Fitbit Charge 4 on long-term test: Good features, but battery life with GPS is an issue

Wristband wearables have arrive a extensive way, and these days we be expecting them to supply GPS, coronary heart price checking, alarms and a range of handset connectivity features. The £129.99/$149.99 Fitbit Cost 4 has all of these, additionally a blend of other features, some of which Fitbit phone calls ‘apps’. You can decide on to demonstrate or not demonstrate these wristband applications, which contain a contactless payment wallet known as Fitbit Pay, on the system by creating selections in the Fitbit smartphone app (iOS or Android). Pay £149.99/$169.95 for the Particular Edition and you get a woven back again wristband alternatively than a rubbery just one. I’ve been using the Cost 4 for a number of months, and supply these observations as a follow-up to Matthew Miller’s April critique.


The Fitbit Cost 4 (£129.99/$149.99) presents coronary heart-price tracking, crafted-in GPS, objective-centered exercising modes, water resistance, snooze checking, notifications and on-band applications.

Visuals: Fitbit


The typical wristband can be replaced with vibrant or woven options.

Graphic: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The all round design and style is acquainted to everyone who has a preceding Fitbit Cost system: an elongated contact screen a solitary aspect (contact) button on the remaining edge of the Cost 4 (if worn on the ideal wrist) and a removable wristband which is simply replaced with vibrant options. The Cost 4 comes with two wristbands and I observed the compact just one was wonderful for me. All but the major of wrists must be accommodated.

The gray OLED touchscreen is big and you navigate about it using the aspect button and a blend of screen sweeps and faucets. It’s fairly straightforward to get made use of to how issues work. Tapping on the clock confront toggles by metrics like measures, distance, and coronary heart price. A range of faces can be set displaying distinct selections of metrics, additionally time and date, through the Fitbit smartphone app. Sweeping ideal to remaining delivers up numerous wristband applications that have been enabled in the smartphone app.

Simple exercise tracking operates wonderful. You can explain to the smartphone app your normal stride lengths for both of those functioning and going for walks, and it shares this with the Cost 4, which can then change paces into distance. It’s not ideal, but I have normally observed Fitbit products to be fairly exact when analyzed on calculated distances, and that continues to be the situation with the Cost 4. 

The Cost 4 will routinely detect when you are functioning, cycling, on a treadmill or going for walks, and it is water resistant to the extent that you can swim for up to fifty metres sporting it with no adverse result. If you happen to be critical about cross-coaching with these types of actions, then you could possibly want a extra complex system that can supply a better range of metrics. But if you happen to be just seeking to do a specified variety of measures or protect a specified distance, then the Fitbit 4 operates properly, which include issuing alerts when you access your preset plans each individual day.

With a coronary heart price watch on-board, the Fitibit Cost 4 can do appealing issues like evaluate your resting coronary heart price, set exercise zones and report on these, and — new for this model — present a report of Lively Zone Minutes. This is a calculation centered on age and resting coronary heart price, and the strategy is to access a objective of one hundred fifty minutes a week in your Lively Zone. It’s really a clever strategy for all those using a Fitbit to burn up calories or reduce body weight. Just ambling about is a lot less useful in this regard than shifting a little bit speedier, and creating your coronary heart work a little bit more challenging. As your resting coronary heart price lowers, the Fitbit changes its focus on minutes, so in idea you will find normally a suitable objective to goal at. Full reporting comprehensive with graphs is offered in the Fitbit smartphone app.

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Of all these metrics I observed the resting coronary heart price information specially useful. I have noticed from preceding Fitbit use how my coronary heart price fluctuates if I have a chilly or fever, and how it falls as I get fitter, increasing as my fitness wanes. These metrics can aid people track their progress together a fitness trajectory.

The snooze tracking is also useful. I like to continue to keep an eye on the hours I commit asleep, as properly as checking my snooze excellent to make certain I’m not small-shifting myself. The Fitbit app has some nicely introduced graphics displaying all round snooze hours and intervals of restlessness. If you definitely want to weigh in with the metrics, the Fitbit app presents you a snooze score centered on the excellent and duration of snooze, with a rating this kind of as ‘fair’ or ‘good’ for each individual evening. 

As for the extra features, I didn’t hassle with the Spotify controls, Fitbit Pay (a new function with the Cost 4), the temperature app, or notifications. My handset is the go-to position for this operation, but I can see how some customers may come across them useful. What I like a ton is the silent, vibrating alarm, which is powerful adequate to wake me, but also subtle to wake someone else.


The Cost 4’s cost cable is alternatively small, and fiddly to have interaction.

Graphic: Fitbit

The battery is rated to final for seven days presented you are not using GPS, in which situation it really is only fantastic for 5 hours. This in essence rendered the GPS unusable for me on extensive weekend walks, even if I begun with it totally billed. Which is a disgrace, as GPS is a big marketing level for the Cost 4. I observed the cost device to be a little bit of a fiddly in shape, and I experienced to double-verify that it was in position thoroughly. Also, its cable is really small, which intended my common desktop cost station was just a minor awkward to use. Extensive phrase this would probably be really an situation.

Total, the Fitbit Cost 4 has some superb features and is a fantastic action up from the Cost 3, when the Fitbit app displays a ton of really elaborate information in an accessible way. Eager athletics people will want a for a longer period-lasting battery for GPS use and extra granular metrics, but as a fitness tracker for standard overall health the Cost 4 does really properly.

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