No other level-entry band offered a better range of capabilities than Fitbit’s Inspire model. As a brand that’s synonymous with health and fitness tracking, Fitbit has spent the past decade motivating folks to get up and move. And in many ways, the Inspire HR feels like a culmination of years of figuring out what the aspiring fitness buff wants — all packaged in a wearable that’s more lightweight and affordable than anything that’s come before it.
Before we proceed, we should note that Fitbit peddles two versions of the Inspire — with or without the heart rate sensor (hence the “HR”) — and our testers agreed that the Inspire HR is a much better buy. Not only does it offer more nuanced readings, like advanced calorie and sleep tracking via the 24/7 heart rate monitor, it also comes with a higher-quality band.
With so many other Fitbit models, why this one, you ask? Great question! We believe that at $100, the Inspire HR nails all the basics — heart rate monitoring, step counting, and sleep tracking — in a sleek, streamlined wearable. While budget trackers at this price point are troubled by clunky designs, the Inspire HR is delightfully small and comfortable (with swappable bands, if that’s your thing).
A slight flick of the wrist or pressing of the left-hand side button causes the OLED touchscreen to light up, displaying the time and your heart rate. To get to exercise modes and other stats in more detail — including steps walked, distance traveled, calories burned, and heart rate — you simply swipe up and down. That said, the Inspire HR is meant to be basic, so there isn’t much you can do on the watch itself — any information other than surface-level stats needs to be checked on the app.
The Inspire HR’s peewee size does have some trade-offs, like a tiny touchscreen that could be a little strenuous to read at times. The upside is a fitness tracker that’s so low-profile you may forget it’s on you, which especially comes in handy for wearing it to bed and effectively tracking z’s. The Inspire HR does this well, with the ability to analyze your sleep stages (light, deep, or REM sleep).
But what about exercise itself? The Inspire HR claims it’s able to automatically recognize when you’re walking, running, biking, or swimming, but it’s not always accurate. After one of our testers sweated for an hour on a recumbent bike, for example, the app registered the exercise as swimming. So you can’t rely on the Fitbit to always get it right (luckily, you can just adjust the exercise in the app). Additionally, the Inspire HR tracks up to 15 different exercises, from yoga to kickboxing. You can also add in a custom exercise if you need to.
In terms of other features, our testers also loved the Inspire HR’s simple but effective guided-breathing mode, which has the device buzzing to let you know when to inhale, and again to exhale — perfect for a brief meditative moment.
In terms of battery life, the Inspire HR is respectable at up to five days on a single charge. If you’re doing intensive workout tracking every day, you’ll definitely be charging it once every five days. But if your version of exercise is lifting 2-pound hand weights while binge-watching Euphoria, then you’ll probably be able to charge it every 10 days or so. If you’re looking for the absolute best battery life in this price range, there’s the Xiaomi Mi Band 4, which runs you about $40 and has a 20-day battery life. But what time you save charging, you sacrifice in functionality. The Xiaomi only features four exercise modes and doesn’t have the same robust online community as Fitbit.
If you’re looking for even more personalized info, you can sign up for the Fitbit Premium program, which goes deeper into your fitness and sleep stats and uses your data to create insights and offer recommendations. But even without all the added benefits of a premium membership, the Fitbit Inspire HR proves it’s worth the money. It’s impressively discreet and easy to use, and offers enough basic learnings to help most people make meaningful changes in their lives.