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Best Fitbit in 2020: Choose the right fitness tracker

Best Fitbit
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Choosing the best Fitbit for you all depends upon your needs and budget. Fitbit has five fitness trackers, ranging from the $79 Fitbit Inspire to the $250 Fitbit Ionic, with capabilities to match. 

All of Fitbit's devices can automatically track activities, steps, and sleep. They're all water-resistant, come with female health-tracking, and all can receive notifications from your smartphone. And all of them also connect with Fitbit's excellent app, as well as connect to a huge community of other Fitbit users, whom you can challenge to reach fitness goals. 

But some Fitbits have more advanced features, such as heart rate monitoring, mobile payments, access to an app store, color displays, even built-in GPS and on-screen workouts. We'll help you decide which tracker to buy based on price and features, plus what you plan to do with it.

What is the best Fitbit?

After running, biking — and sweating — with the company's devices, we think the best Fitbit overall is the Fitbit Charge 4. That's because the Charge 4 is the first of Fitbit's fitness trackers with GPS, and making this feature more accessible for those who want to more accurately track their outdoor activities. 

But, in addition to GPS, the Fitbit Charge 4 has a number of other great features, including a new fitness metric called Active Zone Minutes. According to a number of major health organizations, you need to get your heart really pumping for at least 150 minutes each week. The Charge 4 is designed to keep track of that, and let you know when you need to get out more. 

The Charge 4 also uses its SPO2 sensor for better sleep tracking, and can let you know if you're not getting enough oxygen as you doze, a possible sign of sleep apnea or some other medical condition. In addition, the Charge 4 has Fitbit Pay, so you can use it as a contactless payment method at participating locations. 

The Fitbit Charge 4 is a slim device that has a grayscale OLED touchscreen that displays your heart rate, steps, stairs, sleep, and more. You can swap out the bands on the Charge 4 to customize the look of your device, too. The Charge 4 is also water resistant to 50 meters, and can track your laps in a pool. 

The battery of the Charge 4 will last up to a week, though when using GPS, it's just 5 hours, which is to be expected. 

Fitbit is launching a new Heart Study to determine how effective its devices are at detecting atrial fibrillation (aFib). If you own a Fitbit Charge 3, Charge 4, Inspire HR, Ionic, Versa, Versa 2, or Versa Lite, you can enroll in the study, and the company will notify you if your device detects an irregular heart rhythm that indicates AFib. Fitbit will also connect you with a doctor for a free consultation. The Fitbit Heart Study, open to U.S. residents 22 years or older, is being conducted to determine how accurate its devices are in detecting atrial fibrillation, as the first step to receiving FDA approval. Here's how to sign up for the Fitbit Heart Study.

The best Fitbits you can buy today

Fitbit Charge 4

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

1. Fitbit Charge 4

Now with GPS, the Fitbit Charge 4 is the best Fitbit overall

Heart rate monitor: Yes | GPS: Yes | Water resistance: 50 meters | Display: 1.57-inch OLED touchscreen | On-board music: No | Mobile payments: Yes | Swim tracking: Yes | Battery life: 7 days/5 hours with GPS

GPS built in
Accurate fitness tracking
Mobile payments
No onboard music storage

Not only does the Fitbit Charge 4 have GPS built in — a first for Fitbit's fitness trackers — but it has a new metric, called Active Zone Minutes, that give you a better indicator of your overall health. The Fitbit Charge 4 also has Fitbit Pay, so you can use  it as a contactless payment device at participating locations. And, for those who use Spotify, the Charge 4 now has controls for that music service, though you still can't load music onto the device itself.

The Charge 4 was comfortable to wear, and its GPS was accurate when we took it on runs. It's also pretty good at measuring sleep, and thanks to its SPO2 sensor, is able to warn you if you're at risk for conditions such as sleep apnea. The Charge 4 will last up to 7 days, but that number drops to 5 hours when using GPS. That's not as good as the best GPS watches, but good for a fitness tracker. 

Read our full Fitbit Charge 4 review.

Best Fitbit: Fitbit Charge 3

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

2. Fitbit Charge 3

If you don't need GPS, this is the Fitbit to get—while it lasts.

Heart rate monitor: Yes | GPS: No | Water resistance: 50 meters | Display: 1.57-inch OLED touchscreen | On-board music: No | Mobile payments: Yes | Swim tracking: Yes | Battery life: 7 days

SpO2 sensor
Water resistant
Nice design
Lacks on-board GPS

The Fitbit Charge 3 was previously our top pick as the best Fitbit, but it's been supplanted by the Fitbit Charge 4, which has GPS and a few other features. But that doesn't mean the Charge 3 still isn't a good device, and it's now $30 less than the Charge 4. 

Designed for those who want to keep healthy and stay in shape, but aren't going to be running marathons, the Charge 3 has a fairly large, grayscale touchscreen display that shows your heart rate, distance traveled, and notifications from your smartphone, if connected. The Charge 3 is also swim-proof, and can track your laps in the pool. 

The Charge 3 comes in three sizes, so it should fit most wrists (Fitbit has a sizing chart on its site). In addition, the Charge 3's strap is removable and Fitbit, as well a a number of third parties makes straps in different colors, patterns, and materials. The Fitbit Charge 3 also has an SpO2 sensor that will be used to diagnose breathing disturbances while sleeping and week-long battery life. It still requires a smartphone to connect to GPS, but it's still a good Fitbit for the money — while supplies last.

Read our full Fitbit Charge 3 review.

Best Fitbit: Fitbit Inspire HR

(Image credit: Future)

3. Fitbit Inspire HR

The best Fitbit for those on a budget

Heart rate monitor: Yes | GPS: No | Water resistance: 50 meters | Display: OLED touchscreen | On-board music: No | Mobile payments: No | Swim tracking: Yes | Battery life: 5 days

Slim design
Affordable
Sleep tracking
Small display
No automatic run-pausing

The Fitbit Inspire HR is a slimmed-down, slightly stripped-down version of the Charge 3, which makes this the best Fitbit for those who don't want to spend more than $100, those who don't want a large device on their wrist, and those who are interested in tracking their steps and sleep, but not much more than that. 

Like the Charge 3, the Inspire HR has an OLED touchscreen display (though a bit smaller here), a heart rate monitor, smartphone notifications, swim tracking, and sleep-tracking too. Not surprisingly, the Inspire HR doesn't have GPS built in, but the Charge 3, you can link it to your smartphone and use its GPS to accurately track your outdoor activities. 

Read our full Fitbit Inspire HR review

Best Fitbit: Fitbit Versa 2

(Image credit: Fitbit)

4. Fitbit Versa 2

The best Fitbit with smartwatch features

Heart rate monitor: Yes | GPS: No | Water resistance: 50 meters | Display: 1.34-inch, 300 x 300 color touchscreen | On-board music: Yes | Mobile payments: Yes | Swim tracking: Yes | Battery life: 4 days

Good battery life
Colorful display
On-screen workouts
No built-in GPS
Alexa works inconsistently

If you've ever wanted Alexa on your wrist, the Fitbit Versa 2 is the best Fitbit for you. This second-generation Versa has Amazon's assistant built in, which lets you do such things as control smart home devices, look up the weather and news, and a lot more. 

But the Versa 2 is a good fitness tracker in its own right. It comes with advanced sleep-tracking features, which, when combined with the Versa 2's ability to monitor blood oxygen saturation levels, could help alert you to conditions such as sleep apnea. You can also download up to 300 songs to the Versa 2 itself, as well as from Pandora and Deezer, so you can leave your phone at home if you want to listen to some tunes. Sadly, the Versa 2 lacks on-board GPS, so you will need to tote your phone if you want that feature.

Read our full Fitbit Versa 2 review

Best Fitbit: Fitbit Ionic

(Image credit: Future)

5. Fitbit Ionic

Best Fitbit with GPS

Heart rate monitor: Yes | GPS: Yes | Water resistance: 50 meters | Display: 349 x 250 color LCD | On-board music: Yes | Mobile payments: Yes | Swim tracking: Yes | Battery life: 4 days

Built-in GPS
Onboard music storage
Mobile payments
Chunky design
Not many apps

With built-in GPS as well as a large, colorful touchscreen, the Fitbit Ionic is the best Fitbit for those who want a device with all the bells and whistles. The Ionic is the only one of Fitbit's devices with GPS, onboard music storage, and mobile payments, making this truly a device that lets you leave your smartphone at home when you want to go out and exercise. 

The Ionic also supports Fitbit's small app store, which lets you add such things as Starbucks and additional watchfaces. Plus, the Ionic's display can also show on-screen workouts, handy for those times when you don't want to have to look at another screen to know if you're doing your yoga poses correctly. Our biggest criticism of the Ionic is its design; it looks more like a first-generation smartwatch than a fully capable fitness tracker, and its size makes it bulky on smaller wrists.

Read our full Fitbit Ionic review

Best Fitbit: Fitbit Versa Lite

(Image credit: Future)

6. Fitbit Versa Lite

A stripped-down Fitbit Versa 2

Heart rate monitor: Yes | GPS: No | Water resistance: 50 meters | Display: 1.34-inch, 300 x 300 LCD color touchscreen | On-board music: No | Mobile payments: Yes | Swim tracking: Yes | Battery life: 5 days

Good battery life
Accurate sleep and fitness tracking
Nice design
No GPS
No onboard music storage
Small app store

The Versa Lite looks like the Versa 2, but Fitbit stripped out a number of features to bring the Lite's price down about $50 less than the more premium model. Like the Versa 2, the Versa Lite has a rounded circle shape with a bright and colorful touchscreen. And, because this is a "smartwatch," you can also download apps to the watch from Fitbit's meager selection. 

Health-wise, you get standard Fitbit fare including accurate sleep and fitness tracking, a nice set of customizable bands, automatic workout recognition, and music controls on your wrist. What you don't get, though, is the ability to store music on the Versa Lite itself. Nor are their on-screen workouts, nor swim lap tracking. And, like most Fitbits, the Versa Lite doesn't have on-board GPS; you'll need to connect to your phone for that. 

Read our full Fitbit Versa Lite review

Best Fitbits

(Image credit: Fitbit)

7. Fitbit Inspire

Fitbit's least expensive fitness tracker

Heart rate monitor: No | GPS: No | Water resistance: 50 meters | Display: OLED touchscreen | On-board music: No | Mobile payments: No | Swim tracking: Yes | Battery life: 7 days

Inexpensive
Slim
Long battery life
No heart rate monitor
Limited features

Yes, the Fitbit Inspire is the company's least-expensive fitness tracker, but what you save — about $30 over the Inspire HR — isn't worth what you give up. As you might guess from its name, the Fitbit Inspire lacks a heart rate monitor, which by now should be a requirement for any fitness tracker. 

And while the Inspire doesn't have GPS, you can't even use your smartphone's GPS in conjunction with the Inspire, as you can with every other Fitbit. One thing that the Inspire has going for it is its 7-day battery life—not surprising given that it doesn't have to power a number of sensors. You can get smartphone notifications and swim tracking, but the Inspire also lacks sleep tracking. Between that and not having a heart rate monitor, this is one fitness tracker to avoid.

How to choose the best Fitbit for you

If you spend more time than you wish to disclose on your butt watching TV, and want to start down the path to a healthier lifestyle, a basic tracker that costs less than $100 will most likely suit your needs.

The $69 Fitbit Inspire and $99 Fitbit Inspire HR will track your daily steps, calories and distance, showing your stats on their small OLED touchscreens. 

The Inspire HR has a heart rate monitor, so it can be used to track not just your heart rate and cardio fitness, can automatically start tracking workouts, and give you insights into your sleeping patterns. In addition, it has 15 goal-based fitness modes, and can be connected to your smartphone's GPS to more accurately track your runs.  

For those who work out more frequently, the Fitbit Charge 3 might better suit your needs. This band has all of the same features as the Inspire HR, but comes with a larger OLED touchscreen display, which makes it easier to see notifications and health data at a glance. It also has NFC built in, so you can use it for mobile payments via Fitbit Pay. The Charge 3 also has a slightly longer battery life of 7 days.  However, the Blaze didn't wow us in our review, because it's lacking in the features department compared to smartwatches, and it's screen doesn't always stay on. We're also not fans of the charging cradle.

Those looking for more of a smartwatch-style fitness tracker should check out the Fitbit Versa 2. This device has a square, color touchscreen that can be used with Fitbit's small but growing app store. It lacks has built-in GPS—you have to connect them to your phone for that. 

The Fitbit Ionic is Fitbit's only device with on-board GPS, which means you can leave your phone at home and still get an accurate map of your workout. Like the Versa, it offers an app store, NFC chip for mobile payments, and music storage. The Ionic has sleep analysis and pretty good battery life; while its design is lacking, it's definitely a solid fitness watch.

How we test Fitbits

By wearing them, of course! When Fitbit comes out with a new fitness tracker or smartwatch, we fully charge it up, then strap it on our wrist for about a week or so to test out all its features.

First and foremost: How does it feel? Some fitness trackers are pretty bulky, which  means they won't fit comfortably on smaller wrists. Next, we look at its fitness features, such as its heart rate monitor and, where applicable, its GPS. How accurate are both sensors? 

We also look at the other features of the Fitbit, including sleep tracking, female health tracking, mobile payments, and smartphone notifications. 

We also look at Fitbit's battery life claims, and compare it to our actual use. Some sensors chew up juice faster than others, so if you've got the screen on constantly, or are always using the heart rate monitor, your mileage may vary.

  • Emma-taylor
    For Me Very Much comfortable on Fitbit Charge Wireless Activity Tracker and Sleep Wristband
    Reply