Best Fitbit 2017: How to choose the right tracker for your goals

So, you want to buy a Fitbit. But which one suits your style, budget and fitness levels?
Which Fitbit tracker should you buy?

If you're wondering "which is the best Fitbit for me?" we feel your pain. The line-up is getting quite crowded right now - especially with the company's first smartwatch, the Fitbit Ionic, set to hit the shelves this October.

Short of really serious athletes, there's definitely something there for everyone. Whether you're male or female, active or lazy, there's a Fitbit to suit you.

With a price range from $59.99 right up to $299.95, Fitbit has done its best to cater to everyone looking to buy their very first fitness tracker or a top smartwatch.

Read on to find out which Fitbit model is right for you - from all the devices currently on sale. We've spent plenty of time with the whole range to help you decide, so make sure you check out our full Fitbit reviews too.

Best for smartwatch fans

Fitbit Ionic

Best Fitbit 2017: How to choose the right tracker for your goals

Despite the Fitbit Blaze offering some smartwatch-like capabilities, Fitbit has officially entered the space through the Ionic.

And with it, we also have another Apple Watch rival in the mix. It brings all the usual frivolities in the exercise tracking department, so expect your steps and calories to be counted alongside the option to make use of the altimeter, accelerometer, compass, GPS and heart rate monitor for more rigorous activity.

The company's SmartTrack tech will automatically recognise a score of different exercises, but runners, cyclists, swimmers and treadmill runners will also have dedicated modes within the watch. And for those looking for a more structured workout, the Coach app is available to provide plans of varying difficulties and durations.

It's not just activity Fitbit is helping you with, though, with its sleep technology, four day battery life and the new Fitbit Pay also starring on the device.

The futuristic design may be a sticking point for some, but this is a sporty smartwatch that represents the best of what the company has to offer. Unfortunately, there are some features that are set to arrive after its launch in October, as well as the introduction of a more fleshed out app store, but this is a solid overall smartwatch package.

Feature check: GPS, heart rate, SmartTrack, sleep, coaching, Fitbit Pay, notifications

Wareable verdict: Fitbit Ionic review

$299.99, fitbit.com | Amazon

Best for detailed metrics

Fitbit Charge 2

best fitbit to buy

With the Charge 2, there's a wealth of features, including guided breathing, interchangeable bands, a larger screen and new data tracking with VO2 Max. If you want basic step/sleep tracking, it's there, but if you want to take things further, you can.

Read this: Fitbit Charge 2 tips and tricks

The Cardio Fitness Level feature is one of our favourite additions. It's a proper fitness metric that's new to the company's ecosystem – and one that we hope to see evolve over time to become even more useful. The Charge 2 also offers a guided breathing exercise, making sure you're not inhaling too deeply or exhaling too quickly.

The size of the display on the Charge 2 is just right and the device sits better than the Surge does on the wrist, which is a relief. The overall design is oddly pleasing, perhaps because the display is larger than the Alta HR's but still smaller than the Surge, which means you get to see a little more information without it being uncomfortably big.

An update back in December last year also added some much-asked-for features including workout pause, a battery indicator, viewable heart rate zones, new clock faces and vibration support for Fitbit's guided breathing.

Feature check: Heart rate, VO2 Max, ConnectedGPS, auto exercise detection, steps, sleep.

Wareable verdict: Fitbit Charge 2 review

$149.95, fitbit.com | Amazon

Best smartwatch alternative

Fitbit Blaze

best fitbit to buy

Half smartwatch, half fitness tracker, the Fitbit Blaze offers heart rate data and built-in workouts all on the wrist. Designed with customisation in mind, you can switch the screen element in and out of different style bands. If you're not sold on completely jumping into the smartwatch arena with the Ionic, this is the next best bet.

Read this: Fitbit Blaze tips and tricks

Gym bunnies will approve of the automatic exercise detection, biometrics and the FitStar support to walk you through calorie-busting workouts. It's disappointing for runners and cyclists as it still relies on your smartphone for GPS data.

An update brings the cardio fitness levels and guided breathing features from the Charge 2 to make the hybrid a more feature-packed option. You also get Sleep Stages, which tracks how long you spend in light, deep and REM sleep. That's currently only available on the Blaze, Charge 2 and Alta HR.

Feature check: Heart rate, guided workouts, exercise tracking modes notifications, steps, Sleep Stages, ConnectedGPS.

Wareable verdict: Fitbit Blaze review

$199.95, fitbit.com | Amazon

Best for style

Fitbit Alta HR

Best Fitbit 2017: How to choose the right tracker for your goals

The Fitbit Alta hasn't been ditched but if you want more features from this stylish tracker, you should check out the Alta HR.

Its big feature is continuous heart rate tracking. It's also the debut device for Fitbit's improvements in sleep monitoring, using the accelerometer and heart rate sensor to determine whether you're in REM, light or deep sleep. Every morning you can see how long you spent in each stage, and the app offers up some tips for rest from Sleep Insights. We've found the insights a little general thus far, but Fitbit says these will get better the more it gets to know you.

Essential reading: Fitbit Alta HR tips and tricks

Despite those improvements, the Alta HR is still trying to keep things simple. There's no workout recording, ConnectedGPS, VO2 Max tracking or, surprisingly, guided breathing. It does still have SmartTracking, so if you do want to take it for a run, it'll pick it up. And of course, it has that tiny Alta screen that displays incoming calls, SMS notifications and calendar updates.

The Alta HR is still Fitbit's most stylish tracker. It's not for serious athletes, but instead for those of us who want to keep track of our health, fitness and wellbeing without all the complicated stats. It wants to give us that in a form factor that's wearable and desirable, and to that end it's a success.

Feature check: Steps, Sleep Stages, screen, SmartTrack automatic exercise detection.

Wareable verdict: Fitbit Alta HR review | Fitbit Alta review

$149.95, fitbit.com | Amazon

Best for swimmers

Fitbit Flex 2

best fitbit to buy

In terms of tracking the Flex 2 covers the bases; monitoring steps, calories, active minutes, hourly activity and sleep. You also get the benefit of Fitbit's SmartTrack tech to automatically recognise and track workouts, including walking, running, cycling and aerobic workouts.

Read this: Fitbit Flex 2 tips and tricks

The Flex 2 is 30% smaller than the original, but the real story here is that this is the wearable tech heavyweight's first swim-proof tracker. With its new water-resistant design, you get swim tracking features, letting you automatically track pool sessions and delivering metrics on laps, duration and calories burned.

Feature check: Steps, sleep, swim-proof.

Wareable verdict: Fitbit Flex 2 review

$59.95, fitbit.com | Amazon

Best for runners and cyclists

Fitbit Surge

what fitbit should I buy

Not officially available from Fitbit any longer, the Surge is still your best bet for a genuine GPS Fitbit aside from the all-new Ionic. It also has all the everyday fitness tracking you'd expect and the Surge also has a 5ATM water resistance rating, though Fitbit advises against wearing it in the pool.

Essential reading: Fitbit Blaze v Fitbit Surge

A few more biggies that the Surge alone enjoys are music control and text notifications as well as Caller ID. Music is only during workouts but still might sway you over one of the other trackers.

Feature check: GPS, running and cycling modes, notifications, steps, sleep.

Wareable verdict: Fitbit Surge review

$249.95, fitbit.com | Amazon

Best clip-on

Fitbit One

what fitbit should I buy

Like the Surge, the One has now been retired and will be vanishing from other the Fitbit homepage, but you can still hunt around online to find the retro tracker. Unlike the Fitbit Flex 2, it differs by coming in a clip-on form factor, handy for bras and suchlike. It also has a clock and, like the Charge, offers elevation tracking.

Sleep tracking is on board, but with no automatic detection, and there are no extras like automatic exercise detection either. It will work with Fitbit's Sleep Schedule mode though. You get the same app and steps/distance tracking for a nice price in an inoffensive device. It's a bit fugly, but the OLED shows you fitness stats. Plus the battery life is a winner at ten days or more.

Feature check: Steps, time, sleep (not-automatic), 10-day battery.

$99.95, fitbit.com | Amazon

Best for budget

Fitbit Zip

what fitbit should I buy

The budget option of the line-up, the Fitbit Zip is pretty basic next to all the trackers above. So what do you get? As with the rest, the Zip will track your steps, calories and distance as well as telling you your active minutes for the day. There's no sleep tracking and no altimeter to record elevation. There is a clock function on the small display, and it also wirelessly syncs to your phone and comes in some funky colours.

Sweat, rain and splashproof with a whopping six-month battery life, the Fitbit Zip is well worth a look although it's got some competition from the Misfit Flash, the Jawbone UP Move and the Withings Go.

Feature check: Steps only, 6-month battery life.

$59.95, fitbit.com | Amazon


Shop for Fitbit trackers on Amazon

Fitbit Blaze
Fitbit Blaze
$149
Fitbit Charge 2
Fitbit Charge 2
$147.54
Fitbit Alta HR
Fitbit Alta HR
$149.95
Fitbit Flex 2
Fitbit Flex 2
$93.90

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28 Comments

  • pkissel says:

    How much does FitBit pay you guys for this kind of fluff marketing piece?

    • s.charara says:

      Fitbit is the biggest selling wearable tech brand and our readers will no doubt want to know which device will best suit them. End of. 

      • Yemz says:

        Well said Sophie! 

  • Sara says:

    I read a review saying that the FitBit Flex was somewhat inaccurate in step counting and whatnot, what would you say about the accuracy of this one?

  • Denisejay says:

    What would you recommend for a 10 yr old, to help appreciate their lack of exercise and ack of sleep?

    For me, I need sleep tracking and alarm first, activity second, but a lot of that summer activity is biking swimming and kayaking...

    Thx

    • leighSH says:

      If you're looking for a fitness tracker for cycling and swimming try MOOV NOW™. It offers great stats and is waterproof and can detect your strokes, laps, rests and turns. It doesn't have an alarm but it does have sleep tracking! Check it out http://moov.cc/getmoov/19D4F94BEC

  • Joyfulgirl says:

    the new Surge is on pre order for $199.  Not $249

  • Joyfulgirl says:

    The new Blaze is on pre order for $199 not $249. Putting it right in the middle of Charge HR and Surge.

  • SamanthaCooper says:

    I have owned a Surge since March 2015. 6 months in, the strap started to crack around the two screws holding it to the body. Fitbit customer support sent a replacement device (the straps are not replaceable) and now 5 months later the replacement has exactly the same fault. 

    I love the watch, but don't see any evidence that Fitbit either acknowledge this design flaw or are doing anything to address it other than sending out copious replacements. If they are happy to keep replacing mine every 5 or 6 months with a new one, I guess I'll be satisfied, but far from happy.

    • Charvey35 says:

      I am on my third tracker with the same issue! Mine got so bad the second time that the top of the band actually fell off. Fitbit didn't want to replace it at first but eventually gave in and sent me a new one! I'm hoping for an updated Surge 2 to come out before too long.

  • Melii says:

    i'm looking for accuracy of calories burned,so which fitbit I should buy?

  • Amy49 says:

    I'm looking for a wrist Fitbit (I'm in high school btw) that is affordable but still has a lot of features. I do a LOT of sport- swimming,hockey,frisbee,football,tennis etc and it has to be waterproof. I'm thinking of the Fitbit flex (for my birthday) but is it worth paying about £30-40 more for the Fitbit charge hr? 

    • MThorne says:

      Hi! Although I am not an expert on this topic, I do not believe that any fitbits are waterproof so if you do a lot of swimming, then you probably should go with another brand. I've heard that the Garmin Vivosmart HR is similar to the charge HR, and has about the same price but, if the website I was looking at is correct, it is waterproof and you can swim in it. You may want to look into this brand instead. Hope this helps!

  • roxclare says:

    I have been wearing a POLAR heart rate monitor (chest  strap and watch) when I work out at the gym.  I bought a FitBit Charge HR after wearing a Jawbone UPS for years. I tested the FitBit against my heart rate monitor and was shocked to see that the FitBit measured my heart rate while doing cardio 50 points lower than my POLAR heart rate monitor. I tested this for several days and the FitBit consistently under recorded my heart rate. I don't see how the FitBit can promote their products as a way to track the amount of time you exercise in a cardio zone or calculate calories burned when they incorrectly measure your heart rate. Save yourself the aggravation and the delusion. Get a Polar heart rate monitor if you really want to know how many calories you burned.  Plus a basic Polar heart rate monitor and watch costs less than the FitBit Charge HR.

    • Kathrin says:

      Wareable's own review of the Charge HR says that the heart rate tracking is not accurate even for the resting heart rate, so I agree, this was an interesting take on the Charge HR as a product for people who want to know their resting HR. Does not make sense IMHO.

  • RebaNeums says:

    I have had 5 band failures for the fitbit surge since I activated my first one last July,  2 watches two different uses.  Longest duration was 5 months, shortest 6 weeks.

    Fitbit customer service is prompt but no interest in providing a meaningful long term solution to a faulty, inferior band on their ptoducts.  They are again sending another one, because the only other thing they are willing to do to for me is a 25% credit towards another of their devices.  Sad statement for price of $250 each and only 4 month usability. again and again.  My advice _ run to another device provider, do not go fitbit!

  • LaBomba says:

    My wife loves her Surge but I am not a huge fan of wearing watches, though I like tracking activity to motivate myself, so I use the Fitbit One. I realize it's simple but I love it. I used my iPhone for a bit but it was inaccurate and I put it down so much (particularly during exercise) so I had to get a tracker. But some of us non-watch-wearers want a wearable too, even if it's clipped to a waistband or placed in a pocket. I still love my One and hope Fitbit upgrades the non-watch varieties in future with more options (NFC payment would be interesting). In general, really dig what the company offers, appreciate this column laying it all out.

  • Daisa says:

    I am looking for a product that will do the following:

    A. I indicate that I am starting a run. I input the minimum and maximum minutes and seconds per mile that I want to run. As I run, if my CURRENT speed or my OVERALL speed (since I began) is outside of that range, it will tell me. Ideally, it will be by a sound. Second best is that I have to look at it.

    B. It is self-contained. I don’t need to own or carry anything else.

    C. After I finish the run, I can also use any PC to display a graph of my speed at each point in time during the run.

    D. Ideally, I can also print a map of my path.

    Please let me know:

    E. How does it know how far I have run?

    F. The cost of the product.

    G. The monthly cost and commitment of using it.

    H. What national (United States) retail chain stores sell it?

    I. What United States web sites sell and ship it?

    J. What other functions does it perform?

  • Gigi says:

    Looking for a Fitbit that records how many steps taken, heart rate, and sleeping...which one should I buy...one for my husband & one for me...thanks

  • SecretSpectrum says:

    I recommend the Fitbit Charge HR.

  • Vshauz says:

    I'm looking for a waterproof fitness tracker with replaceable bands, and smartphone notifications (with a screen). Does such a thing exist?

  • Juliz says:

    can the blaze detect how many kms I havemailed cycled or run?

    Juliz

  • DeeBond says:

    i have a fit bit alta i went to the gym and got no credit for my 30 min on the rowing machine which fitbit or garmin do i need i track sleep need an alarm ......

  • BobM2 says:

    The Charge 2 is a piece of junk. The fitbit community forums are full of page after page of complaints about inaccurate step counting and innacurate HR monitoring. My own experience mirrors those complaints.  It is so inaccurate, and so erratic, it is worse than useless. Take the heart rate sensor. During interval training on an elliptical, its readout varies pretty much randomly from 30 bpm above to 20 bpm below my actual, measured heart rate. Sometimes it’s spot on, but I’m reminded that a stopped clock is right twice a day. On a treadmill, at a fast walking pace, it consistently reads 20 to 30 bpm below actual. I do weight training 5 to 6 days a week, and during a 60 to 80-minute workout it will routinely vary as much as 20 bpm too high, and 30 too low. Intermittently, it shows an HR as much as 40, 50 and more bpm below actual. The largest discrepancy had the Charge 2 displaying 80 bpm when my actual was 149. Sixty-nine bpm to low! I've also seen it go from 15 bpm too high to 30 bpm too low in less than a minute. And jump from 97 to 117 bpm while I'm looking at the display. Today, in the middle of weight training, it showed my HR as 62 bpm. That’s lower than my resting HR! Oh, and some days I apparently die multiple times during a workout, because the display repeatedly shows "--". 

    The Charge 2's step counter isn't much better. In controlled testing, walking the indoor track at my gym, it's wildly inaccurate. I did 12 tests, 4 each of 30, 50 and 100 steps. In two tests it was with about 5 percent. In one, it undercounted by 10% (that means if you walk 10,000 steps, it'll only credit you with 9,000). And in the remaining 9, it undercounted by 30 to 35%! That means that for a 10,000 step day, you'll only be credited with 6500 to 7000! It’s not consistent, though. Sometimes it overcounts by about 5%. It also give me credit for steps while I’m sitting on the couch folding laundry, and when I’m scratching my head. And this is under the best conditions: walking a moderate pace, nothing in my hands, my arm swinging freely. If you’re carrying something that interferes with arm movement, it’s even worse. Push a shopping cart or baby stroller, and it won’t count steps at all because your arm isn’t moving. 

    On a typical day, I climb between 10 and 15 flights of stairs. And the Charge 2 fails to count 2 to 4 of them. If you hold on to the handrail while climbing, it won’t count the climb. But it also randomly misses other flights of steps, even when I’m don’t hold the rail. Occasionally, though, it’s wildly optimistic. It counted 18 flights while I took a 30-minute motorcycle ride, and 2 flights while I drove home from the gym.

    I wouldn't put much stock in its sleep analysis, either, since it gives me credit for 50 to 150 steps every night while I'm sleeping. No, I don't walk in my sleep.

    And since the inputs are inaccurate, none of the calculated values can be trusted. Calories burned is estimated from heart rate and activity. If those numbers are off, it’s likely calories burned is off, too. Heart health is calculated from resting and peak heart rates. How can one trust those numbers? Even minutes of activity is questionable. If the Fitbit thinks my HR was only 62 during exercise, it’s probably not counting that as activity. It did, however, give me credit for 20 minutes of aerobic activity while I was dozing in bed. 

    It might as well be a random number generator for all the actual value it provides. And Fitbit's customer support is worse than useless. They're more likely to argue with you than to help you. If they don’t argue, they just keep repeating the same worthless suggestions.

    • GLUM522 says:

      Hey, so do you think Garmin Vivosmart 2+ would be a better option?

      Because I'm deciding between these two...

      Thank you for your answer!

  • Katebob66 says:

    In spite of advertising as having an Android version of their app, very few new Android phones are supported on their app (as of March 2017 4  out of 52 Android phones on sale at Carphone Warehouse were listed as compatible). The forums are full of disappointed owners and the response from Fitbit is disgraceful, we're just told to keep checking the website and sync with our laptop.

  • Lanie says:

    Fitbit seems to be having issues with their application support. They recently rolled out a new release of their app software that has users furious about the loss of sleep data. Many people purchased their fitbit for it's capability to track sleep and report on periods of restlessness and wakefulness and now that functionality has been eliminated. This impacts the One, Flex, Alta and Charge2 fitbit models.

    Please check the fitbit site community page before buying a fitbit to ensure that the sleep tracking is actually doing what you are expecting. Fitbit owners are furious about this loss of functionality.

    The is the second major release issue in a year. Fitbit needs to get their act together as they are losing customers.

  • gloria_eveworld says:

    I am looking to buy a Fitbit under $100. I am neither a runner nor a swimmer. My Expectation with Fitbit is only tracking my heartbeat while jogging. Does Fitbit One or Zip have the ability to track heartbeat? Please suggest which Fitbit model I should buy.

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