The Fitbit Charge 4 is official and, as revealed by Wareable, includes GPS for the first time – and puts a renewed focus on heart rate, fitness and workouts.
The Fitbit Charge series has always been the Fitbit of choice for workout fans, offering the most advanced feature set of any Fitbit activity tracker – and often receives cutting edge tech before the company’s smartwatches, such as the Fitbit Versa 2.
From the images it doesn’t look like much has changed. Indeed, the body of the Fitbit Charge 4 remains untouched from the Charge 3.
That’s not a bad thing necessarily – we’d have loved to have seen a slimmer band or better display, but Charge 3 straps are still compatible with the new device, so there should be plenty of cheap options for customisation.
Fitbit Charge 4 – GPS and new features
So what has changed?
Adding GPS was top of our wishlist for new features, and we now have it. It’s now been added to the Charge 4, allowing users to track outdoor workouts without the need for a paired smartphone.
GPS has, until now, been limited to “specialist” Fitbit devices such as the Fitbit Ionic and Surge – outliers in the company’s range – a watershed moment for Fitbit and not before time.
The Fitbit Charge 4 still has 5ATM water resistance, 7 days of battery life, heart rate, VO2 Max tracking, an SpO2 sensor that estimates blood oxygen variation.
But runners and HIITers out there have much more to cheer about.
Active Zone Minutes debut
Fitbit has introduced Active Zone Minutes, which use heart rate zones and resting heart rate information to better reward activities. This will be exclusive to the Charge 4 for now, but will come to other devices – likely the Versa range – before too long.
The idea is to measure the heart rate zone of your activities, and offer double the credit if that workout hits the fat burn and peak cardio zones (Z3 and Z4). This should offer better insights for those that get out for runs and gym classes, which until now got the same credit for 30 minutes of burn as someone taking a brisk walk.
And it sounds like Fitbit is going to put more focus on heart rate zones in post-workout analysis. This seems a natural progression, and could help people understand and improve from the sensors on their wrist.
“Active Zone Minutes is based on recommendations from leading health organizations, including the World Health Organization and the NHS, which recommend getting 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week.”
Spotify users also have something to cheer about. There’s now Spotify Connect & Control, which essentially means users of the streaming service will be able to “play, skip and rewind your music, select your favourite playlists, like songs, and seamlessly switch across Spotify compatible devices.”
Let’s be clear, this is NOT offline storage or syncing of music on the Charge 4. But it seems like an enhanced controller, which would require a paired smartphone to work. This is specific to Spotify, so it doesn’t seem there are on-wrist controls for users of Apple Music or Amazon Music.
The rest of the on-device feature set is pretty much the same, but Fitbit did announce that the smart wake feature from the Fitbit Versa – which wakes you at the optimum part of your sleep cycle – would arrive on Charge 4. However, that’s not present at launch.
NFC payments via Fitbit Pay are now standard on Fitbit Charge 4 devices, and you don’t need to buy a special edition.
Fitbit Premium, which is now free for 90 days for these lockdown days, has also had a bunch of new workouts added – and there’s 40 free workouts as well.
Fitbit Charge 4 – release date and price
The Fitbit Charge 4 looks like a really smart update, and finally this is the powerful fitness band that the Charge series always promised to be.
The Fitbit Charge 4 will be priced at $149.99/£129.99 and will go on sale 15 April 2020. There will be a Special Edition ($179.99/£149.99) that includes an exclusive granite reflective/black woven band and an additional black sport band.