At a time when fitness-focussed smartwatches pack ever fancier screens, rising characteristic lists and more and more reasonably priced value tags, you’d be forgiven for pondering the common-or-garden band-style health tracker had misplaced its place. Fitbit clearly thinks in any other case. With built-in GPS for phone-free train monitoring, 24/7 steady optical coronary heart price, NFC contactless Fitbit Pay funds and a complete new motivational motion metric – Active Zone Minutes – the brand new Charge 4 is out to show there’s nonetheless a spot on our wrists for a less complicated instrument that helps us be extra energetic.

The Charge 4 is perhaps small on the wrist and large on ambition, however at £129.99 it’s not precisely low-cost. And let’s face it, loads of different health trackers have lengthy provided GPS. So is that this newest improve the perfect within the exercise monitoring enterprise or has the essential health band run its course?

Design and luxury: Light and likeable

From afar, the brand new Charge 4 is nearly indistinguishable from the outdated Charge three however stick them facet by facet and also you’ll discover the brand new tracker is marginally smaller than its predecessor. Though that makes little distinction on the wrist.

You get two sizes of straps within the field that’ll fortunately cater for many wrists. Swapping them out is pleasingly easy and you should purchase totally different straps. The straps are extra inflexible and fewer forgiving than some softer-silicone bands, although there’s a commerce off of total consolation for respectable sturdiness.

With the massive strap, the Charge 4 weighs an impressively mild 28g – that’s roughly the identical as Garmin Vivosmart and the GPS-packing Vivosport. On the entire the ergonomic curves and light-weight really feel imply it’s simple sufficient to get a comparatively snug match for carrying it 24-7. Though on sweatier exercises we discovered it had an inclination to slide down our wrist, making it arduous to put on it increased up, one thing Fitbit advises for higher coronary heart price accuracy.

The Charge is managed with a mixture of a single inductive button on the left hand facet of the machine and a digital touchscreen show. Both are properly responsive. Flip the Charge over and also you’ll see the optical coronary heart price sensor and the charging nodes that clip to a bespoke Fitbit cost.

There’s no straight ahead micro-USB C possibility, seemingly all the way down to the actual fact the Charge 4 is water resistant as much as 50M so you may swim with it. The Charge is available in 4 colors, commonplace black, snazzy rosewood, blue and black and a dearer particular version reflective granite woven band for £149.99.

Display: Blink and also you’ll miss it

The Fitbit Charge 4 has a high-resolution 100 x 160 backlit greyscale OLED touchscreen show. It’s much less vibrant and extra fundamental than the Garmin Vivosport or a Samsung Gear Fit Pro 2 however is completely crisp and vivid indoors.

However, maybe the most important single drawback with the Fitbit Charge 4 is how that display readability suffers the second you head outdoors and step into any type of daylight. It routinely adjusts to totally different mild however we discovered it very arduous to learn on plenty of our take a look at runs in brighter direct mild. The Fitbit Charge three has the identical situation and it’s sadly not been fastened right here.

For a health tracker whose central characteristic is about getting you off the sofa to do extra vigorous exercise – seemingly open air – that is baffling. It critically hampers how helpful the tracker is for operating, biking and strolling and it not solely impacts issues like taking a look at your actual time tempo and coronary heart price nevertheless it’s additionally arduous to profit from these Spotify controls.

To add to the overall frustration right here, the Charge 4 additionally has a extremely aggressive auto hibernate, presumably to avoid wasting battery life. You get round 5 seconds earlier than it goes again to black and there’s no choice to override it.

In phrases of the info displayed, you may select from a small number of watch faces and prioritise what’s most vital for you. There’s nearly sufficient display actual property to current a good number of at-a-glance stats on the homescreen. However, if you wish to dig deeper into your knowledge you’ll have to fireplace up the associate app, however there’s a lovely simplicity to the just-enough overview of your day that the Charge presents.

For newcomers, the Fitbit app is by far the perfect at conserving health and well being easy. There’s plenty of element nevertheless it by no means feels overwhelming. By comparability, the likes of Garmin Connect and Polar Flow can really feel a bit daunting, tailor-made to extra ‘critical’ customers.

Fitness smarts: New strikes

Aside from that new GPS, one of many largest headline options is Active Zone Minutes (AZM). It’s Fitbit’s try to make use of coronary heart price knowledge to encourage us to maneuver with extra intent and depth and ditch the blunt instrument of chasing step counts.

You begin incomes AZM when your coronary heart price hits the fats burn zone and also you get double the credit score for the minutes you spend working increased up the guts price scale within the cardio and peak zones. The zones are personalised to you, primarily based in your age, resting coronary heart price and max coronary heart price and the Charge vibrates to let you understand if you’re transferring between the zones.

The preliminary weekly targets are primarily based on World Health Organisation suggestions that Earthlings ought to intention for 150 minutes of average or 75 minutes of vigorous weekly exercise with a view to reap well being advantages like decrease danger of coronary heart illness, stroke and early take a look at.

If you’re already extra energetic, you may as well set your individual targets. One tiny frustration right here is that upping your goal is completed one faucet a time. Raising it to 60 minutes per day, for instance, meant tapping a plus image 170 occasions.

Rewarding depth isn’t a brand new idea, Apple has been providing this for a very long time as a part of its addictive exercise rings and Garmin additionally tracks depth minutes on its health trackers. But Fitbit has a ability for presenting issues with a simplicity that resonates and that’s very a lot the case right here. The Active Zone Minutes idea is infinitely extra enjoyable and fascinating than step counting. For instance, strolling to the bus cease would solely ever earn you a set variety of steps, whereas with AZM you get rewarded not only for reaching the bus cease below your individual steam, however how arduous you’re employed getting there. It’s a strong motivator for anybody in the beginning of a health journey.

Beyond Active Zone minutes, the Charge 4 has lots of the fitness-tracking options you’d count on together with reminders to maneuver, step rely, energy burned, flooring climbed. There’s additionally a SmartTrack Automatic exercise detection characteristic that’s alleged to routinely begin monitoring a run, journey or stroll after you’ve been transferring for a customisable time period. Though we couldn’t get this to work in any of our operating or strolling assessments.

Beyond getting a sweat on, if you wish to handle stress, there are two and five-minute guided respiration periods you may entry in your wrist.

For ladies, there’s additionally feminine well being monitoring that permits you to log your interval, signs and get predictions for when your subsequent interval is due and your fertile window. You may also use the Fitbit Charge 4 to faucet right into a world supporting health and coaching content material resembling video guided exercises, coaching plans and challenges however most of that is locked behind a premium account paywall for a not-inconsiderable further £7.99 a month or £79.99 a yr.

Sleep monitoring: Deep and significant

Fitbit has an incredible monitor document for sleep monitoring and the Fitbit Charge 4 continues this legacy. You can dig deep into your nighttime patterns, clocking your drop off and waking occasions, complete sleep length and sleep levels (mild, deep and REM, waking).

That’s all wrapped up right into a nightly sleep rating. You additionally get your estimated blood-oxygen ranges because of the SPO2 sensor, that’s helpful for recognizing potential respiration points.

In phrases of accuracy, the autumn asleep and get up occasions felt comparatively dependable other than one evening the place the Charge had us asleep at 9.50pm once we had been undoubtedly up watching Money Heist till 11pm.

You can simply flip to sleep mode to keep away from notifications, vibrations and screen-light interruptions through the evening.

The Charge 4 additionally tracks restlessness and sleeping coronary heart price patterns however these further insights are locked behind the premium paywall.

Accuracy: Slightly off monitor

Let’s speak coronary heart price first. For a tracker with a headline health characteristic that’s tied to coronary heart price monitoring, accuracy of the optical monitor is vital. Though even on dearer gadgets, optical coronary heart price will be questionable.

We examined the Charge 4 up towards the gold-standard Polar H10 chest strap throughout runs, energy coaching periods, trampolining, walks and even doing the house responsibilities. While it coped nicely with decrease depth, actions with much less motion resembling strolling, once we upped the work price – and the motion – the Fitbit tended to learn a lot increased than the H10 in actual time.

It additionally tended to take for much longer to drop from increased BPMs throughout relaxation durations and on the finish of our periods, typically a number of minutes. We virtually actually earned Active Zone Minutes we didn’t actually deserve, with the Charge monitoring in increased zones for longer durations.

The new built-in GPS was a bit of hit or miss too. We put in 5 runs from 5k as much as 10 miles, together with a few walks, up towards the Garmin Fenix 6, a Stryd footpod and our Strava smartphone app.

The Charge 4 persistently tracked as much as 0.25 miles longer for the overall distance and common glances on the real-time tempo additionally confirmed that on many events it ran a lot quicker than the opposite gadgets.

Extra smarts: Music, funds and appointment prompts

Beyond the central health abilities, the Charge 4 is rather more restricted than the Ionic or the Versa nevertheless it does pack some smartwatch-esque options together with smartphone notifications (with fast replies for Android customers) and NFC-powered contactless funds by way of Fitbit Pay.

You additionally get Spotify music controls, although there’s no offline Spotify. You’ll want your cellphone and a Spotify Premium account. And in one other baffling transfer, you may’t truly management Spotify whilst you’re additionally monitoring a exercise.

One different new addition that the Charge three doesn’t have is Agenda – a calendar app that permits you to sync your Apple or Google calendar to view your upcoming occasions, although you’re restricted to appointments for the present and subsequent day solely. Oh and also you get climate.

Battery life: GPS drain vs features

Fitbit claims you’ll stand up to 7 days of common non-GPS battery life on a single cost or as much as 5 hours GPS battery life.

That’s considerably lower than one thing just like the rival Garmin Vivosport with 7 days and eight hours GPS battery life. And in our assessments, we discovered the Charge 4 truly gave us nearer to three.5 hours whereas figuring out utilizing GPS. And that undoubtedly considerably undermines having that further GPS.

If you prepare every day with GPS, you’ll be charging the Charge different each different day. It can be attainable to change off GPS and piggyback your smartphone GPS to increase battery life however this doesn’t add an incredible deal extra. Once you’re out of juice, the Charge 4 takes two hours to totally cost.

Fitbit Charge 4 Verdict

The Charge 4 is a intelligent, compact motivational health instrument with lots to supply anybody searching for some fundamental monitoring and assist. If you received’t need a watch, it’s among the many greatest health trackers you should buy.

It presents a wide range of insights and paints a digestible image of your total well being and health. And the Active Zone Minutes idea is massively addictive. It’s extremely simple to make use of and syncs seamlessly with the well-presented app.

However, it’s let down badly by a sub-standard display, some accuracy points and some personal targets – like Spotify controls that don’t work throughout a exercise. And these undermine what in any other case is a reasonably respectable tracker.