Fitbit Blaze is the company's second stab at making a premium fitness watch. Blaze follows Fitbit Surge, one of our favourite fitness wearables so far. Unlike the Surge, which has a monochrome display, Fitbit Blaze gets a colour screen. That is an upgrade over the Surge. Should you buy the Blaze over an Apple Watch or an Android Wear smartwatch? Let's find out.
Fitbit Blaze design
The Fitbit Blaze is the most modular of the fitness wearables the company has made so far. It needs to be removed from the metal casing for charging, and swapping the band is also pretty easy. This is great if you plan to buy multiple bands and swap them to match your attire.
Unfortunately the charging apparatus is a side effect of this design. With the Blaze, Fitbit has introduced yet another proprietary charger to its lineup. At this point we find it hard to understand why Fitbit hasn't tried to ship a standard charger with all of its wearables. Even if the company prefers a proprietary charger, it's better to have one or at most two chargers across its lineup. In the future if you were to lose or break the charger of a product Fitbit has stopped selling, you'll find it hard to continue using the product.
It's a bit unfortunate that Fitbit continues to avoid standard Micro-USB or USB-C chargers. The latest charger from Fitbit requires you to take off the display and trap it inside a kind of an enclosure, as you can see in the photos. This is about as clunky as charging gets, and we hope the company avoids this in future products.
Gripes about the charger aside, the Fitbit Blaze is a nice-looking watch. It's bigger than the Surge and looks decidedly more masculine, which means that it may not appeal to women. Fitbit recently launched more bands made of both stainless steel and leather. This solves any style-related inconveniences people may have had with the Blaze.
The Blaze's band uses the same elastomer material as the Surge, but we didn't find it to be as comfortable. Continuous use led to skin irritation and we had to keep taking the watch off once in a while.
The display is crisp and shows colours vividly. We didn't particularly like any of its watch faces. Sadly there are no more options and the ability to customise watch faces is also missing. From a style standpoint, that's a downer.
The Blaze has three buttons - one of them works as a back button and the other two can be used for selection. Most of the times we found ourselves using the touchscreen. The base of the display has a heart rate sensor, which records your heart rate in real-time.
Fitbit Blaze performance
We measured the accuracy of the Fitbit against the step counter on our iPhone 5s and a treadmill. During the usage period we took roughly 8000 steps per day and noticed a difference of roughly 250 to 300 steps between the two trackers at the end of the day. The distance measured by Fitbit Blaze was almost the same as the treadmill after a 2km walk, so the tracker appears to be quite accurate.
The Fitbit Blaze does not have a built-in GPS chip. This is a major let-down if you are a runner. The Blaze syncs with your phone and uses the GPS on the phone to track your runs. If you don't like carrying your phone during runs, then the Blaze is going to be of no use to you.
We tested the device during the monsoon and went on an 8-km run in the rain. We tested it while wearing a rain jacket with full sleeves, and the sleeves kept rubbing against the display and automatically starting and ending runs. This got annoying really fast and after a point we just gave up trying to use the Blaze to track our run. It worked fine in dry weather when we didn't have to wear a rain jacket.
Another feature of Fitbit Blaze is integrated FitStar workouts. This app guides you through short workouts with an animation showing how you're supposed to do them. This helps if you want to check your form. We think this is a good feature for those who're getting into workouts. We'd love to see this integration to carry over to the Fitbit app. Fitbit's app is great if you want to compete with your friends, and need motivation to hit your goals. It could become even better and feel more complete if it adds various training and exercise routines. We found ourselves using other apps for running because they have training plans for half-marathons, while Fitbit's own app doesn't.
Other modes let you track exercises such as bike rides, elliptical, weights, among others. We didn't use these as most of our training involves running and basic strengthening.
The Fitbit Blaze lasted around four days on a single charge. That's far better than smartwatches. You get notifications on the Blaze and it has music controls too. These features are extremely useful if you don't want to keep picking up your phone every time it buzzes. Right now, you only get notifications for calls, text messages, and calendar events. But the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 has notifications for WhatsApp and other chat apps, and we think Fitbit should add these too.
Fitbit Blaze's design and ability to show notifications are its best features. The silent alarm is pretty useful too. The lack of a GPS hurts the Blaze's utility as a watch for runners. If you need a watch that shows you notifications, has a colour screen, and multiple days of battery life, Fitbit Blaze is a good choice. For runners, unless you absolutely must have a colour screen, the Surge is a better choice.
Fitbit Blaze is currently available on Amazon at Rs. 19,890. At this price, we can recommend it only to those who need a wearable with a great display and decent tracking. Serious fitness enthusiasts should get the Fitbit Surge instead. The Fitbit Surge's GPS isn't the most accurate though, as we realised while running a half marathon. If that concerns you, go for a dedicated running watch such as the TomTom Cardio Spark or the Garmin Forerunner 235.
Ratings (out of 5)