Fitbit Alta review: A solid, albeit slightly old tracker
Since we first reviewed the Fitbit Alta, several new wearables have been added to the company’s collection including the Fitbit Charge 2 and the Fitbit Flex 2. Then there’s also the Fitbit Alta HR. In terms of price, the Fitbit Alta (£100) sits between the Flex 2 (£70) and the Charge 2 (£140) and is £30 cheaper than the Alta HR (£130).
In terms of functionality, the Alta is closer to the Flex 2 than the Charge 2, with one big difference: the Flex 2 is swimproof, and can help you track lengths amongst other things. The Alta has a screen though, meaning it can show caller ID and the time – whether you think that warrants an extra £30 is up to you.
As its name suggests, the Alta HR adds heart-rate tracking (and more detailed sleep analysis), but if you want to track floors climbed and have multi-sport support and smartwatch style notifications, then you’ll need the Charge 2, which only costs £10 more.
READ MORE: Best fitness trackers 2018
Nothing we’ve mentioned in the review needs to be revisited in light of the new members of the Fitbit family – it’s just a good idea to be informed about other options – especially when you could save £30 by purchasing a Flex 2 instead.
Original review continues below
There was a time when buying a Fitbit was simple. There was only one of them, and it did one thing very well: it counted your steps. You could blissfully carry on with your life, with a gentle prod from the Fitbit encouraging you to be a tad more active.
Today, however, there are no fewer than eight Fitbits, ranging from the £50 Fitbit Zip up to the Fitbit Surge at three times the price. About halfway up the Fitbit ladder at £100, sits the Fitbit Alta. Meanwhile, Amazon UK have the Fitbit Alta from £79.99 (or Amazon US from $99). Like the super-popular Fitbit Flex, the Alta represents a return to a more basic wristband tracker – and it looks all the sharper for it.
Fitbit Alta: Design
When I reviewed Fitbit’s first smartwatch, I commented that, for the first time, the company had made a product designed to stand out. No longer content purely with substance, Fitbit was making a play for the style market, too. With the Alta, the truth is more complicated: it looks very swish indeed, but Fitbit has retreated to its understated comfort zone.[gallery:4]
In other words, the Alta is more closely related to the Flex than anything else in the collection. It is almost exactly the same size, and, although it packs a lot more information on to its tiny, monochrome Oled screen than the Fitbit Flex, the screen is off by default. For most of the day, it is a faceless, non-descript band.
Fitbit would argue that it is only as non-descript as you want it to be. The company sells a range of coloured bands that snap in place around the screen element, giving you a degree of customisability. However, even with the most brightly coloured band attached, the Alta still attracts fewer glances than the Blaze.
Whether or not you think this is a bad thing is personal. Some people like their wearables to make a statement, while others just want functionality. Fitbit treads the line between the two quite well here.
On a practical level, it works better than the Flex, too. While the bestseller’s stretchy rubber pouch had a tendency to tear after repeated use, the Alta’s strap comes in two parts, each one fastening to the Fitbit’s brain via a metal clip. It feels sturdy, it is easy to pop in and out and, crucially (given that it’s designed to track your sleep as well as general activity levels), it is comfortable enough to wear in bed. As with all Fitbit products, the Alta is water-resistant, rather than waterproof, so you’ll want to take it off in the shower or the pool.
A familiar downer that will come as no surprise to anyone who has followed Fitbit’s products over the years is that the Alta features yet another unique, proprietary clip-based charger. The reason for this is the aforementioned water resistance; open USB ports are clearly a big no-no. However, it is baffling why Fitbit can’t aim for some kind of compatibility between models – until you look at the cost of replacement cables.
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Fitbit Alta specifications
|Wearing modes||Wrist strap|
|Display||OLED, tap display|
|OS support||Android, iOS|
|Battery size||Not stated|
|Battery life||5 days|