Fitbit Makes Some Premium Subscription Features Free


Fitbit has announced that they’ll be making a set of their Fitbit Premium subscription features free to all Fitbit users – including for Pixel Watch users which leverage the Fitbit features. These features are mostly historical data access features (versus things like coaching). The change is effective today/immediately, but may take till the end of the month to roll out for all users.

Fitbit says specifically that data within the “Fitbit Health Metrics Dashboard” will now be free to all users, which includes trends for both 30-day and 90-day timeframes. This includes the following stats (according to Fitbit):

  • Breathing rate: This metric is the number of breaths you take per minute.
  • Heart-rate variability (HRV): This metric is the variation in time between heartbeats.
  • Skin temperature: This metric is the variation in your skin temperature taken from your wrist while you sleep.
  • Oxygen saturation (SpO2): This metric estimates the amount of oxygen in your blood, and will only be available on compatible devices.
  • Resting heart rate (RHR): This metric is the number of times your heart beats per minute when you are still and well-rested.

Note that some features remain Premium, such as Fitbit’s Daily Readiness Score, which combines a number of data layers together such as sleep and workout history, to figure out whether you should do a workout or take a nap (or some combination of the two of those). Same goes for features like sleep restlessness.

So while Fitbit hasn’t gone all the way to removing the Fitbit Premium subscription, this is a notable first step.

I’d been meaning to finish writing a post I started drafting last fall, which was tentatively titled “Fitbit’s Subscription Misinformation Is Killing Their Own Products”. The point of the post was that overwhelmingly, the conversation I’ve seen following Fitbit product releases is no longer about the products or features. Instead, it’s become about all the features people think they need a subscription for.

I can’t overstate how mind-boggling it is to see how overwhelming this assumption is in the comments section of reviews here as well as YouTube – let alone countless other places on the internet.

The problem? It’s actually largely untrue.

Sure, there were historical metrics like the above listed ones that were paywalled beyond 7-day data. But almost everything else wasn’t actually paywalled. I outlined this in the side-by-side post I did last spring between the Fitbit Charge 5 and the Garmin Vivosmart 5. And the kicker was that for things like HRV and Skin Temp, their competitors didn’t offer those at those price points, or for free. Leaving really only three comparative metrics that required premium for longer data periods (Breathing Rate, SpO2, and Resting HR).  All other historical data like steps, sleep, workouts, stairs, and everything in between was actually fully available for free.

In other words, virtually every comment I saw in reviews led people to believe they couldn’t access these stats without paying extra – when in reality they could. These are reviews on YouTube for Fitbit Charge products that each have +/- a million views on them – with lots of people reading comments as part of their purchasing decision.

For example, I did my entire Fitbit Inspire 3 In-Depth Review last fall on a free account, no paid subscription. And here’s the sleep data you see:

IMG_7472 IMG_7473 IMG_7474

Thus the point of my drafted post I never finished was that Fitbit was killing their own hardware success trying to sell a subscription that I don’t think was actually overcoming the loss of product revenue. Add to this their competitors like Apple and Garmin offering everything for free. We saw Garmin shift their PR and marketing approach last winter from being subtle about this point, to now being overtly sharp about it. It’s literally a line-item in their press releases now:

“Designed for customers seeking a simpler solution for monitoring their wellbeing, the vívosmart 5 features at-a-glance health stats for Pulse Ox, 24/7 heart rate monitoring, Body Battery energy monitoring, all-day stress tracking and more no subscription required.””

And Garmin’s executives have doubled-down on that in multiple interviews as well:

“It’s your data,” [Phil] McClendon said. “We’re not charging you the ability to access your data, and that’s something we will continue to do and that we feel very strongly about.”

Obviously, it’s not just Garmin, but most of Fitbit’s competitors. Companies like Samsung offered this data via their S Health platform for free, as does Apple via their own Fitness app and Apple Health vault. Plus a slate of smaller or more indirect competitors like Polar, Suunto, Huawei, and many more. As Google slowly shifts Fitbit’s platform to be a more direct competitor to the Apple Watch for Google’s own Pixel Watch, it needs to find a way to kill off that line of “but a subscription” questioning for consumers – at least for core data features. Coaching and classes is one thing, but not looking at your own data.

But hey, given all the other weird things that Fitbit has decided to kill off in recent months, at least this time they killed a bad thing. Hopefully this trend correction continues.

With that – thanks for reading!


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  1. MikeRunsMarathons

    So…things that pretty much every other fitness watch has for free? The bar really is set so low for them lol

    • Yes and no.

      That’s sorta the point of my post. They were largely already offering everything else for free, minus a very small handful of items. It’s that consumer confusion led to the assumption it was a wider array of paywalled metrics.

      And many of their competitors actually don’t offer some of those metrics at all – like skin temp or HRV status/trending.

      But nonetheless, they got themselves in this pickle – when instead they should have leaned on other things for premium, such as the coaching and recommendations bits, which most of their competitors don’t have at all.

  2. TimmyB

    Spot on about the image problem that Fitbit has created for themselves. So many prospective Pixel Watch customers comment about how “they’re not paying for THAT!”, and don’t realize how correct they are. They’re NOT paying for that. I am hopeful (not holding-my-breath hopeful, just regular hopeful) that eventually the Fitbit exercise app for the Pixel Watch will be vastly improved. Comparing it to any true fitness watch (even my dinosaur TomTom Runner 2) is pointless as it is so far behind. Contacting Google is also pointless, as they say to contact Fitbit and the people at Fitbit could care less about the pixel Watch app because they don’t see it as one of “their” products.

  3. Gert

    In the past, I have not recommended fitbit in part of the subscription thing.To me, it’s not only what kind of subscription they had/have, but what they will do in the future. What happens most of the time, once they have their hooks in you, then some function that you likes moves from free to paid, the future in not certain.

    • Wolli

      “some function that you likes moves from free to paid, the future in not certain”

      That’s another reason why my Fitbits stay in the drawer, yes.

  4. IvanDobski

    I’m a prime example of this, I would have bought a pixel watch but as soon as the Fitbit thing was announced I just noped out of it without even glancing at what would or wouldn’t be included.

  5. funkright

    This is an aside, but man, I wish Apple would create a ‘fitbit’ type of wearable. With similar battery life and similar size. I don’t want to double fist watches, as I have several nicer automatic watches I like to wear, and due to this I migrated to the Fitbit & gave my AW to my daughter. Still miss the ‘Apple-ness’ of it though.

  6. Bradley

    I’ve had 3 Fitbit devices die immediately after a firmware update. The screens just stay black and don’t respond to input. Customers service just says “sorry, warranty doesn’t cover battery issues”. Never buying anything from them again.

    • Gerry T

      It depends on the quality of your tracker and your technical knowledge how. I’ve used my Fitbit Inspire 2 for almost 5 years without any issues tracker related. The App has had its issues but the fixes seem to make the app more stable. Was your tracker a higher end one or a basic tracker?

  7. Chris

    Sorry to say that but Fitbit needs to be forgotten ASAP. I had few of watches and smartbands from Fitbit, never saw anything more bugged in my entire life. Switched first to Samsung watch then to Garmin and couldn’t be happier.

    • Gerry T

      I have invested in too much time and effort to just push Fitbit aside. At this point, I have no plans of ditching my Inspire 2. Easier said than done. I’m in this for the long haul. Apparently others think their lack of loyalty will put Fitbit to pasture. To me, the glass is still half full. Your loss. Not mine!

  8. KC

    I tell everyone I know to avoid buying Fitbit watches cos u need to pay subscription for stats. I’ve nvr bought Fitbits before.

  9. Kathleen cannon

    Will never go back to Fitbit. Worst business decision they ever made, removing the challenges. How can that possibly make a difference to them? It is, however. a huge difference to us. It is our biggest motivation each day…no need to keep an inferior product any longer

    • Yup, I think removing challenges might go down in the sports tech history books as one of the most baffling decisions ever made by a spots tech company.

      Regardless of whether or not boatloads of people use it today, it’s literally one of the most important pillars of Fitbit’s identity and an area they are better in competitors. It’s often referenced in almost every Fitbit review across the board from mainstream to niche.

    • Gerry T

      I can’t afford anything else and I am not a bandwagon member. If you stop using any Fitbit trackers…good luck with that!

  10. Wolli

    There were several nonono’s done by Fitbit.

    Fitbit forced a firmware update without telling that some previous (and future ) data will not be accessible any more. I have to pay to have an insight into my own data, and Fitbit did not care about that.

    They changed the Fitbit app into an ‘advertising the service’ thing, everywhere “You need a subscription for this” instead of making those menu items invisible for non-subscribers.

    Finally, my Sense and Versa smartwatches are living in the drawer because of these annoyances, now using Vivoactive 4 and Venu 2 (Garmin Pay). Never gonna buy a Fitbit (or Google Watch), again.

  11. Vivian smith

    Like to be added to the newsletter

  12. RQT

    Fitbit image? In a pickle? I hope so…
    I was a loyal Fitbit fan/supporter, owned one myself and purchased several for my family members over the years.
    I received msg fm Fitbit to deactivate my Iconic due to burn issues and that I would be reimbursed, went through all the paperwork, still waiting year(s) later. I liked what they had. I am looking for an alternative and will never do the Fitbit thing again. No honour

    • PhilB

      I had a Surge to begin with, then moved to Ionic after a few years. Once my ionic was almost finished I got a full original price reimbursement of the Ionic and huge discount on 3 new devices due to the burn recall, so I got myself and a couple family members versa3/charge5. Basically I had no issue with the recall or with fitbit in general for around 8 years now, I can only say great customer experience in fact. If you want a relavtively small, sleek watch with GPS tracking for running or cycling, plus other useful features and a decent battery life then you can’t go too wrong with a fitbit versa. I’m surprised about all the negative feed back on here honestly.

  13. Matt

    I’ll put in a good word about fitbit. As a semi-serious cyclist who pays attention to data, I’ve been using the Charge 5 for two seasons and it works great. I put it on before bed and get good sleep data (sleep stages aside, as Ray says, all wareables are dubious in that regard). In the morning I get my HRV and resting HR data, enter them into Trainingpeaks (sleep time data syncs automatically). It downloads into WKO5 where I calculate 7-day and 60-day rolling average to compare to the daily number as a guide to readiness. Never had any luck with readiness scores from any wareable, so don’t use/need them. All this for a $130 device and no subscription fees. Even if it did break, I would buy another one and still come out way ahead relative to buying a whoop or oura.

    Ray is absolutely right though. Fitbit does themselves no favours by muddling their message on the subscriptions. I don’t pay a cent in subscription fees, and still get accurate HRV, RHR, breathing rate, Spo2 etc.

    • mark

      no, you must work for fitbit. it does nothing for cyclists. shame on you for even mentioning that.

    • To be fair, it doesn’t appear as though he’s using it for the cycling portion – since he mentions WKO5, which would almost certainly means he’s using another power-focused bike GPS. Instead, he’s using it for the 24×7/sleep metrics, which are largely perfectly fine.

    • Matt

      Correct, thanks Ray. I do indeed use the fitbit as an alternative to Whoop/Oura for sleep/hr data, not to record activities. Fitbit’s are horrendous for the latter, and I wouldn’t cycle or run a single km with them. As far as working for fitbit, uhhhh…

    • Mark

      good replies by you both. Matt, I do apologize. Your comments, other than including Fitbit and cyclist in the same paragraph, are well thought out. mine–not so much.

    • Gerry T

      And your point is? Anyone still supporting Fitbit isn’t as shameful as those who bother to insult our intelligence! You are to be pitied.

  14. Jl

    I want everything Garmin offers with the smarts of Google Assistant and Wear OS apps in a smaller thinner watch hardware. My impression of Fitbit is that it’s not serious enough. Pixel may have HRV but you can’t really see that info on Pixel. All the info is too dumbed down. I want the metrics and training that Garmin offers. I wish Garmin would team up with Google at some point.

    • Gerry T

      Another option is a Samsung tracker that will play well with Wear OS. Garmin is just Fitbit’s competition but as of this point, nothing Garmin sells says anything to me but money pit.

  15. madmalkav

    ” [Phil] McClendon said. “We’re not charging you the ability to access your data,“”

    Not only that, Garmin will even pay so you can access your data, in example when they get hit by ransomware 😂

  16. My issue is that it’s my data. Even if you don’t pay for most of it, they are still charging for some of it and I have a big issue with them collecting what is extremely personal information and then not being able to access it. I realize they have to be a profitable company but that just doesn’t work for me

  17. jww

    To me the most important historical data are a) historical RHR and b) weight from smart scale. So Fitbit not offering historical RHR is a big deal.

    Have also noticed Garmin shouting from rooftops they’ll never charge for access to data. Seemed to begin with Whoop’s temporary rise a couple years back.

    Will be VERY interesting to see if Garmin sticks with that stance forever, as everything shifts to subscriptions. I sure hope so.

  18. User

    I have been using my first Fitbit product which included 12 months of premium.

    When the renewal date was closing in I had to choose from the following:

    – Buy a new updated Fitbit with better hardware/features + 6 months of premium included
    – Keep my old Fitbit and pay for premium. This costs about the same as the new Fitbit, so tough choice…
    – Keep my old Fitbit, not pay for premium – loose features
    – Try different product which does not have monthly costs

    I choose to try a different product with just about the same price as a new Fitbit.

    The app is not as extensive as Fitbit. And I am probably going to miss the wellness reports.
    And there are a lot of content in the Fitbit app for meditation/workouts which is not in the new app. The Fitbit app has a lot of content!

    But the heart rate measurements are more accurate on the new device, I can even use a chest strap. And I can now finally sync (gym) workouts without GPS data to Strava.

  19. Gunslinger505

    Having been through company mergers and buy-outs from both sides with the Intels and AMDs of the world, I understand the space Fitbit is in now. They’re still obligated to support things like Alexa on one hand and on the other they get features like google maps and google wallet. It’ll take a product cycle of two before we really see where Google is going with this.

    I’m surprised by all the hate on the Sense 2 and Versa 4 (not saying I’m running out to buy one yet). Or, I can also say why so much love for some of the other higher end smart watches?

    I can find very few watches that can say this:

    1. receive and respond to notifications
    2. receive and make phone calls
    3. Has Google maps and can navigate. If I’m walking around central Amsterdam I can use it to find Restaurant Max and get turn by turn walking directions without taking out my phone and see the map on the screen.
    4. You can use Google Wallet
    5. Has decent battery life (>3 days, which IMO is an underrated feature for a wearable).

    Not too many smart watches can say they can do all the above. I contend that some watches cost too much not to be able to do all the above, like the almost $450US Venu 2 Plus or the $300 Watch 5. One can’t navigate and one has dismal battery life (let’s call it what it really is!)

    Based on reviews I’ve seen, I guess I’m a little different than most people. I don’t prioritize watch faces and bands available or using it as a music player.

    I enjoy your reviews; they are far better than most. In fact, I think Youtube should be paying me to watch most of the reviews I clicked on!

  20. Alex

    The issue with the latest Fitbit models (Sense 2 and Versa 4) is that they ditched basic functions of the watch:

    – Playback controls on the watch — you cannot control your music playback from the watch anymore. Which is what people want when sporting for example.
    – Only supporting Fitbits own apps. Third party apps aren’t possible on these models. So even people that are developers themselves can’t help to resolve them.
    – Apart from these, receiving a notification shows the app icon first. So quickly seeing on the watch what message you just received is not a thing anymore either. Always have to first wait for the animation to finish, which is quite long, that kills the purpose of quickly seeing the messages you receive.
    – There’s no clear view, or roadmap, or even an answer, from Fitbit to do anything with these points. There’s requests for it on their forums, but no progress on these.

    Guess the older models were better, as these offer more features. And have features that everyone likes to use a watch for.

  21. Earl Hotrum

    nice free upgrade

  22. Eli

    Looks like some fuctionality is going away
    link to

  23. Melissa

    I’ve messaged Fitbit online live chat twice and they are literally telling me fitbit aren’t releasing any premium for free and they would have told customers directly if they were but I’ve seen it on countless sites too saying they are doing this- but Fitbit themselves are gaslighting me lol!

  24. Sekula

    Still not enough. We don’t accept being extorted for using a product after paying so much money for the product itself. Unless App is totally free, they can go to heck.

  25. Eflodur

    Has anybody a proper comparison between smart watches when it comes to sleep stress and overall fitness monitoring.
    The sense 2 seems to be good equipped with hrv rhr cEda. Garmin is often adviced when it comes to this function but has anybody a proper comparison?