Fitbit Charge 3 review: The only fitness tracker you need

Fitbit Charge 3

itbit is a name that needs no introduction. It virtually created the market for smart fitness trackers when it started selling some of these products in 2007, around the same time when the iPhone was launched. Since then its trackers have changed, they have become sleeker, they have become smarter and they have become more popular. Even now in 2019 when there are cheaper fitness trackers, say for example from companies like Huawei and Xiaomi, the Fitbit trackers are considered the gold standard, even if they cost somewhat more. It is this gold standard that the Fitbit Charge 3 is expected to meet.

Fitbit launched the Fitbit Charge 3 in India back in August last year and it went on sale in the country in December at a price of Rs 13,990. Now, Rs 14 grand seems like a lot of money for a fitness tracking device but the features and comfort that it offers make it totally worth the price. The Fitbit Charge 3 comes with a host of advanced fitness tracking features like automatic exercise detection, guided relaxation, period tracking — something that is going to be important for women — and heart rate tracking. And of course it comes with a host of other regular — but important features — like ability to survive in a swimming pool or a battery life that keeps going on for a week or so.

There are some flaws in the Fitbit Charge 3 but those are not the kind of flaws you can’t work with. For instance, just like its previous iteration, the Fitbit Charge 2, this one too doesn’t feature support GPS natively. To track your jogging sessions around the local park, it must be connected to a phone.

Comfortable design, boring display

Fitness tracking devices are often worn like a second skin, taken off occasionally when their battery is running low or when you are taking a bath. Not that you can’t wear a fitness tracking device in shower, most of them are water resistant, but it’s a hassle and you are anyway not exercising in your bathroom. And so, it is of utmost importance they are comfortable to the T. Many fitness tracking devices falter when it comes to design, which makes their prolonged use a tad difficult. But not the FitBit Charge 3. It is both, light in weight and comfortable to wear.

The Fitbit Charge 2 successor comes with an aluminium dial that is a bit sleeker than its predecessor, which makes it look more appealing. It has rubber straps that are comfortable to wear even during prolonged usage. The Charge 3 is also lighter than its predecessor, which featured a stainless steel dial. On the side, there is an inductive touch button that essentially acts like the home screen button in the older smartphones and it is used for activating the screen and navigating through the controls. Under the dial are some sensors, including the much-hyped SpO2 sensor, that measure various health-related parameters. Sadly the SpO2 sensor is not yet active because it is waiting for the right software support.

On the top is a monochromatic touch screen that seems a little out of place by its lack of colours and vivacity. I get it though. The greyscale screen is the reason why this fitness band has such a long battery life, but I still miss the colours. That beating scarlet heart when a fitness tracker measures your heart rate looks so cool, sadly the heart of the Charge 3 is all black and white.

A feature that I found particularly interesting when I was using the Fitbit Charge 3 was that it could automatically detect the kind of exercise you were on

While the display is large enough for the notifications to be read on the screen comfortably, it is painted in black and white, which makes the overall screen viewing experience quite boring. It also makes Charge 3, which clearly is on the expensive side of the fitness tracking devices, seem a bit less refined. Other than that, the screen works flawlessly. You can scroll down to check messages, scroll up to check your recent stats such as heart rate, steps taken, distance covered and calories burnt, and scroll right to get to the menu.

Another extremely useful feature of the Fitbit Charge 3 is its waterproof design, but more on that later. Overall, Fitbit Charge 3 is high on comfort, but it leaves you wanting for more, especially in terms of the display.

Precise and efficient

The Fitbit Charge 3 offers a bit of this and a bit of that. Meaning? It has Fitbit’s amazing fitness tracking features and some goodness of the smart watches. But there are also bits missing. For example, you can check your messages but you can’t respond to them (at least not on an iPhone), you can check weather and track your exercise but you need your phone in the vicinity to do so.

As mentioned before, the Fitbit Charge 3 comes with a host of advanced fitness tracking features. You can track your workout session – which includes running, cycling, swimming and weight lifting – and you can track all of this using the Charge 3. It even offers users ability to track treadmill jogging and outdoor jogging in different ways, because apparently these two exercises are different.

But here’s the catch. Fitbit Charge 3 sources the GPS capabilities from the connected smartphone. It doesn’t come with GPS on-board, which means ditching your smartphone during your workout session is not an option for you. While the mandatory smartphone presence is definitely a bummer, the accuracy and the details recorded by the Charge 3 make up for this annoyance. During the 15 days when I used the Fitbit Charge 3, I took it out for a run (more of a jog) several times and the results were fairly accurate and I encountered no glitch.

A feature that I found particularly interesting when I was using the Fitbit Charge 3 was that it could automatically detect the kind of exercise you were on. So, if you are participating in a triathlon where you have to complete a lap and if you run for 100m before hopping on to a bike to compete on a 2km long track, the Charge 3 will detect changes in your exercise automatically without you having to switch manually from one mode to another. On the flipside, while it is smart enough to detect the kind of exercise, it still needs your assistance in pausing or ending the session.

As you know by now, the Fitbit Charge 3 is waterproof, which means it can not only stand a couple of splashes of water but it can also survive if you take a dive. You can wear it while you are in shower. But this feature comes with a caveat. First, if you love to dive in a sea you may end up ruining your Charge 3. The reason is simple. First, it can withstand water only up to 50m and second, it is not meant to be used in salty water because Fitbit doesn’t mention it.

There are some flaws in the Fitbit Charge 3 but those are not the kind of flaws you can’t work with

Apart from tracking your workout sessions, the Fitbit Charge 3 gives you stationary reminder every time you forget to stand for an hour or so. With a subtle vibration, it essentially nudges you to walk around 250 steps. Apart from that it can also track your sleep cycle and periods and fertility in case of female health. I wore the Charge 3 for a couple of days during the night time and I found its assessment of my sleep cycle fairly accurate.

s far as the smartphone-like features that I was talking about earlier are concerned, you can receive or reject calls, set alarms using the Fitbit app, check messages and weather using the Charge 3. Pretty neat!

Long-lasting battery

One area where the Fitbit Charge 3 exceeded my expectations was in case of its battery life. The Fitbit Charge 3 takes roughly 2 to 2.5 hours to go from 0 to 100 per cent and once charged it can last anywhere between seven to a little over seven days when being used actively along with its fitness tracking features.

However, if you believe that winters are the time for fun (and watch Netflix over a bag of chips), and you use the Fitbit Charge 3 for most basic purpose which involves checking your step and calorie count along with your heart rate, it will give you a battery life that will anywhere between 10 to 12 days, which is great. In effect you will have to charge it once in a week, more if winters make you lazy.

Is Fitness Charge 3 worth buying?

One simple answer to this question is, yes. The Fitbit Charge 3 comes with a sleek new design that is classy and hard to miss. Pair it up with the right strap — there are available in several colours — and you will stop missing your watch for its design. Apart from being waterproof and comfortable to wear, the Fitness Charge 3 comes with auto exercise tracking capabilities, which makes using it a tad bit easier to use and fun. And the sleep tracking is a nice bonus, particularly considering that this is one feature that budget fitness trackers, for examples those selling for under Rs 10,000, either don’t have it or don’t work particularly well as this one aspect.

I would have liked to see a colourful display, but then that would have reduced its battery, and I would have liked to see the GPS it, which would have been another battery hog. But these features are nice to have and not essential. Essentially, as a good comprehensive fitness tracker, the Charge 3 works very well. It’s slightly priced at Rs 13,990, but as I said earlier totally worth it.