When the Fitbit Charge was released in 2018, it was incredibly popular and added new improvements to previous models. The Fitbit Charge 3 may not be as iconic as the Ionic and Versa. But it has helped to change the game for fitness trackers and push development forward.
Fast forward to the release of the Fitbit Charge 3. You have a fitness tracker that has a large waterproof display and polished design. It’s lightweight and packed with all the features you could possibly want while exercising and socialising.
To make the buying process simpler for you, we have picked the Charge 3 apart. We can share with you what makes it tick and whether it really is a worthwhile purchase. Read on to find out exactly what we thought when we road-tested it.
Let’s start with the screen. It has a 40% bigger screen for you to feast your eyes on. This will be a huge benefit to users as you will be able to read and access the different options in a more user-friendly way.
The physical display measures 34.5mm by 22.7mm. It’s fully touchscreen which can take some getting used to if you have previously owned a Fitbit Charge 2. You need to swipe through rather than tap to get to the functions that you want to use. We think this helps with accessibility.
One downside is that the screen is monochrome. Fitbit needs to bring colour screens to all their fitness trackers in order to keep up with market trends and consumer demand. It’s crazy to have such an improved device but still only get to see it in black and white.
A huge improvement is the waterproof design. You can take it swimming and diving to a 50m depth and track your efforts as you go. The Fitbit Charge 3 is comfy to wear and is thinner and lighter than its predecessor. It’s made from aluminium, rather than stainless steel and the new design and materials help to make it less noticeable on your wrist.
The straps remain changeable which is great if you want to wear your Fitbit anywhere from the gym to the bar! From leather straps to sports straps, there is a choice that will suit all styles. We love the upgraded straps you can get online but were not impressed with the one that comes as standard.
When you consider what you are spending for a new Fitbit, you’d expect a better quality strap as standard.
Before anyone gets too excited, remember that the Fitbit Charge 3 is still just a fitness tracker with add-on features. It only includes phone notifications and contactless payment. This is not a smartwatch that will rival Apple enthusiasts, but what Fitbit do really well is to enable fitness goals and achievements tracking.
Fitbit has said that they will be gradually introducing new features. These will include a calendar and a weather screen, however, there is no specific date for these new features. Until then, users will need to be content in knowing how well they are doing at achieving a healthy lifestyle.
If you are happy to get a fitness tracker that doesn’t offer onboard GPS, then this may be the right choice. You do get access to the following:
- Health and heart rate monitoring that keeps tabs on your heart rate all day and night.
- Real-time heart rate zones that allow you to see when you are in the fat-burning zone. This is a great tool to help you maximise the impact of your workout.
- Calories burned so that you know how effective your exercise has been in terms of shedding what you have eaten!
- Sleep tracking that will not only monitor how long you have slept but will also tell you the quality of the sleep. This can be shared with medical professionals if you are really struggling to get your recommended sleep quota each night.
- Female health tracking that allows you to monitor your cycle and know when to expect your next period, fertile time or ovulation. You can even track the symptoms you experience to allow you to develop a better working knowledge of your menstrual cycle.
- SmartTrack is an amazing feature that will recognise when you are exercising and track it. So, the next time you run for the bus your Fitbit Charge 3 will log it!
- Goal setting capability that will help to keep you on track and focused on your fitness.
- Pace and distance tracking that is enabled when your smartphone is attached, so you can use GPS to track where you have been.
- Movement tracker that is clever enough to track how much you move every day, keeping you active with reminders.
- Guided breathing to help you handle yourself positively and get you through the stresses and strains of life. Guided breathing is scientifically proven to support productivity.
This list of capabilities helps you understand how Fitbit has taken its smartwatch and fitness tracker and merged them into one item. Yes, there are issues that need to be addressed – the lack of truly smart features for one. However, the Fitbit Charge 3 has had a full overhaul and we are impressed with the features it offers!
It’s a fair question and one that tech companies try to answer by telling you how long the watch can function if it isn’t being used. That’s not reality and we want to know how long between charges will this Fitbit need? The answer is 7 to 10 days of continuous, normal usage which we think is great. The battery displays its percentage too, so you know how long you have left before a charge is required.
Whilst the battery may not last as long as other brands, we feel that a weekly charge is reasonable for wearing and tracking continuously. If you don’t use the smart capabilities or notifications then you can expect it to last nearly two full weeks. A great asset if you are off on your holidays and don’t want to spend time plugging everything in!
In terms of performance, we are impressed with the new notifications that allow you to see more of what is going on without having to pick up your phone. The tracking is spot on and you will be impressed with how well it counts your daily steps and activity.
The Fitbit app is clear and easy to use, and the Bluetooth syncing makes it quicker to share your progress. You can link to other apps from the Fitbit app. There is also the option to complete with other Fitbit wearers. This will help motivate you when you are feeling a bit more sluggish!
If you are considering purchasing a Fitbit Charge 3, we’d have to tell you to go for it as long as it was for the fitness features. The watch works well as a fitness tracker and Fitbit has dedicated time to improving the fitness features.
However, if you are looking for a genuine smartwatch then move on to a different model. Fitbit hasn’t yet got the market right for smartwatch owners. With no GPS and too few smart features, it’s not ready to be pitted against other smartwatches.
In terms of design, you get to swap your straps to suit your mood and style so that your fitness tracker can go anywhere with you and not look out of place. It’s a shame that the watch face is monochrome. This is a design flaw that needs to be remedied in the next update if it wants to continue being taken seriously.
The battery life is good and will mean that you don’t need to find time every day to plug in and recharge. This is fantastic as it lets you track everything you do for analysis later. The app is a source of knowledge that will share your fitness and health insights at the click of a button. With user-friendly graphics and competitions galore, this app remains a solid part of the Fitbit family.
Pricewise, at £129.99 it is an affordable tracker that will look the part on your wrist. You won’t need to sign up for a monthly contract or break the bank trying to finance it in the first place. When you buy a new Fitbit Charge 3, it comes with a manufacturer guarantee. If you have any problems, Fitbit will help to solve them – and their customer service is great.
So, if you want a fitness tracker that has some smart features, comes within budget and can withstand everything life throws at you, this might just be the best purchase you make this year!