Fitbit Charge 4 on long-term test: Good features, but battery life with GPS is an issue

Wristband wearables have appear a very long way, and these days we anticipate them to give GPS, coronary heart amount checking, alarms and a vary of handset connectivity attributes. The £129.ninety nine/$149.ninety nine Fitbit Charge four has all of these, plus a blend of other attributes, some of which Fitbit calls ‘apps’. You can pick out to exhibit or not exhibit these wristband apps, which involve a contactless payment wallet known as Fitbit Pay out, on the product by earning choices in the Fitbit smartphone application (iOS or Android). Pay out £149.ninety nine/$169.ninety five for the Unique Edition and you get a woven back again wristband fairly than a rubbery one particular. I have been applying the Charge four for several months, and give these observations as a observe-up to Matthew Miller’s April overview.

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The Fitbit Charge four (£129.ninety nine/$149.ninety nine) delivers coronary heart-amount monitoring, built-in GPS, aim-based mostly exercise modes, h2o resistance, slumber checking, notifications and on-band apps.


Photographs: Fitbit

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The common wristband can be changed with colourful or woven choices.


Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The over-all layout is acquainted to anyone who has a past Fitbit Charge product: an elongated touch screen a one facet (touch) button on the left edge of the Charge four (if worn on the suitable wrist) and a detachable wristband that’s very easily changed with colourful choices. The Charge four arrives with two wristbands and I discovered the compact one particular was wonderful for me. All but the biggest of wrists should really be accommodated.

The gray OLED touchscreen is big and you navigate close to it applying the facet button and a blend of screen sweeps and taps. It truly is fairly easy to get applied to how items get the job done. Tapping on the clock experience toggles through metrics like methods, length, and coronary heart amount. A vary of faces can be set displaying distinct choices of metrics, plus time and day, by using the Fitbit smartphone application. Sweeping suitable to left provides up numerous wristband apps that have been enabled in the smartphone application.

Essential action monitoring performs wonderful. You can notify the smartphone application your ordinary stride lengths for both running and walking, and it shares this with the Charge four, which can then change paces into length. It truly is not excellent, but I have constantly discovered Fitbit devices to be fairly exact when tested on measured distances, and that stays the case with the Charge four. 

The Charge four will immediately detect when you are running, biking, on a treadmill or walking, and it is h2o resistant to the extent that you can swim for up to 50 metres wearing it devoid of adverse impact. If you’re critical about cross-coaching with these forms of pursuits, then you may want a far more innovative product that can produce a increased vary of metrics. But if you’re just seeking to do a certain amount of methods or address a certain length, then the Fitbit four performs well, like issuing alerts when you arrive at your preset targets each working day.

With a coronary heart amount watch on-board, the Fitibit Charge four can do intriguing items like evaluate your resting coronary heart amount, set action zones and report on these, and — new for this product — give a report of Active Zone Minutes. This is a calculation based mostly on age and resting coronary heart amount, and the notion is to arrive at a aim of 150 minutes a week in your Active Zone. It truly is pretty a intelligent notion for people applying a Fitbit to burn up calories or drop body weight. Just ambling close to is much less practical in this regard than going a little bit speedier, and earning your coronary heart get the job done a little bit more challenging. As your resting coronary heart amount lowers, the Fitbit changes its target minutes, so in principle there’s constantly a related aim to intention at. Comprehensive reporting complete with graphs is out there in the Fitbit smartphone application.

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Of all these metrics I discovered the resting coronary heart amount data notably valuable. I have viewed from past Fitbit use how my coronary heart amount fluctuates if I have a cold or fever, and how it falls as I get fitter, rising as my health wanes. These metrics can help men and women keep track of their progress together a health trajectory.

The slumber monitoring is also valuable. I like to continue to keep an eye on the several hours I expend asleep, as well as checking my slumber top quality to make positive I’m not small-shifting myself. The Fitbit application has some properly introduced graphics displaying over-all slumber several hours and intervals of restlessness. If you genuinely want to weigh in with the metrics, the Fitbit application presents you a slumber rating based mostly on the top quality and period of slumber, with a rating this sort of as ‘fair’ or ‘good’ for each evening. 

As for the supplemental attributes, I failed to hassle with the Spotify controls, Fitbit Pay out (a new attribute with the Charge four), the weather conditions application, or notifications. My handset is the go-to position for this performance, but I can see how some end users may possibly uncover them valuable. What I like a whole lot is the silent, vibrating alarm, which is sturdy sufficient to wake me, but much too delicate to wake an individual else.

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The Charge 4’s cost cable is fairly small, and fiddly to interact.


Image: Fitbit

The battery is rated to last for seven days offered you are not applying GPS, in which case it really is only superior for five several hours. This fundamentally rendered the GPS unusable for me on very long weekend walks, even if I commenced with it fully charged. That’s a disgrace, as GPS is a huge offering place for the Charge four. I discovered the cost device to be a little bit of a fiddly in good shape, and I had to double-look at that it was in position correctly. Also, its cable is pretty small, which intended my normal desktop cost station was just a minimal uncomfortable to use. Extended expression this would likely be pretty an challenge.

Total, the Fitbit Charge four has some outstanding attributes and is a superior action up from the Charge three, whilst the Fitbit application shows a whole lot of pretty intricate data in an obtainable way. Keen sports men and women will want a longer-long lasting battery for GPS use and far more granular metrics, but as a health tracker for typical wellbeing the Charge four does incredibly well.

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