Review: Fitbit Surge
Walks perfectly, stumbles when it runs
Fitbit Surge was among the first Fitness Trackers to feature GPS, and coupled with Fitbit’s expertise in tracking algorithms, is it still among the best out there? Let’s find out!
The design of the watch is anything but inconspicuous. And if you’re wearing the tangerine version for a walk, you’ll surely be catching eyeballs because it simply sticks out. Fitbit could’ve done a better job with the design and fit of the Surge. It doesn’t feel natural to wear one due to it’s chunky build. The main module is made of stainless steel and is pretty thick which feels substantial to wear. The bands are made of rubber and are 1.34 inches thick. This time around it shouldn’t cause rashes like the previous Fitbit did. The Surge is graced with 3 buttons, one on the left and two on the right. The left one is the back/enter button button while the right ones are used to select different options on the screen. The buttons were a bit on the tougher side and required a steady push to work.
When I first got the watch, I expected the display to be stretched from edge to edge as some pictures suggested. But it wasn’t as I expected it to be. There are two huge black bars to the sides which are glaringly noticeable. The display is a 0.8×1 inch monochrome LCD display with blue backlight for when visibility is a problem. The display did a decent job of being legible when in direct sunlight. The touch worked perfectly alright and there were no issues whatsoever even with a few droplets of water on it.
The watch’s UI looks pretty simple and is not very fancy. It’s basic but gets the job done. Adding to the monotonous display, even the 4 watch faces that are offered are pretty dull and aren’t much intuitive apart from showing the time. To get to more details like steps walked, heart rate etc., one has to swipe through different screens which is a lot of work at times. This seriously hinders customisability of the watch.
You can start your runs, walks and exercises directly from the watch. You can also set alarms, start timers and use a stopwatch directly through the watch UI. The watch can also control the music being played on your phone. But unfortunately you can only skip and pause tracks, as volume can’t be adjusted thorough the watch.
Sleep tracking on the Fitbit Surge has improved dramatically as compared to the previous ones, thanks to a new sensor. . Although the sleep tracking was accurate enough, I found the step count to be overcompensated almost consistently. On the other hand, the heart rate monitor proved to be pretty accurate in measuring heart rate throughout my time wearing it.
The one feature that makes it a hard core fitness band is the GPS sensor present in the watch. Although the GPS takes almost s minute to lock signal, it is pretty accurate in tracking walks and runs. Only if it would’ve been a bit faster, I would’ve no complaints with the GPS whatsoever. The Fitbit Surge’s satellite tracking works without your phone, so you can rest assure that your entire run or trek will still be tracked even if you forget your phone at home.
As long as fitness apps go the Fitbit App offers a pretty comprehensive coverage of all the quantifying stats that you’d want. Visually, the application is a treat to look at with vibrant colours and different infographs. From sleep management schedule tools via Sleep Schedule to a calorie tracker, the app keeps the user interested in one’s own lifestyle. You can now track calories consumed by simply scanning the barcode of the product consumed or manually type it in if a barcode’s not available. The app can also send phone notifications to your phone but unfortunately, this is only limited to calls and simple text messages.
The battery is claimed to last for a good 7 days. But in my test, the battery with display backlight set to automatic barely lasted a couple of days. With the use of GPS and other tracking features it won’t be too wrong to expect much lesser battery life. Even the cable used to charge the Fitbit is a proprietary one. So if you forget to take it with you when head out for longer periods, you’ll find yourself putting the watch in the bag pretty soon.
The Surge is touted be water resistant which makes it safe against some innocent rain or splashes. Unfortunately the unit that I received, had moisture trapped inside the display after I wore it out once when it rained lightly. Even after multiple attempts to put it on a rice bag to drain the moisture out, it still stayed. Upon contacting the company for an answer, I got a very ‘comforting’ reply saying that other users too have faced the same problem with their device when exposed to sudden change in surrounding temperature (switching between a swim and a sauna).
The Fitbit Surge is great when it comes to fitness tracking and performs admirably well in all those aspects. But just when it tries to become more than that, it stumbles. The chunky design, poor battery life and absence of smartwatch features makes it a less than desirable choice at ₹24,999.