Fitbit announced their latest wearable yesterday, the new Charge 4. While times are challenging for a lot of people, this could be fortuitous for Fitbit, with many people looking at ways to stay fit and monitor their health during isolation.
When I first got into fitness, the Fitbit Ultra was my first bit of fitness tech, then I got the Flex 2, and the original charge, before jumping ship to Garmin and never looking back. Similarly, my partner had my cast me offs, then getting the Charge 2 before finally moving onto the Apple Watch.
Fitbit losing customers to smartwatches and a lesser extent multisport watches has been an issue for the brand over the years, causing them a decline in sales.
Similarly, hundreds of much more affordable trackers have come to market, making it hard to recommend something like the Fitbit Charge series over the likes of the Honor Band 5.
Last year Google bought out the company which has cast some questions on which direction the company will go. Apparently, this acquisition has not been completed, yet.
So, for now, it looks like business as usual and the Charge 4 is the first device launched since the Google acquisition and it represents the biggest change the Charge series has seen in years but is it too little too late?
The new tracker retains the same design as previous models being more discrete than a fully-fledged smartwatch. I am struggling to find a spec of its display, but it is big enough to give you phone notifications, control Spotify playlists, do quick replies and more.
Most things stay largely the same, which is good. What has improved is the inclusion of both GPS and NFC for mobile payments.
The GPS is the big one (for me), allowing the Fitbit to finally offer some competition with Garmin, Android and Apple smartwatches as well as feature watches such as the Huawei Watch GT2.
It now also has ‘Active Zone Minutes’, which replaces the previous Active Minutes metric and is based on HR zones instead.
The Fitbit Charge 4 is available for pre-order via Fitbit for £129.99 and will be on Amazon at launch.
The current Fitbit line-up pricing from Amazon is:
- Fitbit Charge 3 – RRP £129.99 – £89.99
- Sometimes goes as low as £79.99, next time will like be Prime Day on 6th of July
- Fitbit Versa Lite – RRP £149.99 – £129.00
- Has been as low as £99, regularly sells for £109.99
- Fitbit Versa – RRP – £199.99 – £124.99
- At its lowest price ever
- Fitbit Versa 2 – RRP £199.99 – £159.99
- Rarely drops lower
- Fitbit Ionic – RRP £249.99 – £182.99
- About as low as it goes, but this is a three-year-old watch
I won’t make a detailed feature comparison, but as far as the Fitbit line-up goes there are only two devices with GPS, the new Charge 4, and the old and ugly Ionic.
The Inspire HR, Versa Lite, Versa, and Versa 2 all offer GPS tracking but via your phone. While this is perfectly usable, it is not ideal, in my opinion.
The Charge 4 has the best battery life with up to 7 days of use. When you move onto the Versa series it is 4+ for the Lite then 6+ for the Versa 2.
The Charge series is not a smartwatch in the true sense, you get the features it has, and that’s it.
If you want to be able to install apps, then you need to go to the Versa series and Ionic.
Models compatible with Fitbit Pay include the new Charge 4, the Inspire HR, original Versa, Versa 2 and Ionic.
All the models are water-resistant up to 50M, but only the Charge 4 can track swimming workouts.
The Versa 2 offers things like Alexa, voice replies, and on-screen workouts.
The Ionic still technically sits at the top of the pack, but it is about 3 years old and downright ugly with its massive square display. It is also not particularly attractive price-wise considering you can pick up an Apple Watch for £199.
I would say the Garmin Vivoactive 3 at £146.98 is the best option, it is attractive with a decent size display and will be better at sports tracking in general. It lacks mobile payments though.
If you want something a bit more like a watch then the original Huawei Watch GT is insane value at just £99 it has a large AMOLED display and a 2-week battery life but it lacks mobile payments, and the big issue for me is it lacks any form of exporting data to fitness apps such as Strava.
Similarly, the Huawei Watch GT2 is now just £129.99 matching the price of the Fitbit Charge 3. I reviewed the GT2 and found it to be superb, but again, no Strava exports which is what prevented me using it permanently.
If you want something cheaper and/or in the strap style format, there is:
The Garmin Vivosport is just £92.00 and has GPS. It is kind of ugly in my opinion but if you want something discrete with GPS tracking, it is worth considering.
Honor Band 5 for just £29.99 – it lacks GPS, mobile payments, the display is small, but it is 30 quid. If you want step counting, all-day heart rate and sleep tracking, not much can compete with this in terms of value for money.
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For not much more, the Apple Watch Series 3 is worth considering too, at £197.00 you get a whole lot more for your money than the Fitbit. The battery life is poor, and you need an iPhone, but beyond that, it is superior in every way.
The Fitbit Charge 4 is a massive upgrade for the charge series, and if you are committed to the Fitbit ecosystem I would say it is well worth an upgrade.
The community side of Fitbit with its step challenges is still its biggest selling point, Garmin is lacklustre then Huawei and others is nonexistent. So if you need motivation from friends and colleagues, then Fitbit is well worth considering over other brands. Apple is perhaps the one decent alternative here, and the Apple Watch Series 3 is a seriously good alternative
The Huawei Watch GT2 should be a superior alternative if you don’t mind something larger on your wrist. With its current price the same as the Charge 4 RRP you get vastly superior hardware for the same price. But it lacks Strava, which makes it a no-go for many.
Fitbit can export to Strava, and with the benefit of built-in GPS you have a decent little running watch.
Last update on 2021-05-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API