Reviews

Fitbit Flex

October 25, 2014

I’ve had the Fitbit Flex tracker for a while now but never got down to reviewing it properly. With the impending release of the new Fitbit trackers I thought its the right time to finish my reviews of the entire line of Fitbit trackers as a homage to the company whose name is synonymous with fitness trackers.

With the discontinuation of the Fitbit Force , the Flex is the only wrist worn activity tracker in Fitbit’s arsenal, not counting the new line of trackers. Though released about one and a half years back, the Fitbit Flex is still the number one best selling activity tracker on Amazon.com. In the world of activity trackers, that’s an eternity considering the sea of trackers that has since hit the market.

The Flex line is also the only tracker to have spawned an official line of fashion accessories with Tory Burch, and a few non official ones you can find on Amazon or Etsy. Let’s find out what is it that makes the Fitbit Flex tick.

LOOK AND FEEL

fitbit flex front and back

The removable Fitbit Flex tracker.

fitbit flex charger

Charging is via a proprietary cable that has a USB end.

The Fitbit Flex tracker is black coloured though the wrist band is changeable. The Fitbit online store offers up to 10 different coloured wrist bands users can purchase seperately. The Fitbit Tory Burch collection has some really neat looking accessories to house the Fitbit Flex unit though the price tag leaves little to be desired.

slotting fitbit flex into wristband

Once slotted into the wristband, the Fitbit Flex is housed snugly.

The Flex tracker slots into the wristband and is held snugly. Water-proof up to 10 metres, the Flex is suitable for showers and swims. Though it might help to remove the tracker to clean the interior of the wristband which I personally found tend to accumulate dirt. It sure helps to keep the trackers clean!

fitbit flex at 20 goal

One LED light also means anywhere from 0 to 20 percent of goal reached.

fitbit flex clasp

Wristband clasp of the Fitbit Flex.

Keeping things simple, the 5 LED lights on the display represents the user’s goal for the day with each LED representing 20%. If you hit your goal, all the lights will light up accompanied with vibration. Other than that, the LED lights are turned off unless activated; probably a battery saving move.

fitbit flex on wrist fron and back

How the Fitbit Flex looks when worn.

Controls are via tapping on the Fitbit Flex unit, no buttons, no scrolls.

DATA PRESENTATION (Near Identical for Fitbit tracker series)

fitbit-charge-hr-dashboard

The Fitbit app interface is identical across the various platforms.The app screen can be customised to display stats which the user is interested only. For starters, the available stats to be displayed include steps, calories, distance, active minutes, water consumed, food log and weight. Stairs climbed is an available tracked stat for Fitbit One, Fitbit Charge and Charge HR.

Heart rate is an additional measurable for Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge only.

steps and distance history

7 days history view of Steps and Distance. 

active minutes and calories burnt history

 Challenges with friends

fitbit-challenge

 

The challenges option was added on October 2014 and provides a new feature that allows the user to individually challenge members on their friend’s list. A total of 4 challenge types are available.

Fitbit In-app MapMyRun feature

mapmyrun feature

A 38 minutes walk with the MapMyRun feature activated. Map and distance is correctly captured. This feature is only available on iOS platform and select Android devices only.

The Mapmyrun in-app feature allows the user to track exercise (walk, hike, run) using the phone’s GPS. The Fitbit Surge is the only Fitbit tracker with built-in GPS and can track routes without requiring a smartphone to be close.

friends

Pictures and names of my friends have been blurred to protect their identity.

The key feature and probably what makes the Fitbit platform so easy to use , in my opinion, is the addition of friends and viewing their progress. You can also text, cheer or taunt your friends to encourage them to move a little more.

ANYTHING ELSE?

brass collection tory burch

The accessories tie up with Tory Burch.

silicon tory burch band

Fitbit x Tory Burch wrist straps.

The small removable unit of the Fitbit Flex also means plenty of customisation when it comes to finding an aesthetically pleasing option. On top of the ten coloured wrist bands offered on sale by Fitbit, the collaboration with Tory Burch gave birth to some wicked looking accessories.

Now who said fitness and fashion don’t match?

sleep chart

The tracked sleep graph of the Fitbit app.

The Fitbit Flex also offers sleep tracking which is initiated by a double tap of the Fitbit Flex unit. The sleep graph is indicative at best and would be more than adequate when used as a tool to track duration of sleep over time. Quality of sleep? Not so much.

IN A NUTSHELL

Pros:
  • Tracks steps, calories, distance, sleep.
  • Includes MapMyRun feature to tap on smartphone GPS.
  • Waterproof to 10 metres
  • Usable without smartphone (syncs directly with PC/Mac)
  • Android, iOS, Windows phone compatible
  • 5 days battery life
  • Silent vibration alarm
  • Weekly summary
  • Background syncing via Bluetooth Smart
  • Comprehensive app
  • Allows activity session tracking
  • Wristband customisation options
Cons:
  • No heart rate reading
  • No audio alert, idle alert
  • No visible screen
  • Sleep tracking manually activated

Though dated, the Fitbit Flex still punches above its weight as an activity tracker. A price drop might re-ignite the interest in this tracker considering other similarly priced trackers on the market like the Garmin Vivofit, Polar Loop and the ridiculously cheap Xiaomi Miband (which is compatible with Xiaomi phones only)

If heart rate readings and in-unit GPS functions are not important to you, the Fitbit Flex is still very much a work horse that deserves a place on anybody’s wrist.

Check out the smart phone device compatibility list here.

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