The Fitbit Charge line is the most popular fitness tracker series in history, and today we’re getting a new one. Fitbit has announced the Fitbit Charge 4 — a decidedly iterative upgrade to last year’s Charge 3, but with one big new feature.
Fitbit Charge 4 specs and features
You read the title, and you’re probably as happy as I am about it: The Fitbit Charge 4 has built-in GPS. Previous Charge devices have only come with connected GPS capabilities, meaning you’d need to carry your phone with you on a run or bike ride if you wanted accurate pace and distance metrics. Now, there’s no need for that. The Charge 4 will track your outdoor metrics much more accurately than before.
Now that there’s onboard GPS, Fitbit has added heat maps to the Fitbit app workout summary screen. When you complete a run or a bike ride, you’ll now see a heat map of your route that displays your workout intensity based on recorded heart rate zones for each leg of the route. For instance, your running route might show a red trail during the most intense part of your run, while a yellow trail will show less-intense parts of the run.
Fitbit seems to be out to fix all the complaints we had with last year’s Charge device. With the Charge 3, I was upset to see Fitbit upcharging users by $20 just to get access to Fitbit Pay, the company’s contactless payment system. Now that’s standard across all Fitbit Charge 4 models.
There’s still a special edition model of the device (and it still costs $20 more), but the differences are only aesthetic. The special edition model comes with a nicer reflective woven strap in addition to the standard classic strap.
Speaking of aesthetics, the Fitbit Charge 4 looks identical to the Fitbit Charge 3. It still has a small, monochrome touchscreen display, a single inductive button on the left side, 5ATM water resistance, and interchangeable straps.
Battery life is still the same as last year: up to seven days on a single charge. You can expect that number to significantly decrease if you’re using the GPS on a regular basis.
The Fitbit Charge 4 is launching with a new metric Fitbit is calling Active Zone Minutes. Essentially, this is Fitbit’s version of Google Fit’s Move Minutes and Heart Points in an attempt to gamify your fitness. You’ll earn credit based on each minute of moderate activity in the fat burn zone, and double the points for vigorous activity. The Charge 4 will use your personalized heart rate zones (presumably based on your age, weight, fitness level, etc.) to track which activities count as “moderate” and “vigorous.”
Like Google Fit Move Minutes and Heart Points, Active Zone Minutes are based on recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and American Heart Association (AHA). Active Zone Minutes will launch on the Fitbit Charge 4 and make their way to Fitbit smartwatches sometime soon.
Elsewhere, the Fitbit Charge 4 comes with many other fitness and health features that were present on the Charge 3. The new device will track your sleep and display those results as a Sleep Score in the Fitbit app when you wake up. Fitbit’s sleep tracking is rivaled only by Garmin’s in my opinion, and Fitbit’s Sleep Scores are genuinely useful for improving your sleep quality. Also, the Charge 4 will come with smart wake functionality, which will attempt to wake you up at the most optimal time based on your sleep cycle. You can also now set alarms directly from your wrist.
Fitbit is also touting Spotify support with the Charge 4, but it’s not what it seems. There’s no onboard storage for music. The revamped Spotify app for the Fitbit Charge 4 is only there to let you browse and control your your phone’s music, not actually play music from your Charge 4 to your Bluetooth earbuds.
Fitbit Charge 4 pricing and availability
Pre-orders for the Fitbit Charge 4 line begin today, March 31, on Fitbit.com, Amazon, BestBuy.com, and Walmart.com. You’ll be able to buy the devices in stores (depending on each store’s availability) Monday, April 13.
The standard Fitbit Charge 4 comes in black, rosewood, or stone blue/black and costs $149.95 — a particularly aggressive price point considering last year’s Charge 3 (without GPS) launched at the same price. The special edition Fitbit Charge 4 sells for $169.95 and comes with a granite reflective/black woven band as well as a standard classic band.
Fitbit’s Premium subscription service is also getting new integrations, many of which will help you stay motivated while you’re stuck inside and social distancing. Fitbit Premium already offers a handful of guided programs to help you improve your health, and the service is getting three new programs: strength training, gym cardio, and mindful eating. There’s also a new mindfulness program from Ten Percent Happier to help you stay calm and collected.
My favorite new feature in Fitbit Premium is Get Fit Bingo. You and a friend get a Bingo card, with each square dedicated to a certain goal. It’s your job to mark off as many squares as you can in a row before your friend. Social features are few and far between in some fitness apps, so it’s nice to see Fitbit continue to bring more to its app.
Fitbit is giving everyone a free 90-day trial to Fitbit Premium. If you’re a new user, you can sign up at the link below.
I wouldn’t blame you for thinking things are a little up in the air with Fitbit. Just a few months ago, Google parent company Alphabet announced plans to acquire the fitness company, though as of this writing the sale has yet to go through. While we’re still not seeing any major collaboration efforts between the two companies, Fitbit is at least launching a product it knows will be well received. Fitbit knows fitness trackers, and the Charge 4 seems to be another promising entry into the space.
We’ll have more in-depth analysis for you once we get one in for review.