Fitbit Change 3 review
In this review, I take a look at the newly released Fitbit Charge 3, the latest update to Fitbit’s flagship fitness tracker which comes with a bigger screen, swim tracking and a slightly tweaked design.
Its been 2 years since the Charge 2 was launched and lots have changed in the fitness tracking space with Garmin releasing several fitness trackers and the Xiaomi Amazfit bip low priced tracker with excellent features, let’s see how new tracker from Fitbit performs in this Charge 3 review.
Fitbit Charge 3 review quick facts
- Bigger touchscreen display: The Charge 3’s responsive screen is 40 per cent bigger than the Charge 2 and is a lot more responsive when using the touchscreen.
- All new design: Charge 3 has a new design and feels less blocky.
- 7-day battery life: The battery life is impressive and in real-world usage, it was lasting 6 days in the review period.
- Swim-tracking: Not only is the Charge 3 waterproof, but you can also take it swimming.
- Connected GPS: Whilst the Charge 3 does not come with built-in GPS, which is a shame in 2018. It does come with connected GPS via your smartphone.
- New sensor for sleep insights: An SpO2 sensor will be used to alert if they experience breathing disturbances.
Fitbit Charge 3 review in pictures
- New slim design with improved screen
- Silicone strap that can be changed out with leather options
- New Optical HR design.
The Fitbit Charge 3 has the same rectangular screen and band design as seen on its predecessor, the Charge 2, but the design is a lot more modern and sleeker.
Firstly, the Fitbit Charge 3 is thinner, so it looks a little less chunky on your wrist. It’s much lighter too, as it’s made from aluminium instead of stainless steel.
Turning over the Charge 3, you will find the PurePulse heart rate monitor, but it now features a SpO2 Pulse oximetry sensor. You will also find the charging port around the back that can only connect via a proprietary cable.
Fitbit has also updated the band design with a new release mechanism using a tiny black button which ejects the strap when pushed allowing you to easily change the straps.
Charge 3 screen
The 17.64mm x 4.95mm grayscale OLED display is bright and clear and design its small size, Fitbit has designed the interface to be presented well within the small dimensions of the screen and because of this, the screen is clear and easy to read.
Using the Charge 3 interface is very smooth with the touchscreen. If you swipe down you get to see the all-day activity tracking stats at a glance and swiping up from the home screen will show you any notifications you may have.
Swiping to the left will take you into the menu to access, exercises, relax timers, stopwatch, alarms, weather and settings. It’s all very simple and easy to use.
The Charge 3 also features an inductive button on the left-hand side of the fitness tracker which you can use to wake the device or go back a screen. It will give you a little tactile vibration to let you know it’s working.
- Fitbit says it lasts up to a week
- Real world usage was around 6 days
- Chargers in about 1 hour
Fitbit says the Charge 3 can keep going for up to 7 days and that is up on the Charge 2. Whilst I was doing the Charge 3 review, I found the tracker was lasting about 6 days and this pretty good.
Charging is fast with it only taking just over 1 hour with the proprietary charging cable via a power socket, but it did take a little longer via USB on my Laptop.
The one feature I did like on the Charge was the percentage battery left, whilst this is common on lots of trackers the recent reviewed Vivosmart 4 didn’t have it.
- Phone and text alerts
- Most texts can be viewed on a single screen without scrolling.
The Charge 3 is probably the closest Fitbit has come to merging its fitness trackers with its smartwatch range.
The device can now provide you with better notifications for call, text and all the third-party apps on your phone, something that the Charge 2 didn’t do very well. You can also pick which notifications you want to see on your wrist within the Fitbit App.
I was impressed with the text notifications as with most text messages could be displayed on the screen in its entirety, which is useful.
The Charge 3 comes with Fitbit Pay on the Special edition, but the device I tested was not special, so I was unable to test this feature.
However, I just want to point out the Australian version of the Charge comes with Fitbit Pay as standard, unsure why this is not the same for the UK, Europe and the US.
Whilst you can’t respond to texts, Fitbit says an upcoming update to the Android app means users will also be able to do quick replies to your messages from the Charge 3, but this has not yet arrived.
Fitbit is also promising support for third-party apps in the future via a software update, but this is still coming and it looks like a 2019 feature.
- Tracks several activities like run, walk, gym and swim
- Good data from Garmin Connect and companion app
- No GPS, but Connected GPS
The Fitbit Charge 3 can be worn as an everyday tracker, which will track things like steps, stairs climbed, heart rate, resting heart rate, distance travelled, calories burned along with sleep.
As with previous Fitbit tracker reviews the steps tracking is a little higher than my normal activity tracker, but its good to see that Fitbit has sorted steps being counted whilst cycling.
Looking at the calories burned, I did find the Charge 3 tracked a little higher than my normal tracker, however not much variance to be worried about.
Fitbit has also included several activity profiles in the Change 3 and these are;
- Martial arts
- Circuit training
- Interval workout
It is worth noting that although the Charge 3 has a big number of sports it is able to track, you can only have 6 of them loaded onto the device at any one time.
This means if you heading to Yoga you will need to make sure you have selected Yoga has activity in Garmin Connect Mobile and synced it before you enter the studio or it won’t be available on the device.
Auto exercise tracking
The Charge 3 can automatically track some workouts, including swimming, walking, cycling, elliptical, sports, aerobic workout and swimming.
I found it pretty good at automatically tracking, but if you do have issues with the auto exercise tracking, you can edit the trigger in the Fitbit app settings.
The Charge 3 does have connected GPS, and this works by using your smartphone’s GPS to track the distance travelled and sync this with your activity data for running, cycling, hiking or walking.
Whilst I did test this out, I am not going to comment on this as the distance accuracy is dependent on the smartphone you are using, but I can report using it is very easy and straightforward and requires very little setup.
Female health tracking
While it’s not something I am able to test in the review, well for obvious reason. Fitbit has included female health tracking is now on the wrist too, so you’ll be able to use the Fitbit Charge 3 to track your next period and trends over time
I think this is important as not many other fitness tracker makers are focused in this area and hopefully will take note and provide this type of health tracking.
- VO2 max estimate and fitness age
- Heart rate data seems accurate for activities like running and walking.
Fitness tracking is made much more detailed with the optical heart rate sensor. The Charge 3 will keep track on your heart rate for all-day activity and found in the main this was accurate.
In the past, I have been critical of the accuracy of the Fitbit optical HR sensors for fitness tracking, but Fitbit has improved the accuracy with the Charge 3 it would seem based on the testing for the charge 3 review.
Using the HR sensor for running, walking, gym and strength during the review, here are the results for running and strength training.
Starting with running with the Charge 3 heart rate sensor, as you can see from the below tested against a chest strap it did well
Now moving onto strength tracking and heart rate performance with this test is the biggest surprised. Normally optical HR sensors for wrist-based exercises it’s a waste of time, but the testing done in the Charge 3 review really surprised me with being pretty close to the chest strap.
- Detailed, accurate sleep tracking
- Can track sleep stages, blood oxygen, and SpO2
The Charge 3 can monitor your sleep by plotting when you go to sleep and when you wake along with REM and track blood oxygen saturation levels during the night with the Pulse Ox2 sensor.
It can differentiate between light, deep and REM stages of sleep, along with movement throughout the night.
When I was testing the sleep tracking for the Charge 3 review, I found the accuracy within the OK range. I found it would be off on some evenings when I actually went to sleep and in one case by 1 and a half hours, but the waking times was pretty much spot on.
Garmin has included a silent alarm feature which wakes you up by using vibrations. During the review, I gave this a shot and it was pretty much pointless, but I have to say I am a heavy sleeper.
The biggest change is the heart rate tracking of the Charge 3 and a good choice if you want to monitor your heart rate during exercise
With the promises Fitbit have made in female health tracking and third party app support, the Charge 3 is a good all-rounder for fitness tracking at an affordable price.