WE REVIEWS- Fitbit, Fitness Trackers, GPS watch

Fitbit Charge 4 Review: It’s As Good As It Gets.

Namrata Sona

16 April, 2020 - 8 MINUTES READ

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As good as it gets for the fitness tracking band The Fitbit Charge 4 is the newest fitness tracker from Fitbit. Charge 4 comes with GPS and a new focus on heart rate monitoring.

Fitbit Charge 4 is the most advanced fitness tracking band from the company that makes the best fitness trackers. This means, by default, Charge 4 is the best tracker available to buy at present.

The key features of Charge 4

• Step counting

• Heart rate monitor

• Sleep tracker

• Built-in GPS

• Blood Oxygen tracker

• 7-day battery life

• Fitbit pay

• Notifications

• Spotify control

• VO2 Max tracker

• Workout tracking modes

Fitbit Charge 4: Design

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The body of Charge 4 is the same as that of Charge 3 and no changes have been made in this regard. It is still decent looking and comfortable to wear, though it could have been a tad thinner. There are a variety of cheap Charge 4 bands for you to pick from. But there are a few gripes to discuss as well.

The same body carried over from Charge 3 brings the same screen as well to Charge 4. This is not a pleasant succession. When Charge 3 was introduced in the year 2018, the 60×100 pixel touchscreen did its job adequately. But in 2020 that touchscreen is just basic. It is bland, pixilated, dull and hard to read in bright surroundings. It does not have always-on features and the wrist raise action has to be pretty deliberate which is a bit of a letdown. The touchscreen navigation works well.

The haptic button on the side will switch on the screen, lead you to the home screen and allow you to resume or pause workouts. Overall, the design of the band is good enough and has a buckle that is safe enough. It is water resistant up to 50 meters and has pool-swimming support features.

Fitbit Charge 4: Battery

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Like Charge 3, the battery life in terms of basic use is around seven days on a single charge. Battery is something Fitbit could have worked on with the two years they had at hand between Charge 3 and Charge 4.

Fitbit Charge 4: GPS, running and workouts

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All new things in the Charge 4 are with sports tracking. The Charge 4 can track running (GPS), biking (GPS), swimming, treadmill, outdoor workout (GPS) and walk (GPS) by default. This is mainly because the Charge 4 can hold only up to six shortcuts to workout modes on the device. You also have the liberty to delete a sport and then replace it with another one of your choice.

A range of sports from HIIT, circuit tracking, spinning, weights and golf are there to choose from by going to Fitbit app and choosing Account> Charge 4> Exercise Shortcuts. There you have to swipe left to delete a sport and then replace it with another one of your choice that is available in the list. The workouts that are supported by GPS will measure distance, pace, speed, time and heart rate. The workouts such as, say, weights will get time, calories and heart rate but not rep counting or any other specifics. The Charge series always had running metrics in it.

But previously, it required a smartphone for GPS support. This had always affected accuracy of the measurement and depended on where the phone was kept. Now with the built-in GPS, the tracker can do it alone. The runs are recorded in the Fitbit app and the metrics are presented well. The split times per kilometer or mile and the heart rate zone are all displayed there.

Fitbit Charge 4: Heart rate

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The accuracy in heart rate measurement of Fitbit Charge 4 is solid during runs. But it is a huge let down during high intensity workouts just like all the other optical heart rate monitors. The band was not able to measure accurately when there was rapid rise and fall in heart rate. It could not cope with the rapid surge in heart rate.

Active Zone Minutes

Fitbit’s SpO2 sensor in Charge 4 measures the blood oxygen. You can see the information logged in the app, in your sleep analysis under the option, Restoration. The heart rate is a major focus of Fitbit Charge 4, more than its predecessors. Charge 4 has Active Zone Minutes included now. It has replaced the Active Minutes which had a target of 30 minutes a day.

The reason behind this is pretty evident. According to the recommendations of the World Health Organisation and American Heart Association, it should be 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise.

The heart rate zones are used to award these minutes to your goal. Your one minute on the fat burning zone, will award 1 minute to your target. Previously, these targets were not differentiated. Active people doing HIIT workouts were rewarded the same as those who did a brisk walk.

But now, if you do more intense workouts or get into Cardio or Peak zones, you get 2 minutes awarded for every minute you spend on that intensity of workout — which makes sense. There are a few issues that affect these though. The explanations and implementations in the device are not brilliant enough to introduce people to new goals.

To find your weekly progress you need to go to Active Zone Minutes on the dashboard, choose Week, and then swipe to the left on the graph. On Charge 4, the Active Zone Minutes metric says X of 22. 22 is the closest whole number when 150 minutes of weekly exercise is divided among 7 days. It sounds a bit clumsy and it is unsure how easily people will follow it.

Fitbit Charge 4: Fitness tracking and sleep

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Charge 4 is the top fitness tracker out there because Fitbit data is more compelling than most of its rivals. A simple visit to the dashboard will give you all your data. While the Apple Watch Activity rings are the best in giving you daily goal visuals, Fitbit is good at displaying your progress over the weeks and months as well.

While the current day is displayed at the top with data like how much you have exercised, your workout and resting heart rates and your weight, water and food intake. You can see the progress over time.

For example, sleep is shown as a part of seven days, not in isolation. The corresponding graphs are pretty clear. Sleep tracking is one of the best and one of the few that has added awake time into it. Your sleep is judged more harshly than the other devices.

Tossing and turning during your sleep will not earn you rewards. It gives you an overall score of your sleep. If you have Fitbit Premium, you can see the break ups in the metrics — Time Asleep, Deep and REM time and Restoration — that calculate your total sleep score. Fitbit works on improving the quality of your sleep more than any other device.

Even though it is really difficult to say how accurate the scores are without a sleep lab, the numbers can be affected with the effects of alcohol and late nights. It has a specific female health tracking app, so the menstrual cycle can be tracked in good detail.

Fitbit Charge 4: Smartwatch features

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The one-inch screen of Charge 4 does a decent job in displaying notifications from the paired smartphone. Alerts on calls and text messages, calendar updates will all be notified in the band. But the reason behind omission of notifications from WhatsApp is beyond our comprehension.

Fitbit pay is available as well but has inadequate support for banks. But it certainly has got most of the big banks in the U.S. There is dedicated support for controlling Spotify music playing on any of your devices. But you cannot store music. In the settings, you can enable the Spotify app which comes pre-installed and to access it, all you have to do is sign in.

Once this is done, you can control playback by selecting songs within a playlist, skip forward or backward and can also control from where the music is played from a list of Spotify Connect devices on your network.

However, the let down here is that you cannot control music when your workout metrics are running. The one time you would actually want to control music in your Charge 4 will be during your workout and that access is denied. Also, it works only on Spotify Premium and any other service gives you no control over music.

Fitbit Charge 4: Value for money and rivals

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You definitely have a gamut of smartwatches in approximately the same price range like the Fitbit Versa 2 at 22,000 INR, Apple Watch Series 3 at 24,000 INR or an Amazfit GTS at 13,000 INR.

The Fitbit Inspire HR offers a more simplified experience, still with a good sleep tracker but lacks exercise tracker, blood oxygen monitor and GPS. The Xiaomi Mi Band 4 is a better looking, cheaper band but does not have GPS and the app is not too great.

But comparing the feature and its performance, it is the two devices from Garmin that can actually compete with the Fitbit Charge 4 — Garmin Vivosmart 4 with no GPS and Garmin Vivosport with its dated GPS.

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  • Advanced fitness tracking
  • Water resistant
  • Built in GPS
  • Gauges progress of past months
  • Value for money
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  • A bit bulky
  • Bland and dull display
  • No always on feature
  • Battery could be better
  • Inaccurate HR at times