If you’ve been looking for a new fitness tracker and have had your eye on the bestselling (and our fave) Fitbit Charge 2, we have some bad news for you. The Fitbit Charge 3 is now available for preorder and it’s even better than the predecessor. (Which is only bad news because it means you probably won’t want the Charge 2 anymore.)
At first glance, the Charge 3 seems to stay true to the style of the Charge 2. There are a few key differences, however. The Charge 3 is a bit thinner overall, which means it will be less bulky on the wrist. Additionally, the new Charge boasts an aluminum body and Gorilla Glass 3 screen.
The screen is actually larger on the Charge 3 and it’s primarily touchscreen only. The resolution is improved and, though it’s still black and white, it has greyscale for a more refined look.
That larger touchscreen and redesigned interface ensures a better experience with the Charge 3 overall. There is an inductive button, but this is essentially a home button and that’s it. The bulk of usage occurs on the display itself — which has 40% more active screen area versus the Charge 2.
The Charge 3 lets you do more on the device, like setting goals (previously only available via the app) and interacting with notifications and incoming calls.
Borrowing functionality from the Versa, the display allows a swipe from the clock to get to the dashboard. There users can see several types of stats, such as steps, distance traveled and so on.
The Charge 2 is no slouch: It has step and distance tracking, sleep tracking, multi-sport mode for automatic exercise detection, and estimated calories burned.
The Charge 3 builds on that foundation, adding on a better heart rate sensor and an SpO2 sensor (the same one on Fitbit’s smartwatches). The sleep tracking is enhanced, and Fitbit has plans to continue to update this feature for even more comprehensive data. But the most exciting addition is the Charge 3’s water resistance, which makes the device swimproof to 50 meters and adds on swim tracking to the lineup.
In the latest edition, the Charge boasts a 7 day battery life (up from 5 on the Charge 2), though that will fluctuate depending on usage.
There’s still no onboard GPS, but both the Charge 2 and 3 connect to GPS via smartphones for real-time pace and distance when you run or ride outside. A new goal-based exercise mode provides more customization options and tracking for specific workouts or over time. Run Detect, available on Fitbit smartwatches, is also included.
The Charge 3 includes Fitbit’s latest technology and data via Female Health Tracking, which gives users the option to track things like ovulation. There’s also a Special Edition of the Charge 3 which has a fancier silicone or woven band (plus the traditional black one) and the ability to make NFC contactless payments through Fitbit Pay. More apps are available now and will be available in the future.
If you’re looking at the Charge 2 versus the Charge 3, you probably fall into one of two camps. One, you’re considering an upgrade from the Charge 2, or two, you’re wondering which to buy. Let’s break those two down.
First, if you have a Charge 2, you will see some big improvements in the functionality of the Charge 3 but the feel of the device on your wrist will be very similar. The water resistance of the newest model is very appealing, and if you work out a lot, you will likely be pleased by the upgraded sensors and fitness features. If you are ready to replace your device and it’s within budget, we don’t see any reason not to upgrade.
If you’re in the market for a fitness tracker and you don’t already have a Charge, the only real benefit of buying a Charge 2 is the possible discount. We expect to see the 2 discounted over the next few months at various vendors. However, it really isn’t much more to get the Charge 3 (its starting price matches the MSRP of the 2 at $149.99) and you get a lot more in terms of features. If you have no need for water resistance or the better fitness tracking, you can save yourself a bit of dough with the Charge 2. Otherwise, spend a little extra on the 3.
We’ll be reviewing the Charge 3 more and putting it up against some other popular trackers in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!