After years of trying, I know this much, I can’t use smartwatches. I have a slim, tiny wrist and I can’t deal with the bulk of smartwatches. While discussing this with some friends, one of them suggested I check out the new Fitbit Charge 4. I’ve seen the Charge series around and just figured it wasn’t as highly spec’d as most smartwatches.
Well over 60 days later let me say this, I stand corrected. The whole point of the Charge 4 experience is for people like me who don’t want the large size a smartwatch comes with, but all the features and at an affordable price. The Fitbit Charge 4 is slim, light weight and comes in at Dh699. There are definitely some sacrifices but most I was glad to make.
Fitbit Charge 4
Body, Design and Display
If you’ve seen one Charge device, you’ve seen them all. The Charge 4 is exactly the same size and design as its predecessor. I guess Fitbit decided to go down the path of ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’, when it came to the design on the Charge 4 and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
The device is sized at 35.8mm x 22.7mm x 12.5mm and weighs barely anything. This is the first thing I fell in love with for the Charge 4. Wearing it day and night, you forget it’s on your wrist and that’s just great!
The screen on Charge 4 is a back-lit black and white OLED which isn’t what I hoped for but it’s not as major drawback. I wasn’t impressed with its legibility under the harsh Dubai sun as it was hard to see the different options. However, the device does give you all the essential information you would require when outdoors, and syncs with your phone. The touch is easy, and you adapt to it quite easily.
The strap on the basic Charge 4 is the exact same as it was on the Charge 3. The Special Edition Charge 4 comes with a much nicer woven strap and I think you should shell out a bit more for it.
Sensors and Activity-Tracking
The Fitbit Charge 4 comes with a whole range of tracking services. The first major upgrade is that the Charge series finally comes with GPS tracking services. So, if you need to go outdoors to workout and want to leave your phone behind, you can.
The Charge 4 also comes with automatic run detection too. The device can track your run and location but takes a little bit to do so. Most times I noticed that the Charge took about 4-5 mins (after starting your run) to start tracking your location.
Active Zone Minutes
The heart-rate monitor functionality on the Charge 4 is the same as its predecessor but now you’ve got what Fitbit calls ‘Active Zone Minutes (AZM)’ for heart-rate activity measurement. AZM are based on you spending 150 minutes per week in three zones; namely fat burn, cardio and peak intensity. The concept is the biggest addition to this year’s Fitbit and is based on World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations. Now the concept is great and provides a really good way to check your activity week to week, but it does come with one caveat. While working out, it does buzz on multiple occasions as you keep switching between the zones – especially during HIIT workouts. This tends to be highly distracting and I wish it could be switched off on occasion. AZM is said to be coming to other Fitbit devices over the next few months.
The Fitbit Charge 4 has six workouts that can be accessed via shortcuts on the device. This menu can be adjusted on the app, but I wish the option to select my top 6 preferred workouts were on the device. For someone like me who has varied workouts, it can be annoying to open the app and change the selection every second of third day.
Fitbit Premium is the paid membership for the app with exclusive workouts and training sessions. Currently the premium features are free for 90-days when you set up a new account, but I didn’t find myself using it extensively. This has nothing to do with the premium offerings but more to do with the fact that as a person who has had her own workout program preferences for over 5 years, I found it difficult to transition to their workout plans.
For someone beginning their journey into fitness, this might be a huge bonus as Fitbit ties up with some huge personal trainers in their Premium offer. The Premium version also provides daily tips to sleep better, improve your daily diet and so much more.
It’s the personalization that you’re paying extra for and that might just be worth it for someone on the starting line of their fitness journey.
I was pleasantly surprised with the period tracking option available under Female Health. To begin with, you need to answer a few questions regarding your menstrual dates and health for the AI to be able to predict your next few cycles.
Once you’re past this, a calendar opens up with pink and blue markings. The pink displays your next predicted cycle and blue denotes the fertility window. The app also highlights your ‘Ovulation Day’ in a darker blue, and could be helpful for anyone trying to conceive.
To log a period, all I had to do was press the first date on the calendar. The app adjusts your cycle based on your information provided during set-up. In order to elongate or cut short the predicted date, the dates have to be pressed and moved right or left.
The app also allows you to record your flow intensity, symptoms, fluids, mood and few other details per day of your cycle as well as during the fertile window. All this information is accessible to you at anytime on the app and proves to be great if you want any sort of macro information on your menstrual cycle.
Sleep tracking is another perk you get with the Charge 4. You get detailed insights into your sleep including duration, depth, cycles and much more. If you just want a quick glance, you’ve got your sleep score on a daily basis to show you that you’re on track.
Fitbit Pay is also available in our region, which is a pretty neat addition for the times you leave the house without your phone for a walk or run and decide to make a last-minute pick up at the supermarket. Notifications for calls and messages and basic control for Spotify were definitely tweaks I liked.
Should you get a Fitbit Charge 4?
The Fitbit Charge 4 does exactly what it is pitched for. It’s a small, affordable and easy to use fitness tracking device for people who just want a slightly deeper insight into their health and fitness. Active Zone Minutes is a neat innovation on Fitbit’s part and it helps you see your workouts and fitness goals in a new and much more readable light.
The Fitbit companion app gives a varied amount of information, in concise readable formats. The app is effortless to navigate and toggle through. Whether it’s your workouts, your sleep, steps and much more, it’s all easily accessible on the app.
There are definitely things that can improve in the next iteration of the Charge but the Charge 4 has shown that Fitbit really does listen to its audience and takes action appropriately. If you were considering getting one, you’ve definitely got my go-ahead.