Fitbit sells two activity tracker wristbands: the Fitbit Flex and the Fitbit Force. Which is best for you? Which one should you get? Should you wait for the Fitbit Force or buy the Flex now?
Or should you consider the clip-on Fitbits: Zip and One?
Choosing the best Fitbit for you will come down to features and price, but you should also consider size, battery life and of course looks. Which Fitbit is best depends on what you want and how much you’re willing to pay. We explain all in the buying guide to the Fitbit activity trackers. Fitbit trackers compared and features in detail.
Which Fitbit: price
Let's start with a key factor: cost. None of the Fitbits are pocket change but none are horrendously over-priced either.
The Fitbit Flex costs £79.99, £20 cheaper than the Force (£99.99). UK customers have waited months since the Force went on sale in the US, but although it showed up briefly on the UK Fitbit Store it remains unavailable in the UK until later this spring. NEWS UPATE: Fitbit withdraws Fitbit Force! [Updated February 21, 2014]
If price is important you may be better off trying the clip-on Fitbit Zip or Fitbit One instead.
The £79.99 One costs the same as the Flex, but, as we’ll see, offers more features. You can also find it on sale online for a tenner cheaper at £69.99.
The Fitbit Zip has an RRP of £49.99 but is available online for around £40.
Which Fitbit: features
Fitbit trackers compared. The cheaper clip-on and wristband Fitbits (Zip and Flex) don’t offer all the features found on the One and Force.
All Fitbits have a MEMS 3-axis accelerometer that measures motion patterns to determine your calories burned, distance traveled, and steps taken. All but the Zip also monitor sleep quality.
The One, Flex and Force also contain a vibration motor, which allows it to vibrate when alarms are set to go off.
The One and Force boast an altimeter that measures stairs climbed.
Which Fitbit: display
The Zip display has five modes: Steps; Distance; Calories burned; Fitbit Smiley (highlights your recent activity level); and Clock.
The One’s display has six modes: Steps; Distance; Calories burned; Floors climbed; Flower (grows and shrinks based on your recent activity); and Clock.
The Flex’s display is the most minimal, consisting of a series of flashing dots that show you how your day is stacking up against your goals. Each light represents 20 percent of your goal. You just tap the display twice to see your progress against your daily goal. This is very easy to get used to but isn’t as informative as the other Fitbits. Of course you can see all your stats via the Fitbit iPhone or Android smartphone app.
The Force has seven modes: Time; Steps; Distance; Calories burned; Floors climbed; Very active minutes; and Alarm.
Which Fitbit: measurements and specs
While the Fitbit One and Zip are small and can clip onto clothing or sit in your pocket they’re in some ways less flexible than the wristbands.
You’re less prone to forget a fitness wristband than you are a tiny clip-on gadget, and, crucially, less likely to lose the valuable device.
The Flex is thinner and slightly lighter than the Force. The Flex is 13.99mm wide, compared to the Force’s 19.2mm girth. As the Force also includes a watch function it might actually save you wrist space as you can ditch your watch.
The Zip is the smallest of the Fitbits – it’s shorter than the One but podgier.
When you buy a Flex you get both a large (161-209mm) and small (140-176mm) wristband, but with the Force you need to specify whether you want small or large, as the tracker itself is built into the band. You can check with Fitbit’s online wristband sizing tool.
Fitbit Zip size and weight: H: 48mm; W: 19.3mm; D: 9.65mm; W: 8g.
Fitbit One size and weight: H: 35.5mm; W: 28mm; D: 9.65mm; W: 8g.
Fitbit Flex size and weight: W: 13.99mm; W: 29g.
Fitbit Force size and weight: W: 19.2mm; W: 30g.
Which Fitbit: battery life
Remembering to keep your Fitbit charges is important if you wish to keep your activity tracked. The longer the battery life in between charges the better, then.
The Zip is easily the best for battery life but you will need to buy a new battery two or three times a year. The 3V coin (CR 2025) battery is cheap, though – you can buy a pack of five for under £2.50. The other Fitbits feature rechargeable batteries.
The Fitbit Flex lasts the shortest time between charges. Remember that accessing the display on any of the Fitbits will drain the battery faster.
Fitbit One battery life: 5-7 days
Fitbit Zip battery life: 4-6 months
Fitbit Flex battery life: 5 days
Fitbit Force battery life: 7-10 days
Which Fitbit: water resistance
Sadly none of the Fitbit activity trackers can monitor your swimming, and you can’t later log this fitness info into your numbers yourself. But you can at least wear your Flex in the shower, unlike the other Fitbits that are less happy getting wet.
I did wear my Flex while swimming and after a few months the rubber wristband did begin to perish a little, and my wife claims that it started to smell – so best taken off for long periods of liquid submersion.
The Fitbit One, Zip and Force are splash proof, but should not be submerged more than one metre.
The Flex is water resistant, and can be submerged up to 10 metres.
Which Fitbit: colours
The Fitbit One is available in either Burgundy or Black.
The Fitbit Zip is the most colourful, available in either Blue, Magenta, White, Charcoal or Lime.
The Flex is the wristband available in the most colours: Black, Slate and Pink. You can also but bands in Navy, Tangerine and Teal but these colour versions aren’t yet available in the UK.
The Force comes in just Black and Slate. Slate is a greyish blue.
Which Fitbit: what you get in the box
The Fitbit Zip ships with tracker, silicone and metal clip, wireless sync dongle, replaceable battery and battery door tool.
The Fitbit One comes with tracker, silicone and metal clip, wireless sync dongle, charging cord and sleep wristband.
The Fitbit Flex includes tracker within wristband (small and large), wireless sync dongle, and charging cable.
The Fitbit Force comes with tracker within wristband (either small or large), wireless sync dongle, and charging cable.
All work with the Fitbit desktop dashboard and iPhone and Android apps.
Which Fitbit is best for you?
It’s possible to look at the Fitbit activity trackers in two groups. (We are ignoring the Fitbit Ultra as that is no longer available.)
The clip-on One and Force wristband boast the most features, including Floors climbed via the altimeter. They also show more right there on their displays.
The Zip and Flex are cheaper but don’t include the altimeter so climbing lots of stairs will count only as Steps and not as the harder climb. Of course floors climbed counts as Steps on the One and Force, too.
The Zip doesn’t vibrate when you reach your targets. And it doesn’t monitor your sleep efficiency.
The Zip is the cheapest Fitbit, and if you can live without the altimeter and sleep tracking then this is a great entry point. Sleep tracking is fun but not at the top of most people's fitness lists, but the buzz is a great way to know you’ve reached your key target. Is that worth an extra £30 for the One or Flex? That’s really up to you.
Fitbit Flex vs Fitbit Force: When it comes to choosing between the two Fitbit wristbands we love the Flex’s minimalism but think the Force’s better display and altimeter make it worth the extra £20-30, depending on where you buy it.
We even think current Flex owners should consider upgrading to the Force – maybe they can pass their old Flex onto a friend and getting them involved, or selling it to offset the cost of the Force. Any old Fitbit can be re-synced to a new user so this isn't a difficult process. I gave my Flex to my wife who is now crushing me in my Fitbit Friends league table!