One of the problems with being a successful wearable developer, is that when you release a new product, it often has to compete with what you’ve released before. That’s the problem faced by Fitbit’s new Charge HR, which has to pit itself against he like of Fitbit’s own Surge wrist tracker, which wasn’t released that long ago. Perhaps Fitbit will have done enough to make it stand out. Let’s see.
The Charge is quite a unique looking wearable, since it is quite low key and doesn’t try to merely appeal to aesthetic lovers, with faux jewels or bright, eye catching colours like a lot of wearable use. Instead, it’s a single, matt colour, with a textured surface and a simple, strip display. It’s monochrome OLED, so there isn’t a lot that’s going to display on it, but that does keep battery use down and therefore lets it last longer – around five days with moderate usage.
The main function of the Charge is activity tracking, which it achieves through all of the usual internal sensors, as well as a more premium heart rate tracker built into the strap itself. Running gives you basic details like distance travelled, calories burned and heart rate, though not much in the way of pacing breakdowns. However, the Charge does track other activities too, like cycling, weights, playing football, dancing and a number of other activities. You do need to manually tag them and use the on-device button to trigger the start and end of the event, but the list of trackable activities is extensive.
It’s also water resistant up to a metre – which makes it fine for the shower, but not the pool – and can send you notifications from your smartphone about calls and texts.
Cost and availability
At the time of writing, the Fitbit Charge is available for just over £110 at a number of different retailers, in a variety of colour options.
The lack of pace tracking during running is a bit of disappointment and the lack of waterproofing seems a shame, since swimming is a major exercise that a lot of people enjoy. Battery life also falls short of some of the industry standouts.
The Fitbit Charge is a great little wearable with a good price and in-depth tracking, though it does fall down in a few other areas which even relatively old wearables like the Misfit Shine show it up in.