We’ve had a play around with the Fitbit Charge 3 at IFA in Berlin and walked away feeling suitably impressed. The tracker takes everything the best selling Charge 2 does, and makes it even better. Its pretty much a smartwatch disguised as a fitness tracker. The device is available on pre-order on Amazon, for shipping in early October.
Essential reading: Choosing the right Fitbit tracker
There are about a dozen wearables sold by Fitbit but its only a handful that make up the bulk of sales. One of these is the Alta HR. With this wearable, Fitbit has slapped a continuous heart rate sensor to one of its slimmest and most stylish fitness trackers. Fitbit refers to it as the “world’s slimmest” wrist-worn tracker with a continuous heart rate sensor.
So how does the Charge 3 compare with the Alta HR? Which of the two is right for you? Read on to find out.
When it comes to fitness trackers, Fitbit has not strayed very much from its signature look over the years. After all, why change something that works. Holding Charge 3 in your hand, it feels very familiar. This is because it reminds you of Charge 2. But its clearly better looking, a shinier and more premium looking version.
In terms of design, the most important difference between Charge 3 and its predecessor is the bigger OLED display. In fact, its a whopping 40% larger which makes a huge difference on something this small. The backlit screen is bright and clearly legible, and is fully responsive to touch. It also supports gray-scale colors versus just B&W, and benefits from a resolution boost.
Swiping up on the screen will scroll through your daily fitness stats, swiping down will show notifications and swiping right other functions. Everything feels very responsive and slick. If you’ve ever used a Fitbit device, you’ll feel right at home. This is also Fitbit’s first wearable with an inductive physical button which you can use to wake up the tracker and help navigation.
Finally, Charge 3 is built of more lightweight material than its predecessor. Weighing only 30 grams you’ll hardly notice it on your wrist. Its a fraction thinner, too, so looks and feels less chunky.
Released about a year and a half ago, the Alta HR features an even slimmer and more lightweight design. Measuring only 15mm wide, the device comes with a 1.4-inch OLED display. Compared to the Charge 3, its over 20% narrower. Although its sold as a unisex device, it may appeal to women more. In fact, its so small it could even be worn as a stylish accessory alongside a watch.
You wake the device up by lifting your wrist or by lightly tapping on the display. You won’t find any buttons on Alta HR and this is because you don’t really need them. Simply tap on the sides of the display to navigate.
Bother wearables come with straps that feature standard watch-style clasp mechanisms. They are interchangeable, and you simply pop them on and off. Alta comes in small, large and XL sizes. Charge 3, on the other hand, is a one-size fits all affair but you get to choose between a large and small strap. Both are in the box when you buy the wearable.
The PurePulse heart rate sensor has made its way to the underside of both these devices. Fitbit says the heart rate sensor on Charge 3 is slightly better, though, and will offer more accurate readings during high intensity exercise.
If you were to open up the core units, you would also find a 3-axis accelerometer a vibration motor, and on the Charge 3 an altimeter for counting floors and Relative SpO2 sensor. The last on this list measures blood oxygen levels and could be used to identify sleep apnea and other medical conditions once Fitbit puts it to real-world use. Right now its just sitting there.
Fitbit Charge 3 vs Alta HR: Battery life and water resistance
Both wearables come with around 7 days of battery juice on a single charge. This is fairly decent and bodes well against the competition.
That sort of battery life is particularly impressive on the Alta HR, considering its slim form-factor. Kudos to Fitbit for not sacrificing longevity in the name of additional features. The battery on Charge 3 represents a healthy upgrade over its predecessor as it will keep going around 40% longer.
Fitbit Alta HR
The bigger difference is in water resistance. Charge 3 has a water-resistance rating of 5 ATM which means you can dunk it down to depths of 50 metres. It will track your swim sessions, too. Those hoping to dunk Alta HR in water should think again. The wearable is only sweat, rain and splash proof. Fitbit has, however, mastered the art of making their wearables water-resistant, so we are positive the next iteration of Alta will be swim-proof.
Fitbit Charge 3 vs Alta HR: Features
Both of these devices will do the trick when it comes to basic 24/7 activity tracking. Not surprising as that’s what Fitbit is best at. They’ll keep tabs on your steps, distance, calories, sleep (including sleep stages) and heart rate (including current, resting and heart rate zone information).
Motivational messages and move reminders are also on board if you’re having a particularly lazy day. The automatic activity recognition which means you will get credit even if you forget to log a workout.
Charge 3 comes with quite a few fitness tracking extras, though.
First off, the device will count floors climbed thanks to its altimeter. This is not something you will get on Alta HR. Fitbit’s latest tracker also has real-time stats on the display during workouts and will track your swim sessions, too.
Then there are more advanced metrics such as VO2 Max. Measured in millilitres of oxygen processed per kilogram of body weight every minute, the metric essentially determines your fitness level. Alta HR does not have this feature because it does not have “Connected GPS”. This means its not able to tap into your smartphone’s GPS signal, something that is useful to those who run on a regular basis as it helps with accuracy of stats and records a map of your route.
But the list does not end there. Let’s not forget Breathing Sessions to keep you stress free, Female Health Tracking functionality, the auto-stop feature for runners, and something Fitbit calls Goal-Based Exercise. This allows you to personalize exercise with a specific calories burned. You’ll find all of these features on Charge 3 but not on Alta HR.
There are also quite a few differences when it comes to smart features. This is because Charge 3 is essentially a smartwatch disguised as a fitness tracker.
While both devices show basic notifications, Charge 3 comes with the ability to reply to messages (for Android users) and the option to accept or reject calls. It also comes in a slightly more expensive Special Edition version, that has an NFC chip for contactless payments.
Much like the Versa and Ionic, Charge 3 also comes with apps. The list is not very long t the moment but popular third-party apps that will be added in the coming months. Unfortunately offline storage for music or a way to control your smartphone music remotely from your wrist in not available on either of these devices.
Fitbit Charge 3 vs Alta HR: The bottom line
There are quite a few differences between these two wearables. Charge 3 is clearly far more feature rich both in terms of fitness tracking and smart functions.
Fitbit’s latest wearable provides you with a bigger screen, an altimeter for counting floors, Connected GPS, water-resistance and swim tracking, real-time stats during exercise, Vo2 Max, Breathing exercises, etc. The list goes on. That’s not to say Alta HR is not excellent at activity tracking basics and detailed sleep stats. Its just lacks many of the features you’ll find on Charge 3.
Fitbit Charge 3
The main advantage of Alta HR over Charge 3 is in its stylish design. Its smaller, slimmer and more subtle of the two. There is also a slight price difference in its favor.
So it really comes down to your preference. Do you want a ultra-slim tracker that provides many of the basics when it comes to fitness tracking, or would you be happier with something larger but far more feature rich.
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