Fitbit Surge v Microsoft Band

24/7 heart rate monitoring and GPS on the go but which one is right for you?

We recently put the Microsoft Band and the Fitbit Charge HR head to head but, given the GPS capabilities of one of 2015's most anticipated wearables - the Fitbit Surge - we thought it was only right that we order another showdown.

The Microsoft Band went on sale earlier this year and, while consumer expectations are seemingly now as low as the stock levels (i.e. non existent) following a spate of below-par reviews, the Redmond giant's first fitness band still has enough impressive hardware packed in for it to be a viable option.

Wareable verdict: Fitbit Surge review

The Fitbit Surge has been released in limited quantities so far, with an official launch expected early in the new year. Like Microsoft's effort, it boasts an impressive spec-sheet.

But what one should you choose? Microsoft Band or Fitbit Surge? Read on to find out...

Fitbit Surge v Microsoft Band: Design

Fitbit v Microsoft Band

The Microsoft Band is a monstrosity. It's the beefiest activity tracker we’ve tried on and, honestly, if you think you’re going to be sleep tracking with this beast on your wrist, you can think again.

Its discomfort isn't a slow-burner, as with many fitness trackers, it’s uncomfortable from the moment you put it on. That’s because of the shape of the thing. The top part is completely flat, with not a curve in sight until you hit the straps. Have a look at the top of your wrist, it’s not flat is it?

Essential reading:Best fitness trackers - Jawbone, Misfit, Fitbit and more

The Microsoft contender is available in three different sizes but just the one colour: black. It's constructed from a thermal plastic elastomer and the adjustable fit clasp is actually pretty solid. It is a pretty uninspiring design although the colour display does give it a bit of life.

Speaking of the display, it's a 1.4-inch TFT colour touchscreen and you'll find a Windows-esque UI on board.

The Surge’s display is a touchscreen, monochrome, 1.25-inch LCD one with a backlight on board for low light visibility. Fitbit is keeping quiet on the display resolution of the Surge at the moment though but whatever the pixel count, it's clear that Microsoft wins the screen battle.

With regards to design and comfort, however, the Surge is streets ahead. It comes in three sizes; with the smallest of which suitable for wrists sized 5.5 to 6.7 inches, the largest 7.8 to 9.1 inches.

The rubber strap, which comes in black, blue and tangerine is made of a flexible, durable elastomer material similar to that used in sports watches and it also has a surgical-grade stainless steel buckle.

Fitbit Surge v Microsoft Band: Hardware

Fitbit Surge v Microsoft Band

Both the Fitbit Surge and the Microsoft Band pack in 24/7 heart rate monitoring.

Continuous heart rate monitoring technology is still in its infancy, but it enables users to track a wider range of sports, as well as gym work much more accurately. It's also crucial for working out accurate calorie burn and determining essential rest periods.

Budget battle: Jawbone UP Move v Misfit Flash

The addition of GPS connectivity on both devices means that stats like pace, distance, elevation, split times, route history and workout summaries will be available to wearers, with a lot more accuracy than you'd traditionally get with a fitness tracker.

The Fitbit Surge can expect a five to seven day battery life from its Lithium-polymer battery, Microsoft's Band offers just two days - and that's with various functions turned off.

The Surge is IP68 certified and carries a water resistant rating of 5ATM, which means you’ll have no problems wearing it in the pool. The Band is splash and sweat proof, but not water resistant, so no swimming data can be recorded and you shouldn’t even wear it in the shower.

Fitbit Surge v Microsoft Band: Tracking

Microsoft Band vs Fitbit

The Microsoft Band is platform agnostic - a clever move from the software specialist as it means that Android and iOS users can access the new Microsoft Health platform, there's no need to go out and buy a Windows Phone to get involved.

The Band boasts step and calorie burn recording, as well as sleep quality analysis. You can view your daily or weekly stats, set goals, and receive a virtual high-five when you hit them through the app, and there are also guided workouts on offer with programs from the likes of Gold's Gym, Shape and Men's Fitness all available directly from the device.

Budget option: Jawbone UP Move review

The Fitbit app is available across Windows Phone, iOS and Android, and the data from your Surge will also sync with the info from your Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Scales. The app shows you your progress, lets you record workouts, map routes, share and compete with your friends, log your food intake and earn badges based on your activity achievements.

The Surge supports running, cross-training, biking, strength and cardio workouts and also offers the regular fitness tracking functions ‚Äď so it will record your number of steps, floors climbed, distance travelled, calories burned and it also measure your sleep quality.

Fitbit Surge v Microsoft Band: Updates

With the Microsoft Band you can see incoming call alerts, text notifications, email and calendar updates and social media alerts from Facebook and Twitter. There‚Äôs no third-party support but you can turn on a ‚ÄėNotifications Center‚Äô tile to have every single message relayed on your Band.

The Fitbit Surge will display smartwatch notifications such as incoming calls and texts, and it also has the ability to control your music but there's no third party app notification support at present.

An easy win for Microsoft on this front.

Fitbit Surge v Microsoft Band: Verdict

The Fitbit Surge will set you back £200 in the UK, $249 in the US. Microsoft's Band is only available in the States at the moment and costs $200.

While we've only had limited hands on time with the Fitbit Surge and its costlier price-tag may put some people off, we're pretty confident that the Surge is the better option.

Sure, its notification skills aren't on a par with the Microsoft device and the display is nowhere near as impressive but as an all-round fitness wearable, the Surge wins hands-down - with the primary reason being that it is, well, wearable.

The Microsoft Band is just too clunky and far too uncomfortable and, despite packing in some great hardware, fails on a fundamental level because of its levels of extreme discomfort.

However, be sure to also check out our super watch showdown, to see how the Fitbit Surge and the Apple Watch measure up.


What do you think?

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  • Vteck262·

    The band is not uncomfortable at all. If you wear it under the wrist it melts away. I forget I'm wearing it most of the time. As a soldier, this is important. The only downside is the lack of water proofing. I have a windows phone so I am able to read and send texts easily through Cortana on the band.

    • THoff·

      I agree. The FitBit is nonce looking, but the MS Band is not uncomfortable at all. I have been wearing mine for a month straight and barely notice I have it on. I also sleep with it on....

  • JustAComment123·

    You are wearing it backward.  The inside of your wrist is flat and that's how it is supposed to be worn.  I don't even want to think about what you might look like trying to read the thing with the display on the outside of your wrist.

    • p.lamkin·

      It's designed to fit either way - check Microsoft's official images. Either way, it's about as comfortable as a pair of handcuffs. 

      • THoff·

        not for me. I wear it in the inside of my wrist.. have it on as I type, and don't feel it at all... 

    • j.stables·

      I can confirm that in any orientation, it's horrible to wear. It should be called the Microsoft Shackle.

    • LaBo·

      Actually, the pictures shown (LCD inside the wrist) is the recommended way although you can wear it with the LCD on the outside (Source: Developer on Microsoft Health and devices). I'll probably get one once they launch the second iteration with improvements.

  • pam·

    microsoft band is much more comfortable and WAY smaller than the clunky surge.  Even the small surge is thick wide and huge -great if you are a guy but not if you are a woman.  In terms of fit and function there is no comparison - microsoft band is a clear winner.

  • chunky·

    No review about accuracy of the units? Which one gives the most accurate step counts or reliable heart rate data?  Do the skin temp & galvanic skin response (sweat) senors on the MS Band give it any sort of edge in accuracy?

    Accuracy & useability of data should be the first topic of review.  Most buyers at this price range want something that works well as neither one is particularly fashionable.

  • tinypond·

    After retiring my third Nike Fuel band after 2.5 years of continuous wearing. I bought both the Fitbit Surge and the Microsoft Band because I new I wanted the the very best one on the market. The Surge software is impressive however the band on the surge is flimsy and worried me about breaking it also looks like the band is not replaceable that is another worry so when the band breaks I need to shell out another 250.00 

    Although by your review I could tell you were wearing the band backwards look at your wrist cure on top and flat on bottom you had the Microsoft Band on upside down no wonder it felt awkward. After wearing the fuel ban when I  put the Microsoft Band on my wrist the correct way (upside down for you)  It certainly felt at home. The Fitbit  I was wearing flipped so the screen was on my wrist. when running  this feels the most natural. Yet I noticed that at work I kept on scraping my Fitbit Surge screen on my desktop each time I was worried about scratching the screen and I am sure over time that is what would have resulted. 

    Fitbit Surge is a monster that is thick and bulky, the band fits smooth and does not make me unbutton my cuffs on my shirt to get the device over.

    Being able to customize the background and the colors on the Microsoft band is  really cool and easy to do by the link on my android phone.

    I have not done the food consumption entry on the Microsoft Band however the Fitbit software was really slick and I would except Microsoft to be behind in this area ( funny because they build the software and tools..) however Fitbit has been in the market for a longer time and  I expect they listen to customers and have made corrections and changes.

    They both are water resistant so that  is a tie. That is unfortunate if your at the beach and dive in not remembering that you are wearing the device.

    Battery life is about 4+ days for the Fitbit and 2+ days for the MS Band  I did not take the Fitbit running,  I would imagine that the GPS would have a big draw on the battery. 

    The feature that took it over the top was if you purchased the Microsoft Band from Microsoft Store you could get a warranty replacement if anything broke in the first year. The Fitbit did not have the same option, for me this is a big deal.

    One last thing, I am not sure how true this is, I feel the MS Band has enough sensors that It should be able to calculate the stress level of an individual. Now showing that on the screen or logging to a website would be really cool and insightful.

    A lot of coolness, I just put my MS band on and am packing the Fitbit back up because it did not meet my expectations.

    The word is the Best Buy will soon be carrying the Microsoft Band which should be huge for sales of the band.

    Bottom Line:   MICROSOFT BAND  (hands down)

    Personal wants

    Health and Fitness Tracker - Running / Heart Rate / GPS -SLEEP Time

  • workoutguy·

    My wife has the Surge, I have the Band.  I've tried them on one right after the other and I can tell you without a doubt that the Band is more comfortable then the Surge.  Why?  Simple, the Surge is wider, causing you to notice it when you bend your wrist toward the display.  I was really expecting a pretty awful fit after all the negative propaganda I read about the fit of the Band.  I suggest you try them on for yourself and compare.  I suppose everyone's wrists are different but the Band is more comfortable then the Surge imo.  Also, I find it equally comfortable with the display on the top or bottom of my wrist.  I guess my wrist is just symmetrical like that.  If you really want to complain about something on the Microsoft product you can compare the Fitbit app to the MyFitnessPal app.  I've only used the latter minimally so far but word on the street is the former is superior.  As far as I know the Band will only automatically send your workout info to the MyFitnessPal app, not the Fitbit app, despite the Fitbit app being available for Windows Phone.  I'm not sure I'm going to miss whatever is superior about the Fitbit app, I already see I can scan barcodes for food, search a pretty extensive database for food, etc.. 

  • r2guy·

    I've had the band for two months now and it hasn't felt uncomfortable at all. It took a couple of days getting used to, especially the first night sleeping with it. Now its on all the time, except for when I shower. That's when I charge it and I haven't experienced any battery issues with it either. That said, I can see how the shape may not fit all individuals, so I suggest trying one at the store before buying.  I chose the band over the fitbit because I wanted something to wear on my right hand, since I have a nice collection of watches that I wear on my left wrist already and since I spent good money on

  • jogster·

    I have been wearing the Microsoft band continuously for the last 6 weeks and it feels just fine. I haven't tried the Fitbit but have looked at it in store and just thought it looked too big. What makes the Microsoft band for me is the sleep tracking it is awesome! It fact it has made me much more aware of when I go to sleep and how long I should be sleeping and the observations it gives at the moment are pretty simple but I expect they will improve as more data is collected. In case you were wondering I retired all my personal Microsoft equipment last year and replaced it with a Mac Pro and MacBook Pro. The only thing I have kept is my Windows Phone (until iphone7) and the Microsoft band. Apple watch? Not a hope in hell!