It’s very much a redesigned version of what we were wearing 12 months ago along with basic smartwatch features that were promised, but were ultimately never delivered post-launch.
Yes, Fitbit is also working on the even more exciting Fitbit Charge HR and full-featured Fitbit Surge with built-in GPS, but this is version that’s here in time for the holidays.
Since it’s now available to order in the US, I tested the new activity tracker and compared it to my old Fitbit Force, risking skin irritation for one gusty hands on review.
Fitbit Charge release date
Fitbit Charge is running, not walking to US retailers following today’s official announcement. It’s now available to order on Fitbit’s website starting today and stores throughout North America.
In the UK, orders begin on November 17. In both cases, delivery is expected in November, which is perfectly timed for the holidays.
What you won’t see by Christmas, however, is more than one new Fitbit model this year. Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge aren’t due out until early 2015.
Fitbit Charge price
You can put a price on your health fitness, and year after year, Fitbit makes it $130 (£99, about AU$150).
That was the price of the recalled Fitbit Force that never made it outside of North America and that’s how much it’ll cost this year too.
Fitbit Charge design
First and foremost, Fitbit Charge is promising to avoid the nasty skin irritation complaints that affected just enough users to warrant a recall last year.
It also sports a more stylish textured band. Otherwise the Fitbit Charge looks identical to last year’s rubber activity tracker.
It has a small one-line OLED that spells on your daily metrics and a two-pronged clasp that haphazardly buckles everything together.
It’s not the best approach to tie the small fitness tracker together. For a real wristwatch buckle, you’ll have to pay extra for the Fitbit Charge HR or Fitbit Surge and wait until next year.
Fitbit Charge compatibility
Fitbit has always gone a step further than its fitness tracking competition with cross-platform compatibility that extends outside of Apple and Google’s ecosystems.
Apple is be kicking Fitbit out of its retail stores for now joining its iOS 8 Health app, but it’s Fitbit’s reps who say they’re remaining agnostic. Something tell us that Apple Watch is to blame more than anything.
Fitbit Charge features
Fitbit has enough sensors in it to track the basics: steps taken, distance traveled and calories burned. It also has an altimeter to know how many floors you climbed in a day.
That’s a feature Fitbit Flex users have been living without. The Charge also returns with exercise tracking features to easily record workouts.
What I’m most excited about is automatic sleep logging. Sure, Fitbit Force could determine when I was restless or in deep sleep, but I always had to toggle between active and sleep modes.
Not even the Jawbone Up24 can automatically transition between the two. If Fitbit improved its sleep overall functionality along with adding this new feature, it’ll be ahead of Jawbone, the current fitness tracking leader.
Fitbit Charge battery life
Here’s another non-surprise straight from last year: Fitbit Charge is expected to deliver up to seven days of activity tracking between charges.
You’re still going to have to use a proprietary charge to juice it up, but at least it runs the entire week without fail.
Automatic sleep tracking and Caller ID features make Fitbit Charge worth considering over the Jawbone Up24. This is especially if you’re the type of person who wants to see your daily progress on a watch without having to sync to an app.
Not much else has changed since last year even though the price is exactly the same. It’s a fitting holiday gift, but maybe only because it’s here now. The most exciting Fitbits aren’t available yet: the Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge, both due out in early 2015.
Fitbit Charge is the holdover that’s really a Fitbit Force redo with a few minor differences for 2014.
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