It would be all too easy to assume the Charge and Charge HR activity trackers from Fitbit are almost identical. Before you make the call on which one is right for you, I’ve compared the key differences between each wearable.
#1 – PurePulse Heart Rate
As differences go, this is the biggie. The HR in the product name stands for Heart Rate; only the Charge HR detects your heart rate. Using PurePulse technology, your pulse rate can be measured straight from the wrist, via an LED light which reflects off the skin to and analyses the rate your capillaries expand and contract (get bigger and smaller). There’s no need for chest straps, which can get a bit irritable during exercise, and would be impractical to wear 24/7.
Heart Rate, can give greater feedback to the Fitbit how intense you are finding the body movements. Use this information to compare against calorie expenditure over time; you’ll burn more as you exercise intensely. Seeing your heart rate in real-time may be a motivator for some, as it lets you focus on keeping the intensity up.
Psst! Want to measure running distance with GPS too? It’s in the Fitbit Surge which I’ve compared against the Charge HR.
#2 – Battery Life is shorter on the Charge HR
All that pulse monitoring is going to use up some battery juice, so its no surprise the Charge HR has its battery life reduced by 2 days. While you get up to 5 days power on the Charge HR, the non heart rate version gives you up to a week!
There’s no need to feel shortchanged, as the 5 day battery life of the Charge HR matches that of the Flex, but you have the bonus of receiving mobile call notifications to your wrist.
#3 – Different attachments around the wrist.
The sharper eyed amongst you, may have spotted only the Charge HR uses a buckle watch strap. Made from stainless steel, Fitbit must have included it to keep the activity tracker closer to the skin for measuring heart rate.
The standard Fitbit Charge uses a clasp just like the Flex. It’s pretty secure overall, but from personal experience has come undone once whilst swimming. I’m sure you’ll be fine with pretty much any other activity, though I believe the Charge HR attaches more securely to the wrist.
#4 – Different strap colours
Fitbit are renown for releasing their wearables in a rainbow of colours. Both Charge and Charge HR are available in Black and Blue. Exclusive colours for the Charge are Slate and Burgundy, whereas the Charge HR is released in Plum and Tangerine.
Tangerine you say? Let’s hope it doesn’t get as filthy as a pink Fitbit Flex.
#5 – Price
Lastly, there’s a slight price increase of 15-20% if you want to opt for the Charge HR model with the heart rate sensor. Here’s the official pricing from the Fitbit website (6th Jan 2015).
- US Dollars – $129.95 vs $149.95
- UK pounds sterling – £99.99 vs £119.99
- Australian Dollars – A$149.95 vs A$179.95
- Euro (France, Germany, Italy) – 129.95€ vs 149.95€
If you’re looking to measure the intensity of your workouts, it may be worth forking out a little extra to get heart rate feedback. Your pulse is the most accurate indicator of your fitness levels, against other Fitbit estimates like calories or distance covered. What’s more as you become fitter you’ll see your resting heart rate drop, demonstrating all that activity is paying off.