Fitbit Charge 2 review
Fitbit has refined its Charge HR with an improved screen, custom bands and more tracking than ever before.
Fitbit may not have invented the fitness tracking market, but it has certainly carved out its own leadership position over the past few years. While Apple is focused on making the smartwatch happen with the Apple Watch Series 2, Fitbit has firmly focused on the fitness market to great success.
The most recent product to hit the Fitbit lineup is the Charge 2, a successor to the extremely successful Charge HR. With an immediately familiar weight and feel for previous Charge users, the Charge 2 features a massively improved screen that can display a whole lot more information.
Also new is the arrival of interchangeable bands for the tracker, allowing it to be comfortably worn at both the gym or at a formal business meeting. There’s also the addition of a new Relax setting to encourage users to take a couple of moments each day to breathe.
Fitbit Charge 2: Specs
The biggest improvements to the Fitbit experience, aside from the physical changes we’ve already mentioned, come from software boosts, both on the device and within the Fitbit companion app. But the spec sheet is still worth taking a look at.
|Fitbit Charge 2 Specifications|
|Band options||Classic, Luxe leather and special edition bands in different colours|
|Battery||Lithium Polymer, 5 days|
|GPS||Yes, via smartphone|
|Heart rate sensor||Yes|
Upsides: Why you’d want the Fitbit Charge 2
- Comprehensive coverage: The Fitbit Charge 2 is designed to be work 24/7, and Fitbit has obviously done a lot of work to make it as easy as possible to make that happen. The Charge 2 not only counts every step you take during the day, but automatically tracks your sleep and heart rate whenever the band is on your wrist. What’s more, if you forget to start actively tracking an activity, the Charge 2 is smart enough to detect you’ve been active and will automatically keep tabs on your workout for you.
- Intuitive user interface: The Charge 2 has a single button on the side to cycle through the device’s different menu options, with a tapping option to cycle through various screens on each page to get more information. This allows you to get a whole heap of information directly from your wrist, without having to pull your phone out of your pocket. On certain menus, like Activity tracking, a long press of the side button will activate tracking mode, which can activate your phone’s GPS mode for even more detailed tracking data.
- Automatic activity tracking: If you ever find yourself going for a walk, run or cycle – or even just playing a friendly game of soccer on your lunch break – and forgetting to manually kickstart the activity tracking on your Charge 2, the device will automatically do it for you. It doesn’t offer quite as many insights - your outdoor activities won’t have GPS data, for example - but it’s a great way to ensure you get the credit deserved for actually getting out there and moving your body.
- Tracking for multiple sports: While slapping a fitness tracker on your wrist has always made sense for walking, running or cycling, the fact that so many people around the world wear Fitbit trackers has meant that the company’s data scientists are now able to track a whole heap of other sports too. So now if you walk, lift weights, run, bike, do interval workouts, enjoy spinning classes, crush bootcamp, elliptical train, do yoga, play golf, hike, use a stairclimber, kickbox, hit the treadmill, play tennis, enjoy pilates, practice martial arts, run circuit training or just workout, you can track it on the Charge 2.
- Interchangeable bands: One thing that Apple got very right with the Apple Watch was the massive range of aftermarket bands, allowing you to take the core of the watch and match it to your style quickly and easily. Interchangeable bands aren’t new for Fitbit, but the range for the Charge 2 is extensive, with a premium leather band option complementing the classic band, and a special edition version with a textured body, all available in a range of colours.
- Battery Life: You’ll get about 5 days of use from the Charge 2 before you need to recharge, although mileage will vary depending on just how energetic and active you are. Run a marathon using GPS tracking on your phone and you’ll probably need to recharge a bit more frequently.
Downsides: Why you might not want the Fitbit Charge 2
- No battery life indicator: The only way you know that you need to charge the Charge 2 is when you get a push notification from the app, as the device itself doesn’t display how much juice is left inside. Given the number of screens to view your activity stats, this seems like a pretty basic oversight.
- Silent alarms seem weak: One of the Fitbit’s long term selling points is for a silent alarm, which vibrates the wearable at a given time to wake you up without a blaring ringtone. The catch is that its effectiveness is questionable, and it’s easy to cancel the alarm without actually waking up.
- Limited notifications: Fitbit lets you receive wrist-mounted notifications on the Charge 2, which is useful for checking text messages and incoming calls. But if you do most of your communicating via apps like Facebook Messenger or Snapchat then you’ll find that the Charge 2’s notifications options are lacking, especially when compared to Android Wear or the Apple Watch ecosystems.
- Proprietary Charger: Fitbit has overhauled the charger in the Charge 2, featuring the same clip design as the Fitbit Alta. However, while it’s easy to connect, you do only get the one, and replacement cables cost $29.95.
Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?
With the Charge 2, Fitbit has again reasserted itself as the brand to be with in the fitness tracking marketplace. With impressive performance and support across both iOS and Android, the Charge 2 offers best in class fitness tracking for anyone looking to keep tabs on their exercise levels.
Of course, there are plenty of other alternatives out there. Fans of Samsung Galaxy devices might want to take advantage of the Gear Fit 2, or alternatively for anyone wanting an even bigger screen, there’s the Microsoft Band 2 as well.
If notifications are essential, a smartwatch is almost definitely going to be a superior option, with either the Apple Watch Series 2, or an Android Wear device like the Polar M600 or Moto 360 being your best option.
Where can I get it?
The Fitbit Charge 2 is available for $249.95 RRP from Fitbit’s website and retail stores around the country. You can get it slightly cheaper if you shop around though. Alternatively, you can get it a little cheaper at DWI for $219.00.