Fitbit Alta HR Review

An activity tracker that delivers smart data from a small package

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4.5

Fitbit Alta HR

Fitbit Alta HR

Verywell Fit / Ashley Mateo

What We Like
  • Long-lasting battery life

  • Delivers in-depth personalized info

  • Partner app provides informative, easy-to-read data

What We Don't Like
  • Difficult to read display in certain lighting

  • Not water-resistant

  • Can only be charged by proprietary clip-on cord

Bottom Line

Without adding bulk, the Fitbit Alta HR adds on a heart rate-tracking sensor to deliver way more personalized data at a still-affordable price.

4.5

Fitbit Alta HR

Fitbit Alta HR

Verywell Fit / Ashley Mateo

We purchased the Fitbit Alta HR so our reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.

As the original designer of mainstream fitness trackers, Fitbit’s products run the gamut, from the minimalist Flex 2 activity tracker to the hefty Ionic smartwatch. The Alta HR falls closer to the more basic (read: affordable) end of the spectrum, but with one significant advantage over the Flex: It finally comes with heart rate tracking. 

Why are heart rate monitors so important, anyway? Well, your heart rate is a major indicator of your cardiovascular health, or how well your heart works—and knowing your resting heart rate as well as how much stress your heart is under during your workouts can help you finetune your fitness habits so you can reach your goals faster. 

The sleek Alta HR manages to blur the lines between an activity tracker and a smartwatch just a bit by delivering a wealth of serviceable data from a still barely-there package. Read on to find out what you can learn about your health from Fitbit’s heart rate-tracking Alta.

Design: Smart technology without extra weight

The Alta HR’s design is pretty standard for an activity tracker: There’s a stainless steel sensor attached to durable, sweat-resistant straps (which can be easily swapped out for different colored rubber bands or leather and metal options to make it more stylish when you’re not at the gym). It’s only slightly bigger than the Flex 2, Fitbit’s most basic tracker, but it manages to add on an OLED (organic light-emitting diode) display and an accurate heart rate tracker without packing on much extra heft; the whole thing weighs in at less than 2 ounces more than the Flex 2, a barely noticeable difference.

Fitbit Alta HR
Verywell Fit / Ashley Mateo 

The device does not have a touchscreen like your typical smartwatch, but the display does light up in response to a firm tap (emphasis on firm; the screen is not always the most responsive); additional taps allow you to cycle through the rest of your daily stats, including steps taken, distance covered, calories burned, and, of course, current heart rate. (For more in-depth info, you’ll have to open the partner app on your smartphone; more on that later.)

The Alta HR blurs the lines between activity tracker and smartwatch by delivering a wealth of smart data from a still barely-there package.

Additionally, the screen will display notifications for incoming calls, text messages, and calendar alerts. It also provides helpful reminders when it’s time to move throughout the day, as well as encouragement when you’ve hit any of your daily goals. The only problem? It’s practically impossible to see the screen in the sunlight, making it difficult to check out your stats or read your messages on the go.

Tracking: An accurate sensor delivers a wealth of info 

Like most activity trackers, the Alta HR tracks your steps, distance, calories burned, active minutes, and hourly activity and stationary time. It also automatically recognizes certain activities—like walking, running, outdoor cycling, sports, aerobic workouts, and elliptical workouts—via Fitbit’s SmartTrack exercise recognition feature, which captures your stats and then records them in the exercise section of the app. (SmartTrack will recognize activity once you’ve been moving for 15 or more minutes, and you can also turn its auto-detecting capabilities off if you’d rather log your exercise manually.) 

But the heart rate tracking is what makes things interesting and really turns the Alta HR into a next-level device. If you flip over the Alta HR, you’ll see two blinking green lights on the back—that’s Fitbit’s PurePulse Technology, which tracks your heart rate through your wrist 24/7 at five-second intervals. Those green lights actually reflect off your skin to detect changes in blood flow, which allows the device to track your beats per minute.

Fitbit Alta HR
Verywell Fit / Ashley Mateo 

When I went for a run on a Saturday morning, I didn’t have to tap or click anything on the band to log the workout, which was nice—and afterward, in the app, I was able to delve into how much time I spent in each heart rate zone (peak, cardio, or fat burning); then I was able to use that info to dial the intensity up or down on my next run to promote my goals, whether those were related to weight loss, increased endurance, or simply not overtraining. A personalized Cardio Fitness Score—a numerical rating based on your resting heart rate, age, gender, weight, and additional data that estimates your VO2 max, or how efficiently your body uses oxygen during exercise—helps you figure out what to do with that all the heart rate info to improve your fitness levels. 

With its heart rate-tracking capability and sensitive motion detectors, the device can also register way more info about your sleep habits. When you wake up in the morning, the Fitbit app will show you how much time you spent in light, deep, and REM stages; that helps you better understand the quality of the sleep you’re getting (and how that might be affecting your mood or workouts). You can also use the app to set sleep goals (say, eight hours) and a target sleep schedule to improve your sleep hygiene, as well as a silent alarm that wakes you up at the optimal part of your sleep cycle in the a.m.

The heart rate tracking is what turns the Alta HR into a next-level device.

FYI: Because of the heart-tracking tech, this device isn’t waterproof (it’s just water-resistant enough to handle sweat, spills, and splashes), so you won’t be able to track swim workouts or wear it in the shower. You also can’t count the floors you’ve climbed, as there’s no altimeter.

Battery: Longer lasting than any other Fitbit

The Alta HR’s battery can last up to seven days without a charge—one of the longest stretches for a Fitbit product. It does take up to two hours to fully charge, but after that, you can strap it on and forget about it (except when you shower!). That extra-long battery life is especially nice since the proprietary charger, which clips on around the sensor, is more than a little unsightly and serves as yet another cord laying around and tangling up your outlets. You may not be able to use any other charger to power the device if it dies, but if you head into a long weekend vacay with the device fully charged, you should have enough juice to make it through.

Fitbit Alta HR
 Verywell Fit / Ashley Mateo

Compatibility: The Fitbit app is a dream

Like all Fitbits, the Alta HR syncs stats wirelessly and automatically to iOS, Android, and Windows devices over a Bluetooth connection. That makes setup a breeze and doable in under five minutes. (I’ve yet to try a Fitbit product that doesn’t make setup this simple.)

The newly updated Fitbit app is super user-friendly and intuitive, which makes digging through the more in-depth data delivered by the heart rate tracker way less intimidating. On the main landing page, you get a clean display of your most relevant data (steps, miles, calories, etc.), while the individual workout and sleep pages are full of easy-to-decipher charts and graphs that break down more serviceable info like heart rate zones and sleep stages. After all, that data isn’t worth anything if you can’t understand it.

It’s practically impossible to see the screen in the sunlight, making it difficult to check out your stats or read your messages on the go.

Price: Worth the extras

At first glance, the Alta HR doesn’t look like it’s worth $30 more than the Flex 2—mostly because you can’t really see what extras you’re paying for. All those additional perks are thanks to the heart rate-tracking sensor and have to be delved into within the Fitbit app. But they’re worth the money if you’re someone who likes to nerd out on your own data.

Competition: Holds down the middle ground in the Fitbit lineup

Fitbit’s got plenty of trackers you can choose from, so how does this one stack up? It’s a clear step up from the Flex 2, thanks to the heart rate-tracking capabilities, which are worth the jump in price. 

Other reviewers do rate Fitbit’s Charge 2 as a more comprehensive tracking option: It’s slightly more expensive but made with waterproof materials—and it comes with a few additional features, like female health tracking, dedicated workout modes, VO2 Max tracking, guided breathing, and GPS. On the other hand, it’s also larger than the Alta HR. 

In the end, what you need and want from an activity tracker comes down to your personal fitness habits and comfort preferences, but the Alta HR is a solid middle ground offering from Fitbit.

Final Verdict

Yes, buy it.

While the Fitbit Alta HR isn’t the most advanced tracker on the market, there’s a lot to like about it. For an entry-level tracker—in terms of features and price point—the device delivers a wealth of health info that can help those who are new to activity tracking and experienced athletes learn more about their health habits and max out their fitness goals.

Specs

  • Product Name Alta HR
  • Product Brand Fitbit
  • UPC 816137024099
  • Price $129.95
  • Weight 0.81 oz.
  • Product Dimensions 0.6 x 0.5 x 1.6 in.
  • Color Black, black gunmetal, blue/gray, coral, fuschia, pink rose gold
  • Material Elastomer and stainless steel
  • What's Included Fitbit Alta HR tracker, Alta HR classic band, charging cable
  • Warranty 1 year, limited
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