Choice of a fitness tracker is not dependent on just the design and features of the device, but mainly on the app and software it tags along. Most fitness bands can track your steps, sleep or heart rate, but not all can present the collected data as thoughtful and actionable insight.
Fitbit, as a fitness tracker manufacturer does a really nice job (and mind you it does it well) at providing fitness tracking devices that come with app software that is compatible across not only enough platforms and phone but also to social networks. We think is the prime USP why Fitbit is able to establish itself as a leader in fitness electronics market.
The Charge 2 is the best Fitbit hardware that you can get your hands on right now. It is the successor of highly successful, the Fitbit Charge HR, that is discontinued. It is not often that you look at a fitness tracker and get impressed by its design, fascinated by its feature set and blown away by its app functionality. I think Fitbit Charge 2 does exactly that.
Now, before I go any further-if you are looking for a fitness tracker that you can take swimming or for a away-from-your-phone run, the Charge 2 is not for you-else it is an ideal activity tracker for an average Joe.
The Good and The Bad of Fitbit Charge 2
Multi-line OLED display
Accurate always on HR monitor
Great accompanying app
A 5-day battery life
The Bad ：
Display can’t be read in daylight
Limited Phone notifications
Features of Fitbit Charge 2
If you got to try the Fitbit Charge HR you will know that the Charge 2 shares a few features with its predecessor. The price tag has remained the same and so is the 5-day battery life and always on and accurate heart rate monitor. Speaking of changes, it got a better and larger OLED display that shows a lot more data. Design is sharper, but still chunky for some. All steel body and interchangeable rubber and leather bands, don’t sound like a lot of improvement on the design, but you get what you pay for. I liked the watch-style buckle fit that comes in 3 sizes and will fit almost every wrist.
The Exclusive Feature-Relax
I thought why not tell you the feature that is only available with the Charge 2 and no other Fitbit hardware. The ‘Relax’ mindfulness app is a lot like the Apple Watch’s Breathe app.
What it does?
Nothing fancy, but something critical. Focused breathing is what ‘Relax’ is designed to help you with. It encourages you to relax through timed inhale-exhale activity. There is no data synchronization with the app. This feature tracks the heart rate to predict the stimulated respiration rate and based on that it encourages you for relaxation. It is interesting how unlike other fitness trackers, the Charge 2 uses heart rate data for this function.
OLED Display is better
Finally, the Charge 2 got me the feature I look for in most fitness trackers-the multi-line data display. You get exercise tracking mode, stopwatch, heart rate monitor and a new ‘Relax’ mindfulness app onboard the fitness band. The larger OLED display saves battery as it is not always on, you get a lift-to-look gesture feature to turn on the display. Larger display means you can see your heart rate, steps and time all at once. There are new watch-faces to choose from as well.
You can tap on the screen to pull additional data like pace, calories burnt and resting heart rate. The side button on the tracker shifts it between modes.
The Fitbit Charge 2 comes with limited notification alerts, only for phone calls, text messages and calendar alerts. The notifications are hard to read as they scroll at the bottom of the vertical screen, and you cannot respond to the notifications either. But, I say we are at least getting notified, isn’t it?
Improved app software
Fitbit has become better over the years. The Charge 2 app has gone a lot more comprehensive. You can use the app software in both Android and iOS platforms. It is easy to use and tracks everything that will help you remain healthy-nutrition, weight loss, water intake, standing, stair climbing, exercise, sleep and steps, and yea, heart rate.
Larger display has made the dashboard even better. Just a glance and you can get your eyes on all the data you want. The app can be paired with third party software like Withings Scale, that expands the functionality. If you have used any other Fitbit fitness tracker you will know that the notifications and measurements are tweaked to make them more user friendly.
And did I tell, you can share your data on social networks directly through the app software. You can motivate your friends and family sharing your progress (or get motivated with their data), participate in community talks online and get tips on improving your health, all because you will be sharing your Fitbit Charge 2 data with other users.
Fitbit has done a nice job at upgrading its app, but I would love to see a coaching feature like the Jawbone in future. As the app gets more comprehensive and shares more data with the users, it will be useful to include demonstrations on how the various data work and how it affects our health. Lack of guidance in the app can frustrate some Charge 2 users.
The Fitbit Charge 2 comes with high quality sensors on board, which means you can count on the data provided by the fitness tracker. To record distance, the Charge 2 uses an 3-axis accelerometer. The data you will get for your run may be a little erratic, as accelerometers are not as accurate as GPS. But the discrepancy in the data is not appreciably so. Above all, you can fine tune the Fitbit Charger 2 to manually enter the distance you have covered. I think for a basic fitness band it is good enough, though if running is an important part of your workout and you need highly accurate data, then consider a GPS enabled activity tracker.
The automatic sleep tracking works well, but at times I found it to erroneous. But it problem can be sorted by adjusting the sensitivity of the Charge 2’s sleep-tracking algorithm. Just go through your sleep log to check the accuracy.
The heart rate monitor is more accurate. I personally compared the heart rate data of the Charge 2 with chest strap based heart monitors (that are highly accurate). After my workout session, the Charger 2 measured my HR at 160 beats per minute, while the other device showed 162 beats per minute.
A new score: Cardio Fitness
The Fitbit Charge 2 can also measure your VO2 Max Score or the Cardio Fitness Score. VO2 Max is an abbreviation for maximum volume of oxygen, it is a score that tells how much oxygen your body can process during any physical activity. According to experts it is a good measure of the overall fitness of the human body. Mostly the VO2 Max is a feature that is part of high-end GPS fitness devices, Fitbit has brought it to lower cost segment.
The Cardio Fitness Level is measured based on your resting heart rate, age, height, weight and fitness data. Then the final score is given along with some other useful bar charts. You won’t find this data on the app dashboard and have to look under the heart rate tab. Unlike other fitness data the Cardio Fitness Level is displayed as a single figure. If should see a gradual rise in this figure if your health is actually improving. The sensitivity of the data is also fine tuned to meet the requirements of users with different lifestyles.
I personally find the Cardio Fitness Level as one of the best features to be included in the Charge 2. I hope it will evolve over the years to become more useful.
Fitbit need to do better with battery life. The Charger 2 has a 5-day battery life which is not so impressive in comparison to fitness trackers from Garmin and Withings. Previously, there was no battery meter in the device itself, but Fitbit upgraded the firmware in the Charge 2 in January 2017. Now you can check the battery life status in the device itself.
Considering the improved functionality and app software of the Charge 2, I wanted an improvement in battery life of the device too. After 2 days of use, the battery drops to medium, which means you need to get it charged after four days continuous use to be on safer side. For charging you get the proprietary USB cable.
Let’s see where the Charge 2 still lacks
Every fitness device has shortfalls and the Charge 2 is no different. Sleeping tracker works ok, but it cannot differentiate between light and deep sleep as effectively. In the sleep logs there is no mention of sleep interruptions. I think Fitbit can do better on 5-day battery life as every other fitness tracker is regularly outdoing 5-day battery life mark.
Absence of GPS is felt and for runners it is enough to give this fitness tracker a miss. Accelerometer based distance tracking in the Charge 2 is not that accurate.
If these shortcomings are ignored, still Fitbit Charge 2 is not waterproof and it can’t be overlooked. At least a 50-meter water resistance should have done the device a great favor.
Reasons To Choose Fitbit Charge 2
There’s a lot of good stuff about the Fitbit Charge 2 that will make you seriously consider it.
Cardio Fitness Level and Score
The exclusive feature we talked about earlier, Cardio fitness score is an important component of your overall well being. You won’t get the VO2 Max feature in most other fitness trackers in the same price range as the Charge 2. If you fall below the average on the score, this fitness tracker can assist you in increasing exercise intensity to improve your VO2 Max.
FitBit Charge 2 comes with a support system
That friends function that you see in the app may not seem to be as important as other functions, but it’s highly rewarding. You can share and see activity data of your friends, and if you are a competitive person you will try to be better. For instance, if your friends ran 10 miles in last seven days, you may be encouraged to take your stat to 12 miles.
You can encourage and motivate your family and friends, same happens to you. Being social is an important component of being healthy, Fitbit app makes it a lot easier for you.
Fitbit is making it to the mindfulness tracker market with the Charge 2. Just like Apple Watch Breathe feature, the Relax mode helps you with relaxation through guided and timed breathing sessions of 2 to 5 minutes. You can count on this fitness band to distress too.
FitBit Charge 2 makes you healthier in more than one way
The Charge 2 is not only tracking your exercise, but it goes an extra mile in ensuring you are living a healthy lifestyle. You can setup Fitbit dashboard for custom trackers. Instead of just tracking your heart rate, distance walked and steps taken, you can also track your water intake, calorie consumption and blood pressure.
Fitbit Charge 2 is an excellent upgrade to Charge HR.
Available at the same price that of Charge HR, this fitness band improves Fitbit’s activity tracking capabilities and advances the app software data management. After getting my hands on the Charge 2, it is hard for me to recommend any other Fitbit fitness tracker. If you are out to buy a Fitbit fitness tracker, I highly recommend to consider the Charge 2.