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Fitbit Charge 3 is here: Water resistant, Fitbit Pay support, and a working SpO2 sensor
Fitbit’s Charge lineup is likely the most popular fitness tracker series in history, and today we’re getting an upgrade. The Fitbit Charge 3 is here with a ton of hardware improvements, a sleek design, and new software features that might make you regret buying that bulky smartwatch.
Here’s everything you need to know about the new Fitbit Charge 3.
All-new, refined design
The Fitbit Charge 2 marked big design shift for the company — it looked more like a nice bracelet than an activity tracker. The Charge 3 is even better looking.
At first glance, you can tell this is a Charge device through and through. It sports the familiar aluminum case with interchangeable bands, but this time around it comes with a display upgrade. The Fitbit Charge 3 has a touchscreen OLED display that’s 40 percent larger and brighter than that on the Charge 2. Because it’s a touchscreen, you’ll be able to scroll through menus by swiping around the display — gone are the days of tapping your fitness tracker to change menus.
The display is still grayscale, and the on-device software has been completely redesigned from the Charge 2. There are new animations, menus, and Fitbit even included the Dashboard screen that first appeared on the Versa.
The Charge 3 has a 5ATM water resistance rating, which means you can go swimming or take a shower without taking it off your wrist. Fitbit was able to more easily make the Charge 3 water resistant likely because of the new inductive button on the left side of the device. This replaces the “normal” physical button that we saw on the Charge HR and Charge 2.
Hardware gets a big upgrade
The real upgrades are found in the Charge 3’s hardware.
The Fitbit Charge 3 retains Fitbit’s PurePulse heart rate sensor, but it’s supposedly been improved quite a bit. The sensor should be much more accurate at tracking your heart rate during workouts and provide more accurate calorie burn and resting heart rate.
There’s no built-in GPS, but it does support Fitbit’s Connected GPS feature. That means you can piggyback off your phone’s GPS if you don’t mind carrying your smartphone with you on a run. That might be the only blemish on the Charge 3’s spec sheet.
Fitbit also says the Charge 3 will be able to last up to seven days on a single charge.
The biggest news, though, is in regards to the SpO2 sensor. Like the Versa and Ionic, the Charge 3 ships with a built-in SpO2 sensor that’s finally being put to good use. Using this sensor, the Charge 3 will track your breathing patterns, which can help indicate early signs of health issues like allergies, asthma, or sleep apnea. This is pretty huge for a consumer-level fitness tracker. Sleep apnea is a very serious sleep disorder, and right now we don’t have a reliable way to track it at home.
Quick replies, female health tracking, and big sleep improvements
I already eluded to big on-device software changes, but Fitbit is adding even more features that make this one of the most feature-packed Fitbits ever. For starters, female health tracking, which debuted on the Fitbit Versa, will be available on the Charge 3. We’re just hoping Fitbit removes the period tracking limit that’s come to light in recent weeks.
Also, the Charge 3 will let you respond to text and app messages right from your wrist. The quick reply feature, which is currently only available on the Ionic and Versa, is coming to the Charge 3 (yes!). This means fitness tracker users won’t have to miss out on any smart features just because they don’t have a traditional smartwatch. iOS users are out of luck, though — quick replies only work if you have an Android phone.
Speaking of apps, the Charge 3 will eventually be compatible with full-fledged brand apps like on other Fitbit watches.
Also coming to the Fitbit app are new dynamic health insights about your activity, nutrition, heart rate, and sleep. Basically, if the Fitbit app notices any room for improvement, it’ll give you tips and tricks on how to improve those areas.
Finally, Fitbit is introducing a feature in the app called Sleep Score. Launching soon as a beta feature, the Fitbit app will give you a score based on your quality of sleep and how much sleep you’re getting. This will hopefully give users a more complete look at their overall sleep and what’s affecting it.
Pre-order now for $149.95
The Charge 3 comes in two different versions: standard and special edition. The standard one comes with all the features described above and costs just $149.95, while the special edition model costs $169.95 and comes with support for Fitbit Pay. I’m still not thrilled that you have to spend more money to use mobile payments — you’d think Fitbit would want as many people to use Fitbit Pay as possible. But, the option is there if you’re interested.
The standard Charge 3 is available with a black strap and graphite case or with a blue gray strap with a rose gold case. The special edition model comes with an exclusive white silicon sport band/graphite case or a lavender woven strap/rose gold case. You can also buy classic, sport, and Horween leather straps separately.
You can order the Fitbit Charge 3 right now from Fitbit.com, or from Amazon, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Target, Verizon, and Walmart at a later date.
Thoughts on the Charge 3?