Fitbit has officially debuted the Charge 2 activity tracker at IFA in Germany recently. The device has now started shipping from Amazon.
In addition to PurePulse heart rate tracking, the Charge 2 features an enhanced exercise experience and new health and fitness tools. We were there on the ground and had a chance to speak to some of Fitbit staff and briefly try out the new tracker.
This is everything you need to know about the successor to the popular Charge HR.
The upgraded design features an OLED display that is four times larger than Charge HR. We played around with it a little and it actually feels very nice. It can still be recognised as a typical Fitbit device and comes across as a blend of the Charge HR and Alta.
There is a single physical button that allows you to flick through the main menu options such as steps or heart rate, and you cycle the sub-menus by tapping on the display. In addition to basic fitness information, the screen also shows smartphone-notifications such as text messages and emails.
You will find the PurePulse heart rate sensor on the underside of the display. This is also where you will find the clips for changing the strap.
Similar to the Alta and Blaze, you can customise the look to your liking with interchangeable bands and clock faces. The straps are fastened with a stainless steel buckle. The classic fitness accessory bands come in four colors, luxe premium leather accessory bands in blush pink, brown and indigo; and the special edition series in gunmetal and rose gold.
The Fitbit Charge 2 carries over all of the features found on the Charge HR. This means you will find 24/7 heart rate monitoring (including resting heart rate), and the device will also keeps tabs on steps, distance travelled, floors climbed, active minutes, calories burned and sleep (as well as a silent alarm). To help you stay active throughout the day, Charge 2 sends Reminders to move that encourage you to take 250 steps every hour.
Fitbit has debuted a few new features as well. While it doesn’t feature GPS connectivity, the new tracker links to the GPS on your smartphone to provide more precise data on pace and distance when you’re running, while recording a map of your route in the app.
It also offers Multi-Sport tracking and smartphone notifications.
The Multi-Sport tracking means the Charge 2 will automatically recognise certain sports such as runs, bike rides, weights, yoga and more, plus you get post-exercise summaries and a detailed report of your activity in the Fitbit app. Because the process is automatic, this you will get credit even if you forget to log a workout.
Smartphone notifications include calls, texts and calendar alerts but no third-party alerts. The large screen makes these easily readable.
There are a few new features that are powered by your personal heart rate.
The most interesting and potentially useful one is called Cardio Fitness Level. Available only on Charge 2, it gives you a snapshot of your fitness level using a personalised Cardio Fitness Score.
The Cardio Fitness Score is based on your estimated VO2 Max that is calculated using your user profile and resting heart rate. You can obtain a more precise score by going for a run of at least 10 minutes on flat terrain at a comfortable pace with Connected GPS enabled.
The Cardio Fitness Level shows how you compare to those of the same age and gender, and ranges from poor to excellent. Plus you get bar charts of your fat burn, cardio and peak heart rate zones.
You will also get get guidance to take action and improve your score over time by increasing exercise frequency, intensity, or by reaching a healthier weight.
The other new addition are Guided Breathing Sessions. This is a relaxing mindfulness experience that calms your body and mind through personalized deep-breathing sessions called “Relax”. This actually reminds us a little of Apple’s new Breathe app that will be included in watchOS3.
Battery life and water resistance
The battery life is up to 5 days depending on use, settings, and other factors. Unlike the Flex 2 which is water-proof, unfortunately the Charge 2 is only sweat, rain and splash proof.
The tracker is available for preorder on Amazon and Fitbit’s website now. It will start shipping in mid-September.
The Charge 2 is a sleek looking device that delivers solid improvements on its predecessors in a few areas, particularly in terms of design. The new device pretty much makes the Charge HR, our pick for the best fitness tracker in 2015, redundant.
We couldn’t test out the accuracy of Fitbit’s new tracker during our short stint with it, but given the San Francisco manufacturer’s track record, we are confident it will deliver on its promises.
Fitbit Charge 2