You don’t need to spend over $100 to get a good fitness tracker, and the Fitbit Inspire HR is proof. The company’s new affordable fitness band line takes the place of the older Fitbit Alta and Zip series. Are the Fitbit Inspire and Inspire HR worthy successors to the tried-and-true Alta and Zip? We think so. Read our full Fitbit Inspire HR review to find out why.
I hate to come out of the gate with a knock against the Inspire HR’s design, so let’s start with the good stuff. The Inspire HR is small — it’s so light and thin, I don’t notice it half the time. That’s an underrated design feature for a fitness tracker. If you don’t notice you’re wearing something on your wrist, you’ll probably leave it on more often.
The Inspire HR case itself is tiny — just 16 x 36.8mm — and, like other current Fitbit trackers, it supports interchangeable straps. Not only are there Horween leather, stainless steel, and extra silicone bands, you can also buy a clip if you happen to go with the standard Inspire model. For an extra $20, you can finally replace that aging Fitbit Zip attached to your pocket.
While the first party leather and metal straps are welcome, I find the Inspire HR’s overall design a bit bland. Maybe it’s just the subtleness of the black model, but I can’t help but think it looks generic. Now, this is a sub-$100 fitness tracker so it’s unfair to expect stainless steel buttons and a super premium build. I’d recommend you go with one of the punchier Lilac or Sangria models if you think the model in this review is too boring.
The Inspire HR is a joy to use thanks to its responsive display and quick software. You’ll interact with the Inspire HR’s grayscale OLED display, which is small but still useful. Navigation is done via swipes up and down throughout the interface. This new touchscreen is much less finicky than the Alta line’s tap-enabled display.
The software is quick to navigate and reminds me a lot of the software on the Fitbit Charge 3. It’s not as fully featured, but you still get smart features like phone notifications and alarms.
Fitbit claims the Inspire HR can last up to five days on a single charge, and I’d say that’s about right. Even with multiple exercises and the heart rate sensor turned on at all times, my Inspire HR lasted between four and a half to five full days.
When you have to charge the device, you’ll have to use the terrible little charger included in the box. It’s so small. It connects to the back of the device via magnetic pins, which are weaker than I’d like. It feels like the Inspire HR is going to fall off the charger every time I connect it.
Also, this is yet another proprietary charging cable. Fitbit hasn’t tried to come up with a one-size-fits-all charging solution for all its devices, so buying the Inspire HR means you’ll have to keep track of another charger.
Fitness and health tracking
Don’t let the looks fool you — the Fitbit Inspire HR packs a ton of fitness and health sensors under the hood.
The Inspire HR will track your steps taken, calories burned, active minutes, sleep, as well as resting and active heart rate. That’s a near-complete tracking list, but unfortunately, the Inspire HR, Inspire, nor the new Fitbit Versa Lite have a built-in altimeter, which we would liked. Floors climbed is a standard activity tracking metric many fitness trackers — even the cheap ones — have.
The Inspire HR’s step and calorie tracking have been spot on when compared to my Garmin Vivosport. Resting heart rate readings have been accurate too; I didn’t notice any major increases or decreases in my resting heart rate out of the ordinary.
The Inspire HR’s active heart rate readings impressed me throughout my time with the device.
In the screenshots above, you’ll see the Fitbit Inspire HR readings vs the Polar H10 chest strap and Garmin Fenix 5. The Inspire HR and Fenix 5 both hit a peak at the ~23:30 mark, but the Fenix 5’s 174bpm reading was closer to the Polar H10’s 172bpm reading at that time. The Inspire HR only recorded a max heart rate of 159bpm at that time. However, towards the end of the workout the chest strap continued climbing at a steady pace, and the Inspire HR eventually caught up towards the last five minutes or so. The Fenix 5’s heart rate sensor climbed as well, but it never reached the peak heart rate readings that the H10 and Inspire HR showed.
The most important thing with wrist-based heart rate sensors is they catch the big trends over time, and I think the Inspire HR is more than capable of doing that.
This is a Fitbit tracker, which means we see the return of the company’s Cardio Fitness Level in the Fitbit app. A combination of your resting heart rate, VO2 Max, and user profile will give you an idea of how fit you are compared to other people your age and sex. It’s still buried deep down in the Fitbit app, but it’s a nice metric to check out if you’re trying to gauge your progress over time.
I’m also surprised to see the addition of connected GPS on the Inspire HR. No, it doesn’t have built-in GPS, but we shouldn’t expect that on a sub-$100 fitness tracker. Connected GPS means you can bring your phone with you on a run, and your Inspire HR will be able to provide accurate pace and distance metrics.
Sleep tracking is another area where the Inspire HR excels. Like other Fitbits, this device keeps track of your time in REM, light, and deep sleep, as well as your overall time awake. All your sleep data is displayed in an easy-to-understand chart inside the Fitbit app. Below your Sleep Stages info, you can check how your sleep stats have been changing over time, and how they compare other people of the same sex and age.
Fitbit also included its female health tracking suite on the Inspire HR, as well as on-device guided breathing. You also get access to over 15 goal-based exercise modes, just like the more expensive Fitbit Charge 3.
|Fitbit Inspire and Fitbit Inspire HR|
|Display||Greyscale OLED touchscreen|
|Battery||Up to five days|
Charge time (0-100%): Two hours
|Memory||Inspire HR only: Stores heart rate data at one-second intervals during exercise tracking and at five-second intervals all other times|
Saves 7 days of detailed motion data
Saves daily totals for past 30 days
Strap: flexible, durable elastomer material similar to that used in many sport watches
|Sensors and components||3-axis accelerometer|
Optical heart rate monitor (Inspire HR only)
|Notifications||Call, text, calendar, email, and much more|
|Compatibility||Android, iOS, & Windows|
|Dimensions||Case dimensions: 16 x 36.8mm|
|Colors||Inspire: black, sangria|
Inspire HR: black, lilac, white/black
Fitbit Inspire HR: Should you buy it?
Compared to the competition, I’d say the Fitbit Inspire HR is a better value than the $80 Garmin Vivofit 4, although you don’t get year-long battery life with the Fitbit. We’ve also heard great things about the Huawei Band 3 Pro (though we haven’t tested it ourselves), and of course the ~$25 Xiaomi Mi Band 3 offers the most bang for your buck.
It's hard not to recommend the Fitbit Inspire HR.
Still, it’s hard not to recommend the Fitbit Inspire HR. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better value. It’s not just a good fitness tracker for the price — it’s a good fitness tracker, period.