(Pocket-lint) - The Inspire 2 is the cheapest member of the Fitbit family - and effectively replaces the Inspire HR that launched in 2019 - aimed at those wanting to keep to the tracking basics.

The Inspire 2 sticks largely to the same formula as the Inspire HR, making welcome improvements to the design, bolstering battery life to make it last longer than any other Fitbit device, and giving you a tracking experience that just feels very easy to get to grips with.

With the likes of Samsung, Huawei, Amazfit and Xiaomi also making the budget tracker space a more competitive place, does the Fitbit Inspire 2 do enough to pull away from its more affordable rivals?

Design

  • Large and small wristband options
  • Water resistant to 50 metres (5ATM)
  • Finishes: Black, Lunar White, Desert Rose

With the Inspire 2, Fitbit isn't trying to reinvent the wheel. Put one side-by-side with an Inspire HR and you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two. The colour silicone bands can be removed and come in small and large size options.

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The greyscale touchscreen display - which has a slightly curvier edged look - is now 20 per cent brighter than the previous Inspire, which is definitely a positive move. There's now a dim mode when you don't need that extra hit of brightness, which can be disabled when you do. It certainly offers an improvement for visibility out in bright outdoor light, but it feels like it might be time to ditch the greyscale OLED screen and go colour like a lot its competitors have done - Xiaomi, Amazfit and Samsung each offer great colour display options for less money.

To give the Inspire 2 a much cleaner look than its predecessor, it's also removed the physical button for a setup where you can squeeze the sides of the device to do things like turn on the display or get into the band's settings. Overall, it works well and that button isn't hugely missed.

Around the back is where you'll find the PurePulse heart rate sensor, which means you have the ability to continuously monitor heart rate, exercise in personalised heart rate zones, and unlock new features like Active Zone Minutes.

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The big appeal of wearing the Inspire 2 is that it's a slim, light and comfortable band to wear all the time. As it's water resistant up to 50 metres, it's safe to swim and shower with. 

Features

  • 24/7 tracking
  • Connected GPS
  • Guided breathing
  • 20+ exercise modes
  • Additional health insights in Fitbit Premium

Fitness tracking is what Fitbit does best - so it's no surprise that's where the Inspire 2's key features lie. 

The sensors making that happen haven't changed from the last Inspire models. There's an accelerometer to track steps and enable automatic sleep monitoring. You also have that optical heart rate monitor, which unlocks a range of features and is still best suited to daily monitoring as opposed to putting it to work during exercise. You still don't get an altimeter to track elevation like floor climbs, which you also get on the Fitbit's flagship Charge 4.

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For daily tracking, you can monitor daily steps, distance covered, calories burned, and get reminders to keep moving during the day. Fitbit has also added additional reminders to wash your hands, get your heart pumping, or to stay hydrated.

When it's time to go to bed, you'll be able to capture the duration of sleep and get a breakdown of sleep stages. That includes the all-important REM sleep, which is a window into the type of sleep tied to memory and learning. You'll also get a Sleep Score to give you a clear idea if you've had a good night's sleep.

When you switch to exercise tracking, there are over 20 goal-based modes with core exercises like walking, running and pool swimming. There's also Fitbit's SmartTrack tech to automatically recognise when you start moving and working out.

There's connected GPS support, which means you can lean on your phone's GPS signal to more accurately track outdoor activities. That GPS support is also useful for the Workout Intensity Maps feature, which along with monitoring your heart rate can show you where you worked hardest during a session.

With that onboard heart rate monitor you're getting to continuously monitor and capture resting heart rate - day and night. It's also going to let you train in heart rate zones and generate a Cardio Fitness Score to give you a better sense of your current state of fitness based on your VO2 Max (blood oxygen). Fitbit is also introducing its new Active Zone Minutes feature, which will buzz you when you hit your personalised target heart rate zones. It's a move to get users to think more about regularly raising heart rate as well as nailing those big daily step counts.

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For that time outside of getting sweaty, the Inspire 2 will perform some useful more smartwatch-like duties. There's notification support for both Google Android and Apple iOS devices, letting you see native and third-party app notifications. There's a dedicated notifications menu where you can find your latest incoming messages. In addition to notifications, there's also a collection of different watch faces to choose from.

Beyond the basics, there's also guided breathing exercises, menstrual health tracking, and app-based features like manually tracking your food intake. You also have access to Premium, Fitbit's subscription service, which you'll get a year to trial before deciding whether to continue at your own cost.

Performance and battery life

  • Continuous heart rate monitoring
  • Up to 10 days battery life
  • Sleep tracking

Those core fitness tracking features is what the Inspire 2 does best. Step counts are largely in line with the fitness tracking features on a Garmin Fenix 6 Pro, also offering similar distance covered and calories data. While those inactivity alerts aren't groundbreaking, it's a small way to make sure you keep moving during the day.

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When you switch to sleep, the slim, light design of the Inspire 2 makes it a comfortable tracker to take to bed first and foremost. Fitbit offers some of the best sleep tracking features in the business. Compared to the Fitbit Sense and the Withings Sleep Analyzer, we were pretty satisfied with the kind of data Fitbit gave us.

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For exercise tracking - as long as you're not hoping to run for miles on a regular basis and up the intensity in general - the Inspire 2 should just about cut it. The heart rate monitor is better suited to continuous monitoring than it is for strenuous workout time based on our experience. For running, and cardio blasting HIIT sessions on the Fiit home workout app, average readings could be as much as 10bpm out (compared to a Garmin HRM Pro chest strap monitor).

The connected GPS support is also better suited to shorter runs, which brings useful features like those Workout Intensity Maps into the mix.

As for battery life, the Inspire 2 offers the best battery numbers Fitbit has ever offered. It's promising up to 10 days, which is double that of the Inspire HR. It lives up to that claim, too, as long as you're not going too bright with that screen and not tracking exercise every day with it. The good news is that things like all-day heart rate monitoring don't seem to have a tremendous drain, which isn't the case on all fitness trackers.

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When you do need to charge there's one of Fitbit's proprietary charging cables, which clips into the charging points on the back and the top and bottom of the rear case. That ensures it stays put and doesn't budge when you stick the Inspire 2 onto charge.

Software

Fitbit's companion app, which is available for Android, iOS and Windows 10 devices, remains one of its key strengths - and a strong reason you'd grab one of its trackers over cheaper alternatives. 

It's easy to use and if you want some added motivation to keep you on top of your goals, that's available too. The main Today screen will give you a snapshot of your daily data and can be edited to show the data you actually care about.

Discover is where you'll find guided programmes, challenges, virtual adventures and workouts to accompany daily and nightly tracking. If you've signed up to Fitbit Premium, you'll have a dedicated tab for that too. You still have all your device settings hidden away whether you need to adjust step goals, heart rate zones or how you keep closer tabs on your nutrition and weight management.

The Inspire 2 experience is similar to owning a Fitbit Versa 3, a Charge 4, or a Sense. Which is key: that consistent feeling across all devices makes it a good place if you know other Fitbit-owning people. You can delve deeper into data if you want to, but for most, what's there when you first download it and login will be more than enough to get a sense of your progress.

Verdict

The Fitbit Inspire 2 sticks to a known formula, covering tracking basics, while wrapping it up in a design that's comfortable to wear all of the time.

The screen changes for this model are welcomed - extra brightness, yay - and if you care about steps, sleep and monitoring heart rate during the day and night, it will serve you well.

All that's supported by an app that's one of the most user-friendly if you're starting to think about monitoring your health and fitness for the first time.

The level of smartwatch features are dictated by the slenderness of the device and while you can get more in the way of these features elsewhere for less money, what the Inspire 2 offers should be good enough for most. It's still not quite the ready-made sportswatch replacement though.

Cheaper fitness trackers are now offering more features, arguably better displays and battery life. But if you're looking for a fitness tracker that puts your health and tracking front and centre, then Fitbit is still one of the best.

Also consider

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Fitbit Inspire HR

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If you can live without that brighter display and some of the software extras, the Inspire HR will still offer a solid tracking experience for less cash.

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Huawei Band 3 Pro

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Huawei's fitness band offers one big feature you won't find on the Inspire 2: built-in GPS. If you like the idea of a tracker a bit better built for sports, this is one worth looking at.

Writing by Michael Sawh. Editing by Mike Lowe.