October 2, 2022

Your guide to a better future
A major refresh for Fitbit’s basic fitness tracker, with a battery that lasts and lasts.
Lexy Savvides
Principal Video Producer
Lexy is an on-air presenter and award-winning producer who covers consumer tech, including the latest smartphones, wearables and emerging trends like assistive robotics. She’s won two Gold Telly Awards for her video series Beta Test. Prior to her career at CNET, she was a magazine editor, radio announcer and DJ. Lexy is based in San Francisco.
The $100 Fitbit Inspire 3 (£85, AU$180) is a great entry-level fitness tracker ideal for Fitbit newcomers as well as a major refresh for anyone upgrading from an older Fitbit. It has a color AMOLED display, a new menu system and the same long battery life. The Inspire 3 is compatible with Android and iOS to receive notifications or call alerts from your phone, plus it tracks sleep in the same way as the most expensive Fitbit trackers and smartwatches. So it’s easy to recommend the Inspire 3 if you want the best battery life from any Fitbit — 10 days — without the bells and whistles from our current favorite, the $150 Charge 5.
The Inspire 3 comes with a six-month free trial of Fitbit Premium, the $10-a-month subscription service that unlocks more data on sleep and recovery. The previous Inspire 2 model came with a one-year trial. While not required to use the Inspire 3, Premium is fast becoming an essential part of the now-Google owned Fitbit experience and definitely something to consider when looking at the total cost over the lifetime of the device.
Plus, several less-expensive fitness trackers have been nipping at Fitbit’s heels for the past few years so there’s more competition than ever. In particular, the $60 Xiaomi Mi Band 7 has an even larger screen than the Inspire 3 and offers similar health features, even if it lags behind on sensor accuracy. Garmin also has the Vivosmart 5 with even more fitness-tracking options, but it’s more expensive at $150 and has just a monochrome screen.
Earlier Inspire models had to make do with a monochrome display, but the Inspire 3 gets a boost with a color AMOLED screen. This is really the biggest reason to upgrade if you are coming from an older model, as it makes all the difference to the user experience without sacrificing battery. The case measures 1.55-inch, but the screen itself doesn’t take up all the usable space on the device. Depending on the light, you can see the edges of the display and the bezels. 
You might be curious about how the Inspire 3 compares to the $130 Fitbit Luxe, released in 2021. If you’re choosing between the two, apart from price, the Fitbit Luxe is a tiny bit slimmer and its screen is a hair larger, but the difference is hardly noticeable unless you inspect them side-by-side. So unless you really value the sleeker look of the Luxe and want a more jewelry-like finish with bands and accessories, the Inspire 3 is a far better value overall.
The display can stay always on, so the clock face remains visible at all times, though that does eat into overall battery life, reducing it from 10 days to 3 days. The clock faces are all big enough for me to see, but I think if you need reading glasses, seeing your workout metrics on screen might be a bit of a challenge as the text is quite small. 
Navigating the Inspire 3 is a little different than on earlier models. There are now two haptic buttons on either side that you can pinch to turn on the screen or to return to the clock face from any menu. Swipe left and right to access workout tracking, breathing exercises, timers and alarms or notifications from your phone. Swipe up and down to get to settings and your daily health overview, respectively.
A new $20 clip attachment lets you wear the Inspire 3 elsewhere on your body to track a workout when you can’t wear it on your wrist, like for boxing. But the Inspire 3 doesn’t have the same quick-release buttons as the Charge 5, which make it easier to swap bands; instead they’re toggles that are quite fiddly to adjust. The Inspire 3 is water-resistant to 50 meters (164 feet).
The Inspire 3 without a strap, in the clip-on attachment.
For newcomers to Fitbit, the Inspire 3 can track steps, heart rate and blood-oxygen levels throughout the day and night. Workouts and sleep can be tracked automatically or manually as well. The Inspire 3 uses a metric called Active Zone Minutes to help you reach recommended activity levels, and it takes into account how much time you spend with your heart rate in certain zones, personalized to your age and fitness level. I really like how it’s tracking all this passively in the background, even if I forget to start a specific workout. Just going up and down the stairs several times a day can help contribute to your Active Zone Minutes goals.
Starting a workout on the Inspire 3
The Inspire 3 has connected GPS rather than a GPS built-in to the device. This means you’ll need to take your phone with you to track outdoor route information and distances for things like walks and runs. You can track over 20 different workout types with space to store six workout profiles on the device itself. To swap in your favorites, you need to load the Fitbit app then resync to the band. 
The fitness tracking experience is pretty simple, though you can see heart rate, time elapsed, pace, calorie burn, steps and your active zone minutes goal by swiping through each screen during a workout. After you’re done, it shows a quick summary of your metrics, and when you sync with the Fitbit app, you get the full rundown on your phone including route information and a map if it was an outdoor workout.
This tracker also has high and low heart rate alerts, plus irregular heart rhythm detection during sleep, which can notify you if it registers signs of atrial fibrillation.
Fitbit’s sleep tracking is comprehensive, and even on this small device you still get a full deep dive into sleep stages. It’s all easy to interpret in the Fitbit app when you sync each morning, and if you have Premium you’ll see trends over time as well as metrics like skin temperature overnight. After 14 days of wearing the device, you’ll get an in-depth sleep profile and each month you’ll get an updated sleep animal that depicts your sleep style. I’m a tortoise, if you’re playing along at home.
All your workout and sleep data is pulled together in the Daily Readiness Score, also a Fitbit Premium feature. This helps indicate if your body is up for taking on more activity that day, or if you should take it easy and concentrate on something a little more relaxing like breathing exercises or yoga. I’m a big fan of the score and love the personalized workout recommendations it gives. There’s also a stress management score that can indicate how your body is coping with stress, calculated from metrics like heart rate, sleep and activity levels. A higher score means you’re coping better, but I don’t find it as helpful as the Daily Readiness Score overall.
The Inspire 3 is fairly bare-bones when it comes to smart features. You can see notifications come through from your phone, with the option to filter them by app type from the Fitbit app. There’s a timer and alarm app built-in to the tracker, plus a find-my-phone feature to ping it so long as it’s within Bluetooth range. It’s also compatible with Google Fast Pair so it connects quickly to Android phones.
But that’s about it. There’s no Fitbit Pay for contactless payments from your wrist, music playback control or music storage onboard. Really, you’re getting this tracker for its passive health and fitness monitoring — not as a smartwatch alternative.
The 10-day battery life of the Fitbit Inspire 3 is really impressive, and includes sleep tracking, some basic workout tracking and essentially wearing the device 24/7 during my tests. That battery life matches the Inspire 2, even with the new tracker’s more vibrant color display. 
While battery life could vary based on your usage — and substantially so if you use the always-on display mode that brings it down to three days of battery life — I was still really impressed with not having to charge the tracker anywhere near as often as other Fitbit models I’ve reviewed.
Fitbit nails the formula for a basic fitness tracker with the Inspire 3, especially if you want something that tracks passively in the background with only occasional recharging. But its most useful features require Fitbit Premium, which is an additional monthly cost once the free trial is over.
The Inspire 3 should meet the needs of someone looking at Fitbit’s slightly more expensive $130 Luxe tracker, and even surpasses it with longer battery life. But if you want Fitbit Pay and even more fitness-tracking features without spending extra on a Fitbit Versa smartwatch, the $150 Fitbit Charge 5 is the best overall buy. 

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