New for 2020 – Fitbit Charge 4 vs Charge 3
Fitbit devices are a household brand when it comes to lifestyle tracking. With the launch of the Charge 2, Fitbit present a device which betters the older Charge 1 and Charge HR releases. Could this mean the end of the Charge HR? Here are the key differences between these two models you should know about…
Charge 2 has improved exercise options
When the Charge HR launched, an exercise mode was added to help a user log their workouts. This was pretty much a one solution fits all approach, as users would see the same data whatever activity they were doing. Post-workout, the Charge HR would either correctly detect the activity you were doing using its SmartTrack algorithm, or you could correct it within the Fitbit app.
Now with the Charge 2, a user can select the exercise before they start it. Choose from running, biking, weights, yoga and interval training. There’s no indication that this provides a user with more accurate data than the older exercise mode, but it does help to display metrics relevant to the activity.
Charge 2 can Connect to GPS on your Phone
The Charge 2 can piggyback off the GPS signal on your mobile phone to give you more accurate stats around your running distance and pace. It’s not as convenient as a GPS running watch as you have to carry your phone around with you, but at least a combination of GPS data with PurePulse heart rate data will give you more insightful feedback.
The Charge HR can’t connect to GPS so estimates the distance based off the steps counted. If you plan to train for a fun run, then the Charge 2 will at least give you a realistic view of distance travelled.
This feature called “Relax”, encourages users to focus on deep breathing for a short period of time in order to lower stress levels. Choose from a two minute or five minute session and the Charge 2 will measure the variance in your heart rate to instruct you when to inhale and exhale.
To help you focus in on the task in hand, all notifications (except silent alarms) will be disabled during the brief session. It’s a pretty new feature for Fitbit, so isn’t available on the older Charge HR.
More Notifications on your wrist
Sync a Charge HR up to a compatible smartphone, and you’ll get the ability to see who’s calling you directly on your wrist. Could be useful if you’re at the gym and your phone is just out of reach. The Charge 2 also gives users the caller ID function but also lets you read incoming text messages and receive calendar notifications too. The larger display on the Charge 2 is ideal for these extra details.
A Subtle Difference in Sizing
If you’re going to invest some of your money into a fitness tracker, make sure that the one you’re buying fits your wrist. The Charge 2 XL variant caters for a larger wrist than the Charge HR can. The small size also has a greater range than the old Charge HR did.
Need to check which size fits your wrist? Measure up against these templates on the Fitbit website.
Charge 2 Doesn’t Come With a Dongle
Dongles are little USB attachments which allow non-Bluetooth desktops to connect wirelessly to Fitbit devices. With so many smartphones, PCs and Macs capable of transferring fitness data wirelessly over Bluetooth 4.0 with their built in hardware, demand for dongles has declined and Fitbit no longer provide these in the box like they did with the Charge HR and Charge 1 releases.
That said, there will still be users who want to track their fitness data who don’t own a smartphone or a Bluetooth compatible device. If that sounds like you, don’t panic. The Charge 2 may not arrive with a dongle in the box, but is still compatible, so you buy one separately or why not ask a friend for theirs (they’re probably not using it).
Charge 2 Band Can Detach
With the Charge 2 the straps you can detach and add on a different strap in seconds. Wear a leather band when not exercising, or switch to another colour sports band because you feel like it.
Given how wearables will get dirty over time, a strap swap is an easy way to make your tracker look new and shiny all over again. The Charge HR computer unit isn’t supposed to detach from the band, meaning whichever colour you choose you’re committed to.
Reading comments on the Fitbit community boards, there are posts around how the Charge 1 and Charge HR break away from their fixed bands overtime; a design fault which Fitbit seem happy to replace. Looks like the ability to swap and change straps on the Charge 2 is good for both aesthetics and maintaining a higher quality product for longer.
Charge 2 comes out of the box with a silver computer unit, and one of four sports bands; black, plum, blue or teal. For a little extra cash, you can opt for a rose gold computer unit with lavender band or a gunmetal computer unit with black wrist band.
Charge HR Removed from Fitbit Store
Interestingly Fitbit have stopped ranging the Charge 1 and Charge HR from their online store. This is an unusual move as its still possible to buy much older devices like the original Fitbit Zip and One. Even the Fitbit Flex, which similar to Charge HR has been surpassed by the Flex 2, is still at time of writing available to buy from Fitbit’s website.
Being a discontinued product, there’s a good chance of slashed prices by third party retailers as they try to clear stock. Can we expect some Black Friday bargains perhaps?
Verdict – Charge 2 vs Charge HR
There’s no doubt that you’ll be able to find the Charge HR at a cheaper price than the newer Charge 2 but with if any of the above features appeal to you, you have to ask yourself is the saving worth missing out? The Charge 2 is a significant improvement versus the older Charge HR in both looks and functionality.