There’s a certain type of person who would prefer minimalist Fitbit Flex over the full-color screen of the Fitbit Blaze, or even the heart rate tracking capabilities of the Fitbit Charge HR. That person is me — budget-minded, easily distracted me.
The wearable tech industry is exploding with tons of exciting features for fitness trackers that can do everything from improve your golf swing to use GPS to track your children. And while a fitness tracker with the ability to replace your smartphone sounds super cool, the reality is this: after spending time with a Fitbit Charge HR, I’m ready to downgrade.
Specifically, my eyes are set on the Fitbit Flex, the low-hanging fruit of Fitbits. It’s simple, minimal, and it does everything a basic fitness tracker should do — with the added benefit of having access to Fitbit’s user-friendly app.
Disclaimer: I’m not interested in heart rate tracking and I don’t need phone notifications on my tracker, which eliminates the extra features of the Charge HR and Alta. Obviously, if those features are more your style, the Flex is not for you.
But if you just want a fitness tracker that is comfortable enough to wear to bed, can blend into any outfit, and encourages you to move around throughout the day, then the Flex is perfect. Here’s why.
Fitbit Flex’s Features Are Minimal
The Flex offers many of the same features as other Fitbit devices — steps, distance, calories burned, active minutes, and sleep tracking — but they’re packaged within a more compact design. However, that does not mean you won’t make an impression with this tracker.
Not only does the Flex work with leather bands, ribbons, and even Tory Burch accessories, but it can also be worn as a necklace or bracelet. There’s a lot to be said for a fitness tracker that seamlessly blends in with any outfit.
I’m all about reducing the number of notifications I receive and the amount of time I spend looking at a screen, and the Fitbit Flex’s sliver of a screen is right up my alley. It communicates your health stats with a series of five dots, and you tap on the screen to view how close you are to your goal.
Here’s exactly what those lights mean:
Fitbit Flex Lights
- Step goals: Each light represents how close you are to hitting your daily step goal. If you want to hit 10,000 daily steps, then one solid light means that you’re 20% of the way to meeting your goal.
- Sleep: While the Flex automatically tracks the quality of your sleep, you can also put it in manual sleep mode by rapidly tapping the screen. Manual sleep mode will tell you how long it takes you to fall asleep, but you’ll need to view your stats in the Fitbit app.
- Silent alarm: Like other Fitbit bands, you can set a silent alarm through the app, and your Flex will gently vibrate in the morning. When your alarm goes off, the center light will flash as the device vibrates.
- Charging: As your Flex charges, each light will indicate how close it is to a full charge. Five lights mean that it’s ready for use.
- Updating: If your Flex’s lights are cycling back and forth (and your tracker isn’t responding to taps), an update may have failed. Check your Fitbit app for information about updating.
Fitbit Flex vs. Flex 2
The Flex and Flex 2 offer many of the same features, but the latter is even thinner, is water-resistant, and can pop into a wider range of fashion-forward wristbands and necklaces. Both trackers have a notification system, but they display lights in different ways.
While the Flex doesn’t feature a traditional screen, it does have a small display (of sorts) made out of translucent plastic. Lights rest in a single line underneath this plastic and take up very little space.
The Flex 2’s notification system works in much the same way, but the five lights run vertically down the surface of the tracker. These lights always remain visible.
Here’s what the different color combinations on the Flex 2 mean:
Fitbit Flex 2 Lights
- Goal progress: Goal progress is available at any time by tapping your Flex 2 twice. Each white light represents 25% of your goal, and when you reach it, the device vibrates and all of the lights flash to signify your accomplishment. Once you reach your goal, tapping the tracker twice should reveal a flashing green light and four solid white lights underneath.
- Call and text notifications: Whenever you have call and text notifications enabled, the Flex 2 will vibrate and display the corresponding color combination. One blue light and four white lights signify a call, while one blue light and one white light mean you received a text. The calling pattern repeats four times or until you answer or dismiss the alert.
- Alarms: When a silent alarm goes off, the Flex 2 will show one yellow light and three white lights. This color combination displays for 30 seconds or until you dismiss the alarm.
- Battery and charging: When the Flex 2 is running low on battery, it will display one flashing red light after you check your goal progress. During charging, each white light signifies 25% of the total charge. When the device is fully charged, a green light flashes along with four white lights for several seconds.
- Reminders to move: The Flex 2 vibrates twice and then displays one magenta light and two white lights when you receive a reminder to move. When you take 250 steps after the reminder, the device will vibrate again and display a celebratory pattern.
No matter what notification you receive from your Flex 2, the top circle is the only light that will ever change color. The bottom four lights either remain white or will disappear according to the specific alert.
Budget Fitness Trackers
This is really my biggest motivation for using the Fitbit Flex. While the Fitbit Surge costs $249.95, and the Fitbit Charge 2 and Fitbit Alta HR both start at $149.95, the Flex is pretty easy to find for under $50 online. The Flex 2 is another budget-friendly option at $99.95.
Since pedometers don’t cost much more than $5, if anything, what you’re really paying for is the sleep tracking features, Fitbit’s app, and a device you can wear in multiple places on your body. Both the Flex and the Flex 2 are minimal, capable, and fashion-forward trackers.
Looking for something even less expensive? Check out our list of cheaper versions of Fitbit that track your workouts for less. Are you a fan of the Fitbit Flex or Flex 2? Let us know in the comments!