When you talk about fitness trackers; Fitbit needs no introduction. From its origin in 2009 as a promising start-up, Fitbit has made spectacular progress in the last decade and has established itself as the most trusted brand in the market of fitness tracking wearables. Currently, with a vast range of 7 Fitbit Fitness Watches – (Fitbit Ace, Fitbit Alta, Fitbit Alta HR, Fitbit Charge 2, Fitbit Versa and Fitbit Ionic) and one clip-on activity tracker (Fitbit Zip), this pioneering brand has something to offer for every fitness enthusiast.
Fitbit Charge 2
Launched by the company in the second half of 2016, as a successor of Fitbit Charge HR. Priced at Rs 12,000 in India, this Fitbit Fitness watch is a mid range activity tracking wristband. With optical heart sensors and the ability to automatically recognize exercises, the Fitbit Charge 2 fitness watch has made quick inroads into the wearable market. In fact if figures are an indicator, even after Fitbit has introduced newer line-up of Fitness trackers – Fitbit versa, Fitbit ionic and Fitbit Alta HR, Fitbit Charge 2 still leads their sales chart.
So what’s making Fitbit charge 2 the “best selling Fitness watch“ from Fitbit? What are its upsides and downsides? Will it cater to your needs or not? If these are the questions dwindling over your mind and you are spending a lot of time in reading the fitness watch reviews then here is my take on the much talked about, Fitbit Charge 2.
Product: Fitbit charge 2
Price: Rs 12 280/- (as on June 2018) * it may vary from place to place.
- All-day activity tracking
- Sleep tracking and silent alarm
- Cardio Fitness Level score
- Multi-sport with automatic tracking
- Guided Breathing exercises
- New customisable bands
The design of Fitbit charge 2 is an evolution of Fitbit charge and Charge HR. It is a sleek wristband, thicker than its predecessors. The most noticeable change comes in its screen size, which is almost 4 times bigger now as compared to the single line ticker of Fitbit charge, allowing enough space for four lines of text. You can see time, date, number of steps taken and heart rate with a simple swing of your hand.
The touch screen in this Fitbit Fitness watch is a first in the charge range. Overall, the touch sensitivity is good with the very occasional firm taps on the unresponsive screen. This Fitbit Fitness watch comes with OLED, black and white display which turns on with your wrist position. The brightness of the display can be adjusted in accordance with ambient light with a few taps on the screen. The device can also be turned on manually by pressing the button on the left side of this Fitness band. This button also facilitates in navigating through various menus and sub menus.
This smart fitness watch comes with detachable straps, which come in three sizes- small, large and XL- with a watch-like buckle. The material used in straps is good and doesn’t irritate the skin. The company has a wide variety to offer, in terms of colours and material of these straps under its Classic, Sports, Luxe Leather and Special Edition categories. The Classic range includes elastometer & water resistant straps in five colours; Black, Blue, Plum, Teal and Lavender where as the breathable, perforated straps of Sports category come in three standout colours namely, Black, Cobalt and Coral. The Luxe Leather range flaunts genuine leather straps in Brown, Indigo or Blush Pink colours.
The Special Edition category puts on display 2 premium band variants. The first is rugged, bevelled diamond textured strap with gunmetal finish in the combination of Black and Grey colours; and the second one has hand polished mirror finish with 22k rose gold plating in Lavender colour. All in all, Fitbit charge 2 offers you amazing flexibility to sport different styles and colours of straps for various occasions and moods. Swapping the straps is also easy as all it requires is pulling the clips from both sides of the fitness tracker and fitting in the new ones.
This Fitbit Fitness Watch is water resistant but not water proof. So it can handle a splash of water but you can’t take it with you to the shower room or swimming pool. This definitely is a disappointment as an activity tracker is meant to be worn throughout the day. Putting it off and on can be annoying at times and also makes you susceptible to forget it especially when outdoors.
To setup this smart fitness watch you first need to download the Fitbit app on your mobile phone. The Fitbit app is available on Android, Apple as well as Windows app store for free. Once you download the app, create your profile by providing personal information and pair it with your Fitbit charge 2 through bluetooth. There you go, now your Fitbit fitness watch is setup to track your activities and to give you messages, calls and calendar reminders.
Charge 2 is a mid-range product from Fitbit that along with regular activity tracking provides impressive multi-sport support too. This means that this smart fitness watch from Fitbit not only keeps a track record of your daily step count, floors climbed, calories burned, distance traveled, heart rate, sleep patterns but also has dedicated functions for recording exercises, such as running, walking, hiking, biking and elliptical workouts. One of the stand-out features of Fitbit charge 2 is that it automatically detects your regular exercises & sports activities and starts tracking them.
It gives you the liberty to enjoy your workout without remembering to start the sessions manually. Yet for any other dedicated workout; you always have the option of starting the sessions with the side button. From yoga, pilates to circuit training, and from golf, tennis to kick boxing, this latest fitness watch from Fitbit does a great job tracking all your physical activities.
It even detects your idle state and prompts you to get moving through a motivational text and vibrations. For example, if you have not done any walking for the past 50-60 minutes during your set working hours, it will send you the text “feed me 250 steps”, 10 minutes before the hour. There is also an interval mode in which the device pulses on your wrist guide you to start and end an activity.
As Fitbit charge 2 works with connected GPS, you need to pair it with your smart phone to track the routes and distance covered while going for run/walk. This may not be as accurate as the sport watches that come with in-built GPS (like Samsung Gear2) and might show some discrepancies. This may be a big turn off for professional athletes, but for regulars, you do get a fair and consistent estimate. This smart fitness watch uses biometric sensors to measure the number of floors which justify its lack of water-proofing.
Besides tracking your sleep, Fitbit charge 2 also gives you a fair idea of your cardio vascular health by measuring your resting heart rate and the amount of oxygen your body uses during intense workout sessions. It also facilitates you with guided deep breathing exercise.
Let’s have a look on a few interesting fitness watch features you get on Charge 2.
Cardio fitness score
This key feature has been introduced by Fitbit in charge range through Fitbit charge 2. The company says it is similar to VO2 max approximation and gives you a fair idea of your overall cardio vascular health. To calculate this score Fitbit uses your personal information uploaded on their app and compare it against your activity records like speed while running and heart rate. Thus calculated score is then benchmarked against other users of your age group and gender. Similarly, resting heart rate is another metric to ascertain your heart health. If tracked over a period of time, it will show decreasing trend as you get fitter and your cardiovascular system works more efficiently.
Another really cool feature in this Fitbit Fitness Watch, akin to Apple IOS watches that helps you to relax by guiding you through the breathing exercises. Select the “relax mode” in the menu and choose the length of the breathing session. two options are available there- 2 minutes or 5 minutes. Initially the tracker takes a few seconds to sense your breathing pattern and then sends you slight vibration that marks the start of the breathing session. A circle will inflate and deflate to guide you when to inhale and exhale. It is little annoying to keep staring at your screen while doing a meditative exercise. Still it gives you few minutes to calm down during a busy day, on the go.
Once the session length is complete you will get another vibration along with a celebratory message to mark the end of the breathing session. An important disclaimer- there is no way to pause your breathing session in between.
Another interesting feature of Fitbit Charge 2 is intelligent sleep tracking. It gives you effective “asleep” time by taking out the unproductive “awake” and “restless” time from your overall tracked sleeping time and this way does a more realistic sleep tracking as compared to other smart watches and trackers. It can also be a good indicator of your disturbed sleeping pattern even though you’re getting your target hours of sleep.
There is silent alarm mode too. You can set up the alarm and your fitness band will start vibrating silently at the given time. While the silent alarm is good in a way that it doesn’t disturb anyone else in the room, yet I doubt its effectiveness on heavy sleepers.
Sleep Insights is another recently added enhancement to Charge 2 which provides useful personal insights and assistance to improve the sleep quality. Fitbit has also gradually started to roll out Sleep Stages to Charge 2 users as a software update. It is a feature inherited from the Fitbit Alta HR and is expected to be a useful add-on. It provides an improved breakdown of sleep phases and acts as a yardstick against other users’ performance in the same demographic. With future upgrades, expect Fitbit to provide more customized insights.
Fitbit app, compatibility & notification
This Fitbit Fitness watch is easily compatible with IPhone, Android and Windows phones. The Fitbit app is also available on IOS, Google Playstore and Windows app store for free. The app has a very user friendly interface. All statistics regarding your various physical activities and fitness are shown on your screen as you open the app dashboard. There you may select the sub menus with your finger tip. It allows you to set your customised fitness targets.
The company has improved on app notifications by extending support to messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook messenger. The bigger screen size enables you to read the messages too along with the sender’s name. However if the message is long, then only the initial part is shown on the screen. This simple improvement helps a lot as you don’t need to take breaks in between the exercises only to have a look on your ringing phone every time.
This is where Fitbit charge 2 scores higher points. No other company’s activity trackers or smart watches in this range come with a battery life of 5 days with multi-sport tracking and larger display. In this regard, this Fitbit Fitness watch is definitely the best fitness watch. A low battery notification is sent on your email id when your tracker needs charging. The clamp-style USB cables lock around either side of the device and ensure better connectivity during the charging process.
- Interchangeable bands
- Large display for at-a-glance information
- Consistent tracking
- Cardio Fitness score
- 5-day battery life
- Realistic and smart Sleep tracking
- No in built GPS (works on connected GPS with your smartphone)
- Gesture recognition is inconsistent
- No waterproofing
- Guided breathing needs innovative upgrades
- Basic notifications
This Fitbit Fitness watch is more of an evolution than a reinvention and overcomes many limitations of its predecessors, certainly proving to be an all-rounder. With the Fitbit Charge 2, company has upped its ante with the biggest and much sought upgrade being the screen size to go with a couple of key value adds – Cardio Fitness and Guided Breathing, lending exclusivity to the device. I would recommend those owning a previous-gen Charge device to upgrade on the screen size alone. With the lack of in built GPS, the tracking of step counts, distance covered and heart rate may not be accurate but it is good and consistent and gives you a fair idea of your progress.
I also like those small motivational texts you get on the screen to keep you active during the workout hours. However, I expect Fitbit to introduce the haptic sensation for guided breathing in its next upgrade. No waterproofing is surely another disappointment. The 5 day battery life may not be as impressive as Garmin’s Vivosmart HR but definitely better than the single day battery life of Apple and Samsung smart watches.
As with other brands, Fitbit Charge 2 faces internal competition from other Fitbit variants too. It does not house a colour screen like the Fitbit Blaze but that gives it longer battery life. Also, it’s less bulky, sleek, more appealing and saves 5000 bucks for you. If you don’t require a heart rate tracker I’d suggest going for the Fitbit Alta.
Finally, although nothing revolutionary, yet Fitbit Charge 2 surely is a deal breaker for majority of our breed of fitness enthusiasts. It is arguably the best and most value for money fitness tracker available within its price range and if you get lucky with an online deal; that would be a cherry on the cake.
Aafiya is a health and wellness enthusiast. She utilizes her spare time to contribute insightful articles around day to day lifestyle challenges and their remedies, that all can relate to.
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