• Fitbit Charge 4

  • Fitbit Versa 3

  • How We Tested Fitbits

  • Which Fitbit is Right for You?

  • Other Fitbits We Tested

  • More Articles You Might Enjoy

Our Favorite Fitbits of 2021

  1. Best Overall

    Fitbit Charge 4

    Pros

    • Comprehensive activity tracking

    • Easy-to-use companion app

    • Comfortable to wear

    Cons

    • Unreliable heart rate monitoring

    Skip to the full review below
  2. Best Upgrade

    Fitbit Versa 3

    Pros

    • Reliable fitness tracking

    • Amazon Alexa/Google Assistant integration

    • Motivational community

    Cons

    • Data access behind paywall

    Skip to the full review below
Fitbit Charge 4
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Fitbit Charge 4 is our favorite fitness tracker for getting a detailed look at your current habits and informing new ones.

Best Overall
Fitbit Charge 4

The Charge 4 is our hands-down favorite fitness tracker for its mix of good looks, easy-to-navigate device menus and companion app, long battery life, and plethora of activity- and sleep-tracking info.

The setup is a cinch for getting the device and app up and running. Once in use, the Charge 4 makes itself known, with hourly reminders to move and a 250-step countdown to hit before you sit back down. The Charge 4, like the other Fitbits and Garmins we tested, also automatically detects sustained activity, based on the movement patterns and heart-rate data the watch records, giving you credit for it in the app. Walks, runs, and bike rides especially are chronicled pretty accurately on the Fitbit app within a minute, plus or minus. (Though it’s not foolproof: a vigorous laundry folding session could give you credit for “sport.”) It's also water resistant up to 50 meters and provides swim tracking, so it's a great option if you want to record water workouts.

If you prefer not to rely on the device to automatically recognize your workouts, you can turn on an exercise mode, selecting from seven on the watch that you pre-set from about 15 options on the app. The Charge 4 has built-in GPS, as opposed to its predecessor’s “connected GPS,” which requires you to bring your connected smartphone along if you want mapping and more accurate paces for your walks, runs, and bike rides. The Charge 4’s GPS worked well on test runs and bike rides, recording distance measurements on par with the Garmin Forerunner 245 running watch against which we tested it. However, the Charge 4 has a small screen that’s hard to read in the sunlight and takes a split-second to wake up (and turns off almost as quickly), making it difficult, if not frustrating, to scope your stats mid-workout. For that reason, runners who want to eyeball their pace, distance, or duration as they run may want to consider a dedicated running watch instead.

Fitbit offers an extensive and active community centered around step-focused challenges, something that no other fitness-tracker company has had the same success replicating. Having a social aspect to help you set and meet goals can be a driving factor for sticking to your wellness plans, and the community is a selling point for Fitbit fans. In January 2021, Google completed its acquisition of Fitbit, raising privacy concerns regarding how the tech giant might use all health data accumulated from its vast network. On Fitbit's blog, CEO James Park wrote that Google made commitments with global regulators to confirm health and wellness data won’t be used for Google ads and this data will be kept separate from other Google ad data.

The Charge 4’s sleep tracking seems to record accurately and captured middle-of-night restlessness better than some other devices. It also allows you to peruse deeper data on resting heart rate (which seems accurate), and time spent in deep and REM sleep (without a sleep lab analysis, we can’t speak to that accuracy). It also records a Pulse Ox measurement during sleep, which could flag a dip in blood-oxygen level to bring to your doctor’s attention if you suspect you may suffer from sleep apnea.

Which brings up another point about accuracy—namely, that of the Charge 4’s optical heart rate monitor. As a rule, wrist-taken heart rate tracking will never be as accurate to the second as data measured by a chest heart-rate strap by virtue of its distance from the heart. It is fine for tracking trends (such as keeping a record of average resting heart rate), but I’ve never had much success using it for measuring changes in exertion while training, and especially Fitbit’s technology. With the Charge 4, Fitbit unveiled heart rate zone training alerts, which can only be as useful as the data is accurate. Unfortunately, in our experience, it’s just not.

The Charge 4 offers some additional user-friendly health features, including a breathing activity for stress reduction, menstrual cycle tracking, a hydration log, and a food log with a searchable database of common foods. You can also access pay-to-play workout, meditation, and other wellness programs through the Premium app upgrade, at a cost of $9.99 per month.

Among the Charge 4’s smartphone features are notifications, which you can customize or turn off entirely if all that buzzing gets on your nerves. You may reply to texts from the watch using preset canned replies and emojis, but if you want voice-to-text to reply in your own words, you should consider a smartwatch. You can also use Fitbit Pay, which allows you to upload credit card information and make payments when you're on the go.

Unless you strongly desire a larger screen for its looks or readability, we think most people will prefer the smaller overall size of the Charge 4, particularly for sleeping, despite the compromise to the display. (But if you want fitness tracking in a larger-screened smartwatch, read on.)

Pros

  • Comprehensive activity tracking

  • Easy-to-use companion app

  • Comfortable to wear

Cons

  • Unreliable heart rate monitoring

Fitbit Versa 3
Credit: Reviewed / Amy Roberts

Among the Versa 3's great fitness tracking features: built-in GPS for recording runs.

Best Upgrade
Fitbit Versa 3

The Fitbit Versa 3 is not the most advanced smartwatch out there (that mantle falls to Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Active 2. Nor does it offer the most advanced health and fitness features (Apple Watch and Fitbit’s own Sense has it beat there). But for most people who want detailed, actionable activity tracking and who want handy smartwatch features in one reasonably priced package, we recommend you consider the Versa 3 over the others.

The Versa 3 is an upgraded version of the Versa 2, which we reviewed positively on its own merits when it first launched. Versa 3 bests its predecessor—and many competitors—all the way around.

For activity tracking, Versa 3 has all the great fitness and sleep features of our favorite tracker Charge 4, including built-in GPS for recording outdoor walks, runs, and bike rides. It also has an updated heart rate sensor (the first time in years Fitbit has improved this, also for the Sense watch), which supposedly is more accurate. (Wrist-based heart rate monitoring should never be taken as gospel, but the numbers it recorded seemed fine for general workout-exertion guidance, and better than Charge 4 tests. Either way, Fitbit’s three-zone heart rate scale leaves a lot o be desired. Versa 3 has a blood-oxygen sensor (like several other devices) and a skin-temperature sensor (less common), which it uses to inform sleep tracking. (Your skin temp naturally fluctuates overnight.)

Unfortunately, the advanced analysis in Fitbit’s “Health Metrics Dashboard” is kept behind a paywall in its Premium app. While six months of Premium access is currently included with the purchase of a new Versa 3, you have to pay $9.99 per month to keep it up—frankly, we don’t love Fitbit’s decision to make users spend more money for details about their health, tracked by the device they already paid for. (Sense has even more, er, sensors—and more data behind the paywall—which are among the reasons we recommend Versa 3 above it. Read more about Sense below.)

Still, what you get for free with Versa 3 is more than adequate to help inform changes and improve habits for better fitness and/or sleep quality. For example, you get the average temperature of your skin while you sleep (in relation to your average waking temp), but you can’t see a chart of how your temp fluctuated, or receive insights into why this matters, without the app upgrade. Premium users also get access to workout programs, guided meditations, and more, which could be worth the additional cost for you, independent of that “advanced” health data.

Something that may be worth an additional cost is upgrading the band. The one it comes with it is stiff, hot, and tough to close, but you can buy a much more comfortable woven fabric strap for $40.

Smartwatch-wise, Versa 3 has bothbuilt-in Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice controls and audible responses, and the ability to answer phone calls over Bluetooth. (Android users also get voice-to-text replies, which is a nice bonus.) Versa 3 also stores and plays music via Bluetooth to your own wireless headphones (like many other smart watches) (which you don’t get with Charge 4). Fitbit has “Fitbit Pay”, its version of Apple Pay) and an ever-expanding catalog of smartwatch apps, including Spotify, Strava, Starbucks … and that’s just ones that start with S. It’s not as expansive as what you’d get with Apple and watches built on Android, but plenty if you’re looking to dip your toes in using your watch in place of your phone.

The bottom line: If you want a smartwatch-featured, well-equipped activity tracker, Versa 3 offers a great option that’s not too pricey. If you must have a top-of-the-line smartwatch that also provides solid fitness tracking, Apple and Samsung are your better bets.

Pros

  • Reliable fitness tracking

  • Amazon Alexa/Google Assistant integration

  • Motivational community

Cons

  • Data access behind paywall

Related content

How We Tested Fitbits

The Testers

I’m Sara Hendricks, the health and fitness editor at Reviewed. Before me, Amy Roberts, a managing editor at Reviewed who is also a multi-certified fitness pro, tested the Fitbit trackers. I’m an all-around exercise enthusiast with a passion for moving around as much as I can (luckily, I have a job that often lets me run and bike on the clock). Both of us have a vested interest in providing product recommendations that actually get people moving and making better lifestyle choices, rather than encouraging them to buy into the latest faddish equipment that will end up collecting dust or shoved in the back of a drawer.

A fitness tracker can be that sort of good-idea purchase, provided it’s actually worn and the wearer gets on board with the idea that “step count” as a measure of activity level is a valuable motivator to get off their duffs and move more. (It’d be nice to turn the world into gym rats or marathoners, but committing to just moving more is the best gateway into fitness—the U.S. government agrees).

The Tests

We reviewed the trackers by wearing them and going about everyday life, much like you would when you first buy your own. We wore each 24 hours a day for several days, walking, sleeping, working out, and interacting with our wrists (and, often, smartphones by proxy). Along the way, we completed an extensive survey, rating everything from the setup to the comfort of the watches themselves to the ease of finding health data in the companion apps. If the watch had “smart” features like text notifications or built-in Amazon Alexa, we played around with those, too. We based our rankings on how easy and enjoyable the device was to use, wear, and integrate the information captured into improving one’s activity and sleep habits.

Why We Didn’t Test for Data "Accuracy"

In our years of covering the fitness tracker category, we’ve learned that data accuracy is not the most important attribute in evaluating these products. No matter how advanced the technology, the step count in a device worn on the wrist is simply not going to match the movements of the legs. (And vice versa—something like folding laundry could invariably max out your “steps.”) And that’s OK: As long as you make a concerted effort to improve your “step count” over time, the product is serving its purpose of getting you to move more. Well, unless you’re, say, a piano player (lots of hand movements) or someone who often pushes a stroller (minimal hand movements—in that case, your best bet is to move the tracker to your belt or pants pocket while you walk).

Further, while all of the devices we tested include heart rate monitoring, that data when accumulated from an extremity won’t be as good as what is captured by chest heart-rate strap. If you need to monitor your exertion by heart rate, you need a device that’s compatible with one of those.

Which Fitbit is Right for You?

Fitbit, more so than Garmin or any other fitness tracker company, has created an unparalleled community of health-minded, step-counting enthusiasts who love a good social challenge as a means to stay on track or even up their fitness game.

Activity tracking-wise, you’ll get more or less the same technology for counting steps, automatically recording bouts of prolonged activity, and measuring sleep duration in any of the Fitbit products you choose. Most Fitbit devices also include GPS, either by connecting to your phone’s location services or directly to the satellites themselves. This can be useful for more accurately recording distances traveling on a walk, run, or bike ride. The newer devices Sense and Versa 3 have improved heart rate tracking technology that may be more accurate, and all Fitbits can track exertion based on heart rate for time spent in the fat burn, cardio, or peak heart-rate zones (that is, if you trust the accuracy of the wrist-based readings). Sense even has an FDA-cleared ECG app, which measures the electrical activity of the heart to detect irregular rhythms. It has additional sensors and data crunching capabilities for monitoring your stress levels.

The other differentiators come in terms of the nonactivity features. First, there’s the display type (full color or black-and-white) and size, with some being slim for the band-style devices and others being larger for the watch-style devices. Second, there’s the smartwatch functions—the more basic devices only display notifications (often with text messages truncated), while the higher-end ones allow more interaction and additional apps.


Other Fitbits We Tested

Fitbit Luxe

The Luxe, Fitbit’s latest entry into its robust fitness tracker oeuvre, wraps a sleeker look around Fitbit’s admirable tracking, aiming to look like a piece of jewelry, with a slim design and a wide range of wristbands (sold separately) that you can switch in and out.

Still, it’s no slouch in the health and fitness department. The Luxe detected exercise within about a minute of starting out and displayed information on the watch one might want to see during exercise: heart rate, workout time, a calorie burn estimate, heart rate “zone,” and pace for walks and runs. Each one is displayed individually on the screen; you move to the next by tapping it.

It’s easy to start workouts on the wearable, too, by swiping over to the workout section on the watch, selecting the workout you want to do, and pressing play. There’s a limit to how many workouts you can start from the watch—Luxe lets you pick five exercise “shortcuts,” from a general “workout” option to more specific activities like tennis and Pilates—but the “workout” option felt suitable for almost any exercise.

The tracker promises five days of battery life and delivered six and a half—nothing to sneeze at, if not as good as the Charge 4’s seven days and less impressive than the Inspire’s 14 days. It looks sleek, too. We had the plain black version, which didn’t look quite like a piece of jewelry, but wasn’t an eyesore, either.

But the Luxe isn’t perfect. First, there’s the screen—like the rest of the device, it’s small, which usually didn’t mean compromising visibility or responsiveness for its size. However, that went out the window during high-intensity workouts. Then, heavy breathing and sweating meant that tapping through posed more of a challenge—it was too easy to swipe past the desired stat and have to cycle through each one to go back, or accidentally end the whole workout.

The sleep tracking felt accurate most of the time, but not always. It neglected to record at all some nights, and a few times, it detected super-early wakeup times that never happened.

Overall, the Luxe is a great tracker for someone who wants to keep tabs on their health without having a massive cuff on their wrist—if not for a more serious fitness buff who wants to see everything at once.

Pros

  • Sleek and lightweight

  • Great mix of health and wellness features

  • Easy to change wristband

Cons

  • Small screen

  • Sleep tracking isn’t always accurate

Fitbit Inspire 2

It may surprise you that the budget-minded, bare-bones Fitbit Inspire 2 landed so high on this list, but hear us out. If all you want is a simple, unobtrusive device as an entree into Fitbit’s world of counting steps, tracking sleep and improving habits, this is a $100 well spent. Once you look past its bland plasticky looks and monochrome display, you’ll find that the Inspire 2 offers an exceptional battery life—it claims “up to 10 days” but it lasted at least two weeks in tests—plus most of the tracking highlights of the Charge 4. This includes automatic activity and sleep recording, timed workout modes, basic heart rate data and, most importantly, access to Fitbit’s motivational community and well-designed app. What you won’t find: Any GPS functionality for recording outside activities. Curiously, Inspire 2 purchasers get a full year of access to Fitbit Premium’s deeper health insights and programming, double that of what you get with Fitbit’s smartwatches, and four times more than the paltry three months that comes with Charge 4. Still, looking at that with a positive spin, it makes Inspire 2 an even greater value.

Pros

  • All-day activity tracking

  • Detailed sleep data

  • Heart rate monitoring

Cons

  • Cheap, plasticky looks

  • No GPS

  • Useless smart features

Fitbit Sense

Fitbit’s introduction of the Sense, touted as “its most advanced health smartwatch,” is admirable if only for the serious technology that went into it. The aim of Sense is to capture an even more holistic look at the wearer’s health and wellbeing, with a major emphasis on tracking stress in order to determine ways to better manage it. For this, the Sense includes blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) testing and an EDA (electrodermal activity) sensor—the first-ever on a wearable device (yes, even before Apple). The EDA on the Sense works from the touchscreen. When you place your opposite palm over it, it measures “small electrical changes in your sweat response” to ascertain your stress level. You can either take a 2-minute measurement to see where you are (during which time your stress level will likely quiet from when it begins) or you can use the EDA during a guided meditation. Fitbit offers 15 sessions on the app for free and the rest are (you guessed it) available with Premium. That said, if mindfulness and stress relief are big concerns of yours, this feature alone may be reason to shell out the bigger bucks for the Sense.

The other big addition to the Sense is an ECG app, which measures the electrical activity of the heart to detect irregular rhythms and recently received FDA approval. (Samsung Galaxy Active 2 and Apple Watch also have ECG apps.) Otherwise, its activity tracking and smartwatch features mirror those of Versa 3, as do the limitations on access to some of the data it collects, which Fitbit cordoned off with its Premium paywall. The good news here, though, is that Sense buyers who haven’t tried Premium in the past can get a six-month trial to see if all the extras make a difference to them.

Pros

  • Advanced activity tracking

  • Stress monitoring and meditation

  • FDA-approved ECG app

Cons

  • Some health data behind paywall

Fitbit Versa 2

The Versa 3, our Best Upgrade, took all that we loved about Versa 2 and made it better. But as long as the 2 is sold—and its days could be numbered—it’s a worthwhile choice for less cash.

Formwise, Versa 2 looks and works identically to Versa 3. It has the same full-color screen, the same menu navigation, the same fitness tracking data, the same smartphone notifications and access to Fitbit apps as well as Alexa (but no Google Assistant), Fitbit Pay, and built-in Music. Where it differs: Versa 2 has the “old” Fitbit heart rate monitoring sensors, also in the Charge 4, that we've found historically unreliable (but we wouldn’t rely on wrist-based heart rate for training or any other purpose where accuracy was of the utmost importance anyway). And Versa 2 does not have built-in GPS, instead relying on the “connected” technology that Fitbit used for years. We found it sometimes slow to connect and could be a pain for anyone who doesn't want to carry a phone when they run, but if you’re a dedicated runner, a Fitbit isn't best for that purpose. (Instead, you want a running watch.

Curiously, despite being water-resistant, Versa 2 doesn’t have swim tracking, which Charge 4 and Versa 3 have. On the other hand, the Versa 2 offers access to Fitbit’s pay-to-play wellness and exercise programs—some of which display prompts to follow on its full-color screen—which are not available on Charge 4. Some users may thrive on that additional guidance to work toward their goals.

Pros

  • Comprehensive activity tracking

  • Long battery life

  • Built-in voice commands

Cons

  • Limited smartwatch features

  • No GPS

  • Fitbit OS needs work

Meet the testers

Sara Hendricks

Sara Hendricks

Editor

@sarajhendricks

Sara Hendricks is an editor with Reviewed covering health and fitness.

See all of Sara Hendricks's reviews
Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts

Managing Editor, Lifestyle

@Amy3Ro

At Reviewed, Amy edits and writes articles on health, beauty, fitness, fashion, sleep, pets, and more.

See all of Amy Roberts's reviews

Checking our work.

We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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