(Pocket-lint) - The Fitbit Charge 5 succeeds the excellent Charge 4 tracker, sitting in the middle of the Google-owned company's fitness tracking portfolio.
The Charge 5 brings some of the best features across the Fitbit portfolio into one package though, making it a very appealing choice. Here's what we make of it...
- Finishes (band & stainless steel case): Lunar White & Soft Gold; Black & Graphite; Steel Blue & Platinum
- Display: Always-on colour AMOLED panel, 0.86-inch x 0.58-inch dimensions, 326ppi pixel density
- Dimensions: 36.7 x 22.7 x 11.2mm / Weight: 28g
- Interchangeable straps
The Fitbit Charge 5 delivers a big design upgrade compared to its predecessor. It is much softer in its appearance, ditching the angles and plastic of the Charge 4 and replacing them with a smooth, curved body and a matte stainless steel finish.
Very similar in its appearance to the Fitbit Luxe - though it's larger, while the Luxe is glossy rather than matte - the Charge 5 has a premium and luxurious finish. You want to wear it on your wrist because it looks good on it, with a slim and subtle profile.
There are no buttons, with just a colour AMOLED always-on touchscreen display to handle the controls. The screen is punchy and responsive, though like the Fitbit Luxe it could optimise the space it uses more - it's certainly not edge-to-edge with minimal bezels like the Apple Watch is, for example.
The silicone strap that comes as standard - we had the Lunar White model - is lovely and soft, making the Charge 5 very comfortable to wear, both day and night. The straps are easily interchangeable if you want something a bit smarter though, with the mechanism on the underside of the body, as is normal for Fitbit devices.
The optical heart rate sensor also sits on the underside of the Charge 5's body, sitting flush with the casing so there's no digging into your wrist - as was the case with some of the older Charge models. The charging pins are also present here and - as with all Fitbit devices - the Charge 5 has its own charging cradle type (the same one as the Fitbit Luxe).
Great feature set
- Automatic exercise recognition
- Sleep tracking and all-day activity tracking
- Sp02 blood oxygen monitor, EDA, ECG, Skin temperature
- 24/7 heart rate monitoring
- Swimproof (to 50m)
- Built-in GPS
The Fitbit Charge 5 offers an excellent feature set. At the time of writing a couple of the features aren't yet available - the ECG app and Readiness Score - but there's still plenty to praise.
Naturally, the Fitbit Charge 5 comes with all the basics you would expect from a fitness tracker. There's heart rate tracking, sleep tracking, automatic exercise tracking, 20 exercise modes, along with step tracking, distance and elevation recording.
More than that though - and where this tracker comes into its own, by bringing the best features from other Fitbit devices - is that the Charge 5 offers an electrodermal activity app (EDA), which measures your body's response to stress, along with SpO2 blood oxygen monitoring, skin temperature tracking, and breathing rate tracking.
There's also built-in GPS for built-in tracking (something the Fitbit Luxe lacks), Cardio Fitness Level, water resistance to 50-metres, NFC for Fitbit Pay, and smartphone notifications too. The notifications are limited to simply delivering the information rather than you being able to do anything with them, but still useful nonetheless.
One feature the Charge 5 does miss off the list is music control though. The Charge 4 offered Spotify control - though not during workouts - but the Charge 5 takes this feature away. It won't matter to some, but it was useful to have and disappoing to see lacking.
- 7-day battery life
- 20 exercise modes
The Fitbit Charge 5 is excellent in terms of performance and hands-down one of the best fitness trackers out there. Sleep tracking is absolutely brilliant in our experience - certainly better than most - and the Charge 5 keeps up with devices three times its price in terms of heart rate tracking too.
We wore it alongside the Apple Watch Series 6 during testing, and while the flagship Fitbit Sense struggled at higher intensities, the Charge 5 did a sterling job. Occasionally its reading was a couple of beats per minute different to the Watch Series 6, but on the whole the two devices are on par, which is impressive.
Like the Fitbit Luxe, the Charge 5 can't compete on the smartwatch side of things quite so well, but it does offer like-for-like stats at the end of various workouts, including average heart rate, maximum heart rate, and calories burned.
We mentioned there are 20 exercise modes on the Charge 5, which sounds like a lot, but we would like to have seen Fitbit expand a little here. There's no specific indoor cycling option, for example, which seems like a pretty standard one to miss off, especially for the gym-goer. Compare the list to the Apple Watch Series 6, for example, and the Charge 5 falls short.
Battery life on the Charge 5 is excellent though. It's claimed to offer seven days - or five hours when using GPS non-stop - and it manages this no problem. Being able to wear a device all day, tracking exercise on most days, and then wear it to bed each night for sleep tracking over a whole week is rare - but the Charge 5 manages it.
- Fitbit app (iOS & Android)
- Fitbit Premium paywall for some features
The Fitbit Charge 5 is easy to navigate and use - which is one of the best things about Fitbit devices. A swipe down from the top of the display gives you access to settings and Fitbit Pay, a swipe up from the bottom displays daily statistics, while and a sideways swipe takes you to notifications, EDA scan, alarms and exercise shortcuts.
The AMOLED display offers the basics, but it's the Fitbit app you'll want to head to for a breakdown of all your stats and what they mean. Some of the best features are locked behind Fitbit Premium - like more in-depth sleep stats - but the basics are still offered without paying.
There's a six month trial of Premium that comes with the Charge 5 so you can see if you use those features enough to warrant the monthly cost. You can read more about Fitbit Premium and what it offers in our separate feature.
You can also read our separate Fitbit tips and tricks feature for more on the Fitbit app, including how to access various features that maybe aren't that obvious initially - such as how to add exercise shortcuts to your Charge 5.
Overall we love using the Fitbit platform. The app is extremely easy to navigate and data is plentiful - but it is presented in a very digestible format, which is great for any user.
The Fitbit Charge 5 is an excellent activity tracker. We loved the smaller and very stylish Fitbit Luxe, but the Charge 5 takes everything we liked about that device and adds to it - with features like built-in GPS and Fitbit Pay - whilst also bringing some of the great features from the Fitbit Sense, such as stress management.
The premium design looks lovely on the wrist and it's comfortable to wear too, while the battery life is also excellent. It's not often you'll get week-long use from an activity tracker day or night - if you do longer GPS activity that's not quite the case though - but the Charge delivers strong on this front.
It's not quite perfect though, as some features are missing at launch, the smartphone notifications aren't super useful, and there's definitely room for improvement for the exercise shortcuts on offer. That said, the exercise tracking, sleep tracking and heart rate tracking of the Charge 5 goes toe-to-toe with devices over twice its price.
The Charge 5 is not the cheapest Fitbit available, but in our view it's the best one of the lot, offering a fantastic blend of features, design and battery life.
It's smaller and more elegant than the Charge 5, but misses out on a number of features, including built-in GPS, EDA and ECG. If you want the basics - and then some - the Luxe is well worth considering though, plus it's cheaper than the Charge 5.
The most expensive Fitbit available - it's nearly twice the price of the Charge 5 - but if you like the idea of the wellness features offered by the Charge 5 and want more of a smartwatch, then this is a great choice.