The Fitbit Charge fitness tracker is the company’s best-selling product line, and its latest model, the Charge 5, has just been announced. Available for pre-order now, the Charge 5 adds ECG (electrocardiogram), EDA (electrodermal activity) stress sensors, an AMOLED display, and a stainless steel facelift for $50 more than its predecessor, the Charge 4.
Fitbit says it will continue to sell the $130 Charge 4 through the end of the year, positioning it between the $100 Fitbit Inspire 2 and the new $180 Fitbit Charge 5. The new Charge, moving closer to smartwatch territory When it comes, most of the capabilities found on Fitbit’s current Versa and Sense smartwatches.
In a private briefing, Fitbit also announced that it plans to make smartwatches with Google’s Wear OS built-in. Perhaps this will be the key distinction between the company’s increasingly capable Charge series and its smartwatch line in the future.
Sleek new stainless steel case, AMOLED display, more sensors and – how is this not a smartwatch?
The Charge 5 has a sleeker, rounder and more versatile aesthetic than its predecessor. Thanks to a new stainless steel case and redesigned watch bands, the Charge is now a wearable that doesn’t protrude as much when worn with more formal attire, especially when paired with one of the optional leather bands.
A punchy new AMOLED display also helps it get a more upscale look as far as wearables go. While the new design seems to have made it a bigger device than its predecessor, Fitbit says it’s actually 10 percent thinner than the Charge 4.
Within the stainless steel frame of the Charge 5 are new sensors for EDM stress tracking and ECG monitoring. ECG won’t be available at launch, but if it is, there won’t be much separating the Charge 5 from Fitbit’s most versatile device, the Sense smartwatch. The Sense has only two main functions – a microphone for calls and snore detection (more on that later) and music storage for Pandora and Deezer – via the Charge 5.
Otherwise, SpO2, heart rate monitoring, EDA, GPS and Spotify music control are shared features between the two. They also have similar battery life as the Charge 5 is rated at seven days and the Sense is “six plus”.
New Fitbit Premium features for exercise readiness and mindfulness
Fitbit is also introducing a new feature called Daily Readiness that the company says will be “coming soon” exclusively for Fitbit Premium users. This is a score the Fitbit app calculates based on your sleep, exercise, and heart rate variability (how quickly your heart rate changes from active to resting and back) over the past few days.
Fitbit says a higher score means you’re better equipped for strenuous exercise, while a lower score indicates you need recovery, active or otherwise. The app will also recommend workouts from the Fitbit Premium library, based on your results. Active days can recommend any of the 200+ workouts, and recovery days can choose anything from yoga to any of the 300+ mindfulness activities.
New to the workout page is content from Les Mills in the form of 25 videos. Next month, Fitbit will add 30 new pieces of content from Calm to the mindfulness tab. With the new Calm partnership, the EDA stress scan feature on Fitbit Versa 3 and Sense can also recommend a Calm session after a lecture, or vice versa.
As I mentioned in my recent Fitbit Luxe review, Fitbit Premium’s workouts are a bit of a mess. There’s not much in the way of organization, nor is there any guidance for anyone wanting to embark on a training journey in the content provided, although the mindfulness resources are easier to navigate, partly because of their nature. Hopefully, Daily Readiness can help overcome this lack of direction.
Fitbit Premium users with a Versa 3 or Sense also get a new feature in the form of snore detection. “Coming soon”, Snore Detection will use the Versa 3 and Sense’s built-in microphones to detect snoring and other sounds. This will create a report in the Fitbit app where users can see how hard they snore, when during the night, and for how long. Fitbit says no recordings are made, but a calculation is made in real time, on the device, to assess whether a sound outside of baseline is snoring or something else.
The $180 Fitbit Charge 5 is available for pre-order now, with six free months of Fitbit Premium. You can choose from three stainless steel colors with matching silicone straps and order different leather, nylon and silicone straps separately. US orders ship in September.
List image by Fitbit