Fitbit Alta review

Fitbit's best-looking wearable to date is limited in scope

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Our Verdict

Fitbit's Alta has it where it counts, namely the killer week-long battery life, customizable styles, and the solid Fitbit companion app as a backbone. But there are a few frustrating design choices that keep this from being a "must-have."

For

  • Striking design
  • Customizable
  • Platform agnostic
  • Week-long battery life

Against

  • Tap-sensitive screen isn't sensitive enough
  • Not waterproof
  • Pretty limited offering overall

Update: Fitbit has beefed up the sleep-tracking capabilities of its companion app. The new feature, called Sleep Schedule, does much more than just track the amount of time you've slept each night, it learns from your habits and compares them to the anonymously collected data of other Fitbit users.

With the data, it gives you a custom set of goals that tell you when it's best to go to sleep and to wake up each day. This should give Alta users more reasons to work toward their health goals.

Original review follows below.

Fitbit wants you to know that now, more than ever, it makes a model that can match your taste. The Alta is the popular fitness tracker company's latest attempt to reach the last remaining few holdouts who haven't been sold on its previous efforts, like the Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge.

What sets the Alta apart from the fleet of Fitbits? Its looks, primarily. It's a move forward for the company, but not done without looking back on its past. The Alta is a refined iteration of the older Fitbit Zip and Fitbit One, each of which house a modular, thus removable, sensor.

Obviously influenced by the big impact that more trendy wearables are making in the tech and fashion scenes, Fitbit's Alta might seem like a "me too" fitness tracker on the surface. But can it stand on its own?

Fitbit Alta

Well, sure. This fitness tracker nails the look and it has the fairly reliable Fitbit app to fall back on, as well. Out of the box, it offers accurate step tracking, super strong battery life and easy exercise and activity monitoring.

Like most wearables, you are the one in control of how much you wring out of the tracking experience. When it comes to Fitbit's Alta, you can closely keep watch on each movement, moment of rest, and daily weight, then set goals to improve upon each. But, you don't have to.

The Alta scales nicely to both entry-level and more hardcore users, with a dead-simple user interface (no buttons, just touch) and incredible battery life. SmartTrack, the new automatic exercise recognition feature, saves a trip to the phone to queue a workout. It's also customizable (at an additional cost,) so even the fashionistas can track in style.

On the downside of things, it's a limited experience, especially when compared to some previous Fitbit models. Gone is the heart rate tracking found in the Charge HR and the GPS function of the Surge. But, considering the Alta's more affordable price of $129 (£99, AU$199), it's clear that its existence isn't meant to cannibalize what Fitbit's other models have going for them.

At that, the Alta is a smart option for those looking for a svelte fitness tracker that holds form and function in near equal regard.

Display

Inside of the small module, Fitbit included a rectangular OLED display that puts up a no-frills, bi-colored visual presentation.

The Alta –despite its fancy looks– is a fairly basic tracker, and the display is a reflection of that, but still provides easy-to-read, bite-sized snippets of information. It might be a limitation of the tech, but the Fitbit app conceals this wearable's weakness with a minimalistic user interface.

Fitbit Alta

To turn on the Alta from standby mode, tap the screen twice or just flip your wrist like you would to check a watch. Either command will push the time and date, wrapped in any one of the few vertical or horizontally-oriented watch faces you've selected in the Fitbit companion app.

From here, tap once to flip the page and show another metric, like calories burned. There are four pages in total to navigate through until you cycle back again to the time and date. In my experience, you have to make a very concerted "tap" action to get any sort of response from the Alta. Even then, I found it hard to reliably get results switching between pages.