Fitbit Charge 3 Review

An award-winning fitness tracker for all levels of activity

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4.7

Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Tracker

Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Tracker

Verywell Fit / Joline Buscemi

What We Like
  • Comprehensive health tracking

  • Easy-to-use app

  • Long-lasting battery

  • Helpful health insights

  • Waterproof

What We Don't Like
  • Inaccurate step tracking

  • Non-breathable band

Bottom Line

The Fitbit Charge 3 is one of the most solid fitness trackers on the market. No matter your level of fitness, you’ll find something to love about it.

4.7

Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Tracker

Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Tracker

Verywell Fit / Joline Buscemi

We purchased the Fitbit Charge 3 so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.

The third iteration of Fitbit’s charge series has been dubbed the brand’s “most advanced fitness tracker ever.” The Fitbit Charge 3 tracks steps, exercise, heart rate, sleep, and more. The exercise watch has a sleeker design than past models, and it has done away with the side button and tap controls in lieu of an easier-to-use touchscreen. Paired with the Fitbit app, you’ll have a full view of your fitness progress. Is the Fitbit Charge 3, which won the 2018 Wareable Tech Award for Fitness Tracker of the Year, the best choice for you? Keep reading to find out what it can do and whether it will work with your lifestyle. 

Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Tracker
Verywell Fit / Joline Buscemi

Setup Process: Simple via Bluetooth

Setting up the Fitbit is very easy. Download the Fitbit app, and the onscreen instructions will walk you through the simple process. You’ll need to plug in the Charge 3 to charge, but the sync process to your phone is entirely wireless via Bluetooth. My Charge 3 needed some software updates, a process that took about 12 minutes of waiting to download and install, after which it was ready to use and already fully charged.

Compatibility: Limited

To use the Fitbit, you’ll need a relatively new Apple, Android, or Windows phone. You can check whether your device is compatible on Fitbit’s website.

You’ll also need the Fitbit app, which is available for free in both the Apple and Android app store. The Fitbit app does not play well with other apps, and you’ll only find a few others that may be compatible. It doesn’t, for instance, connect to Apple Health. However, I found the Fitbit app to be so comprehensive that this was never an issue, and most users will find everything they need within the app on its own.

The Fitbit app does not play well with other apps, and you’ll only find a few others that may be compatible.

The Fitbit syncs your data to the app whenever it can, but in the event that they can’t connect, the Fitbit itself saves some data, like your daily totals for the past 30 days and 7 days of detailed motion data.

Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Tracker
Verywell Fit / Joline Buscemi

All-Day Activity Tracking: Everything from steps to calories, but not always accurate

Wearing the Fitbit all day long gave me an overview of my movement and calories burned. The calories burned includes your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, which is a calculation of the calories your body has burned just by existing through a calculation of your height and weight. You can learn more on how it estimates calories burned on the Fitbit site.

This tracker isn’t always perfectly accurate, and I found that it counted arm movements as steps walked.

The Charge 3 also keeps tracks of your steps throughout the day, helping you get to 10,000 (but you can change this goal if needed). It knows you’re walking—or running, or exercising—because of the three-axis accelerometer that measures motions and translates it into data. This is more accurate than the single-axis pedometers that first hit the market. I like that it can even send you notifications if it notices you haven’t moved much, which the Charge 3 interprets as 250 steps an hour. It isn’t always perfectly accurate, and I found that it counted arm movements as steps walked. A two-hour car drive registered hundreds of steps. 

The altimeter tracks how many floors you’ve climbed. Unfortunately, there is no option to view this number in feet, so those who use the Fitbit during hikes will have to rely on the number of floors climbed rather than actual distance climbed. I also found that this number wasn’t always entirely accurate and ended up removing this feature from my home screen.

Exercise Tracking: Good for all exercises

The Fitbit tracks at least 15 exercises including running, biking, swimming, weightlifting, and more, and you can set goals and get real-time stats for each. Once you start an exercise, your stats will display on the screen. During my run, for example, I was able to keep track of both distance and time and could swipe through the screens to view heart rate and calories burned. Other exercises also include this data, minus distance run (unless you’re biking, of course). The Charge 3 does not have GPS on its own, but it does pair with your phone to track distance via GPS (of course, this means you’ll have to bring your phone along while you run). Otherwise, you can allow it to calculate your distance based on your step length.

After your exercise, your Charge 3 will display the highlights, but you can also click into the app where you’ll get even more insight into your workout. Along with the same information I received from my Fitbit, I was able to get a deeper look at my time in each heart rate mode, along with a graph of HR changes, a graph of calories burned, and the impact on my day (like how many steps, calories, and active minutes it added). Runs and bike rides will give you a map of your path and a breakdown of your pace per mile.

Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Tracker
Verywell Fit / Joline Buscemi

Heart Rate Tracking: Accurate and insightful

The Fitbit Charge 3 tracks heart rate in real-time throughout the day via an optical heart rate monitor, which uses light to measure blood flow (you won’t notice this light when you’re wearing the Fitbit, but if you ever see the green LED light flashing, this is what you’re seeing). By wearing the Charge 3 often and at night, I also received my resting heart rate. As mentioned above, the app offers a deeper look into heart rate via graphs, and that data is saved within the app—meaning I could go back and watch how my heart rate changed over time. 

I appreciate that it also shows how long my heart rate was in each of the three zones: fat burn, cardio, and peak. If you’re curious how your resting heart rate has been affected by exercise or lifestyle changes, you can see a graph of that, too, by past week or past month. There is also an app screen that gives you a cardio fitness score, commonly called a VO2 Max. 

When I compared my heart rate to that determined through other HR-reading methods, I found they always matched up. However, the effectiveness of the device can change depending on how you wear it, and Fitbit has some advice on how to get the most accurate reading

Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Tracker
Verywell Fit / Joline Buscemi 

Design/Comfort: Can be sweaty

The Fitbit Charge 3 is made of lightweight, aerospace-grade aluminum and Corning Gorilla Glass 3, which is chemically engineered to be super durable and damage-resistant. The device itself is good as is, and the included band is comfortable, but you can make some upgrades to improve its look and use.

If you’ll primarily be using the Charge 3 for exercise, I recommend going with the sport band that allows ventilation. While not a deal breaker, I found that sweat tends to build up underneath the solid rubber band of the original. You can buy this from Fitbit, but there are tons of other (albeit unauthorized) versions available online as well. If you want to wear the Fitbit to work or out at night, you can purchase bands that make it look more like a bracelet or watch rather than a fitness device. The Charge 3 also allows some customization to the watch face through the Fitbit app.

I found it was easy to see my stats during outdoor workouts, and it wasn’t shockingly bright at night, either.

There are a few updates that I think make the Charge 3 more enjoyable to use than the second iteration, such as automatic screen brightness and the ability to dim the light. I found it was easy to see my stats during outdoor workouts, and it wasn’t shockingly bright at night, either.

Turning off notifications while I slept was valuable, too. The touch screen responds quickly, unlike previous models that required a rough tap. It is also thinner yet larger than older models, so it’s easier to read than the Charge 2. However, it’s still a monochrome screen versus other options, like the Fitbit Versa, which offer color LCD screens.

You’ll probably spend a good amount of time on the app reviewing your data, and I think the information there is laid out nicely. The main screen shows your dashboard, which shows an overview of your stats (like heart rate, sleep tracking, calories, etc.) and allows you to click into any one of them for more information. This is also where you can set goals and track your health progress for the day. Other tabs on the Fitbit app include Challenges (including events like step competitions), Guidance (which provides workouts), Community (which has groups and messaging boards), and Notifications (where you can view messages and updates). Head to the Fitbit website to get a look at what you can expect.

Waterproofing: Up to 50 meters

The Charge 3 is water-resistant up to 50 meters (a welcome improvement over the last version), so you can wear it to track swim sessions, wear it in the shower, and never worry about going for a run out in the rain. Not wanting to miss a second of activity, I chose to wear it into the shower. After, I was careful to remove it and dry it off (per the instructions), and the Charge 3 worked perfectly fine.

Additional Features: A comprehensive app

The Fitbit Charge 3 is more than just calories burned and steps walked. It also has a breadth of other features that give you a deeper look into your overall health. Sleep tracking is one of the most useful offerings. Designed to help you sleep better, the sleep-tracking feature tells you exactly how long you’ve slept and how long you spent in each sleep stage. 

Additionally, the Fitbit Charge 3 has a built-in Relative SpO2 sensor, which measures oxygen concentration in the blood. Traditionally, this is used to diagnose conditions like sleep apnea or other breathing issues during sleep. Unfortunately, this feature has yet to translate to anything in the app, though Fitbit says it could eventually be used to give users a “sleep score.” The Fitbit is also outfitted with a silent alarm that wakes users up by vibrating.

The Charge 3 has a breadth of other features that give you a deeper look into your overall health.

Female health tracking allows women to track their periods, symptoms, and menstrual cycle trends. Guided breathing sessions give you a few minutes of relaxation. You can get calendar updates and notifications from your phone and check the weather, and there is even a timer feature (choose from stopwatch or countdown) that I found super helpful, whether I used it for fitness or as a reminder to remove dinner from the oven.

Although you cannot use the Fitbit to call or text, it can notify you of calls and display text messages on the screen. Currently, you can answer or deny calls from the Fitbit if you have an iPhone or Android device, but only those with an Android phone can reply to text messages from the Fitbit using preset replies. All users can choose the apps from which they receive notifications, along with calendar events and emails.

Special editions of the Charge 3 are available at an extra cost that includes near-field communication (NFC), which allows for Fitbit Pay. Fitbit Pay works like other contactless payment methods and is accepted wherever those methods are available. The special editions also come with a ventilated sports band. 

Battery: Long-lasting and fast to charge

The Charge 3 has a battery that recharges via a USB charging cable, and it also comes with a wall plug. Fitbit claims that the Charge 3 lasts up to seven days without recharging, so I put it to the test. I put on the Fitbit on a Wednesday afternoon, and after nearly constant wear, the following Wednesday I looked down to see a big battery icon warning me that I only had 6 percent of the battery left. Even at that point, it lasted through the evening. 

Users who spend more time using the Charge 3 to exercise will probably find it doesn’t last a full seven days, but even then, it takes no time at all to charge. When my Fitbit battery died, it took just one hour and 40 minutes for it to hit 100 percent again. 

Price: Affordable health insight

The Fitbit Charge 3 retails for $149.95, with special editions available for $169.95. When considering the features of the Charge 3, I think this is a great price. Compared with other Fitbit trackers, the Charge 3 price falls right in the middle, so you’ll get the best of both worlds. It has heart rate tracking unlike some models, but it doesn’t have music storage and built-in GPS like the $250 Fitbit Ionic.

Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Tracker vs. Garmin Forerunner 235

I also tested out the Garmin Forerunner 235, a fitness watch specifically designed for runners. While I enjoyed using both the Fitbit and Garmin, it was for very different reasons. Ultimately, it comes down to the type of fitness you enjoy. While they both give you data on your heart rate and track steps and sleep, there’s no doubt that runners will love the Garmin Forerunner for its detailed insights into runs. The Garmin also has the edge for its lightweight watch face design. But even as a runner, I found that the Fitbit gave me a more comprehensive view into my fitness. The Fitbit also comes in around $100 cheaper than the Garmin.

Final Verdict

Yes, buy it!

The Fitbit Charge 3 is one of the most reliable, comprehensive fitness trackers on the market and is absolutely worth its price—which is still lower than some competitors. Fitness newbies and gym rats alike will appreciate the insight it gives into their exercise, along with its special features like sleep tracking and notifications.

Specs

  • Product Name Charge 3
  • Product Brand Fitbit
  • MPN FB409GMBK
  • Price $149.95
  • Weight 7.2 oz.
  • Product Dimensions 1.6 x 4 x 8.9 in.
  • Color Black/Graphite Aluminum, Blue Gray/Rose Gold Aluminum, Frost White Sport/Graphite Aluminum, Lavender Woven/Rose Gold Aluminum
  • Material Aluminum, polyester, silicone
  • Syncing Range 20 ft.
  • Battery Life Up to 7 days, rechargeable
  • Warranty 1 year, limited
  • What’s Included Fitbit Charge 3, classic wristbands (both small and large), charging cable
  • What’s Included in Special Edition Fitbit Charge 3, woven or sport wristbands (both small and large), classic wristbands (both small and large), charging cable, NFC chip for Fitbit Pay
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