Fitbit Flex Band Review – Best No-Nonsense Activity Tracker 2016
What is Fitbit Flex?
The Fitbit Flex has been one of the world’s best selling fitness trackers since it was first released in May 2013. Currently, it’s number one on Amazon in both the UK and the US, and it’s easy to see why it’s muscled its way to the top of the pile.
When most people think of a fitness tracker, they probably think of the Flex: an inconspicuous, app-driven silicone wrist band that counts steps, distance, and calories. It’s simple enough to appeal to individuals who are apprehensive about using technology on an intimate basis, yet it’s comprehensive enough to appeal to the more tech-savvy who are looking for a way to pay more attention to their health and wellbeing.
I love the Fitbit Flex — for lots of reasons. Let’s have a look at this cool, functional, and amazingly popular fitness tracker.
How does the Fitbit Flex Work?
It may seem like magic, but the Fitbit Flex is able to gather a lot of data about your movement thanks to its three-axis accelerometer. (This is the same technology that is used in most fitness trackers on the market today.) And if you’re wondering, how accurate is the Fitbit Flex, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s surprisingly accurate. Based on the personal data you enter into the corresponding app (height, weight, age, and so on), the Flex can calculate steps taken, distance travelled, and calories burned.
Also with the app, you can set a daily goal, then monitor your progress using the five LEDs on the band. Tap the Flex, and it will light up to show you how close you are to achieving your goal.
It should be noted that there are no advanced sensors on the Fitbit Flex: no heart rate monitor, no bioimpedance sensors, no GPS chip — nothing like that. But really, the Fitbit Flex is not meant to be an advanced tracker; it’s not intended for serious athletes or anyone training for races or competitions. Instead, the Flex is made for the average person who wants to move more and be more mindful of their health and wellness.
Fitbit Flex Bands – Not Too Shabby Looking, Either
I cannot lie: the Fitbit Flex looks like a tracker. It’s rubbery and sporty looking and there’s no way it will ever be mistaken for a piece of jewellery or a nice watch. Still, thanks to its slim profile and light weight, the Flex doesn’t stand out like some other, chunkier trackers (check out the Atlas Wristband, you’ll know what I mean).
The Fitbit Flex comes in ten colours, from the more subtle black or slate to the more vibrant lime or tangerine. And, because the Flex itself is just a small device that fits into the band, you can change up your band to match your outfit or your mood.
Plus, fashion conscious Flex users may be happy to learn that there are Tory Burch-designed wristbands that are compatible with the Flex. There are both metal and silicone wristlets, and there are even pendants designed to be worn on a chain. Just slip your Flex into one of these covers, and no one would ever suspect that the funky jewellery you’re wearing is actually a fitness tracker.
How to Put Fitbit Flex in Sleep Mode
The Fitbit Flex is a sleep tracker as well. As for how to put Fitbit Flex in sleep mode, all it takes is two fast taps before you’re ready to turn in for the night to put Fitbit Flex in sleep mode. The two dimming lights will confirm that it is indeed in sleep mode. The Flex will then track what time you finally nod off, how many times you wake up during the night, what time you finally wake up in the morning, and your total sleep time. When you’re ready to go back to activity mode, all you have to do is tap the Flex quickly three times.
While there’s no in-depth light versus deep sleep analysis on the Fitbit app, the Flex is perfect if you’re just looking for basic details about the quality of your shut-eye. I have noticed, however, that the Flex can sometimes have a hard time deciphering between times of restlessness and times awake, but on the whole, it does a good job.
I also love the Flex’s silent alarm. The gentle wrist vibration is a much calmer way to wake up than the loud, incessant beeping of a smartphone alarm or old fashioned alarm clock.
Relevant: The Best Sleep Trackers
Can Fitbit Flex Get Wet?
With the popularity of swimming and water aerobics, many potential buyers may wonder can Fitbit Flex get wet. The answer is a mixture of “sort of” and “not really.” The Flex is tested up to one ATM. What this means for Flex wearers is that it’s sweat proof, splash proof, and OK in light rain. You really shouldn’t shower with it on, and please do not go swimming with it.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a fitness tracker to count your laps in the pool or help you train for a triathlon, then the Fitbit Flex is not it. There are lots of great choices for trackers that you can get wet, but the Flex is designed for land use!
How to Use the Fitbit Flex
Alright, so maybe you’ve thought it over and decided that, yes, it’s time for me to hop on the fitness tracker bandwagon and get one. Now, you’ve got your new device in front of you and you’re wondering, how to use it or how do I set up my Fitbit Flex?
Well, the first thing you’ll want to do is download the Fitbit app. It’s available for iOS, Android, and Windows phones. Or, if you don’t have a smartphone or tablet, there’s a downloadable app for Mac or Windows.
Once you’ve got the app, you’ll want to create an account and then follow the directions to sync your device. It all connects wirelessly via BlueTooth from as far as 20 feet away, so there’s nothing to plug into your phone or tablet. Enter your personal data in the app settings, set a goal, and you can use the Fitbit Flex right away!
Charts, Logs, and Badges, Too
The Fitbit app does much more than tabulate your steps, distance, and calories. It’s a surprisingly robust health and wellness app that allows you to log additional workouts and keep track of your food intake. Plus, you can see how you’re doing with helpful graphs and charts. When you combine all of the health information you enter with all of the fitness and sleep information that the Flex gathers, you end up with a very complete picture of your health.
Beyond that, the Fitbit app will keep you motivated by sharing milestones, like your one hundredth mile or your first day with 20,000 steps. Also, a lot of the badges it gives you are fun, like telling you that you’ve walked far enough to get to India on foot. While some users find these a bit silly, I really like them, as they help to put my activity in perspective and keeps me wondering what milestone I’ll reach or badge I’ll earn next.
Keeping Up With the Gang
Chances are, you’ve got at least a few friends who are Fitbit users and who have an account on the Fitbit app. Connect with them, and you can enjoy the app’s social component as well. You’ll see a leaderboard with you and all of your Fitbit-using contacts, and you can motivate one another and compete in challenges.
A few of my buddies and I are all connected with one another through Fitbit, and we have lots of fun with it. We tease anyone who’s slacking off, and some of us get competitive about being on the top of the list. In fact, we’ve sort of set up a little wager to keep it interesting and to keep one another honest: we meet for drinks every week or so, and the person at the bottom of the leaderboard has to buy the first round. (The rest of us, of course, feel we’ve really earned that drink.)
How to Charge the Fitbit Flex
Like most other battery-powered devices, how to charge the Fitbit Flex isn’t a problem at all — it’s remembering to charge your Fitbit Flex. The built-in lithium polymer battery should last five days, though setting lots of alarms and frequently tapping to check your daily progress will eat away at your battery life.
To get your Flex to a full charge, just take it out of its band, put it in the charging cable, and plug it in. In an hour or two, it should be at full strength.
Fitbit Flex vs. Other Fitness Trackers
When it comes to fitness trackers, Fitbit has had a lock on the number one spot for several years. And while the Flex is certainly its most popular offering, there are other Fitbits to consider. The Zip and the One are both worn as a clip rather than a wristlet; the Zip is inexpensive but doesn’t track sleep, while the One costs the same as the Flex and also tracks floors climbed. Then, on the higher end of the Fitbit spectrum are, in order, the Charge and Charge HR (the HR stands for heart rate), the GPS-enabled Surge, and the newly announced Blaze, which should be available in March 2016.
Jawbone is a big competitor to the Fitbit lineup, and many of its products are counterparts to the trackers made by Fitbit. Then, there are other and often smaller companies with amazing products, such as Misfit with its Shine and Flash, Garmin and its Vivofit 2, and Withings and its Activité. Other low cost but surprisingly functional trackers include the Razer Nabu X, the Mio Alpha, and the MOOV NOW. And for anyone looking to get a tracker at a bargain basement price, there’s the Xiaomi Mi band, which can be had for an astonishing ten quid.
Relevant: Jawbone UP3 vs Fitbit Charge HR
But the Fitbit Flex is Tops
While all of these companies make good trackers, and some of these companies make excellent trackers for less money than the Flex, I’ve decided to stick with the Fitbit Flex for several reasons. First, Fitbit is an internationally recognised name in fitness trackers. I know it’s not a fly by night company that could fold at any minute; it’s been around for nine years (a lifetime in the wearable tech world), it’s well established, and it makes highly regarded products.
But mostly, the Flex does everything I want and doesn’t complicate my life with too many features. Sure, there are people out there who would benefit from a multi sport tracker with built-in fitness coaching, but for me (and, I think, a lot of other people), it’s too much. I just want to know that I’m moving enough and sleeping well. If the Flex were too involved, I’d probably lose interest.
The Fitbit Flex retails for £79.99, and you can download the corresponding app for free. It hits the useful tech sweet spot, and even though it’s priced on the higher side for a basic tracker, it’s still affordable. If you’ve resolved to make 2016 the year you start paying more attention to your health, the Fitbit Flex is a great tool to have on your wrist.