Fitbit Alta v Misfit Ray: Skinny fashion tracker showdown

Which stylish, mid range fitness band is right for you?

Fitness trackers have added all sorts of new features, such as heart rate monitoring and GPS, over the past few years. But both Fitbit and Misfit know that when it comes to untapped customers, it pays to keep things simple.

These two trackers don't add much in terms of features from their predecessors. What we get instead is two redesigned form factors that mean these trackers are more stylish and unobtrusive than ever before.

In-depth: Fitbit Alta review | Misfit Ray review

They are both aimed simply at people who want to increase their daily steps or calories burned to feel a bit better. Nothing more complicated than that. (If you want more fitness features, check out the new Fitbit Alta HR). Now we've reviewed both, we know that both accomplish that aim but there's pros and cons of choosing both of these far from perfect devices.

Here's how the Misfit Ray and Fitbit Alta compare in terms of design, tracking, apps, battery life and - of course - price. Both are on sale now.

Misfit Ray vs Fitbit Alta: Design

Fitbit Alta v Misfit Ray: Skinny fashion tracker showdown

Neither the Fitbit's or the Misfit's design will embarrass you. Essentially, the Misfit cylinder is the smaller, sleeker and slightly more comfortable of the two as the default package but the Fitbit already provides better customisation thanks to both leather and stainless steel accessories with more designer collaborations coming soon. Misfit has a ton of new bands so that levels things out on the customisation front.

Misfit Ray
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The main difference between the two overall (not just in design) is that the only sign that the Misfit Ray is connected is the single multicoloured LED on the top edge whereas the Alta is rocking a small, 1.4-inch OLED screen. The screen or no screen decision is the main one you have to make here as it impacts on alerts features and battery life which vary between these two trackers.

The 15mm wide Fitbit Alta comes in two sizes whereas the 12mm wide Ray only appears to come in one, dainty size for now. Both clasps are easy enough to get on with both can be worn with mechanical or smartwatches thanks to their skinny designs. Though it's bigger and weighs slightly more than the Ray, the Alta's curved body keeps it from getting annoying and we haven't had any rash problems so far.

The Misfit has another advantage here, at least for swimmers - it's water resistant to 50m whereas the Fitbit is described as splash/rain/sweatproof.

Fitbit Alta vs Misfit Ray: Tracking and apps

When we wore the Alta and the Ray together (both on wrist), we found that Fitbit's tracker tends to slightly overestimate our daily step count whereas if anything, Misfit errs the other way. The most important thing is that it's consistent and you get a sense of your progress which both Fitbit and Misfit apps provide.

Fitbit Alta
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Away from counting steps, Misfit's tracker can now also offer basic swim tracking data via an in-app purchase. It's the very same swim features packed into the Speedo Shine 2 letting you count laps and track distance in the pool.

In terms of motivation (though badges) and community, we'd firmly pick Fitbit right now but fitness apps are always improving and you may prefer the simplicity of Misfit's 'stories'. Fitbit's app is super easy to use for beginners, too, though and the one we'd recommend plus you can log food and water, not just weight, inside the app which is handy.

We had a few problems pairing and syncing the Ray with our Android phone as well as setting up the Alta on iOS so this still remains a hit and miss set up experience across platforms which is a pain.

On the sleep side of tracking, we found the Misfit Ray to be generally more accurate at sleep and awake times and also providing more detailed (though as yet unverified) data on light and deep sleep. The Alta can be annoying when worn to bed, too, as the display can auto switch on and off throughout the night. Fitbit has a Sleep Schedule mode, which does mean you can take better control of how much pillow time you get each night.

Fitbit Alta vs Misfit Ray: Extras

Both these trackers offer extra features that go beyond fitness. Which is best depends what you care about. Though the Alta's screen is always off, it is better for telling the time and seeing call, calendar and text notifications (no third party yet) due to the fact it has a display at all. The Ray handles call and text alerts too but will only blink its LED at you and rely on your remembering which colour is which.

Misfit's secret weapon is that with the additional Link app you can turn the Ray into a smart home button to control music and smart bulbs from your wrist. In practice, if you want to see your activity progress, though, this is limited to one set feature at a time. Both trackers feature smart alarms.

Misfit Ray vs Fitbit Alta: Battery life

A comfortable win for the Misfit Ray with its up to six months battery life - it stayed at 'fully charged' during the two to three weeks we were testing it. This is a no charging wearable, a real appeal. It also uses two button cell batteries which are cheap and straightforward to replace.

The Fitbit Alta, on the other hand, officially lasts at least five days. This will depend on how much you use it but our US editor Lily managed to get eight days out of her Alta, impressive. In short, you should be able to get away with charging your Alta once every week or so. That we can live with though the fact it uses a proprietary charger is pretty annoying.

Fitbit Alta vs Misfit Ray: Price

The Fitbit Alta is the slightly more expensive of the two trackers at $125 in the US and £99.99 in the UK. The Misfit Ray meanwhile is $99.99 like the Shine 2.

Misfit's accessories are cheaper too - if you'd prefer a leather band over the sport band, it's $119 for a Ray and Misfit has just launched a whole bunch of bands. Fitbit's leather accessories cost an extra $59.95 with a stainless steel option available for $99.95 and more premium Public School and Tory Burch accessories.

Misfit Ray vs Fitbit Alta: Verdict

Many of the differences between the Misfit Ray and Fitbit Alta are dealbreakers. If its meaningful fitness improvements you're after, choose Fitbit for its app with the warning that it may sometimes overestimate steps. If you want to save some money or you hate charging, it's the Misfit.

Swimmers, again, choose the Misfit Ray. Likewise, if sleep tracking is important to you. Or if you're looking to customise your tracker to make it look more like jewellery, stick with the Alta which has a number of collaborations on the horizon.

What we have here is two easy to live with trackers that add a few extra features without turning either into a smartwatch rival.

Let us know whether you've chosen the Fitbit Alta or the Misfit Ray in the comments.

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  • Lifesbeengood·

    I chose the Misfit Ray based on price, look, simplicity, and initial reviews. I've had the carbon colored one for almost three weeks.  It's comfortable to wear daily on my wrist and to sleep in. 

    It seems more accurate if I wear it on my shoe. This takes some wrangling however since there are ZERO of those nifty accessories they advertise the Ray with on their website. I have to attach it through my laces on my shoe. I am going to try to find my own strap to wear it as an anklet. It has spring pin holders like a watch so you can attach other items if you can find something that fits it. 

    There's a very limited selection of activities to log and I'm not sure why it has this option since adding them does nothing to your points to goal. It does a pretty good job of logging basic activity like walking/running as measured by the treadmill stats at the gym. Along with steps and distance, it logs activities as light, moderate, and vigorous and assigns more points towards your goals depending on how it logs your activities.  

    The sleep tracker seems to be based on your movements throughout the night. There's only been one night when it didn't track my sleep at all. 

    I like the little LED light that blinks based on how close to goal you get. It also does a little celebratory rainbow blinking routine when you meet your goal for the day. 

    Overall I'm pretty happy with my purchase for the price. I've just started being more active and wanted a simple and fairly accurate step counter to start with and I feel like I got that with my Ray.

  • lazygal·

    I debated over these two, but in the end I went with the Misfit Ray as well.  It's stupid lightweight and comfortable, GORGEOUS in the rose gold/pink color, and I've found a couple of ways to customize the band already, thanks to those handy watch spring pin holders.  I even already had a leather band from a watch that no longer worked with the same size pins.  I've been using the Ray for a couple of weeks now and I love the vibrating alerts for texts, calls, and to move.  Learning the colors for these took all of five seconds.  No luck in the vibration waking me up as a morning alarm, though.  I keep my phone alarm on for that.

    Also, I love how fast it syncs with the app and it seems (to me at least) pretty darn accurate at knowing when my activity is "light" or when I do something rigorous and am burning extra calories.  I sync it up with the Lose it app for logging food.  The sleep log also seems accurate.

    The triple tap Link feature is cool. Depending on the situation/day, I set it either as the "next song" button for my music, or "take selfie" to take the picture when I want to be in a bigger shot.  However, I really wish there was an option to have more actions at once, as of now you can only set one action for the triple tap at a time.

    I absolutely LOVE that it is waterproof and doesn't require charging, I am a pretty lazy person (clearly, I needed this tracker to motivate, and it does) and would not like to remember to not get in the shower with it or have to charge it.

    All in all, I really like the Ray and hope there will be a better market of accessory bands/necklaces/etc. in the near future. 

  • VitaminCeCe·

    Has anyone tried this with the Apple Watch as a supplementary tracker? I was thinking it would be nice to have something that tracks my sleep since the Apple Watch doesn't have the battery to pull it off. 

    I have the steel Watch and was curious if anyone had a sense of how the rose gold would look or the black next to the steel silver color of the watch. I suppose I have two wrists and could wear it as a necklace (if they came out with any of their damn accessories... )

    Appreciate any opinions.

    • EchoJay·

      I have Apple Watch SS too and use the Ray as a sleep tracker - they have more accessories and a necklace for it now but it isn't too great on the neck for sleep tracking :( Looks great paired on the wrist though!

  • JDonk·

    Avoid fitbit! I bought a fitbit charge for my wife at dick smith. The first one did not work straight out of the box, would not charge at all. Dick smith replaced immediately, same day as purchase. A few months later the new one stopped charging. Again, Dick Smith replaced with a brand new item. Now, 9 months later, this 3rd fitbit charge will not charge, the battery will not charge.

    Subsequently, Dick Smith has closed down in my area so I can not return for a refund.

    I contacted Fitbit, who are saying the original purchase is out of warranty but they will replace with the same model, but will not refund. They don't have enough faith in their own product to give a warranty on the brand new replacement fitbit charge thats only 9 months old!! I asked if the replacement they are willing to send will have a warranty but they didi not reply.

    They also will not allow me to pay the difference to upgrade to a better model!!

    Well, if you ask me thats pretty poor, they should write a book on how to lose customers because thats what they've done in this situation. Not only me but everyone I know I tell how bad the product is and the lack of faith they have in their product. I strongly recommend buying a more reputable brand.

    Fitbit is a waste of money and you will more than likely be disappointed.

  • ro156·

    The fitbit definitely does not have the smart alarm.

    If the Ray smart alarm works the same awkward way as Shine, that can be said about the Misfit as well.