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Fitbit’s value-priced fitness tracker sports a color display, but also asks you to subscribe to Fitbit Premium
The Fitbit Inspire 3 is a compact, inexpensive fitness tracker that typically sells for around $100 or less, although unlocking all of its performance requires a monthly subscription to the Fitbit Premium app, which may make the Inspire 3 less of a bargain than it might at first appear.
The Fitbit Inspire 3 has a lightweight plastic body with a removable silicone band that comes in black, lilac, and morning glow, which is a bright yellow. The 1.55-inch-long case features a relatively small AMOLED color touchscreen display, which is an upgrade from the Fitbit Inspire 2’s monochrome display. It features a variety of fitness tracking functions, ranging from basic step counting and heart rate info to more sophisticated options like sleep tracking and stress monitoring.
The Fitbit Inspire 3 replaces the popular Fitbit Inspire 2, and the biggest change is that the tracker’s relatively small touchscreen is now color. The vivid AMOLED display represents a significant upgrade over the Inspire 2, improving a display that was a bit of a weakness. That said, I still found it a bit small to read while running in bright sunlight. You can also receive notifications from either iOS or Android smartphones on the screen, though you’re likely to head back to your phone to actually read them.
On the other hand, the Inspire 3’s dedicated AC adapter feels old school, in a bad way; it’s hard to use, the cord is preposterously short, and if you lose it, it’d be annoying to replace. And like most fitness trackers, the Inspire 3 uses a silicone band, which can irritate some people’s skin. (Back in 2014, an earlier Fitbit model was subject to a recall because some consumers suffered from rashes and skin irritations from similar bands.) It’s smart to keep the Inspire 3 clean and dry, and not to wear the strap too tight. I didn’t experience any of these issues with the Inspire 3 during my relatively brief evaluation period.
Our lab testers haven’t yet evaluated the Fitbit Inspire 3, but they gave the Inspire 2 solid marks for its step-count accuracy and heart rate monitoring. When lab test results for the Inspire 3 are available, we’ll bring you an update.
Perhaps the biggest decision to make about the Inspire 3 concerns Fitbit Premium. The Inspire is an inexpensive device at around $100. However, accessing all of its functionality requires the Fitbit Premium smartphone app, which costs $10 a month after an initial 6-month trial subscription. Doing the math, that means that two years of ownership for the Inspire costs $280, which places it solidly in smartwatch territory cost-wise. Three years? That’s $400.
The good news: The Inspire 3 generally works fine without Fitbit Premium. It’s easy to do straightforward step counting, and to boost your motivation you can set up challenges with friends or family members who are also Fitbit users. Fitbit’s basic tier also lets you tap into advanced training metrics, like Heart Rate Zones that allow you to easily see how much time you spent doing low-intensity aerobic work in the Cardio Zone and how much you spent sweating at higher intensity in the Peak Zone.
I also found that Fitbit Inspire 3 delivers robust sleep tracking with granular details about sleep staging and an overall Sleep Score. Those nightly sleep metrics are also rolled into a useful Readiness score that advises whether you should go for a hard workout or would benefit more from a laid-back recovery day. The Inspire 3 does lack onboard GPS tracking that would allow you to track your route during a run or a ride while leaving your smartphone at home.
If you pass on Premium, you’d be giving up access to peripheral content like mindfulness workouts from Calm (which seems reasonable). You’ll also give up breakdowns of and access to your long-term fitness and sleep-tracking data (not so great). If you can ignore the device’s frequent prompts to upgrade to Premium, you can take advantage of the Inspire 3’s low price and get handy access to a very useful smartphone app. Note that Fitbit is owned by Google, which gathers the data it collects through the Fitbit app and can use it for various business purposes.
Consumer Reports has full test results for the Fitbit Inspire 3 and 25 other fitness trackers.
The Inspire 3 is for a Fitbit fan looking for an inexpensive fitness tracker that can be tossed in a bag after a workout. It’s compact and comfortable, and the bright color display represents a welcome improvement over its predecessor, the Inspire 2. The Fitbit Inspire 3 represents a good value, but you need to either be willing to pay $120 a year for ongoing access to the Fitbit Premium app or have the discipline to forgo some of that nice-but-optional functionality.
Our trained testers test dozens of fitness trackers in our dedicated labs in Yonkers, N.Y. They begin with the basics, evaluating “ease of interaction” (how fast a watch’s display responds to our inputs) and “ease of pairing,” as well as generating an overall “ease of use” score. Our techs then work up a sweat when they test step counts and heart rate monitoring, in which the data from the devices are compared with medical-grade monitors.
We also test watches for ruggedness. We evaluate any claims that models make for water resistance, using a pressure tank that can mimic submersion in deep water. For instance, based on the claims made by their manufacturers, some watches are tested at the equivalent of 164 feet for 10 minutes. Our testers also employ specially designed instruments to test the display for scratch resistance.
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