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Fitbit Charge 5 buyer's guide: Everything you need to know
Fitbit may have more powerful wearables in its stable nowadays, but the Charge line has a dedicated following that can’t be ignored. (Not everybody wants a big smartwatch-like screen.) The latest entry, the Fitbit Charge 5, brought advanced health-tracking features to a wearable that will fit everyone’s wrists. Here’s everything you need to know about the Fitbit Charge 5.
Fitbit Charge 5 at a glance
Another reliable fitness tracker from the Google-owned company, the Fitbit Charge 5 launched on August 25, 2021. Whereas the upgrade from the Charge 3 to the Charge 4 was nominal, the Charge 5 added many hardware and software features that make it worth the upgrade.
Also read: The full Fitbit buyer’s guide
The device features an AMOLED display, advanced sensors that can track your heart rhythms and stress, and a Daily Readiness Score that will attempt to clue you in to whether or not you should be exercising or resting on a particular day.
All that being said, you’d better like the idea of paying for a Fitbit Premium membership. Unfortunately, many of the device’s top features are locked behind Fitbit’s infamous Premium paywall.
Yes, the Fitbit Charge 5 is compatible with iPhones. However, you’ll get the best experience by pairing it to an Android phone.
Is the Fitbit Charge 5 worth buying?
All in all, the Fitbit Charge 5 is a fantastic device that frequently tops our list of best fitness trackers. It’s also a great choice for losing weight with your Fitbit. Its bright, full-color OLED display immediately makes it aesthetically and functionally better than most of the competition. It also has features that most other trackers don’t, including an EDA scanner.
If you’re new to the Fitbit ecosystem, you’ll find that Fitbit devices are also backed by a very solid companion app. That being said, you’ll also find yourself facing the decision of whether or not to pay for Fitbit Premium once your free membership expires.
With some of its best features reserved for members only, the device’s pricing is a little iffy. Not to mention, the competition in this category is steep and the Fitbit Charge 4 still making a great case. Whether the upcharge for premium features is worth the cost will be up to you.
Our verdict: Fitbit Charge 5 review
What’s new with the Fitbit Charge 5?
Let’s talk about aesthetics. The Fitbit Charge 5 fits squarely into the Charge family but adds design elements from the company’s higher-end Sense and Versa 3 devices. It still has a stainless steel case and removable straps, but all its corners are rounded to make for a much sleeker wearable.
Learn more: Fitbit Sense buyer’s guide
It’s 10% thinner than its predecessor, which was already a thin device, and boasts up to seven days of battery life on a single charge. That last metric is impressive, considering it’s the first Charge device to come with a touchscreen AMOLED display. The display can get almost 2X brighter than the Charge 4’s grayscale OLED display, so outdoor visibility shouldn’t be an issue. Also, Fitbit included an always-on display option for the first time, making the device function much more like a smartwatch than a traditional fitness tracker.
Of course, there are also a variety of bands to pair with the Charge 5. Fitbit offers silicone infinity and sport bands, nylon hook and loop bands, as well as Horween leather bands from its website. You can also swap out your device’s bands for third-party options of all kinds.
The headlining feature on the Fitbit Charge 5 is the company’s Daily Readiness Score. Using your daily activity, 24/7 heart rate data, heart rate variability, and sleep data from the past several nights, the device can attempt to tell you how “ready” you are for the day ahead. Should you really step outside for that long run? Or would it be more beneficial to rest?
Fitbit will inform you of its findings every morning, along with data on what impacted your score and suggestions on what to do on a particular day.
You'll, unfortunately, need a Premium membership to use Fitbit's Daily Readiness Score.
Fitbit’s Daily Readiness Score is a lot like Garmin’s Body Battery feature, which uses similar data to give you a Body Battery score from 0-100 every morning. However, there’s one big difference between the two features: Fitbit is, unfortunately, locking its Daily Readiness Score behind the Fitbit Premium paywall, while Garmin’s Body Battery is free on all devices that support it. That means, after your free trial to Fitbit Premium is over, you’ll need to pay $10 a month to access the feature again. Boy, is it getting expensive to own a Fitbit device.
Don’t miss: Is Fitbit Premium right for you?
The Fitbit Charge 5 also boasts two sensors that arrived first on last year’s Fitbit Sense smartwatch: electrodermal activity (EDA) and electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors.
The EDA sensor measures your body’s stress levels by applying small electrical charges to your skin to see how they interact with your body’s sweat levels. Research shows that electrodermal activity is closely linked to our emotional state and can be a good indicator of stress.
The Fitbit Charge 5 packs an ECG monitor to measure your heart rhythms on-demand throughout the day. If you have a heart condition, this sensor can be invaluable for detecting early signs of AFib. (Although, you should still absolutely see a doctor if you sense an issue with your heart.)
Related: What is an ECG and why does it matter?.
Alongside the device’s launch, Fitbit added 25 high-energy workouts from Les Mills to Fitbit Premium. All 25 workouts are available for all Premium subscribers. Fitbit also added 30 pieces of content from Calm, which are available in seven languages. Calm can be a pricey platform on its own ($70 a year or $400 for life), so if you’re a Calm fan, this might be a cheaper way to gain access to the service.
Fitbit Charge 5 vs Charge 4: What’s the difference?
The Fitbit Charge 5 is the direct successor to the Charge 4, so as you can imagine, the two trackers share many features. They both offer 20 exercise-tracking modes and automatic activity recognition for select workouts. Each offers standalone GPS and connected GPS, 24/7 heart rate monitoring, and set off alerts when your heart rate is too high or too low at any point throughout the day.
The Fitbit Charge 5 has a 5ATM water-resistance rating. It can track various swimming exercises.
Both devices offer Fitbit’s robust suite of sleep tracking features as well. They’ll track your sleep stages throughout the night and give you a sleep score in the morning based on how well you slept. Smartwatch features are limited, but that’s to be expected on smaller fitness devices. They both support Fitbit Pay (no special edition model needed) and smartphone notifications. You can also respond to messages from your wrist if your Fitbit is paired to an Android phone.
The Fitbit Charge 5 can control music playing on your connected smartphone, though it does not support onboard music storage.
The biggest differences between these two devices are aesthetics, advanced health sensors, and access to Fitbit’s Daily Readiness Score. Because of design changes, the devices also do not share interchangeable bands. Finally, the latest model also drops the clip-style charging cable in favor of a simpler magnetic design.
What are some good Fitbit Charge 5 alternatives?
Not keen on Fitbit’s latest tracker? Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives worth considering.
- Fitbit Charge 4: The Fitbit Charge 4 has many of the same features as the Charge 5, although the grayscale OLED is a pretty big downgrade. However, it can regularly be found on sale.
- Xiaomi Mi Band 6: Looking for something a little cheaper? The Xiaomi Mi Band 6 is our current pick for the best cheap fitness tracker you can buy. It has fantastic battery life, an accurate heart rate sensor, and a big, colorful display — all at a fraction of the price. We suspect Xiaomi’s Mi Band 7 to be equally attractive once it becomes globally accessible.
- Huawei Band 6: The Huawei Band 6 has a big, bright display, plenty of sport-tracking modes, and all-day SpO2 monitoring, which is something not found too often at this price point.
Where to buy the Fitbit Charge 5
The Fitbit Charge 5 Fitbit is priced at $179.95 from Fitbit.com but can often be found on sale for much less. Its sub $200 price point sounds like a fair deal for the device, but it’s a notable price hike from the Charge 4, which debuted in 2020 for $150.
The latest color options include Blue Steel/Platinum, Black/Graphite, and Lunar White/Gold. There’s no special edition model on this generation, so all are created equally.
As with all new Fitbits, the company offers a free six-month trial to Fitbit Premium (new users only). After your trial period is up, Fitbit Premium costs $9.99 a month or $79.99 a year.