​Fitbit Blaze v Fitbit Surge: Battle of the fitness watches

Which of Fitbit's fitness watches is for you?
​Fitbit Blaze v Fitbit Surge

The Fitbit Blaze is the company's first fitness tracker that promises to be equally at home as a watch and a fitness tracker, either at the gym or at work.

It's proven itself to be one of the more capable Fitbits you can buy, and will be until the Fitbit smartwatch finally appears. While it doesn't do anything groundbreaking, it still manages to wrap what Fitbit does best in one of its most attractive designs yet and benefits from a series of new software updates to improve its fitness tracking skills.

Essential reading: Fitbit Blaze review | Fitbit Surge review

The Blaze sits next to the Surge as Fitbit's "fitness tracker watches" (don't call them smartwatches!), so there might be some of you wondering whether you should be picking up the Blaze or spending a little extra dough on the Fitbit Surge.

We've lived with both of them, so we can tell you what the biggest differences using them day-to-day and which one is the best 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 most Fitbits. 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 more sporty look of its predecessors.

Essential reading: Best GPS running watch

The default elastomer band stays though; yep, the one that once caused thousands of users to complain over skin irritation. In our time using it, we 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 Blaze's strap is more easily interchangeable, letting you snap new bands onto the watch and giving you many more customisable options.

Fitbit Blaze fitness tracker
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Amazon

In terms of straps, the Blaze comes with either a blue, black or plum coloured bands, but you can upgrade to official alternatives. There are leather bands with steel frames for $99.95, metal link bands with frame for $129.95 and, if you need something a little more wallet friendly, nylon bands for $39.95. If you just want alternate colours in the classic band they'll cost you $29.95.

The Fitbit Surge has always been more running watch than day-and-night activity tracker its design reflects. Clad in rubber and plastic, it pales in comparison to the Blaze when it comes to looks and customisation. The only aspect that you can really personalise 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.

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, but 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 Alta HR in a different form factor, it will track steps, sleep, sleep stages, 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 Alta 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.


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 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 ConnectedGPS feature, which uses your phone's GPS for distances, so long as you're willing to take your handset along for the ride.

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. You will also get Relax Guided Breathing on the Blaze, which you won't get on the Surge. Your Blaze will basically be able to guide you through a breathing session to help you get a bit more centered.

The biggest activity tracking feature the Blaze has over the Surge is the ability to track Sleep Stages. The Blaze can use its slightly more advanced heart-rate sensor to track whether you're in deep, light or REM sleep, and tell you the next morning in the companion app how long you spent in each cycle.

Fitbit Surge
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Amazon

In terms of features, the Surge offers most of 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

The Blaze's notification system will be familiar to anyone who has used a smartwatch. All of your notifications on your phone will show up on your Blaze (as long as you enable them in the companion app). While most of these notifications aren't actionable, it's very useful to be able to keep up with what's happening in your life with a flick of your wrist. You'll also get a music control feature that'll allow you to play, pause and skip tracks on your phone; you can even control the volume. Wahoo!

The Surge, on the other hand, will only get you call and text notifications. So you'll miss out on all those Facebook, WhatsApp and calendar alerts. It does offer music control, but its annoyingly 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

Fitbit Blaze v Fitbit Surge: Battle of the fitness watches

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 its heart that dresses like a watch, giving it a more attractive design that is more 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, and it's also well equipped for more general well-being stuff like sleep tracking and guided breathing.

The Surge is quite clearly for those who are already pretty familiar with a treadmill and already take part in exercise classes at the gym. Its 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.




44 Comments

  • Tessie says:

    They should clear up the problems with the "fitbit"...before they even think about an upgrade..would love the blaze, but the calorie burn, heart rate, weight...are all wrong on the fit bit...Went 11,343 steps and the miles showed 4.91...so that isn't really accurate either some of the time...I know the distances in miles on all my routes before I even set out ......i have an ipod i carry and always plug in the steps on it too...just to compare...it is always right on! Disappointed in the fitbit...

    • greyhounds says:

      It sounds like you have not properly calibrated the distance of your stride under settings.  The fitbit can count steps, but without calibration it won't accurately turns those into the correct distance.  

      How can the fitbit have your weight wrong?  If you have entered an incorrect weight, of course the calorie burn will seem inaccurate.

      The heart rate I've had great luck with.  I wear the watch slightly looser most of the time, and slightly tighter when I run.  

      • Boogie says:

        I compared my Surge to the HR monitor used during my stress test by my cardiologist.  It was off by -3 bpm which is great considering that the Surge has one monitor on my arm compared to 10 attached throughout my torso.

    • Thenextlife says:

      An average persons stride is 2 to 3 feet. There are 5280 feet in a mile; therefore, depending on your stride, at 4.91 miles the amount of steps you take would be (on average) 10,500. Seems the steps are pretty accurate.

      • Dewm says:

        My normal walking stride is 3 feet.  Fast walking 3.5 feet.  Running (depending on speed)  is anywhere from 4-6 feet.   At 6'2" I feel I am pretty average... so to say average running stride is a measly 2-3 feet is a little insane.   Just saying.

    • Thenextlife says:

      An average persons stride is 2 to 3 feet. There are 5280 feet in a mile; therefore, depending on your stride, at 4.91 miles the amount of steps you take would be (on average) 10,500. Seems the steps are pretty accurate.

    • davieseast says:

      You can change the feet per step on the setup.

  • Keithw1975 says:

    I have the fitbit One, and also the Surge. My number one complaint is that the Surge, being worn on the wrist, isn't as accurate as the waist mounted One. I wish they would offer a way to have the measurement device like the One, report to the watch. That way when the watch got false steps, it could fix them by using the more accurate waist mounted One.

    • Elcs says:

      This is why I am still using the One after 2 1/2 years. I am not a fitness guy and never will be until I can control a chronic health issue better so accurate step counts for the small exercise I do (30-45k steps a week as tracked by my One) is very handy for me to keep doing the same amounts of exercise regularly to maintain my current levels.

      I am considering a Blaze to try to monitor the 'higher' side of my activity but it would render all of my previous One step/sleep data rather moot due to the differences in the wrist mounted step count and automatic sleep registering.

  • emilym44 says:

    The surge can control music in any mode, not just when working out.

    I just tested it to make sure, it definitely can.

    • wearable says:

      Been using mine to control music since the day I bought it. This is absolutely true-- you can control it from anywhere.

      RTFM.

  • racheldsilva91 says:

    Fitbit is now on sale only on SmartwatchOffers:com

  • zobs09 says:

    "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" - 

    No it doesn't. You can control the music at your leisure. 

  • Ravenous says:

    not pleased with the lack of GPS... love my Surge and wanted to buy the Blaze, but the lack of built in GPS makes buying the Blaze unlikely... have trouble seeing the time on Surge though and would change my wearable tracker to another brand, if they offered something like the Blaze but with built-in GPS...

  • zoey says:

    I think that the blaze is inaccurate for heart rate and often is 20bpm off and calculates at a higher rate than what your heart rate actually is which is also true for the steps. All you have to do is move your arms and you are logging steps. I use the heart rate as a really loose gauge of working out since with a lot of arm movement it just continues to get higher. When walking or sitting etc it is quite close to accurate but during my work out it is often even more than 20beats higher or more. I put one on my phone and compared the two, the iPhone app is correct most of the time where the blaze will start out really high and then drop 20-30bpm so it is not the best heart monitor at all for the high $$ it cost. if that is what you want you are better off taking your own pulse if you want an idea of how far you walk and distance etc. than buy the blaze. I am keeping it even though i know it is just a ballpark figure on everything. I have an apple watch but don't want to use that at work so wear this instead. just fyi.

  • pfc says:

    I have the Surge which I can't fault technically. The trouble with the surge is if the strap breaks you cant replace it. All watch straps break eventually and not being able to replace a strap is a design flaw, especially when you are paying near on £200.

    I spoke to Fitbit customer service who confirmed they will replace the whole watch if in warranty.

    Like I say I love the Surge but would not have brought it if I had known about this issue.

    • the4given says:

      And the warranty is only 1 year in the US, 2 years EU.  Kinda crappy for a watch, especially one designed to track an active lifestyle.  Visit fitbits forums on surge and it is ripe with issues on early band breakage.

  • starship says:

    don't waist your money on the Fitbit surge ...highly inaccurate   particularly heart rate and calorie count...now looking for an alternative....

  • Jess78 says:

    Just thinking outside the box here but maybe people might want to try to wear the watch upside down/the monitor on the bottom of the wrist. When you take your pulse it's always under your wrist so this may help track heart rate a little better. 

  • Rebecca says:

    I absolutely love my Fitbit Blaze and would recommend it to everyone. Super motivating to exercise and everyone complements how slick and modern it looks. Surprisingly it does give me Whatsapp and viber notifications as well as phone call and text, which is awesome.

  • Fitdog says:

    Hi. Any idea if and when the next gen surge is coming out. I've had my Surge for a year now and the battery life is not that good anymore (have to recharge in less than a day). Thanks. 

  • goh says:

    i had a tomtom watch using about 2 yrs,but the band is broken can't replace,so i hope all sport watch band can be replaceable

  • Bon says:

    Please check your grammar and spelling before posting a review. It makes it very difficult to understand when you mix the names "blaze" and "surge".

  • DMW says:

    I have had my surge now for 13 months, and wear it everyday for tracking steps and my runs.  I love the app for tracking, and seeing improvements.  However, there is a serious design flaw of the wrist band being that it is extremely flimsy and wears out quickly.  Some folks on the Fitbit blog also report cracking at the rear where the wrist band meets the watch.  The problem is Fitbit only offers a 12 month warranty.  If you complain within the time period you are all set, and they ship you a brand new one.  If you are one day over 1 year from when you initially sync the device to the app/account you are out of luck.  They will not fix it, and only offer a 25% discount towards a new one, and you only have 30 days from when you complain to cash in on the offer.

    Bottom line here is when spending a couple of hundred dollars on a device look at the longevity of entire device.  Hopefully Fitbit fixes the problem in the update.  I will wear the one I have now till if falls off my wrist, but for the money... I will carry my phone for the durability of a product.

  • MDD says:

    1. When will fitbit come up with a waterproof tracker that I can wear to swim my daily laps????
  • Dinker says:

    Not a runner....now which Fitbit do I choose?  Thank you

  • Crystal says:

    I have the surge for almost 1 year I'm happy with tracking but I'm from those with the skin irritation problem, I have to remove it off at least 2 hours a day but use it as its still useful. So I will say go for Blaze if you buying or pick something else :) 

    • raysasser says:

      Switch arms

  • Kirk says:

    I've had the Surge since Christmas.  There is a major design flaw in the band design.  It is not separately replaceable and a quick search will show that bubbling, separation, and cracking at the back four screws is common.  I am trying now to replace mine after the band on both sides is cracking at the screws.  Considering downgrading to the Blaze, since a replacement Surge is guaranteed to have same issues.

  • Sam1 says:

    I initially experienced itching and rash with the Surge's band and but it stopped after a week or two.                      I have more issues with the band breaking and wearing out.
    Company has replaced under warranty 2X. No problems at all. Overall I love my Surge. 

  • TXCHEERMOM says:

    So, which one would you recommend for cycling? 

  • Cindy0517 says:

    is the glass face on the blaze as resistant to scratching and breaking

  • Sunshine57 says:

    I purchased the surge when it first came out, loved it - 1.5 years later, it charges but the battery drains in less than 24 hours, sometimes over night. It's a useless band at this point. You only get a one year warranty, so they won't replace it, but would love for me to make another purchase. I'm not going to waste my money on a product that is worthless especially for the price I paid. In the end,

    Not worth it! Buyer beware! 

  • ARKHAN says:

    If you are laving outside of US than baying of this watch is waste of money. I bought from Bangkok some months before and twice it's screen got moisture in normal weather. This time it screen totally blank, despite many attempt of restart, no use. Company said go to service center but there is no service center in Pakistan.       

  • shaungo says:

    Don't buy a fitbit surge. After about 10 months the strap starts coming away from the body of the watch. I didn't do anything about it till 15 months and they refused to replace it. They don't offer replacement straps to buy either. I had to throw it away. Waste of money

  • malferg says:

    My wife and I purchased the surge fitbit and found out yesterday that knitting counts as steps. not happy with that. And to test it I twirled my wrist and it counted it as steps. Think I will return them.

  • LaxMom says:

    You can certainly replace the surge band. Just look for the many 3rd party bands.  Remove the 4 screws with the provided screw driver. It sucks that FitBit will sucker you into thinking you cannot.

  • Suds2506 says:

    does the blaze counting changing gears whilst driving as steps ?

  • khshall says:

    Love the Surge - But one big problem.

    I have used my Surge(s) for about 2 years now. The only issue I have had is that the band breaks away from the watch. (It happens about every 6 months) I work in an office behind a computer most of the time, so it's like I am putting on roof shingles or laying bricks. (Mainly general walking and circuit type training (Orange Theory)).

    Fitbit support has been great and replaced the watch 2 times (time for a 4th watch now, hopefully they will replace it again).

    If not, the Blaze looks like it may work since I don't do a lot of outside runs and for long walks I am probably ok with just counting the steps.

  • Pat_Cat says:

    These are true facts without any distortion of the reality. As a consumer, how should i feel about it ? Reading this, would you buy that product or deal with such a company ?

    1- Bought Fitbit Surge in June 2015

    2- Wristband failed after 11 months (Picture attached)

    3- Fitbit replaced my Surge under warranty in August 2016

    4- Second Surge Wristband failed after 8 months (Picture attached)

    5- Fit refused to have the second Tracker covered by warranty even if it is an obvious design flaw. They offer 25% on the purchase of a new tracker in order to have another 1 year warranty and a six months free premium membership.

    I consider the Surge as an expensive disposable tracker.  The wristband is definitely suffering from an obvious design flaw and the company does not stand behind its product.

    Don't buy FitBit product if you expect a great consumer experience.

  • Pat_Cat says:

    These are true facts without any distortion of the reality. As a consumer, how should i feel about it ? Reading this, would you buy that product or deal with such a company ?

    1- Bought Fitbit Surge in June 2015

    2- Wristband failed after 11 months (Picture attached)

    3- Fitbit replaced my Surge under warranty in August 2016

    4- Second Surge Wristband failed after 8 months (Picture attached)

    5- Fit refused to have the second Tracker covered by warranty even if it is an obvious design flaw. They offer 25% on the purchase of a new tracker in order to have another 1 year warranty and a six months free premium membership.

    I consider the Surge as an expensive disposable tracker. The wristband is definitely suffering from an obvious design flaw and the company does not stand behind its product.

    Don't buy FitBit product if you expect a great consumer experience.

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