Long Term Review: Fitbit Inspire HR

When my Fitbit Charge 2 retired, I decided to replace it with an Inspire HR instead of a Charge 3.  Here are my reasons why and how it fares after a year and a half of use.

My Inspire HR sporting a screen protector (which I removed later due to poor legibility).

I’ve become a fan of Fitbit since the Charge 2.  In fact, I was only forced to “upgrade” when its battery died 9,000 kilometers later.  The long battery life and 24/7 heart rate monitoring won me over.  But instead of switching to its successor, I went a tier lower with the Inspire HR for the following reasons:

Appearance

The Inspire HR shares a lot of similarities with the Charge 2 from the small rectangular body to the single side button with the main difference being size: the Inspire HR is a little smaller than the Charge 2 so their accessories are incompatible.  Both of them sport a small touch screen surrounded by huge bezels, but the Inspire HR ups the ante as it’s able to show more shades of light over the Charge 2’s monochromatic screen.  The Inspire HR also sport rounded edges and personally I like it better than the hard corners of the Charge 2.

Features

The Inspire HR is practically just a smaller version of the Charge 2.  Their operating system is almost exactly identical with the Inspire HR just having better UI and animation due to a newer OS version.  Only the “Swim” feature is missing from the Charge 2 and everything else is pretty much the same.  The most used ones for me are the 24/7 heart rate monitoring, sleep quality tracking, and GPS using the paired mobile phone.  I also use the “Weights” activity under Exercise while working out to keep track of my duration and current heart rate.  As with the Charge 2, there’s some delay with the heart rate but is still within acceptable range.  My Charge 2 review should give you a more in-depth coverage of the features of the Inspire HR given their similarities.

Battery Life

As with Charge 2, the Inspire HR sports a long battery life despite the 24/7 heart rate monitoring.  I only have to charge it once a week even a year and a half of use later, albeit the exact number of days became noticeably less.  It actually survived on months of empty charge when the lockdown started and I left it somewhere inaccessible to me until restrictions were lightened.

Price

The biggest driver of my switch to the Inspire HR is its price.  It’s significantly much cheaper than the Charge 2 at the time and it has practically the same features just in a slightly smaller package.

App

The Inspire HR uses the same Fitbit App that the Charge 2 was using.  Not much has changed since my review of the latter so you may check that review for a deeper dive into the app.

My Inspire HR with a custom band.

Summary

More than a year and a half of use later, I think I made a good decision of picking the Inspire HR.  I did not miss any features from the Charge 2 and perhaps the only adjustment that I had was the slightly smaller screen.  The improved screen and official support for swimming actually made it seem like an upgrade!  On the downside though, the screen isn’t that bright so it’s barely readable outdoors.  And at this time, it’s only the battery that’s showing signs of aging—it sometimes doesn’t charge all the way to 100% and when it does quickly drop to 85% before stabilizing.  It could possibly be the only reason I would switch to my next tracker, but I’m very contented with it until now.

Pros

  • Can use GPS from paired mobile device
  • Lightweight and slim form factor
  • Water resistance
  • Much more affordable than dedicated GPS watches
  • Built-in optical heart rate monitor
  • All-day step counter with distance calculator
  • Calls and text messages notifications
  • At least one week battery life even with multiple GPS runs
  • Third-party accessories
  • GPS-tracked runs exportable as TCX
  • Hourly 250-step notification
  • Relative ease of use of tracker
  • Comprehensive data monitoring and motivating activities on the Fitbit App
  • Multi-platform support of the Fitbit App
  • Highly customizable menus and settings

Cons

  • OLED screen not usable under bright sunlight
  • Screen not always on
  • Screen activation by turning your wrist doesn’t always work
  • Tapping on the screen can be difficult at times especially while running
  • Data fields per page very limited (e.g. only elapsed time + one data field can be seen while doing a run)
  • Needs Fitbit App to be running on the paired mobile device to use GPS
  • Very limited clock face options
  • Proprietary USB A charging cable and its ridiculously short length

The Inspire HR has been discontinued and superseded by the Inspire 2 (SRP $99.95) as of July, 2021.

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