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Fitbit Charge 3 Review – Great Value

The Fitbit Charge 3, offers exercise, sleep and heart rate tracking in a more lightweight design, with a large display and is waterproof. Find out if this is the right fitness tracker for you.

by Nicole on April 3, 2019
Fitbit Charge 3
Positives
  • Great value!
  • Accurate tracking
  • Automatic tracking for sleeping and working out
  • Great battery life
Negatives
  • Could be more comfortable to wear
  • Button takes some getting used to

When the Fitbit Charge 2 came out two years ago, it was a competitively sized wearable and the Charge 3 is much thinner and lighter compared to its predecessor. However, after just coming off the Samsung Galaxy Gear Active review it feels chunky and thick. It gets caught on my sweaters and jackets all the time and the waffle design of the special edition band isn’t very comfortable, especially at night. It will ride up my arm if I loosen it and I’ll wake up to adjust it.

You interact with the Charge 3 using its touchscreen and an inductive button on the side. The feedback this button gives you feels very premium. It took us a day or so for it to feel natural using the button, it doesn’t immediately feel natural to use. I was pushing it too hard and had to press it a few times to get it to register, but once I figured it out (it’s more of a light but firm touch that covers the whole button) it works well and it a fast way to navigate the tracker.

On the underside, the PurePulse heart rate monitor remains but it’s now joined by a SpO2 Pulse oximetry sensor. This makes the overall finish much rounder, so it’s more comfortable than the Charge 2 from two years ago, but it’s as seamless the wrist at the Gear Active.

It doesn’t help that the strap that comes with does feel a little cheap. A silicone strap (that you don’t have to fork out for additionally after purchase) would have made a world of difference.

The display is monochrome which isn’t the most modern when you look at the Fitbit Versa, but it does ensure the battery usage is kept to a minimum.

With a screen this size, it’s hardly surprising that you can’t download apps to the Charge 3 like you can with the Fitbit Ionic or Fitbit Versa, but Fitbit promises that later in the year you’ll be able to accept or reject calls from the device. You should be able to do quick replies “I’ll get back to you soon” Or “Sounds good”.

Activity Tracking

The Charge 3 is waterproof and will track your swims, it won’t do open water but if you’re doing laps it will keep track of how many and your cadence.

There is no onboard GPS but uses your phone’s, so if you want to know where you ran not just how far and how fast, you’ll need to bring your phone with you. It has an interval timer and can auto track running and walking which means it will pause when you stop and it will track biking, treadmill and weights.

You’ll also find an alarm, timers, weather and a relax feature built in.

All fitness tracking features worked very well, which is what we’ve come to expect from Fitbit over the years. As with the device’s predecessor, the Charge 3 tracks your exercise automatically, so you don’t have to start sessions manually.

If you start running, for example, it will detect this and begin monitoring. It also lets you start then pause a workout without ending a session.

However, one downside is that there isn’t any dedicated GPS on this tracker. It’s a shame, especially for runners, and even more so considering there are cheaper products on the market which are capable of tracking your location without your phone.

Sleep Tracking

Sleep tracking gives you a glimpse into your night with details on REM, light and deep sleep. As with any sleep tracking tech, you never truly know how well it has tracked you, but what the Charge 3 recorded for us seemed about right.

There’s also a silent alarm mode, which vibrates the tracker on your wrist to gently wake you without disturbing anyone else close by. It’s a nice idea but we’re not sure if it will be all that useful for heavy sleepers.

It seems accurate enough, I have gotten into a habit of only checking it when I feel like I’ve had a really good night sleep. If I’ve had a bad night sleep its 50-50 if I check it, sometimes finding out that it thinks I slept really well helps to motivate me, but when it confirms that I’ve slept terribly, it doesn’t help my day. This has nothing to do with the data, but everything to do with how the data effects my mood.  It’s not helpful to think you’ve had a really great night sleep only to findout that you’ve had 50% awake time and no deep sleep.

Battery Life

Isa from GadgetMatch

Fitbit estimates the battery life for the Charge 3 lasts for seven days. We agree with this but we never really got to the end of the week because we were using it to track run everyday or every other day. If we didn’t use any of the tracking features we think you’d get seven days on a single charge.

On average we found that we got around five-six days of use, which bad. You charge it roughly once a week.

In the box, you’ll find a proprietary charger. We would have preferred it used a more standard micro USB or USB-C connection charger so we wouldn’t need more cables. We like that they have gone with a physical connector so the charging is fast. You can get 50% in 45min which will give you 3 days of use. With such long battery life, it’s possible that you can pop it on the charger when you shower a few times a week and you’ll be able to charge it up without having to give up sleep tracking to charge at night.

Personalization

Fitbit Charge 3 has Fitbit Pay support, but you’ll have to opt for the Special Edition to be able to use the payment service.

You’ve got the choice of a woven material in purple with a rose gold case, or a perforated white sport band with a graphite case if you opt for the ‘Special Edition’ device, while the standard Charge 3 comes with a black classic band and a graphite case or a blue-grey classic band with a rose gold case.

If you choose the special edition of the Charge 3 you’ll also get an extra black classic strap thrown in, but whichever tracker you choose you can also buy different straps separately.

 

 

Rating
Design / 7.5
Performance / 8
Battery Life / 9
Software / 8
Editor's Choice / 8
Hardware / 7.5
Display / 7
Fitbit Charge 3

The Fitbit Charge 3 is for those that want to keeping active and on top of their exercise, but aren’t so much into working out that they’d consider themselves fitness fanatics. If you're an avid runner you should get a running watch. The Charge 3 is for someone who wants to track their daily step count, and exercises regularly wants to track it. If you’re very serious about your workouts you should consider a Garmin. But this is a device that is work out first, fashion and daily functions second. Fitbit is a better blend of daily wear but you’re lacking the granular level tracking that will show you daily progress rather than general progress.

If you’re looking to figure out which wearable is right for you, we’ll be launching a series asking this very question shortly. For now here are some articles from the Mobile Geeks team about getting fit:

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