The life of a tech reviewer is generally quite a sedentary one.
Tenaciously tied to our desks each and every day in a selfless bid to understand a gadget’s electronic soul, then sit rooted to the spot as we strain to summon forth the perfect words to put our thoughts down on online paper to do that gadget justice. So, yeah, I spend most of my days (and nights) sat on my increasingly prominent posterior, driving a desk copiously supplied with snacks, and the only real exercise I get is when I allow my flabby eyeballs to wander out of the window and stare in the general direction of the local park.
So, in all honesty, when I was asked to review the whole current Fitbit range, I didn’t exactly jump at the opportunity; although that was mostly because I fear jumping could easily trigger a heart-attack. But when tech testing duty calls, I am honour-bound to answer. So, brushing the assorted crumbs from my reviewing sweatshirt and pants combo, I set about hunting down some trainers ready to start pounding pavements, terrifying small dogs and children alike in the process, as I wheeze past them like a man seemingly fleeing the very hound of the Baskervilles itself, perambulating painfully from one foot to the other and trying not to trip as I keep a constant eye on the watch-like thing on my wrist.
But then the Fitbit review models arrived and my outlook on exercise changed. Each sleek and slender wearable in the range is a wonder of cutting-edge technology and design that warrants attention. Cunning smartwatches and trackers that monitor your daily activity, such as the number of steps you take, while also tracking your heart rate and your GPS position, letting you see instantly just how out of shape you are – initially – and how much healthier you’re getting over time, thus helping you boost both your body and your brain and achieve an all-round healthier outlook on life.
Also, Will Smith has one… and if Will Smith has one, then that’s good enough for me, so it was time for Fitbit to help this overtly out-of-shape old hack up out of his chair and ready to go full-Adele. Well, perhaps half-Adele. Or maybe quarter-Adele.
That’s the thing with exercise, you see, it’s one step at a time…
Fitbit Charge 5
Best Fitbit for: Top Gun of the Fitbit trackers
A handsome example of tracker technology, the Charge 5 just so happens to be the Fitbit of choice of Mr wicki-wicki wild wild West Will Smith himself (as alluded to in my intro), so if a Fitbit comes recommended by a Hollywood A-lister who often has to whip himself into shape for roles... what need I add?
Well, since the question is just hanging in the air like the stench of an old gym bag, I need to add that this top-end tracker features built-in GPS, Fitbit’s ECG app, an electrodermal activity scan app which monitors your skin for stress-related sweat level changes, electronic Fitbit Pay so you can leave the wallet/purse at home, and absolutely all the other features, apps and exercise modes found in all other Fitbit options, making the Charge 5 all things to all health freaks and therefore all you could feasibly need.
Available in three equally flash colour options of Black and Graphite, Lunar White and Soft Gold or Steel Blue and Platinum Stainless Steel, the Charge 5 may come at a premium price, but if you’re serious about getting not shape, what price proper fitness tracking?
Buy now £129.00, Currys
Best Fitbit for: extreme health tech fanatics
Fitbit’s flagship smartwatch and is the all-singing all-dancing go-to option if, like me, you’re a gadget nerd who has also very recently become interested in their health. A smart design that features a nice, sharp 336 x 336-pixel resolution display with 1000-nits brightness, the Sense offers a full Health Metrics dashboard where you can monitor your heart rate variability, skin temperature, breathing rate and spO2 (blood oxygen saturation rate). Which is all impressive enough, but then there are also apps galore, including one that gives you goal-based exercise modes, another that gives you real-time stats on your workout progress and a post exercise app that lets you review all the data later at your leisure.
Alongside all that sits the ability to monitor your sleep patterns, manage stress levels and, of course, all the full-on features of a smartwatch, including making and receiving calls and texts (hooked up via Bluetooth to your phone), the capability to store and play music (handy during a workout) and even the ability to stash your bank card details onboard to pay with a simple tap when stocking up on shocking-tasting NutriBiotic drinks at Holland & Barrett.
The only smartwatch model in the range to also be an ECG on your arm, the Sense also boasts both Google and Amazon Alexa assistants built-in too, so you can simply say “Hey Google, call me an ambulance!” if the ECG results are grim reading.
Smart as a whip but far kinder on the skin, if you’re seeking a fully featured fitness tracker with all the extras, then the Sense just, well, makes sense.
Buy now £199.00, John Lewis
Fitbit Versa 3
Best Fitbit for: All the Fitbit smartwatch you (probably) need
The second smartwatch in Fitbit’s arsenal of wristwear ingenuity, the Versa 3, sees quite the drop in price, yet it still retains many of the Sense’s features, eschewing the whole ECG side of things which most won’t miss. Obviously, its raison d’être is first and foremost to function as a motivational fitness tracker, which it does with aplomb, packing in GPS, some 20 exercise modes, heart rate tracking with notifications if your rate gets a bit, erm, erratic, a Workout Intensity Map and much more to keep you fighting fit.
Also functioning as a sleep monitor and a way to digitally pay for stuff in shops, it also allows app access to Spotify and – for the ladies – is an efficient way to track and log details of your menstrual cycle (as, indeed, are most Fitbits), the Versa 3’s versatility really seems to know no end.
And on that note, connect via Bluetooth with your smartphone and – bam! – you can make and take calls and send and receive text messages right on your wrist, freeing you from the otherwise endless irritation of having to fumble for your phone every time it makes a noise.
With support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant too, if you want all the style and most of the functions of the Sense but for considerably less cash, this is the one for your wrist.
Buy now £148.99, John Lewis
Fitbit Versa 2
Best Fitbit for: the balance of budget and Fitbit features
Despite being superseded by the Versa 3 above, the Versa 2 remains a good option for those looking to get into the increasingly trendy world of fitness tracking. Featuring many of the same functions as the Versa 3, the difference between the two models appears to boil down to the fact that the 2 does not have its own built-in GPS, but as it can connect with your smartphone over Bluetooth, it can simply piggyback off that, that fact and its inability to handle calls or send text, which actually might be a deal-breaker for some. That aside, as a health tracker it’s almost as multifaceted as its replacement but for considerably less cash.
Design-wise, it’s obviously very similar to its Sense and the Versa 3 siblings, which means it’s slicker than an otter in an oil-spill, and the tough-as-old-boots Gorilla Glass 3 AMOLED display is beautifully bright (1000 nits) and the graphics sharp and crystal clear.
Capable of tracking steps, heart rate, sleep patterns, menstrual health, the Versa 2 will work out the calories you burn, help you manage your stress levels, let you access Amazon Alexa, store and play motivational music and, as essential for lethargic desk jockeys like me, it reminds you to get up and move when you’ve been stationary for far too long.
Buy now £109.99, Argos
Best Fitbit more: Most stylish Fitbit tracker
Moving away from Fitbit’s smartwatches now and into the firmly rooted in fitness field of trackers, the Luxe is a feather-light, slim slip of a thing that nevertheless manages to shoehorn in a sizeable amount of fitness tracking tech.
With 24/7 heart rate, SpO2, breathing rate, plus skin temperature variation monitoring, most of your digital fitness tracking is seen to, but link it to your smartphone’s GPS and you can add real-time pace and distance recording to the list too.
Despite the diminutive size of its vibrant AMOLED display, it’s still easy to read and hugely responsive to the tap and/or swipe, making keeping track of how its keeping track of you a walk/jog in the park. Also, as you can receive call and text notifications from your smartphone, you’ll be kept in the loop with while you loosen-up with lunges or bust out a quick succession of burpees; whatever the Joe Wicks they are.
Buy now £109.99, John Lewis
Fitbit Ace 3
Best Fitbit for: kids
Britain has an obesity problem, and the kids of the nation are suffering. So, with the great outdoors currently open to us again for more than an hour’s ‘exercise time’, Fitbit are helping the nation’s youth break free of the puppy fat by tempting them with its tech.
Aimed at children of ages 6+, the Ace 3 seeks to make fitness fun by using playful incentives to get kids off the Nintendo Switch and outside where fresh air can be had, limbs can be stretched and muscles flexed. It does this by using a series of virtual badges as rewards and animated clock faces and personalised avatars to spur them on.
Available in three bright colour combinations and even a special edition Minions model, helpfully for parents, the Ace 3 also includes bedtime reminders and a sleep tracker, as moody kids may argue with you when its time for them to hit the hay, but the Fitbit always – certainly in the case of my 10-year-old – has the final say.
Buy now £49.99, Argos
Fitbit Inspire 2
Best Fitbit for going back the basics
The most affordable option available from Fitbit’s current line-up, the Inspire 2 is less the fancy personal trainer of the digital fitness tracker world and more your shouty Drill Sergeant. Keeping thing to the bare bones of necessity, the Inspire 2 tracks and logs your number of steps, your heart rate, the distance you’ve covered and also measures your sleep stages.
With 20+ exercise modes at your disposal, real-time pace, skin temperature tracking, a workout intensity map and, okay, okay, it’s not as basic as I may have made out, but it’s certainly rather more stripped down that the rest of the range and, frankly, delivers all the average tracker user would really need in a sleek-looking and slimline form factor.
Available with a Black, Lunar White or Desert Rose (pink) strap, the display may not be in colour, but the white on black approach makes it very easy to read with just a cursory glance while involved in vigorous exercise, so all boxes are well and truly ticked.
Buy now £57.99, John Lewis
Fitbit Charge 4
Another model that has been supplanted, potential Fitbit purchasers should not be deterred by the fact that there is now a Charge 5 (see earlier), as the Charge 4, while it may not possess the 5’s cool colour display, is still a feature-packed tracker for quite a few notes less than its successor.
What we do have is all the expected activity tracking bells and whistles, including SpO2 monitoring and sleep pattern logging, so when you wake up in the morning and feel like you haven’t slept, you can prove it to yourself instantly and justify going back to bed.
Featuring built-in GPS, your pace and distance can be measured and recorded in real-time whether you’re walking, jogging or trying to beat some record by Usain Bolt and, yes, it also includes Fitbit pay, allowing you to settle scores with a wave of your arm and, if connected to your smartphone, you can enjoy the myriad musical offerings of Spotify Premium right from your wrist.
So, whilst the 5 may be the shiny newbie of the Charge family, the 4 is still firing on all Fitbit cylinders.
Buy now £99.99, John Lewis
As I may have mentioned in my intro, I am – historically – not the finest example around when it comes to exercise and keeping fit. However, even I can see the appeal of using Fitbit tech to motivate you into moving. What starts off as interesting insights into your physical state rapidly becomes a tool by which you measure your performance and, ultimately, continually work to improve.
So, which Fitbit would I pick? Well, it may surprise you, but not a smartwatch as I’d probably get too distracted by text messages. No, a tracker would be my way forward and, as I’m both a sucker for a colour screen and a terrible tech nerd, I think the Charge 5 would be the one I would want adorning my arm as I plough through the park, free flowing sweat making me look like I’d just fallen in the pond.