- An "if-aint-broke, dont-fix-it" design
- Backward compatible with accessories from Charge 3
- The GPS is a welcoming addition to a smartphone-less workout
- Good 7 days battery life as claimed if the GPS isnt used
- Spotify Integration finally on a smaller band wearable
- The money spent to get an accurate tracker makes it worth every penny and dime
- A little odd to see GPS on the Charge 4 over the Versa Series
- Fitbit OS on the band feels a little too slow
It goes without saying that Fitness wearables have definitely seen a spike among general consensus and brands like Fitbit, while they aren’t the most affordable for a good reason as they do offer good Fitness wearable as they have quite the history in making some good ones – like the Versa 2 we reviewed last year. This time, we received another wearable from Fitbit, the Charge 4 and what made this one interesting is that it now has GPS. After using it for 4 weeks – we are at our final verdict on should you buy this or skip entirely.
Look and Feel
Fitbit didn’t alter the design in anyway and has retained the looks and feel of the Charge 3 with the new Charge 4. You still get this module like piece where the Heart Rate monitor, a small display and the Fitbit logo on the front with a band that can be easily swapped for different sizes or different types which you can purchase separately from stores. Honestly, there isn’t much to get excited here. For what it’s worth, it does look amazingly simple and elegant – nothing too extra going on.
It has a secure fit around the wrist and the rubberized strap that it comes with feels alright and has no discomfort. This is a right material especially if you are using it solely for workout but as I mentioned earlier, they do have cloth straps to add a little more dash to the whole wearable itself. Its good that the Charge 4 doesn’t look or carry a boring look but rather allow user to switch it up. Removing the strap is easy as it uses a clip-on style where you can remove the strap with a press of a button and hot swap it. By default, the Charge 4 comes with two size straps – so, if you feel like your Charge 4 is a little too small, you can use the large strap to accommodate your wrist – which in my case I had to do that.
This is a department where it actually has changed by a lot, despite how identical it is to the Charge 3 in terms of design. Now, for starters you get all the goodness of what the Charge 3 had to offer: Sleep Tracking, Heart Rate Monitor, Goal Based Tracking and even the ability to track your swimming workout. It now comes with Spotify Integration and Active Zone. But the Charge 4 brings a whole new thing to the table and its something I wished the Versa Series had: a GPS Tracking capability, which means I can finally leave my phone behind – well not quite but still, I can do that and keep track of my lap.
As a Fitness Wearable
We know Fitbit is a Fitness first, Smart Wearable second and what I mean by that is how they focus a lot on the fitness aspect – which in fact they are good at and not so much on the Smart side – I’ll tell you why later.
I am not going to talk more on the features the band offered with the Charge 3 but instead focus on the newer features. The GPS is a welcoming addition and honestly, I couldn’t help it but to feel weirded out that my personal Versa 2 doesn’t have a GPS, but the Charge 4 has one. If you do look back at Fitbit’s lineup of products – the Charge 4 is literally the second wearable from them to have a GPS, the first one was Ionic. But that out of the way, the GPS is indeed a nice touch to the Charge 4. You don’t have to have your phone to know where you are located but instead rely on your wearable entirely. A swipe to the right, tap Exercise and run – set your preference and launch it. It does take few seconds to like get hold of your location and it’s something I faced with the Ionic when I used it and I have to say once you are done with your workout, you can see on your phone on the laps you have taken – in my opinion, it was impressive. But does that mean you can leave your smartphone at home and go for a run? Well, not quite.
I need my music as I work out and the band does not have a storage built right into it for you to pair your earbuds and listen. So, chances are, you will be running with your phones for music. By the way, it only works with Spotify Premium.
Active Zone Minutes –is a feature where your band will buzz to tell you that you have reached your target heart rate zones while exercising and in order for this to work, you will need the heart rate monitor – which it does have. This isn’t one of those annoying goals you need to hit every hour. The Active Zone Minute has a link to the AHA – American Heart Association. As a medical student, I can explain what exactly that is.
Now, American Heart Association has a guideline for adults for better health benefit and that involves either 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise a week or a little bit of both – this is an average number that the guide recommends you to do so. The higher, the better your health benefit is going to be. The Fitbit here, uses that as a guideline to make you have at least the minimum to have an active healthy lifestyle. There are different kind of buzzes the band gives: one buzz for Fat Burn, two for Cardio and three for Peak. It actually works especially when I take my random runs on the staircase or when I actually go for a run.
Truth be told, it is annoying, but it has been an essential motivating factor to my workout for a while now.
As a Smart Wearable
Fitbit OS in general has pretty much a restricted ecosystem. While pairing it up with your favorite device is easy, the customization is a little too limited and for the most part – you will be reaching out to your phone for replying text and sorts. As someone who does prefer the fitness first aspect, I am fine with the limited options to reply messages – and the thing is, that quick reply only works on android well because iOS is a lot more restrictive than you think.
What is nice of them to add is the Spotify integration, that is if you use the Premium version. It can’t store your favorite playlist on board as it doesn’t have the memory to do so nor you can pair your Bluetooth earbuds to it. What it does is: pair with your phone and act as a remote for you to change your songs from time to time or switch between playlists. I’d say this is a baby step, in the right direction. It did make me happy that I didn’t have to whip my phone every time to change a song – be it if its during working out or while driving. But what did raise a question was users who use Apple Music, Tidal or any service for that matter would not be able to control their music or audio and that’s a complete bummer if you ask me.
The Charge 4 does support Fitbit Pay but as of right now, only few countries have access to Fitbit Pay and that’s kind of a bummer as this could have creates a Contactless Transaction – but time will tell.
That’s pretty much all you get for the Smart Wearable. Its no surprise that you can do both right – its either you get the Smart side right or the Fitness side right. Fitbit’s option to work on the fitness side puts the band on the radar for an accurate tracker for workout and that’s what I would look for or what a real fitness freak would look for over a fancy watch face that shines every time you flick your wrist.
Question: Versa 2 or Charge 4?
Here’s a real question: Is the Charge 4 a good purchase over the Versa 2, because the Charge 4 is RM 728 and the Versa 2 is at RM 948 (Prices as of right now at Timekeeper). If you want the GPS tracking, go for the Charge 4 because it’s the only Fitbit to have and for that price tag, it’s a no brainer.
The Versa 2 on the other hand makes up for the lack of GPS with features to allow you to store music on to your smartwatch, have Alexa as your Assistant and voice control for messages. But either way, you will be needing your phone for one thing or another. You can read our review on the Versa 2, by clicking here.
For such a tiny wearable, the Charge 4 does have a lot going on – the features that we mentioned above but what really did catch our attention is the GPS capability because seriously, how many of you thought the Charge 4 is the one that gets the GPS capability. For the most part, it’s a great wearable and its hard to say no to because as someone who has emphasized that in a fitness wearable, its important to have accurate tracking and the Charge 4 does it right.
One thing it does need to improve is having a universal Music control instead of a proprietary Spotify Integration to accommodate every user who wants to take their music and their phone while they are going for a run. But if you close one eye on that, you are getting an amazing Fitness wearable with a good GPS in it.
Huge thanks to Fitbit Malaysia for sending us the Fitbit Charge 4 for us to review. Special thanks to our friend Bryan for loaning his Nikon D610 for us to do the product shoot.