The Fitbit Charge 5 is a potent fitness tracker that incorporates the top qualities of all of Fitbit’s previous products. It has the built-in GPS of the Fitbit Versa 3, the sleek design and brilliant AMOLED screen of the Fitbit Luxe, as well as the stress-measuring software from the Fitbit Sense.
It’s a significant improvement over the Charge 4, and if you’re starting to take your exercise seriously (whether it be running, working out in the gym, or a combination of both), it’s a great option and a step up from the less sophisticated, more affordable Huawei Band 7 or Fitbit Inspire 3, both of which lack GPS. Anybody interested in HIIT or spinning will find the Charge 5 to have especially outstanding heart rate monitoring.
You’ll benefit from smartphone call alerts so nothing vital ends up going to voicemail while you’re not working out, as well as notifications that can be read, viewed on your phone, or rejected with a single touch when you’re not working out. Fitbit Pay supports contactless transactions, and you’ll get frequent prompts to get up, stretch, and take stock of your day’s accomplishments. It functions as a decent fitness watch that has been compressed into a band.
The Fitbit Charge 5 has ‘human body inspired’ smooth forms and soothing hues, adhering to the same Biologic Industrial Design language as the Sense, Versa 3, and Inspire 2. From the Charge 4, which had a considerably more angular form, it’s a significant shift.
The Charge 5’s stainless steel casing, which replaces the Charge 4’s plastic one, gives it a more opulent appearance than its predecessor. It comes in three different color combinations: steel blue with platinum stainless steel, lunar white with soft gold stainless steel, and black with graphite stainless steel (pictured here). A perforated strap made for greater ventilation during sports is among the additional bands that are available for purchase separately.
These are significant improvements, but the Charge 5’s display has received the most attention. The new watch, like the Fitbit Luxe, features a full color AMOLED display in place of the Charge 4’s monochromatic memory-in-pixel screen. One of the main distinctions between this tracker and the Fitbit Inspire 3 is the bright, clear, and sharp display, which also has smooth scrolling and animations.
But, unlike other fitness trackers we’ve tried, the Charge 5’s display woke up consistently whenever we lifted our wrist to check the time. While there is an always-on option that makes it simpler to read the screen at a glance, we found it superfluous in normal usage.
The Fitbit Charge 5 doesn’t have any physical buttons, but it does include an oval sensor for the ECG and EDA applications on either side of the watch’s casing. The optical heart rate sensor and the charging connections are both located on the watch’s back. It connects to the Charge 5 magnetically and is the same charger used by the Fitbit Luxe. It needs a USB-A cable, which is unfortunate for Macbook owners.
Fitbit has essentially cracked the formula for how a fitness tracker should operate, which is to wear it every day so it can develop a full picture of your health, sleep, and activity habits. You have many reasons to put on the Charge 5 every morning since it is not just more appealing and pleasant to wear than the Charge 4.
The improved color display quality makes it much simpler to view smartphone alerts. When you get an SMS, WhatsApp message, or other alert, a little text fragment will appear; you may touch it to read it, open it on your phone, or ignore it. With a short touch of the screen, you can easily accept or reject incoming calls; the user interface is straightforward and clear.
We also liked how menstrual cycle monitoring is prominently shown rather than hidden beneath a number of submenus.
The Charge 5 allows contactless payments using Fitbit Pay, much like the Charge 4. This has strong backing in the US, where it collaborates with several institutions, but less so elsewhere. For instance, Google and Apple are the two major participants in the UK’s payment market.
The Charge 5 does not, however, include any music-related tools. A tiny gadget like this wouldn’t be expected to have storage for offline music listening, but the Charge 4 has the useful function of letting you manage your Spotify playlist from your wrist. At the very least, we would have loved to be able to manage the built-in music player on our phone, stopping and skipping songs like you do with gadgets like the Garmin Lily.
With normal usage and sleep monitoring, we discovered that the Charge 5 lasted around six days between charges. But, if you decide to utilize the screen’s always-on mode or use GPS often, your battery life will be drastically reduced.
While the new Fitbit Sense 2 and Versa 4 provide up to 41 workout modes, the Fitbit Charge 5 can monitor 20 different sorts of exercises, which is an outstanding variety. Numerous other devices make the claim to monitor 100 or more variables, however these figures are exaggerated by modes that all measure heart rate and time in the same manner but using various names.
Five training options may be shown at once in the Charge 5’s interface, which is plenty for most users to keep their favourite or often used workout modes. You must enter the Fitbit mobile app, access the device’s settings, and make your changes there in order to modify them. Also, you may alter the order in which the different workout kinds show so that it is simpler to select your preferred exercise.
Swipe the screen twice to the left to begin tracking, then slide up and down to choose an activity before tapping the screen once to get started. You can switch between information like calories burnt and distance traveled mid-workout by pressing the screen, and you can suspend tracking by clicking twice. While using a fitness tracker without physical buttons, there’s occasionally a worry that you could mistakenly end an activity in the middle of it.
Runs, walks, bike rides, and various gym activities may all be automatically tracked by the Charge 5. This performed well in our testing and turned out to be substantially more accurate than the Charge 4, which sometimes misclassified activities as elliptical exercise.
Much to our delight, the Charge 5 did not record steps taken while riding, which has been a problem with several other fitness trackers in recent years.
The Fitbit Charge 5’s heart rate tracking during exercises was really accurate, much like the Fitbit Luxe. As you switch between heart rate zones, the watch buzzes to alert you. While it didn’t pick up changes as rapidly as a chest strap heart rate monitor, the difference was negligible.
Although GPS records were somewhat less precise than those from a specialized running watch like the Garmin Forerunner 55, they won’t be as problematic if you’re a beginner runner who isn’t trying to improve their race timings.
It’s disappointing that after you’ve completed working out, you can’t see more of your exercise statistics on the screen. You may see the time remaining in your session, the number of calories burned, and statistics like laps completed (if applicable), but the smartphone app is where you’ll find more detailed information.
In September 2021, Fitbit unveiled the Fitbit Charge 5, along with a new function for Fitbit Premium subscribers that would assist you in managing your energy levels and scheduling your day appropriately. The Readiness score is based on your activity levels, heart rate variability, and sleep habits and provides more information about your degree of alertness than simply a simple number value.
The Fitbit mobile app will recommend workouts you might do to maximize your day if the number is high. The app will suggest relaxing activities like yoga if your readiness score is low so you can keep exercising without wearing yourself out.
The Readiness score wasn’t available when we tested the Fitbit Charge 5 in September 2021, and the Fitbit app instructed us to check back soon for an update. When we’ve had a chance to test it, we’ll update this review to reflect that. In order for consumers to take advantage of this before their six-month free trial of Fitbit Premium ends, it is hoped that this will happen sooner rather than later.
While the ECG app wasn’t yet available at the time of testing, using it won’t need a Fitbit Premium membership. Nonetheless, we were able to test the Fitbit Sense-portable stress-monitoring function in the Charge 5. This gauges alterations in your skin’s electrical conductivity, which is impacted by adrenal activity. Your stress levels increase when more electrodermal activity (EDA) responses are recorded during a test.
Swipe left to see the menu option, press it to activate it, then put your fingers and thumb on the case’s edge sensors to take an EDA reading. Three minutes of prescribed stillness will pass before the Charge 5 vibrates to signal the end of the scan. You’ll be asked to choose an emoji to represent how you’re feeling right now, and you may add reflections using the Fitbit app.
Physical and emotional stress can have an impact on EDA scores, but encouraging you to sit quietly and calmly can help to counteract this, and asking you to add subjective feelings and reflections can help over time to build up a more complete picture of your emotional state and establish links between events and stress levels.
The Charge 5 does not, however, include guided breathing exercises, which we thought was fascinating. While there are several meditation and mindfulness programs accessible via the Fitbit mobile app, this is something we’ve come to expect from the majority of contemporary fitness trackers.
While the Charge 5 sometimes started monitoring sleep when we were getting ready for bed but hadn’t yet slept off, overall, sleep tracking readings were mostly consistent with those from the Oura smart ring, which is now our top-rated sleep tracker. We’ve discovered that most fitness trackers placed on the wrist can’t measure variations in heart rate as precisely as a device worn on the finger, where blood vessels are located closer to the surface.
The Fitbit Charge 5 frustratably comes close to becoming the ideal fitness tracker, much as the Fitbit Versa 3 did. Nevertheless, it falls short of that distinction due to the absence of buttons, features (the breathing exercises and Spotify controls, not the “coming soon” ones), and the £40 price hike.
But, the Fitbit Charge 5 goes above the sum of its parts in several respects. I’m still inclined to refer to the Fitbit app as the best in its class for people who hesitantly want to become fit but aren’t ready for the metrics extravaganza of Garmin Connect despite the new design and beautiful screen of the device.