Fitbit Blaze release date, news and features

Fitbit Blaze: everything you need to know

Fitbit played an instrumental part in defining the wearables category, but now, it has to answer to the popular efforts from companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google and Pebble

It’s doing just that with the Fitbit Blaze, the company’s bold attempt at blurring the line between fitness tracker and smartwatch introduced at CES 2016. It looks to pack in all of Fitbit’s fantastic tracking capabilities within a slick, smartwatch-esque build with customizable bands. But, don’t call it a smartwatch. Here’s everything you need to know about Fitbit’s most advanced fitness tracker yet.

Cut to the chase
What is it? Fitbit’s next-gen fitness tracker that looks like a smartwatch.
When is it out? Available in March. Pre-orders are open right now.
What will it cost? US$199 (£159.99, AU$329.95)

Fitbit Blaze release date

Fitbit hasn’t announced an official release date for the Blaze, but stated at CES 2016 that it is aiming for a March launch. You can pre-order the Fitbit Blaze through a variety of online retailers, including the company’s own site, Best Buy, Amazon, and others.

If you’re considering nabbing one of these, we’d recommend buying through Fitbit’s site, as it offers free shipping and a 45-day money back guarantee on the purchase. Though, we’ll be keeping track of other retailers in case some promotions pop up before the Blaze’s launch.

Fitbit Blaze

Fitbit Blaze price and colors

The Fitbit Blaze base model is available for $199 (£159.99, AU$329.95). With the purchase, the tracker is fitted into a brushed stainless steel frame, and you have in choice in which color of elastomer band you’d like: black, blue, or plum (light purple).

Of course, there are more bands to supplement your purchase. If you’d just like another colored elastomer band, it’ll set you back $29.95 (£19.99, AU$49.95) per band. If you want to swap it out for a style with more class, you can plunk down an additional $99.95 (£59.99, AU$169.95) for a leather band that comes in black, camel brown, or mist grey flavors. To top off the customization offering, you can deck out the Blaze in a stainless steel band to match the look of the tracker’s frame for an extra $129.95 (£89.99, AU$219.95) on top of the original cost. Phew, this can quickly turn into an expensive tracker!

Fitbit Blaze design

Fitbit’s latest wearable is a welcomed departure from its previous designs, adding a few fashionable touches and a colored touchscreen into the mix.

Fitbit Blaze

You might be thinking: “Say, this is very familiar to some other popular devices which you fasten to your wrist.” And you’re right, for the most part. Fitbit rightfully doesn’t want to be lost amidst the rampant success of the Apple Watch, Pebble Time, and many others, so the similarities may be less than coincidental. But, that’s not to say that the Blaze riffs completely on its competition.

The elastomer band loops around your wrist like any ol’ watch strap, but it blends seamlessly on its front into the stainless steel frame. When you’re in need of a change in style, simply pop the tracker out of the hexagonal frame, and into a different one.

Add-on accessories are pretty common in the world of wearables, yet in the case of Fitbit’s Blaze, it unfortunately doesn’t allow you the option to deck it out with any strap you have lying around in the way you could with, say, a Pebble. This move could potentially limit the Blaze’s reach, but, all-in-all, we don’t see this as a deal-breaker for fitness gurus.

Fitbit Blaze

Fitbit Blaze display

The tracker itself rocks a colored LCD touchscreen surrounded by a fairly slim, but noticeable bezel. All said, it’s easily the most vibrant display we’ve seen on a Fitbit, and looks to even give the competition a run for its money in terms of simplicity and good looks.

While our hands-on time with the Fitbit Blaze was minimal, our initial impressions showed the the touch gestures are responsive and will likely fare well, even during intense workouts. But, for workouts that leave you out in the rain, the touchscreen probably won’t do you much good, which is why Fitbit has thought to include buttons on the side that mimic the screen’s actions.

Fitbit Blaze specs

In terms of sensors, the Fitbit Blaze is stocked with a 3-axis accelerometer to track steps and workouts, an optical heart rate monitor, and an altimeter, which tracks your altitude to give you a more accurate idea of how tough your workouts really were. The tracker also contains an ambient light sensor to help save battery when high screen brightness isn’t needed. Lastly, you’ll feel the buzz of notifications just fine with the vibration motor built-in.

Fitbit Blaze

The Blaze operates over Bluetooth v4.0 and can push text and call notifications to your Android and iOS devices. Additionally, it can track workouts via GPS and sync your data to any computer running Windows Vista, Windows 8, 8.1, or Windows 10, as well as older Macs with 10.6 (Snow Leopard) installed, all the way up to the most recent operating system, OS X 10.11 El Capitan.

The internal memory of the Blaze, while not specified, is sufficient enough to log seven days of minute-by-minute motion data, according to the Blaze’s product page. It can also store daily totals for the last 30 days of use.

Fitbit Blaze waterproofing

As mentioned earlier, the Fitbit Blaze isn’t completely hydrophobic. Feel free to get sweaty or walk out in the rain with it. But Fitbit advises against showering or jumping in the pool with it on. Waterproofing is a feature that’s big in the fitness world, and while sweat and splash-proofing is nice, it’s a bummer that the Blaze isn’t built to keep water out full-stop.

Fitbit Blaze

Fitbit Blaze battery life

Some might think that its slick design and decent price are the best that the Blaze has going for it, but we’d argue that it’s the battery life that helps it stick out most. While we haven’t had enough time alone with the Blaze to confirm this claim, Fitbit is confident that its lithium-polymer battery can last up to five days before needing a refill. And once it runs out, it won’t take too long until you’re up and running again: just an hour or two.

The Fitbit Blaze appears to be fitness tracker that could please the design-wise smartwatch crowd, but we won’t know for ourselves until we have more time with the wearable. Keep a watchful eye for more coverage on the Fitbit Blaze in the next few weeks, but if you’re in the market for the best Fitbit on the market right now, check out the Fitbit Surge.

Chriss Stephens
Editor in Chief at Chriss is a Blogger with focus on latest hardware and all operating systems, but especially on Windows