Charge 4 was released in April 2020 and now we’re looking forward to the next iteration. Here is our wishlist of features and the possible Fitbit Charge 5 release date.
It’s all business as usual at Fitbit, despite the expectations that its $2.1bn acquisition by Google will be finalised in the coming months. Once this goes through it becomes more difficult to make forecasts about upcoming Fitbit devices.
Will Google keep things as they are? Will they shake up things? Difficult to say. This article is written under the assumption that Fitbit continues on more or less as usual.
Fitbit Charge 5 design expectations
As far as looks there is little to separate Charge 4 from its predecessor. The first has a depth of 12.5mm, the second 11.8mm. The weight has come down from 30 grams to 29 grams. Everything else is pretty much the same. Which means you get the identical (35.8mm x 22.7mm) grayscale touchscreen and single physical button on the side to help with navigation.
We have to say, we were left a bit dissapointed by the fact that there were no improvements in the looks department. Charge 4 is good at tracking fitness, but it’s not winning any awards for looks. Hopefully Fitbit will introduce some changes next time around which will make Charge 5 look more modern and stylish.
Screen technology has progressed in the past few years. Components are becoming cheaper and less power hungry. We are not expecting an AMOLED display next time around but a high-res color screen should be on the cards.
Of course any improvements in display come at the expense of battery life. But other companies have successfully implemented color displays and kept battery life at a decent level. It has actually become rare to see a new fitness band with a grayscale display.
Battery life and water-resistance
Battery life on the current edition is around a week. We certainly don’t expect anything less next time around, hopefully more.
Water resistance is an excellent 5 ATM on Charge 4, which makes it good down to depths of 50 meters. No need to change or upgrade on that side of things. Unless you’re a deep-see diver, you don’t need anything above 5 ATM.
Fitbit has been pretty consistant with design changes. It finds a formula that works and makes iterative improvements. We expect this will continue in the future, but considering there were no design upgrades last time around we certainly expect a handful with Charge 5.
Features we would like to see on Fitbit Charge 5
Charge 4 is one of the most popular fitness bands on the planet for a reason. It’s good at what it does. Fitbits also come with a great, simple to use app.
The tracker keeps tabs on steps, distance, sleep, activity and more. The big change in 2020 was the introduction of built-in GPS. This is a major improvement which allows you to run or cycle outdoors, leave your smartphone behind, and still get detailed maps of your routes and exercise stats. Those with earlier editions need to rely on Connected GPS which leaves you tied to your phone.
Other improvements came in the form of software updates. This includes training intensity maps, Active Zones and some new sleep tools.
The clues as to what we can expect on the next generation device come from the company’s smartwatches. Sense in particular has some features never before seen on a Fitbit.
Unfortunately, some of these sit behind the Premium Subscription pay-wall. We certainly hope that is not the case with Charge 5! Not holding our breath, though…
This one made all the headlines when Sense launched. Temperature tracking on a Fitbit. A useful feature even if it wasn’t for the COVID-19 pandemic.
The functionality works overnight while you are sleeping. Readings are taken at regular intervals and compared to your baseline value. That way you know if you are at, above or below your norm.
It would make a lot of sense for stress tracking to become a feature on the Charge range. It is a basic health stat that is useful to know. Garmin has had it on most of its wearables for a while now.
Fitbit Sense has an electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor which reads moisture in the skin. It combines that data with other info to figure out how stressed you are. The technology is there – the question is will it be built into the Charge 5?
ECG? Probably not.
Fitbit Sense has the ability to measure your electrodiagram. Do we really want this on a fitness band? It might be overkill We would be surprised if ECG measurements make their way to the Charge 5.
Blood pressure monitoring
As unlikely as it might sound, blood pressure monitoring will come to your wrist soon. Sensor technology is progressing and it’s becoming increasingly possible to utilise the optical heart rate sensor for this purpose. The technology will probably first make its way to smartwatches, but fitness trackers should follow right after.
From the latter part of 2021 and in 2022 we expect this to become an increasingly commonplace feature on wearables. It will work on demand. Automatic measurements would be extremely difficult to implement as you need to be absolutely still with your wrist at your heart level. This is what is necessary from traditional wrist blood pressure montors to function accurately.
Just like ECG, it is unlikely this will make it to Charge 5. It really depends on when we see the fifth generation device. There’s always an outside chance it could come in Beta form.
More advanced performance metrics
Charge 4 offers little in terms of advanced performance metrics. Sure you get stats on your exercise and they are fine. You also get your Cardio Fitness Score (Vo2Max). But that’s pretty much where it ends.
There is lots more that could be added, not just to Charge 4 but also to Sense and the Versa range. Recovery statistics, Training Load, Race Time Prediction and more. At the moment this is mostly the domain of sports watches, but now that Charge has built-in GPS it becomes easier to port it across. These are just software updates.
What’s more, some of these metrics, such as recovery, use heart rate variability (HRV) to arrive at their calculations. Charge 4 has the ability to track HRV but apart from dishing out raw values Fitbit is not doing very much with the stats. Not to mention that to access raw HRV you need a Premium Monthly subscription!
There is definitely room for improvement when it comes to music capabilities. We don’t expect built in storage for music, but improvements to streaming services would be nice. Charge 4 only works with Spotify Premium. This should be extended to other services such as Amazon Music and Deezer.
Fitbit Charge 5 release date
This section is a no-brainer. Fitbit has been fairly consistant with release dates. Here they are.
- Charge 1 – November 2014
- Charge 2 – September 2016 (22 months after gen 1)
- Charge 3 – October 2018 (25 months after gen 2)
- Charge 4 – March 2020 (17 months after gen 3)
Could we see Charge 5 in 2021? Possibly. The best case scenario is that we see it for IFA in Berlin in September. That certainly is a realistic and likely possibility. Competition is heating up and Fitbit will want to keep their devices relevant. Surprises are always possible so we might even see an earlier release date.
All of the past Charges were introduced at a similar price-point. So expect Charge 5 to retail for around $150.
If you prefer not to wait for the fifth generation, check out Charge 4. The device ticks most boxes and is a solid health and fitness tracking option. Plus you can often pick it up with some nice discounts on Amazon and Fitbit.
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