Fitbit Charge 5 Review

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Erin Lawrence

fitbit charge 5, review

Fitbit has become a household name in the tracker/health monitoring field, but the company hasn’t been resting on its laurels. They continue to release newer and more varied offerings, and the Fitbit Charge 5 is no exception. Fitbit claims the Charge 5 is their most advanced fitness & health tracker to date. Let’s find out more about it.
If you’re looking at Fitbits you likely already know the basics they can do; count steps and track activity, monitor sleep, check heart rate and more. In the Charge, you’re getting a smaller wearable than something like a smart fitness watch (like the Sense), but still with a lot of the most popular and useful health monitoring capabilities. Let’s take a look at what’s new.

What’s new in Charge 5/what’s different from Charge 4?

Fitbit has added a new, brighter light in the Charge 5, twice as bright as the Charge 4’s display. While the display size hasn’t changed between the Charge 4 and the 5, the Charge 5 has moved beyond the monochrome OLED touchscreen to a full-colour AMOLED screen, which opens up a world of possibilities for graphs, gradients, and animations.
They’ve added both an electrodermal activity stress monitor and an electrocardiogram sensor (more on those later).
The Charge 5’s bezel is stainless steel and has more curves to it than the Charge 4. The 5 is also a bit thinner.

Battery life

The battery life for fitness trackers is always dependant on which features you enable; things like GPS tracking and heart-rate monitoring will drain the battery faster as they have to monitor and communicate with the watch continually. Fitbit claims you’ll get about seven days worth of use from a single charge, but that continuous GPS and “always-on” display mode will shorten that to closer to 5 days.
In my use and testing I’m easily able to get that and it’s a treat not to need to charge my band nightly, like I do with my Apple Watch.

Waterproofing

The Charge 5 is water-resistant to 50 meters and won’t have any issues with being worn in any environment, including rain, the pool, or the shower. Depending on the style of wristband you have on the Charge 5, you may want to remove it in certain conditions, but the device itself won’t have any trouble in even the harshest conditions.

Built-in GPS

The Fitbit Charge 5 has a built-in GPS system, which means you can leave your phone behind when you go for your run. It will track your real-time pace and distance, as well as track your route for a workout intensity map in the Fitbit app to see your heart-rate zones and pace throughout your run.
Fitbit also offers guided audio workouts with a Premium membership (an introductory six-month membership can be included when purchasing the Charge 5).

fitbit charge 5, review

The Fitbit app.

Fitbit Charge 5: Special health features

The Fitbit Charge 5 is rich in features; and just like each of us is individual, which of these you’ll need, want and actually use depends on you.

Fitbit ECG (Electrocardiogram) App

Fitbit’s sensors on the Charge 5 will record the electric signals from your heart and provide a measurement when you place your fingers on them for 30 seconds. There’s also a sensor in the unit’s core that can help monitor your pulse directly from the wrist. This can help detect irregularities and may serve as a helpful early warning of any heart irregularities. The measurements are stored for you so you can share them with your doctor.

To take a reading, swipe on the screen until you see ECG, tap to start. You’ll pinch the sides of the tracker for 30 seconds and get a reading right away.

fitbit charge 5, reviewEDA (Electrodermal Activity) Scan App

The on-wrist EDA scan app will detect electrodermal activity, including changes in the skin’s sweat level, which can indicate your body responding to stress. Running an EDA scan will provide you with stats and monitor changes to your stress level, indicating how your body is reacting over time.

Reflections

The Reflections check-in is a way to keep tabs on your emotional state during the day, allowing you to keep a record of your emotional state and tracking the connection between your emotional state and your recorded physical stress.

Stress Management Score

Using the readings from the EDA, as well as heart rate, sleep patterns, reflaections, and how much you’re exerting yourself over the day, Charge 5 will provide you with a stress score for your day, making you more aware of your stress level, and allowing you to make routine changes for a positive change. I’ve previously not found this to be super accurate, or that it matches my perceived stresses.

Oxygen Saturation (SpO2) Monitoring

Blood Oxygen Saturation (SpO2) measures the amount of oxygen that is saturated with oxygen. Fitbit measures your  SpO2 level via an infrared sensor that shines a red/infrared light onto your skin and blood vessels and reads how much light returns.

Unlike some other devices, you can’t get an on-the-spot blood oxygen measurement; you need to wear the tracker while you sleep, making this less than helpful for athletes or those with health concerns.

Heart Rate Variability

Your Fitbit Charge 5 will always show you your current heart rate on the face. Fitbit also measures any changes in your rate, which can indicate stress, illness, or fatigue. As you accumulate more data, you can begin to measure changes and see changes to your heart rate variability over time.

Breathing Rate

Fitbit also tracks your average breaths per minute, giving you a baseline against which to compare any changes or increases.  Similar to Blood Oxygen, this is only measured during sleep.

Skin Temperature Tracking

The Charge 5 tracks your skin temperature, giving you an insight into any possible changes due to fever or, for women, possibly ovulation.

fitbit charge 5, reviewSleep Score & Sleep Stages

As your Fitbit tracks your sleep, it assesses the previous night’s sleep and gives you a sleep score. It will also break down the percentage of deeper or lighter sleep and how much time you spent in REM.

Menstrual Cycle Tracking

You can use the Fitbit app to log periods, record any symptoms or changes, and discover patterns in your cycle.

Notifications

It’s possible to get notifications and alerts on your Fitbit Charge 5, whether you have an Android or iPhone. With iPhone notifications you can’t respond to them, only view them. The alert vibration isn’t super powerful, buit you can set it to “strong” which helps a bit.

Overall review: Fitbit Charge 5

fitbit charge 5, reviewOverall, Fitbits are capable, reliable and good looking fitness trackers. Even without signing up for Fitbit Premium, you can still get a lot of info and data about your health.
I really like the Fitbit Charge 5 a lot for keeping tabs on my activity, giving me nudges to move throughout the day. I think they’re an easy to use and affordable way to keep tabs on your health. I also like the slim, subtle look of a tracker, and find the Charge line is a good balance between slim and unobtrusive device while still giving you a good size colour screen. The battery life is also phenomenal and I can get my notifications even if Apple doesn’t let me respond to them on my Fitbit.

Downsides? I do wish the reminders and notifications came in a little stronger. And I remain not completely sold on the usefulness of the skin temperature sensor and the blood oxygen monitor.

But overall if you’re looking for a step counter, sleep tracker and all around fitness and wellness wearable, I can recommend Fitbit and the Charge 5 if you’re looking for a small subtle fitness and activity monitor.

1 Comment

  1. John J on February 15, 2022 at 9:38 am

    Fitbit Charge 5 does not allow the user to track laps while swimming in a pool.
    Without this feature that is ubiquitous on swim trackers, it is of little use for swimmers. I would not recommend it at all

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