It’s easy to think that because you’ve tried one Fitbit, you’ve tried them all – and to some extent, that’s true. There are very few surprises with the Fitbit Inspire 3, but on the plus side, you know exactly what you’re getting: a well-designed, lightweight tracker that records your activity, along with a detailed companion app that shows you a lot (and a lot ) data.
Improvements over previous Inspire models include a color display with an always-on feature and SpO2 tracking, which measures your blood oxygen saturation.
I tested the Inspire 3 for over a month to see how it fared against the best cheap fitness trackers, wearing it most of the time to track my daily activity, exercise, health stats and sleep.
Fitbit Inspire 3: Price and Availability
First announced on August 24, 2022, Fitbit’s Inspire 3 is available now and costs £84.99 in the UK or $99.95 in the US. You get a six-month Fitbit Premium membership included when you buy the tracker, which must be activated within six months of purchase. You can cancel before the free access period is over or continue the subscription at £7.99/$9.99 per month or £79.99/$79.99 per year.
The Inspire 3 comes in a neatly packaged box with a quick start guide to get you started. You need to download the Fitbit app to start using the device and will be prompted to fully charge the Fitbit when you first turn it on, which took an hour and a half. Once done, the tracker automatically syncs with the app.
Overall, the setup was very simple and I had no problems. However, it’s worth taking the time to go through all the available features – several need to be turned on manually before they’ll start tracking data.
I tested the Black Case with the Lilac Bliss band, but you can also buy Midnight Zen (black) or Morning Glow (orange) bands. Both small and large tires are included.
The color touchscreen has an always-on display option and a variety of clocks. It’s on the smaller side, which means I didn’t really use it to check call, text or app notifications, and on some screen layouts the text was cut off or displayed awkwardly.
The strap itself is secure and never came loose during testing. It looked like new after over a month of wear. You can also buy different straps or a clip to attach the device to your clothes if you prefer a pedometer.
The central display, although slim when viewed from the front, is quite chunky from the side. I have small wrists, and despite using the smallest included band, the fit was gaping around the edges of the screen – there was no way to get it to sit against my wrist. This meant that the watch felt clunky and I was definitely aware that I was wearing it at all times.
The battery on the Inspire 3 can last up to 10 days, although I found it lasted three days with the display always on and tracking one workout per day. To combat this, you can turn off the always-on display, which eats up battery life. Fitbit sends an email when the watch needs to be recharged.
Application and health tracking
As expected with Fitbit, the sheer amount of data you have access to is impressive. An at-a-glance overview on the app shows steps, distance, calories burned, Active Zone minutes (time spent with an elevated heart rate), sleep count, resting heart rate, menstrual tracking and more. You can also record food and water intake and weight.
Some metrics are only available to Fitbit Premium members. A six-month Fitbit premium membership is included when you buy the band, so it’s worth taking a deep dive into the features while you have free access, and then deciding if it’s worth the additional cost.
Premium also includes a daily readiness score (an indicator of how prepared your body is for physical activity), advanced sleep analysis, video workouts and recipe inspiration – as well as extra mindfulness sessions.
The band monitors your heart rate and shows your current bpm and resting heart rate on the app’s home screen. You can also check past data, view your resting heart rate over the past 30 days, see an estimate of your cardio fitness score and how it compares to others your age, and see how many minutes you’ve spent in three different heart rate zones: fat burning, cardio and peaking.
The band also notifies you if it detects a high or low heart rate (using preset thresholds, which you can adjust) or if it detects an irregular rhythm, which could be a sign of atrial fibrillation. If you do get one of these notifications, the app prompts you to make an appointment with your doctor and provides irregular rhythm readings to share with your doctor.
The Inspire 3 also includes an SpO2 sensor, which can be viewed by swiping up from the watch on the band or within the Health Metrics section of the app. There is also the ability to connect a separate blood glucose meter or app.
Menstrual cycle tracking is also available on the app, although you’ll need to manually log data for it, entering patterns, symptoms and ovulation test results. The more data you enter, the better the algorithm gets at predicting your period and fertility patterns, and you can choose to turn on push notifications for this.
There are 20 activities available to track, including walking, running, cycling, swimming, yoga, tennis, circuit training, weight lifting and golf. You can set up six shortcuts on the watch to access these tracking modes. The watch allows you to simply start a session or set a specific goal, such as Zone Minutes, distance, time or calories for your workout.
There’s no built-in GPS tracking on the Inspire 3, but it can use connected GPS to map your route during outdoor workouts (you’ll need to bring your phone for it to work).
During workouts, you can see real-time stats including steps, distance, laps and heart rate. I tested the band during hikes, indoor bike rides, swimming, yoga sessions, and strength training, and generally found it to be accurate. The steps and heart rate were matched with data recorded by other trackers and the workout logs were automatically synced with the app.
Happy swimmers, beware – the screen does not respond well when wet. This is something Fitbit is clearly aware of, as it has designed a “water lock” mode that’s accessible when you swipe up from the watch. It is activated by two sturdy taps, which take quite a while to master. There is no automatic stroke recognition, with detection limited to duration, distance (you need to set the pool length) and pace.
Fitbit calculates your overall sleep score using duration, quality and recovery, giving you a figure out of 100. You can also delve further into the various sections in the app, including graphs showing your time asleep and awake, sleep stages such as Deep, Light and REM sleep, your sleeping heart rate, restlessness and estimated oxygen variation (designed to spot breathing problems) .
The watch includes a sleep mode to block notifications and prevent the screen from lighting up every time you turn around and it works very well. You can also use Smart Wake to wake you up during a light sleep stage within 30 minutes before your set alarm time. It’s meant to help ensure you wake up at the best possible time, but when I tried it I just snoozed the alarm and fell back asleep (not sure I can blame that on Fitbit).
Is The Inspire 3 worth it?
I enjoyed using Fitbit’s Inspire 3. This allowed me to take my current habits and implement healthier ones, such as taking more steps each day, getting up and stretching at regular intervals, and going to bed (slightly) earlier. It also helped me notice and feel good about the days where I exceeded my walking goal, slept better than I thought or increased my active zone minutes.
The Fitbit app is well designed and easy to navigate, with plenty of explanations and tips to help you make the most of the stats. The sleep tracking, heart monitor and SpO2 sensor are all accurate and consistent. However, the sheer volume of data on Fitbit Premium is quite overwhelming and most people buying at this price point will be satisfied with the basic data provided by the band itself, which is still very comprehensive.
I preferred the design of the cheaper Huawei Band 7. It has a larger, more responsive screen and a firmer fit on my wrist. Huawei also allows for a wider variety of workouts, and automatically recognizes your stroke during swimming. That said, if you’re a stats stickler, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more detailed data log than Fitbit provides.
Elite athletes or serious swimmers will need more specialist sports watches or dedicated swim watches – the small screen and difficulty handling water are likely to be an issue. Overall, though, the Inspire 3 is an excellent entry-level fitness tracker at a very reasonable price.