Fitbit Surge Review: Super Watch or Super Dud?

Ready to take activity tracking to a new level? Well if you want to take your wearable technology beyond just tracking calories burned and steps, the the Fitbit Surge is worth consideration.

The Surge just isn’t the latest line of activity trackers from Fitbit – it’s a game changer. For runners that appreciate wearable technology, the GPS tracking and heart rate monitoring elevate this device to a class of its own.

By the end of this review you’ll know what to expect out of the box and and get a runner’s impression of the Fitbit Surge.

Fitbit Surge Out-of-the-box

I anticipated the Surge for quite some time. The idea of having GPS tracking, heart rate monitoring, activity tracking, and whole host of features had me really excited when I opened up the box.


What I didn’t expect was how big it was. I mean the Surge is a pretty good sized device sitting on my wrist. It felt funny the first time I put it on and took some getting used. I wasn’t ready for this. The Surge’s website and all the marketing I viewed led me to believe this device was sleek and sexy. Well, it falls short in both of the categories, but looks aren’t everything.

The Surge is very easy to set up and run with a half charge already in play. It took minutes to have the settings adjusted and synced up to my Moto X. I love this aspect because I could spend more time familiarizing myself with the device instead of making the right sync connections.

Another standout feature of the Surge isn’t so much function as it is compatibility. Never assume that all wearable tech is compatible with smartphones. The folks at Fitbit must’ve know this to be an issue because the Surge is compatible with close to 120 smart phones. That’s a huge number to consider especially in a world dominated by the iPhone.

Now that I praised the compatibility, it turns out my Moto X isn’t Bluetooth compatible. A minor frustration only because I’m not that interested in receiving texts, emails, or having music controls via my wrist. What counts is I’m able to sync my data to the Fitbit app.

After a few surface level observations of the Surge, I took a closer look at what this device can really do. It is very runner friendly as there’s a dedicated app on the device, but that’s not all. With in the running app, there’s the option for a free run, lap run, and treadmill run. I can benefit from all three of these settings and puts my GPS watch to shame.

On the days that I cross train, the Surge still has me covered with an exercise app. The available settings are hike, weights, elliptical, spinning, yoga, and workout. My assumption is that the heart rate monitoring is leveraged here to key on the different types of activities. I’m just glad to see there’s not a one size fits all approach to exercise, and I can get a more precise measurement of activities outside of running.

While the Surge didn’t impress with its looks, it’s what’s on the inside that had me excited to take it out on the road.

On the Run with the Fitbit Surge

I like to think of the Surge as a runner friendly activity tracker for one main reason: GPS tracking. Comparing the Surge to my GPS watch is night and day in terms of signal connection. The Surge took me seconds to make a connection. My GPS watch on the other hand has me standing in the middle of my neighborhood street praying for a signal as my left hand is raised in the air. Basically, the Surge makes me a less silly and desperate runner.


With a connection made, I press the start button and I’m off. As I’m running, I can swipe the screen to the left or right to get my average pace, pace, heart rate, calories, steps, or clock. The elapsed time and distance are a constant display while running.

The screen is easy to read and crisp enough where I know what I’m reading as each tracking category name is displayed then followed by a value.

Despite its looks, the Surge is pretty comfortable on the run. Initially I thought the size might be a problem but it’s no different than running with a GPS watch. Now I’m curious to see what future generations of the Surge might look like (slimmer, more stylish perhaps).

At the end of my run a nice, tight summary is available. That information is synced up with the Fitbit app for even a more enhanced review.

The whole Surge running experience is a really positive one as the device lets you do what you’re supposed to: run. Once it’s started the Surge subtly does its job and only comes into play when you want it to.

Given the GPS tracking the Surge is accurate in reporting running stats. Unlike a lot of activity trackers on the market, the Surge is a precise device that can you trust when it comes time to review data. The three axis accelerometer probably has more to do with the accuracy when compared to other activity trackers.

A couple of miscellaneous notes

The Surge is water resistant but not waterproof. The owner’s manual is pretty specific about this so use care after a workout or other activities.

The battery life is good but using the GPS and heart rate monitoring does eat up much of that life (no surprise).  You will receive alerts from the Surge when the battery life is running low and will advise you to recharge as soon as possible.

Pay attention to the material of wristband and how it affects your skin. Fitbit was in the news last year for one of its model causing skin irritation.

Final Thoughts

Runners can certainly benefit from what the Surge offers when it comes to GPS tracking, heart rate monitoring, and the overall effectiveness of smartphone app and web platform. As far as the person that’s a casual activity tracker maybe Fitbit’s other models might be a better device.

I found the Surge to be very reliable and durable while running. I wasn’t able to experience all of the Bluetooth features like music control or notifications, but with a focus on running, the Surge is a proven fitness device.

Interested in the Fitbit Surge?

Order your Fitbit Surge from Amazon.

Subscribe to learn how you can run on innovation