The Fitbit Charge fitness tracker is the company’s best-selling product line, and the latest model, the Charge 5, was just announced. Up for preorder 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 until the end of the year, which positions it between the $100 Fitbit Inspire 2 and the new $180 Fitbit Charge 5. Inching ever closer to smartwatch territory, the new Charge will have most of the capabilities found on Fitbit’s current Versa and Sense smartwatches.
In a closed briefing, Fitbit also disclosed its intention to make smartwatches with Google’s Wear OS built-in. Perhaps this will be the primary distinction between the company’s increasingly capable Charge series and its smartwatch line going forward.
Sleek new stainless steel body, AMOLED display, more sensors, and—how is this not a smartwatch?
The Charge 5 sports a more streamlined, rounder, and more versatile aesthetic than its predecessor. Thanks to a new stainless steel body and redesigned watch straps, the Charge is now a wearable that won’t stick out so starkly when worn with more formal attire—especially when paired with one of the optional leather bands.
A punchy new AMOLED display also helps it achieve a more upscale look, as far as wearables go. While the new design appears to have made it a more substantial device than its predecessor, Fitbit says it’s actually 10 percent thinner than the Charge 4.
Within the Charge 5’s stainless steel frame are new sensors for EDM stress tracking and ECG monitoring. ECG won’t be available at launch, but when it is, there won’t be much separating the Charge 5 from Fitbit’s most feature-rich device, the Sense smartwatch. The Sense only has two main features—a microphone for calls and snore detection (more on that later) and music storage for Pandora and Deezer—over the Charge 5.
Otherwise, SpO2, heart rate monitoring, EDA, GPS, and Spotify music controls 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 “available soon,” exclusively to Fitbit Premium users. This is a score that the Fitbit app will calculate based on your sleep, exertion, and heart rate variability (how quickly your heart rate changes from active to at rest, and back) over the past few days.
Fitbit says a higher score means you’re better-equipped to engage in strenuous exercise, while a lower score indicates a need for recovery, active or otherwise. The app will also recommend workouts from the Fitbit Premium library, based on your results. Active days could recommend any of the 200+ workouts, and recovery days may choose anything from yoga to one of the 300+ mindfulness activities.
New to the workouts page is content from Les Mills in the form of 25 videos. Next month, Fitbit’s adding 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 reading, or vice versa.
As I mentioned in my recent review of the Fitbit Luxe, Fitbit Premium’s workouts are a bit of a mess. There’s not much in the way of organization, nor is there guidance for anyone wanting to start a workout journey in the provided content, although the mindfulness resources, partly due to their nature, are easier to navigate. Hopefully, Daily Readiness may help to begin remedying this lack of direction.
Fitbit Premium users with a Versa 3 or Sense will also gain 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 noises. This will create a report in the Fitbit app where users can see how loudly they were snoring, when throughout the night, and for how long. Fitbit says no recordings are made, but rather a calculation is done in real-time, on-device to assess whether a sound beyond the baseline is a snore or something else.
The $180 Fitbit Charge 5 is available for preorder now, with six free months of Fitbit Premium. You can choose from three stainless steel colors with matching silicon bands and order assorted leather, nylon, and silicone bands separately. US orders begin shipping in September.
Listing image by Fitbit