Review: Fitbit Surge

After testing the Fitbit Charge HR, I was eager to get my hands on a Fitbit Surge and see how different the experience would be since the Surge tracks the same things as the Charge: sleep, heart rate and activity.

The Fitbit Surge comes with a touchscreen that displays time, steps, activity summary and your text messages. It’s available on the market for $249.95, so it’s the most expensive Fitbit option.

Fitbit Surge
I was invited for a “Weekend Warrior” challenge by a fellow Fitbit user to gain the most steps in one weekend, so what better time to test the activity tracker? I always go to great lengths to win challenges! Days before the challenge, I started intensively using the Fitbit Surge to make sure I knew how to use it during the weekend. And I had a blast!

What is the Fitbit Surge?

Activity tracker Mobile app Web platform

What does it track?

Running heart rate Music Cycle tracking

sleep tracking Food tracking Bluetooth GPS

Things I like about the Fitbit Surge

1. Workout tracking and summary

During your workout, your Fitbit Surge screen displays a lot of practical info: your distance, pace, average pace, heartbeat and duration.

When you finish your workout, you get a detailed overview of your workout on your watch. In the blink of an eye you see time, distance, average pulse, average pace, calories, steps and elevation gain. I really enjoyed this overview.

2. Touch screen

I was amazed by the touchscreen built into the Surge. It reacts easily to touch, and you swiftly easily browse between different screens and settings.

3. Text and phone notifications

I liked how I could easily read my last 10 text messages on my Fitbit Surge. Even when I clicked the realtime notification away, I could recall the text messages from the menu. Handy!

4. Challenges

If you’re into challenges, the Fitbit challenges are your thing! You ‘ll have to be into walking, though, as the Fitbit challenges are all steps-based. Any Fitbit user can participate in a Challenge, regardless of what Fitbit tracker they have.

The fun thing about the challenges is that Fitbit sends you notifications on your competitors’ progress when they are ahead of you or another competitor. It really motivates you to step it up and go outside more. I definitely walked more than usual to win this challenge. Which I did, hurray!

5. Heart rate zone and visualizations

Fitbit tracks your heart rate 24/7 and displays it in a fascinating way: by fat-burning, cardio and peak zone. In settings, you can define your personal zones. It’s interesting to know how your heart rate is affecting your workout.

 

6. Small details

Around the digital clock on the watch you see a circle of dots that fills up every hour. It took some hours to figure out, but those dots are actually the number of steps you took that minute, a clever and fun way to keep track of how much you moved that hour.

Same thing goes for your heartbeat, where a graph made of dots shows how your heart rate was.
The calories screen shows how you’re working towards your calorie goal.

It’s the first time I came across an activity tracker with an eye for those little details, which makes it more fun to wear than other activity trackers.

Details Fitbit Surge

7. Battery life

Depending on how much you use the GPS function of the Fitbit Surge, your battery lasts quite some time—up to a week!

8. GPS

The Fitbit has a GPS function that helps you to visualize your workouts on a map and display information. If you’re like me, i.e., someone who goes running, biking and hiking without a predetermined route in mind, it’s nice to be able to look back and see where you ran afterward.

Map Fitbit Surge

But there are also things I don’t like about the Fitbit Surge

1. Design

The Fitbit Surge is a big chunky smartwatch. The screen is incorporated into the band, which makes the band very wide. On top of that the screen is extra thick. These factors make this a huge, non-refined watch.

Fitbit Surge

2. All the buttons

When I go running, I use so many apps that I have to activate, that I like my smartwatch to come with as few actions that I need to take as possible. The Fitbit Surge is not one of those. If you want to track your run for example, this is the flow you need to go through:

  • Push the side button to go to the activity menu
  • Tap the ‘Run’ screen
  • Choose on the screen which kind of run you’re going for
  • When the GPS is found, you still have to push another side button to start tracking

That means you have to push four buttons or screens before you can start tracking your run. I often forgot to push the last button and would notice halfway through my run that I wasn’t tracking it. Bummer!

3. Sleep analysis

The sleep analysis you get from a device that tracks your heart rate 24/7 is disappointing. It only shows when you were asleep, how long you slept and how many times you were awake or restless. It doesn’t give you deeper analysis into your REM sleep, deep sleep and light sleep.

4. Mobile app

The mobile Fitbit app holds a lot of information, but it’s all collected in the same format: bar graphs and a summary underneath. Whether it is nutrition, water intake, or sleep, all the information is displayed the same way, which I did not find appealing or helpful.

5. Premium plan for personalized features

If you want to improve your activity and get personal recommendations, you have to unlock a premium version. For a smartwatch with a price tag of $250 (and is one of the more expensive ones on the market), this seems kind of ironic. Especially since Jawbone give this advice for free via its Smart Coach. (And so does Addapp!)

Paid plan Fitbit

6. Rollerblading Considered as Steps

Diuring the Fitbit challenge I went rollerblading, and I found out that Fitbit counted rollerblading as steps, which is technically not the case and screwed up my steps stats. (It made me win the challenge though!)

Would I recommend the Fitbit Surge?

I definitely would recommend it to everyone who wants to have deeper analysis into their workouts and heart rate. If you like a challenge to improve your health and you have friends with Fitbit devices,

 

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Community manager @Addapp. Fascinated by sleep tracking, healthy nutrition, technology, social media, sunny days and Addapp users.
Training to run the Half Marathon of San Francisco.

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