Fitbit has released some rather piecemeal fitness tracker updates in recent months. The Fitbit Versa 4 and Sense 2 don’t add much to the powers of their predecessors. However, the Fitbit Inspire 3 is a generational leap ahead of the Fitbit Inspire 2.
It’s one of the best fitness trackers around, especially if you want a low-effort tracker with a long battery life that you might sometimes forget you’re wearing.
So should Fitbit Inspire 2 owners consider upgrading? And should you keep buying the older model if you find it attractively priced? We’ll look at the reasons to consider in this Fitbit Inspire 3 vs. Inspire 2 comparison.
Price and availability
The Fitbit Inspire 3 arrived in September 2022, two years after the Inspire 2, released in September 2020.
Their original prices were very similar. The Inspire 2 is $99.99 / £89.99 at launch, while the Inspire 3 is $99.99 / £84.99.
However, these days you can find the Inspire 2 online for about half its original cost.
Design and display
The Fitbit Inspire 3 has had a huge visual upgrade over the Inspire 2, with the older version looking a bit cheap and basic next to the new one in our opinion.
While the Inspire 3 isn’t a masterpiece, the way the strap pieces interact with the body of the tracker is much more elegant, and we’re fans of the new orange and lilac colors Fitbit has used for this generation.
However, many of the essential building elements are the same. Both have plastic cases and silicone straps and use tempered glass screen protection.
However, only the Fitbit Inspire 3 can pull off the nifty trick of matching the strap color to the default watch face color accent, because the Inspire 2 has a simple monochrome display.
This new color screen is the clearest improvement the Inspire 3 has to offer. While the screens are similar in size (0.72-inch for the Inspire 2 and 0.76-inch for the 3), the new panel is light-years away. .
The Inspire 3’s 206 x 124-pixel resolution looks much sharper than the Inspire 2’s 126 x 36. OLED color also gives the watch a clearer sense of personality. And, what is more important, it is also much brighter.
We found that the Inspire 2 can struggle with screen visibility outdoors on brighter days, which isn’t really an issue on the Inspire 3. This is very important if you want to see distance or pace stats while running .
The Inspire 3 also has an ambient light sensor, which is used to automatically raise the brightness during outdoor activity and lower it back down when indoors in a darker environment. There’s also an “always on” option, which is missing from the Inspire 2. This displays the watch face throughout the day, so you can casually glance at your tracker to see the time.
While there are some gaps in features between these two models, the differences aren’t that dramatic because the Inspire 2 and Inspire 3 have the same goal: they want to be low-maintenance, no-frills trackers, not for marathon runners who want guidance from training.
Both measure your heart rate throughout the day and can automatically record when you go for a walk or run. Inspire tracks your sleep, counts your steps, and offers exercise modes that you can start manually. These show you mid-workout stats on the screen, and the outdoor ones use connected GPS to record your location at all times.
Fitbit Inspire 2 and 3 do not have their own GPS chips. Connected GPS uses location data from your phone, transmitted to the watch via Bluetooth. If you want a real fitness watch-style experience for workouts, you’ll need to bring your phone.
These watches also have a vibration motor, which is used for alarms and timers. They can also receive notifications from their phone, which is useful for checking emails or messages without taking out their phone. However, they look much better on the Fitbit Inspire 3’s sharper screen.
Next-generation heart rate hardware provides new features. Look at them side by side and you’ll see that the Inspire 2 has two small light sensors, while the Inspire 3 has three. That’s because the newer tracker can also measure blood oxygenation (spO2) as well as heart rate, which involves analyzing the amount of red and infrared light reflected from these sensors.
As in other areas, the difference between these two fitness trackers is less about what they can do and more about how they feel to wear.
Both generations provide good battery life. Fitbit rates them both at 10 days, and since there’s no GPS to drain you quickly, you’ll likely only see significantly less than that if you use phone notifications.
If notifications hit the watch all day, the screen will spend more time on and the vibration motor will exercise. The Fitbit Inspire 3 also offers the option to use “always on” display mode, which roughly halves battery life to about five days.
While none of this is class-leading, it’s enough to avoid the battery life headaches that are common among smarter wearables.
Our impression of how suitable these trackers are for more serious athletes also applies to both models. If you’re concerned about the accuracy of your stats or will be tracking runs on most days, you’ll probably want a watch with its own GPS.
The heart rate accuracy of the Inspire 2 and 3 is a bit spotty during exercise. They tend to have a hard time giving accurate readings in the early stages of a workout and don’t really have the ability to tackle tough interval training where the heart rate changes frequently. However, they do well with walks and jogs where there is a certain level of consistency.
We found the Fitbit Inspire 3 to be a much nicer fitness tracker than the Inspire 2. Its screen is sharper and brighter, and the “always on” mode makes it a pretty decent little watch.
It does not have dozens of extra functions, but we do get blood oxygenation. And the extra brightness from the screen makes the Fitbit Inspire 3 more comfortable outdoors on sunny days.
At this level, the Inspire didn’t need new and innovative features to prove itself. The changes made really affect how the Inspire 3 feels in everyday use.