Shootout: And the best smartwatch is...

By Bryan Chan & James Lu - 20 Feb 2017

Fitbit Blaze

Fitbit Blaze

Fitbit’s first smartwatch, the Blaze, is a black plastic square module that snaps into a 42mm stainless steel frame with a removable rubber strap. It’s not the most attractive smartwatch, and definitely looks more geek than chic, lacking both the luxury design of the ASUS ZenWatch 3 and the premium high-end craftsmanship of the Apple Watch and Samsung Gear S3. Having said that, while the Blaze isn’t much to look at it, it is comfortable to wear thanks to its thin 7mm profile.

The Blaze has a 1.25-inch color touchscreen with a 240 x 180 pixels resolution. It runs on Fitbit’s own UI, which is compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones, and will show incoming call and message notifications for both. Despite having a square display, the home screen is a circular analog watch face that shows the time and date, with a progress marker around it that shows how many steps you’ve taken today. Tapping the screen cycles through steps taken, heart rate and calories burned. Alternatively, there are three other watch faces to choose from.

From the watch face, you can swipe right to access the Blaze's other apps: Today, Exercise, FitStar, Timer, Alarms and Settings.

  • Today shows you a summary of today’s activity progress, including steps, total distance, flights of stairs climbed, heart rate and calories burned.
  • Want to track a workout? the Exercise app is where you do it. Here you'll find options for tracking 17 different workouts, ranging from biking to yoga, golf and tennis.
  • Need some workout assistance? FitStar Personal Trainer helps you reach your goals with a tailored exercise programs and shows on-screen workouts through guided instructions and animated images.

While the Blaze does have a 3-axis accelerometer, optical heart-rate monitor, altimeter and ambient light sensor, it’s missing built-in GPS, which means you’ll need to bring your smartphone with you if you want to track your exercise route. It’s also not waterproof, and is only rated ‘splashproof’ which means no swimming.

One weird quirk to the Blaze is that you have to remove the tracker from its steel frame when you want to charge it, as that’s the only way to get it into its plastic charging shell. On the plus side, battery life is very good at about five days between charges.