The Charge 3 takes with it everything that was outstanding in Charge 2 and adds a few more. The swim proof design, longer battery life, a better UI and smarter notifications are a few to mention.
It also includes Fitbit’s new SpO2 sensor, which has been inactive since the Charge 3’s initial release but is activated recently. This brings to you a way to measure the Estimated Blood Oxygen Variation readings, which are otherwise only available on more expensive Fitbit devices like Fitbit Versa 2. This new feature can detect health conditions like sleep apnea.
The Charge 3 was launched at a competitive price of 20,000 INR. Fitbit also had the Special Edition version as an option for which 4,000 INR had to be paid extra.
Fitbit Charge 3 key specs
• Waterproof up to 50 metres (pool and ocean)
• Up to seven days battery life
• Swim tracking
• 24/7 activity tracking
• View Smartphone notifications
• Respond to notifications (Android only)
• Fitbit Pay support (Special edition only)
• Works with iOS and Android (Windows compatibility is coming soon)
Fitbit Charge 3: Design
Fitbit has been working on formalizing its design language over the last few years. That means hexagons, octagons and a lot more angles. The Charge 3 follows this trend, but to its favor. The tracker looks fine with the sufficient screen size and a band that is spot on size.
Fitbit trackers come only in one size even though various band sizes are available. But the core of the tracker comes in the same size. Fitbit Charge 3 has a display that is 30% larger than Charge 2.
Fitbit has done a good job in trying to hide the bezels. All these together has made the notification reading and skimming across the UI more convenient. The number of accidental presses has decreased on Charge 3. Charge 3 is not entirely a fitness tracker. There are a few smartwatch features included in it as well.
The bigger display ensures easier reading of notifications and fitness related data. Also it fits well; it is comfortable to wear for sleep tracking. The side button on Charge 2 is missing on Charge 3. Instead of that, a small dimple is added to the left side of the tracker and that functions as the haptic button which works perfectly.
Fitbit Charge 3: Health and fitness features
Fitbit has not given up on the market for those people who want to track fitness but do not wear smartwatches, are still stuck with analogue watches and do not use watches at all. For such people Charge 3 is a boon with its focus only on fitness.
Charge 3 supports a range of fitness activities like running, swimming, cycling, treadmill and strength training. It can track the number of steps, calories and sleep. Honestly, a lot of things available on Versa are present on Charge 3 as well. The one thing missing on the watch is a GPS. You may have to use your phone connection to access GPS on Charge 3 to record your data on your movements. There are a few other limitations too.
It does not support offline music and has no LTE connectivity. With all these, it is clear that your runs are impossible with a Charge 3 if you do not have the smartphone. The automatic workout detection on Charge 3 is quite accurate; especially for swimming and running.
The sleep tracking of the Charge 3 is pretty good. Fitbit offers the best sleep tracking platform out there. The Charge 3 has all the sensors and data to maximize accuracy and insights. The only problem is that sometimes the device takes some time to realize that you are awake.
You may need to move around a bit with the tracker on for it to realize that you have woken up. Since the initial release of the tracker, it is the sleep tracking that has got the most updates. In addition to Sleep Stages, Fitbit has added Sleep Score.
Sleep Score is an easier and more understandable sleep rating on a scale up to 100. A score of 70 is considered fair, 80’s is good and 90’s is excellent.
According to Fibit, it is seen that the majority of users have sleep averaged between 72 and 83. Sleep Score makes it easier to analyze sleep by quantifying sleep and sleep trends. Another valuable addition to Charge 3 is Estimated Oxygen Variation which finally makes use of the SpO2 sensor included in Charge 3. Charge 3 is the first Fitbit device to get this sensor.
When Charge 3 was launched, SpO2 sensor was not activated and was mentioned that it would be turned on eventually. But the truth is that it took over a year to get activated. The SpO2 sensor which can detect blood oxygen levels when you are asleep, sits alongside the optical heart rate monitor.
High variations in the readings can detect underlying sleep conditions such as sleep apnea. Since Fitbit has not received FDA clearance, the device does not make a diagnosis of the condition but if there is any major variation in the blood oxygen level during your sleep, it will alert you to contact the doctor.
The insights are neatly presented. If your Sleep Scores are poor, the app will give you tips to make it better. Setting features like bedtime reminders will feed into the insights to help you build consistency in your sleep.
Fitbit Premium service is something new added to the Charge 3. The cost of this service is 800 INR for a month and 8,000 INR for a year. Subscribing to this service will unlock deeper insights into your Sleep Score such as the sleeping heart rate as well as details on how your Sleep Score is calculated.
This also brings you wellness reports, video workouts in the app and custom challenges. Such elaborate sleep data may not be needed for most people but for those who need to keep an eye on it, this will be an interesting upgrade.
Fitbit Charge 3: Smart features and UI
Charge 3 appears to be doing its best to impersonate a smartwatch especially with improvised notifications. The larger display of the screen is taken advantage of here. The Charge 3 can display notifications from the third-party app as well and you can set it in the Fitbit app as per your needs.
The screen is big enough to comfortably read text messages. Swiping the screen down on the main clock face will drag the notification tray down. Fitbit Charge 3 lets you scroll through the history of missed calls, calendar updates and messages that you may have missed.
Swiping up the screen will bring you the day’s fitness progress including your number of steps, distance travelled and if your phone is synced to the tracker once you wake up, you will even get information on how long you slept at night. There is good news specific for women and that is menstrual tracking is now available on the new health dashboard.
Fitbit has quick, readymade messages for incoming messages for Android users. This feature is available on Fitbit Versa and Ionic as well and it works just fine. But if you are an iOS user, it is not something that you will miss majorly.
There have been a few tweaks on the Fitbit companion app on iOS and Android since the tracker’s first launch. The main dashboard has changed from a tile layout to a scrolling list and here you can see most of the important information about your health and activity.
This update has given it a neater and refined look. The Female Health tracking can also be added here. Unfortunately, you cannot input tracking data from the tracker itself.
Fitbit Charge 3: Battery life
As promised by Fitbit, Charge 3 delivers seven days of battery life. This is in fact a couple of days more than Charge 2. If you are not someone who overuses it for exercise, the battery will deliver a seven days performance.
This is Fitbit’s biggest win against the Apple Watch. This is one of the advantages of not including a built-in GPS which drains battery heavily. And this long battery life is also something that helps in effective sleep tracking in Charge 3.
Fitbit Charge 3: In the landscape of wearables – and the future
The Charge 3 which was originally released in 2018 is one of the best fitness trackers out there, even in 2020. The wealth of sensors, efficient features and the new update that is SpO2 sensor make it outstanding.
If you are not into smartwatch and fitness tracking is your aim, then Charge 3 is the one you should go for. But if you are okay with a smartwatch and in the same price range as Charge 3, you can go for Apple Watch 3 or Versa 2. But in the category of fitness tracker there is no argument that Fitbit Charge 3 is the best.
- SpO2 sensor
- Detects health conditions like sleep apnea
- Works with iOS and Android
- Comes only in one size
- GPS function missing
- Sleep tracking unresponsive sometimes