Fitbit Alta HR Review: Is this the best slim fitness tracker?

Here’s the deal: I’m a bigger guy who’s been in the market for a solid fitness tracker that does everything I want and need. I’ve been scouring the market looking for something that hits my checkboxes while not looking to small for a big guys wrist.

I’ve used a few different options over the past few months, but I think I may have finally found the perfect one with the Fitbit Alta HR. As for the aforementioned checkboxes that I look for, here they are:

  • Slim and semi-stylish
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Access to notifications
  • Ability to view my step count at a glance
  • Heart Rate monitor capabilities

Admittedly, I was interested in the regular Fitbit Alta, after my colleague Matt Adams picked one up for himself. However, there was just one thing missing and that was the heart rate monitor, so I took a step back and decided to wait a bit longer.

Boy, am I happy I did.

When the Fitbit Alta HR was offered for review here at AndroidGuys, I jumped at the opportunity to be the one to review it. On the outside, it looked to check all the boxes I needed it to while giving me peace of mind of not having to worry about trying something from an unknown company.

Display & Notifications

At first glance, the Alta HR may look like a regular ole’ fitness tracker with a display that doesn’t do much. However, that’s not the case and is noticeable as soon as you start using it.

Sure, the display is touchscreen, but not in the traditional sense, as you can’t really swipe across to see various pieces of information. Instead, you can tap the display to switch the display sections, which range from the time to heart rate monitor and remaining battery life, with the ability to add more.

As someone who isn’t all about the smartwatch craze, this is perfectly fine. I don’t need to squeeze every ounce of information out of something that lives on my wrist when all I need to do is pull my phone out of my pocket to see what’s going on.

As for those notifications, when a text message comes in, you receive a light vibration on your wrist. From there, the information begins to scroll across, letting you know who the text message is from as well as what the message contains.

The Alta HR will also tell you to stop being lazy and get up at least once an hour. There will be some subtle messages like “Feed me” or something else cute to get you moving around.

The strongest vibration that I’ve felt comes when I pass my daily goal of 10,000 steps. This number is customizable within the Fitbit app, but lets you know that you surpassed your goal with a little bit of theatrics shown on the display.

Comfortability

Now, another important part regarding any fitness tracker, smartwatch, or other wearable is comfortability. As someone with bigger wrists, I was a bit worried about the fit being too small. Luckily, I was able to get my hands on the Large wristband and have had no issues.

Included in the box is a rubber strap, which I have been using exclusively, but there are other strap options if you’re looking for a more classy look. And changing the straps is ridiculously easy as all you need to do is press down the button under the strap and lift up. When putting the straps back on, you will need to make sure you’re putting them on the right side, or things will seem a bit backward.

Battery Life

Now for my favorite part of the review: Battery Life. The battery life on the Alta HR has been….OUTSTANDING. Since receiving this wearable a couple of weeks ago, I’ve only had to charge it twice, and once was right after I opened the box.

Fitbit advertises a battery life of around 7 days, and I can definitely say that’s what I’m experiencing, if not a little bit more. Even with the various workouts and traveling that I’ve been doing, the Alta HR just keeps chugging along while giving me the ability to view my heart rate at just a glance.

It’s important to note that the Alta HR does include a proprietary charger, so you won’t be able to just hook up any old charger to it. This is something that I’ve come to expect with all the various products I review and isn’t something to be overly worried about.

The Fitbit App

Moving back to the new app, Fitbit has really gone above and beyond to create an all-in-one fitness experience. Once the app is downloaded you can either pair your Fitbit of choice, or you can move along to using it as a standalone health application.

When you open the app, you’ll see a section with a breakdown of your day. This includes the number of calories burned, steps taken, miles walked, and your “Active Minutes”. Below that, there are other options to show

Below that, there are other options to show off how many days you’ve been exercising, weight tracking, water-intake tracking, sleep information, heart rate monitor, and an hourly activity guide. These are all customizable and you can add or remove whichever sections as you see fit.

One thing to note is that despite your Fitbit being connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth, there is still some syncing that needs to be done. Unfortunately, this isn’t automatically done in the background, but as soon as you open the app, there is a small progress bar that lets you know when the syncing is complete.

As I stated before, Fitbit is really looking to turn the application into your all-in-one health hub. There a few extra sections which are accessible via tabs at the bottom and offer Challenges, Guidance, Community, and Notifications.

The Challenges section gives you something to work towards on a daily basis, whether it’s just increasing your step count every day, or taking you on a guide through New York City. The goal with these challenges is to get your and your friends pushing each other, even you’re halfway across the country from one another.

Another huge addition is the Fitstar Personal Trainer, which is accessible under the Guidance tab. These give you various personalized workouts that you can complete, along with instructions, time required, and the amount of calories that will be burned.

However, the catch here is that you will need to install the Fitstar Personal Trainer application from your App Store of choice. Once downloaded, you can use the Fitstar app to get the best workout for you, after a basic “Fit Test” has been completed.

Finally, the Community tab offers you a way to connect with other active Fitbit users. There are various groups that you can join, all with the intent to keep one another going, even through the days you don’t feel like moving.

The app may be the best part of the Fitbit experience, but when paired with something like the Fitbit Alta HR, it’s absolutely amazing. Plus, the app is completely free and can be used even if you don’t have a Fitbit wearable by your side.

The Cons

Now, I haven’t had much negative to say about the Alta HR, but there were some quirks I’ve had to look past. First off is the touchscreen display, as I would have liked to be able to actually scroll through the different sections. This would also come in handy when trying to just look at my wrist for information, as the accelerometer doesn’t always activate the display right away.

Perhaps the biggest problem I have with the Alta HR comes down to its lack of water-resistance. It’s true that this fitness tracker is so comfortable that I tend to forget about it, but that comes at a cost.

You can’t take this in the shower with you, and you won’t be able to go swimming in the pool for a few laps with this attached to your wrist. This is a bit upsetting with other similarly-priced options (like the Huawei Fit) already offering water resistance.

You will be able to do the dishes, wash your hands, or get caught in a rainstorm with little to no worries. In fact, I have played basketball in a non-air-conditioned gym and found there to be no issues with the Alta HR getting too wet from my perspiration. If you do end up getting it wet, Fitbit recommends wiping it down before continuing to use it.

Finally, there’s the price. I’ve already mentioned that the lack of water-resistance for a $150 fitness tracker is a downer. It’s a tad upsetting when you consider that the Fitbit Charge 2, with a larger display, is priced to compete against the Alta HR with many of the same features.

However, with the fitness tracker market seeing more of a push from smartphone OEM’s with deeper pockets, there’s not much left for Fitbit to do. So this is just something that will come down to everyone’s personal preference.

Conclusion

All in all, I’ve loved every second that I’ve spent with the Alta HR. This truly is one of the best options on the market and offers an experience that allows me to truly forget that it’s on my wrist unless there’s something that needs to be seen.

Between the battery life, comfortability, and integration with Fitbit’s mobile app, there’s really not much else to say here. Other than the fact that unless you really want a bigger display, the Fitbit Alta HR is a home run.