Image source: Fitbit

Fitbit Charge 5 vs Fitbit Luxe: which fitness band is right for you?

Fitbit has a new addition to its best selling activity band range. Charge 5 is more than just an iterative upgrade. It comes packing some serious health tracking smarts, much of it ported over from Fitbit Sense. The design has also benefitted from a significant revamp. For this, Charge 5 borrows a lot from the beautiful Fitbit Luxe.

Both of these are solid options if you are after a decent activity band. Fitbit Charge 5, of course, offers more but also sells for a higher price. Around $30 at the time of writing. Is the extra functionality worth the extra bucks? Read on to find out.


Fitbit Charge 5 vs Fitbit Luxe: Design and underlying specs

Look and feel

It has been a while since we’ve seen a significant revamp to the look of a Fitbit Charge device. We finally get this with generation 5. While the thing clearly still looks like a fitness band, the device is a lot more aesthetically pleasing than before.

Gone is the Fitbit logo below the display, gone are the hard angles in favour of rounded edges. The device is also 10% thinner than previously. Everything just seems to blend more seamlessly.

But the biggest upgrade is the screen. It is now AMOLED – so the first colour display to a Charge fitness band. Previously you had to make do with grayscale colours.

It is clear Charge 5 has borrowed a lot from Luxe in terms of design. Both have a similar appearance and the same quality display. But the one on Luxe is smaller. It measures 33.5 x 17.5 mm versus the 36.78mm x 22.79mm of Charge 5. So it’s both shorter and narrower. Because Charge 5 has a larger screen, it is easier to read of the two.

The fitness bands come with an always-on display option. Keep in mind that switching this on will reduce battery life quite a bit. So you might in the end resort to the rise to wake or touch to wake feature.

Fitbit Charge 5 vs Luxe: which fitness band is right for you?
Fitbit Charge 5 vs Luxe

 

There are some other subtle differences, too. Both Luxe and Charge 5 have no physical button so you purely rely on the touch display for navigation. But the second has stainless steel panels on the sides that add to the classy look. It’s more than just about appearance. The panels double-up as sensors when taking ECG/EDA measurements.

As far as build, Luxe has a metal housing made of polished stainless steel. This can be paired with various straps including some special edition ones.

Luxe clearly has the better build as Charge 5 housing is made of aluminium, glass and resin. Its band is made of silicone and is kept in place with an aluminium buckle. In time, we are sure that Fitbit will add some special edition bands to Charge 5.

Water resistance is exactly the same for both devices. At 5 ATM you can take showers, baths and swim with them with no worries.

Under the hood

Under the hood, Charge 5 and Luxe share an optical heart rate tracker, 3-axis accelerometer, SpO2, temperature sensor, ambient light sensor and vibration motor. So quite a bit of commonality. As can be seen from the list, neither of the two has an altimeter for counting floors.

Luxe also lacks multipurpose electrical sensors. These can be found on Charge 5 and are used for ECG and more precise stress measurements. 

Battery life is fairly decent whichever fitness band you choose. Charge 5 keeps going for about a week between charges and 5 hours with GPS switched on. Luxe will go for around 5 days. But keep in mind that switching on blood oxygen readings on Charge 5 will shorten its battery life. 

Here’s a table with a detailed look at specs.

Charge 5
Luxe
Fitbit Charge 5 vs Luxe
Material
The housing is made of aluminium, glass and resin. The band is made of silicone and has an aluminium buckle.
Housing is made of stainless steel. Band is made of silicone and fastens with an anodised metal buckle and tang. The special edition gorjana Parker Link Bracelet is made of stainless steel and a peony silicone band.
Dimensions
36.78mm x 22.79mm
33.5 x 17.5 mm
Depth
11.2 mm
10.1 mm
Display type
AMOLED
AMOLED
Screen resolution
260 x 170 pixels
124 x 206 pixels
Battery life
up to 7 days or up to 5 hours with GPS. Use of the always-on display and SpO2 features will require more frequent charging. 
up to 5 days
Water resistance
up to 50 metres (swim-proof) – 5 ATM
up to 50 metres (swim-proof) – 5 ATM
Sensors
Optical heart rate tracker,
3-axis accelerometer,
SpO2,
temperature sensor,
multipurpose electrical sensors compatible with ECG app & EDA Scan app,
vibration motor,
ambient light sensor
Optical heart rate monitor,
3-axis accelerometer,
SpO2,
temperature sensor,
vibration motor,
ambient light sensor
GPS
Built-in GPS
Connected GPS
NFC
Yes
No
RRP
$179
$150

Fitbit Charge 5 vs Fitbit Luxe: Features

Fitbit has upped its game when it comes to its fitness band range. They are taking on-board more and more functionality from the company’s smartwatch range.

Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets

Both the Charge 5 and Luxe will have you covered 24/7 as far as activity and sleep tracking smarts. As mentioned above, the one notable exception is that there is no floor count on either of these. But you do get some fancy tracking functionality such as blood oxygen, heart rate variability (HRV), temperature and stress tracking. There is also automatic activity recognition, swim tracking, Guided Breathing, Female Health tracking, move reminders and much, much more.

But Charge 5 has two important extras over Luxe which we will talk about now.

Charge 5 has an ECG/EDA sensor

The first is the inclusion of an ECG/EDA sensor. ECG has been popularised by the Apple Watch. Charge 5 is the first Fitness band with this type of functionality.

Hold the sensors on the side and the device will measure your electrocardiogram. It will let you know if your heart rhythm is normal or if there is something amiss. This can be a good way of spotting Afib and other heart abnormalities.

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Fitbit Luxe
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The panels on the sides also double-up as an EDA sensor. This means they have the ability to measure your electrodermal activity – or the tiny electrical changes on your skin. You’re probably wondering what this is good for. Well, the tracker takes this information to measure your body’s response to stress.

You’re assigned a score between 1 and 100. A high number means you are chilled, a low number as an indicator of more physical signs of stress. Luxe also spits out a stress reading but this is more simplified. It relies mostly on the heart rate sensor for its estimates.

Charge 5 has built-in GPS

Just like its predecessor, Charge 5 also comes with a built-in GPS sensor. This is very useful for those that run or cycle outdoors often. It means they can leave their phone behind and still get detailed tracking of activity and a map of their route.

Those with a Luxe need to rely on Connected GPS. This taps into their smartphone signal for the satellite reading.

Charge 5 owners have the option of Connected GPS open to them. If you are running low on battery this is the one to choose as keeping built-in GPS on draws quite a bit of battery juice.

Some of this is behind a paywall

Unfortunately, Fitbit has opted to keep some health functionality behind the paywall. You can see a short-term view of things such as HRV and temperature variations in the Fitbit smartphone app. For longer term trends and more detail you will need to opt for a Premium Subscription.

The same is the case for the Fitbit Daily Readiness Score. This is a feature first announced with the launch of Charge 5. It takes into account HRV, activity levels and sleep stats to arrive at a reading each morning. You then use this to decide whether to take it easy that day or exercise. Fitbit can even spit out recommendations for you based on the Readiness reading.

Have no fear, those with Luxe will not be missing out. This feature will also come to its owners via a software update in the coming weeks. But as with Charge, it will be sitting behind a paywall.

Charge 5
Luxe
Fitbit Charge 5 vs Luxe
Built-in GPS
Yes
No
ECG
Yes
No
Stress
Yes (more detailed thanks to EDA sensor)
Yes
NFC
Yes
No
Smart features
Call notifications
Text, calendar, app alerts
Quick replies
Spotify Control
Fitbit Pay
Call notifications
Text, calendar, app alerts

Smart functionality

You can use Luxe for call notifications, text, calendar and app alerts. But that’s where it ends.

Charge 5 goes a step further with Quick Replies, in addition to NFC for payments not the go. This will be important to some but not to others. The final extra you get with Charge 5 is the ability to play, stop, shuffle and skip Spotify songs running on your smartphone.


Fitbit Charge 5 vs Fitbit Luxe: The bottom line

Both of these are decent fitness bands that look beautiful. Plus they use Fitbit’s tried and tested, simple to use software and activity tracking smarts.

If you’re after a slimmer, more discreet experience, Luxe is your answer. It comes with all the basic fitness tracking functionality, coupled with a beautiful AMOLED display and premium build. Retailing for about $30 less, it is also the cheaper of the two options.

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Fitbit Charge 5
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Charge 5 comes with a slightly larger price tag but you do get quite a bit for your money. This option is more suited for the outdoorsy types, for those that run or cycle often. It has built-in GPS for phone-free exercise tracking, slightly longer battery life and a larger display which makes reading your stats on the go easier. Plus there’s the ECG/EDA sensor and NFC for payments on the go.

Fitbit Charge 5 and Luxe can be picked up on Amazon. We suggest the first for those more serious about sports and health tracking (check current price on Amazon). Luxe is still an attractive option, particularly as its price will now go down (check current price on Amazon).

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