives the fitness-minded the essentials needed in a hybrid tracker with worthwhile extras thrown in too.
If you’ve already invested in a watch, replacing it with a fitness tracker isn’t an option. The Fitbit Flex 2 is small enough that it can be worn unobtrusively next to a watch or on the opposite arm, as a pendant or a bracelet, or clipped to clothing if you buy a third-party case.
Its feature set covers the basics: step tracking, call and text notifications, automatic exercise tracking, sleep analysis, and reminders to exercise. And while it lacks the more informative display of its Charge 3 and Alta HR siblings, the Flex 2 is water resistant and offers swim tracking.
If you’re looking for a full-featured watch replacement, the Fitbit Ionic will be a better solution. (Keep scrolling for more info on the Ionic.) For those looking for an unobtrusive and cheaper entry into the Fitbit world, the Flex 2 is it.
The Fitbit Ionic is the fitness tracker for those who want it all. As you’d expect, the Ionic offers step, sleep, heart-rate, swim, and automatic exercise tracking; reminders to exercise; and notifications for calls, texts, and calendar alerts.
But this fitness tracker also has features you’d expect from a smartwatch: a big color display, the ability to store and play 300+ songs on the device, Pandora support, contactless payments, real-time stats for a handful of activities, and push notifications from apps. It even offers personal coaching for workouts directly on the watch.
All of that functionality comes at a cost—the Ionic has a price tag that puts it in the same range as the Apple Watch and Android Wear watches. However, this fitness tracker has an advantage over smartwatches: its battery life. The Ionic will keep chugging along for up to four days, while most smartwatches last an average of a day.
To sum up, if your focus is more on having the best fitness tracker that can also support a handful of smartwatch-like functions, then the Ionic is the device for you.
The $200 Fitbit Versa 2 may lack the Fitbit Ionic’s large display and GPS support, but it’s the better Fitbit if you seek a fitness tracker and smartwatch in a single device.
Like the Ionic, the Fitbit Versa 2 tracks most everything: steps, sleep, heart-rate; floors climbed; and specific exercises like running and swimming. It can map runs, too, though not on its own—you’ll have to keep your phone with you, since the Versa lacks built-in GPS. All the information in the Fitbit mobile and desktop apps lives right on your wrist.
It also has similar smartwatch-like features. In addition to notifications for calls, texts, and calendar alerts on your phone, the Versa 2 packs in a bright OLED color display, the ability to store and play 300+ songs from the device, Spotify and Pandora support, and access to a full app store. If you buy the special-edition model for an additional $30, you also get support for contactless payments via Fitbit Pay.
What makes the Versa 2 a stronger option over the Ionic is its size and price. It’s smaller, weighs less, and costs a hundred dollars less than its sibling, and it still provides four days of battery life. You can save even more cash if you go with the Versa Lite version that drops a few of the features aimed at hardcore athletes. Overall, if your smartwatch needs are fairly light, this tracker is a solid, affordable alternative to a more expensive Apple Watch or Android Wear device.
All our Fitbit reviews
In case none of these Fitbit options resonate with you, we’ve linked to all of our Fitbit reviews below. We’ll keep the list and this article updated as Fitbit releases new fitness trackers.
Alaina Yee is PCWorld's resident bargain hunter—when she's not covering PC building, computer components, mini-PCs, and more, she's scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.