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Fitbit Charge 3 review : The Charge 3 is top of its game – but rivals are playing a different one

Fitbit Charge 3 review

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The Cost three exhibits that Fitbit is prime of its recreation – however rivals like Apple are beginning to play a special one. What’s extra, there are bugs within the machine, which Fitbit wants to wash out. It’s a well-rounded health tracker that appears the half, and just like the Versa and Ionic, it’ll get higher with time. Fitbit simply want to select up the tempo.

  • Respectable vary of tracked exercises
  • Lengthy battery life
  • Sleep monitoring is nice
  • No GPS
  • HR sensor laggy
  • Fitbit Pay solely in Particular Version

Fitbit Charge 3 review

The Fitbit Cost three arrives at an fascinating time for the wearables business. Once I sat down with Fitbit co-founder Eric Friedman and requested him whether or not the health tracker has a lot of a future left, he was adamant that this class nonetheless has fuel within the tank.

However analysts disagree: smartwatches are beginning to encroach on health trackers’ floor, providing all the identical options and extra, for not rather more cash. What’s extra, the swashbuckling new Apple Watch is delivering well being options unseen on shopper units. The Cost 2 was prime its league (a lot that it earned a prestigious four.5 stars) however as a sure Minnesotan as soon as stated, the occasions they’re a changin’.

The Cost three takes every part that made the Cost 2 nice and provides extra: a swimproof design, extra battery life, a greater UI and smarter notifications.

It additionally packs Fitbit’s new SpO2 sensor in, and whereas we gained’t instantly see the advantages of that, the corporate will quickly launch its new Sleep Rating Beta program, which delves deeper into the connection between our sleep patterns and general well being.

It’s competitively priced at £129.99/$171, however Fitbit can also be launching a Particular Version model that features Fitbit Pay for £40/$52 extra. That bifurcation is unlucky, nevertheless it permits Fitbit to maintain the essential model down in worth.

There’s lots to unpack within the Cost three, so let’s get to it. We’ve been spending a variety of time with the Cost three. Right here’s our in-depth evaluation.

Design

Fitbit Charge 3 review

Fitbit Cost three key specs

  • Waterproof as much as 50 metres (pool and ocean)
  • As much as seven days battery life
  • Swim monitoring
  • 24/7 exercise monitoring
  • View smartphone notifications
  • Reply to notifications (Android solely)
  • Fitbit Pay help (Particular version solely)
  • Works with iOS and Android (Home windows coming quickly)

When you’ve been paying consideration, you’ll have observed that Fitbit has formalized its design language over the previous couple of years. Meaning hexagons, octagons and much more angles. The Cost three follows this development, however to its favor. Fitbit’s new tracker appears nice, with simply sufficient display to not really feel compromised and a band that not often feels too giant.

Which is simply as nicely, as a result of Fitbit solely presents the tracker in a single measurement. Totally different sized bands, sure, however the core a part of the tracker stays the identical.

The show is 30% bigger than that of the Cost 2 (Fitbit does a great job hiding the bezels, however they’re there) and I’ve discovered this has made it simpler to learn notifications and skim throughout the UI. Earlier than slapping the Cost three on my arm I used to be testing the Garmin Vivosmart four, and the variety of unintentional presses has decreased dramatically. You possibly can argue that the Alta HR is a nicer wanting tracker, however the Cost three strikes a greater stability between type and practicality.

In reality, the Cost three walks a effective line between health tracker and smartwatch. With extra display area, notifications are a lot simpler to learn, whereas all of your health knowledge may be seen on the Fitbit show in a cinch. There’s no broad app ecosystem, however the distinctions between health tracker and smartwatch appear to be diminishing.

It additionally matches nice. I’ve been monitoring my sleep for nearly two weeks now, and never as soon as have I had an issue sporting the Cost three in mattress. That’s a matter of choice, and for individuals who do discover trackers annoying to put on to mattress, the Cost three isn’t precisely tiny. However it’s mild and cozy, I’ll say that a lot.

One factor you may need observed is gone is the aspect button. As an alternative there’s a small dimple on the left aspect of the tracker that features as a haptic button – and it really works a appeal. I’ve discovered the touchscreen continues to be a problem for sweaty fingers, however have had no drawback with the haptic button. The swap has allowed Fitbit to make the Cost three waterproof, so that you’ll now be capable of take it swimming. Having spent a few weeks with it now, I can guarantee you that you simply gained’t miss the bodily button.

Well being and health options

Fitbit Charge 3 review

So… how does it carry out? Take a step again for a second. The final two units launched by Fitbit have been smartwatches – the Ionic and Versa – so that you’d be forgiven for questioning why it’s doing a health tracker in any respect. And fact be advised, the Cost three does a number of the belongings you’ll get on these aforementioned watches.

However (to name again to my chat with Eric), Fitbit nonetheless sees a marketplace for individuals who don’t put on watches. Or individuals who put on (correct) watches and don’t need to exchange them, or put on two. However they may put on a health tracker on the opposite wrist.

As a result of at its coronary heart, the Cost three continues to be health, health, health. Fitbit guarantees we’ll see the app ecosystem increase sooner or later, however its Cost units have all the time had a laser give attention to exercise. The Cost three stays on track, supporting a variety of health modes together with operating, swimming, biking, treadmill and power coaching. Positive, you possibly can’t play tic-tac-toe on it, however truthfully, there’s not rather a lot that you are able to do on the Versa which you can’t do right here.

Fitbit Charge 3 review

One factor that’s lacking is GPS – and this stunned us. The Cost three as soon as once more foregoes this function, however can use your telephone connection to get that motion knowledge. This isn’t a dealbreaker when you think about the Cost three’s different limitations in comparison with a smartwatch; it doesn’t help offline music or LTE. Likelihood is, you’re not going to take the Cost three out for a run with out your smartphone, so the shortage of GPS – whereas, once more, a tad shocking – isn’t world-ending, even for the intense athletes amongst you.

However when it comes to exercise it’s a nicely rounded wearable. Not solely does it monitor a broad vary of actions (though not what you’d get with an honest Garmin watch) in addition to steps, energy and sleep, Fitbit’s received higher at doing so with minimal enter.

The Cost three as soon as once more gives automated exercise detection, and in testing this has been fairly correct. For swimming and operating, the Cost three had no drawback detecting what I used to be doing.

Sleep monitoring

As for sleep monitoring, the outcomes have been sometimes good. I’ve been sporting my Cost three to mattress most nights, and it continues to be the gold normal for me.

Positive, some mornings I discover it taking a couple of minutes than it ought to to register me being awake, however on the entire it appear to be fairly correct.

Fitbit Charge 3 review

Coronary heart fee accuracy

The place it’s instilled much less confidence is within the coronary heart price sensor. Now, to caveat, two members of the Wareable staff have been offered Cost three units, and one in every of us (me) had a far much less spectacular expertise than Wareable’s co-founder James Stables. I’m placing mine right down to a defective gadget (which Fitbit is within the strategy of changing) however having trawled by way of the Fitbit boards and the subreddit, I do know I’m not the one one who’s encountered glitches with the tracker.

So right here’s James’ readout from monitor session, designed to push the sensor past its consolation zone, in contrast with the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (on prime). The Cost three had a mean coronary heart fee for the session of 146bpm in comparison with 145bpm on the chest strap/Fenix, and a max of 184bpm throughout each. You possibly can’t fault that for accuracy, particularly throughout such a wide-ranging session.

Fitbit Charge 3 review

Prime: Garmin with chest strap. Backside: Fitbit Cost three

However wanting again on knowledge is totally different to the expertise of utilizing it out on the monitor, on the roads, or within the fitness center. And truly, the Cost three is best at analysing knowledge within the app than it’s throughout a exercise.

We nonetheless observed that the sensor lagged behind the chest strap (and the Polar Vantage M optical sensor) throughout climbing coronary heart charges. The recorded knowledge is much more correct than it appeared on the wrist, which signifies some lag in processing knowledge on-device, or a problem with the show, that really induced difficulty in our testing of the Cost three.

What we additionally each realized was that Fitbit’s secret algorithms do their work in the course of the sync, and the ultimate leads to the app have been a bit extra in tune with the chest strap than what we noticed on the Cost three display throughout our exercises.

So if correct stay readouts are what you’re after (and for a lot of runners, these might be essential) the Cost three doesn’t ship in addition to we’d hoped. Nevertheless, for an general snapshot of your session, displaying how onerous you labored, and what number of energy you burned, it fares a lot better.

Fitbit Charge 3 review

Reliability points?

However right here’s my knowledge. Additionally a 5K run, however one which produced considerably totally different outcomes: a mean distinction of 10bpm and far much less correct modifications throughout interval bursts. Actually, I skilled the identical drawback with treadmill operating too. Fitbit is at present wanting into the difficulty to see what triggered it, however as you possibly can see, the outcomes are suboptimal to say the least. Given the outcomes from a brand new system, that is merely right here for transparency.

Fitbit Charge 3 review

Sensible options and UI

Fitbit Charge 3 review

Whereas the Fitbit Cost three is blurring a line between health tracker and smartwatch by doing its greatest to impersonate the latter. Notifications is an enormous one which’s been improved this time, profiting from the bigger display to show extra info.

The Cost three can show notifications from all third-party apps, and the Fitbit app itself will allow you to toggle those you need. That is one thing that was additionally a bit damaged once I first began testing the Cost three, however by means of subsequent updates (one purpose we held this evaluation) issues appears to have smoothed out.

The display is large enough that I’m capable of simply learn textual content message (one of many few issues I permit notifications from) and a swipe down on the primary clock face will drag down the notification tray. It’s a bonus of the Garmin Vivosmart four, for instance, the place notifications would disappear as soon as they’d displayed. Right here, you’ll be able to scroll via your historical past of missed calls, calendar updates and missed messages.

Talking of, a brand new function of the Cost three is the swipe-up menu which provides you a take a look at your health progress for the day together with steps, distance traveled and (should you’ve synced together with your telephone since waking up) what number of hours you slept the night time earlier than. Once more, it’s one thing Fitbit has migrated over from the Ionic and Versa smartwatches. You’ll additionally see menstrual monitoring on the brand new well being dashboard, if that’s one thing you’re monitoring.

For Android customers, Fitbit can be rolling out fast notifications down the road. That is one thing we’ve tried on the Fitbit Versa and Ionic and… it’s superb. I’d have an interest to see if it really works any in a different way on the Cost three, however as a (presently) iOS consumer, it’s not one thing I really feel like I’m sorely lacking out on.

Battery life

Fitbit promised us seven days of battery life on the Cost three, and it’s delivered. That’s a few days greater than the Cost 2, and in the event you’re not maxing out the train modes you’re going to succeed in that no drawback.

It’s nonetheless one among Fitbit’s largest edges over Apple, and the upside of not incorporating GPS is that the related GPS choice drains a lot much less battery. It’s additionally a cause Fitbit can proudly boast being an efficient sleep tracker.

Fitbit Charge 3 review

Within the panorama of wearables – and the longer term

I began this evaluate by speaking about how the panorama of wearables has modified a lot within the final yr, and that has an actual bearing on how we see the Cost three. Sure (some bugs apart) it’s Fitbit’s most finessed and succesful health tracker. However the recreation has modified. Once you examine it towards what Apple is doing with well being proper now, it’s arduous to not level out that the Cost three looks like… extra of the identical.

That stated, Fitbit tells us it’s put its SpO2 sensors (additionally featured within the Versa and Ionic) within the Cost three, which means that – when the day lastly comes – it will be capable of scan for critical well being issues like atrial fibrillation and sleep apnea.

Fitbit tells me it’s utilizing these sensors to gather knowledge proper now, however it’s unclear when these can be “switched on” for shoppers. However contemplating some individuals purchased even the Ionic for this function – and that Apple has received out the door first – Fitbit must get a transfer on.

(wareable.com, https://bit.ly/2yq2G21)

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