As one of the biggest names in fitness trackers, Fitbit is an easy pick for recording your daily steps or sleep patterns. Selecting the best Fitbit model for your needs, however, isn’t quite as simple.
Fitbit Cheat Sheet
Cut straight to the chase with our top recommendations.
The different Fitbit trackers have a lot of overlap in features, and so it’s not straightforward which one is the “best.” Moving up the scale in price doesn’t necessarily mean you get all the features of the cheaper trackers plus additional ones. (This quirk is particularly relevant if you need water resistance.)
That’s where we come in. We’ve boiled down the options into three simple picks that should match most people’s activity levels and styles.
Update 1/15/19: We’ve updated our pick for Best Fitbit.
Most people interested in a fitness tracker just want a device that records steps, sleep, and heart rate accurately and displays the information in a straightforward way. The Fitbit Alta HR provides that in a slender, stylish device, plus a few extras: You also get automatic exercise tracking, silent alarms, and reminders to exercise, as well as call, text, and calendar notifications.
The Alta HR does lack built-in GPS and swim-proofing, but making up for the lack is its friendlier price (MSRP $130, but often on sale for $100 or less) and a 7-day battery life. Dedicated runners can connect to their phone GPS if they bring both devices for a run.
Those who want a larger display and/or the ability to read all of your phone notifications from your wrist will want to upgrade to the Charge 3, but for the fitness-minded, the Alta HR will provide all the data you need.
Runner-up: Fitbit Charge 3
When Fitbit released its successor to the Charge 2, the company supercharged an excellent fitness tracker (and our former Best Fitbit pick), transforming it into a hybrid smartwatch with a sizable OLED touchscreen.
In addition to step tracking, continuous heart-rate monitoring, and sleep tracking, the Charge 3 offers water resistance up to 50 meters, the ability to display any notification that comes to your phone, automatic exercise tracking, and silent alarms. An NFC-enabled special-edition Charge 3 supports Fitbit Pay as well.
Even with these advanced features, you can expect 7 days of battery life on average.
At just $20 more than the Alta HR, this superb Fitbit would be our top choice overall if not for one thing: the risk of encountering a defective unit. We’ve had the unfortunate experience of two Charge 3 units quitting on us, and similar reports can be found on Fitbit’s forums and Reddit. (We’re still awaiting word from Fitbit on the root of the issue.) We believe most Charge 3 users won’t encounter this issue, but the Alta HR’s simplicity and reliability currently stand out all the more.
Best Fitbit if you wear a watch
If you’ve already invested in a watch, replacing it with a fitness tracker isn’t an option. The Fitbit Flex 2 is small enough that it can be worn unobtrusively next to a watch or on the opposite arm, as a pendant or a bracelet, or clipped to clothing if you buy a third-party case.
Its feature set covers the basics: step tracking, call and text notifications, automatic exercise tracking, sleep analysis, and reminders to exercise. And while it lacks the more informative display of its Charge 2 and Alta HR siblings, the Flex 2 is water resistant and offers swim tracking.
If you’re looking for a full-featured watch replacement, the Fitbit Ionic will be a better solution. (Keep scrolling for more info on the Ionic.) For those looking for an unobtrusive and cheaper entry into the Fitbit world, the Flex 2 is it.
Best Fitbit with every feature possible
The Fitbit Ionic is the fitness tracker for those who want it all. As you’d expect, the Ionic offers step, sleep, heart-rate, swim, and automatic exercise tracking; reminders to exercise; and notifications for calls, texts, and calendar alerts.
But this fitness tracker also has features you’d expect from a smartwatch: a big color display, the ability to store and play 300+ songs on the device, Pandora support, contactless payments, real-time stats for a handful of activities, and push notifications from apps. It even offers personal coaching for workouts directly on the watch.
All of that functionality comes at a cost—the Ionic has a price tag that puts it in the same range as the Apple Watch and Android Wear watches. However, this fitness tracker has an advantage over smartwatches: its battery life. The Ionic will keep chugging along for up to four days, while most smartwatches last an average of a day.
To sum up, if your focus is more on having the best fitness tracker that can also support a handful of smartwatch-like functions, then the Ionic is the device for you.
Best Fitbit for smartwatch fans
The $200 Fitbit Versa may lack the Fitbit Ionic’s large display and GPS support, but it’s the better Fitbit if you seek a fitness tracker and smartwatch in a single device.
Like the Ionic, the Fitbit Versa tracks most everything: steps, sleep, heart-rate; floors climbed; and specific exercises like running and swimming. It can map runs, too, though not on its own—you’ll have to keep your phone with you, since the Versa lacks built-in GPS. All the information in the Fitbit mobile and desktop apps lives right on your wrist.
It also has similar smartwatch-like features. In addition to notifications for calls, texts, and calendar alerts on your phone, the Versa packs in a color display, the ability to store and play 300+ songs from the device, Pandora support, and access to a full app store. If you buy the special-edition model for an additional $30, you also get support for contactless payments via Fitbit Pay.
What makes the Versa a stronger option over the Ionic is its size and price. The Versa is smaller, weighs less, and costs a hundred dollars less than its sibling, and it still provides four days of battery life. And if your smartwatch needs are fairly light, this tracker is also a solid, affordable alternative to a more expensive Apple Watch or Android Wear device.
All our Fitbit reviews
In case none of these Fitbit options resonate with you, we’ve linked to all of our Fitbit reviews below. We’ll keep the list and this article updated as Fitbit releases new fitness trackers.
If you’re checking out other options in the meanwhile, you can also read our list of best fitness trackers to see our top picks across all brands—including the Apple Watch.