Fitbit has become a household name when it comes to fitness trackers and wearables in general – and not always for the right reasons. The company behind some of the earliest fitness trackers to hit the market has consistently released well-received products.
The Fitbit Blaze was one of them, and while it may no longer sit in the company's core line-up you can still buy it from a variety of retailers.
Breaching the gap between fitness tracker and smartwatch, the Blaze is much more former than the latter. The design of the Blaze looks like a watch, but the features are much like a fitness band.
Fitbit has since released two smartwatches in the form of the Fitbit Ionic, and then the Fitbit Versa in 2018 that replaced the Blaze in the company's range of products. It's not a bit more difficult to find the Fitbit Blaze, and both the Ionic and Versa are much smarter products.
However, if you're looking for a fitness tracker with a heavy, but not-too-heavy lean toward being a smartwatch, the Fitbit Blaze is a competent choice that you can now buy for less than ever before.
Fitbit Blaze price and release date
- Announced in January 2016 at CES and released a few weeks later
- Launched at $199 (£159.99, AU$329.95)
- Now often down to around $140 / £110 / AU$329.95
At launch you could buy the Fitbit Blaze for $199 (£159.99, AU$329.95). That price has dropped down a lot so you can now get it for around $140 or £110 during sales periods and a little bit more normally.
You can no longer buy the Blaze directly from Fitbit, but a variety of third-party retailers are still offering the watch/tracker hybrid.
- Color LCD display, first time for a Fitbit product
- Larger screen than on any other Fitbit
Unlike most other Fitbit devices, the Blaze includes a display, blurring the line between smartwatch and fitness tracker. The display itself is bright and jumps out at you, especially if you're using the right watch face.
Everything is clear on the display, and I feel this is the right size for a smartwatch. From a distance it looks much more like a traditional watch than some other smartwatches out there.
For some reason, Fitbit has decided to go for a square screen here though – I feel it would have been better if Fitbit had used a round display, like on the Moto 360.
And that display isn't going to give you that much information – it's not going to be flush with notifications like the Apple Watch, displaying just basic fitness stats such as your heart rate and steps.
My other problem with the square display is the large bezels around the sides. Fitbit has included some of the thickest bezels I've seen on a smartwatch, and there's a lot of wasted space here; the screen could have been much bigger, or the device could have been much smaller if more thought had been put in here.
To add insult to injury, the Fitbit logo even sits below the main display, which I find irritating whenever I look at it, as it highlights the wasted space – you don't see the Apple logo sitting at the bottom of the screen on the Apple Watch.
Fitbit Blaze specs
OS: Fitbit software
Compatibility: iPhone and Android
Display: Color LCD
Storage: Enough for 7 days of data
Battery life: up to 5 days
Heart Rate tracker: Yes
That said, the screen on the Fitbit Blaze does the job. It's colourful and bright, and you don't need a high resolution on this device, as it's only displaying the odd notification.
One of my biggest bugbears with the Fitbit Blaze, though, is that the screen is often unresponsive. There were multiple times where I'd tap on the screen and nothing would happen. It would wake easily with a flick the wrist, but then I'd sit there swiping left and right for quite some time, trying to get the screen to fire up.
When I have a smartwatch on my wrist, it's usually so that I can get to my information as quickly as possible. But with the Fitbit Blaze I found myself tapping on the screen far more often than I have to with other wearable devices.
Design and comfort
- Comfortable fit, but some may find this to be too large for their wrist
- Looks like a smartwatch, but not as stylish as a lot of other choices
The Fitbit Blaze isn't the best-looking smartwatch you'll ever see. It feels a little like Fitbit decided it wanted to make an Apple Watch-like device, but then didn't go the whole way.
The Blaze was the first Fitbit product with a color touchscreen, and it looks much more appealing than the Surge – and functionality-wise, it does more.
However, what isn't certain is whether it's actually a smartwatch, it's certainly not as much smartwatch as it's newer stablemate the Ionic. The Samsung Gear Fit 2 runs into the very same issue. It's certainly simpler than other smartwatches I've seen before.
There's a button on the left side that serves as a home and back command, with two on the right that can be used for volume controls for music.
The right-side buttons also provide an alternative way for you to select exercise options, in case your hands are wet or gloved and aren't registering on the touchscreen. Those are the only buttons on the device, and everything else is controlled via the screen.
As mentioned, the design has proved divisive. It's certainly a different-looking smartwatch, with an outer metal rim for the strap, and those aforementioned bezels.
It does look odd, and I think this is a mistake by Fitbit. I'd much prefer this device if Fitbit had made full use of the space it occupies on my wrist, rather than wasting it.
The watch body of the Blaze can be popped out and placed into another band and frame easily enough. I liked the flatness against my wrist, and it fits nicely. I've got rather large wrists, but it feels like it would fit most people comfortably, even if you're used to smaller devices.
Popping the device back into its frame can be a little confusing though. It fits into the frame either way up, so it's easy to put it in the wrong way up, and not realise until you put the watch on.
And that hexagonal shape is sure to be polarizing for many. On the one hand it's certainly different, but on the other the design feels a bit outdated, although I didn't notice this as much when it's on my wrist due to the overall flat look of the body.
I don't think the metal holder around the screen works all that well. The straps themselves feel good on the wrist, and that's something that Fitbit has managed to nail down after its problems with the irritable Surge straps a few years ago.
The strap is the only option you really have for personalizing your Fitbit Blaze. With a ton of Android Wear and Apple Watch bands available, it's no surprise that Fitbit has decided to offer its own selection of bands and frames.
You can buy a number of different bands from Fitbit directly. For 'formal' occasions Fitbit has created the Luxe band, which comes in black, camel or mist grey leather. There's also a stainless steel version, but sadly we didn't get to play with any of these.
Customising your Fitbit doesn't come cheap, though. The leather bands will cost you $99.95 (£59.99, AU$169.95), while the stainless steel option will cost a little extra, at $129.95 (£89.99, AU$219.95).
Fitbit is also offering the 'classic' elastomer bands, which come in black, blue and plum for $29.95 (£19.95, AU$49.95). These are all comfortable to wear – and crucially, as mentioned, they didn't irritate my wrist.
I had time with both the blue and black 'classic' editions; I haven't seen the purple version, but I'm told it's the same shade of plum as other Fitbit products, so it should be an attractive choice.
Since launch more strap colors and materials have become available though if you want a drawer full of different style options – it may get a little expensive.