Fitbit Charge 4 on long-term test: Good features, but battery life with GPS is an issue

Wristband wearables have occur a extended way, and these times we assume them to offer you GPS, heart amount monitoring, alarms and a array of handset connectivity attributes. The £129.99/$149.99 Fitbit Cost four has all of these, additionally a mix of other attributes, some of which Fitbit calls ‘apps’. You can choose to clearly show or not clearly show these wristband applications, which include a contactless payment wallet called Fitbit Fork out, on the device by making choices in the Fitbit smartphone app (iOS or Android). Fork out £149.99/$169.95 for the Special Version and you get a woven back wristband fairly than a rubbery 1. I have been employing the Cost four for quite a few weeks, and offer you these observations as a comply with-up to Matthew Miller’s April overview.


The Fitbit Cost four (£129.99/$149.99) features heart-amount tracking, designed-in GPS, goal-based mostly workout modes, water resistance, sleep monitoring, notifications and on-band applications.

Photographs: Fitbit


The normal wristband can be replaced with colourful or woven choices.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The total style is acquainted to any individual who has a earlier Fitbit Cost device: an elongated contact screen a single aspect (contact) button on the still left edge of the Cost four (if worn on the correct wrist) and a detachable wristband which is easily replaced with colourful choices. The Cost four arrives with two wristbands and I found the compact 1 was wonderful for me. All but the premier of wrists ought to be accommodated.

The grey OLED touchscreen is huge and you navigate close to it employing the aspect button and a mix of screen sweeps and faucets. It’s quite quick to get utilized to how factors operate. Tapping on the clock deal with toggles by metrics like methods, distance, and heart amount. A array of faces can be established displaying various choices of metrics, additionally time and date, by way of the Fitbit smartphone app. Sweeping correct to still left delivers up different wristband applications that have been enabled in the smartphone app.

Basic action tracking operates wonderful. You can tell the smartphone app your regular stride lengths for each managing and walking, and it shares this with the Cost four, which can then change paces into distance. It’s not fantastic, but I have usually found Fitbit equipment to be quite precise when analyzed on calculated distances, and that continues to be the scenario with the Cost four. 

The Cost four will routinely detect when you are managing, cycling, on a treadmill or walking, and it is water resistant to the extent that you can swim for up to 50 metres carrying it with out adverse outcome. If you are significant about cross-coaching with these types of activities, then you could possibly want a more advanced device that can deliver a bigger array of metrics. But if you are just searching to do a sure range of methods or deal with a sure distance, then the Fitbit four operates nicely, which includes issuing alerts when you arrive at your preset goals just about every working day.

With a heart amount monitor on-board, the Fitibit Cost four can do exciting factors like measure your resting heart amount, established action zones and report on these, and — new for this product — offer a report of Energetic Zone Minutes. This is a calculation based mostly on age and resting heart amount, and the strategy is to arrive at a goal of a hundred and fifty minutes a 7 days in your Energetic Zone. It’s fairly a intelligent strategy for all those employing a Fitbit to burn up energy or drop pounds. Just ambling close to is much less valuable in this regard than moving a little bit more rapidly, and making your heart operate a little bit tougher. As your resting heart amount lowers, the Fitbit modifications its concentrate on minutes, so in idea there’s usually a related goal to aim at. Total reporting full with graphs is obtainable in the Fitbit smartphone app.

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Of all these metrics I found the resting heart amount details especially practical. I have found from earlier Fitbit use how my heart amount fluctuates if I have a cold or fever, and how it falls as I get fitter, rising as my fitness wanes. These metrics can support folks track their progress alongside a fitness trajectory.

The sleep tracking is also practical. I like to continue to keep an eye on the hours I devote asleep, as nicely as monitoring my sleep excellent to make confident I’m not small-switching myself. The Fitbit app has some properly offered graphics displaying total sleep hours and durations of restlessness. If you seriously want to weigh in with the metrics, the Fitbit app gives you a sleep score based mostly on the excellent and period of sleep, with a ranking these as ‘fair’ or ‘good’ for just about every night. 

As for the extra attributes, I did not hassle with the Spotify controls, Fitbit Fork out (a new function with the Cost four), the climate app, or notifications. My handset is the go-to spot for this operation, but I can see how some end users could discover them practical. What I like a good deal is the silent, vibrating alarm, which is robust plenty of to wake me, but way too subtle to wake an individual else.


The Cost 4’s cost cable is fairly small, and fiddly to engage.

Image: Fitbit

The battery is rated to previous for 7 times supplied you usually are not employing GPS, in which scenario it’s only fantastic for 5 hours. This basically rendered the GPS unusable for me on extended weekend walks, even if I commenced with it thoroughly billed. That is a shame, as GPS is a large promoting issue for the Cost four. I found the cost unit to be a little bit of a fiddly in good shape, and I experienced to double-look at that it was in spot effectively. Also, its cable is fairly small, which intended my usual desktop cost station was just a minimal awkward to use. Very long term this would very likely be fairly an difficulty.

Total, the Fitbit Cost four has some fantastic attributes and is a fantastic stage up from the Cost 3, even though the Fitbit app shows a good deal of fairly sophisticated details in an accessible way. Eager sports folks will want a for a longer period-lasting battery for GPS use and more granular metrics, but as a fitness tracker for typical overall health the Cost four does really nicely.

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