Earning a previous Top Pick Award for Best Clip-On Trackers, the Fitbit Zip is the perfect option if you are looking to move your fitness tracking wearable off your wrist. This minuscule tracker is the perfect way to discreetly track your steps and fitness metrics, offering a great set of features and functions in a tiny package. It's got a great display, a simple and minimalistic aesthetic, and is one of the more affordable models that we have reviewed. This tracker also gives you access to Fitbit's excellent online ecosystem, allowing you to track your progress towards your goals and compete with family and friends, as well as track your calorie and water intake. If you want a bare-bones tracker that you don't have to wear on your wrist, the Zip is your best bet.
Fitbit Zip Review
Pros: Inexpensive, minimalistic, solid display
Cons: Limited set of features, few ways to influence healthy habits
Our Analysis and Test Results
Overall, the Zip finished in the lower half of the pack, but the top products cost almost four times as much. The Zip tied with the Misfit Shine 2 and the Garmin Vivofit 3 in the overall scores, with the Misfit also being a clip-on tracker and the Vivofit 3 being a basic wristband tracker. The Misfit lacks a screen and is inferior to the Zip in terms of fitness tracking ability, but it does have a slight edge over the Zip at motivating you to establish healthy habits. The Vivofit 3 also has an edge over the Zip at motivating you to get up and go, but we liked the ergonomics and display of the Zip more and found the Zip easier to use.
To decide which wearable is worthy of an award, we bought all the best products currently available and tested them side-by-side. We divided all of our tests among five weighted rating metrics, with the results of the Zip elaborated on in the following sections.
We looked at the accuracy of each tracker at counting steps, tracking cycling and other workouts, and calculating the flights of stairs climbed for this metric, which is worth the largest portion of the overall score at 30%. The Fitbit Zip performed reasonably well, earning a 5 out of 10 for its performance. The chart below shows how this compares to the rest of the products in the pack.
We started off looking at the accuracy of the step counter on the Zip, finding it to be one of the most accurate out of all the trackers that we have tested. Over two trials of a mile-long walk, the Zip only had a discrepancy from the true manual count by a single step in the first and two in the second.
However, the performance of this product plummeted when we looked at its ability to track various activities, such as cycling. This tracker is essentially restricted to tallying your steps and that is about it, having no other trackable activities. This tracker also does not calculate the number of flights of stairs climbed throughout the day.
While this product does not have much going for it besides excellent step tracking when it comes to fitness impact, it does allow you to utilize Fitbit's excellent online community.
You can compete with your friends or family members in various fitness challenges or you can participate in non-competitive challenges called "Adventures" that take you on virtual trips to various points of interest around the globe. We found the Fitbit online ecosystem to be the best of the bunch, much preferring it to that of the Garmin, Polar, or the TomTom models.
For this metric, worth 25% of the overall score, we looked at how effective each tracker could be at aiding you in establishing healthier habits. We looked at the accuracy of the heart rate tracker — if there was one — and the sleep tracker, if the tracker could aid you in maintaining a diet, and if there were any other techniques the tracker employed to motivate you to maintain a healthier lifestyle. The Zip was a bit of a disappointment in this metric, earning a 3 out of 10 for its paltry performance. The following chart shows how this compares to the rest of the bunch.
The Fitbit Zip lacks a heart rate sensor, immediately putting it at a disadvantage in this metric. However, it does have an excellent set of features to track your progress when you are on a diet. The Zip does a reasonable job of estimating your RMR, or Resting Metabolic Rate and the Fitbit app allows you to scan the barcodes of various foodstuffs to track your caloric intake.
The Fitbit Zip doesn't offer much in the way of motivation to get you up and moving if you have been sedentary for too long. However, the size of the smile on the Zip's screen is proportional to the amount of activity that you have done each day. Unfortunately, the Zip lacks both a silent alarm clock and the ability to track your sleep.
Ease of Use
Moving on to the next metric, worth 20% of the total score, we looked at the amount of effort it took to put on each wearable, its battery life, and the intuitiveness of the app, as well as its level of water resistance and how well it synced your fitness data with your mobile phone. The Zip did quite well, meriting an 8 out of 10 for its stellar performance and comparing favorably with the rest of the pack, as shown below.
This product has an excellent battery life, lasting for up to 6 months on a coin cell watch battery. The Fitbit app is excellent, with a very intuitive layout and design, making it easy to find whatever you are looking for.
However, it did feel like the Zip usually took slightly longer than the other Fitbit products to sync your fitness data with your smartphone. It's extremely easy to navigate through the menus on this device using its single tap interface and this tracker clips right to your waistband or pocket without difficulty. The main body of the tracker can even be inside your pocket for total discretion.
Finally, the Zip is sweat, rain, and splash proof, so it's not suitable for total immersion, but should be fine if you take it for a run while it's raining.
For our Ergonomics metric, constituting 15% of the final score, we evaluated both the comfort and aesthetics of each tracker, as well as its profile. The Zip again delivered an excellent performance, receiving an 8 out of 10 for its performance, putting it close to the top of the pack, as highlighted below.
We found the Zip to be exceptionally comfortable to wear, being small and light enough that we completely forgot we were wearing it most of the time. It also has a very low-profile, aiding in its comfort when being worn. The aesthetics weren't particularly inspiring for the Zip, but we didn't find this to be that big of an issue, as the Zip is usually worn out of sight.
For the final metric of our review, accounting for the remaining 10% of the total score, we looked at what information is displayed on the screen and how visible it is, as well as how responsive the screen is and if the tracker can display any smart notifications. The Zip delivered a slightly above average performance, meriting it a 6 out of 10. The chart below shows how this compares to the rest of the bunch.
This tracker only displays the time on its home screen, omitting the date. It is very responsive to commands and is very easy to read in bright light. It does not have the ability to receive smart notifications. The Zip will also show you your steps for the day, distance traveled, and estimate calories burned on further screens.
If you are looking for a bare-bones fitness tracker that mainly counts steps and are shopping on a budget, the Zip is a solid value. This is one of the more economically priced trackers of the group, provided you don't expect too much.
All in all, the Fitbit Zip is our favorite clip-on fitness tracker that we have tested, earning it the Top Pick Award. It doesn't have the largest set of features and functions, but it gets the job done for basic fitness tracking.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer