Popularity comes with a price. As one of the pioneers of fitness trackers, Fitbit is no exception. The forums are generally flooded with questions about Fitbit. Among them, this is probably the most heard one: Do Fitbit watches work without a smartphone?
Fitbit works fine without any connection to a smartphone, tablet, or computer. But before you draw a conclusion out of it, you have to understand that Fitbit still requires you to connect to their server at different points in time which makes it not fully standalone.
Today, we are going to explain to you what we mean by that and what to do if you want to use Fitbit independently from a parent device.
1. How Fitbit Works Without a Phone
All Fitbit devices require a mandatory Fitbit account. In the initial stage of the setup, it has to borrow the internet connection and connectivity protocol from an internet-enabled parent device.
You will need their official app to complete the setup. The good news is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be a smartphone. It can be as well a tablet or a computer.
Once the setup is complete, you can leave your parent device behind and use the band as you have planned. It will continue recording data (e.g. pace, distance, calorie, etc.), store it locally, and syncs it to your parent device once you are within a 30-feet distance. The synchronization takes place automatically in the background removing an extra layer of hassle.
The only time this might not work is when you choose a Fitbit device that doesn’t have GPS built-in. So if you are really going down this road, get yourself the watch that has GPS integrated into it.
The Fitbit app is available on all three mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Windows). As long as your mobile phone or tablet runs on Apple iOS 12.2+, Android 7.0+, or Windows 8 Mobile+, you are safe.
For computers, they have a slightly different application. It is called Fitbit Connect. Right now, it is available for both Windows 10 and macOS systems and can be downloaded from their official website. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to the section where it provides a manual for setting it up on different types of devices.
2. Would You Need Fitbit’s Wireless Sync Dongle?
It could be that you have decided to use a computer for the initial setup. It is fine as long as your computer has Bluetooth connectivity. If it doesn’t, you need to get yourself a Bluetooth adapter.
Although the Fitbit Wireless Sync Dongle is recommended for Fitbit devices, any Bluetooth adapter (LE 4.0+) will work just fine (the only exception is Windows 8 where you must have to use the proprietary Fitbit dongle). Make sure though that the one you are getting works with your computer’s operating system.
In this era of technology, I can only imagine devices with Bluetooth built-in. This is mostly a concern for desktop computers where the mainboards (especially the cheaper ones) don’t come with Bluetooth.
3. What If You Don’t Want to Use a Computer Either
Fitbit needs a parent device for the initial setup and it is a must. If you are thinking that you will use it without any form of connection with Fitbit, this is not gonna work.
In addition, I am almost certain that you want to see some sort of detailed reports for your activities. If you don’t sync your band with any device, not with your computer either, you will miss out on the reporting it has to offer.
Sure, on some watches you can see the stats quickly. But it is really weak compared to the app reporting. I wouldn’t recommend anybody to take that path.
4. Does Fitbit Work Without Internet (Completely Offline)?
Fitbit devices don’t need an active internet connection. You can take it out with you to the deepest wilderness and it will still function as it should. It is the parent device that needs the internet connection to sync the data to the Fitbit web server.
This you already know that Fitbit relies on Bluetooth to connect to a phone or computer. So it will need Bluetooth switched on in both devices in order to communicate with each other.
If you decide that you will never connect your parent device to the internet, your data will not go to Fitbit. Although it may sound tempting at first privacy-wise, many users experienced problems from time to time. So this is not recommended, at least not for Fitbits.
5. Can You Store Music on Fitbit Smartwatches Locally?
Fitbit added this feature a while ago that you can store music locally on the watch provided your watch supports that and you are using the right type of music service/license.
First up, make sure you are getting a model that supports music playback. They have a nice comparison table on their Amazon page where they compared all their smartwatches in one place (scroll to the bottom of the page where the table is).
Currently Fitbit Versa Lite does not support music playback. So it should already be off your list if music is what you need.
To this date, Fitbit supports loading music onto the watch in 4 different ways. All of them support offline music playback meaning you can leave your phone behind except Spotify.
- Personal Music: Use the Fitbit Connect app on your computer to transfer the music you own or have the proper license.
- Deezer: Connect to Deezer via the Fitbit app and all your playlists will be readily available on your watch including the option to load it for offline playback.
- Pandora: Similar to Deezer, connect to Pandora through the app and your playlists will get synchronized. Offline playback is also available.
- Spotify (Streaming Only): Spotify is not integrated directly into Fitbit. In order to use Spotify, you will have to load the Spotify app on your watch using the Fitbit app. Then you can stream the music from your watch. Unlike the others, offline music playback is not yet supported on Spotify.
6. Does Fitbit Have Any Standalone Smartwatch (With Sim Card Support)?
Everyone who is into this fitness tracking industry already knows how good Fitbit is in terms of what it offers. But what it doesn’t offer might shock a few. Fitbit doesn’t have any standalone smartwatch with any sort of sim card slot. Not even a single one.
Perhaps the company has planned something for the future. But for now, there is no trace if there are developing something. Some people even believe they might never come with a smartwatch that takes a sim card in it.
Although it is definitely heart-breaking, it is the truth. If having a sim card is your number one requirement, you might want to look into our roundup review post of sim-card supported smartwatches. We reviewed some good ones!
7. Final Words
if you have read the post thoroughly or at least a few paragraphs, you could already smell that they are a bit app-oriented. Meaning all the features, they have developed or are developing, are going to put the app in the center of everything.
Although it is technically possible to use Fitbit without a computer, phone, tablet, or whatsoever (assuming you have done the initial setup using one of them), it is not a recommended way to go.
If you want to disconnect yourself completely from third-party data sharing services, you might want to find yourself a good standalone smartwatch.