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Our Favorite Fitbits of 2021

  1. Best Overall

    Fitbit Charge 5

    Pros

    • Comfortable

    • Easy to use

    • Tracks a lot about your health

    Cons

    • Display can feel cluttered

    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
A woman looking at the Charge 5 on her wrist.
Credit: Fitbit

The Fitbit Charge 5 is our favorite fitness tracker that does it all.

Best Overall
Fitbit Charge 5

Easy to use, comfortable to wear, and jam-packed with health-tracking features, the Fitbit Charge 5 is our favorite fitness tracker. It’s small enough to satisfy those who prefer the size of a fitness tracker over a smartwatch, but has a screen large enough to comfortably swipe through your stats on the device. With the Charge 5, you get a plethora of fitness tracking features like 24/7 heart rate monitoring, summarized sleep data, exercise statistics, and stress tracking all at your fingertips, which makes it a great pick for those who prefer looking at their information on their wrist instead of opening up an app.

The Charge 5 is slightly smaller than its predecessor and our former top pick, Charge 4 (it’s 10% thinner, according to Fitbit), and is comfortable to wear both while lounging and exercising. Its screen is twice as bright as the Charge 4’s and has an “always on” display option, which makes it easy to read when you’re outside in the sun. It’s easy to scroll through and responsive to touch, even in the middle of a sweaty workout.

The built-in GPS is easy to use, thanks to the tracker’s exercise shortcuts. To record a walking, running, or cycling workout, swipe on the home screen to the exercise tab, select which activity you want to complete, and tap the start button. If you have your phone with you, the GPS takes only seconds to connect, and we didn’t experience any connectivity issues during the testing process. If you don’t have your phone, the GPS takes longer to connect—about 15 to 20 seconds. However, you don't need to wait around for the GPS before taking off. We found the Charge 5 to accurately estimate where an activity began and adjust the distance traveled.

While exercising, you can view information such as your average pace, distance traveled, calories burned, and more on your tracker. You can also keep tabs on your heart rate throughout your workout by turning on the heart rate zone alerts. I used these notifications during a HIIT cycling class and found they helped me push myself into the next heart rate zone during intense periods and gauge when my heart rate finally settled during recovery periods. That said, wrist heart rate will never be as accurate as the heart rate recorded from a chest strap, so if you must track your pulse for medical reasons, it’s best not to rely on the Charge 5.

In the Fitbit app, you can later view your route as well as your heart rate and pace on the map so you can see where they increased and decreased along your run, walk, or bike ride. For example, stretches of your route where your heart rate was in a lower zone are marked in yellow, but sections where your heart rate increased are marked in orange and red accordingly.

We found Fitbit’s sleep tracking to be accurate and it comes with some extra bells and whistles users might find interesting. Aside from monitoring the sleep stages (awake, light, deep, and REM), the Charge 5 keeps tabs on your heart rate, restlessness, and estimated oxygen variation (the changes in your blood oxygen saturation). Though this isn’t a diagnostic tool, frequent spikes in oxygen variation could indicate breathing disturbances during your sleep you may want to talk to a doctor about.

The Charge 5 also has electrodermal activity (EDA) sensors that can help you track your stress levels. These EDA sensors measure electrical changes in your skin that can indicate how stressed you are. To use the EDA scanner, you swipe over to the EDA tab and start a session, in which you will hold the sensors (which are on the sides of the screen) between your fingers for three minutes. This helps inform your Fitbit of your stress level, which gets rated on a scale from one to 100, and you can log in the app how you are feeling afterwards.

Though all the features of the Charge 5 are helpful to have—or at the very least, interesting to view—the abundance of data can make using the tracker feel overwhelming at times. Unfortunately, Fitbit doesn’t let you customize all the pre-loaded tabs and features, so you can’t get rid of the ones you don’t regularly use. This lack of customization can make the device more difficult to use than it needs to be, and be frustrating for those who aren’t used to having so many data points available on their tracker.

Still, the Charge 5 impressed us with its ability to track so many different aspects of health. So for those looking for a fitness tracker that keeps tabs on exercise, stress, and sleep, check out the Charge 5.

Pros

  • Comfortable

  • Easy to use

  • Tracks a lot about your health

Cons

  • Display can feel cluttered

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 5, 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. Either way, Fitbit’s three-zone heart rate scale leaves a lot to 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, like many other smartwatches, also stores and plays music via Bluetooth to your own wireless headphones. 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 Esther Bell, Reviewed’s health and fitness writer. Before me, editors Sara Hendricks and Amy Roberts tested fitness trackers. I find myself changing up my workouts day-to-day (thanks, in part, to my job) which means a fitness tracker has to be equipped to monitor runs, bike rides, yoga flows, and strength training sessions to keep up.

All 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

Product image of Fitbit Charge 4
Fitbit Charge 4

The Charge 4 was our previous top pick before the new Charge 5 dethroned it. It’s a great option thanks to its good looks, easy-to-navigate device menus and companion app, long battery life, and plethora of activity- and sleep-tracking info. For $50 less than its new upgraded version, you get plenty of the same features that make the Charge 5 our top pick, and is worth snagging while retailers still have it in stock.

With the Charge 4, you get the standard reminders to move, step count, and automatic exercise tracking, as well as a built-in GPS that can be quick-started from your wrist with the customizable exercise shortcuts, just like the newest version. We found the GPS tracking on the Charge 4 to be accurate, though it doesn’t start up as quickly as with the Charge 5.

We loved the Charge 4’s sleep tracking features and found they captured our nights more accurately than some others on the market. This tracker monitors the same stats the Charge 5 does, including time spent in sleep phases (awake, light, deep, and REM), resting heart rate, and estimated oxygen variation (which could point to breathing issues to discuss with your doctor).

Our main issue with the Charge 4 is the readability of the screen (which the Charge 5 drastically improved). The Charge 4’s screen is dimly lit, which makes it difficult to read in the sun, and turns off almost as quickly as it turns on, which makes it difficult to scope your stats mid-workout compared to a running watch.

Pros

  • Comprehensive activity tracking

  • Easy-to-use companion app

  • Comfortable to wear

Cons

  • Unreliable heart rate monitoring

Product image of Fitbit Luxe
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 5’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

Product image of Fitbit Inspire 2
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 5. 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 the Charge 5. 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

Product image of Fitbit Sense
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

Product image of Fitbit Versa 2
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 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 5 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 5. 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
Esther Bell

Esther Bell

Staff Writer, Health and Fitness

Esther is a writer at Reviewed covering all things health and fitness.

See all of Esther Bell's reviews

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