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Fitbit Surge review: Fitbit’s first GPS watch is gone, but not forgotten

Fitbit Surge
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £148
inc VAT

Feature-packed but the Fitbit Surge doesn't quite gel together


Pedometer: Yes, Heart-rate monitor: Yes, Display: LCD, Battery life: 7 days

The Fitbit Surge is dead. Well, Fitbit doesn’t list it on the site at any right. The only evidence it ever existed is a £16.99 charge cable you can buy for it.

But you can still buy a Fitbit Surge preowned, so should you? Nah, not in 2019. Looking back on the pictures of it now, it’s clear just how far we’ve come in terms of wearable looks. The Fitbit Surge, with its bulky rubber wristband and small monochrome screen embedded within, is like a product from another decade. No wonder Fitbit doesn’t list it on the site any more.

It’s not just the looks, though. GPS was once the sole preserve of expensive running watches, but that’s no longer the case. You can buy the Huawei Band 2 Pro for under £40 or the Amazfit Bip for similar. 

Of course, neither of these are Fitbit devices, which means you miss out on all the fun community features and competitive userbase. That is a serious concern, but if you want a Fitbit with built-in GPS your choice is between this and the £300 Fitbit Ionic. So if GPS is a dealbreaker, you may want to give the Surge a look… but probably only on race days. 

Riyad’s original review can be read below

Fitbit has been around for some time, leading the fitness tracker scene, but the Surge is different from the original tracker, as it has more in common with a GPS sports watch than your regular Fitbit device.

Unlike the conventional fitness tracker that is worn all the time, the Surge is attempting to be an all-in-one device – fitness tracker, GPS sports watch and, since you need to wear it every day, essentially a replacement for your regular watch.

See all the best fitness trackers and smartwatches here

For some this could be the answer to wearing a device on both wrists, plus having a third device for exercising. However, while sports watches and smartwatches are being designed to look more and more like traditional timepieces, the Surge doesn’t make any such efforts. It basically looks like a really big fitness tracker. The Surge can be found for around £150 on Amazon.

Fitbit Surge review: Design and build quality

There are three colour choices on offer – black, blue and tangerine. My review sample was tangerine and it’s certainly bright – it would look fine in the gym, or when you’re out for a run, but not so much with a shirt and tie. There’s a very secure buckle in evidence, and it won’t come loose no matter how active you are.

Fitbit Surge buckle

Aesthetics are a very personal thing, but personally I’m not convinced I’d want to wear a Surge as an everyday watch – while it would pretty odd to wear it on your dominant wrist with a regular watch on the opposite hand. But, let’s assume that you like the idea of wearing the Surge as your “one device does all” solution and explore what it actually does.

The Surge is big, much bigger than the Fitbit Charge, which itself is larger than the Fitbit Flex and the Fitbit Alta. Exact size vary depending on whether you opt for the small, large or extra large model (note that the latter is only available on the Fitbit website), but it’s safe to say that whatever model you choose, the Surge is the biggest fitness tracker around. To be fair to it, however, it is also the most feature packed.

Fitbit Surge review: Display and interface

The Surge is dominated by a touch-sensitive monochrome LCD display. You can swipe the screen left or right to cycle through the plethora of data the Surge is constantly recording. There are also three buttons around the casing that are used to initiate and select certain functions.

In terms of screen quality, it isn’t particularly exciting or inspiring. I’m not too keen on the width of the borders surrounding it, it’s pretty drab to look at and not particularly large either at 1.25in from corner to corner, but it is at least a practical display.

It’s extremely easy to read in daylight since it’s a reflective rather than transmissive screen (in other words, no light shines through from the rear) and, when you want to read it in the dark it has a light that illuminates the face from the side. This type of screen also tends to be more power efficient than a standard, smartwatch LCD, so there are benefits. Also see: Fitbit Flex review.

Fitbit Surge review: Heart rate monitor and tracker

There’s an optical heart rate monitor built into back of the Surge, and it will measure and log your heart rate constantly throughout the day. In fact, the Surge will capture your heart rate every five seconds during normal usage, and every second if you’re exercising, which should be enough for all but the most data-driven of fitness fanatics.

Fitbit Surge side

The steps you take throughout the day are logged, as is every flight of stairs you climb. The Surge will use the data it gathers to also estimate the distance you’ve travelled and the calories you’ve burned. Like all Fitbit devices, the Surge will discern between a gentle stroll and a power-walk, logging ‘active minutes’ when you’re pushing yourself a little harder.

But where the Surge really differs from other Fitbit devices is in its ability to track actual training and exercise sessions. With GPS functionality built into it, the Surge can measure your speed, distance and pace over time as you train. So, if you’re a regular runner or cyclist, you can use the Surge to track all your training sessions, negating the need for a dedicated running watch or bike computer.

The GPS tracking is pretty good, and the Surge turned in results that were in keeping with both TomTom and Garmin running watches. You can configure the Surge to give you vibrating alerts based on distance or time – I had it alert me at every kilometre mark while running.

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