Fitbit Charge 5 is the latest fitness band launched by the company at Rs 12,999 in India. Well, it does sound a lot for a fitness band and that too in a market that is already saturated with many affordable options. However, Fitbit Charge 5 has made a compelling case for itself. It has proved that a fitness band is much more than pedometers and heart-rate monitors.
Beautiful design but not very practical
The Fitbit Charge 5 has received a facelift when it comes to the design language. The fitness band is not only easy to wear, the button-less design with rose gold edges gives it an elegant, premium look. I absolutely adored my Lunar White colour variant review unit. It features a colourful, bright 1.04-inch AMOLED display that is a major upgrade from its predecessor’s monochrome offering. However, bezels are thick which makes the screen look tiny.
While from a design perspective, the Fitbit Charge 5 does look stunning, but from a practical point of view, it is a huge step back. Why? Because you can’t just press the digital crown to wake up your screen without looking at it or to go back to home screen with one push because there is no physical button. You have to tap on the tiny display multiple times to perform these tasks. Moreover, if you are swiping through the features in the watch, you actually have to keep swiping to go back to the home screen. It can be quite frustrating at times, trust me and after two weeks of usage I am still not used to it.
The fitness band comes with an Always-On display feature, but it is a huge battery-draining option. I prefer the tilt-to-wake option much more than the AOD. Talking about the looks, Fitbit offers a pretty limited palette when it comes to watchfaces. Strangely, you cannot change the watchface directly from the band, you will have to reach out to your phone for that. Strange, because several rivals which are much cheaper already have this functionality and honestly, it is pretty basic.
The holy grail of features
In addition to the pedometer, heart rate sensor, blood oxygen level tracker, the Fitbit Charge 5 also comes with ECG with AFib (irregular heart rate) detection. It can notify users of high heart rate and low heart rate. Users have the ability to set the range for these two parameters. Additionally, the fitness band can also measure the electrodermal activity (EDA) that measures how your body responds to stress. All you need to do is put your two fingers on either sides of the band for three minutes and record your mood when prompted. It will show a Stress Management Score but only Fitbit Premium subscribers can access the detailed report on that.
As for sleep tracking, the app shows a detailed report categorizing sleep in Awake, REM, Light and Deep sleep options. It also shows a full-fledged estimated oxygen variation throughout the sleep duration. The good part is, it automatically turns on the sleep tracker, which is not very common in fitness bands and even smartwatches these days. More detailed reports on restlessness, sleeping heart rate and more can be accessed by the premium members.
Buyers get six months of free Fitbit Premium subscription when they make the purchase. The premium subscription unlocks features like skin temperature at night, sleep score breakdown, mindfulness sessions, guided workout programs with celebrity coaches like Deepak Chopra, Will Smith and nutrition advice like healthy meal ideas. Other important metrics that the subscription gives access to are Sleep Patterns, Exertion Balance, Responsiveness and more.
One of the key highlights of the Premium features is the Daily Readiness feature that takes overall activity levels, heart-rate variability (HRV) and sleep quality into account to indicate if you should work out or take it easy. It also suggests what kind of meditation or workouts for the users depending on the Daily Readiness Score. It can be a great option for those who do not have time to hit the gym frequently to stay aware of their health and stay motivated.
Notably, the basic health metrics will still be available to you if you do not buy the subscription after the free trial. And it is totally okay if you do not prefer to pay for the subscription. Other than this, it allows users to send quick replies on WhatsApp and other text messages. The fitness band also comes with built-in GPS, Fitbit Pay and more.
Multiple-day battery, but there’s a catch
In my experience, the Fitbit Charge 5 can last around 7-days with regular usage, which is pretty satisfactory. But it showed a dramatic reduction when I turned on the Always-On Display feature. It barely lasted for a couple of days, which was quite frustrating. I mean, I have spent 12k on a fitness band, but it cannot show me time whenever I want without exhausting up a huge chunk of battery. I want my fitness band to show me the time at all times, but looks like it is too much to ask!
The band charges from 0 to 100 in just a couple of hours, but is acceptable since you only have to charge it once a week. Fitbit Charge 5 also comes with support for magnetic charging, just like others in the segment.
Three omissions: Deal-breakers?
While the band looks good and has the majority of features that you’d expect from a fitness band or a smartwatch, it does skip on three features. Firstly, support for music storage or music playback control. Meaning: you cannot control music without reaching out to your phone during workout sessions. Disappointing? Definitely!
One of the glaring omissions is that it does not have any speaker or a mic, hence no call from the band. You can disconnect a call from the band, but not attend one. For the unversed, Bluetooth calling is mostly available in much pricier smartwatches like Galaxy Watch 4, Fossil Gen 5, Oppo Watch and more that allows users to take calls directly from the smartwatch. Lastly, Fitbit Charge 5 does not come with support for any voice assistant. I highly doubt anyone uses this functionality, or if it will even matter to them.
Overall, in my opinion, these omissions are not dealbreakers, but priorities can differ from person to person.
Should you buy it?
At Rs 12,999, Fitbit Charge 5 is a capable fitness band that can help you keep your health in check. It has a huge number of features to keep the users active and healthy. However, if the button-less design and the tiny are not deal-breakers for you, it is one of the best fitness bands you can buy right now.