Today, we’re going to share with you our (long-overdue) review of the Fitbit Blaze, a smart fitness watch released last year. The unit that we used for this review was generously provided by the good folks from Fitbit Philippines.
When you talk about fitness trackers, the first thing that would probably come to mind is the name Fitbit as they are arguably the most popular brand when it comes to fitness tracking devices. They launched their first product called the Fitbit Tracker late in 2009 and have released subsequent models such as the One, Zip, Flex and Charge just to name a few.
Although I’ve had the Blaze for several months now, I haven’t been able to try out all of its features. I currently don’t do any biking or outdoor running my physical activities are limited to running on the treadmill and playing tennis. That’s why I’m only going to share with you the features that I’ve tried as well as the basic aspects and features of the Fitbit Blaze.
Unlike its predecessors, the Fitbit Blaze has a colored touchscreen and looks more like a modern smart watch, with a similar design to that of the Apple Watch and some recent Android Wear watches.
The tracker which is a black plastic square, snaps into a frame made from surgical grade stainless steel. Other versions include a gunmetal stainless steel buckle/frame and a 22k gold-plated stainless steel buckle/frame.
The Fitbit Blaze also features interchangeable bands (straps) which allows the user to customize the look and feel of the device. The classic band is made from flexible and durable elastomer material, used in many sports watches. Alternative bands are also available in leather, nylon and stainless steel.
PurePulse Heart Rate
The Fitbit Blaze uses an optical heart rate sensor and gives out reliable tracking numbers for resting heart rate tracking. While it is a nifty feature, the current technology is not perfect and not at par with chest strap heart monitors so you can’t rely on it to give you accurate information when it comes to heart rate monitoring while you’re running, working out or doing any sort of activity.
With that said, it can still be a useful device for beginners who want to use it in the gym or for running outdoors but not for advanced users who may want to use it as a training tool for tracking specific zones.
Personally, I’ve used it for when I’m running on the treadmill and it gives me the basic information that I need like heart rate, number of steps, distance traveled, calories burned and current time.
On-Screen Workouts with FitStar
I also tried out, FitStar which provides guided workouts which you can follow direct from the device’s menu system. Right now there are only three available types of workouts: Warm It Up, 7 Minute Workout and 10 Minute Abs. The workouts were easy to follow and didn’t require any interaction. It provides users a way to do structured workouts in the comfort of their home.
Multi-Faceted Clock Faces
When I first received the Fitbit Blaze, there were only like 4 or 5 available clock faces to choose from. A couple months later, an update added several more clock faces and now there are 9 options available. I hope Fitbit not only add more styles in future updates but also allow users to customize the clock face.
Call, Text & Calendar Alerts
Initially, the Fitbit Blaze could only display alerts for incoming calls, text (SMS) messages, calendar events and emails. After some updates, the device can now display alerts from third-party apps. Users can enable notifications and select which apps can send notifications via the Fitbit app.
Earlier this year, Fitbit updated the Blaze and added a couple features that were first introduced on the Charge 2 – Cardio Fitness Level and Relax Guided Breathing.
Introducing Cardio Fitness Level, a new feature on Fitbit Blaze and Fitbit Charge 2 that allows you to see a snapshot of your fitness level using a personalized Cardio Fitness Score. Viewable in the heart rate section of the Fitbit app, your score is an estimation of your VO2 Max (the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use when you’re working out at your hardest)—widely accepted as the gold standard measurement of cardiovascular fitness.
To help you get your breath in rhythm, Fitbit is introducing a new on-device guided breathing experience called Relax. ..Relax helps you find moments of calm with a personalized guided breathing session based on your heart rate. Each session is powered by PurePulse and personalized by using your real-time heart rate to measure your heart rate variability (beat-to-beat changes in your heart rate), and determine a comfortable breathing rate for you.
I haven’t had the opportunity to try out Cardio Fitness Level and/or Relax Guided Breathing but it’s good to know that Fitbit isn’t neglecting the Blaze and keeps it updated with new features. I’m also sure that many Blaze users would be happy with these new added features.
Before you can use any Fitbit device, you’ll have to download and install the companion app from the Apple App Store, Google Play Store or Windows Microsoft Store. If you don’t have a mobile device, you can also download the Fitbit Connect app for Mac or Windows.
Once you’ve installed the app, fire it up and you’ll be greeted by a welcome screen and asked to either Join Fitbit or Login if you already have an account. For first timers, you’ll be asked to provide an email address and password to create an account.
Then you’ll be asked to select which device you would like to setup.
A few months after having the device, Fitbit updated the companion app and introduced some design improvements to the app dashboard. Check out the screenshots below to see how the app looked like when I first got the Blaze and how it looks like after the update.
Old Fitbit App Dashboard
New Fitbit App Dashboard
As you can see from the screenshots above, the new dashboard has a more compact and centralized look, making it much easier to access and view the different areas. Aside from that, the updates also introduced a new profile design that allows the user to add a cover photo, a short bio as well as control the privacy settings via the app.
According to the product manual and official website, the Fitbit Blaze’s battery can last up to 5 days and based on my experience/usage in the past few months, this is quite accurate. I normally find myself having to charge the device only once a week. But with any electronic device, the battery life will always be related to usage and will vary between users due to different factors.
You can maximize battery life by disabling or turning off some of the features that you don’t need. Personally, I don’t use most of the added features like music control or alarms. I set the Brightness to Dim because most of the time, the screen is bright enough for me to see the display clearly even outdoors. I rarely have to increase the brightness and if I did, I would only set it to Normal.
I also turned off Notifications for calls, texts, calendar and other compatible apps and also turned off Quick View (screen wakes when you raise your wrist). Although I have the Always Connected and All-Day Sync options enabled, it doesn’t affect the battery life because Bluetooth isn’t always enabled on my mobile device. I only turn it on when I need to sync it with the Fitbit app.
For those who don’t use the Heart Rate monitor, you can set it to AUTO instead of ON to save battery life. You could also turn off the Fitbit Blaze tracker when you’re not using it or plan not to use it for a long period of time.
If for some reason that the battery life of your Fitbit Blaze doesn’t last around 5 days even after implementing some of the battery saving measures I mentioned above, make sure that you contact Fitbit customer support for assistance. You probably received a defective unit or battery that needs to replaced.
Although the battery life is great, what I don’t like about the Fitbit Blaze is that you have to remove the tracker each time you have to charge the device. Another issue for me is that the charging dock and cable are proprietary so you can’t use your existing USB cables or chargers and you’ll have to purchase the official Fitbit Blaze charger which costs $19.95 or find a third-party version online like in Amazon.
As I mentioned above, I turned off Notifications on my Blaze. But if you prefer to receive notifications you can enable it to be notified of incoming calls, text messages and calendar events. It also supports many third-party apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, etc. Check out this link to find out more about the official page of compatible third-party apps and products.
The Fitbit Blaze doesn’t have a built-in GPS so if you want to keep track or map your bike rides and/or runs, you’ll have to bring your smartphone with you. It’s also not waterproof so you can’t use it for swimming or any water activities/sports.
Personally, I love the Fitbit Blaze and it’s the perfect smart fitness watch for me. I love the design, look, size and shape of the watch because it looks more like a regular watch and not like the usual fitness tracker. You can even wear it for formal events or occasions. I also like that it’s very customizable, and gives users the option to customize the look and feel with different frames and bands. Once in a while, I get someone come up to me and ask what kind of watch am I using or sometimes people mistake it for the Apple Watch.
In case your Fitbit Blaze freezes, stops charging or doesn’t want to sync you may need to restart your tracker. To do that, please follow the steps below:
In North America, you can purchase the Fitbit Blaze from the official website or from authorized retailers starting at $249.95. If you’re in the Philippines, you can purchase it from Lazada starting at ₱9,999.00.
Once again, we’d like to thank the generous folks from Fitbit Philippines for providing the Fitbit Blaze unit we used for this review. You can follow them on Facebook or on Instagram for the latest information, product launches and updates.
Anyone else own a Fitbit Blaze? What are the feature/s you like best? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.