Fitbit Inspire HR Review

Fitbit Inspire HR Review

Last Updated on by Daniel Lawrence

The new Fitbit Inspire HR is a smartwatch with a built-in heart rate monitor that is already available on the market. The Inspire HR is a follow-up to the Fitbit Surge HR, and I recently received a review unit to test out. Read on for my Fitbit Inspire HR review!

Fitbit Inspire HR: Design and Display

Fitbit Inspire HR Review

Fitbit’s Inspire and Inspire HR both have matte plastic bodies instead of stainless steel, like Fitbit’s Alta. As a fan of the Alta, the similar design, though less stylish, is a positive for me. I barely noticed it on my wrist while running, because the Inspire is so sleek and lightweight.

The Inspire’s bands can be interchanged, like those on the Alta. While I ran with the elastomer band in the box, I switched to a leather double-loop band for dinner and drinks. If you would prefer not to wear a fitness tracker on your wrist, you can also remove the Inspire’s band attach it to an accessory clip and wear it on your waistband.

When you’re in a different menu, a physical button on the left side of the tracker lets you return to the home screen. Pushing the side button during an exercise session will pause it; a second press will end it. I find that useful since swiping on a tiny screen while sweaty is futile. To see the battery percentage, you can also long press the side button.

In comparison to the tracker’s overall length, the display is quite small, so the Charge 3’s larger touch screen proves to be an advantage. During a run, you can only see one stat at a time, so I had to look at the screen to see my pace per mile and heart rate. The Charge 3 displays two metrics at once, enhancing the workout experience.

Fitbit Inspire HR: Fitness tracking

fitness tracker

Fitbit Inspire does not have built-in GPS, so the Ionic smartwatch and the Charge 4 are the only Fitbits that can be used to track outdoor runs and bike rides without a phone. It has instead focused on giving its smaller, sleeker devices longer battery lives, but the Inspire is also lacking in this category (more on that in a moment).

As soon as you select Run from the Exercise menu, the Inspire locks onto your phone’s GPS signal. Press Play to get started. Because of the signal from my iPhone, the Inspire accurately tracked my 3.6-mile route through Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

It also automatically records a few workouts, which comes in handy when I take long, brisk walks around Brooklyn without thinking about recording my calorie burn. Those data are synced to the Fitbit app, which remains one of my favorite fitness trackers. The app will be redesigned to make it simpler and easier to use later this year.

The Inspire HR’s heart-rate sensor makes it possible to offer more health and fitness features, which is why it is more expensive than the cheaper option. When your beats per minute are too high, you can use the heart rate-based Relax app to perform guided breathing exercises. Also, you can set goal-based exercises on the band before workouts and track your cardio fitness level, which is unavailable on the base Inspire.

Fitbit Inspire HR: Sleep tracking

sleep tracker

Over the years, I’ve tried a variety of fitness trackers and smartwatches, and Fitbit is the only company whose devices consistently measure the amount of time I spend sleeping. Some devices include my time lying in bed, which may not be time spent sleeping. For calming my brain or slowly waking up, I read my Kindle or scroll endlessly through Instagram’s Explore page. Despite not moving, Fitbit recognizes I’m not sleeping.

The Inspire continues to track your sleep accurately, although the base model lacks a heart-rate sensor to estimate your sleep stages (or time spent in light, deep, or REM sleep). In addition, you gain insight into your sleep quality on days when you work out, which is another reason why the HR is worth the extra $30.

Fitbit Inspire HR: Battery Life

I tested the Inspire HR, and while it claims to last up to five days, it only tracked my workouts and sleep for three days. Inspire’s cheaper version lacks a heart-rate sensor, so the device will likely last longer, but it also won’t give you a complete picture of your health and fitness.

Fitbit’s Inspire comes with a proprietary charger that magnetically attaches to the back of the tracker. I’ve tested a few Fitbits and each came with a different charging dock, which was a little annoying. There are few people who have more than one Fitbit, so it’s not that big of a deal.

Pros Cons
Affordable No automatic run-pausing
Slim, lightweight design Small display
Accurate sleep-tracking

Verdict

Fitbit’s Inspire and Inspire HR are designed for people new to fitness tracking who are looking for a motivating device. You can’t beat Inspire HR’s price of $100.

I also want Fitbit to do more. Fitbit’s latest products, which include a cheaper Versa smartwatch, are more affordable than previous Fitbit devices. Their features are also more limited. Fitbit aims to make fitness trackers more affordable – and so more accessible – but it isn’t designing features that will keep people wearing those bands months down the road. The Apple Watch Series 4 with its medical-grade electrical heart-rate sensor has already proven that people are willing to pay a premium for health-oriented wearables. It seems Fitbit isn’t even trying.

Fitbit’s devices need to become more advanced and accessible. It does deliver on the former, but I’m hoping for another Fitbit this year that moves the needle a bit more.