Fitbit Charge 3 review: Peppering a fitness tracker with smartwatch powers

Valentina Palladino

Fitbit contracted the smartwatch fever last year. And since the beginnings of his Ion Smartwatch the brand's fitness followers have not made as many waves as before. In part, this is because users are increasingly adopting smartwatch as technology evolves over time.

But fitness followers are not dead – or at least, Fitbit hopes they will not – and the new follower of the company, Charge 3, is designed for users who want features of Smart watch in the single band package of a fitness follower.

Even today, fitness trackers have some advantages over smart watches: they are easier to wear because they have thinner and lighter profiles. They are less complicated because they are primarily designed to keep you in shape (not necessarily for things like moving e-mails). And, perhaps the most important distinction of all, fitness trackers are generally cheaper than smartwatches.

But smartwatches have the advantage of innovation nowadays because most companies that manufacture such devices are trying to develop features that their competitors do not have. As a result, fitness trackers have become a bit bland. And after wearing the new Charge 3 for almost two weeks to see how the harmonious marriage of smartwatch and tracker features by Fitbit has unfolded, it seems like the form factor remains fundamentally unchanged, but this n & # 39; 39 is not a bad thing in practice.

Unpacking and configuration

The charge 2 being one of Fitbit's most popular trackers, the company stays true to the winning formula of charge 3. If you know Charge 2 well, you'll notice that the device updated has not changed much: it is still a rectangular tracker hugged on its short edges by two parts of a band. Fitbit has updated the connection mechanism that allows you to disconnect the strips from Charge 3, making it easier to press the black ribbon of a button to release the current band from the device. The new group is positioned without additional effort.

The charge module 3 weighs 20% less than the charge 2. It will not interfere with your wrist when you wear it. I barely noticed it on my wrist when I paired it with Fitbit woven tapes, made in a very light fabric. If you are looking for a group that complements the weightlessness of the device and remains flexible enough to go from the gym to the office, choose a woven option instead of the standard silicone one.

The sides of the load 3 are smooth, with the exception of a small imprint on the left edge. This is the inductive button that has replaced the physical button of the Charge 2 and allows users to return to the OLED touch screen. This also allowed Fitbit to make Charge 3 sufficiently water resistant for swimming follow-up.

In recent years, I've been delighted to find that swimming monitoring is spreading in more affordable devices. Fitbit Flex 2 remains its most affordable device with swimming tracking features, priced at $ 60. But the charge of $ 150, with its big screen and its many smart surveillance features, address to a different audience than the one that would gravitate towards the tiny and almost cylindrical Flex 2. Even if you do not swim often, the water resistance 50 meters mean that users do not have to worry about not showering with Charge 3 or dropping it in the pool by accident.

Inside the 3 charge are an accelerometer, a gyroscope, an optical heart rate monitor and a SpO2 sensor to track the oxygen level in the blood. The Charge 3 is the third Fitbit device to integrate a SpO2 sensor, thus succeeding the smart watches Fitbit Ionic and Versa . However, the SpO2 monitor is currently inactive in all these devices, Fitbit has not yet used it.

The company says the SpO2 monitor will help its devices detect signs of sleep apnea and other breathing problems, potentially valuable features for devices to be worn 24/7. used in the upcoming beta of Sleep Score, a deeper analysis of sleep quality using data on heart rate and respiration. Starting in November, device users with only a heart rate monitor can get a "sleep index" after every night of sleep. Those with an Ionic, Versa or Charge 3 will likely have better data thanks to the SpO2 monitor that collects breathing data.

But the Ionic, the first of Fitbit's devices to include a SpO2 monitor, came out over a year ago. It's frustrating to hear about exciting features that "come soon", when "soon" finally means not weeks or months, but years. Although I understand that the development of such features requires time and effort (especially if Fitbit hopes to obtain authorization for a medical device or FDA approval in the future), I do not think that Fitbit should implement before features she would not be ready to leave. users put to the test.

Like other Fitbit devices, the Charge 3 requires little configuration effort. It works with Android and iOS devices, and all you need is the Fitbit mobile app to use it. Choose Charge 3 from the list of devices that you can pair via Bluetooth to your smartphone or tablet and follow the instructions on the screen. After setting up, you can also change the basic information used by Load 3 when tracking activity, such as your age, your height, your weight, and the activity measurement that is important to you. (steps, active minutes, etc.).

The charge of $ 150 has 40% more active screen space than the charge 2.

Valentina Palladino

It is also lighter than Charge 2, but looks the same.

Valentina Palladino

The OLED screen displays by default a watch face that you can customize in the Fitbit application.

Valentina Palladino

Fitbit woven tapes (gray) are ultra-light and probably the most comfortable to wear with Charge 3, much more than ordinary silicone strips (lavender).

Valentina Palladino

The optical heart rate monitor is located under the module.

Valentina Palladino

The new inductive button provides tactile feedback when you press it. It also allows the load 3 to be safe from swimming.

Valentina Palladino

The dashboard shows your activity statistics at a glance, including steps, calories burned, and more.

Valentina Palladino

All alerts are displayed in the notification drawer, accessible by sliding from the watch face.

Valentina Palladino

The application icons are simpler versions of those of the Fitbit smartwatchs.

Valentina Palladino

The exercise profiles are accompanied by pretty animations with stick figures.

Valentina Palladino

Quick settings allow you to disable the restart to reactivate the feature and disable notifications.

Valentina Palladino

The first day: daily activity and sleep

Charge 3 operates continuously all day to track steps, distance traveled, calories burned, ground level climbed, and heart rate, the standard series of activity data. Fitbit has been following these measurements for so long, without making a lot of significant updates recently, that they work as usual with Charge 3. I have appreciated the fact that most watch dials available for Charge 3 display your heart rate in real time. either in a corner or at the bottom of the rectangular screen. I like being able to look down and know my pulse.

You can choose from five different watch dials for Charge 3, which makes it less customizable than Ionic or Versa. These smartwatches have the advantage of running Fitbit OS, which includes a library of many dials developed by third parties. Charge 3 is not a smart watch, so its version of Fitbit software is not as robust as what we see on Ionic and Versa. This is not as critical for Charge 3, as it is not designed to run more than a few basic applications, but those looking for interesting watch dials will have to deal with just a handful of options.

The Charge 3 screen features 40% more active space compared to the Charge 2, making it a better touch screen. On the watch face, slide your finger up and down to reveal the notification drawer; from bottom to top to see the daily dashboard; from one side to the other to see the available applications. The transitions between the screen pages are smooth and the animations with stick figures in applications like that of exercise move easily.

The screen is a solid update to the Charge 2 and even the Alta HR, the latter offering a touch display. It is more natural to use a mixture of tapping and sweeping on a touch screen. So I expect new Fitbit users to have access to Charge 3 more easily than they would with an older device.


I visited the Fitbit app more often than usual on the first day of charge port 3 so I could handle the notifications. This device is the first tracking tool to go beyond the basic call, text and calendar alerts that most Fitbit tracking tools can receive. Charge 3 can alert you to anything happening on your smartphone if you wish. In the notification panel of the application Fitbit, you can choose the applications for which you want to receive alerts: activate them all so that you never miss a beat or activate only the most important applications for you.

I favor a moderate approach: I activate alerts for most of my installed apps, with the exception of niche apps (mostly shopping apps that warn me of coupons) or of those I do not use regularly. . All alerts vibrate Charge 3 and display the message on the screen. All past alerts are displayed in the notification drawer that you can access by sliding from the top of the Charge 3 screen.

Unfortunately, you will not be able to respond to alerts (such as messages and emails) from charge 3. This is a sequestered feature for smart watches, but you can see the essential content of an alert on the screen of the device. Given the narrowness of the device screen, reading a long email will not be the most comfortable experience. But at least this message can be slipped on your wrist, as well as news headlines, SMS and other alerts as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.