Fitbit Charge 3 vs Inspire HR – Which One Is The Best?

fitbit charge 3 vs inspire hr

When you hear fitness tracker you think of a 21st-century invention, right? Wrong! Did you know that the very first fitness tracker can be traced as far back as the 1700s when they were more commonly known as a pedometer?

It’s a toss-up whether to credit horologist and inventor Abraham-Louis Perrelet for creating the earliest introductory pedometer or American Founding Father Thomas Jefferson who came up with a mechanical pedometer that was based on Perrelet’s original design.

What we know as fitness trackers really came on the scene in 1965. It was called the Manpo-kei, which translates from the Japanese to ‘10,000 steps meter. ’ This device was invented by Dr. Yoshiro Hatano, a Japanese professor at the Kyushu University of Health and Welfare, to help people dealing with issues relating to obesity.

Dr. Hatano concluded that having a healthy body requires a balanced combination of physical activity, that involves a minimum of 10,000 steps, and a well-balanced healthy diet. This number became the starting point for modern fitness trackers to gauge progress. However, the International Journal of Obesity published a recent study that suggests 15,000 steps may actually be the ideal minimum threshold to achieve optimal results.

The progress of technology in this area continued onwards and upwards when in the 1980s Polar watches incorporated wireless heart rate monitors. As mobile phones grew in popularity additional measuring features like 3D accelerometers (measures movement and the vibration in 3D space) were added with the upgraded Nokia’s 5500 Sports handset being the first phone to include an accurate physical activity tracker.

Fitness trackers began on the hip with a clip-on placed on the waistband and then later relocated to the wrist and this became the beginning of an entire line of what we nowadays call ‘wearables’ which includes health/fitness trackers, smartwatches, cameras, and VR headsets.

New inventions can be very exciting. It stimulates a demand for more and more until people become aware that more may not be necessarily better. With so many accouterments available, people find that the axiom “less is more” to be more apt and prefer simplicity as well as convenience.

Smartwatches have become quite popular as it offers a few devices integrated on your wrist. However, keeping the focus on the task at hand is also important to many. When going out to exercise a smartwatch with its many non-workout related functions operating may be distracting as well as unnecessary during a 30-60 minute workout.

For people who would prefer to keep it simple and want a fitness tracker for just that sole purpose, we are going to keep this review focused solely on fitness trackers with two models by Fitbit.

Fitbit, Inc. is an American Company that was founded on March 26, 2007, with headquarters located in San Francisco, CA. The company’s primary focus has been to develop and manufacture wearable fitness trackers that will measure and record health stats like heart rate, calorie burn, steps walked/run to support the avid fitness followers.

Fitbit’s first tracker was launched in September 2009 and was simply called Fitbit. A clip-on motion detector tracker solely used for tracking movement, sleep, and calorie burn 24/7. This device included its own wireless docking base that synced with the tracker. All updates were available via one’s computer (Mac or PC) and all the metrics information would be available to view from Fitbit’s online dashboard portal.

Subsequent models have come out offering either a more economical version with new features like an oxygen saturation (SPO2) sensor, an extended dashboard, option to log weight, water intake, as well as tracking exercise progress and goals.

Additional features that have come out in the past couple of years include running detector, enabling auto-pause and auto-stop, a birdie goal celebration as well as new clock faces to change up the device’s appearance to the user’s personal liking.

If you want to know if these trackers are reliable and accurate as advertised, you can check out studies that are available online. For example, a small 2015 study had participants wear Fitbit One and Flex trackers on the hip and wrists while walking or running on a treadmill.

Hip worn devices were found to be more accurate than their wrist-worn counterparts with a discrepancy of 10 steps between the two. When tracking calories burned, hip devices underestimated the tally by an average of 6%, wrist devices overestimated by 21%. The conclusion showed that hip devices were more accurate.

For quality trackers, Fitbit was runner-up at TechCrunch50 in 2008. At CES 2009, Fitbit was designated Innovation honoree and best in the Health & Wellness category.

In 2016, Fitbit ranked 37 out of 50 for most innovative companies and 46 on the Deloitte Fast 500 North America list.

If you want a waterproof wearable that offers only tracking functions and can receive notifications then you need not buy an expensive smartwatch. Instead, you may want to consider checking out a couple of Fitbit devices.

We are going to review and compare Fitbit’s Charge 3 and Inspire HR. They are both reasonably priced and have the basic features you are looking for to support your fitness goals. Both devices are smaller and sleeker compared to other devices which is always an attractive feature for many as it is more comfortable to wear on your wrist.

Breaking It Down

We are going to show you both Charge 3 and Inspire HR’s features; highlight what features are offered by one device and are missing in the other. We will give you the bottom line pros and cons of each tracker and then tell you, based on our research, which one we consider to be the better tracker for your needs.

Fitbit Charge 3

Release Date:

October 2018

Dimensions and Display:

1.4 x 0.89 x 0.46 inches, black plastic body, backlit grayscale touchscreen vertical display.

Colors

Black or rose gold aluminum

Sensors:

  • 3-axis accelerometer
  • Optical heart rate monitor
  • Altimeter
  • Vibration motor
  • Relative SpO2 sensor (to be enabled once available, see below how to enable)
  • NFC (special edition only)

Fitbit’s SpO2 oxygen saturation sensor

An oxygen saturation (SPO2) sensor measures the oxygen levels in your blood. This feature was included in the Fitbit Charge 3 (non-functional mode). Since early 2020 Fitbit is rolling out this app to Fitbit customers to activate in this and later models of this and other Fitbit devices.

Here is how to activate the SpO2 sensor:

  1. Fully charge the fitness tracker or keep it plugged into a charger during the update.
  2. Open the Fitbit app on your smartphone.
  3. Choose your profile avatar (located on the top left corner of the app).
  4. If Charge 3 from the list of Fitbit devices indicates there is an update pending then tap on the icon to activate.
  5. Once the update is complete select the sleep tile from the Today menu (bottom of the app) to check your blood oxygen.
  6. Choose the sleep log (a night’s sleep record) to view your personalized Estimated Oxygen Variation graph.

NFC

With Charge 3, the added NFC feature includes Fitbit Pay. (An option not provided on the Inspire HR).

Water-resistant

50 ATM – it is not recommended to wear the device in a hot tub or sauna.

Apps

Fitbit includes several pre-loaded apps:

  • Exercise
  • Relax
  • Timers
  • Alarms
  • Weather
  • Settings

These options cannot be deleted nor is there an option to add more apps to this device.

Exercises

Charge 3 offers from 15+ goal-based exercise modes with guided coaching.

Fitness/Health Tracking

  • 24/7 heart rate monitoring
  • Cardio fitness level
  • Auto sleep tracker
  • Reminders to move
  • Real-time pace and distance
  • Guided breathing
  • Swim tracking
  • All-day calorie burn
  • Female health

EGPS Connectivity

Charge 3 is not equipped with GPS so you will need to place the smartphone nearby to enable the device to access the phone’s GPS to track distance.

Screen Navigation

Both Charge 3 and Inspire HR have a home screen that doubles as a clock. Today on-screen dashboard can be navigated with a swipe up from the bottom of the screen.

Charge 3 stores its notifications above the home screen. When you want to view them you swipe down. To access apps swipe left.

Both devices include a button that allows you to go back a screen, turn off the display from the home screen, and when pressing for two seconds to access settings as well as tap and swipe to open apps, set timers, and start exercises.

Notifications

The device will ping for every notification and call that your phone receives. Specific to Charge 3, you can access a seven-day archive of old notifications by swiping down from the top of the screen. For Android phone users, there is the option to customize smart replies for text messages as well.

Battery life

A 2-hour charge provides seven days of battery life, including while sleeping.

Charge 3 and Inspire HR each to come with different charging cables. Both are compact enough to conveniently fit in a pocket or a small bag, but Charge 3’s cradle is a bit bulkier in comparison to Inspire HR’s magnetic induction cord.

Interchangeable Wristbands

Fitbit comes in several color combinations that you can mix up. There are even more choices from third-party sellers. Use the small button to detach the band from the tracker.

  • Black/Graphite
  • Blue Gray/Rose Gold
  • White/Graphite (SE)
  • Lavender/Rose Gold (Se)

PROS

  • Can change the appearance of the watch to match any occasion
  • Easy screen navigation
  • Accurate and reliable tracking
  • Useful graphs for activities and sleep to gain insight on overall health
  • Long battery life

CONS

  • Frequently shuts off and randomly disconnects syncing
  • Unreliable results from step counter and heart rate monitor
  • Inaccurate battery life indicator
  • Does not display more than 3 indicators simultaneously

Fitbit Inspire HR

Release Date:

March 2019

Dimensions and Display:

1.45 x 0.64 x 0.46 inches, black plastic body, backlit grayscale touchscreen OLED vertical display.

Colors

Black, lilac (blackface), white (blackface)

Sensors:

  • 3-axis accelerometer
  • Optical heart rate monitor
  • Vibration motor

Water-resistant

50 ATM

Apps

These are pre-loaded apps that cannot be deleted and you cannot add additional apps to this device.

  • Exercise
  • Relax
  • Timers
  • Alarms
  • Settings

Fitness/Health Tracking

SmartTrack offers all of the following:

  • 24/7 heart rate monitoring (plus display heart rate zones)
  • Cardio fitness level
  • Sleep stages
  • Real-time pace and distance
  • Goal-based exercise modes
  • Guided breathing
  • Automatic exercise recognition
  • Swim tracking
  • All-day calorie burn

Screen Navigation

Charge 3 apps can be found by swiping left. With Inspire HR swiping down will reveal the app list.

Notifications

Notifications can only be viewed and once new notifications appear the older ones disappear and cannot be retrieved. This device does not offer an option to archive notifications.

Battery life amd Charging

The Inspire HR battery will last for five days on a single charge. The magnetic induction cord will conveniently fit into a pocket or small bag.

Wristbands/Face

Fitbit offers several band/face color combinations to suit your taste:

  • Black/Black
  • Lilac/Lilac
  • White/Black

To interchange wristbands use the sliding pin.

PROS

  • Simple user interface
  • Different watch faces
  • The heart rate feature
  • The app is great

CONS

  • Turn Bluetooth back on, wait for the Fitbit to reconnect. Open the Fitbit app and syncing should be immediate)
  • The charger is very short.

Winner – Fitbit Charge 3

Final Verdict

To be honest, if you are looking for a little more than the basics, both Fitbit devices will suit the need. Charge 3 has a few more “bells and whistles” that Inspire HR does not offer like the SpO2 and archives old notifications to name a few.

For a discounted price, there is a version of the Inspire HR without the heart rate monitor, if that is a feature you can really do without when tracking your fitness goals.

Both devices will give you what you want, it really all comes down to personal preference.

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