(Pocket-lint) - Fitbit's latest fitness tracking devices come in the form of the Inspire and Inspire HR - positioned as the company's cheap and cheerful trackers. These two devices replace the Zip, Flex and Alta ranges, sitting below the larger and slightly more capable Charge 3.
We were huge fans of both the Fitbit Alta and the Fitbit Flex ranges, so the Inspire devices have some big old shoes to fill. The Inspire HR is the more capable of the two new trackers, offering not only heart-rate monitoring but several other features to boot. Is it the new Fitbit tracker to beat?
Design and display
- Touchscreen OLED display
- Interchangeable straps
- Slim and slender design
The Fitbit Inspire HR has a slim design, with a curved touchscreen display dominating. It is narrower and lighter than the Fitbit Charge 3, wider and more slender than the Alta devices - but it isn't as premium in its finish. The Charge 3 has an aluminium casing that tapers inwards towards the wrist - and while the Inspire HR has a similar shape, it opts for plastic, resulting in a cheaper look.
The Inspire HR is also thicker, sitting higher above the wrist than the Charge 3 and Alta devices. This thickness affects the comfort a little, as the device has to be fastened relatively tightly for the straps to sit flush with the wrist - and even then there is still a gap, which you don't get on the Charge 3. That said, though some adjustment is required, the Inspire HR is comfortable enough for both everyday use and wearing while sleeping.
The Inspire HR also offers a more rounded display than both the Charge 3 and Alta HR, allowing it to curve nicely around the wrist. Fitbit has introduced what it is calling a "tension setting approach" where the screen meets the strap; this makes the display look like it's floating, rather than unified with the strap.
The OLED touchscreen itself is crisp and clear too. A quick tap and metrics appear at the bottom of the main clock display, plus it's bright enough when worn outside too.
However, the screen itself only makes up around half of the area it sits within. We'd like to have seen a larger display or less bezel. It's responsive enough though, even if you don't get the same super smooth experience you would on the likes of the Apple Watch. We found the HR's responsiveness better when we wore it on our non-dominant hand, using it with our dominant hand.
On the left side of the touchscreen, within the plastic casing, is a physical button for quick control. When pressed this wakes up the display, puts it to sleep, or takes you back to the main home screen. Pressing-and-holding it brings up quick settings like battery life and notifications. The Alta devices don't have a button at all so the Inspire HR is preferable here, though the Charge 3 opts for an inductive button, which is nicer to use than the HR's physical button.
On the underside of the Inspire HR's casing, sat flush to the casing, is the PurePulse heart-rate monitor. It's a much neater finish than that found in the Alta HR, as it's easier to keep clean. Charging pins are present above the monitor and a Fitbit logo sits below, similar to the Charge 3 and Alta. There is no Fitbit branding on the front of the Inspire HR though, unlike other Fitbit devices.
Like all other Fitbit devices, though, the Inspire HR features interchangeable straps. There's a silicone strap as standard - which we actually really like as it's easy to keep clean and it's comfortable too - while several other official options, including leather and metal, are available for purchase. The mechanism for changing the straps has changed for the Inspire devices, with both models offering quick-release pins for a more refined look.
Like the Alta and Alta HR, the Inspire has a pin system for fastening the strap, while the Inspire HR has a buckle. We've tried both and the buckle is much more secure and easier to put on and adjust.
- Swimproof and swim tracking
- HR, VO2 Max, Connected GPS
- Activity and advanced sleep tracking
- Smartphone notifications
One of the best features of the Fitbit Inspire HR is its waterproofing up to 50-metres. The Alta and Alta HR devices were both only splashproof, which was one of their biggest downfalls, and until the Charge 3 launched in 2018 with 5 ATM water resistance, the Flex 2 tracker was the only Fitbit activity tracker to offer waterproofing. So it's a great feature to find here, along with swim-tracking (only found in the HR model, not the standard Inspire).
All-day activity and sleep tracking are available on the Inspire HR too, while Fitbit's SmartTrack feature offers automatic exercise recognition. It's also possible to start a specific workout from the tracker itself, with capacity for six exercises within the Exercise menu on the device. These six shortcuts can be changed in the Fitbit app, with a total of 21 to choose fromm including tennis, bootcamp, elliptical and golf.
The Inspire HR also offers 24/7 continuous heart-rate tracking, Connected GPS, VO2 Max and 15 goal-based exercises, which include running, cycling and swimming - all of which the standard Inspire model doesn't have. The goal-based exercise feature launched on the Charge 3 and allows you to choose a specific goal for those exercises, such as duration or calories. Female health tracking is also on board - a feature that launched in 2018 on the Fitbit Versa - which is also available on the Inspire too.
Thanks to the heart-rate monitoring, the Inspire HR offers more advanced sleep tracking than the standard model. The HR has sleep stages like the Charge 3, meaning users will get time awake, time in REM, time in light sleep and time in deep sleep.
In terms of other features, the lovely curved display delivers an on-device dashboard - presenting steps taken, distance travelled, calories burned - meaning you'll be able to use the touchscreen to flick through your stats by tapping or swiping up from the home screen. Swiping down from the home screen will take you to various menu options, including Exercise so you can select an exercise shortcut, Guided Breathing and timers and stopwatch options.
Enhanced smartphone notifications are on board too. Notifications mirror your smartphone andyou can choose which apps you want to show and which you don't. As soon as a notification from an app such as WhatsApp or Facebook appears on your smartphone, the respective app appears in the Fitbit app under the Inspire HR notifications section. It's then possible to toggle that app on or off.
It's worth mentioning that while you will receive notifications, you can't do anything with them as you could with a smartwatch - instead it's a prompt to follow-up on your phone.
Performance and battery life
- Five-day battery life
- Special charger
Overall, the Fitbit Inspire HR performs very well. We wore it alongside an Apple Watch Series 4, which we find to be great at tracking heart rate and workouts, and the Inspire HR is pretty much on par. Heart-rate reading was occasionally a couple of beats lower than the Apple Watch, though some variation in wrist-worn devices is expected as none are 100 per cent accurate.
For workouts, the Inspire HR performs brilliantly. Automatic exercise recognition is very simple, with no need to confirm what you are doing. It just works in the background, logging all your data into the Fitbit app for you to bring up and edit later if you need.
A weights session we intentionally recorded on our Inspire HR was near enough in line with the HIIT session we recorded on our Apple Watch in terms of both calories burned and heart-rate range - there was just six calories difference between the devices' results. When you consider the Apple Watch is four times the price of the Inspire HR, that's pretty good going for Fitbit.
Sleep tracking is one of the areas in which Fitbit excels, and the Inspire HR continues to offer greatness here. We have a little toddler which means a full night of uninterrupted sleep doesn't exist in our world - an excellent opportunity for testing sleep accuracy, eh? The Inspire HR was spot on each night, pinpointing exactly when we were awake.
In terms of battery life, the Fitbit Inspire HR promises a five-day life per charge, which we found to be accurate using the device day and night. This is a little lower than the week-long life achieved by the Charge 3, but it's still a pretty lengthy time between charges.
As usual with Fitbit devices, the Inspire HR doesn't use a standard USB Type-C or Micro-USB charger. Instead, there is a small cable included in the box, with a specific charging dock. The pins on the underside of the HR will need to be lined up to the pins on the charging dock for charging to take place. It works fine, though we still think a standard cable solution would be more versatile.
- Fitbit app
- iOS and Android
Everything is familiar in terms of the software side of things. Fitbit does have plans to update its app, which is available for iOS and Android users, but this won't be till later on in 2019.
If you are already a Fitbit user, switching over to the Inspire HR is a piece of cake. All you'll need to do is setup the new device and all your past data will still be visible, while you start collecting new data on the new device.
For those new to Fitbit, it is one of the best platforms out there in terms of ease of use. Everything is simple to access and the app has a great layout, offering all the data and stats you could want in an easy-to-understand format.
Rather than us delve into the software side of things too much here, you can read our Fitbit tips and tricks for more information on how to get started and find everything you might need.
The Fitbit Inspire and Inspire HR consolidate Fitbit's cheaper fitness tracker devices into two models, making the decision of which Fitbit to buy a far simpler task. Of the two Inspire models, the HR model offers a lot more features for only £20 extra - and those features make for an excellent fitness tracker.
We'd be lying if we said we didn't prefer the premium aluminium design of the Charge 3, but the Inspire HR has so much going for it for its sub-£100 asking price. Its features are almost identical to the Charge 3, bar a couple of minor differences, and it delivers great performance too, while also offering a plenty of strap options and accessories to allow you to make the Inspire HR tracker your own.
With good heart-rate tracking, waterproofing and swim tracking, Connected GPS, Guided Breathing sessions and advanced sleep tracking, all for £50 cheaper than the Charge 3, the Fitbit Inspire HR is a no brainer for those that want a slim and capable fitness tracker. It might have a slightly cheaper-looking build quality but the features offered for the price are really quite remarkable.
Fitbit Charge 3
If you want something a little more premium looking than the Fitbit Inspire HR but with all the same features, the Charge 3 is an excellent device. It offers waterproofing, swim tracking, the option for Fitbit Pay if you select the Special Edition model and it has great activity and sleep tracking like the Inspire HR, as well as access to Fitbit's app.
Fitbit Versa Lite
Like the Inspire HR, the Fitbit Versa Lite lacks built-in GPS but it does come with plenty of other features including a coloured display and some more smartwatch functionality. Consider this if the Inspire HR appeals but you want more smartwatch, less fitness tracker.