Between the recently launched Apple Watch Series 8 and Google’s long-awaited Google Pixel Watch (finally), smartwatches are all the rage. However, if you’re not in the market for a replacement for your current watch and are more comfortable with a less expensive, less complicated activity tracker, the Fitbit Inspire 3 (the follow-up to our longstanding pick for the best fitness trackers) might more suitable for your choice.
Fitbit recently updated its popular line of fitness trackers, and I’ve been testing the small but powerful Inspire 3, which now has a color display, 10-day battery life, and sells for under $100. Not only is it affordable, it’s also smaller and lighter than most smartwatches and many similar fitness bands.
I’ve been walking around and exercising with the Fitbit Inspire 3 for over a month now, and despite a few hiccups, I’ve found that it tracks everything I need, including steps, distance, calories, heart rate, sleep, and more. While it’s not a smartwatch, it’s dodgy enough to send notifications from my phone via Bluetooth, so I can check text messages or see who’s calling with just a glance at my wrist.
The Fitbit Inspire 3 is the best fitness tracker for most people, offering comprehensive tracking, a vivid color display, and a comfortable fit for less than $100.
I’ve been using and reviewing since the first Fitbit activity tracker debuted in 2009 — and it includes everything from basic models to more sophisticated smartwatch models. The updated Inspire 3 is small enough to not get in my way, packs a ton of features, and at $99, fits most budgets. Compatible with Android and iOS smartphones, the strap is available in three color options: Midnight Zen (dark grey), Morning Glow (orange) and Lilac Bliss (light purple), and comes with two flexible silicone straps of different sizes. Optional accessories include a nifty stainless steel mesh strap if you want to liven things up.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Fitbit Inspire 3 is the bright color AMOLED screen, which replaces the monochrome screen on the Inspire 2. This new screen not only makes the tracker more attractive, but it’s also easier to view your information in bright sunlight. Smaller and narrower than my current Fitbit Charge 4, its pebble-shaped design is wrapped in a slim 1.55-inch case.
You access information the same way – tap and swipe through menus. Swipe left to view notifications, exercises, alarms and timers. Swipe up to view settings and swipe down to view daily health statistics. I found the screen to be generally responsive, although there were times when I had to swipe multiple times to get it to notice.
The new model does have an always-on display, but be warned: it will drain your tracker battery faster than the 10-day battery life the Inspire 3 has. Without this feature, I get about 11 days of battery life on a single charge. Fitbit says you’ll get about three days with the always-on screen.
Activity tracking is what Fitbit does best, and the Inspire 3 makes it easy. There are over 20 different workouts to choose from (including running, cycling, swimming, and treadmill), but your smart device can only do six at a time. To replace them, you need to connect to the app, make changes and resync the device.
The Inspire 3 also uses what it calls Active Zone Minutes to help you better achieve your workout goals. It monitors your heart rate and tracks how much time you spend in certain areas, taking into account your age and fitness level. When I walk in the morning, I usually keep a steady pace. However, if I speed up or run, it changes from “fat burning” to “cardio zone” giving me active zone minutes.
All of this is done in the background, while it also tracks your distance, calories burned, steps, elapsed time and heart rate. You can view all the data on your wrist when you’re done working out, or in the app after syncing.
The Inspire 3’s new health monitoring features make it a compelling health tracker other than a fitness tracker. It automatically tracks Sp02 (blood oxygen) levels throughout the day, and while it can’t do an EKG like the more expensive Fitbit Charge 5 or newer smartwatches, it monitors your heart rate and alerts you if it detects an irregular heartbeat .
Once it’s synced with the Fitbit app, you can access all this data and drill down for more information or a schedule. In the app, you can also manually track menstrual and blood sugar levels, and view historical data.
Although the Inspire 3 is Fitbit’s entry-level tracker, it still offers the company’s comprehensive sleep tracking capabilities. I’m not a big fan of wearing trackers while sleeping, but the silicone strap and small size make it light and comfortable enough to give me a try.
Fitbit recommends wearing it for 14 nights for deep sleep profiles, but even after a few nights I was able to see how much deep and REM sleep I was getting compared to light and restless sleep.It also tracks resting heart rate, sleep duration and blood oxygen levels, so trends in the data will give you a good idea of how well you sleep
Sure, Inspire 3 tracks and lets you easily view your health and fitness stats, but if you decide to buy a Fitbit Premium subscription, you’ll get access to deeper health metrics and trends, as well as advanced workout challenges.
The Daily Readiness score looks at your sleep, heart rate and activity data to help you better listen to your body. Did you have a good night’s rest? Maybe you’ll want to push yourself a little tighter today. On the other hand, a low readiness score means your body has been wiped out and you may want to recover for a day. For example, one morning it suggested that I do a brisk walk or stretch instead of a more strenuous workout, which I gladly accepted.
Sleep Score provides insight into your sleep quality (how long you slept, how much deep sleep and REM sleep) and recovery patterns. There are also stress management tools and health reports to delve into.
Premium members can view details of their stress score, including motor balance, reflexes and sleep patterns. I especially like that it shows how my body responds to stress over an extended period of time, and sometimes even suggested I consider a quick meditation or take a break using the Relax app, which guided me through a guided breathing session.
You don’t need a premium subscription to benefit from the Inspire 3 tracker, but it’s worth checking out if you want to better understand how your overall activity, heart rate and sleep affect your body. Your smart device is free for 6 months, so if you want to keep it after that, you’ll then be charged $9.99 a month or $79.99 a year.
While I like the Inspire 3’s compactness and color screen is one of its best new features, some users may find it a bit also small. Because I wear reading glasses, it’s hard for me to quickly scan text messages or read my heart rate during a workout. The clock face can be changed to make the date and time larger, but I still had a hard time seeing it once I tracked activity.
I also want to be able to track activity and see the time – which I can currently do on the Charge 4. However, once you start tracking workouts on the Inspire 3, you can no longer access the home screen. You can scroll through the screen to see information like pace, heart rate, steps, and calories, but even then you can only see time as a small data point. This takes too many steps and is hard to read when I’m trying to stay faster.
Currently, the message “Good job!” pops up every time you finish an exercise. I can get picky, but I don’t mind if it’s a little more picky. I’ll take it when I’m done with the three-mile class, but if I only work out for 10 minutes and don’t hit my usual routine, it’s ok if it says more like “nice try.”
As picky as I am, it would be nice if the information that pops up when you finish the exercise could be a little more fussy. Currently, it says “Good job!” every time. I’ll take it when I’m done with the three-mile class, but if I only work out for 10 minutes and don’t hit my usual routine, it’s ok if it says more like “nice try.”
The Fitbit Inspire 2 tops our list of the best fitness trackers for its smart design, ease of use, and comprehensive health and activity tracking, so it’s no surprise that the updated Inspire 3 builds on that. For $99, you won’t find a more comprehensive, feature-rich entry-level device.
There are other activity trackers at this price point with similar metrics, like the $80 Garmin Vivofit 4—we especially like this one that uses buttons to help navigate menus. However, we also found the Garmin app and interface clunky and difficult to navigate.
The data and insights the Fitbit app itself has to offer is comprehensive, so if you want a device with more features, Fitbit has a few options.
The Fitbit Charge 5 comes with a slightly larger screen, but at $150 it’s about $50 more. It’s less sleek looking, but has high-end features like built-in GPS and Spotify integration, so you don’t have to carry your phone with you while you run. It also features an ECG app for heart rhythm assessment and offers 7 days of battery life. The $129 Fitbit Luxe has the same features and performance as the Inspire 3, but adds a gold case. The Luxe’s battery life is about five days.
With its entry-level price tag, the Inspire 3 lacks the smarts of more expensive devices. There’s no built-in GPS (though you can use your phone’s GPS to track runs via Bluetooth), and there’s no contactless payments or built-in music services like Spotify.
But if you’re looking for a tracker that’s easy to use, feature-rich and has a battery life that lasts for days, the Fitbit Inspire 3 leads the pack with its color screen and 10-day battery life. You also get useful features like stress management, 2-minute relaxation sessions, reminders to wake up and move, and Find My Phone when you leave your phone at home. And, at less than $100, it’s affordable, comfortable to wear all day, and gives you access to meaningful data within its comprehensive Fitbit app.