We've now had time to review the Blaze and even decided to make it our current fitness tracker fave. While it might not bring anything groundbreaking to the table, it still does what Fitbit trackers do best and wrapped it all up in its most attractive design yet.
There might be some of you wondering whether you should be picking up the Blaze or spending a little more on the Fitbit Surge, the company's fitness 'superwatch'
We've lived with both for a few weeks now to tell you what the biggest differences are using them day to day and which one is the best fit for your wrist.
Fitbit Blaze v Fitbit Surge: Design
The Blaze is essentially a much more polished Fitbit Surge, and certainly looks more like a smartwatch than a fitness band. It's slimmer and frankly much more chic than any Fitbit that's gone before. The metal, angular finish is bold, as is the full colour screen (more on that shortly) and it does a decent job at blending in with a suit as well as your gym kit.
Fitbit has been keen to downplay comparisons to the Apple Watch, but the Blaze is comparable in terms of size and design. Is it as good looking as Apple's smartwatch? Not really. But it's a huge step in the right direction shaking off the sporty look of its prdecessors.
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The default elastomer band stays though; yep, the one that's caused thousands of users to complain over skin irritation. In our time using it, we've haven't experienced any problems. We can't however say the same about the Surge (more on that in a moment). Unlike any other Fitbit, the strap is easily interchangeable and you can snap the watch into new bands to make it infinitely customisable.
In terms of straps, the Blaze comes with either a blue, black or plum coloured bands, but you can upgrade to official alternatives. There's a Luxe Collection steel framed leather strap available for $99.95, a Luxe Collection band with metal links which costs an eye-watering $129.95 and three Classic Collection bands that cost a more wallet friendly $29.95.
The Fitbit Surge has always been more running watch than day-and-night activity tracker its design reflects it. Clad in rubber and plastic, it pales in comparison to the Blaze when it comes to looks and customisation. The only personalisable aspect is the digital watch face you choose to adorn the low-res LCD screen.
Available in black, blue or tangerine the Fitbit Surge is one of the nicer looking sports watches out there, despite its monochrome 1.25-inch LCD touchscreen. The Fitbit Blaze is hugely improved in this area with its 1.66-inch, 240 x 180 LCD colour touchscreen. It's hardy full HD, but the visuals are sharp and crisp, and on-par with most smartwatches.
The Surge doesn't get the colour touchscreen. Navigation is done courtesy of two buttons on the right for selection inputs, and a single button to the left to move between daily stats and sports tracking function screens. You can also swipe on the monochrome display to switch between activity and notification modes.
If you're planning to go swimming with either of these then you're out of luck. Both are considered water resistant, the Surge is 5ATM and the Blaze is 1ATM. Fitbit doesn't advise taking them for a dip or taking them in shower. A run in the rain should be fine but not much else. We've given them the shower test and they both survived, but it's entirely down to you if you want to take the risk.
The Fitbit Blaze feels a lot slicker to use, but the Surge's big old buttons work well when you're sweating through a 5 mile run and need to use the watch. The Surge's software is noticeably zippier when you're swiping through screens through.
What are they like to wear all day and night? Generally fine, although the Surge did pose some issues. We had to take it off for one day as it began to cause some itchiness and left a small mark on our wrist.
Fitbit Blaze v Fitbit Surge: Activity Tracking
In terms of fitness tracking, the Fitbit Blaze offers very little new. Essentially a Fitbit Charge HR in a new format it will track steps, sleep, calories, 24/7 heart rate data including resting HR and active time. All-in-all a healthy selection of stats and in-line with most fitness trackers from the last year. We've worn them for daily activity tracking and sleep monitoring and both delivered consistent data.
The Fitbit-developed PurePulse heart rate monitor is also ever-present, and it uses the same technology as the Surge and Charge HR. Both appear to share one problem and that's handling high intensity training. We put them through some interval running training and spinning sessions along with the Polar H7 heart rate monitor chest strap and both struggled to deliver accurate readings when we upped the intensity. At times they can be slow to display readings as well.
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Both track a multitude of activities, although the metrics returned for the array of supported activities (from yoga to Zumba) are limited to time, average heart rate and calories burned. You can use the stopwatch feature if you like, but the SmartTrack feature added to older Fitbit's last year means that the Blaze logs activity automatically – as does the Surge.
Runners will be dismayed to hear that the Fitbit Blaze doesn't include GPS, which means it can't track distances accurately. You can still use the MobileRun feature (now renamed Connected GPS), which uses your phone's GPS for distances, so long as you're willing to take your handset along for the ride. Whatever you call it, it means you'll be using your phone's GPS.
We put the GPS powers of both to the test for several runs. With the Blaze piggybacking off our iPhone's GPS and using Runkeeper as a comparison, the Surge was fine for the first 20-25 minutes. Beyond 40 minutes, some discrepancies begin to appear and there can be on occasions a difference of 400-500 metres.
The Fitbit Blaze adds on-screen workouts from Fitstar, including a 7 minute all-body workout, 10 Minute Abs session and a general pre-workout warm up programme. There's plans to add more workouts in the future, but this is a nice starting point if you want to work up a sweat and don't have much time on your hands.
In terms of features, the Surge offers the same metrics for activity tracking as well as a multisport mode for any exercise class that takes your fancy. However, the big ace up its sleeve in comparison to the Blaze is the on-board GPS. This means that the Surge has dedicated running and cycling modes, which you can take advantage without your phone.
Fitbit Blaze v Fitbit Surge: Notifications
Although the Blaze syncs with your phone to provide call, text and calendar notifications, it won't pair with third party apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook, which is hugely disappointing. However, the Blaze does include a music control feature that allows you to play, pause and skip tracks from your phone, as well as control the volume.
The Surge also misses out on third party app notifications in favour of the basics, but it's missing calendar alerts. It offers music control, but annoyingly this is only available during workouts.
Fitbit Blaze v Fitbit Surge: Battery Life
The Fitbit Blaze offers five full days and nights of battery life without having to charge. Unlike the Surge, it has a colour screen to operate, which will inevitably reduce battery life, particularly if worn day and night.
The Fitbit Surge's battery life is stated to be over a week, and in original tests we barely managed three days when heavily using the on-board GPS for outdoor workouts, which is a serious battery drain. With more liberal use of the GPS, you can get around 5 days, which is about the same we managed with the Blaze.
Unsurprisingly, there's no micro USB or wireless charging support. The Surge relies on small charging cable that clips into the back of the device. The Blaze uses a small docking cradle that holds the removable screen in place. Both take roughly an hour to get back to full charge from 0%.
Fitbit Blaze v Fitbit Surge: Price
The Fitbit Blaze is the cheaper of the two wearables costing $199.95. Adding the more luxurious frames and straps to the Blaze will push the price up. The Surge is priced at $249.99. That makes the Surge the most expensive Fitbit to date. That extra money gets you the GPS chip, but in a significantly less sleek-looking device.
Fitbit Blaze v Fitbit Surge: Verdict
It doesn't take too long to realise that these are two different Fitbits for two very different types of people.
On the one hand you have the Blaze, which is a fitness tracker at the core with a more attractive design and is ideal for beginners. We're talking the type of people that want to start making gradual changes to their lifestyle. If you do want to do more than count steps, that's where the FitStar support and the ability to use your phone's GPS to track activities comes into play. It's well equipped for short bursts of exercise.
The Surge is quite clearly for those who are already pretty familiar with a treadmill and already take part in exercise glasses at the gym. It's rugged, durable body is built to withstand the rigours of a workout although we did experience some issues wearing it 24/7. We still have some question marks over the reliability of the heart rate data but the GPS is generally quick to lock on and accurate, making it a decent sports watch all rounder.
If we had to pick between the two we enjoyed living with the most, then the Blaze would get our vote. Hopefully the next gen Surge will take some inspiration from Fitbit's sleek smart fitness watch.
Still have some questions about whether to go for the Blaze or the Surge? Let us know in the comments section below.
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