For a brief period in 2015, most of the Android Authority team used Fitbit Charge HR to track our step counts. We had a leaderboard and we tried to out-walk each other every week. It was glorious, until our interest in fitness inevitably fizzled out and most of us returned to our default activity: sitting in front of computers all day long.
But that wasn’t because the Fitbit Charge was lacking – in fact, we all pretty much loved it. And we’re not the only ones: Fitbit’s trackers are the most popular in the market. The company beat out Apple and Xiaomi for the first place in a recent survey of the wearable market.
Now Fitbit is flexing its muscles with something new: a full-blown smartwatch. And a stylish one at that.
Fitbit Blaze is a bona fide smartwatch, but it still has a deep focus on tracking fitness activities. You get all the bells and whistles fitness buffs have come to love on the Charge or the Surge, including continuous heart rate monitoring, step counter, multi-sport tracking, automatic detection of activities, and silent alarms. The Blaze also integrates with FitStar, the app that Fitbit acquired in March 2015, which gives users instructions for completing various workouts. A smartphone connection is not required for this function, so you don’t have to worry about carrying it around to your gym.
You will, however, need a phone for tracking your runs of bike rides, because the Blaze doesn’t incorporate its own GPS module, as the Sony Smartwatch 3 and other competitors do.
The Blaze looks like an excellent fitness tracker – and we wouldn’t expect anything else from Fitbit – but the device is stylish enough to be worn as an accessory with most outfits. Plus, you can swap straps, with options including elastomer (rubber), stainless steel, or leather in several colors.
The smartwatch runs Fitbit’s proprietary OS, which means the app ecosystem will be rather limited, at least at launch. There are several watchfaces that you can choose from and the Blaze connects via Bluetooth to over 200 Android, iOS, and Windows smartphones. There’s notification support and you can use the watch to reject calls or control the music playing back on your phone.
Fitbit Blaze will cost $200 at launch (which is not bad, seeing that the more basic Charge HR still costs $150), though you’ll have to spring if you crave the fancier leather or metal straps. You can pre-order it right now, with shipping scheduled for March.
We’ll have a hands-on look at the Fitbit Blaze at CES 2016, so keep it tuned for that and much more. Meanwhile, tell us your thoughts!