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Fitbit Charge 2 Review

Fitbit Charge 2
  • Editor Rating
  • Rated 4.5 stars
£119 to £129
  • 80%

  • Fitbit Charge 2
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: 1st June 2018
  • Heart Rate Monitor functions
    Editor: 80%
  • Heart Rate Accuracy
    Editor: 85%
  • Activity Tracking features
    Editor: 95%
  • Running functions
    Editor: 70%
  • Cycling functions
    Editor: 50%
  • Fitness monitoring features
    Editor: 90%
  • Ease of Use
    Editor: 80%
  • Battery Life
    Editor: 90%

How do you make the Fitbit Charge HR better? I guess I’m not the only one who struggled with the original Charge’s tiny display because that’s what Fitbit have done. The new Charge 2 HR has a large vertical OLED display. They’ve also made it modular so it can be customised with a range of straps in many different designs, styles and colours. The Fitbit Charge 2 looks great, performs well and deservedly takes it’s place as one of the most desirable fitness bands. The Fitbit Charge 2 activity tracker has been reviewed by Tristan Haskins aka CardioCritic

Reviewed - the Fitbit Charge 2 activity tracker with Heart Rate

Release Date (UK) > September 2016

Product it replaced > Fitbit Charge HR

Suggested Retail Price (when new) > from £129 upwards depending on case etc.

NEWS > Fitbit’s have a new smartwatch with built-in GPS and wrist based heart rate. The new Fitbit Ionic has been reviewed here

Who’s it For

The Fitbit Charge 2 is a mid-sized fitness band, closest in size to the Garmin Vivosmart HR. It features all the “normal” activity tracking functions you’d expect including steps, distance, calories AND floors climbed > PLUS it has built-in off the wrist heart rate sensors (like the Surge & Blaze) > PLUS it can, if you want accurate speed & distance feedback, utilise the GPS in your smartphone (like the Fitbit Blaze). It’s also a sleep monitor providing daily feedback (via app) on sleep duration and quality. The major improvement on the Charge 2 is the VERTICAL display. The original Charge and Charge HR had TINY horizontal displays, this version is much better.

Next model UP

The next model up in the current Fitbit product line up is the Blaze with it’s high colour display, Fitstar exercise guide and smartphone music control. However, it does NOT have the Cardio Fitness level indicator nor does it feature the Guided Breathing to help you keep calm throughout the day (UPDATE … it does NOW. These useful features where added in a firmware upgrade mid 2017 ..) The top of the range in the Fitbit stable is the Fitbit Ionic, a true smartwatch with competent sports tracking, built-in GPS, wrist based HR, personal coaching and much more.

Fitbit Ionic with built-in GPS, wrist based heart rate, swim mode and much more ….

Fitbit Blaze

Fitbit Surge now obsolete – no new firmware upgrades since 2016. CardioCritic recommend the Blaze or Ionic

Alternatives from Garmin / Polar

The Fitbit Charge 2 is a competent, attractive and well made fitness band. I would be happy to have it as my sole fitness tracker if I did not require a built-in GPS. There are currently two products from alternative brands that offer very similar functionality to the Charge 2. The Polar A370 (does NOT have guided breathing, nor floors climbed) and the Garmin Vivosmart HR (again, no guided breathing but it does have floors climbed). In April 2017 Garmin released their new Vivosmart 3 with breathing exercises, VO2 Max and Fitness age score.

Garmin Vivosmart 3 new in April 2017. Similar functionality with added VO2 Max and Stress Score

Garmin Vivosmart HR no guided breathing but otherwise very similar functionality

Polar A370 bright high colour display but no guided breathing & no floors climbed function

Update Oct 2017 > Garmin have just released their new Garmin Vivosport fitness tracker. Replacing the Vivosmart HR+, the Garmin Vivosport features built-in GPS, wrist based heart rate, dedicated running functions (auto-lap, pace alerts etc) a full colour display, VO2 max, Stress tests and much more. CardioCritic have awarded the Garmin Vivosport Best on Test in the Fitness Tracker category and expect it to be one of the best selling fitness trackers of 2018.

Garmin Vivosport Best on Test – a sleek, discrete fitness tracker with GPS and wrist based heart rate

Next model DOWN

The models below the Charge 2 are the Alta and Flex 2. The original Flex is still available and if you’re not too worried about the fashionable cases / bracelets and you don’t need your fitness tracker to be swim proof then the original still offers great value for money. Also, the Fitbit Charge HR is still available at a good price from some stores. If you’ve got good eyesight, the Charge HR is a good alternative option with the closed functionality.

Fitbit Flex 2

Fitbit Alta

Fitbit Charge HR

Summary & Conclusions

The Fitbit Charge 2 comes very highly recommended. It’s not the cheapest fitness tracker on the market but it is supported by one of the best apps. The Charge 2 has 99% of activity tracking functions and 85% of sports monitoring features required by the vast majority of people aiming to improve general fitness and increase daily activity. Taking everything in to consideration I have awarded the Charge 2 a 4.5/5 star rating and would be happy to recommend it to a majority of users.

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  • Large OLED display
  • Sleek and stylish design with interchangeable straps
  • Ability to share your smartphone's GPS
  • Built-in sensor provides floors climbed
  • Wrist based heart rate
  • Cons

  • Display difficult to read in direct bright sunlight
  • Comparison Table – Alta – Charge 2 – Blaze

    Differences between Alta, Charge 2 and Blaze

    Key Features (summary)

    These are the stand-out headline features of the Fitbit Charge 2. Please scroll down for more detailed explanations of each ….

    Fitbit Charge 2 Main Features

    Built-in Heart Rate sensors

    The Charge 2 monitors your heart rate continuously directly from your wrist using Fitbit PurePulse sensing technology. A knowledge of your training heart rate helps to maximize workouts, better track calorie burn and provides a clearer picture of your health—and best of all, no chest strap required. A useful feature is the distinction between fat burning and cardio improvement. The Charge 2 displays your exercising heart rate with an indication of whether Fat Burn or Cardio.

    Cardio Fitness Level

    Get a better understanding of your fitness level and see how you can improve over time with a personalized Cardio Fitness Score. Learn more

    Track your cardio fitness improvement

    All-Day Activity Tracking

    The Charge 2 will keep a track of your daily steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes & hourly activity. It’s now generally accepted that the easiest way to achieve good general health and fitness is to add small portions of activity throughout the day. You don’t have to put aside a whole hour per day of dedicated exercise. Simply getting up from your desk every hour or so and taking a 5 minute activity break will yield great fitness gains.

    Battery Life Expectancy

    Fitbit state a battery life expectancy of up to 5-days. As with the other Fitbit units I have tested I found this to be an understatement. Don’t be surprised if you get over a week from the Charge 2 from fully charged. It’s also very quick to recharge, less than a couple of hours. Just an hour on the charger appeared to give it a boost for 3 or 4 days.

    >>> Back to Top of Review

    Reminders to Move

    To help you stay active throughout the day, Charge 2 sends Reminders to Move that encourage you to take 250 steps every hour. I found this to be an achievable and realistic target that I could generally achieve on a normal working day. I’m certain there are some jobs that do not allow for a 5 minute walk break every hour or so, but it really is just a quick spin around the office or up and down a few flights of stairs.

    Auto Sleep Tracking

    Charge 2 automatically tracks how long and how well you sleep to help you work toward a better routine. Knowing how long you sleep and the quality of that sleep is part of a holistic approach to a better you. I found on the nights I had a glass of wine an hour before bed were my most restless nights with the least deep sleep. I even took the Ovaltine test .. it works for me. Drinking a warm milk based drink half an hour before sleep help me sleep longer and deeper.

    Fitbit Charge 2 Sleep tracking

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    Silent Alarm

    Wake up peacefully with a silent vibrating alarm, and create a sleep schedule in the app to stay on track toward your goals. Another holistic approach to all body well-being. No-one I know responds well to a ship’s hooter blurting out 100dB at 6am. The silent vibrate alarm compliments my Lumie Bodyclock with it’s 30 minute brightness increase.

    Multi-Sport Modes

    Track specific exercises like running, weights or yoga to see your workout stats on display. Each sports mode has relevant performance metrics for that specific sport.

    Supports popular sports like running, biking and weights
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    Connected GPS

    If you require accurate speed and distance data the Charge 2 can provide this by sharing the GPS within your smartphone. Simply connect your phone’s GPS to get live performance metrics such as pace, distance and speed. At the end of the workout all the data is uploaded to your phone and you even get a map of your exercise route.

    the Fitbit Charge 2 connects to your phone's GPS
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    Fitbit SmartTrack

    Don’t worry if you forget to start an exercise.  The Fitbit Charge 2 automatically records and detects popular exercises like walking, biking, sports and more. This way the activity is recorded and you get credit for it even if you forget to log it as a dedicated workout.

    Fitbit SmartTrack automatically detects exercise from popular sports
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    Guided Breathing Sessions

    Find moments of calm throughout your day with personalised breathing sessions based on your real-time heart rate. Learn more

    Guiding breathing exercises bring calm to your busy day
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    Call, Text & Calendar Alerts

    See call, text & calendar alerts on your wrist to keep your phone out of sight and your goals in focus. I’m not really a fan of smartphone alerts throughout the day, but they can be useful when you are waiting for important news or contact with a loved one.

    Smartphone notifications from your phone to the Charge 2

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