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Fitbit smartwatches and Fitness trackers are considered some of the best in the market. They come with numerous health and fitness features that may change how you exercise and improve your overall health. By tracking your steps, distance traveled, and calories burned, it becomes possible to understand better how you sleep, eat, live and exercise.
Some of the newest Fitbit devices even include built-in GPS or GLONASS satellite tracking features that will detect your jogging, hiking, or cycling routes. This way, you will be able to go back to the running path you particularly appreciated and even share it with your friends to organize a friendly competition.
Not all Fitbit devices come with the same GPS capabilities. That is why the first step is to know the type of GPS your smartwatches or fitness trackers include.
All Fitbit are not created equal when it comes to Geopositioning
In a nutshell, Fitbit offers three types of data streams for getting GPS information:
- Dynamic GPS: Connect the Fitbit device to the Phone GPS to save battery life. The phone must be at Bluetooth, connecting distance from the Fitbit to allow this feature. When the tracker loses connection with the phone, it will use the Built-in GPS. This option is excellent for preserving the device’s battery life and provides maximum flexibility to acquire geolocation data.
- Built-in GPS: Work independently
- GPS data from a phone: use the GPS sensors on your phone to keep track of your route, speed, and distance
The table below summarizes the GPS features of the various Fitbit devices.
|FITBIT DEVICE||Dynamic GPS||Built-In GPS||GPS from the Phone|
|Fitbit Charge 5||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Fitbit Charge 4||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Fitbit Versa 3||No||Yes||No|
|Fitbit Charge 3||No||No||Yes|
|Fitbit Charge 2||No||No||Yes|
|Fitbit Inspire 2||No||No||Yes|
|Fitbit Versa 2||No||No||Yes|
|Fitbit Versa LE||No||No||Yes|
This article will show how to make the most of the Fitbit GPS and overcome some of its drawbacks.
What are the drawbacks of the Fitbit GPS, and how to overcome them?
If you own any of these devices, then there is a good chance that you might be having problems with your GPS.
It drains the battery fast
The first one is that they will drain the battery very fast. For example, the Fitbit battery can last up to 7 days of everyday use, but this time will be reduced to just 5 hours when the GPS is used continuously. We recently gave you some tips on how to preserve your Fitbit battery life. One of the first ones was to switch off the GPS.
One of the obvious benefits of the Fitbit built-in GPS is that you do not have to carry your phone with you while exercising. But, let’s face it. If you are just like me, you carry your phone with you all the time so let’s make the most of your phone GPS and use the connected satellite tracking option.
It can be inaccurate
The more satellites can be detected, the better the geolocation accuracy. At least four satellites must be detected for good accuracy. According to the United States SPS Performance Standard, when the distance between a satellite and a receiver is calculated with 95 percent certainty, GPS signals give an accuracy of 25 feet at a 95 percent confidence level.
The Fitbit Charge 4 and 5 allow connecting to both the GPS and GLONASS satellites to improve accuracy. GLONASS is a global positioning satellite system developed by Russia that, in conjunction with GPS, provides fast location information to your Fitbit.
Despite the ability to connect to numerous satellites from various geopositioning networks, we noticed during our tests that the Fitbit Charge could lose tracking information from time to time. We suspect this issue is more software than hardware base and should be fixed with a firmware update.
Tips for using if the GPS data are not received or accurate
Fitbit provides recommendations if the device does not connect properly or loses connection to the GPS resulting in inaccurate routes.
- Loosen the band by one notch,
- Make sure that your smartwatch or fitness tracker does not come into contact with your wrist bone.
- Wait until the GPS has been established before beginning the activity.
- When used in a new location, it may take a couple of minutes for the GPS satellites to connect either to the phone or the device. Wait until the connection is stable.
- When exercising in forests and close to tall buildings, be patient as it may take more time to connect to the satellites.
- Ensure that your arm is parallel to your body, near your head, and at least 2 inches away from you.
- Restarting your phone and/or Fitbit device may also help in some cases. Check our article on how to reset your tracker or smartwatch.
- To preserve the battery, some Fitbit devices also offer the possibility to turn off the GPS if the battery charge is below 80%. Make sure that this setting is not activated.
- Check if your Fitbit device is up to date by updating the Fitbit app to the latest version.
- Turn off your phone’s Bluetooth, wait for 20 seconds, and then re-enable it.
- And, of course, make sure that the GPS is turned on on your device.
Is the GPS worth it? What can I learn from it?
Don’t be scared with the long list of potential issues we presented about enabling the GPS tracking features on your Fitbit smartwatches or fitness trackers. Following your routes is genuinely informative and will add to the motivation.
The Fitbit GPS will not only show your route but will combine these data with your real-time heart rate and pace. This way, you will know what parts of your exercise journey were the most challenging, prepare for your next session, and hopefully notice some progress over time.
Don’t forget that your data can also be exported from your dashboard as a TCX file and even shared with your friends to brag about your Olympic-level performances. Overall, when correctly set up, Fitbit GPS adds a lot of fun to a potentially dull around-the-block morning jogging.