Fitbit Charge 3 review

Watch review

Quick verdict

The third-generation model is a fantastic evolution for the Charge family, offering water-resistance, lighter construction, a touch-screen interface, and more. This will be recorded as a fitness tracker to see if a smartwatch is not right for you.

For

  • Great lightweight and water-resistant design
  • Fitbit platform is excellent
  • Brilliant battery life
  • Accurate tracking

Against

  • No built-in GPS
  • NFC only in Special Edition models
  • SpO2 not working yet
  • Display isn’t colour

Fitbit is a well-known company in the market for fitness trackers. It has been around for over a decade and is said to account for over 80 percent of the UK market. That’s a pretty big market share, with products like the batch that perform well.

The Charge 3 is a fitness tracker that complements the Fitbit’s eight devices to ensure the success of the popular Charge 2. The latest model is Fitbit’s most up-to-date fitness tracker to offer a new design and a host of new features. including some of the company’s Versa and Ionic smartwatches.

Design and display

  • Aluminium body, 20% lighter than Charge 2
  • Rose gold and gunmetal grey body options
  • OLED touchscreen display
  • Water-resistant to 50m

If you had asked us a few months ago what we think about the Fitbit Charge 2 design, we would have said that we still love it. It’s solid, practical and looks great, but it’s also comfortable to wear. But then we started carrying lot 3.

Batch 3 is a classic case of “You do not know what you want until you get it.” The new Tracker is a further development of the Charge 2, which has design similarities, including interchangeable straps, a heart rate monitor, a buckle attachment and the solid housing with an OLED display – but everything is slimmer and more refined.

The latest device is 20 percent lighter than its predecessor and uses an aluminum housing instead of stainless steel – and the difference is noticeable on the wrist. It’s a lot more comfortable, which means the Charge 2 is an easy-to-carry device. The edges of batch 3 are also smoother, the bottom is curvy and the display brighter. Everything is just so much better.

Fitbit swapped the button on the left side of charge 2 for an inductive button on charge 3. It reacts with a slight vibration when you tap the button, turn the display on / off or return to the previous screen in different situations.

The mechanism for changing straps is much slimmer both visually and mechanically. Instead of the chunky stainless clips that are found not only on Charge 2 but also on the Alta and Alta HR, the Charge 3 has a neat little button that requires only a small amount of pressure before the belt is ejected.

The display of batch 3 is 40 percent larger than that of batch 2. The newer device is no longer just a tap display: There is a complete touch screen control, which is not as appealing as the Ionic or Versa smartwatches, but still a fluid ad offers experience. This new UI feature lets you search all the metrics in the app, including sleep data, women’s health, and hydration.

The Charge 3’s display is crisp and crisp and works well in bright outdoor conditions. It’s not a color, but Fitbit has added a grayscale that’s more detailed than a binary black-and-white ad. It provides greater depth than standard white text and allows more important information, such as the time on the main dial, while, for example, steps and heart rate measurements are more subtle in their shades of gray.

The batch 3 is also waterproof up to 50 meters. It takes a lot of effort not to fill up the rest of this review with Oops, because the water resistance of the Fitbit trackers has taken a long time to come. Yes, the Flex 2 offers it, but for those who want a device with display and float tracking, Fitbit offers only the Versa and Ionic smartwatches, which are both slightly larger and more expensive than the comparable models.

For the Standard Charge 3 there are two versions: a rose gold body with a blue strap (our test device); and a black-gray body with a black strap. There are also two Special Edition models with the same body options, but the rose gold has a purple woven strap while the red gray case has a white, perforated sports strap. As you might expect, there are also a number of additional straps, including two leather options.

Features

  • Swim tracking, heart-rate, auto exercise recognition
  • Smart notifications, Quick Replies, timer, weather

As the Fitbit Charge 3 is waterproof, it’s no surprise to most that it also offers swim tracking. Charge 3 only displays the swim duration on the screen during the workout, while the Fitbit app displays laps, distance, pace, and calories – similar to the Ionic and Versa models (though they display laps on their displays during exercise).

In addition, the Fitbit Charge 3 has all the features of the Charge 2, including PurePulse continuous heart rate monitoring, multi-sport tracking, cardio-fitness levels, guided breathing, and automatic sleep tracking and sleep phases. There is also automatic motion detection and moving reminders, as well as full-day activity tracking and linked GPS.

The eagle eyes below you will have noticed that Charge 3 does not introduce a built-in GPS, a feature we had hoped for, but a feature called Target Based Training. This feature allows users to personalize more than 15 exercise modes with their own goal of calorie consumption, duration or distance. For example, it is possible to start a run with Batch 3 and set the goal to 300 calories. Once you’ve reached the 300 calories burned, you’ll see a celebratory screen. Whoop.

Fitbit has also added Run Detect with Auto Stop and there are also notifications for smartphones. Like the Charge 2, the 3 offers call, text and calendar notifications as well as various third-party apps like Facebook and Instagram, phone calls and quick-responses (if you’re an Android user).

In terms of other smart features, the Charge 3 features alarms, a timer, weather information, calendar information, and the ability to view the Fitbit Leaderboard directly on the wrist. Fitbit has also announced plans to work with other partners to bring popular branded apps to the device.

Fitbit Pay is also available – but only for the Special Edition models of the Charge 3. Traditionally, the Special Edition models consisted only of different colored bodies and more luxurious straps, but Fitbit has changed this by only the NFC chip in the more expensive batch 3 was added models.

Performance and battery life

  • Heart-rate monitor
  • SpO2 (coming soon)
  • Week-long battery life

The Fitbit Charge 3 comes with the PurePulse Heart Monitor, which has proven to be as accurate as you would expect for a wrist-worn device. It’s not always perfect, with the occasional delay of on-demand measurements during exercise – but it’s certainly more than good enough for everyday use.

The Charge 3 also has a built-in SpO2 monitor that tracks respiratory patterns to help diagnose conditions such as sleep apnea. Unfortunately, this is currently waiting for a software update to be used. When the software update appears, it offers advanced sleep tracking, including a “sleep score”.

The current sleep tracking on the Charge 3 is excellent, as it was on the Charge 2. We have a little baby and our batch 3 still can not tell exactly when we woke up in the middle of the night and when we enjoyed having some eyes closed. It’s accurate to the minute most of the time.

Activity tracking is also great – especially the automatic recognition of exercises. Batch 3 had no trouble recognizing when we were swimming or when we were doing aerobics classes, and provided a detailed account of our efforts after the classes without having to do anything before we started on them.

The seven-day battery life specified by Fitbit for batch 3 is also in the money and gives us very little cause for complaint. We did one hour of aerobic training, followed by half an hour of swimming, and only consumed three percent of the batteries.

Smartphone alerts are also much better than in previous versions. Once a notification appears on your smartphone, the corresponding app will appear in the Fitbit app’s Notifications section under Charge 3 in a list. This allows you to turn individual apps on or off, depending on whether you want such notifications. Occasionally, the App Notifications section of the app was a bit flawed and the list did not display apps properly (or in some cases not), but it usually worked within minutes or when we restarted the app.

Fitbit Charge 3 software 

  • Fitbit app for Android and iOS

On the software side, everything is familiar with the Fitbit app. If you’re already Fitbit user, you’ll find all the usual statistics and some extras when considering upgrading from Charge HR or Charge 2.

For Fitbit newcomers it is one of the best usability platforms. However, it’s worth reading our Fitbit tips and tricks to get you started and find everything you need, including access to these notifications.

The Fitbit platform will soon include some additional software features, including Sleep Score and Personal Health and Wellness Insights. However, we will look into these features in more detail and update this review as it becomes available.

Verdict

The Fitbit Charge 3 is a fantastic evolution for the Charge family. It’s the fitness tracker we did not even know we wanted to wear until we started wearing it.

The design is far more sophisticated than its predecessors and offers a first-class and modern feel that is light, comfortable and full of features. The extra water resistance is fantastic, the activity and sleep data collection is accurate, the notifications on the smartphone are great, and the Fitbit platform is still one of the best and easiest to use on the market.

However, we want the SpO2 functionality to work, and there is no built-in GPS (or standard NFC – this is just the Special Edition). That said, we’re aware that it’s a lot to ask for the price of £ 130.

Some might say that fitness trackers are reaching the end of their lives, especially with smartwatches that offer more and more fitness features. However, we believe that there is still room for both, especially for devices with Charge 3. Smartwatches are not for everyone and certainly can not compete with a week’s battery life.

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