The Fitbit Charge 3: Our First Look

By | November 12, 2018
(Last Updated On: November 12, 2018)

Fitbit, the company behind Fitbit Charge 3, is widely known for its line of excellent fitness trackers. However, if you add smartwatches into the picture, Fitbit somehow lags behind.  The company has been ranked third when it comes to market share in the wearables industry for several quarters now, next only to Apple and Xiaomi. Fitbit’s sales, however, has been slowly declining.

The lack of new devices is part of the reason why Fitbit is lagging behind.  The company did not come out with updates to its most popular products.

Fitbit Charge 3: What to Expect

The Fitbit Charge 3 comes two years after the Charge 2 was launched.  The Charge 3 is set to be available in October, with a $149.95 price tag (Check latest rates here!).   There is a planned special edition for the Fitbit Charge 3 that will feature Fitbit Pay and more band choices, such as a purple woven band and a white sports band.

Will the Fitbit Charge 3 power the company to the top?

Design and display

If you already own the Fitbit Charge 2, then you would be familiar with the Fitbit Charge 3.  A lot of the design elements from the Charge 2 are here, but Fitbit changed some details to make the new device more elegant looking and more comfortable to wear.

The Charge 3 is much thinner than its predecessor and includes softer edges and angles so that it would fit comfortably on your wrist.  Aside from the comfort, the snugger fit also helps make the heart rate tracking more accurate. The new Charge is also very lightweight, so you could probably forget you are wearing it.

The Fitbit Charge 3 uses aluminum for its body, and you can choose between rose gold or charcoal black.  It does not have any pressable buttons on the face. Instead, you interact with the device using the full touchscreen.  Fitbit opted to use a black-and-white display for the Charge 3.

Lastly, Fitbit claims that the battery on the Charge 3 will give you seven days of operation before you have to recharge it.  That is two full days longer than the rated battery life of Charge 2.

Fitness tracking

The Fitbit Charge 3 includes some of the fitness tracking features that you would find on high-end devices.  You get round-the-clock heart rate tracking, guided breathing, pre-set workouts, and others. You will also love the swim tracking that Fitbit added on the Charge 3.  Furthermore, you now have access to 15 different exercises, and you can set goals right on the device itself. For example, if you want to burn 1,000 calories by hiking during the weekend, you can key in that goal, and the Charge 3 will vibrate to let you know you have reached your goal.

You can also enjoy female health tracking with the Charge 3, allowing you to know when to expect your next period.  Furthermore, you can get sleep tracking, complete with REM, deep and light sleep, and other data.

Connected features

The Charge 3 is both a smartwatch and a fitness tracker in one device.  While it functions foremost as a fitness tracker, you will enjoy the smart notifications on the Charge 3.  It also has apps such as weather, timers, and alarms. If you have an Android smartphone, you will be able to use pre-written messages to reply to text messages.  These are limited to standard stuff, but it still is an excellent feature to have.

Fitbit is planning to add more  features

Fitbit promises to add more features to the Charge 3, such as the ovulation tracking, which would tell you when you are fertile.  The company is also coming up with the Sleep Score, which will keep track of your breathing and pulse rate while you sleep. This will give you an idea of how well you are sleeping or if there are issues you should know about and address. Fitbit is also working on new features that would let you use your Charge 3 to accept or reject phone calls right from your wrist.

How The Fitbit Charge 3 Compares with Others

When talking about the Fitness Charge 3, you will always find yourself comparing it with its predecessor, the Fitbit Charge 2, as well as with other similar devices, such as the Garmin Vivosmart 4.

Fitbit Charge 2

We have already touched on how the Fitbit Charge 3 differs from its predecessor.  The Charge 3 is swim proof and offers swim tracking that the Charge 2 does not have.  They both have the same design philosophies, but the Charge 3 has a more premium feel with its aluminum material rather than the stainless steel you see on the Charge 2.  Then the Charge 2 is also chunkier and heavier.

The Charge 3 sports a more prominent display and has a better display resolution than the 2nd generation Charge.  It also has a fully functioning touchscreen replacing the old cycle and tap display on Charge 2.  Furthermore, the Charge 3 has better health tracking features than the Charge 2, and it now allows you to interact with your notifications.

If you own a Fitbit Charge 2 now, you will love the Charge 3. Should you upgrade to the latest Fitbit Charge when it does come out?  You should know that these devices have very similar looks, functionality, and features.  The Charge 3, however, has a more premium feel, higher water resistance rating, and a few added features that you might need.  But if you do not want to swim, or you have no use for female tracking, you would do well if you stayed with Fitbit Charge 2.

How does the Fitbit 2 compare to the Fitbit One? Read here!

Garmin Vivosmart 4

The Vivosmart 4 is smaller and narrower than the Fitbit Charge 3, but it has roughly the same-sized active area.  Both trackers also sport monochrome touchscreens and buttons that are not visible on the watch face.  Other similarities between these two devices include the heart rate sensor that works with blood oxygen levels to come up with information on how well you are breathing in oxygen while sleeping, a 5 ATM water resistance rating, and a seven-day battery life.

The Vivosmart 4, however, has some features that you won’t find on the Charge 3.  For one, you cannot control the music from your phone with the Charge 3.  It has more colors for the metal accents: rose gold, light gold, midnight, and silver.  The Vivosmart 4 is $20 cheaper, as well. (Check latest rates here!)

What You Would Like About the Fitbit Charge 3

Fitbit Charge 3 is an excellent fitness tracker, and it helps that it is the best looking of all Fitbit trackers to date.  It does all the stuff you want your fitness tracker to do, such as count your steps and keep track of the number of calories burned. It has a connected GPS, too.

More than that, however, you get swim tracking, sleep monitoring, and a 24/7 heart rate monitor, among other things.  It can quickly detect the workouts you are trying to do and could automatically start logging and gathering more accurate data.

What Could Be Better

We are still wondering why Fitbit did not upgrade the Charge 3’s display to something more colorful.  Vivovit 4 and other similar trackers already use color displays.  Also, the new swim tracking feature is not as full-featured as dedicated swim tracking devices.  You can get the number of strokes you made on the Charge 3 itself.  You can also check out the time and pace of your laps by looking at the numbers on the Fitbit app.  Furthermore, you cannot download apps to your Fitbit Charge 3 so you would need to rely on the stock apps that are already included on the device.

A more significant flaw might be the lack of an onboard GPS on the Charge 3.  This is another difficult decision on Fitbit’s part because cheaper devices already allow you to leave your phone when you run.  The connected GPS you have on the Charge 3 would mean that your location data will only be accurate for as long as you have your phone with you.

Fitbit Charge 3: First Impressions

The Fitbit Charge 3 has a good set of features and more premium look than most other fitness trackers out there.  However, its lack of an embedded GPS and color display will make those who want a top-of-the-line fitness tracker think twice about buying it.  Nevertheless, if you are a Fitbit fan, you will like the improved fitness features and you will like the ability to interact with your notifications.  With an introductory price of around $150, this device is a fitness tracker that can pass off as a smartwatch rather well.  So you can get a fitness band that also doubles as a basic smartwatch without having to pay too much.

Additionally, Fitbit is continuously improving on its app and devices, promising some more functionality and features in the future.  All in all, the Fitbit Charge 3 looks like a solid buy on paper, and we can expect people to snatch it up when it does become available later in 2018.

Looking for a great fitness tracker? Read my buying guides here:

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