Fitbit Charge 4 vs Charge 3. What’s New?


At a first glance, these two releases look identical! Want to know the differences between the Charge 4 and Charge 3? Look no further as we compare the features of this Fitbit tracker powerhouse.

GPS is built into the Charge 4

To measure the distances of your workouts accurately on the Charge 3, you need to piggy back off the GPS connectivity on your mobile phone. Meaning you have to always be in range of your phone. Manageable if you’re a cyclist, but carrying your phone in a pouch whilst running is going to feel inconvenient for most.

The Charge 4 does away with the faff and cuts out the middle man. With a GPS chip inside the tracker, you can measure those miles with confidence and leave the phone safe at home.

Post workout when reunited with your phone, upload your activity to the Fitbit app and you’ll see a workout intensity map which visualises your effort. It helps you compare the parts of your route that were a stroll in the park against those that had your heart beating out of your chest.

With built in GPS, the Charge 4 can record your runs and then use the workout intensity map feature to show effort.

GPS tracking built inside a Fitbit wearable isn’t new, and was first seen in the Fitbit Surge way back in 2015. Over the years, the tech has been reserved for the more expensive smartwatch releases, such as the Ionic and Versa 2. It’s great to finally see it introduced into the more affordable Charge series, which will enable more fitness fanatics to measure their endurance workouts accurately.

Though you may use battery life faster in a Charge 4

Whilst both wearables give you up to 7 days battery life on a single charge, the built-in GPS feature will put an extra strain on your power. Fitbit state you’ll get up to 5 hours of GPS usage on a Charge 4, which is enough for a couple of runs a week, though may be a close call for a marathon or a cyclosportive.

Fortunately, the GPS is only used when you turn it on for certain activities, so you’ll still have plenty of battery juice left for tracking your steps, heart rate and sleep metrics throughout the days ahead.

Fitbit Pay on all Charge 4 devices

Becoming more mainstream in wearable tech is the ability to authorise contactless payments from your wrist. Fitbit Pay lets you add up to 5 credit or debit cards onto your Charge device, so it can process your payments without needing your phone. It’s a lifeline, if you need to refuel on that bike ride and didn’t pack any spare change.

If you like the sound of this feature but would rather buy a Charge 3, Fitbit Pay does work on the two Special Edition variants, but not available on the standard ones. Read the colours section to spot the difference.

Different Colours and Special Editions to choose from

In total there are four colour choices for the Charge 3.

Two standard models…

  • Black band with graphite aluminium tracker
  • Blue grey band with rose gold aluminium tracker

And two “Special Edition” variations

  • Frost White Sport band with graphite Aluminium tracker
  • Lavender Woven band with rose gold aluminium tracker
Fitbit Charge 3 - colours to buy
(left to right) black, blue-grey, white sport, lavender woven.

Charge 4 has three standard models

  • Black band with tracker
  • Storm Blue band with black tracker
  • Rosewood band with Rosewood tracker

Only one Special Edition of the Charge 4

  • Granite reflective woven band with black tracker
Fitbit Charge 4 - colours
(left to right) black, storm blue, Rosewood and the Special Edition granite woven reflective Charge 4.

What’s special about the special edition Fitbit’s? It’s mainly to do with the fashion style of band which comes with the Charge, though all Special Editions from both 3 and 4, come with an extra black band included in the cost. As mentioned earlier, the Charge 3 SE includes Fitbit Pay functionality, something which is covered on all Charge 4 variants as standard.

Similar price tag but expect the Charge 3 to get cheaper

On Fitbit’s website, the Charge 4 is launching for $149.95; consistent with the original price of the Charge 3 when that launched. Special Editions cost $20 extra.

Expect a price cut in the Charge 3, over the coming months. On Amazon this can already be found for $118 (7th April 2020)

[Check latest prices on Amazon]

Spotify Control on the Charge 4

The Charge series has traditionally been lacking in the music department, with Fitbit reserving the most basic of music control functionality for the premium smartwatches.
Some good news if you’re a paying Spotify subscriber, the Charge 4 has access to Spotify Control. This feature allows you to play, pause, skip and shuffle your playlists, straight from the list. Being native to Spotify, it also includes the controls to change playlist and favourite those new songs that help you power through your workout.

Sadly, there’s no space to store music tracks on the Charge 4, not even offline Spotify playlists. Rather the app just changes what is being played on other devices.

The app isn’t limited to controlling music on your phone either. If there’s a Spotify playing on a device, there’s a good chance you can control it from your Fitbit Charge 4.

Control Spotify being played on these devices…

  • Laptops
  • TV
  • PlayStation
  • Chromecast
  • Amazon Echo

It’s ideal feature for changing up the music easily, during a home circuit training session.

Active Zone Minutes

As a way to credit higher intensity exercise, Fitbit have created a metric called Active Zone Minutes. Fitbit app users can already see how many minutes you spend in fat burn, cardio and peak zones; Active Zone Minutes effectively rewards every minute spent in Cardio and Peak Zones as two minutes. Double points! It’s very similar to Intensity Minutes on Garmin devices.

The Charge 4 gets exclusive use of this feature initially, though a press release has confirmed Active Zone Minutes will be appearing on “All Fitbit smartwatches” soon.  It’s uncertain as to whether this will include the Charge 3, as Fitbit categorise the Charge as a tracker and not a smartwatch. Though we can be certain Active Zone Minutes will be introduced to the Versa and Ionic releases.  

Fitbit Charge 4 - Active Zone Minutes
The 7 minutes of cardio and peak and exercise are doubled in value to 14 Active Zone Minutes.

Synching range extended

Your phone and Fitbit wearable communicate to one another over Bluetooth. Whilst the Charge 3 can do this up to 6 metres away, the latest release increases the range to 9m.

Suitable for more extreme environments

OK, deep in the product specs, there are some minor differences in operating temperature. The Charge 3 states it can work in a temperature range of -10 to 45 degrees Celsius, or -14 to 113 in Fahrenheit.

The Charge 4 has been tested as functional in -20 to 60 degrees Celsius (-4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit), meaning its more reliable in both hotter and colder environments.

Though that range covers you for most exercise situations, I’d take it off for the trip to the sauna.

Both models work to the same maximum operating altitude of 8,535m which is plenty unless you’re planning to ascend one of the 3 highest mountains in the world (Everest, K2, or Kanchenjunga).

Fitbit Charge 4 vs Charge 3 – Which is best for me?

So that’s a round-up of the key differences in these Fitbit trackers. The stand-out reason for choosing the Charge 4 has to the built-in GPS chip. Ideal if you’re looking to get those running miles in, as you’ll know how far you cover.

Endurance exercise not your cup of tea? The Charge 3 is still a well rounded activity tracker with plenty of all round fitness tracking features crammed in and you may benefit be able to get it cheaper than before now the Charge 4 is released.

Fitbit Charge 3

Compare prices on Fitbit Charge 3Links to Amazon Buy Now

Fitbit Charge 4

Compare prices on Fitbit Charge 4Links to Fitbit Pre Order

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I'm a super keen injured runner with over 20 years experience in races and endurance training. Get in touch with me over Twitter, G+ on in the comments below.

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