Fitbit Blaze, the smart fitness tracker from Fitbit, is a sleek and lightweight fitness tracker with essential features for fitness enthusiasts while also carrying some fun and useful features for casual all-day use. Packed with features such as Connected GPS, the Fitbit Blaze is well worth the suggested retail price of $199 for a range of users, however, serious athletes who count on GPS outdoors might find the Fitbit Surge with built-in GPS a better choice for tracking hikes, runs, and other outdoor activities.
I have owned a Fitbit Surge since last year and love the device. However, I decided to give the Fitbit Blaze a try to see how it compares and if it is possibly a better device for my fitness profile. Overall, I found it is a great device for everyday use and is fun and easy to use, but I still prefer tracking outdoor workouts on my Surge. The following review is a summary of my experience using the Fitbit Blaze.
Sleek, Modern, Lightweight, and Colorful
Let’s start with first impressions on unpacking and using the device for the first time. The very first unpacking reveals a sleek, modern, lightweight device and simple minimalist packaging and accessories. It is much thinner than the Surge and looks much more like a sleek watch than a fitness tracker. This is one of the strong suits of the Blaze, it looks stylish. The ability to choose and switch out a variety of bands and frames will give the device appeal to a wide audience with capability to grow as more bands and frames come out. Adding this type of customization capability is a smart move.
Setup, Updates, and First Use
Upon activating the screen, a simple message appears to direct the user to setup the device. The quickest way to get going is to go straight to install and open the app on your tablet or smartphone to add the new device. If you are new to Fitbit, the platform including the apps and website dashboard are used to manage your device and help you track all your metrics. You’ll need to create a Fitbit account to get started. The Fitbit platform, apps, and services add a lot of value to the devices.
Once you’ve got the app installed, a wizard will guide you through connecting to the device and setting it up. It should find the device quickly, but the entire setup takes some time as the device will go through firmware updates. Mine finished in about 10 minutes and the device had changed to displaying a colorful clock face. As I put the device on, I was excited to see my heart rate right there on the clock face. This is an improvement over the Surge which requires a couple swipes to see your heart rate (unless actively exercising) and then resets back to the date and time after a few seconds. After a few minutes of checking out the UI, the Blaze alerted me of a low battery, which took a couple of hours to charge the first time.
Exercise with Connected GPS
The first feature I really wanted to try on the device was taking a run with the connected GPS. I use the built-in GPS on my Surge for running and hiking and have found it to be a really informative and fun metric for my workouts, so I was excited to see if the Connected GPS on the Blaze could complete.
My first run out it didn’t work though! I found out afterwards that the Fitbit app needs to be running on your phone for the GPS to work. Even though the device indicated it was connected to the phone, no GPS data got recorded. The good news is that once I figured that out I haven’t had the problem happen again. However, it is an extra hassle to have to make sure the app is running let alone to bring my phone with me on a run in the first place. I like to keep my running workouts simple with no extra gadgets or music so that I can literally run out the door to get a quick workout when I don’t have much time.
The GPS, once connected with the app, logged data that was reasonably accurate compared to the Surge. However, I decided after trying this a few times that I do like the ease of the Surge GPS features better. It is still reasonable though and a nice feature to have.
Heart Rate Tracking
Over time with the Surge I’ve learned the basic patterns of my resting heart rate, sleep, and how exercise (or lack thereof) affects those stats. The Blaze is tracking right along with the same patterns. I mainly used the heart rate tracking during exercise and it does an excellent job. It also tracks sleep for me reasonably well, but I’m only interested in that occasionally. When measured against the heart rate trackers on my other non-Fitbit devices it was always very close or within 2-3 bpm.
Smart Features, Battery Life, and Experience
The Blaze comes with call, text, and calendar alerts as well as music control and silent alarms. The call and text notifications started working for me right out of the box. They use a soft vibration that is better than I thought it would be. I don’t really want my wrist buzzing all day, but the softer buzz makes it reasonable. The music control took a little work to get going, as it requires changing the Bluetooth setting on the device to use Bluetooth Classic. This required also restarting my phone to finally get things working, but worked well after that. It’s actually more useful than I thought it would be both for workouts and for when I’m doing chores, etc, around the house. I also gave the silent alarms a try and am really liking this feature. It has actually seriously helped me get out of bed earlier! I now have extra time and have a more productive morning. I’m really glad I tried this feature.
The battery life on the Blaze is stellar and it is no problem to keep charged even when tracking multiple exercises a day. My first charge lasted for 5 days. Since then I’ve been just charging when using the shower and it has had a full charge every day. I think this is one of the best things about this device and sets it apart from the competition. I don’t want a watch that runs out of batteries on me.
The experience on the device is pretty easy to grasp. From the main screen, you can swipe up or down to get to the smart features like alerts and music control, or you can swipe left to get to other options such as your current stats, exercise tracking and pretty much everything else the device does. I don’t like that it is an extra click to see your current steps for the day compared to the Surge but that is a minor detail. It all looks colorful, runs fast, and is easy to figure out.
Automatic Sleep Tracking and Exercise Tracking
The automatic sleep tracking on certain Fitbit devices is a fascinating feature. I used it heavily in my first weeks with my Surge and was amazed at how well it tracked my sleep and resting heart rate. After using the feature to learn a lot about my sleep patterns, it became something I only enabled occasionally to check in on things. I enabled the auto heart rate tracking for a couple weeks with the Blaze and found it tracks sleep similarly well to how the Surge did. I’m sure many users will find this feature quite interesting.
The automatic exercise tracking never did work so well for me on the Surge and I didn’t notice the Blaze record anything automatically. It is kind of neat when it detects you went for a long walk but otherwise this is just a novel feature in my opinion. I log all my workouts purposefully, an old habit.
A Stylish Device to Help Achieve Your Fitness Goals
I had a lot of fun trying out the Fitbit Blaze. It is certainly a great everyday fitness tracker that I would prefer over others for going out, going to work, and other everyday activities. I still prefer my Surge for running, but the Blaze is much more stylish and fun for pretty much everything else. This really is a great buy that I’ve been quite happy with. I’d recommend the Blaze for anyone looking for a smart fitness tracker that looks stylish and works well, and also ultimately for a device to help achieve your fitness goals.