If you’re looking to start tracking your activities and sleep, you don’t need to break the bank on an expensive smartwatch. Fitbit’s entry-level fitness tracker, the Inspire 2, comprehensively monitors your sweat sessions and shut-eye for just $99.95. It tracks your heart rate around the clock, and even monitors your breathing and heart rate variability when you sleep, two metrics that can offer early warning signs of a COVID-19 infection. It also has the longest battery life of any Fitbit device—up to 10 days. It’s a good, wallet-friendly option if you’re just starting out on your fitness journey, but if you have a little extra to spend, we recommend the Fitbit Charge 4, which offers a larger screen, integrated GPS, Fitbit Pay, and Spotify support for $50 more.
A Familiar Design With a Bigger Battery
At $99.95, the Inspire 2 is Fitbit’s most affordable tracker (not including the $69.95 Ace 2, which is geared toward children). It replaces the Inspire HR, which was released in 2019 for the same price, and is a more affordable alternative to the excellent Charge 4, which starts at $149.95.
Left to right: Fitbit Inspire 2, Charge 4
The Inspire 2 is slightly larger than the Inspire HR to allow for a bigger battery life, but retains its predecessor’s unobtrusive design. The tracker measures 1.47 by 0.66 by 0.50 inches (LWH) and features a small grayscale OLED touch screen surrounded by a thick black bezel on all sides. It’s light and comfortable on my wrist, and slim enough to wear alongside bracelets.
Text on the display is tiny but otherwise clear and easy to read, and the touch screen is satisfactorily responsive to swipes and taps. That said, the grayscale display feels a bit dated in 2021, especially compared with the bright, colorful screens on the $25 Wyze Band and the $70 Amazfit Bip S.
The Inspire 2 comes with a black, white, or pink silicone band that fastens with a plastic buckle. In the box, you get small and large bands that fit wrists measuring 5.5 to 7.1 inches and 7.1 to 8.7 inches in circumference, respectively. If the included silicone band isn’t your jam, you can easily swap it out for a different one (gently slide the metal pin on the back of the band to remove it from the tracker). Fitbit sells a range of Inspire 2 accessory bands, including stainless steel and leather, along with a clip so you can wear it on your waistband if you prefer.
The tracker has the longest battery life of any Fitbit device: up to 10 days on a single charge, twice as long as its predecessor. After more than five days of testing, my Inspire 2 still had 60% battery left. In comparison, the Charge 4 lasts up to seven days, or up to five hours while using GPS. The Inspire 2’s lithium-polymer battery only takes about two hours to completely charge.
Like the Charge 4, the Inspire 2 is water-resistant to 164 feet, so you can safely wear it in the pool. In the user manual (PDF), Fitbit says to remove the tracker from your wrist and dry it completely after it gets wet. The company also recommends removing the device when showering, noting, “Although you can shower while wearing your tracker, not doing so reduces the potential for exposure to soaps, shampoos, and conditioners, which can cause long-term damage to your tracker and may cause skin irritation.”
I learned this lesson the hard way. After wearing the Inspire 2 during a sweaty treadmill session and a post-workout shower, I let it dry naturally and about three hours later noticed a small rash on my wrist beneath where the tracker sat. It’s kind of my own fault that this happened since I failed to follow Fitbit’s instructions to remove the tracker before my shower, or at least dry it off after I got out. But it’s still somewhat surprising given that I’ve tested many different smartwatches and fitness trackers and none of them have given me a rash. While testing the Charge 4, I wore it in the shower several times without incident.
For all-day wear, Fitbit says not to buckle the Inspire 2 too tight, to always keep it clean, and to give your wrist a break every now and then by removing it for about an hour. For the most accurate heart rate readings when exercising, be sure to tighten the band enough to ensure the tracker stays flat against your wrist. And if you notice any skin irritation, remove it right away.
Setting Up and Using the Inspire 2
You’ll need to download the app (available for Android and iOS) before setting up the Inspire 2, and create a Fitbit account if you don’t already have one. If you already have a Fitbit account, tap your profile image, select Set Up a Device, select the Inspire 2 from the list, then follow the on-screen instructions.
During the setup process, you’ll need to enter a four-digit code that appears on the Inspire 2’s display, into the app. Once it’s set up, the app offers an overview of the Inspire’s main features, how to change the band, and how to navigate its interface. The entire process only takes about 10 minutes.
To get calls, texts, and app notifications on the Inspire 2, go to your phone’s settings menu, tap Bluetooth, tap the information icon next to your device, and enable Share System Notifications. Then, from the Today tab in the Fitbit app, tap your profile picture > Inspire 2 > Notifications, and toggle on the ones you want to receive.
After going through these steps, app notifications successfully came though on my Inspire 2 test unit, but it never alerted me for calls or texts. Fitbit says the Inspire 2 needs to be within 30 feet of your phone to receive notifications, but that wasn’t the problem. I’m not sure what caused the issue, because I checked my settings several times and the Inspire 2 never showed call and text notifications, even when my phone was in close range.
The Inspire 2 features an updated user interface with new on-screen navigation controls. Swipe up on the screen to view battery life and daily stats, including your steps taken, distance covered, calories burned, Active Zone Minutes, sleep duration, sleep score, and more. Swipe down to access apps, including Notifications, Exercise, Relax, Timers, Alarms, and Settings.
You can also navigate the interface and return to the clock face using two touch panels on either side of the tracker. Pinch both sides of the device to return to the clock face from any app or screen. Pinch and hold both sides of the device to access common settings, including Do Not Disturb (which mutes calls, texts, and other notifications), Sleep Mode (a new feature on the Inspire 2 that mutes notifications and prevents the screen from lighting up when you turn your wrist at night), Water Mode (which locks the screen when you’re in water), and Screen Wake (which lights up the screen when you turn your wrist toward you).
I had some difficulty figuring out how to stop tracking a workout, but otherwise had no other navigational issues. To start tracking one, open the Exercise app, swipe to the type of exercise you want to track, tap on it, then tap the arrow on the screen to start. When you’re finished, tap both buttons on the tracker to pause the workout, tap them again to end tracking, then tap Finish on the screen.
The Inspire 2 comes with a free year of Fitbit Premium, which normally costs $9.99 per month. That’s a nice bonus, especially since Fitbit’s other devices only come with either three- or six-month trials. When activating your membership, you’ll need to enter your payment information for automatic renewal, so be sure to cancel before the free trial ends if you want to avoid incurring subscription fees.
Fitness and Health Tracking
The Inspire 2 features the motivating Active Zone Minutes metric Fitbit first introduced on the Charge 4 last year. Based on recommendations from the World Health Organization and American Heart Association, Fitbit recommends you hit at least 150 Active Zone Minutes per week.
Fitbit determines your personal heart rate zones based on your age and resting heart rate. For me, Fat Burn zone is between 105 and 131bpm, Cardio zone is between 132 and 164bpm, and Peak zone is 165bpm and above.
For every minute the Inspire 2 detects you’re in Fat Burn zone, you get one Active Zone Minute. For every minute it detects you’re in Cardio or Peak zones, you earn two Active Zone Minutes. During a 29-minute run, for instance, I spent seven minutes below my target heart rate zones, six minutes in Fat Burn zone, nine minutes in Cardio zone, and seven minutes in Peak zone, and racked up a total of 38 Active Zone Minutes.
See How We Test Fitness Trackers
If you’re having trouble reaching 150 Active Zone Minutes, you can navigate to the Premium section of the Fitbit app to access audio and video workouts from brands such as Aaptiv, barre3, Daily Burn, Down Dog, obé, Physique 57, PopSugar, and Gaiam’s Yoga Studio.
In addition, the Inspire 2 boasts all the fitness features of its predecessor, including SmartTrack automatic exercise recognition for walking, running, aerobic and elliptical workouts, outdoor cycling, sports like basketball, and swimming. It also lets you set exercise goals for metrics like calories, distance, or duration so that the tracker alerts you whenever you reach it.
The Exercise app on the Inspire 2 features the following workout types by default: run, bike, swim, treadmill, weights, and interval, but if those aren’t your favorite activities, you can easily customize the list. To do so, go to the Inspire 2 section of the Fitbit app, tap Exercise Shortcuts, delete the ones you want to replace, and select the activities you want to track.
There are 20 exercise shortcuts to choose from, including bootcamp, interval workout, kickboxing, martial arts, pilates, spinning, tennis, and more, but you can only put up to six on your Inspire 2. You can also reorder the list and put your favorite activities at the top for easy access. I’m currently testing the Echelon Stride, so I added the treadmill shortcut to the top of the list.
After tracking an outdoor workout with your phone’s GPS connected to the Inspire 2, you’ll see a workout intensity map in the Fitbit app showing your heart rate zone at each point in the route. Like its predecessor, the Inspire 2 can estimate your VO2 Max (the maximum amount of oxygen you can utilize during intense exercise), which Fitbit calls your Cardio Fitness Score, and shows how you stack up against others who are the same age and gender.
Fitbit wants to help you manage stress and improve your sleep with a new Mindfulness section in the app featuring meditation and guided breathing exercises. The Premium subscription gives you access to more than 100 mindfulness sessions from third parties such as Aura, Breethe, and Ten Percent Happier.
There are meditations for better sleep, combating stress, boosting body positivity, and more. In this section of the app, you can also set a goal for how many meditation sessions you aim to do each week, track your daily mindfulness minutes, and discover trends over time as you practice. The Relax app on the tracker itself also offers guided breathing sessions to help you chill out during the day.
While you sleep, the Inspire 2 tracks two new health metrics: your breathing rate (the number of breaths taken per minute) and heart rate variability (HRV, or the variation in time between heartbeats). These two metrics are especially useful in light of COVID-19, as a significant drop in your nightly average HRV, or an increase in your average breathing rate (even a slight one), can indicate illness.
In the Health Metrics section of the Fitbit app, you can view graphs for these two measurements, plus your resting heart rate, over the past week and month. Owners of Fitbit Sense and Versa 3 smartwatches can view these stats over the past week for free, but the Health Metrics dashboard is otherwise a Premium feature. Inspire 2 owners will, of course, be able to access their Health Metrics data free for a year with the Premium trial that comes with the device.
Other than that, not much else has changed on the sleep-tracking front. Like the Inspire HR, the latest model automatically tracks your light, deep, and REM sleep, as well as how much time you spend awake at night, and gives you a sleep score so you can quickly assess the quality of your shut-eye.
Should You Start Your Wellness Journey Here?
If you’re new to the world of fitness tracking, the Fitbit Inspire 2 is worth considering. For just under $100, it keeps track of your calories, heart rate, miles, steps, and workouts each day, and your sleep stages, breathing, and heart rate variability at night. In addition, is long battery life and compact design make it practical and comfortable to wear around the clock—just be sure to heed the wear and care warnings outlined earlier in this review to avoid winding up with a rash. Adding value to its price, the Inspire 2 comes with a one-year subscription to Fitbit Premium, which gives you access to workouts that can help motivate you to move, meditations to combat stress, and other wellness tools.
That said, if you can expand your budget by $50, we recommend the Fitbit Charge 4 more highly. It features built-in GPS, so you can leave your phone at home during outdoor workouts and see your real-time pace and distance on your wrist. It also has a larger screen that’s easier to read, Spotify support, and Fitbit Pay for mobile payments, making it a good deal more versatile than the Inspire 2.
Meanwhile, if you’re in search of an even more affordable option, don’t sleep on the $25 Wyze Band, which is an excellent option if you’re new to fitness trackers and just want to test the waters. It has a similar design to the Inspire 2, but with a bright color touch screen, and offers the same 10-day battery life and water-resistance rating. Its fitness tracking features aren’t as advanced, but it does a better job of displaying notifications from your phone, and lets you control compatible smart home devices.
The Bottom Line
The slim, affordable Fitbit Inspire 2 offers all the basic activity and sleep features you need from a fitness tracker.
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