Fitbit Charge 3 blurs the line between fitness tracker and smartwatch
The Charge 3 is Fitbit's newest fitness tracker, picking up where the Charge 2 left off back in 2016. It brings with it a refined design, extra swim-tracking capabilities, sleep monitoring, and a larger display with full touchscreen capabilities – here's everything you need to know.
If you need some kind of reference point to place the Charge 3 in Fitbit's wide array of wearables, this is closer to a full-on smartwatch than a fitness tracker. Fitbit is calling it its "most advanced" tracker ever, which is hard to argue with.
It does just about everything the Fitbit Versa does, but with a smaller, monochrome screen – that includes showing notifications from your phone and even replying to texts (though that's only when paired with an Android phone). Fitbit is promising third-party apps are on the way too, though we'll have to wait and see how many developers show an interest.
There's an NFC chip for mobile payments as well, if you're prepared to shell out US$20 extra, and newly-added waterproofing up to 50 meters (164 ft). That waterproofing means you can now track your laps and swims in the pool.
In terms of design, the Charge 3 is thinner and lighter than its predecessor, with the body of the tracker now crafted from aluminum rather than stainless steel. You get a generously broad range of choices for your strap too, including multiple colors and materials made from silicone, leather, and fabric.
The display has been upgraded – it's been made 40 percent larger, with a higher resolution. It's also now a full touchscreen, whereas the display on the Charge 2 would recognize a single tap anywhere on the screen as the same input.
As well as all the usual step and calorie counts, the Fitbit Charge 3 is able to monitor your heart rate, and will also offer sleep tracking with a software upgrade that Fitbit is promising before the end of the year. Perhaps the only major omission is GPS, so you still need a phone with you to plot your morning jog on a map.
After the Ionic and Versa, it's also the third Fitbit device to feature a SpO2 sensor, which monitors the levels of oxygen in the blood. That should make it better able to track the different stages of your sleep, Fitbit says, as well as flag up warning signs for conditions such as sleep apnea.
Then there's the battery. Fitbit says the Charge 3 is going to last a whole seven days between charges, up from five on the Charge 2. Considering fully fledged smartwatches like the Apple Watch usually need charging every day, that's a big bonus.
Add to that all the staple Fitbit features, like the ability to log different exercise types, compete against friends, and drill down into your data inside the mobile apps or on the web, and the Charge 3 might just have enough to tempt a substantial number of people to start their fitness tracking adventure (or upgrade their existing tracker).
The Fitbit Charge 3 is available to pre-order direct from Fitbit now for $149.95 (without NFC). Shipping is scheduled to start in October.
Product page: Fitbit Charge 3