If you want to get a jump on New Year’s resolutions or seek a great health and tracking gift, check out the Fitbit Charge 3.
This reboot of the tried and true offers a number of new features and enhancements, the biggest being that it’s now waterproof. You can wear it 24/7 except for when charging, even into the shower or pool (and track your laps in water up to 50 metres deep).
It also has virtually all the features of its predecessor, the Fitbit Charge 2.
The new version is slightly lighter and slimmer than its predecessor, while maintaining the look and feel of a traditional digital watch. The stainless steel casing has been replaced with aerospace-grade aluminum. And the slimmed connection to the watchband makes it a little less bulky. The display is slightly larger and more efficient, offering better handling and viewing. The new model also replaces the side button with a water-sealed touch sensor.
The basic tap surface and monochrome display has been replaced with a full greyscale OLED touchscreen. You just tap or swipe to get info. The enhanced resolution allows for crisp viewing of graphics, mini animations and smaller fonts.
The display is also now backlit. You can brighten or dim it, or have it automatically adjust to the ambient conditions. The screen is also more resistant to scratches – it’s made from the Corning Gorilla Glass 3.
Other enhancements include better accuracy for the heart rate monitor and calorie tracking. There’s now also a sensor that measures SPO2 oxygen levels in the blood, which doesn’t yet seem to be implemented and a new feature that specifically tracks Female Health.
Fitbit Charge 3 also automatically recognizes activity type, so it can tell if you’re cycling, swimming or walking.
Like its predecessor, it doesn’t have built-in GPS but you can connect it to your phone’s GPS (it will consume data).
The new generation also includes enhanced tracking of your sleep stages to get a better handle on your sleep quality. And new Sleep Insights helps you analyze those sleep stats.
The updated interface allows you to do more from your wrist, including tracking 15-plus goal-based exercise modes. For example, while swimming, you can adjust the pool length; on the treadmill, you can adjust the time, calories and distance. You can also set timers, track alarm, adjust the intensity of the device’s vibration or turn notifications off when sleeping.
Charge 3 still offers calendar, enhanced text alerts and call notifications. You also get updated clock faces, including animations to choose from, but you still can’t customize them. My preferred Charge 2 selection which allows me to see the date, time, steps and heart rate on my main clock face is no longer available on the Charge 3. I would have to swipe up to get the additional information.
You can also now directly reject or accept an incoming call. But you’ll still need to grab your phone to talk. You can also now store alerts and read them later.
The Charge 3 still requires a proprietary charger rather than a standard USB cord. But it has two extra days of battery life, bringing it from four or five days to a whole week on a single charge.
The Charge 3 is a major step up from the Charge 2. It’s a simple, sleek and waterproof health tracker with features that match a smartwatch.
The Fitbit Charge 3 in Canada retails at $199.95, the same price as the previous model but you can find one right now for $159.95 It comes in different colour combos with two band sizes. You can find it at many retailers, including Amazon.
There’s also a Fitbit Charge 3 Special Edition. This model offers NFC support and Fitbit Pay, allowing you to pay for things directly from your watch – although, unlike Apple Pay, support from Canadian financial institutions appears to be extremely limited.
Greg Gazin, also known as the Gadget Guy and Gadget Greg, is a syndicated veteran tech columnist, communication, leadership and technology speaker, facilitator, blogger, podcaster and author. Reach him @gadgetgreg or at GadgetGuy.ca.