- Slim, light and comfortable
- Great for sleep tracking
- Improved battery life
- Screen visibility outdoors still not great
- Heart rate performance
- Premium extras underwhelming
It’s a small reminder that Fitbit isn’t leaving fitness trackers behind, despite making more purposeful moves into smartwatches.
But the Inspire 3 is one of our top fitness trackers, and follow-up to this device made the wholesale changes we were craving – including SpO2 and a color screen. Make sure you read our full review of that.
Read on for our 2020 review of the Fitbit Inspire 2.
Read our reviews: The best fitness trackers for your budget
Design and screen
Put the Inspire 2 alongside the Inspire HR and the two look very similar. You're getting the same band and tracker combination that's available with black, white, or rose color bands.
The tracker has slightly slimmed down, but not in a really noticeable way when it's on. Those bands are removable, giving you access to Fitbit’s array of Inspire band options that include steel mesh and Horween leather looks. You do still have the ability to wear the tracker inside a clip, for anyone that can’t or doesn't want to wear it on their wrist.
We had the standard, more sport-friendly band, which was comfortable to wear. As you'll probably see from our pictures though, it does have an annoying habit of picking up a lot of fluff.
The big change on the design front here is that Fitbit has decided to ditch the physical button that was present on the first Inspire. It's done the same on the Charge 4 and more recently on its Versa and Sense watches. It's now letting you press or squeeze the sides of the tracker's case to do things like wake up the display, skip back a screen or open up the settings.
Inspires compared: Fitbit Inspire 2 (top) and Fitbit Inspire HR (bottom)
So far the move by Fitbit to ditch physical buttons has been done with varying degrees of success. We’d say it works well on the Charge 4 and less so on the Versa and the Sense.
The Inspire is a better example of how it can work to create a more streamlined look, and still offer something that works like a standard button. It just needs a gentle tap or squeezes and it's nice and responsive.
- Also consider: Fitbit Versa 3 vs Versa 2
Most of your interactions though lie with the touchscreen display, which doesn't look all that different from the one included on the first Inspire. It's a greyscale display and while Fitbit hasn't given any specifics on the resolution, compared to its predecessor the text on the screen is a little sharper and doesn't look so washed out.
Our issues with the Inspire and Inspire HR were with outdoor visibility, and Fitbit has added the ability to brighten up the display to improve things. Out of the box, it's set to a dim mode, which you can turn off in the settings on the band.
This boosts brightness and does improve visibility in bright outdoor light or even normal daylight, but we'd still hoped it would be better.
It's hard not to think about the kinds of displays on Xiaomi or Huawei's trackers and feel like Fitbit should be giving us something a bit more impressive in this department.
One thing that hasn't changed is the water resistance of the Inspire. With the Inspire 2 you're getting the ability to submerge it in water up to 50 meters deep, making it suitable for showering and going for a swim.
Screen complaints aside, it's still a fitness tracker that's light and slimmer to wear all day and to bed compared to other trackers. You have plenty of officials and unofficial Inspire bands to mix up the look too and that's no doubt going to give it more appeal than other trackers.
The main reason for owning the Inspire 2 is that you're most interested in keeping tabs on things like step counts, and sleep quality and maybe having some heart rate metrics to look over too. That's not to say you can't get some sports watch-like features here as well though if that's something you want to track.
The sensor array hasn't changed as far as what you can track. There's a 3-axis accelerometer to track indoor and outdoor activity, and an optical heart rate monitor for continuously monitoring heart rate and letting you work out in heart rate zones.
You also have connected GPS support, which means you can use your phone's GPS signal to more accurately track outdoor activities more. We are disappointed to see that an altimeter misses the cut once again, which means you still can't track elevation like stairs climbed during your day.
The tracking experience on the band lets you tap on the bottom of the main watch screen to scroll through your daily stats. You can also swipe up to see individual daily stats, which does include some data you can only manually enter on the Fitbit app – things like water intake and food tracking.
From an accuracy point of view, we wore it alongside a Garmin fitness tracker and found step counts and distance were within 500-600 steps of the Garmin. The breakdown of where those steps occurred during the day was consistent too.
Step tracking compared: Fitbit Inspire 2 (left) and Garmin fitness tracker (right)
What is slightly annoying is that you have to go to different screens in the app to see things like distance covered and calorie burn. It no doubt works for someone who only cares about tracking one metric, but it would be nice to see them together too.
When it's time to break from smashing step goals, the Inspire 2 will track your sleep too, letting you see sleep breakdown including REM sleep, and giving a sleep score, while you can also set silent alarms to gently wake you in the morning.
There are other insights available like sleep heart rate and restlessness during the night, though you'll need to subscribe to Fitbit Premium to see it.
Sleep tracking compared: Fitbit Inspire 2 (left and center) and Garmin fitness tracker (right)
We've always found Fitbit's trackers the most reliable in terms of the usefulness of their sleep monitoring. That doesn't change here.
Apart from being a very unobtrusive tracker to wear to bed, it offers a nice breakdown of that time in bed and recognizes when we've gone to bed and woken up in the morning. This is the kind of feature you'd want to buy the Inspire 2 for.
Sports tracking and heart rate accuracy
When you want to switch the focus from steps and sleep to workouts, the Inspire 2 does have an exercise mode that should make it more useful in that scenario.
There are 20 exercise modes available and Fitbit's SmartTrack tech to automatically recognize and track some of those activities. You're also getting something that can track pool swims and can offer real-time distance and pace stats for runs, rides, and hikes when leaning on your phone's GPS.
We've found that its exercise tracking abilities are a mixed bag and it's not somewhere this tracker excels. Yes, it's light and comfortable to wear, but the size of the device and the quality of the display don't really make it the best suited for things like running or swimming as far as giving you real-time data you can easily absorb on the move is concerned.
For running, we had issues getting the connected GPS support to work. We launched the Fitbit app as prompted but a lot of the time it struggled to find a connection. As a result on most occasions we had to rely on the accelerometer to track runs instead and accuracy unsurprisingly was off.
Run tracking compared without GPS: Fitbit Inspire 2 (left) and Garmin Forerunner 945 (right)
When we did manage to get a connection, it didn't get much better. Below is one such run where it failed to capture the mapping and both the distance and pace data captured was wildly off.
Run tracking compared with GPS: Fitbit Inspire 2 (left and center) and Garmin Forerunner 945 (right)
In the pool, it's more of the same as far as the experience of checking your real-time data is concerned. You can only view time with lengths and calorie burn post-swim in the Fitbit app.
The screen also has to be unlocked, which means you don't have real-time stats on view. Though you can only see duration anyway, so it's not massively useful to check in.
Interestingly, there's a high-intensity interval training profile that creates a workout where you train for thirty seconds and rests for ten seconds.
The usefulness of this mode ultimately relies on the reliability of the heart rate monitor, which we'll say isn't really fit for exercise based on our experience.
HR comparison for high intensity: Fitbit Inspire 2 (left) and Garmin HRM chest strap (right)
We had some massive heart rate spikes and higher average readings against a chest strap monitor for most runs, high-intensity interval workouts, and steady-paced indoor rowing sessions we put it up to the test.
Above is data from a high intensity interval session and not only do the graphs not look quite right, but the average BPM is also some way off the chest strap monitor we compared it to.
Fitbit has added some heart rate-based features it's rolled out on other devices, like its Active Zone Minutes and Workout Intensity Maps.
Ultimately though, these features thrive on reliable heart rate monitor data, which is something we didn't really experience here.
While you won't get the kind of innovative health tracking features you'll find on Fitbit's new Sense watch, you do have the ability to keep closer tabs on aspects like your mental health as well as access some richer health metrics.
You can continually measure heart rate day and night, which we found offered generally more reliable and accurate readings than monitoring heart rate during exercise.
There's also access to guided breathing exercises, which offer two or five-minute sessions to focus on your breathing with small vibrations indicating when to breathe in and out.
Resting heart rate data from Fitbit Inspire 2
Fitbit also includes menstrual health tracking features, which live off the tracker and inside the Fitbit companion phone app.
Like Fitbit's other devices, you do get access to its Premium service and you'll get a year's free trial before you need to pay up to be a member. So what do you get as an Inspire owner? You'll be able to see breathing rate data and heart rate variability and resting heart rate during sleep.
Additional Fitbit Inspire 2 health metrics from Fitbit Premium subscription
It will also unlock more features in the new mindfulness section of the app, where you can listen to sessions to get to grips with the basics of meditation.
Something you don't seem to have access to is the guided programs and more personalized insights that seem to be reserved for more feature-rich Fitbit trackers and watches. Based on our experience, the extras you get with the Inspire don't feel big enough to warrant paying up.
Fitbit Inspire 2: Smartwatch features
Away from health and fitness tracking, Fitbit does manage to squeeze in some smartwatch extras too. You can view notifications from Android phones and iPhones. There are also around 20 different clock faces to choose from.
You're not getting music controls, payments or app support, though that's hardly surprising given the size of the tracker. It would've been nice to see some music controls cut this time though.
To view notifications, you'll need to swipe to the notifications menu where you'll find them stocked up. You will have to swipe to read the entirety of notifications and you can simply close them after you're done reading. It works fine and feels well optimized to that display.
There's a decent mix of watch faces here too, and you'll have to make your choice in the app as there's no way to store more than one watch face at a time on the Inspire 2.
It's very much the basics here, but if you'd like something to check notifications, then the Inspire 2 does a good job given what should be quite a restrictive design.
With the Inspire 2, Fitbit is promising the biggest battery life it's ever offered on one of its wearables. It claims you can get 10 days, which is five more days than the Inspire HR and three more days than the Charge 4.
So can you get 10 days from the Inspire 2? We'd say you can. Just about. You'll need to be conservative with sports tracking and switching off that dim-screen mode to do it.
We had notifications enabled and heart rate monitoring turned on, and with 30 minutes to an hour of tracked exercise saw a daily drop off of around 10% a day. If you have that bright screen mode enabled, you're going to see more of a drop-off and it's likely to be closer to seven days.
Those numbers are still short of the two weeks you can get from a Xiaomi Mi Band 5, but it's a tracker that can live up to the lofty battery claim with the full gamut of its features in regular use.
How we test