Fitbit Surge review: The most expensive Fitbit, but not the prettiest

Price when reviewed

Having GPS is a very nice bonus, although whether it’s worth paying an extra £40 over the Fitbit Blaze for is open to debate, especially as Fitbit’s first smartwatch is aesthetically more appealing. The GPS also takes a while to lock on and wasn’t always 100% accurate. I was delighted to see it proven wrong on a recent 5k race when I crossed the finish line 0.25km before the Fitbit Surge said I should.

However, having a screen with plenty of data on it is useful, especially the ability to check your heart rate on the fly. It immediately reveals the impact of strenuous activity, and makes it easy to get a handle on what your average resting heart rate is. Given that the app tracks this over time, it’s a good measure of how your fitness level is improving over time, which is what Fitbit is all about. The Surge’s reliance on the app is occasionally disappointing, however. A case in point is that you can’t set an alarm on the watch itself: it requires you to set an alarm on the app, and then sync.

Unlike the Microsoft Band 2, it also managed to pass the “five-a-side test” – I was able to wear it for an entire match without being told to take it off by the referee. That’s quite important in a wearable for the sporty, although the data gleaned from GPS tracking on a tiny pitch is more Mr Messy than Mr Messi:fitbit_surge_gps_football

The battery has decent stamina, lasting seven days comfortably, although it will run out sooner if you constantly check your heart rate or do a lot of running or cycling with GPS. Fitbit says you’ll get ten hours if you use the GPS the whole time, which is long enough to walk a marathon, assuming you charge it fully before you start.

That’s good, but once again we do have to call Fitbit up on its use of proprietary chargers for each device. The Surge requires a unique charge cable that won’t fit any of its other units. The seven-day battery helps relieve this burden somewhat, especially as the app notifies you that your battery is low in good time, but it does mean you might want to buy a second cable to ensure you’re never caught short.[gallery:5]

Fitbit Surge: Verdict

Let’s get one thing clear right away: £200 is an awful lot of money to spend on a fitness tracker, even one as fully featured as this. I’d personally be more inclined to ditch the GPS, buy a Blaze and put the remaining £40 towards a good pair of running shoes. The inconvenience of running with a phone is, to me, not worth £40 to sidestep, especially when the result is a fitness tracker that’s less attractive and comfortable.

The Fitbit Surge is a good fitness tracker that I’ll be sorry to see leave my wrist, but it’s a little short of greatness, let down chiefly by its price and aesthetics. Fitbit seems to be taking more care on that front now, with the Blaze and the Alta, so there’s every chance that the follow-up to the Surge will be the one to beat. For now, though, I’m backing the Blaze.

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