Fitbit Charge 5 was launched in August 2021, about a year and a half after its predecessor. There have been five generations in the range so far, and one interim update. The last version represents one of the biggest jumps in technical specs to the company’s flagship fitness band. The device is pretty much on par with Fitbit Sense as far as what it can do – which is pretty impressive.
You might be wondering if this is a good time to buy Charge 5 or if you should wait for generation six. There’s nothing worse than buying tech only for it to become outdated after a few months time. In fairness, unlike some companies which shall go unnamed – Fitbit is pretty good at churning out firmware updates even to older generations of its devices. This is part of the reason the brand has a loyal following.
Some were wondering what would happen with Fitbit following its acquisition by Google. So far it has been business as usual and there’s no reason to expect a change down the line. Having said that, we are expecting a fully fledged smartwatch to come out of this linkup. Whether it carries Google or joint branding remains to be seen.
As far as Fitbit Charge 6, there have not been any credible leaks or regulatory filings. We will update this article when there are. For now we are looking at the logical progression as far as what to expect (and what could be improved), along with a likely release date. Once again, we are expecting something that offers a great blend of features, design, battery life and price.
Fitbit Charge 6: Design expectations
- А larger display
- А return of the physical button?
- Same 1+ week battery life
The latest generation has received a major design overhaul over the previous one. Charge 5 looks much more modern with slightly curved edges and a streamlined design. There are no protruding physical buttons. Instead you navigate the menues and do everything via the touch display.
For the first time on a Charge the screen is color. This is something that should have come to the Charge range long ago.
While we do not see any significant changes in terms of looks, one area that could benefit from further upgrades is the display. The current generation has a 1.04 inch AMOLED. And while that is a jump over Charge 4 in quality – the screen could be larger. The thick bezel means there’s clearly room to make the display larger. The company did get rid of the annoying Fitbit logo from the face of the tracker, so that’s a good start.
Part of the problem is that screen technology can be power-hungry. Neverthless, with each passing year wearable components are becoming more power efficient. Hence we would like to see a larger screen but with the same (or better) 1+ week battery life.
Fitbit might even re-assess its decision not to have a physical button. Yes, the device looks sleeker without – but for those into sports tracking it can be a bit problematic fiddling around with a touch display with sweaty hands. The same applies to cold weather, with gloves on.
Fitbit Charge 6: Expected functionality
- Addition of altimeter
- Possibly blood pressure monitoring
- A return of music control would be nice
- Apple Health, Google Fit integration
- Wider selection of apps
Fitbit Charge 5 is a much better mix of fitness and health tracker than previous generations. The device pulls together the best features of Fitbit’s current lineup in one neat device.
Having said that, some of this sits behind the Fitbit premium pay-wall. For example, the much anticipated Readiness Score is something that is not available to everyone. And while this is unpopular, we don’t see it changing. Unfortunately this is the direction many wearable brands are going in. It provides them with an alternative income stream.
With Charge 5 you get on-board GPS for tracking runs without a watch, along with a plethora of sensors. This includes everything you need for 24/7 activity and sleep tracking, an EDA (electrodermal activity) sensor for measuring stress and ECG.
As far as the next generation, we see blood pressuring to be the next big thing. Expect more and more devices to get that type of functionality in the months ahead. Unlike ECG which is on-demand, this will be tracked automatically via the optical heart rate sensor.
One other sensor improvement would be a return of the altimeter for floors climbed. For some reason Fitbit dropped this on generation five. As unreliable as it is, it is a nice metric to have.
And while Fitbit Charge 5 shines when it comes to health and fitness tracking, the device leaves a lot to be desired in terms of smart features. Fitbit has dropped Spotify support that allowed you to control playlists through the Charge 4. In fact, you don’t have any smartphone music control which is a shame for something that is meant to track your workouts.
Another area ripe for improvement are apps. You have a limited selection of them on Charge 4. Sure, this is not a smartwatch but the distinction between fitness trackers and smartwatches is blurring.
Finally, native integration with Apple Health and Google Fit would be nice.
Fitbit Charge 6: Release date, price
As mentioned, there have been five generations in the Charge range so far, and one interim device. Here’s a list of all devices in the lineup and the date they were unveiled.
- Fitbit Charge – October 2014
- Fitbit Charge HR – January 2015
- Fitbit Charge 2 – September 2016
- Fitbit Charge 3 – October 2018
- Fitbit Charge 4 – March 2020
- Fitbit Charge 5 – August 2021
- Fitbit Charge 6 – ???
As can be seen from the list above, Fitbit has been pretty regular at dishing out a new version of Charge every 18 months or so. This sometimes coincides with IFA in Berlin. Which is Europe’s largest tech gathering that occurs in early September each year. We are not expecting the Charge 6 this year. But it will definitely land by late Summer 2023 or at the earliest next Spring.
Fitbit Charge 5
As far as price, Fitbit will look to keep the device affordable for the masses. The current version sells for around $180 which is a bit more than previous generations. But we have seen it all the way down to $119 when discounts are available so its worth shopping around (check current price on Amazon). Charge 6 will most likely also be around the $150-$180 mark. In the meantime, the current generation remains one of your best options if you’re looking for a capable band with built-in GPS.
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