Fitbit Charge 3 first look: All the best smartwatch features in a sleek fitness band

Key Features

  • Review Price: £129.99
  • Updated design
  • Water resistant to 50m
  • 7 days battery life
  • Gorilla Glass 3 screen
  • Sp02 sensors
  • 'Connected' GPS
  • 24/7 heart rate tracking

Fitbit Charge 3 first look: All the best smartwatch features in a sleek fitness band

All the hype surrounding fitness wearables seems to relate to the smartwatches, rather than the fitness bands. Even though I’d say I still see more people wearing a ragged old Fitbit every day than an Apple Watch.

The Charge has been the ‘go-to’ Fitbit for a while now: the perfect mix of features and affordability. It’s the one I would recommend to anyone who wanted a bit more than just tracking their steps, but didn’t fancy a smartwatch.

Thankfully, with the raft of tweaks and updates that come with the Charge 3, it looks like that recommendation might just continue.

Fitbit Charge 3 release date

You can pre-order the Fitbit Charge 3 from today (August 20) through its website. However, it won’t actually ship until October.

Fitbit Charge 3 price

In the UK the Charge 3 will retail for £129.99. That’s a tenner cheaper than the Charge 2 was when it launched at £139.99. There’s a ‘Special Edition’ available as well with NFC for mobile payments. This will cost £149.99.

Three separate bands will be available too: silicone (£29.99), woven (£29.99) and leather (£59.99).

Pre-order: Fitbit Charge 3 from £129.99 from Fitbit

Out of all the many updates Fitbit has added this time around, making the band waterproof seems to be the one that stands out. Not being able to take the Fitbit Charge 2 swimming was an obvious drawback and meant it failed in being that ‘complete’ wearable. If you wanted to track your swims, you’d need something else.

Fitbit Charge 3 on hand

User-feedback led Fitbit to make the Charge 3 water-resistant up to 50m whether you’re picking up lengths in the pool or exploring the depths of the ocean. To go along with this, Fitbit has added tracking for laps and swim duration both of which are accessible from the band.

Another instantly noticeable change is the updated design. The Charge 2 was by no means ugly, but it stuck out quite far from my wrist and felt bulkier than it should. The Charge 3 fixes this, with a new curvy aluminium body that’s 20% lighter and has a 40% larger display. It sits nearly flush with the wrist and feels very comfortable. I could easily see myself wearing this for days without really noticing it was there. Making things lighter and slimmer is great for tracking your zzz’s too, as it shouldn’t be a pain to wear at night.

Related: Best smartwatches 

Fitbit Charge 3 back

Other changes for the Charge 3 give it some of the benefits normally restricted to smartwatches. While the Charge 2 dealt with a few notifications from your phone (WhatsApp, SMS, calls etc.) the Charge 3 can show you any notification from your phone. You’ll also be able to accept/reject calls and quickly reply with a canned response if you’re an Android user. Timers, alarms and weather alerts are also coming to the Fitbit band for the first time.

The larger, brighter and sharper (than the Charge 2, that is) display also helps when navigating around the software. The slight curvature to the panel makes swiping through the basic UI very smooth, while Fitbit has added a few of the features normally reserved for its smartwatch line (the Fitbit Versa and the Ionic) like leaderboards and customised activities. Goal-based exercises are a great addition and let you choose between a calorie, time and distance-based target. I nearly always use these type of exercises on an Apple Watch and it’s great to see them on a more affordable device like this.

I’ve always found the data collected from Fitbit’s trackers to be some of the best around. Not only does it seem consistent with the results produced, but its excellent community ensures you can actually do something with that data. In addition to the sensors that were there before, Fitbit has added an SpO2 sensor for checking the amount of oxygen in the blood and aiding in the tracking of sleep apnea. There’s a heart-rate monitor too, with 24/7 tracking and a separate version of the Charge 3 will be available with NFC for mobile payment through Fitbit Pay.

Fitbit Charge 3

The biggest sensor still missing from the Charge series is GPS. For a device this sleek and small, and at this price, it always seemed like an omission that couldn’t be avoided. Instead, it uses ‘connected’ GPS with the help of your phone to track your runs. If you want something a little more independent, the Fitbit Ionic boasts GPS. As do plenty of other wearables features in our best fitness watches list.

Battery life is quoted by Fitbit as seven days; an improvement over the five days Richard Easton tended to get based on his Fitbit Charge 2 review. I’ll need to properly run the Charge 3 through our review process to see how well Fitbit’s claim stacks up.

Pre-order: Fitbit Charge 3 from £129.99 from Fitbit

Fitbit charge 3 vs charge 2

Fitbit Charge 2 (left) vs Charge 3 (right)

First impressions

The Charge 3 feels like a huge update over its predecessor. The water-resistance is the biggest addition, but things like an improved design, the promise of better battery life and more smartwatch features are all welcome too. Not to mention the fact that comes in at a lower starting price than the Charge 2 makes the package even sweeter.

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