Fitbit Charge 3 Review: Personal trainer

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When it comes to wearables, the market is pretty much split into two categories – smartwatches and fitness trackers. While Apple seems to be dominating the former, it is Fitbit which is the frontrunner when it comes to the latter.

This brings us to their latest piece of wrist-fitted tech, the Fitbit Charge 3, which we have been testing for the past few weeks in an effort to find out if it’s any better than the impressive Charge 3, or could potentially serve as a replacement for the feature-rich Fitbit Versa.

Time to launch

One of the more important elements when it comes to any piece of tech, is the time it takes to setup, with less often viewed as better. The same applies for a fitness tracker, but the Fitbit Charge 3 is not exactly the type of device that’s ready to go out of the box.

Unfortunately the setup process is a bit of a lengthy affair, and requires the use of a PC or notebook, the Fitbit app being on your smartphone, and of course a stable WiFi connection.

Yes the Charge 3 does take a while to set up, but it comes with the territory, especially if you’re wanting to accurately record and measure all of the data that this tracker is capable of doing.

One you are eventually setup though, the amount of times you’ll to do any admin on the Charge 3 is minimal. In all the time we’ve used it to date, only once has the tracker needed to paired with the app in order to download a software update.

Prior to this, the screen would not display any information, so a notification would have been nice, and easily would have saved us any undue stress.

Feature packed

With our setup qualms now dealt with, let’s turn to the really important stuff – the tracking.

As with past iterations, steps are the focal area, particularly on the main screen of the Charge 3. In terms of accuracy it is quite good, with things such as changing gears while driving not registering as steps according to the Fitbit Charge 3’s numbers.

The other nice thing about the step counting are the hourly reminders you get to move, or updates as to how close to your daily goal you are. If you’re someone who needs constant reminders, this is a nice feature to have on hand, especially if you’re sitting at your desk for most hours of the work day as we are in our office.

There are a host of other activities that can be tracked, such as running, swimming and cycling to name a few. We mainly pounded the pavement for this review and found the Charge 3 to be accurate once again.

There’s also a nice new feature that recognises when a wearer begins exercising, which is helpful should you forget to inform the Charge 3 that a workout has begun.

Looking at some of the other features on the Charge 3, should you be more accustom to water than land, this wearable is water-resistant up to 50 metres. Added to this is 24/7 heart rate monitoring, the ability to read smartphone notifications and messages, as well as make cardless payments (up to a certain amount) via the FitBit Pay function.

Marathon, not a sprint

As such there are a lot of smart elements to this wearable, many of which are on par with what one gets from many smartwatches these days. The only thing missing is a screen big enough to do some more intensive tasks, but the touch sensitive option aboard the Fitbit Charge 3 proves pretty capable in its own right.

One of the other aspects that Fitbit is talking up on this new wearable is battery life, with the company claiming up to seven days worth of life and a fast two hour charge time to take it from empty to 100 percent.

Having used the device for the past few weeks, Fitbit’s claims on both counts are fully justified. In fact the battery life performed even better than suggest, as we were able to squeeze a further two to three days from the Charge 3 depending on how frequently we exercised with it.

With lots of smartwatches only delivering two days worth of use at a push, and several fitness bands falling short of their week-long claims, it looks like the Charge 3 is one of the better options on the market when it comes to battery life.

Final verdict

At a recommended R2 999 for the classic edition of the Charge 3, this wearable does not come cheap, and as such needs to be the kind of purchase made by someone who is looking to take the health and wellbeing seriously. If you don’t fall into the category, there is really little reason to get Fitbit’s latest offering.

If, however, you are looking to get more serious about getting fit, the Charge 3 is a handy companion to have by your side. It’s not going to help you lose weight, only you can do that, but it’s a perfectly suited tool to aid in tracking your progress throughout the day, as well as accurately recording your workouts.

Add to that the fact that it’s quite sleekly designed, and slips quite effortlessly into the background, and the Fitbit Charge 3 is a good wearable on the wrist of the right person.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.