Best Fitbit 2020: which Fitbit fitness tracker or smartwatch is best for you?

Fitbit makes so many of the best fitness trackers, and is the largest player in that market by such a margin, that we decided it was time to do a list of the best Fitbits as well. A lot of people will use the word Fitbit when they mean fitness watch or band, and vice versa. You can get cheaper trackers, but Fitbit has a deserved reputation for the quality of what it sells, in terms of build and app support. 

Fitbit started with basic pedometers that clipped onto bra straps or waist bands, it’s now moved up through a variety of bands to produce sophisticated devices that track everything from runs via GPS to workouts via heart-rate monitors to even menstruation – via user diary entries rather than any kind of sensor, admittedly.  

Our top recommendation for most users is the Versa 2 or its siblings the Versa Lite and Versa 2 Special Edition. Those with bigger wrists might be better off with the Fitbit Charge 4 which goes on sale very soon – you can pre-order it now. The best Fitbits for outdoor exercise, since they have GPS built in, are the Charge 4 or the smartwatch-styled Fitbit Ionic. 

Fitbits aren’t just for step counting these days. They can be useful when running, at the gym or in your home gym, but you do need to know which one to buy to suit your needs. 

  1. Best smartwatch

Why buy a Fitbit? And which Fitbit is best?

These days, even the best Fitbits face strong competition from Apple Watch series 4, as well as the likes of Xiaomi, Garmin and to a lesser extent, Polar and all those weirdly similar-looking, 30 quid fitness trackers with Chinese names that you find on Amazon. On Black Friday, as at Christmas, dreams can come true. And those dreams may indeed include cheap Fitbits.

Despite doubts over the complete accuracy of its step counting and calorie calculations – they often seem quite some way off – what keeps Fitbit popular is its well established social network and slick app, as well as an ongoing stream of new devices that offer the Fitbit experience in a variety of shapes, sizes and prices. As we have noted on multiple occasions before, 100% accuracy is not the most essential thing in a fitness tracker. 

The real keys to success are wearability, a good, motivational app, a wide range of features and, if the stats aren’t necessarily bang-on accurate, they are at least consistent in the way that they are inaccurate. That way, you can tell if you are improving, maintaining or – heaven forbid – deteriorating in terms of activity and fitness. Fitbits deliver all that in spades.

Fitbit has also always been good at maintaining support for older models. The clip-on and extremely basic Fitbit Zip is still on sale, remarkably, alongside the feature-packed likes of the Fitbit Versa 2, Ionic and Charge 3.

Whether you just want to count steps or get advanced training insights, GPS tracking of runs and cycles and information on your heart’s health, there’s a Fitbit for you.

The best Fitbits to buy today

Fitbit Versa 2: this small ‘family’ of watches are the best Fitbits overall

If we were to describe one Fitbit as the best Fitbit, we’d pick the Versa 2, so long as it’s for a guy with fairly slender wrists, or a woman (with slender wrists). 

Other than lacking the Ionic’s built-in GPS – although you can link it to your phone and use the GPS therein, which should be more than adequate for most users – Versa 2 has the full gamut of Fitbit features. There’s heart-rate tracking, the option to access an overall fitness score, basic step and distance tracking, access to Fitbit’s motivational social network, an app store and the ability to play music direct from the watch via Spotify. 

Versa 2 has a mute version of Amazon Alexa, which obeys your commands in the usual way, but replies to queries via text only. It’s an improvement, frankly. It’s also waterproof, and features tracking of your swims too, which is good news for swimmers. 

Those wanting workout motivation might like the on-wrist video workouts of the Versa 2. You do quickly find that trying to watch a virtual personal trainer who sits on your wrist is not the easiest way to learn new exercises, mind you.

You also get basic smartphone features – a smattering of apps, notifications and contactless card payments – but with much better battery life than most smartphones. Even if you make full use of the fitness tracking features and heart-rate monitor, you will get 5 days life out of the Versa quite comfortably, which is a lot more than Apple Watch, for instance.

On the down side, the Fitbit Pay system is barely supported in the UK. But you’re in luck if you’re with Santander and Revolut, which we have at least heard of, Danske Bank, Starling Bank or ‘boon. by Wirecard’ whatever the hell that is. Otherwise, we would not recommend cutting up your card just yet.

That aside, Versa 2 is an excellent product. Perhaps most importantly, it looks good. That’s more than can be said for the Ionic, Blaze and Surge, which were Fitbit’s previous stabs at smartwatch-type wearables. Fitbit has also honed and refined the Versa since its launch, adding features such as blood oxygen tracking during sleep.

As well as the standard Fitbit Versa 2 there’s also a Versa 2 Special Edition. It’s functionally identical but looks nicer, with a more pleasing strap.

Fitbit Versa, Versa Lite and Versa Special Edition

Also well worth considering is the older Versa: Versa 2 without Alexa and with slightly worse battery life. There’s also the T3 Award winning Versa Lite. This loses Fitbit Pay and the coaching function, neither of which is any great loss, to be honest. Also, while it is still waterproof, the Lite won’t track swims in any useful way. Oh and there’s only one button – but the touchscreen works fine anyway. The trade-off, as you’d imagine, is that the Versa Lite is (usually, sales and deals notwithstanding) a lot cheaper. The colours are more varied, with everything from sober charcoal to vibrant mulberry.

At the other end of the cost spectrum, the Versa Special Edition is functionally identical to Versa, but made of what Fitbit considers nicer materials. The available  finishes are ‘graphite’ and rose gold. The fact that Fitbits are so often available at reduced prices mean that on any given day, the Lite, Versa and Special Edition may cost about the same as each other, or on extra-weird days, the Special Edition will be the cheapest of the 3. 

Hot off the production lines, the waterproof and compact Fitbit Charge 4 is the newest Fitbit and its best ever fitness band. I prefer the more smartwatch-style Versa 2,  but if you’re after a band, they don’t come better than this. 

The inclusion of GPS and ‘Activity Minutes’ – a tracking system for more intense exercise than just taking steps – brings it in line with Garmin’s bands. However Fitibit’s app is noticeably better than the Garmin one and the Charge 4 is also more affordable than many of its arch rival’s bands.

Notifications are better handled than on the Charge 3 and it feels a bit slicker all round, in fact. However, the fact that you cannot set the screen to always on, even during a workout, remains a PITA. Sort it out, Fitbit!  

Fitbit Charge 3: older version of Charge 4 – often discounted now

Much the same as the Charge 4 but older, slower and lacking GPS and Activity Minutes – for some reason, Fitbit is not bringing that to its older bands – Charge 3 may be worth considering if you see it at a low price. Which you probably will. 

The Charge 3 is the perfect choice if you want heart-rate monitoring and access to Fitbit’s app. GPS tracking of runs, bike rides etc is possible via your phone’s GPS – the Charge 4 piggy-backs on your phone’s navigational abilities and feeds the results into the Fitbit app.

You get notifications and – in the limited edition version only – Fitbit Pay, but there’s less emphasis on smartphone features here, with notifications but not much in the way of apps. Which is fine by us, since even on its ‘proper’ smartwatches, the Fitbit app store is about as well stocked as a Soviet Union supermarket.

Fitbit Ionic: best Fitbit running watch

The Ionic is, again, like the Versa, but with two major differences. First is that GPS is built in, so your phone is not required when running, cycling, hiking, etc. The other is that it looks fairly horrible. However on the plus side, it is a fair bit bigger than the Versa and so better suited to more manly/larger wrists.

Fitbit Ionic adds a lot of running watch functionality, far more successfully than the old Fitbit Blaze and Surge. Runs are auto-detected, and tracked via GPS, and there’s also heart rate tracking that works relatively well during high intensity workouts.

If you want a running watch, we’d recommend a Garmin over it, and if you want a smartwatch with running/cycling/gym-friendliness, we’d suggest an Apple Watch Series 4. If, however, you are a runner, walker or cyclist, require something more watch-like in appearance and simply must have a Fitbit, then this is the one to go for. That seems like a fairly narrow niche to us, but it’s still an excellent product in most ways, even if the looks are a bit of an acquired taste, to put it diplomatically. 

Fitbit Inspire HR: best Fitbit for women

This recent addition to the Fitbit range is the replacement for the Alta HR. it’s practically indistinguishable from the Charge 3 in terms of features – pulse tracking, 5-day battery, waterproof, it’s able to tap your phone’s GPS to track runs etc – but noticeably slimmer.

The good thing about this is… it’s slimmer and a bit more discreet than the Charge 3. The down side is that it struggles a bit more than the Charge 3 to follow your heart beat when you are sweating and working out intensely. With more of a proper button, it feels a bit better than the Charge 3. We’d say it’s aimed more at women but it is essentially unisex. Lots of replacement straps are available.

Fitbit Ace 2: best Fitbit for children

Unlike the first generation of the Fitbit Ace, which was basically a Fitbit Alta in a rubber protective casing, the Ace 2 was actually built for kids from the beginning. The Ace 2 has more personalisation options than its predecessor: including the Classic,and Familybands, there are 7 different wrist straps to choose from, more than enough for any child to find one that they like, no matter how hard it is please kids nowadays.

Animations and competitions are also used to further motivate kids: for example, a little disco ball drops down to celebrate 10,000 steps walked in a day for the added funk effect.

The Fitbit Ace 2 will help keep track of your child’s activity levels too thanks to the Fitbit app. Set up the family account and let your child check what they want to see, like badges and stats, whilst you can browse a whole range of more in-depth metrics in the parent view. Fun for the whole family indeed.

The Fitbit Alta HR is essentially a slimmed-down Fitbit Charge 2 (see below) and predecessor to the Fitbit Inspire HR. It’s probably aimed more at the ladies, and while heart rate monitoring is built in, there’s no way we’d use it to track pulse activity during intense exercise. 

Call, text, and calendar notifications are here, but there’s no waterproofing, and no access at all to GPS, even via your phone. All the other usual key Fitbit selling points are in place however, with access to the app and social stuff, simple operation and week-long battery life. 

There’s no way we’d get this over the Inspire HR unless it’s at an ultra-low price.

This is the same as the Inspire HR  but without the ‘HR’ (heart-rate tracking) bit. You also can’t access your phone’s GPS with this one. So what you’re left with is your classic step counter band, like your mum wears. If you are quite sedentary and want to get moving, this might be worth considering although it’s also worth considering that someone like Xiaomi will do you a similar, if less stylish band for a lot less…

Despite not having HR in its name (the first model in this series was called Charge HR) the Charge 2 does do pulse tracking. As well as monitoring your resting and active heart rate, the cardio sensor means the Charge 2 can give you a score for your overall fitness, by calculating your VO2 Max. 

The Fitbit Charge 2 is clearly not as good as the Charge 3, but if the price is right, it might be worth purchasing because there is not that much difference between them. Another mark in its credit column: there’s a real button instead of the fiddly and untactile pad used on the Charge 3

The Fitbit Alta is one of the more attractive fitness trackers that Fitbit makes, and certainly the most discrete, so long as you don’t buy the gold one. It is also rather basic but if all you want is step counting and sleep tracking, hooked into Fitbit’s market-leading app and community, then it’s all you need – but we’d recommend the newer, waterproof Inspire over this.

The Fitbit Blaze is a ‘smart fitness watch’, a sort of hybrid between a fitness tracker and a smartwatch. What do you get over Fitbit’s previous models? A colour touchscreen for a start. This enables the watch to perform more advanced functions, such as true smartwatch notifications, and music control. This model is splashproof, but not waterproof.

This was definitely the most versatile Fitbit that you could purchase at launch but it’s less ugly than its successor, Ionic. It might be worth buying if you can find it cheap – around Black Friday, for instance.

The Fitbit Flex 2 is the most bog-standard of all Fitbits, other than the ancient Zip, which actually clips to your bra strap, waist band or school PE vest. It’ll track your steps all day, with the lights coming on to herald your progress. It’s also fully waterproof, which was a rarity for Fitbits when it first appeared.

Other than that, it doesn’t do a whole heck of a lot, but you can access all the goodness of the Fitbit app with it, and take on friends in ‘step challenges’.

Obviously, when we say, ‘all the goodness of the Fitbit app’, we mean ‘all the goodness of the Fitbit app that doesn’t involve GPS, pulse tracking, or anything more complicated than the step counter built into your phone’.

The Fitbit Surge was for a long time Fitbit’s most serious fitness offering, packing in a long 7-day battery inside, along with GPS so it can track your run or walk for up to 10 consecutive hours. Long before the Blaze, Ionic and Versa, the Surge was Fitbit’s first stab at something more adventurous than a step counter. Positioned at the time as a ‘fitness super watch’, it’s still available now. But we wouldn’t recommend it today, as it’s not all that super.

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