The FitBit Zip is an activity tracker from a whole three years ago. But it still does the job just fine. It’s simple, so there’s no pressing need for any part of it to be upgraded. At $79, it’s a bargain compared to the new Charge HR or Jawbone UP24, or basically any other fitness-tracking wearable, bar the $69 Jawbone UP Move that is its chief competitor.
What Is It?
- Bluetooth: Yes (4.0 LE)
- Fitness Tracking: MEMS Tri-Axis Accelerometer
- Weight: 8g
- Dimensions: 35.5x28x9.65mm
- Battery: CR2025 (removable)
- Battery Life: 4-6 Months
The $79 FitBit Zip and the $69 Jawbone UP Move are very similar. Both are powered by a 6-month-life removable coin-cell button battery, both have a tri-axis accelerometer, both sync wirelessly with any modern smartphone using Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, and both weigh under 10 grams and measure a little more than an inch by an inch in size.
But where the UP Move has a multi-segment light-up LED display, the FitBit Zip has a monochrome, non-backlit LCD, a super-low-power one that nonetheless shows a lot more data than Jawbone’s equivalent model. Tap that display on the Zip and it’ll change to different modes, tracking total steps, distance moved, calories burned, a clock, and your overall fitness level through the Smiley.
That FitBit Smiley is a holistic look at your day’s fitness activity; it’ll check out your steps and distance and calories and sync with the FitBit app on your phone to give an overall fitness emoticon. That FitBit app, too, is just as important as the Zip’s LCD, because you can use it to log meals and keep track of your diet. Crucially, you can also connect the Zip to your PC using the bundled USB Bluetooth dongle.
What’s It Good At?
It’s so simple. There’s no buttons to press, no fiddling with an app (unless you want to), no charging cradle to plug the Zip into. The FitBit Zip is the epitome of a Bluetooth-connected pedometer, because that’s all it needs to be — it tracks your steps through its onboard accelerometer, translates that into distance and calories depending on your body type and height, then transmits that data to your smartphone for later viewing or aggregation as you wish.
The screen is the Zip’s big selling point, and definitely a big point in its favour over the much newer Jawbone UP Move. Fitness trackers in general aren’t specifically about the exact distance or step count in any given day, and shouldn’t really be compared to each other, but it’s nice having a four- or five-digit read-out rather than a more abstract set of chevrons. Plus that Smiley is really nice.
The four colours the Zip is available in, too, are actually all really nice. It’s not exactly a huge point in the Zip’s favour, but it’s definitely not to its detriment. Although the UP Move has five colours, its little hockey puck tracker is actually only available in four and it’s the silicone wrap that changes, so there’s no real winner there. But no real loser, either.
What’s It Not Good At?
I know I’m comparing the two non-stop, but I much prefer Jawbone’s complementary app for iOS and Android for the UP Move to the Fitbit app for iOS and Android. It’s better designed, presents information in a more relevant and well-weighted manner, and seems to work a little more smoothly.
Like the UP Move, the FitBit Zip is easy to lose. Its silicon clip-on case doesn’t hold it perfectly securely, and the clip doesn’t lock in any way. It’ll hold onto the seam of a pair of jeans, a jacket or any other relatively thick garment, but isn’t nearly as competent at holding onto a skinny T-shirt or business sock. At least it’s cheap enough to buy another one — you’ll still be ahead of the price of one of FitBit’s other fitness-monitoring devices.
The Zip is also a little gimped compared to other FitBit devices. It can’t tell how well you’ve slept, it can’t track your stair-stepping progress — a pain if that’s how you get some of your daily exercise. I don’t see how it couldn’t be used to track sleep apart from the fact that it doesn’t wrap around your wrist like a fitness tracker watch; surely you could slip it into a pyjama pants pocket?
Should You Buy It?
Three years after it was first released internationally, the FitBit Zip remains an excellent entry-level fitness tracker. Whether you choose it or the Jawbone UP Move really depends on your preferences for the app and the design and the colour options, but suffice to say it’ll perfectly handle the job of tracking your steps and gathering all that data into one place for you to interpret.
It’s not an incredibly advanced fitness tracker, but for the tasks it promises to fulfill, the Zip doesn’t need to be. The lack of sleep tracking sounds like a bit of an artificial exclusion, to be honest, but otherwise having the one metric — movement — translated into steps and distance and calories is basically all that the Zip needs to do. And, thankfully, it does it well and does it consistently.
The little Smiley is a nice touch, too. It speaks to the entire mindset of the Zip — not taking itself too seriously, not made for the ultra-marathon-running fitness professionals, but for the everyperson that just wants to know how far they’ve moved in a day, and what that means for the energy they’ve burned. The FitBit Zip — like the UP Move — is just good at what it does, and that’s it.