Our Verdict

With the Alta HR, Fitbit has taken what was already a solid activity tracker, and made it better. It’s not flash, it’s not elaborate, but it is slick and with its newly added heart rate tracking skills it's a more well-rounded fitness companion for those looking beyond a simple steps count.

For

  • Slim, comfortable design
  • On-point steps counting
  • Accurate heart rate reader

Against

  • Screen slightly unresponsive
  • Not the most dynamic sports tracker
  • Display difficult to read in bright light

Activity trackers are everywhere. Whether you run 10K every weekend or do little more than plod to the bus stop in the mornings, many of us have some form of sensor strapped to our wrist or shoved in our phones, tracking our every movement.

When those movements are in the form of steps rather than cycles or lunges, Fitbit is king, and, joining a blossoming device range that includes the smartwatch inspired Fitbit Blaze and the general-purpose Fitbit Charge 2 is this, the small, slim and surprisingly well-rounded Fitbit Alta HR.

An update to the existing Fitbit Alta, the HR, as its name suggests, has thrown an integrated heart rate scanner into the mix without bigging up the device’s bulk.

This takes its skills beyond the basics and from fitness tracking into the realms of more in-depth fitness monitoring and improving. It’s an addition that boosts the device’s abilities, but one that comes at a cost.

(Update: The Alta HR is one of the more robust offerings from Fitbit, combining style and functionality with its built-in heart rate monitor. While falling shy of being ranked on our list of the best fitness trackers, it's still a good buy and we've got the best Fitbit deals lassoed up for you.)

Fitbit Alta HR price and release date

  • Out now, launched at $149.95, £129.99, AU$249.95
  • Prices have dropped slightly - you'll find it around $140, £120, AU$230

Despite its simplistic look and modest array of sensors, the Fitbit Alta HR isn’t the most affordable of devices. Available at launch for $149.95 (£129.99, AU$249.95) we've now seen the price drop as low as $140 (£120, AU$230) from some retailers.

OK, no, it’s not exactly Apple Watch levels of wallet abuse, but for what’s still essentially a glorified pedometer, it’s a sizable chunk of change.

Drop the HR skills, and you’ll be able to pick up a rival tracker with the same level of activity tracking abilities for much less, such as the $100/£80/AU$140 Misfit Ray or $100/£90/AU$160 Garmin Vivofit 3.

The extra expense of the Alta HR is sure to deter many, but is it worth it? We’ve been living with the Fitbit Alta HR to find out.

Design

  • Sleek 15mm body
  • Comfortable and lightweight
  • Strong customization options

When it comes to looks, the Fitbit Alta HR is classic fitness tracker. A small stainless steel sensor pod strapped to your wrist with a robust and sweat-resistant rubber strap. It’s not exactly thinking outside the box, but when the box can look this good, who cares.

At just 15mm thick, it’s large enough to host an easily readable display while lining up 25% slimmer than its big brother, the Charge 2. That’s key. Although this looks like a fitness tracker, it’s not grabbing people’s attentions like many rubbery wearables do.

It’s a sleek, stylish design that shows the world you’re keeping fit without making everyone worry you’re going to bore them with your latest training tips, or encourage them to eat nothing but kale and quinoa.

As well as being easy on the eye, the Alta HR is comfortable too. The device’s barely there body is light and gently curved to the arc of your wrist, securely locking in with a plastic buckle that ensures the Alta HR never feels at risk of jogging loose whether walking in the woods or doing sprint sessions.

Its slim form factor and lack of physical buttons give it a clean, almost jewelry-inspired finish, with the option of a silver, black or gold metal body further refining the look. The inbuilt display is basic, but pleasingly so, offering up all the required information without bombarding you with unnecessary figures and battery-sapping showy graphics.

It’s not faultless though. Take it out on a sunny day and visibility quickly becomes an issue - this isn’t the brightest panel and it can quickly get overshadowed by sunlight, making it almost impossible to read without first shielding it.

This is a pretty serious problem, and one that’s bound to annoy those who live in places that are more consistently sunny.

Finishing the look, the Alta HR comes in a variety of color schemes, with the different body options able to be paired with a variety of straps direct from the box. These range from understated black to more vibrant coral and fuchsia hues.

You’re not stuck with your day one color choice either. Decide that your playing it safe black band is a bit boring, fine. It can be quickly unhooked and replaced with one of Fitbit’s many more colorful and stylish options.

These aren’t just limited to rubber either, there are leather straps, fabric ones and even cool metal watches that the Alta HR’s pod can be clipped into.

As with Fitbit’s other activity trackers, you’ve got two strap sizes to choose from, small or large. We’d recommend trying Fitbit’s printed sizing chart before splashing the cash because the large strap is pretty massive and many will be able to get away with the small strap.