Image source: Fitbit

Battery drain blues: Fitbit Charge 5 update and its aftermath

In the world of wearable technology, updates are a double-edged sword, offering new features but sometimes bringing unforeseen issues. This has been the case with the recent Fitbit Charge 5 update, version 194.91, rolled out in December 2023. Over 100 users have reported significant problems post-update on the Fitbit Community forum, casting a shadow over the new features introduced.

Promising Features Turned Sour: Fitbit Charge 5 – battery drain

The update was designed to enhance the Fitbit experience. It introduces all exercise modes in the Exercise app and prioritizes recently used modes. Additionally, new clock faces were added to the Fitbit Gallery, and users could view their daily Readiness Score, a premium feature. The update also supported global characters and right-to-left text notifications in languages like Arabic, Hebrew, Thai, Hindi, and Vietnamese, indicating a move towards greater inclusivity.

However, the excitement was short-lived as some users began experiencing rapid battery drainage, rendering their devices nearly unusable. This issue was immediately apparent post-update, with devices failing to hold a charge for a reasonable duration.

A 20 page forum thread has sprung up on the Fitbit Community website discussing the issue. You can check it out on this link.

The response from Google, which acquired Fitbit in 2019 for a cool $2.1 billion, has been notably absent. Users have expressed their dissatisfaction with Fitbit’s customer service, which has offered limited solutions like factory resetting or purchasing new devices. This situation has led some customers to consider switching to rival brands, seeking reliability and better support.

To update or not to update?

The Fitbit Charge 5, launched in August 2021, set a new standard in the flagship fitness band market, almost matching the capabilities of the Fitbit Sense. Since then, the company has introduced the Charge 6. It represents an refinement of its predecessor.

Essential reading: Fitbit Charge 6 vs 5 – what’s new and what’s not?

The sixth generation device differs from the Charge 5 primarily in design, sensor accuracy, and smart features. The Charge 6 reintroduces a physical button for tactile control and is made from 100% recycled aluminum. It offers more accurate heart rate monitoring with Google’s enhanced algorithms and includes additional workout modes. The Charge 6 also integrates more deeply with Google’s ecosystem. It features Google Maps navigation, Google Wallet, and YouTube Music controls, functionalities not present in its predecessor.

So not a huge upgrade which is why most users opted to hold on to their Charge 5. But this leaves them now with a decision – to update to the latest firmware or not.

While the new features are appealing, the risk of rendering their device ineffective is a significant deterrent. Until these issues are resolved, it might be prudent for Charge 5 owners to hold off on updating their devices. No doubt, the company will issue a fix soon. We will update this article as and when we hear more.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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