Fitbit Blaze Review: Half fitness tracker, half smartwatch
The Fitbit Blaze offers a simple lightweight fitness tracker with a limited subset of smartwatch style functions at a relatively high asking price.
In the fitness tracker space, Fitbit stands tall over competitors such as Jawbone in terms of market share and shelf space in stores. There’s only so far you can push just a step tracking band, especially with the wide variety of smartwatch devices hitting the higher end of the fitness tracking market.
That’s the logic behind Fitbit’s most recent set of device announcements; the fashion-centric Fitbit Alta and the smartwatch styled $329.95 Fitbit Blaze .
|Band options||Rubber, leather, metal|
|GPS||via connected phone|
|Heart rate sensor||Yes|
Upsides: Why you’d want the Fitbit Blaze
- Very light for a feature watch: Fitness tracking bands are typically very light, but that’s not true for a lot of watch-shaped devices. If you don’t like the style of a fitness band but like wearing a watch, this could be a good compromise
- Simple interface: The Fitbit Blaze’s interface only covers its core functions with nary an app to be seen. That puts it behind most smartwatches, but if you don’t want the apps, you’re not cluttered with them either
- Good heart rate tracking: The Fitbit Blaze’s heart rate tracker is up there with the best real-time trackers we’ve used in this form factor. You’ll still get a better overall picture using a proper chest strap, but for indicative purposes it’s very solid.
- Great smartphone app: The Fitbit Blaze uses Fitbit’s Android/iOS/Windows Phone app to display your results over time, as well as to connect to the wider Fitbit community. It’s an excellent and easy to understand app that makes using the Fitbit Blaze a lot of fun.
- Great battery life: The Fitbit Blaze charges by removing the entire "watch" section and charging it in a supplied cradle, at which point Fitbit reckons it’s good for up to five days between charges. We’ve easily hit this mark during testing, and for a smartwatch-styled device, where you’re often lucky to even hit two days, this is a solid plus. The FitBit
Downsides: Why you might not want the Fitbit Blaze
- Comparatively expensive: The FitBit Blaze’s asking price puts it within shouting distance of a number of Android Wear smartwatches, but the Blaze itself is best described as a feature watch, covering only SMS/Call/Calendar notifications, and no other apps.
- Sketchy Android audio support: The Fitbit Blaze can control your music playback, but the support for this on Android handsets is quite variable. Paired to an iPhone 6s, we had no problems with music playback via the Blaze, but paired with a Samsung Galaxy S7 the Fitbit Blaze refused to see our music at all. Fitbit’s support page suggests that Android music playback support is incredibly variable.
- Limited watch faces: You can buy the Fitbit Blaze in a variety of eye catching colours, but don’t expect the same level of variety in the onscreen watch faces. You get four faces; three digital and one analog to pick from. Changing between watch faces involves a Bluetooth synchronisation which is notably quite slow.
- App is available on cheaper bands: The Fitbit app is a lot of fun with detailed stats and awards for reaching specific targets to keep you motivated, but it's not one that's unique to the Blaze. If all you want is access to the Fitbit community, there are cheaper ways to make that happen.
Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?
The Fitbit Blaze isn’t quite a smartwatch, but it’s a little more ambitious than Fitbit’s other activity trackers in terms of its overall user interface. That puts it in a rather particular niche for users who might be interested in a fitness tracker style device, but don’t like the usual "band" style form factor that such devices typically use. If you’re more of a typical watch wearer wanting a little more it could be a reasonable match, although it is expensive.
In the straight fitness tracking space you’re awash with choices, whether you stick with Fitbit’s own family of tracking devices such as the Zip, One, Flex, Charge, Charge HR, Alta or Surge. Competitor Jawbone offers the UP Move, UP2 and UP3 trackers, and there are numerous other offerings from other brands at pretty much any price point you’d care to name to pick from.
If you’re interested in stepping up into the slightly richer smartwatch space, at this price point many Android Wear smart watches are available if you shop around, including models from LG, Samsung, Huawei and Motorola. Apple’s Apple Watch will cost a premium over the price of the Fitbit Blaze, although it's recently had a small price cut at the entry level, as will more sports-centric watches from companies such as Garmin.
Where can I get it?
The Fitbit Blaze can be purchased through Fitbit’s local web site, as well as through selected retailers with a suggested price of $329.95.