If I asked you to envision a fitness tracker on a random person’s wrist, what would your imaginary wearable look like? For years, they’ve largely looked the same — plastic or metal rectangles attached to some generic silicone or nylon strap.
Fitbit likes to say its wearables resemble jewelry. But it’s difficult to make a fitness tracker that actually looks like jewelry and does everything from logging your steps, sleep and workouts to telling you to breathe and relax. The company tried its hand at a stylish fitness band in 2016 with the Alta, but that device was just a slightly narrower Charge with a finicky screen and has since been discontinued. With the Luxe, Fitbit is singing a familiar tune, once again promising a “fashion-forward fitness and wellness tracker... in an effortlessly chic bracelet design."
Design aside, the Luxe packs almost everything you’d want from a fitness band: a heart rate sensor, oxygen saturation (SpO2) monitoring, sleep tracking, water resistance and basic syncing with your phone. At $150, this could be a great option for those looking for a simple no-frills tracker that stands out from the crowd.
Fitbit’s previous claims about how stylish and chic their trackers are have been questionable. They’re all just rectangular blocks with few minor variations. When announcing the Luxe, the company painstakingly detailed how it crafted the Luxe’s case, saying the device’s “breakthrough design has a soft, gentle shape inspired by the human body that sits lightly on your wrist with a jewelry-like look and feel.”
It used techniques like metal injection molding to make the stainless steel case, “providing the warmth expected of handcrafted jewelry, all while delivering a level of precision needed to enable its advanced sensor technology.” After throwing in a few dozen mentions of how elegant the Luxe is, the company ends up calling this “one of Fitbit’s most fashionable and comfortable devices yet.”
Co-founder James Park said “We’ve made major technological advancements with Luxe, creating a smaller, slimmer, beautifully designed tracker packed with advanced features – some that were previously only available with our smartwatches.” Meaning that Fitbit was able to squeeze advanced components into the teeny tiny body of the Luxe, which is about as wide as my index finger and just 1.43 inches long. It’s indeed very small and thin, with a profile of 0.4 inches. That’s about as thick as the Apple Watch SE, but about a third of the width. It’s also about three quarters as wide as a Fitbit Charge 4, and a hair thinner.
So yes, the Luxe is a dainty little thing, which is nice for people like me who have small wrists. The stainless steel case itself is slightly curved along the edges, making it less blockish than the Charge 4 and the Alta. But the strap you pick can make all the difference. When paired with the silicone option you get in the box, the Luxe still looks kinda basic. Swap it out for, say, the Gold Mesh version that Fitbit also sent me, and voila! Instant style elevation.
That’s nice, but you could make most other fitness trackers look attractive by swapping in a pretty band. Where the Luxe stands out is in its dainty size and narrow width, and that’s good news for those of us who want something smaller. The added bonus of the Luxe’s footprint is that it never got in the way when I was typing or performing a handstand.
The bad thing about the Luxe’s size is that its screen is correspondingly small. This is a 0.76-inch AMOLED panel running at a 124 x 206 resolution. It’s surrounded by a thick bezel, which is probably hiding all the Luxe’s sensors. But this makes things like your workout stats very hard to read. The screen itself is crisp, bright and colorful. But if you have trouble reading tiny text, you might need a bigger device. Fitbit told Engadget that an update is coming soon that will include larger text, though we still don’t know the specific timeline nor how this will look when it rolls out.
Navigation and in use
Like the Charge 4 and Sense smartwatch, the Luxe has no physical buttons. But unlike the other two, this tracker doesn’t even have an inductive solid state sensor that detects pressure to trigger an action. The only way you’ll be interacting with the Luxe is through its touchscreen. Thankfully, Fitbit uses a standard one here instead of its faux touchscreen that you had to forcefully jab for it to detect a tap. With the Luxe, you can swipe and tap on the screen just like on any smartwatch, albeit with a very rudimentary OS.
Swiping up from the main screen shows your daily progress and battery percentage, while dragging down lets you access Settings and enable Do Not Disturb, Sleep or Water Lock modes. Swiping sideways brings you through Notifications, Exercise, Relax (guided breathing), Alarms and Timers. You can scroll vertically on each of these sections to get to more functions. Double tap the top of the screen to go back (or swipe right). That’s it.
For more customization, like rearranging your favorite workouts in Exercise, you’ll need to go to the Fitbit app on your phone. By default, you’ll find Walk, Run, Bike, Swim, Treadmill and Workout (a catch-all for almost everything else) here. When you’re exercising, the Luxe will show your calories burned, time elapsed, heart rate and, where relevant, pace or miles covered. That’s far less information than you’ll see at a glance on a bigger screen, but that’s the sacrifice you make for a smaller tracker. You can swipe up to see more things, like a pause button, but that’s about it.
As you’re working out, too, Fitbit will show your cardio zone below your heart rate, with labels like “fat burn” and “peak.” This is useful information, but again, this is so tiny. I have decent eyesight and even I struggled slightly to read it (and it got harder when I was waving my arms about as I ran).
Cramped screen aside, the Luxe behaves like most other basic Fitbit trackers. Though notifications are tedious to read, it’s nice that you can send a quick pre-set reply or emoji from your wrist. The device will also buzz when you’ve been idle too long, or when you’ve achieved your targeted active minutes. When you lift your wrist, the screen wakes up to show you the time (in thankfully large font). If you wear the band to sleep, it’ll use your heart rate to detect what sleep zones you’re in, and after three nights it’ll tell you things like your resting heart rate. If you’ve been running, walking, swimming or biking (or more) for at least 15 minutes, the Luxe will automatically detect and record your activity. You can change that minimum time requirement to something else via the app, too. Unlike the Charge 4, though, the Luxe doesn’t have onboard GPS and will need to connect to your phone to map your outdoor runs.
Something that’s new since Google completed its acquisition of Fitbit is the introduction of Fast Pair, which works with Android devices. This made setting the Luxe up and syncing it to my Pixel 4a a breeze. I charged up the Luxe, and a window popped up on all my Pixel review units asking if I wanted to connect to the tracker. I tapped yes and before I knew it, I was going through the welcome pages since I already had the Fitbit app installed. This is much easier than the old method of first opening the app, hitting the Add New Device button and then waiting endlessly for my phone to find the wearable.
There are some other functions that the Luxe offers, but only if you pay the extra $10 a month for Fitbit Premium. The company is throwing in six months free with every purchase, and that gets you additional insight like your activity, heart rate and sleep trends. It’ll also unlock month-long and year-long reports on your wellness, detailed breakdowns on your sleep and stress, as well as guided workouts, mindfulness and nutrition programs. Without the subscription, most people should find the basic data the Luxe gathers is sufficient. But those who are keen on learning about their long term health trends might benefit from Premium.
Fitbit promises the Luxe will last up to five days and I actually went a full week of testing the device before it conked out. That’s with tracking multiple workout sessions every other day, though I didn’t wear the band to sleep most nights. If you keep the Luxe on when you go to bed, and also connect it to your phone’s GPS a lot, your runtime will likely be shorter.
The most impressive thing about the Fitbit Luxe isn’t its style; it’s its size. The fact that this little device can do so much is noteworthy, and those with smaller wrists will like the way it fits. But its size is also one of its drawbacks — its tiny screen makes things hard to read. Still, for $150, the Luxe is a well-made and capable fitness tracker that can track pretty much everything. If you’re looking for a simple activity band that’s smaller than most, this will serve you well. At least, as long as you have near-perfect vision.