Fitbit’s new Charge 4 looks a lot like the Charge 3, but it has stepped up its fitness game with onboard GPS and better activity tracking. Here’s everything you need to know.
The Fitbit Charge 4 has everything you need in a fitness tracker for under $200. It finally includes a built-in GPS to track outdoor workouts independently. It has better training tools for athletes, and it fits most of the same smartwatch features into a slimmer package than the more expensive Fitbit Versa 2.
It’s my favorite Fitbit yet. If you’re looking for a fitness tracker that behaves a lot like a smartwatch without the extra bulk, the Fitbit Charge 4 might be the perfect fit.
Learn more in my complete review below
Product: Fitbit Charge 4 Fitness Tracker
Warranty: 1 year limited
My rating: 8.5/10
Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I may earn commissions on purchases made through links in this post.
Details and Specifications
- Battery type: Lithium-polymer
- Charge time (0-100%): Two hours
- Radio transceiver: Bluetooth 4.0
- Battery life up to 7 days, or up to 5 hours with continuous GPS use.
- 3-axis accelerometer
- Optical heart rate monitor
- Vibration motor
- Saves seven days of detailed motion and heart rate data, minute by minute
- Saves daily totals for the past 30 days
- Measures heart rate data at 1-second intervals during exercise tracking and at 5-second intervals all other times.
- Water-resistant to 50 meters.
Charge 4 Features
There are plenty of fabulous wearables for athletes with way more fitness tracking capabilities than the Charge 4, but they’re not the most fashionable. Charge 4 has a sleek, understated design. If you’re familiar with the Charge 3, the new version doesn’t look much different — it’s just the tiniest bit bulkier on your wrist.
The screen displays in black and white only, and it’s nearly half the size of a traditional smartwatch, such as the Apple Watch, and it also does away with physical buttons. Navigating the settings on Charge 4 is a combination of using the touchscreen and pressing the tracker’s left side.
The touchscreen isn’t as responsive as some other smart devices, and it takes a few seconds to light up when you raise your arm to wake the screen. Like Charge 3, it’s also hard to see the screen in direct sunlight.
The basic Charge 4 is available in three different colors with silicone sports bands. However, the Special Edition or SE version also comes with a woven band option for $20 more. Straps are easy to swap out, and if you’re upgrading from the Charge 3, you’ll be able to use those bands on the newer tracker. There are also a bunch of third-party strap options available to customize your look.
Charge 4 is comfortable to wear throughout the day. You can also wear them to bed. Like other Fitbits, it also tracks your sleep. I won’t go as far as to say that it’s comfortable to wear in bed, but at least I didn’t want to rip it off in the middle of the night like my CPAP mask.
As a basic fitness tracker, the previous Charge models already checked most of the boxes: measuring steps, calories, floors climbed, heart rate, and distance (using your phone’s GPS). But that wasn’t enough for more dedicated runners.
The GPS allows Charge 4 to map your route during an outdoor walk, run, bike ride, or hike without having to rely on your phone. You can also see a heat map of your course on the Fitbit app, indicating the intensity you were running based on your heart rate.
The Charge 4 tracks over 20 different activities, from cycling to yoga. It’s also water-resistant up to 50 meters like the Charge 3, so you can use it for swimming. You can program up to six exercise shortcuts on Charge 4, but you do have to choose them and sync from the phone app. You can also set it to track your runs automatically and set goals for things like pace, distance, or calories burned before you start each activity.
Active Zone Minutes
GPS is not the only tool for athletes. Charge 4 has added a new metric called Active Zone Minutes, which uses your heart rate zones to determine your workout intensity. The goal is to have 150 active minutes logged by the end of each week, but you can increase or decrease the target based on your fitness level.
A few years ago, Fitbit started breaking out heart rate data into training zones for each activity, based on age and weight. After a workout, you can log into the mobile app and see how long you were in fat burn, cardio, or peak.
The Charge 4 adds real-time heart rate zone notifications so you can take action during your workout. I see this as being a useful training tool if you’re looking to break your record for a race.
Charge 4 Battery life
The only downside about having GPS on the Charge 4 is that it’ll gobble up your battery a lot faster than on the Charge 3. Fitbit says the Charge 4 can last up to seven days on a charge, but I barely made it to day four before having to plug it in.
I didn’t mind having to recharge after four days, but if you’re looking to get the most out of your battery life (and are planning to use it at night), I would recommend turning off the GPS when it’s not in use. You’ll have to remember to do this after your workout. You can do this from the exercise shortcuts on Charge 4. Just swipe up from an activity that uses GPS, like running or cycling, and toggle it off.
Sleep tracking is a useful tool for me. I was anxious to see my stats the next morning. I have sleep apnea, and I knew that I didn’t sleep as well as I should have. Each morning, the Fitbit app gives you a Sleep Score based on everything from sleep duration to sleep stages, heart rate, and variations in blood oxygen levels, aka SPO2.
After a few nights of using the app, I confirmed what I had suspected. I received a failing grade for most nights. However, useful data motivated me to do something about my sleep apnea. My healthcare provider has told me about a new treatment for Sleep Apnea called Inspire Sleep. I’m excited about having the procedure done, and I look forward to testing my sleep again after the procedure.
The Fitbit sleep app also gives you advice on how to improve your sleep score, like keeping your bedtime consistent, regardless of how late (or early) it is.
Everyone can see the app’s information, like how much sleep you get and its quality, but Fitbit Premium subscribers get access to heart rate and blood oxygen data. This feature is beneficial for people who suspect they might have a more sleep-related severe condition like sleep apnea, such as me. IF that’s the case, it might be worth the extra $9.99 a month for a premium account.
Goes beyond being a fitness tracker
Charge 4 goes beyond health, and fitness tracking with a few smart features up its sleeve. It mirrors every notification you can get on your phone, whether you have an iPhone or an Android phone, but only Android users will be able to reply to messages with preprogrammed quick replies.
You still can’t store music onboard to take with you on the run, but if you’re a Spotify Premium subscriber, you will be able to use the Charge 4 as an essential wrist remote to pause and skip tracks. There’s no volume control, though.
It now includes a new agenda app and the existing timer, alarm, and weather apps.
You’ll be able to set up Fitbit Pay on your wrist and use the Charge 4 on any tap-to-pay payment terminal as the tracker now comes with built-in NFC (previously, you had to buy the special edition Charge to get Fitbit Pay). Sadly it still doesn’t have as many bank partners as Google or Apple Pay.
Fitbit Charge 4 Summary
Charge 4 does a lot, considering it’s mostly a fitness tracker. But you don’t end up saving that much compared to a smartwatch like Fitbit’s own Versa 2 (the regular Charge 4 is $50 less than the Versa 2, which only has connected GPS).
So the price alone is not reason enough to choose Charge 4. For me, it’s about getting everything Fitbit offers, including GPS, in a slimmer package than the Versa 2. Charge 4 is my favorite Fitbit to date.
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