Is it a bird, is it a plane, no its a Fitness Super Watch!
Well, that’s what Fitbit call the Surge. If you’re looking for a watch that does it all and more, then the Surge may just be the watch for you. Does the Fitbit Surge live up to its Super watch title? Read on and we’ll try and find out.
Design & Durability (Rating: 85%)
Out of the box, the Fitbit Surge looks fairly basic with only three buttons on it and a black and white screen which is angled towards the wearer as the watch face is thicker on one side than the other. The screen is a good size and is easy to read in most conditions due to the angle it is worn at. The design of the clock and date on the main display can be changed if you don’t like its look. Having said that, there are only 4 very basic options that display time only or date and time. None of them allow you to add other things you may want to monitor such as heart rate or battery level without changing screens. I found this disappointing as there is room on the clock screen.
The Surge is a one-piece watch with the watch face molded into the band and as such it has no pivot points either side of the watch face. It’s quite chunky and would be hard to wear under a buttoned up long sleeve business shirt if you wanted it as a day to day watch and that’s your work attire. At first, I found the Surge quite uncomfortable and hard on the wrist but I have found with wear the band seems to have softened up a bit and it’s now more comfortable. Either that or I have just become used to it. It’s not as comfortable as my standard style watches and I don’t think that will change dramatically given the design. The comfort of the band may be a deal breaker for some but after having worn it for a while I’m okay with how it feels.
The Surge has a single wide pin to secure the strap which works very well and is easy to do up with one hand. One upside to the watch design is that it’s easier to clean than a traditional style watch if you’re using it when you’re sweating a lot and getting it dirty.
To be honest the Surge isn’t going to win any awards for its appearance and looks a bit like an old school digital watch I would have had many years ago. Some may prefer this look though when less is often more.
Functionality & Ease of Use (Rating: 90%)
I charged the watch, downloaded the app and PC software and then attempted to sync it with my Samsung phone. You could just use the watch straight away without the app which would be straight forward but I wanted the entire experience. I tried several times to sync with the phone and it seemed to locate the watch and then get stuck or ‘hang’ during the set-up process. I ended up using the PC software and wireless USB adapter provided and this method of set up was simple and quick. Once successful I went back to my phone and it synced up and worked as intended. This was a hassle but now functions as intended with no further issues.
The menu systems of the watch are simple to navigate and its features are easy to find and use. The watch uses a mixture of 3 buttons and a touch screen and is easy to find your way around menus with a bit of practice. The Surge is designed to be a running watch, fitness tracker and sleep monitor. It also has a heart rate monitor which works through the wrist, built in GPS and a 3-axis accelerometer. It offers a lot of functions for a reasonably priced watch, some I’ve paid a lot more for with some of my other fitness watches.
The GPS tracking worked well with my testing as did the fitness side of things as well. One thing I really liked, was during an exercise session the tracking can be paused and then started again and it continues to record as one session. Whether in watch mode or exercise mode the display is clear and easy to read. Features such as time exercising, real time heart rate (which worked well when compared to a similar style Garmin watch) and the other main functions such as steps climbed and calories burnt are all easy to access by swiping the screen and selecting with a button or tapping the screen. The menu system is really easy to use for the less tech savvy.
Accessing all the information from this watch is also easy using the smart phone app. This watch syncs with the app really quickly and the information is laid out in a way that is easy to see and understand. The app is a real bonus and definitely one of the big pluses when it comes to using the Fitbit Surge. Having said that there are several features such as food and drink tracking which are painful to use and not worth the time or effort required in my opinion.
One feature that people may enjoy using is the sleep feature. The Surge tracks sleep automatically by monitoring your heart rate which is a plus as many other watches need to be turned to sleep mode to monitor sleep. Sleep tracking worked well although I found myself bumping the watch or display when wriggling around which would activate the watch light which was annoying when trying to sleep. I only did that a few times and then decided to stop wearing it to bed. As far as sleep tracking goes I figure I know if I’ve had a good sleep or not anyway based on how many coffees I need to get up and get going in the morning, so I wasn’t too fussed about that feature anyway.
As I mentioned the Surge does not have a lock feature and I found to effectively use it for sleep tracking it needs a screen lock. I also found wearing it during boot camp exercise when doing certain movements or wearing boxing gloves the buttons could accidently be pressed and recording was stopped. This is a real let down for this watch and something that could be so easily fixed.
Although this watch is primarily a fitness watch I found the smart watch features really useful. The display will allow you to read texts and display caller ID with your phone tucked away in your pocket. It also vibrates when you receive a call or text to alert you. I found this helpful when my phone was in my pocket and I couldn’t hear it as it meant I didn’t miss calls or texts I otherwise would have. The Surge also allows you to display and control music which would be useful if you were training and wanted to remain hands free but it’s not something I used a lot.
Battery life on the Surge was a bit disappointing and something that I noticed quickly when using it as an everyday watch. Even when not using the GPS which does drain the battery quickly, I still found the Surge needed recharges more often than other fitness watches I have which seem to last longer. Having said that I charge my phone daily so it’s not a deal-breaker to charge a watch more often than I hoped. It may be an issue if you wanted to use it off grid for lengthy periods such as on multi-day bushwalks or treks but there are other watches more suited to that type of activity I believe.
Speaking of charging, I’m not a big fan of the type of cable and the way it plugs into the base of the watch. I found that bumps and movement of the watch when plugged in would cause it to lose connection easily and it didn’t feel like a solid connection. The cable connection is easily overcome I guess by just plugging it in and leaving it be but I much prefer the charging style plugs on my Suunto and Garmin watches that seem to retain a better, tighter connection once plugged in. Also in the world when most phones and tablet devices these days, except Apple products use Micro or Mini USB cables it would have been nice to have once less type of cable in the mass of cables I need to keep track of.
Last but not least, the Surge is labelled as water resistant but only splash proof and the instructions say not to shower or swim while wearing it. Basically, its sweat proof. Not a deal breaker for most but for those that want a watch they never have to take off or to use while swimming laps, the Surge may not be the right fit for you.
What I Like
- Easy to read display.
- Navigation on menu system suits less tech savvy users.
- Easy to track exercise and monitor real time heart rate.
- Smart watch functions work well.
What I Don’t Like
- Slightly hard and uncomfortable band.
- Doesn’t display enough info on the main screen.
- No screen lock feature.
- Average battery life compared to other fitness watches I’ve used.
- Charging cable that doesn’t feel as firm as others.
The Fitbit Surge is available online direct from Fitbit.
Disclaimer: Fitbit provided a surge for review. This has no influence on the opinions presented in my review.
Have you tried the Fitbit Surge? Got any questions or comments? Let us know by commenting below.