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Review: Fitbit Charge 4

by : Matt Weston on : 13 Jul 2020 19:19
Fitbit

In a world where fitness monitoring has become an integral part of exercise, the latest smart tracker from Fitbit proves you don’t have to fully upgrade to a smartwatch.

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I’ve been using the Fitbit Charge 4 wearable for the past few weeks and you quickly realise that this is the best fitness tracker that you can currently buy, closely followed by the Charge 3 model that was released in 2018. The brand soon to be acquired by Google for $2.1 billion has been making great products since 2009 and the Charge 4 is no exception.

The best place to start with this device is with the minimalistic device that may seem familiar to owners of its predecessor. Fitbit has decided to stick with the rectangular OLED touchscreen with a replaceable band that wraps around your wrist. There are two styles that come when you purchase the Charge 4 or you can get third party straps off other sites.

Charge 3 users will be pleased to know because the design is the same, you can use one of your custom straps from the older model for the latest device. I personally would suggest getting a different strap as you can get one more suited to your own personal tastes. The one supplied does the job but isn’t standout.

While wearing the device, it feels incredibly light compared to some of the other wearables on the market. This is the first time I’ve ever felt like I’ve forgotten a watch is on my wrist because of this.

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Have Fitbit compensated weight for a big enough display? I don’t think so. The display is the perfect size for still displaying activity stats and any calls/notifications that pop up. While you’re out and about running, you don’t want anything too distracting so it was good to be updated while not having updates forced into your eye line.

While we are discussing the display you’ll be pleased to hear that I didn’t encounter any problems whilst looking at the display. No matter what the lighting conditions, visibility remained fantastic even in the brightest sunlight.

I have a similarly good review of the touchscreen itself, which I ran into minimal difficulties with. While using the functions of the device, the only time I really struggled was when I had been profusely sweating and my hands were wet. Most of the time while using the device, you will find that navigation is done by swiping and tapping on the Charge screen. There’s also the Fitbit App which you will need to download in order to use the device. It tells you your steps, average heart rate and movement goals. Both the watch and app interface are able to be changed through the app available on iOS or the Google Play Store.

One of the most impressive things about the device is its battery life. Fitbit says on its website that the Charge 4’s battery can last up to seven days on a single charge with normal use, or up to five hours with GPS use. I’ve found while using this device that is pretty much bang on. If you find yourself not using the GPS too often, a full week without charge is a realistic goal.

Something to bear in mind with this device is that it can take a while for the GPS to connect which can be frustrating. In order to connect, I found I needed to stand still and wait for it to connect before doing any exercise. While this doesn’t sound like the biggest problem, it shows that there is room for improvement in its tracking.

Once it got going, I found that the built-in GPS tracking to be pretty accurate. The Charge 4 is the first fitness tracker from the company to have this feature. There are six exercise shortcuts for you to choose from on the watch for logging: Outdoor Run, Treadmill, Bike, Swim and Outdoor Workout. If you’re after some different exercise, the likes of yoga and HIIT can be selected on the Fitbit app.

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While using this device, I mainly used it for logging my running where I have it synced up to my Strava account. However, if you don’t want it hooked to a third party, the Fitbit app does a great job of showing a map of your run and some helpful data. Pace, calories burned, heart rate zones and elevation can all be mapped on each run.

If you’ve never used fitness tracking, it will be sure to blow your mind how much information the device can gather for your workouts. The data visualisation really helps to bring another bit of motivation to your workouts.

The built-in heart rate monitor helps provide more accurate measurements while you’re working out or resting. The Charge 4 will notify you during a workout whenever your heart rate zone changes. These help to show times that you are working out particularly hard.

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You get used to the zones and you’re notified whilst working out when you enter into a new zone. One buzz is for the fat burn zone, two for entering the cardio zone and three for the peak zone. Of course, all of these buzzes can be quite easily turned off. One thing I wished that the watch would tell you is how far you are during your exercise. Using smartwatches like the Huawei GT2, I get notified every kilometre I’ve completed. Something similar for the Charge 4 would be fantastic.

I tend to find that the heart rate sensor was accurate and gave realistic readings during exercise and if I suddenly felt stressed. Especially for the price of the product, it competes with some of the more expensive smartwatches on the market.

Overall, if you’re after a fitness tracker that will accurately measure your exercise and sleep, it doesn’t get much better than the Fitbit Charge 4. With it currently priced at $129.95, it is great value considering its design, durability and functionality. If you don’t want to splash out on a smartwatch, this is a great option for all your tracking needs.

Matt Weston

Matt Weston is a lover of electric cars, artificial intelligence and space. From Cornwall, he's a UCLan graduate that still dreams of being a Formula One driver in the very near future. Previous work includes reporting for regional newspapers and freelance video for the International Business Times.

Topics: Technology, Charge, Fitbit, Fitness, Smartwatch, watch