Fitbit Charge 4 Fitness Tracker
So why would you buy the new Fitbit Charge 4 in the face of an avalanche of cheap rivals from China? Fitbit thinks the addition of GPS and a selection of other features is enough to persuade customers away from the bargain bin. We’d have to say we agree.
User Review( votes)
Fitbit Charge 4 review
Fitbit was the first big name in activity trackers. They think that adding GPS and a range of extra features is enough to keep loyal customers away from cheaper alternatives. Difficult to argue when they release such strong products, and the Fitbit Charge 4 is one of them.
What you need to know
The Fitbit Charge 4 follows a proven pattern which is building on the success from the model it replaces, the Fitbit Charge 3, launched in October 2018 and loved by so many. This, however, does not mean they have not made significant upgrades to lure people into buying it.
The main feature, which is also big news, is a built-in GPS tracker. This makes the Fitbit charge 4 the very first of Fitbit’s fitness trackers to feature such technology inside. Previously, only the ageing Fitbit Ionic smartwatch would provide you with GPS. Regrettably, neither of the more affordable and also popular Versa and Versa Lite watches has it, neither does the Fitbit Charge 3 or any of the cheaper fitness trackers. This is a really big upgrade and worth it, on its own, of upgrading the model.
In addition to this, the Fitbit Charge 4 adds Fitbit Pay. This was only previously available on the Fitbit Charge 3 Special Edition. Fitbit Play means you can at is even more interesting is the feature called “active Zone minutes” which is a new way to track your fitness. More of this below.
Key features and design
Let’s be frank from the start, design-wise, there is little to no difference between the charge 3 and the Fitbit charge 4. It is slimmer than the Fitbit Inspire HR and more elegant than the versa 2 or versa lite watches. The familiar shape and curves from the charge 3 remain, which is a bonus for all those accessories and wristbands that previous charge 3 owners might have spent money on. You won’t have to buy a whole new range of products.
With the Fitbit Charge 4, you get the already traditional monochrome OLED touchscreen, but it is somewhat disappointing as we would expect an upgrade to a color display by now. Other Fitbit models such as the Fitbit Versa have a very nicely implemented color display and we would have thought it was about time the charge 4 upgrade to color. Still, the display is bright and easy to read in pretty much any environment.
It goes without saying that the Fitbit Charge 4 keeps all the fitness tracking features from the Charge 3 with the addition of new ones. You can use the charge 4 to track your heart rate, steps, calories burned, sleep and floors climbed. As you would expect from a fitness tracker, you get automatic exercise detection, plus modes for running, biking, treadmill, “outdoor workout” and walking. One thing we particularly like is the fact that with the Fitbit Charge 4 you get 50m water resistance, ideal for those who swim and want their activity tracked. This is a nice feature indeed.
In terms of new features, as mentioned above, the Fitbit charge 4 adds Spotify controls bt it is worth to mention that you won’t be able to download the tracks directly to the band itself though. In regards to Fitbit Pay, well, it is a competitor to google and apple’s pay equivalent and one has to wonder how many selling points have signed up to it, but nonetheless, better have it than not as it is only a matter of time that they catch up in market share.
In terms of new features for health, it now monitors your blood oxygen levels as you sleep which can be very helpful for anyone with sleeping issues. To sweeten the deal, even more, they give you an extended 90-day free trial of Fitbit’s £8/mth Premium service, which delivers everything from guided fitness programmes and more personalised health “insights” to advanced sleep-tracking tools and thousands of extra workouts. Nice touch there!!
Where Fitbit has gone all out is in choosing the Charge 4 to launch its new Active Zone Minutes health metric, which features alongside your step count, calories burned, distance and floors climbed counts on the Fitbit app’s main screen. Users are given daily and weekly targets for how long they spend in a given heart rate zone. The default is 22 minutes daily and 150 minutes weekly. Zone minutes are also rewarded differently, depending on which zone they spend those minutes in.
Do a mild, 10-minute workout mostly in your fat-burning heart rate zone (zone 3, normally), for example, and you’ll earn 10 Active Zone Minutes towards your daily 30-minute target; up the intensity to your cardio and peak heart rate zones (usually defined as zones four and five) and you’ll get double credit for any time spent in those zones.
Tracking your fitness using heart rate zones is nothing new to be honest. It is what serious athletes and fitness fans have been doing for years since heart rate trackers became widely available. However, counting the “time in zone” towards a daily or weekly target in the same way as a step count is a new idea and looks to be quite a sensible one. It certainly makes more sense from a general fitness standpoint than the much more arbitrary step count measure.
One could argue that the Active Zone Minutes feature is a little complex to migrate into and some people might be encouraged to do high-intensity workouts rather than more balanced lower intensity exercise but that balance is something that you, the user, will have to determine. What is good though is that should you wish to do some high0intensity training, the Fitbit Charge 4 is there for you to track every aspect.
The biggest new feature, however, is the addition of GPS and they have done a very good job in terms of implementation but we feel it is still a long way from the best GPS tracking wearables in the market.
We tested the Fitbit Charge 4 over a 5 day period, doing several runs and walks. The track drew onto a map after my “workout” wasn’t the most accurate compared to more expensive sport watches, but then again you are paying a premium for those and ultimately the Fitbit Charge 4 isn’t a running watch, it is not marketed as one. The Charge 4 is a fitness tracker and it does a really good job and as long as you use it, it will give you good metrics of your activity. Just don’t try to run a 10K and expect pin-sharp accuracy. If what you are looking for is super accurate metrics you need to invest in a sports watch such as the Suunto Spartan Ultra HR or Garmin Fenix 5X, but be prepared to spend 3 or 4 times as much.
On the other hand, the heart rate monitor is quite impressive. When compared to a Suunto watch with heart rate chest band, the Fitbit tracked pretty close. We were really impressed by this and it was totally unexpected. To put this in context, over a few runs ranging from 10 minutes to 45 minutes in length, the difference in average heart rate was around 3bpm, which we think is rather impressive.
The battery life is marketed at seven days without GPS and five hours of continuous GPS use. Our experience when using it is slightly different. Using the GPS for short bursts of 20-30 minute activity every day results in around four days of use. To be fair, this is pretty good when you compare it with any other fitness tracker.
The Fitbit Charge 4 doesn’t look like a big update from the Charge 3 but the GPS integration is a great new addition. It is great to see that Fitbit keeps to innovating and pushing things with the introduction of Active Zone Minutes. It is an interesting new take on tracking workout intensity over time, although we are not sure many people will actually use it as it feels it is trying to dive into sports watch metrics, something the Charge 4 is not built for.
Is it worth buying? There are other trackers in the market that cost less but they don’t have the community that Fitbit has. You do get a great fitness tracker with the Charge 4 and the fact that they have included a swimming tracker, among all the other upgrades, should be a no brainer. Definitely worth the upgrade.
Fitbit Charge 4 specifications
|Monochrome OLED touchscreen with auto-brightness
|Steps, calories, sleep, floors climbed, exercise, swimming
|Spotify control (no downloads)
|7 days without GPS; 5hrs with continuous GPS use