Fitbit has long established its presence in the wearable fitness tracker realm, and the Fitbit Charge 3 is one of their best offerings.
I enjoy the conveniences and accoutrements that smartwatches come with, but when it comes to working out, sometimes, the bare bones work best for me.
The Charge 3 is like its minimalist predecessor, Fitbit Charge 2, in that it gives you everything that works well for Fitbit but with a dash of smartwatch features. You want to track your activities, such as steps and calories? Charge 3 has you covered. Do you want a tracker that is perfect for social fitness? Charge 3 does that and tracks over 15 workouts. Do you want to take it for a swim? Charge 3 is waterproof up to 50 meters.
Fitbit has more expensive trackers, like the Versa or Ionic, that offer more smartwatch features, but Charge 3 does notify you of text messages, phone calls, and syncs with other apps on your phone. Our Fitbit Charge 3 review shows that it is a fitness tracker that does enough of what you need it to do.
The Fitbit Charge 3 release date was in 2018, as a follow up to the Charge 2. It’s still in production and available for sale in-store and online on Amazon. A special edition Charge 3 Fitbit is available and gives you the choice of getting a model in the lavender or frost white sport colors.
The special edition also comes with the choice of a sport band or a woven wristband and an NFC chip enables Fitbit Pay, allowing you to pay bills through your tracker.
It’s perfect for anyone looking for an efficient and simple fitness tracker.
Charge 3 allows you to track steps, calories burned, heart rate, sleep patterns.
It is waterproof up to 50 meters and tracks over 15 unique workouts, including running, biking, yoga, swimming, and weight training.
Charge 3 gives you access to the Fitbit app, which is one of the best in the fitness tracking industry.
If your need is to track your workouts and cardio output, this device is for you.
You might not like Charge 3 if you want more than a fitness tracker.
While the tracker does feature some smartwatch abilities, like text message notifications and app syncing, it is limited in what it can do.
It comes up short compared to other watches like the Apple watches, Fitbit Versa, or Garmin watches.
It doesn’t come with onboard GPS, and you are not able to navigate music or store it on the device.
A limited number of watch faces to choose from or to customize.
Design & Build
The Charge 3 features a sleek, rectangular face that fits comfortably with an aluminum case and a woven polyester band. It comes with a small and large band and will be able to fit your wrist.
The monochromatic screen is The Charge 3 features a sleek, rectangular face that fits comfortably with an aluminum case and a woven polyester band. It comes with a small and large band and able to fit your wrist. The screen is a fully functional touchscreen that allows swiping through menus.
There is a haptic side button that vibrates when pushed and is used to get back to the home watchface and to stop your workout. I like that it’s flush with the case and there are no protruding buttons to dig into your skin.
Unboxing & Setup
Your device comes in a light-weight box with the tracker, a USB charger, directions, and both small and large bands. The charger clamps onto the tracker and holds it in place while charging.
Set up is simple. To start, you’ll need to download the Fitbit App on your mobile device. Connect the tracker to the charger, and it turns on automatically. It may have to go through a firmware update that can take up to 15 minutes, but once done, it is ready to go.
An OLED Grayscale display and touchscreen make the larger display easy on the eyes and simple to navigate. The screen adjusts to the light you’re in and swiping up gets you into features, such as battery life. Swipe down, and you’ll be able to select a workout to track.
While it has fewer clock face options than other devices, Fitbit does offer a choice of seven different faces for your device.
The strength of Charge 3 is its fitness features. It’s heart-rate sensor checks your heart rate in real-time and tells you when you are in cardio, fat burn, or peak heart rate. It auto recognizes when you are exercising, or you can manually choose from over 15 different exercise modes preloaded on the device.
Women can also use their Charge 3 for health tracking to track periods, Ovulation periods, and to record symptoms. If you like to meditate, it takes you through guided breathing exercises to help you manage stress and anxiety.
Heart Rate & Sleep Tracking
The 7-day battery life and two-hour recharging period is one of my favorite features of this device, as its annoying to have to recharge a tracker every day. Charge 3 can be worn 24 hours and tracks your sleep. It tells you how much time you spent in the various sleep stages, such as REM, light, and deep sleep. Tracking sleep can be an often overlooked part of your fitness routine, and this device allows you to know what kind of sleep you’re getting accurately.
The Charge 3 uses an optical heart rate monitor to allow you to see what your heart rate every five seconds unless you’ve selected one of the workouts, then it records your heart rate every three seconds.
Fitbit devices are strong performers when it comes to the accuracy of heart rate monitoring, and Charge 3 meets the standards you’d expect from Fitbit. Steps are estimated based on the average stride of people who share the same height and weight as you do. If you feel that it does not accurately measure your steps, the settings can be edited to give you a more accurate step count.
GPS & Battery Life
Charge 3 has a battery life of seven days. To recharge your device, you need the USB charger made for the Charge 3, but it only takes two hours to replenish the battery fully.
There is no onboard GPS with Charge 3 but it will sync with your phone so runners need to take their phone with them.
Compatibility & Apps
You’ll be able to sync your Charge 3 with Windows devices, Samsung Androids, and your iPhone using Bluetooth LE. To sync, you’ll need Android 5.0, iOS 10 and later, or Windows 10. The tracker syncs with other devices up to 20 feet.
For the Android users, quick replies will be an option you can take advantage of with your Charge 3.
Value for Money
Charge 3 is a good value for its price. Its an affordable fitness tracker that gives you everything you need to monitor your daily steps, heart rate, workouts, and sleep patterns in an easy to use manner. You can get notifications from your phone, which gives it a little bit of smartwatch functionality.
Is Fitbit Charge 3 Worth It?
As is the case with most smartwatches and fitness trackers, it depends on what your needs are. Charge 3 is an excellent fitness tracker and if that’s all you need, it’s well worth the price.
If you are looking for the bells and whistles that come with a smartwatch, then you might want to look at alternatives.
Fitbit has kept it simple with the Charge series, but it delivers on what it says it does, and for an affordable price.
The Charge 3 design is sleek, comfortable, light-weight, and helps manage or track your daily workouts. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the more expensive smartwatches, but you’ll still be able to get notifications, such as text messages.
It functionality is similar to the Charge 2, and offers more thanthe Fitbit Alta HR and the Inspire HR, but has added waterproofing so you can jump in the pool with confidence. The Fitbit Charge 3 is a simple fitness tracker that won’t drain your bank account while giving you top of the line features.
Andy is a long-time writer covering sports, tech, and the local arts scene in Seattle, Washington. He is an avid hockey fan, weight lifter, and fitness tracker fanatic. His work has appeared on ESPN Seattle, Sportsnet in Canada and most recently NHL.com.