Testing the Fitbit Alta HR vs. Samsung Gear Fit2

Fitbit Alta HR and Samsung Gear Fit2

I recently had my second Fitbit Charge HR slowly die on me. Fitbit support is great at replacing devices that are in warranty but my second one was not covered. I was a bit frustrated by this and decided I’d look into getting another activity tracker. So I headed over to Wirecutter, as I always do when buying new gear, to get an update on the current state of trackers and being an Android user I decided to try out the Samsung Gear Fit2 which they recommended. I ordered an open box from Amazon warehouse deals for $73 which seemed like a steal.

One of the main reasons I decided to try out the Gear Fit2 was to venture into the world of smart watches since I’ve never owned one. I don’t like to wear watches and the Fitbit wasn’t very bulky or heavy and the Gear Fit2 seemed to not be much larger. I was most excited to have a device on my wrist to receive notifications. After wearing the Gear Fit2 I was pretty happy. It was comfortable. Had many new features my Fitbit didn’t have (details below) and I was enjoying it.

Shortly after receiving the Gear Fit2 Fitbit released the Alta HR. I was immediately attracted by this device. One of the biggest frustrations with the Charge HR was that my band had broken and there wasn’t a way to replace it. I liked the idea of the original Alta but it didn’t have a heart rate monitor and this new device did. The Alta HR would also allow me to get notifications from my phone (limited to SMS and Calendar but I found an awesome hack. More info below). And lastly the Alta HR (along with a few other limited devices not including the Charge HR strangely) added new deeper sleep analysis.

So I decided to order one thanks to Fitbit extending me a 25% off coupon for it as a consolation gift for my dead Charge HR and test it simultaneously along with my Gear Fit2. As you may know I’ve done this once before with 4 trackers. After testing them both for a few weeks I’ve decided to stick with the Fitbit Alta HR. Note that this is a very subjective decision based on several personal factors that I’ll provide which may be useful. This isn’t comprehensive by any means and just focused on a few areas that I was interested in.

Comparison of sleep tracking and analysis between Samsung and updated Fitbit.

Gear Fit2 Pros

  • Beautiful color screen with custom watch faces to highlight different metrics
  • Extensive notifications with details and images
  • Ability to interact with notifications. You can have canned responses with 2 taps to emails or text messages.
  • Built in GPS letting you track workout locations without carrying phone
  • Automatic detection of workouts
  • Great charger interface. Simple magnetic base you just tap with wristband.

Gear Fit2 Cons

  • A little larger than I’d like although not much larger than a Charge 2
  • Doesn’t have continuous heart rate monitoring. Every 10 minutes or on demand. It is continuous during workout tracking.
  • Battery life
  • Non-integration with Google Fit and thus can’t integrate with Gyroscope. Samsung stores it’s data in it’s own S Health app and I found this app Health Sync to push its data to Google Fit but it was clunky and spotty. Creating data silos is a no no and this was pretty much a deal-breaker for me.

Samsung Gear Fit2 Summary

While I liked the Gear Fit2 quite a bit ultimately the things I liked weren’t enough to sway me over the new things I really liked about the Alta HR. Some of the features I personally didn’t try or find value from such as being able to control music from the device. I’ll sum this up with an easily digestible pros vs. cons specific to my wants and needs. If my cons aren’t an issue for you it may be the better choice in your case.

Alta HR Pros

  • Small and light
  • Good battery life
  • 24/7 heart rate monitoring
  • New deeper sleep analysis
  • Ability to use different bands
  • Integrates perfectly with Gyroscope

Alta HR Cons

  • Small screen without much detail
  • Limited text and calendar notifications truncated to 40 characters and only displayed once. Although using the Fit Notifications app allows you to get more notification types.
  • Bad charger interface. Charge HR was horrible and this is slightly better using a cable with a clip that you need to align to the wristband receptacle.

Alta HR Summary

I really like the Alta HR. It’s a small light-weight device and while the device itself is pretty minimal, I actually think that became very attractive to me. I think losing the extensive notifications from the Gear Fit2 would be my primary concern but I found a great solution for that when I discovered the Fit Notifications app which has solved that issue. I limit what apps send notifications to my phone and for my activity tracker I would further limit those to a specific subset. For me it’s primarily work related items such as calendar, text, Slack dm’s, and WhatsApp.


Originally published at lifestreamblog.com on May 5, 2017 which provides news, tips, reviews and commentary on social data aggregation, lifelogging, quantified self, and digital legacy.