If you’re in the market for a wrist-based fitness/activity tracker, there is no shortage of options to choose from. A quick online search will reveal several well-known and lesser-known brands, all with various features. Among the more recognizable fitness watch makers is Fitbit, which has made its name with fitness trackers.
Here’s a review of the Fitbit Surge, which the company calls its “ultimate fitness super watch.”
The Fitbit Surge is the company’s performance fitness watch, which combines many of the features offered in its other trackers — the Fitbit Zip, One, Flex, Alta, Charge and Blaze — into one ultimate fitness super watch.
The Fitbit Surge is an attractive option for both the casual and serious workout buff. It provides all-day activity tracking for steps, distance, calories, floors climbed and active minutes for those interested in tracking their day’s activities. Where the Surge steps up its game is with GPS tracking that is built into the watch. This means you don’t need your smartphone for the Fitbit Surge to track your run, walk, bike rides or other activity; its SmartTrack + Multi-Sport feature takes care of this for you.
The Fitbit Surge also uses the company’s proprietary PurePulse Heart Rate technology to provide you with continuous, automatic wrist-based heart rate. It also gives you simplified heart rate zones so you can gauge your level of activity at a glance.
But the Fitbit Surge is more than just an activity tracker. When paired with your smartphone using the Fitbit App, it turns into a smart watch, too. You can receive text and call notifications, as well as control songs from your mobile playlist. These are great features to have if you’re in the middle of a workout or sitting at your office desk. The Surge also monitors your daily sleep activity, showing you the times you were restless and the periods you were sound asleep.
The Fitbit Surge wirelessly syncs statistics with the Fitbit App, making it easy for you to see your progress right after a workout. The Fitbit App Dashboard displays all of the data gathered in an easy-to-view format that makes sense of the statistics.
Out of the box, the Fitbit Surge comes with the watch and a USB charging cord so you can sync your device to a computer. It also comes with a USB Bluetooth dongle so you can sync the data to your computer. The watch comes in three sizes, so be sure to note the packaging labels so that you get the correct size for you.
- The built-in GPS tracking allows you to map your runs, bike rides and walks using the Fitbit Surge without a smartphone.
- The continuous heart rate monitor makes it easy to check your pulse, both when exercising and at rest.
- Receive text notifications on the Fitbit Surge’s large 1.25-inch screen. This allows you to keep your smartphone tucked away, which is handy if you’re running or biking and want to read incoming texts. The Surge also shows you income calls but you’ll need to answer them with your smartphone.
- The Fitbit App is among the best in the industry at showcasing data related to your activity.
- The rugged design and water-resistant feature makes the Fitbit Surge a durable super watch.
- The USB charging cord can easily slip out of the back of the Fitbit Surge while charging. Be sure to place the watch flat on its screen.
- The bulky design of the watch and its limited colors (black, blue and tangerine) may not appeal to everyone.
- The heart rate monitor may lose tracking during high-intensity workouts.
Independent GPS tracking
One of the key features we found in this Fitbit Surge review that sets the device apart from others in the Fitbit family is its built-in GPS. With a few taps on the control buttons, the Surge searches for and connects to a satellite so that you can record distance, pace, split times and elevation climbs. The mapping capability of the GPS also means you can review your routes after your workout.
For runners, this means that the Fitbit Surge can track your miles in real time and display your current pace on its large touchscreen. You can set your Surge to notify you via a vibration every time you reach certain distance or time. You can also set up timers on the Surge to let you know when a time interval has been reached. This is especially useful for run-walkers who have a set amount of time walking and running.
Another benefit of GPS tracking is its altimeter, which shows you the elevations you encountered during your workout. This is particularly handy for runners because they can compare their pace with the amount of elevation they experienced at that time. These are key data points that can help them create better (or harder) training plans, based on their running goals.
Also, the rugged silicon watch strap and sturdy metal buckle make the Fitbit Surge a tough fitness watch. Users say it difficult for the watch to accidentally slip off your wrist and the design is easy to clean, despite being not so easy on the eyes.
Another key feature of the Fitbit Surge is its seamless connectivity to the Fitbit Mobile App. Clearly among the industry leaders, the Fitbit App takes all of the statistics collected by the Surge and places them in easy-to-ready graphics and charts that help you make sense of your activities.
The app dashboard prominently displays your steps, miles logged, calories burned, floors walked and minutes of activities. You can view all of your recently exercises as well as review data about how well you slept. For those who favor a complete picture of their biometrics, the app also allows you to enter the number of glasses of water you drank, the types of food you ate during the day and many other fields.
Other great functions of the app include the Challenges section, which allows you to join in races and competitions with other Fitbit users around the world. You’ll earn buttons and flags whenever you accomplish a goal. There are also discounts on products as part of completing a challenge.
The Fitbit App also offers training videos for those who want to take their training to the next level. You can learn how to perform different types of exercises all from the app. This makes training much more personal and productive.
From a social perspective, the Fitbit App’s Community page allows you to view fitness-related news, invite friends to join your Fitbit circle and join various groups, based on the type of activity you’re interested in.
Top Features and Specs
- GPS tracking – enough can’t be said about having a fitness tracker with a built-in GPS. This allows you to exercise without the need of having your smartphone with you to provide the satellite tracking.
- Optical heart rate monitor – Enjoy automatic and always on wrist-based heart rate detection with the Fitbit Surge.
- Fitbit App – See what all the data collected really means through the Fitbit App Dashboard. View your steps, distance, calories, floors climbed, active minutes and more. Chances are the reason you want a fitness tracker is to view the data it records. The Fitbit App has among the most user-friendly interfaces around, and App syncs the statistics wirelessly with the Surge.
- View call and text notifications on the touchscreen display – If you’re literally on the go a lot, being able to view your texts and see incoming phone numbers on the Fitbit Surge is a huge convenience.
- Surge charges quickly – The Surge charges quickly and has a battery life that can last to seven days.
- Built-in sleep monitor – If you ever wondered how well you sleep, the Fitbit Surge can tell you. It displays your overnight sleep duration and the quality of sleep. Plus, the watch comes with a silent vibrating alarm that can slowly wake you from your slumber. For those deep sleepers, you can set several alarms to nudge you awake.
- Large LCD display – The 1.25-inch LCD touchscreen display allows you to easily view data. The Surge has several custom clock faces so you can select the one that best fits your needs.
What Customers are Saying
Consumers who have purchased the Fitbit Surge on Amazon.com have given is a collective customer review of 3.3 out of 5 stars, based on 7,476 customers. Some reviewers praised the heart rate tracking feature because it doesn’t require a chest strap. Others praised the Surge’s ability to just “know” when you’re sleeping to start recording the data, without any prompts from the wearer.
One customer, in his Fitbit Surge review, said: “This thing works fantastically. I’ve used it for stairclimber workouts, weight lifting, spinning, yoga and hiking. … I periodically check my heart rate on the fitness machines and compare it to the Surge. It’s spot on.”
Some reviewers, however, have complained about firmware update problems that have left their Fitbit Surge with issues that weren’t experienced before the update, such as false counting of steps by just waving your arms around. Others have noted the Surge doesn’t offer enough features for the price range and that Fitbit customer service doesn’t always provide the best assistance in helping customers troubleshoot issues.
Other reviewers, however, have said the Fitbit Surge is a good fitness tracker that stands the test of time. “I’ve had it for almost three years and I still love it,” said one reviewer recently. Another said “Love the watch, wear it every day and the band is in perfect shape.”
The Surge is Fitbit’s ultimate fitness watch, incorporating features from other devices in the Fitbit line with its built-in GPS. The unisex silicon band and unique 1.25-inch LCD display provide users with a fitness watch that is focused more on performance than looks. The watch strap comes in three sizes with a heavy-grade metal buckle that won’t let the watch slip loose, even during intense workouts.
The Surge uses eight sensors to gather data, which has various uses in multi-sport activities. For runners and bikers, the Surge is a great option to track their mileage, pace, split times, distances and elevation. The GPS tracking allows you to view a map of your workout, which is a good motivational tool for the next exercise session.
Those who have been using Fitbit devices in the recent years will enjoy the additional tracking and statistics collected by the Surge and displayed on the Fitbit App Dashboard. The dashboard’s many features and clean user interface make it an attractive option for people who are just getting started with their fitness goals and want to easily track their progress from day one. The Surge syncs data over Bluetooth 4.0 to your mobile device. Or, you can use the provided USB Bluetooth dongle to sync the data to your personal computer.
The Surge is easy to set up right out of the box and its touchscreen controls are easy to learn. Starting GPS tracking for a run or bike ride takes just two presses of the control button. And while you’re on your workout, you can read text notifications from your Surge or view incoming phone call numbers (you’ll need to answer those calls with your smartphone).
The Fitbit Surge’s built-in GPS, optical heart rate monitor and other useful features place it high on the list for anyone looking for a fitness tracker with GPS capabilities. What pushes this Fitbit device to the top is the Fitbit Mobile App, which makes all the statistics collected easy to understand and fun to view.
Fitbit’s description of the Surge as its ultimate fitness watch is accurate. There’s no doubt the company is working on the next device in the Fitbit line. But until that is release, the Fitbit Surge can easily hold its own among fitness watches.
- GPS Tracking- See distance, pace and elevation climbed & review routes and split times
- Get continuous, automatic, wrist-based heart rate and simplified heart rate zones
- Track workouts & view workout summaries; plus all day activities including steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed and active minutes