With the Fitbit Charge 6 launched today, the conversation around its comparison to Charge 5 comes to the forefront. This isn’t just a battle of specs; it’s a snapshot of a brand at a pivotal moment, especially as it fortifies its relationship with Google.
When the Fitbit Charge 5 hit the market in August 2021, it didn’t just raise the bar—it practically rewrote the rulebook for what a flagship fitness band could achieve. Almost matching the capabilities of the Fitbit Sense, the Charge 5 became a testament to Fitbit’s relentless pursuit of innovation.
Enter the Fitbit Charge 6, a device that seems more focused on refinement than revolution. This iteration leans heavily into Google’s ecosystem, a strategic pivot that aligns with the search giant’s acquisition of Fitbit a few years back.
The year 2023 has been conspicuously low-key for Fitbit in the hardware department, hinting at a year of transition aimed at deeper software integration with Google. This backdrop makes the choice to upgrade—or not—a complex decision, hinging on your specific needs and how much you value the Google-centric features now on offer.
View Charge 6 on Amazon.
Fitbit Charge 6 vs Charge 5: Hardware
Look & feel
When it comes to the design aspect in the Fitbit Charge 6 vs Charge 5 debate, both devices share a family resemblance but with a few minor differences that set them apart. The Charge 6 takes a step back to reintroduce a haptic physical button, a feature conspicuously absent in the Charge 5. This reintroduction suggests that Fitbit is attuned to user feedback, addressing a design element that some found lacking in the previous model.
The case and design of the Charge 6 are crafted from 100% recycled aluminum. This aligns with growing consumer demand for sustainable products.
In contrast, the Charge 5’s design, while sleek, lacks these newer features. It’s a touchscreen-only device, which, depending on your preference, could be seen as either a streamlined approach or a limitation.
When it comes to color options, both the Fitbit Charge 6 and Charge 5 offer a variety to suit different tastes, but the Charge 6 takes it up a notch. Expanding beyond the more traditional hues of the Charge 5, which came in Black, Silver/Blue strap, and Gold/White, the Charge 6 introduces a more vibrant palette. With choices like Obsidian, Porcelain, and Coral, the Charge 6 allows users to make a bolder style statement. These new color options not only add a dash of personality to the device but also give users more avenues to align their fitness tracker with their individual style.
Beyond that – its much of the same. This also applies to the excellent 5 ATM water-resistance.
Under the hood: Sensor capabilities refined
When comparing the sensor technology in the Fitbit Charge 6 vs Charge 5 debate, both devices come equipped with an identical array of sensors. These include a 3-axis accelerometer, optical heart rate monitor, Pulse Ox, multipurpose electrical sensors compatible with both the ECG and EDA Scan apps, GPS, an ambient light sensor, and an NFC chip.
However, the Charge 6 distinguishes itself through the precision of its heart rate monitoring. Utilizing Google’s enhanced algorithms, it promises up to 60% more accurate heart rate data during intense physical activities.
As far as the EDA sensor, it has not been upgraded. To remind, Fitbit Sense 2 has a cEDA sensor which is capable of taking measurements around the clock. The one on Charge 6 only takes readings on-demand. Also, still no altimeter for stairs tracking.
Moving quickly on, and we get to battery life. Fitbit has always done well in this department and Charge 6 is no different. It offers a nice balance between longevity and performance, allowing users to go almost a full week without needing a recharge. That’s unchanged from what you get on Charge 5.
Fitbit Charge 6 vs Charge 5: Tech specs differences
Below is a comprehensive table detailing the technical specifications of the Fitbit Charge 6 and Charge 5, offering a side-by-side comparison
Fitbit Charge 6
Fitbit Charge 5
Case and design in 100% recycled aluminum
Same case and design but not 100% recycled material.
Haptic side physical button reintroduced
Solely a touchscreen device
36.7 x 23.1 x 11.2 mm
36.7 x 22.7 x 112 mm
Weight (without band)
Uses Google’s improved heart rate algorithms, 20 new workout modes including HIIT, CrossFit, and skiing, 60% more accurate heart rate during vigorous activities
Less accurate heart rate algorithms, fewer workout modes
3-axis accelerometer, Optical heart rate monitor, Pulse Ox, Multipurpose electrical sensors compatible with ECG app & EDA Scan app, GPS, Ambient light sensor, NFC chip
Same as Charge 6
Ability to broad heart rate to 3rd party fitness equipment via Bluetooth
Yes. Encrypted Bluetooth connectivity with NordicTrack, Peloton, Concept2, and Tonal.
Google Maps integration with turn-by-turn directions on the screen, Google Wallet support for payments, YouTube Music controls, Zoom + Magnification feature
Limited smart features, Fitbit Pay for payments
Up to 7 days (charge time from 0 to full – two hours)
Same as Charge 6
Launched at: $159.99
Launched at: $179.99
Obsidian, Porcelain, Coral
Black, Silver/Blue strap, Gold/White
Fitbit Charge 6 vs Charge 5: Functionality
Health and fitness: tracking your well-being
Both the Fitbit Charge 6 and Charge 5 are designed to be comprehensive health and fitness devices. They offer a wide range of features to monitor your well-being, from basic metrics like steps, distance, and calories burned to more advanced health indicators such as HRV and skin temperature. There’s also the ability to assess your heart rhythm for atrial fibrillation on-wrist with the ECG app, and get high and low heart rate notifications.
These devices can automatically track high-movement activities lasting at least 15 minutes and provide real-time stats during specific exercises, including heart rate data, calories burned, and elapsed time. They also offer GPS functionality for more accurate distance and pace tracking. Advanced features include stress management tools, sleep tracking, and heart rate zone notifications, allowing you to gain deeper insights into your overall health.
As mentioned, there’s little change here. One of the improvements is the above mentioned enhanced heart rate tracking algorithms. The other improvement is the addition of 20 new workout modes including HIIT, CrossFit, and skiing.
Another feature that sets the Fitbit Charge 6 apart is its ability to broadcast heart rate data to third-party fitness equipment via Bluetooth. This functionality allows for a more integrated fitness experience, especially for those who utilize a variety of equipment in their workout routines. Whether you’re on a treadmill, stationary bike, or using any other Bluetooth-enabled fitness machine, the Charge 6 can seamlessly share real-time heart rate data, enhancing the accuracy and utility of your workout metrics.
Smart features: More than just a fitness tracker
When it comes to smart functionalities, the Charge 6 takes a clear lead with its deeper integration into the Google ecosystem. While both devices offer basic smart features like notifications and contactless payments via NFC, the Charge 6 goes a step further. It supports Google Wallet and offers Google Maps integration with turn-by-turn directions, allowing for more seamless navigation.
The Charge 6 also introduces the ability to control YouTube Music directly from the device, making it a more versatile lifestyle companion. Unfortunately there is no native music storage. A purchase of the tracker does get you one free month of Youtube Premium, though.
On the other hand, the Charge 5 offers a more limited set of smart features. They don’t go much beyond Fitbit Pay compatibility and notifications.
Finally, also worth a mention is that Charge 6 debuts Fitbit’s first Accessibility feature. Zoom + Magnification, allows users to enlarge text with just a few taps for easier readability.
Fitbit Charge 6 vs Charge 5: The bottom line
The Fitbit Charge 6, hot off the press today, brings incremental improvements over its predecessor, the Charge 5. While both devices are robust fitness trackers, the Charge 6 leans into a deeper integration with Google’s ecosystem, marking a strategic shift for the company. However, if you’re already sporting a Charge 5 on your wrist, the upgrades may not be compelling enough to warrant a switch. The sensor suite remains largely the same, with the notable exception of enhanced heart rate accuracy in the Charge 6.
That said, if you’re using an older generation Fitbit, the Charge 6 offers a more refined experience, from its design tweaks to its improved heart rate tracking and added smart functionalities. Moreover, the Charge 6 comes at a slightly reduced launch price of around $160 (check price on Amazon), making it a cost-effective choice for those considering an upgrade.
In essence, the Charge 6 is a device of refinement rather than revolution. It’s a snapshot of a brand in transition, focusing on software enhancements and user experience. If you value these incremental improvements and the new Google-centric features, the Charge 6 could be worth the investment. Otherwise, the Charge 5 remains a strong contender, especially given its proven track record.
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