Testing the Fitbit Alta HR vs. Samsung Gear Fit2

I recently had my second Fitbit Charge HR slowly die on me. Fitbit support is great at replacing devices that are in warranty but my second one was not covered. I was a bit frustrated by this and decided I’d look into getting another activity tracker. So I headed over to Wirecutter, as I always do when buying new gear, to get an update on the current state of trackers and being an Android user I decided to try out the Samsung Gear Fit2 which they recommended. I ordered an open box from Amazon warehouse deals for $73 which seemed like a steal.

Fitbit Alta HR and Samsung Gear Fit2
Fitbit Alta HR and Samsung Gear Fit2

One of the main reasons I decided to try out the Gear Fit2 was to venture into the world of smart watches since I’ve never owned one. I don’t like to wear watches and the Fitbit wasn’t very bulky or heavy and the Gear Fit2 seemed to not be much larger. I was most excited to have a device on my wrist to receive notifications. After wearing the Gear Fit2 I was pretty happy. It was comfortable. Had many new features my Fitbit didn’t have (details below) and I was enjoying it.

Shortly after receiving the Gear Fit2 Fitbit released the Alta HR. I was immediately attracted by this device. One of the biggest frustrations with the Charge HR was that my band had broken and there wasn’t a way to replace it. I liked the idea of the original Alta but it didn’t have a heart rate monitor and this new device did. The Alta HR would also allow me to get notifications from my phone (limited to SMS and Calendar but I found an awesome hack. More info below). And lastly the Alta HR (along with a few other limited devices not including the Charge HR strangely) added new deeper sleep analysis.

So I decided to order one thanks to Fitbit extending me a 25% off coupon for it as a consolation gift for my dead Charge HR and test it simultaneously along with my Gear Fit2. As you may know I’ve done this once before with 4 trackers.  After testing them both for a few weeks I’ve decided to stick with the Fitbit Alta HR. Note that this is a very subjective decision based on several personal factors that I’ll provide which may be useful. This isn’t comprehensive by any means and just focused on a few areas that I was interested in.

Comparison of sleep tracking and analysis between Samsung and updated Fitbit.

Gear Fit2 Pros

  • Beautiful color screen with custom watch faces to highlight different metrics
  • Extensive notifications with details and images
  • Ability to interact with notifications. You can have canned responses with 2 taps to emails or text messages.
  • Built in GPS letting you track workout locations without carrying phone
  • Automatic detection of workouts
  • Great charger interface. Simple magnetic base you just tap with wristband.

Gear Fit2 Cons

  • A little larger than I’d like although not much larger than a Charge 2
  • Doesn’t have continuous heart rate monitoring. Every 10 minutes or on demand. It is continuous during workout tracking.
  • Battery life
  • Non-integration with Google Fit and thus can’t integrate with Gyroscope. Samsung stores it’s data in it’s own S Health app and I found this app Health Sync to push its data to Google Fit but it was clunky and spotty. Creating data silos is a no no and this was pretty much a deal-breaker for me.

Samsung Gear Fit2 Summary

While I liked the Gear Fit2 quite a bit ultimately the things I liked weren’t enough to sway me over the new things I really liked about the Alta HR. Some of the features I personally didn’t try or find value from such as being able to control music from the device. I’ll sum this up with an easily digestible pros vs. cons specific to my wants and needs. If my cons aren’t an issue for you it may be the better choice in your case.

Alta HR Pros

  • Small and light
  • Good battery life
  • 24/7 heart rate monitoring
  • New deeper sleep analysis
  • Ability to use different bands
  • Integrates perfectly with Gyroscope

Alta HR Cons

  • Small screen without much detail
  • Limited text and calendar notifications truncated to 40 characters and only displayed once. Although using the Fit Notifications app allows you to get more notification types.
  • Bad charger interface. Charge HR was horrible and this is slightly better using a cable with a clip that you need to align to the wristband receptacle.

Alta HR Summary

I really like the Alta HR. It’s a small light-weight device and while the device itself is pretty minimal, I actually think that became very attractive to me. I think losing the extensive notifications from the Gear Fit2 would be my primary concern but I found a great solution for that when I discovered the Fit Notifications app which has solved that issue. I limit what apps send notifications to my phone and for my activity tracker I would further limit those to a specific subset. For me it’s primarily work related items such as calendar, text, Slack dm’s, and WhatsApp.

 

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. I’m on my third Fitbit HR after the first two fell apart after about six months each, a friend went through three and Fitbit swapped him to another model that doesn’t have the “defective-by-design” rubbery strap. Despite good reviews of the Alta HR I’m not sure I’ll be spending my own money on another Fitbit product until I see one that’ll at least last a year without falling to pieces.

  2. I can totally sympathize with those feelings. As I mentioned, I went through a few Charge HR’s as well and due to the faulty devices was compelled to try the Gear Fit2. However I was seduced back in by the Alta HR and so far I’m pretty happy. We’ll see how I feel a year from now.

  3. just changed watches from IP7 to IP5S while I’m waiting for the IP8 in Sept. Had a very hard time trying to connect with the BT on my IP5S. Finally was almost ready to give up, but was fooling around with the Gear Fit 2 this morning and found the reset procedure below.

    Factory Reset
    Press the Home button on your Gear Fit 2.
    Touch Settings.
    Scroll down and touch Gear info.
    Scroll down and touch Reset Gear.
    Touch Factory Reset.
    Touch the check mark.

    After running through this check list, my IP5 immediately found the Gear Fit 2 Bluetooth and I was fully back in business. I guess I’ll have to do this once more when I receive my IP8.

    Passing note, my Fit 2 glass face has some minor scratches that I can see when the watch screen is blank. NOT visible when the screen is active. I guess the gorlila glass is not as tough as I thought.

  4. I’m in my 12th month with mine and no problems…

  5. Hi, I’m about to get the gear fit 2 pro. As I was looking through some images I found this post and was very curious about the face watch on your gear fit 2. How did you set that up, if you don’t mind me asking?

  6. Mark, do you know of a fitness tracker that just transfers data to a smartphone, tablet or laptop and not to a web or cloud database?
    Brian

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Mark Krynsky

I created Lifestream Blog and hope you enjoy the site. I'm always looking for contributors so contact me if you're interested. You can follow the rest of what I like to write about at my personal site or follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+
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