• Fitbit Charge 4

  • Fitbit Versa 3

  • How We Tested

  • 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, and plethora of other information: For example, it tracks sleep and calories burned during workouts and all day long.

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 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 within a minute, plus or minus. (Though it’s not foolproof: a vigorous laundry folding session could give you credit for “sport.”)

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 my test runs and bike rides, recording distance measurements on par with the Garmin Forerunner 245 running watch against which I 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, I recommend that dedicated runners who want to eyeball their pace, distance, or duration as they run 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. (During our testing, Google announced it was acquiring Fitbit, which has raised privacy concerns regarding how the tech giant might use all health data accumulated from its vast network. The EU approved the merger in late 2020 with a few concessions from Google—most importantly that it won’t use Fitbit data to target users for ads. The US has not yet approved the acquisition, but it’s something we’re keeping an eye on.

The Charge 4’s sleep tracking seems to record accurately, and as a troubled sleeper, I noticed it captured my middle-of-night restlessness better than some other devices. I also liked perusing the deeper data on resting heart rate (which I suspect is accurate), and time spent in deep and REM sleep (though without a sleep lab analysis, I 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 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 in particular. With the Charge 4, Fitbit unveiled heart rate zone training alerts, which can only be as useful as the data is accurate. Unfortunately, in my 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, a food log with a searchable database of common foods, as well as pay-to-play on-screen workouts, meditation, and other wellness programs through the Premium app upgrade.

The Charge 4 has some smartphone features, including 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 the Versa 3, Sense, Versa 2, or another smartwatch.

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 a Fitbit with a larger screen, keep reading.)

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 I reviewed positively on its own merits when it first launched. Versa 3 bests its predecessor—and many of the other products I tested—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. (I’m dubious about using any wrist-based heart rate monitoring as the gospel, but the numbers it recorded seemed fine for general workout-exertion guidance, and better than what I got from my Charge 4 tests. Either way, I’m still not a fan of Fitbit’s three-zone heart rate scale. 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, I’m not impressed by Fitbit’s decision to make me spend more money for details about my health, tracked by the device I already paid for. (Sense has even more, er, sensors—and more data behind the paywall—which are among the reasons I 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 is worth an additional cost to me 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 I found especially handy.) Versa 3 also stores and plays music via Bluetooth to your own wireless headphones 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 into the practice of 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, smartwatches like the Apple Watch Series 6 and Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 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

The Tester

I’m Amy Roberts, a managing editor at Reviewed, where I oversee our health and fitness coverage. And as a multi-certified fitness pro, I 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.

I believe a fitness tracker like a Fitbit to 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. (While I’d love to turn the world into gym rats or marathoners, I’m not alone in thinking committing to just moving more is the best gateway into fitness—the U.S. government agrees with me.)

The Tests

I reviewed all of the fitness trackers including these Fitbits by wearing them and going about my everyday life, much like you would when you first buy your own. I wore each 24 hours a day for several days, walking, sleeping, working out, and interacting with my wrist (and, often, my smartphone by proxy). Along the way, I 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, I 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 my years of covering the fitness tracker category, I’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—folding laundry invariably maxes out my “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 Fitbit 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 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 Inspire 2

It may surprise you that the budget-minded, bare-bones Fitbit Inspire 2 landed so high on this list, but hear me 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 I found it lasted at least two weeks—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

I admire Fitbit’s introduction of the Sense, touted as “its most advanced health smartwatch,” 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 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 I loved about Versa 2 and made it better. But as long as the 2 is sold—and I suspect its days are 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 I’ve found historically unreliable (but I 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. I found it sometimes slow to connect and I don’t always want to carry my phone when I run, but if you’re a dedicated runner, I wouldn’t recommend any Fitbit 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 tester

Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts

Managing Editor, Lifestyle

@twitter.com/Amy3Ro

At Reviewed, Amy edits and writes articles on health, beauty, fitness, fashion, pets, and more. Previously, she worked for Wirecutter, Good Housekeeping, Refinery29, Men's Fitness, Women's Health, among other print and online publications. She holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University.

See all of Amy Roberts's reviews

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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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