I’ve recently upgraded my fitness tracker, and now own a Fitbit Alta HR. I’ve previously owned a Charge, and a Charge HR, and this review will mostly focus on the differences between the Alta and the Charge. I reviewed the Fitbit Charge in October 2015.
Compared with the Charge, the Alta HR is narrower, and the metal bands either side of the display make it feel more solid. I find that it fits my wrist better and it’s lighter, so it feels more comfortable. I feel happier wearing it when asleep than I did with the Charge models.
Battery life is much improved over the Charge HR, with the Alta HR typically lasting a full week on a full charge. You can also view the current battery status on the device itself, as it’s one of the screens that displays along with your step count, calories burnt, distance travelled etc.
Notifications are expanded beyond phone calls; the Alta HR will also notify you of text messages (and show the sender and first few words), and calendar events if you wish. If you’ve turned on Fitbit’s hourly movement tracking, then if you haven’t done 250 steps in the last hour, you’ll get a nudge at around 10 minutes to the hour to get up and move around.
In my experience, the Alta HR was better at synchronising throughout the day with my phone than the Charge models, which would sometimes go a few hours at a time without a proper synchronisation. This may be a quirk with my phone though.
If you’re switching from a Charge to an Alta HR, you’ll need to turn off the floor climbing tracking. There’s no altimeter in the Alta HR and so you won’t be able to track how many floors you’ve climbed.
There’s no button on the Alta HR, so you have to wake the display either by raising your arm or double-tapping the screen. Also, the screen doesn’t automatically illuminate when you receive a notification. This probably improves the battery life but makes it a little harder to check your status quickly.
The screen is much bigger, and has a higher pixel density than the Charge. But it’s orientated lengthways, so when reading a message you’ll need to twist your arm. It also means that it’s not wide enough to display more than three digits of your step count, so once you hit 1000 steps, it’ll display ‘1.0k’ and then ’10k’ once you hit 10,000 steps. However, below this, a series of five dots shows whether you’re at 20, 40, 60, 80 or 100% of your daily goal.
Finally, your existing Charge or Charge HR charging cable won’t work with the Alta HR. It has a much improved cable that clips on to the device, but it’s incompatible with other models. You may want to order a spare cable.
On the whole, I agree with this Gizmodo review – this is probably the best fitness tracker for most people. £10 more will get you the Charge 2, which overcomes some of the limitations of the Alta HR, but is bigger and probably less comfortable. If you’re the sort of person who wants to record their floor climbs, easily view GPS data, or practice relaxing breathing, go for the Charge 2. If not, then the Alta HR is a very good, comfortable fitness tracker.