Fitbit has made official today the latest addition to its flagship fitness band range. Charge 5 packs ECG and EDA sensors for the first time. It also comes with a new metric called Readiness Score, along with exercise recommendations.
These two sensors have only been available on the Fitbit Sense up to now. The fact that they made it over to the fitness band shows how cost-effective it is becoming to manufacture this type of technology. It remains to be seen whether the tracker eats into Sense’s sales, considering the large price difference between the two.
Fitbit Charge 5 looks much better
It is fair to say, there was not much improvement with Charge 4 in terms of looks. The device is quite functional and its great at tracking health and fitness. But it was never going to win any design awards. Charge 5 is a much bigger improvement.
Here is pic of Charge 5, alongside Charge 4 and Fitbit Luxe. The resemblance between the first and last is obvious.
An important Fitbit Charge 5 upgrade is that the display is colour instead of grayscale. Screen technology has progressed in recent years so it has become possible to introduce better quality screens that don’t eat up battery life.
We did not expect to see an AMOLED on Fitbit Charge 5, but a colour display was always on the cards. The company has previously shied away from this to preserve battery juice. Also, not only is the display colour but this is the first Fitbit fitness tracker to offer an always-on option. Enabling this will eat into the 7 day battery life but you can always switch it off.
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As with most devices in the Charge lineup, the display is surrounded by thick bezels. The company has ditched the Fitbit logo below which can only be a good thing. The gizmo also features stainless steel panels on the sides for a classy look. These double-up as sensors enabling the ECG and EDA functionality.
In essence, the new device looks like a blend between Fitbit Charge 4 and Luxe which was released in April this year. It adopts a wide design with curved edges and looks pretty sleek. Compared to Luxe, Fitbit Charge 5 looks more discreet with straight left and right edges. Fitbit says Charge 5 is 10% thinner than its predecessor.
ECG monitor, EDA stress sensor, Readiness Score, exercise recommendations
Beyond looks, Charge 5 packs all the tech from its predecessor such as 24/7 heart rate, SpO2 and nightly skin temperature variation tracking. In addition to that we get the above mentioned ECG monitor and an EDA stress sensor, along with high and low heart rate alerts.
The ECG sensor checks for signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib) and other irregular heart rhythm. The EDA sensor monitors electrical changes in your skin’s sweat levels. This helps to more precisely identify how stressed you are.
There’s also something called the Readiness Score. The metric sounds comparable to Garmin’s Body Battery and Polar’s Nightly Recharge. What it does is it lets you know how prepared you are for exercise on a particular day, i.e. whether you should push hard or take it easy.
Charge 5 taps into heart rate variability (HRV) readings, activity levels and sleep stats over the past few days to arrive at these estimates. For example if your were exercising hard the previous day or have not had enough sleep – your body will need rest in order to recharge. This will be reflected in your HRV readings and the Readiness Score. Unfortunately the feature sits behind the Fitbit Premium paywall so not everyone will have access.
Finally, there are also personalised exercise recommendations. These tap into your heart rate readings and the Readiness Score. So on a day where you should be resting you might get a suggestion such as light yoga or meditation.
Outside of that you get built-in GPS and 20 exercise modes. SmarTrack is there, of course, and it has the ability to automatically track certain activities.
As far as smart functionality, Charge 5 packs 20 clock face iterations. There’s Fitbit Pay for mobile payments and the usual notification support.
Price and release date
Our hope was that Charge 5 would get some of the features from Sense and it seems that Fitbit has listened. It is an exciting addition to the lineup.
The device sells for $179 ($30 more than Charge 4), which is quite reasonable considering the specs. Particularly when you compare it to Sense which pretty much packs the same sensors but carries a price tag of $299.
Fitbit Charge 5
A Charge 5 purchase includes a 6 month Fitbit Premium Subscription. You can pre-order it on Fitbit’s website and Amazon in black/graphite, steel blue/platinum and white/gold colour options. Worldwide availability is slated for this fall.
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