Posted by Simon Jary 18 January 2014
Fitbit Force, Flex, Zip or One: which Fitbit is best - activity trackers compared
Fitbit has the widest range of activity trackers on the market and is running ahead of the competition from Nike+, Jawbone and the rest.
Fitbit has four activity trackers available: Fitbit Force, Fitbit Flex, Fitbit One and Fitbit Zip. Which Fitbit should you buy, which is best for you?
All these devices sync with the excellent free Fitbit app – that works on both iPhones, iPads and Android devices – and a desktop dashboard that’s full of motivating graphs showing you how tou’re doing versus your set targets. But which Fitbit should you get?
Fitbit Flex vs Fitbit Force: which Fitbit wristband
Wearing your activity tracker on your wrist is handy as you’re less likely to lose it compared to those that you slip in your pocket or attach to your belt.
Fitbit has two wristband activity trackers: the Flex and the Force.
The Force isn’t yet available in the UK but we expect it to go on international sale this spring. See Fitbit Force UK release date.
The Flex costs £79.99. Using a built-in accelerometer the Flex monitors and tracks your daily steps, distance walked or run, and calories burned.
At night, it monitors the quality of your sleep and can even be used as an alarm clock that vibrates to wake you up – great if your bed partner wants a lie in!
The Force (expected to cost £99.99 when it’s available in the UK) also tracks daily steps, distance walked or run, and calories burned, and adds a bunch of features missing from the Flex.
It boasts an altimeter to track the number of flights of stairs you climb every day – a great incentive to leave the lift to the wimps and get some free exercise in during the working day.
The Flex Flex uses a set if five LED lights to show how you're doing. Each little dot of light represents 20 percent of your set goal. You can choose which one of your targets – steps, calories, or distance – it shows.
The Display on the Fitbit Force is much more instructive. It tells you exactly how many steps you’ve completed so far, as well as accurate readings for stairs climbed, distance walked or run, very active minutes and calories burned.
(We’re not convinced by Fitbit’s tally of calories burned, but you can use the totals each day as an indication at least.)
The Force also shows the time when you click its button, so you can dispense with your watch if you want only one thing on your wrist.
So the Force’s more intelligent display knocks the dots off the Flex’s minimalist display.
Minimal isn’t all bad, though. You get used to the dotty display very quickly. That said, once you’ve tried the Force it’s hard to go back to such a basic information that the Flex can give you immediately on your wrist. Of course the smartphone app works exactly the same on both Flex and Force – except that the Force will show stairs climbed as well as all the other stats.
The Flex is 5mm slimmer than the Force, but if you’re willing to use the Force as your watch it might actually save you some wrist space.
Both are comfortable and weigh next to nothing.
Battery life: Each uses a proprietary battery charger, but the Force will last nearly twice as long as the Flex before needing recharging. The Flex lasts between five and seven days between charges. The Force can go on for as long as 10 days before it needs an energy boost.
The Flex is more waterproof than the Force so you can keep it on in the shower. The Force is less water resistant, although it will easily cope with sweat, rain and most splashes.
So Fitbit Flex or Fitbit Force? While we loved our time with the Flex we think the extra functions and brilliant display are worth the additional £20 cost of the Fitbit Force.
Fitbit One or Fitbit Zip
Fitbit’s non-wristband activity trackers, the Zip and the One, can be attached to you belt or another item of clothing. Or you can just pop the tracker into your pocket. Like the Flex and Force the One and Zip track your activity via a smart accelerometer. Fitbit even suggests you can clip the One to your bra.
One risk with the non-wristband activity trackers is that they're easier to lose than the ones that are always attached to your wrist. When you're exercising it's relatively easy not to notice that these tiny devices have slipped off your clothing.
The Fitbit One costs £79.99. It tracks your steps, distance, calories burned, stairs climbed, and quality of sleep – just like the Force.
In order to monitor your sleep patterns you need to fit the One into a special wristband.
The Fitbit Zip, costing £49.99, is the entry-level activity tracker. It tracks your steps, distance, and calories burned.
The Fitbit One is like the Force – measuring more (stairs climbed and sleep patterns) while the Fitbit Zip is minimal like the Flex.
With the non-wristbands it really comes down to a matter of cost, and whether the extra stairs climbed tracking and sleep monitoring are worth the additional £30.
A bit like the calorie counting we’re dubious about the accuracy of the sleep monitor, but it’s fun to see how long you’ve been asleep and how restless you’ve been during the night.