Fitbit Charge 4 on long-term test: Good features, but battery life with GPS is an issue

Wristband wearables have arrive a extensive way, and these times we count on them to offer you GPS, heart amount monitoring, alarms and a vary of handset connectivity capabilities. The £129.ninety nine/$149.ninety nine Fitbit Cost four has all of these, in addition a blend of other capabilities, some of which Fitbit calls ‘apps’. You can opt for to demonstrate or not demonstrate these wristband apps, which include a contactless payment wallet referred to as Fitbit Fork out, on the device by earning alternatives in the Fitbit smartphone app (iOS or Android). Fork out £149.ninety nine/$169.ninety five for the Exclusive Version and you get a woven again wristband alternatively than a rubbery a single. I’ve been using the Cost four for many weeks, and offer you these observations as a adhere to-up to Matthew Miller’s April assessment.


The Fitbit Cost four (£129.ninety nine/$149.ninety nine) features heart-amount monitoring, designed-in GPS, target-centered workout modes, h2o resistance, snooze monitoring, notifications and on-band apps.

Images: Fitbit


The common wristband can be changed with vibrant or woven alternatives.

Graphic: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The in general design and style is familiar to any person who has a earlier Fitbit Cost device: an elongated touch monitor a one aspect (touch) button on the remaining edge of the Cost four (if worn on the appropriate wrist) and a removable wristband that is easily changed with vibrant alternatives. The Cost four comes with two wristbands and I observed the tiny a single was fantastic for me. All but the greatest of wrists really should be accommodated.

The gray OLED touchscreen is substantial and you navigate around it using the aspect button and a blend of monitor sweeps and faucets. It is fairly simple to get employed to how matters work. Tapping on the clock facial area toggles as a result of metrics like actions, length, and heart amount. A vary of faces can be set showing diverse alternatives of metrics, in addition time and day, by means of the Fitbit smartphone app. Sweeping appropriate to remaining brings up a variety of wristband apps that have been enabled in the smartphone app.

Primary activity monitoring operates fantastic. You can notify the smartphone app your ordinary stride lengths for each running and going for walks, and it shares this with the Cost four, which can then transform paces into length. It is not perfect, but I have always observed Fitbit units to be fairly accurate when tested on calculated distances, and that remains the scenario with the Cost four. 

The Cost four will immediately detect when you are running, biking, on a treadmill or going for walks, and it is h2o resistant to the extent that you can swim for up to fifty metres wearing it with no adverse impact. If you are severe about cross-schooling with these kinds of pursuits, then you may possibly want a additional advanced device that can provide a larger vary of metrics. But if you are just looking to do a sure selection of actions or protect a sure length, then the Fitbit four operates well, such as issuing alerts when you get to your preset plans every working day.

With a heart amount observe on-board, the Fitibit Cost four can do attention-grabbing matters like evaluate your resting heart amount, set activity zones and report on these, and — new for this model — supply a report of Active Zone Minutes. This is a calculation centered on age and resting heart amount, and the strategy is to get to a target of a hundred and fifty minutes a 7 days in your Active Zone. It is quite a intelligent strategy for individuals using a Fitbit to burn calories or drop bodyweight. Just ambling around is fewer valuable in this regard than going a bit faster, and earning your heart work a bit more difficult. As your resting heart amount lowers, the Fitbit improvements its target minutes, so in principle there is always a related target to purpose at. Whole reporting total with graphs is readily available in the Fitbit smartphone app.

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Of all these metrics I observed the resting heart amount facts particularly valuable. I have found from earlier Fitbit use how my heart amount fluctuates if I have a chilly or fever, and how it falls as I get fitter, mounting as my health wanes. These metrics can assistance individuals monitor their progress along a health trajectory.

The snooze monitoring is also valuable. I like to retain an eye on the hours I commit asleep, as well as monitoring my snooze high quality to make sure I am not limited-changing myself. The Fitbit app has some nicely presented graphics showing in general snooze hours and periods of restlessness. If you definitely want to weigh in with the metrics, the Fitbit app presents you a snooze rating centered on the high quality and duration of snooze, with a score these kinds of as ‘fair’ or ‘good’ for every night time. 

As for the extra capabilities, I didn’t trouble with the Spotify controls, Fitbit Fork out (a new aspect with the Cost four), the weather app, or notifications. My handset is the go-to location for this functionality, but I can see how some people may well obtain them valuable. What I like a great deal is the silent, vibrating alarm, which is robust more than enough to wake me, but also refined to wake somebody else.


The Cost 4’s charge cable is alternatively limited, and fiddly to have interaction.

Graphic: Fitbit

The battery is rated to past for 7 times furnished you usually are not using GPS, in which scenario it is only fantastic for 5 hours. This generally rendered the GPS unusable for me on extensive weekend walks, even if I begun with it absolutely billed. Which is a shame, as GPS is a major promoting point for the Cost four. I observed the charge device to be a bit of a fiddly in shape, and I experienced to double-test that it was in location properly. Also, its cable is quite limited, which intended my usual desktop charge station was just a tiny awkward to use. Long time period this would possible be quite an problem.

Overall, the Fitbit Cost four has some great capabilities and is a fantastic action up from the Cost three, whilst the Fitbit app displays a great deal of quite advanced facts in an accessible way. Keen sporting activities individuals will want a longer-long lasting battery for GPS use and additional granular metrics, but as a health tracker for common wellbeing the Cost four does pretty well.

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