The Fitbit Alta is a stylish, slim wristband that will appeal to people who prefer their tracker to be discreet but fashionable. A new Alta HR model has just been released that add a heart-rate monitor and much-improved sleep-monitoring features. Fitbit claims that it’s the world’s slimmest tracker with a heart monitor.
Either Alta is similar to the Fitbit Flex 2 but with a much more informative display, and more functions.
Also see: Best Fitness Tracker Deals
The Fitbit Alta and Alta HR join the other Fitbit activity trackers: the Fitbit One and Fitbit Zip clip-on trackers, and fellow wristbands Fitbit Flex 2, Charge 2, Blaze, and Surge. Read our Which Fitbit Is Best? feature for a full comparison of each tracker, and our round-up of the Best Activity Trackers.
Fitbit Alta and Alta HR review: price
Alta HR starts at £129.99 (pre-order now available) and will also be on sale online and in stores (from March 13), including major retailers such as Amazon, Argos, Currys PC World, Shop Direct, John Lewis and Debenhams. A Special Edition Alta HR costs £149.99. This is available in soft pink Classic band with 22k rose gold plated tracker and black Classic band with matte gunmetal tracker.
You may find the Alta cheaper at other online retailers; check our live price check at the foot of this review. It comes with the Classic wristband, but you can accessorise either Alta or Alta HR with a stainless steel Metal Bracelet (£69.99) or Leather band (£39.99).
There’s even a couple of limited edition designer versions for Alta and HR: the oddly named Public School Type III Paracord, a black, braided “military-style” bracelet that retails for £149/$175/€169.95 ; and the frankly odd and pricey Public School Axis Accessory Band (£259.99/$295/€295.95, and that doesn’t include the tracker itself!) that turns the Alta into a standard but rather postmodern watch.
You can also buy alternative Classic Bands for £19.99 each.
Fitbit Alta review: design style
The Alta/Alta HR is one of Fitbit’s slimmest wristband activity trackers: just 15mm in width. The new Flex 2 is even slimmer, at 11mm, but lacks the Alta’s larger and more informative display; see our Fitbit Flex 2 review.
Like the Fitbit Flex 2, Charge 2 and Blaze you can remove the Alta tracker itself from the strap, which means you can switch to new straps when you like. This means you don’t have to replace the whole tracker if you damage the band.
Above: the Alta’s firm clasp. Below: the Alta HR’s much sturdier watch-like buckle, which we think is worth the extra money all on its own.
The wristband of the Alta has a two-button clasp rather than the watch-like buckle of the Alta HR. The clasp seemed secure to us in testing, but earlier Fitbits had been accused of slipping off the wrist too easily. We much prefer the Alta HR’s watch buckle, as there’s virtually no chance that this could slip off the wrist like the Alta’s clasp band.
We think either Alta will appeal to women particularly, as it is not bulky, is lightweight and looks stylish. According to Fitbit 80 percent of Alta owners are women, but the company expects the Alta HR to shift to a more unisex ownership. That’s not to say the Alta is “girly” at all (or men can’t be stylish!), although it may take a man of immense self confidence to pull off wearing the Blush Pink Leather model.
Fitbit Alta review: wristband colours
The Classic Fitbit Alta is available in four different colour bands: Black, Blue, Plum, and Teal; pictured above.
The Alta HR comes in either Black, Blue Grey, Fuchsia or Coral, plus Special Edition colours Pink and Gunmetal; pictured below.
You must choose which size band you need. There is only one size Alta or Alta HR but three different size wristbands: Small, Large and X Large.
Fitbit has a handy (wristy?) size guide to help you choose the right size band.
The Leather Band is available in Graphite or Blush Pink colours.
Fitbit has announced Alta Gold and designer wristbands from Tory Burch and the quirky Public School models mentioned earlier.
If you prefer alternatives to the wristband you might want to consider the Flex 2’s Bangle and Pendant accessories rather than the Alta.
Above: the Public School Paracord and Axis Accessory Band; neither comes with the actual tracker, which must be bought separately (with Classic band).
Fitbit Alta and Alta HR review: features
Using its MEMS 3-axis accelerometer both the Fitbit Alta and Alta HR measure motion patterns to determine your calories burned, distance traveled, active minutes, and steps taken.
Like the Fitbit Flex 2 the Alta/HR (despite its name) lacks the altimeter found in the Charge, HR, Blaze and Surge. This means it won’t measure stairs or height to push you to take the hills rather than the flat. In many ways the Alta is a smarter Flex 2. If running up lots of stairs and measuring this activity is important to you you should consider one of the other Fitbits; see the Fitbit Comparison Chart here.
The Alta doesn’t check our heart rate but the Alta HR does — using the same PurePulse technology as the Charge 2, Fitbit Blaze or Fitbit Surge trackers. Measuring heart rate is important for gym goers, and indeed anyone interested in losing weight. The heart-rate tracking Fitbits use three heart-rate zones to help you optimize your workout by targeting different training intensities.
If you can live without this level of fitness data the Alta is fine, but the extra heart-rate monitor will appeal to even the moderate exerciser; you don’t need to be a fitness fanatic to get the benefits of a heart tracker.
The Alta and Alta HR also measure and monitor your sleep. Inactivity is as important to your health as activity, and making sure you get a good night’s sleep should be one of your fitness priorities.
The Alta will record your sleep patterns, noting when you are restless, average to-sleep times, and length of sleep. The Alta HR goes further, using its accelerometer data and heart rate variability (the changes in time between beats), plus Fitbit algorithms to more accurately estimate how long you spend in Light, Deep and REM sleep stages, as well as time awake, each night.
Alarms & Notifications
The Alta and HR’s vibration motor means you can set “silent” alarms to wake you up, and also notify you when you someone calls your phone or sends you a text. Calendar notifications are another handy feature.
You can set up the Alta/HR to display text messages right there on your wrist, so you don’t have to reach in your pocket or bag for your phone.
Caller ID will let you know who’s calling if the person phoning is in your phone’s contacts.
The Alta and Alta HR (like the Charge 2, Blaze and Surge) feature SmartTrack multi-sport exercise monitoring to easily record workouts and see real-time exercise stats and summaries.
The tracker knows when you’re cycling, running, hiking or playing sports including football, tennis and basketball. They will also recognise aerobic workouts such as Zumba, cardio-kickboxing and dance workouts. They will record the exercise in the Fitbit app along with an exercise summary.
Another brilliant feature that the Alta and HR boast is Reminders To Move, exercise prompts that buzz you into getting off your backside after sitting too long at your desk, for instance.
This encourages you to meet a mini-step goal of 250 steps each hour (approximately 2–3 minutes of walking). These prompts can be personalised to your schedule; for example they can be put on “Do Not Disturb” during long meetings or appointments.
This is especially important in light of recent medical research that suggests that desk-bound office work is actually worse for your health than smoking! Experts — led by Prof Ulf Ekelund from the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences and Cambridge University — found that the risk of dying (within two years of its study on over a million people) was 9.9 percent for those who sat for eight or more hours a day and engaged in low activity. This compares with with a lower 6.8 percent risk for those who sat for less than four hours a day and were active for at least one hour a day.
The team found that this increased risk of death associated with sitting for eight hours a day was eliminated for people who did a minimum of one hour of physical activity a day.
Fitbit Alta and Alta HR review: more style
You tap the Alta’s display to access stats, the time and notifications on the 128-x-36–pixel, 1.4-inch OLED display. You can set different clock displays and also choose whether you want to read the displays in a vertical or horizontal format.
Fitbit Alta and Alta HR review: battery life
The Alta should keep running for up to five days between charges, depending on how many times you access the display, set the alarm, or receive texts and calls during the day. The Alta HR, despite its additional heart-rate monitor, can keep going for up to seven days.
Yet again the proprietary charger is different from every other Fitbit tracker. Its clamp mechanism is neat, but you might want to keep a spare charger (£13.99) away from home, at the office for instance. It’s every Fitbit wearer’s nightmare when the battery gives up while you’re still on the move.
Fitbit Alta and Alta HR review: water resistant
Fitbit doesn’t recommend you wear the Alta or Alta HR when swimming or even in the shower, although it will probably survive an accidental dunking or even joining you in the shower. It’s fine in the rain, and sweaty exercise situations. For more information read our Is Fitbit Waterproof feature and check out the best swimming fitness tracker round up for devices that are waterproof and have special swimming functions.
if you want a swim-tracking, waterproof Fitbit the Flex 2 is the one for you.
Fitbit Alta and Alta HR review: apps, challenges and rewards
The easy-to-use Fitbit app (iOS, Android and Windows Phone) offers wonderful graphs and charts for all the activity and sleep data, and there’s a desktop dashboard for even more detail.
One of the best things about Fitbit is the social Friends leaderboard where you can compete with friends and colleagues to see who manages the most steps each week. You can also challenge each other in various daily or weekly goals, as well as Cheer and Taunt or send messages via the app.
As you progress you’ll win badges to mark major distance milestones and other achievements. See New Fitbit trackers rumours and release date.