Fitbit Zip vs. Flex 2: Which Should You Buy?

Fitbit Flex 2
Fitbit Flex 2

When it comes to fitness trackers and wearables, Fitbit is definitely one of the most well-known companies in the business and for good reason. For most of the past decade, it has been making robust and feature-packed gadgets that go quite a long way in helping us stay healthy and fit. The Zip and the Flex 2 have both been around for a few years and are some of the more basic of the company's gadgets, but they both do a great job at what they do. When choosing between the two, it really comes down to what kind of workouts you prefer.

The same but different

For the most part these two products have the same features, but they go about them in different ways. Both devices are designed to be simple yet robust fitness trackers. They are small and inconspicuous and will help you accurately keep track of your basic movement throughout the day.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Fitbit ZipFitbit Flex 2
Water proofNoYes
Battery life6 months4-5 days

Let's start with what's the same. Both devices will track your steps, distance traveled, and calories burned throughout the day and both will allow you to sync your data back to your smartphone so you can record all your data in the Fitbit app. That's where the similarities end.

The most obvious difference between the two trackers is their design. The Zip is a small, almost coin-like device that's meant to be clipped onto your clothes with the provided silicon clip holder. The Flex 2 is a tiny cylindrical gadget that is meant to be worn on your wrist via the included wristband.

The way you interact with them is also very different. On the Zip, you simply tap the screen to scroll between the basic, non-customizable screens. The Flex 2 ditches a screen for a series of LED lights and a haptic engine that lights up and buzzes you to tell you how close you are to your fitness goals or to notify you of incoming texts on your smartphone. The responses can be a bit confusing as well, if you're not used to what it's trying to tell you.

In addition to tracking the basics described above, the Flex 2 also tracks your sleep and your active minutes during the day. This means that if you are moving at all, even a walk around the block at lunch, the Flex 2 will note that and keep track of it. The best part is you don't have to tell it that you're moving. With something called SmartTrack, the Flex 2 will automatically detect exercise and begin tracking it for you. This only works when worn on your wrist, however.

You'll need to decide if you need waterproofing or better battery life.

This brings me to another difference between the two products. The Zip has a very limited array of accessories for it mainly just in different colored clips you can buy. The Flex 2, on the other hand, has lots of different necklaces and holders for it, so you can wear it in a bunch of different ways and to accessorize it to your hearts content.

Probably the most important difference between them is the waterproofing — or lack thereof in the Zip's case. The Zip is sweat resistant but certainly not waterproof and it's advised that you keep it well away from the shower and the pool. The Flex 2 is a whole different story. The Flex 2 is so waterproof that it will even keep track of your laps if you go for a swim.

The last thing to touch on is battery life. Again, both products go about battery life in different ways. The Zip is powered by a standard CR2032 watch battery that Fitbit claims will get you up to six months of battery life. This also means that you never have to worry about charging it. Yes, you will need to buy batteries every now and then but those watch batteries are super cheap. The Flex 2 has a built-in rechargeable battery that Fitbit claims will get you up to five days of battery life. Charging it up can also be annoying because you have to remove the tracker from whatever holder it's in and use the proprietary charger to juice it up, meaning if you need extra chargers, you'll have to buy some separately.

Basically, both products are solid fitness trackers that will do a great job at keeping track of your basic fitness activity throughout the day. The biggest deciding factors will be if you want to be able to take your tracker in the pool with your to track your laps (and you're willing to pay more for the privilege), or you want battery life that you don't have to worry about.

Despite this, it's hard not to recommend the Flex 2 over the Zip. At only $20 more, it offers more features in a more flexible package.

Jason Cockerham