Fitness bands, smartwatches, hybrid smartwatches and smart analog watches—the market has plenty of choices out there. So much so that the consumers are confused as to which is the best one for their wants and needs.
Those who know that they are looking for a no-nonsense tracker to help with their fitness goals, without the frills of a smartwatch, don’t need to look beyond the Fitbits and the Garmins of the world.
The latest in that line to be launched in the Indian market is the Fitbit Charge 5—a lightweight fitness band with a wealth of data and insights. The Fitbit Charge 5, most noticeably, brings a new design, a touchscreen AMOLED colour display and an ECG reader as an improvement to its predecessor. But, is all of that enough to warrant the maximum retail price of Rs 14,999? I’m here to give you the answer.
In its fifth generation, Fitbit has finally introduced an AMOLED colour touchscreen display on its most popular device as against the monochrome display on its Charge 4. Its main advantage is that it makes it much easier to see and read outdoors. Also, the display can be left on the always-on mode which means you need not raise your wrist when you just want to check time.
While the company may have removed Spotify support, a number of health monitoring features have been added which are much more useful. There is an Electrodermal Activity (EDA) sensor that tracks the electrical changes in your skin and also your body’s responses to stress. Then there is an Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) app that measures your heart's electrical activity.
The Charge 5, which comes with a metal case, is also the first in the lineage of Charge devices to have absolutely no buttons. To navigate, one just has to tap and swipe on the screen. It takes about a day or so to get used to that but it isn’t something that cannot be picked up. The one major irritant with the Charge 5 is that you need a pretty firm double tap for the screen to light up. Otherwise, you’ll just be tapping for ages before it lights up.
The Charge 5 is a fitness-focused band and it delivers on features that are crucial to any fitness tracker doing well in the market today. The primary reason consumers go for a fitness band is to get an accurate measurement of their daily step count. Sleep tracking is also becoming increasingly important. Stress tracking, a thing that a lot of competitors lack, is a useful feature on the whole.
The Charge 5 nails them all. It offers accurate tracking of steps, sleep and stress and displays all these stats in an easy-to-read manner on the tracker itself or the app.
AMOLED display—a game changer
Charge 5’s 1.04-inch AMOLED display is a treat for the eyes. The text is large and legible and the brightness levels make sure that one doesn’t have to squint in bright sunlight anymore. A good amount of text can be read at once—not that you’d want to use the Charge 5 to read your text messages and more. The viewing angles are satisfactory as well.
There are also plenty of watch faces that are bundled within the app for consumers to choose from. However, limited customisation makes it slightly disappointing.
Extremely Lightweight, Excellent Battery Life
During my review period, there were times when I forgot that the Charge 5 was on my wrist. Sometimes, I even forgot to take it off before stepping into the shower. I didn’t need to worry though as the Charge 5 is water resistant up to 50 meters. So, a splash here and there will not kill the tracker at all.
I wore the Charge 5 almost 24/7 during my review period and I didn’t once feel like my wrist was being weighed down. The Charge 5 is almost 10 per cent thinner than its predecessor and has rounded edges for better comfort. Furthermore, the tracker itself is made of stainless steel and its colour will complement the bands no matter which one you choose.
Lastly, its much-improved strap doesn’t irritate the skin like some of its predecessors did.
The Charge 5 promises an all-week battery life and, for the most part, delivers. This is impressive considering the number of improvements—colour display, higher screen brightness, slimmer design—that have been made. Mileage will vary with usage as has always been the case.
With the always-on display turned off, it comfortably lasted for a week before needing to hook it to a charger. By keeping the always-on display on, I got just about three days of continuous usage. When I continuously tracked a workout with GPS, the Charge 5 lasted for a good four to five hours.
Unique Daily Readiness Score
I talked about the wealth of data and insights that Fitbit has gathered over the years. All of that is being put to use with the new Daily Readiness Score that has been rolled out to premium subscribers. For instance, after a bad night's sleep, when you’re itching to work out but don’t know if it is a good idea, the app will help you out by suggesting whether you should work out or do a meditation session instead based on all the metrics available.
Fitbit’s Best Tracker So Far
If you need just the basics—step and sleep tracking—then there may be cheaper fitness bands that do a decently good job. What Fitbit’s Charge 5 offers goes beyond the basics with some added bells and whistles. There is built-in GPS, an ECG monitor, an EDA app, strong battery life and a lightweight and attractive design. There is also the wonderful AMOLED display that is legible even under the harsh rays of the sunlight.
For a fitness tracker, the Charge 5 from Fitbit gives you more bang for your buck when compared with the others that the company has to offer.
If you want a fitness tracker that does in-depth tracking that goes beyond just steps, sleep and basic exercise, some of the models that Garmin offers may be what you’re looking for. But, if you want a blend of form, function and aesthetics in a lightweight package, then look no further than the Charge 5 which works with both Android and iOS smartphones.
I have one other gripe with the Charge 5 and that is its price. At Rs 14,999, it is quite expensive and a lot of other smartwatches can be bought at that price. That being said, if you need a no-nonsense fitness tracker and you’re certain you want a fitness tracker over a smartwatch then wait for a discount and snag the Charge 5. There is no way you’ll be disappointed.