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Fitbit Charge and Charge HR In-Depth Review

FitbitCharge-ChargeHR-FrontSteps

It’s been a few months now since Fitbit announced and then subsequently released their Fitbit Charge and Charge HR units.  At the same time, they announced the Fitbit Surge GPS (which I’ve already reviewed here).  For this post though, we’ll be looking at the Charge variants, both with and without the heart rate option.  I’ve used them both sequentially over the past 2+ months, and now have a pretty good grasp of where they work and where they don’t.

For all of the units within these posts I simply bought them myself.  The Charge arrived back in December which I used first, and then the Charge HR the last month since wrapping up the Fitbit Surge review (you can only have one Fitbit device tied to your account at once).

At the end of the day keep in mind I’m just like any other regular athlete out there. I write these reviews because I’m inherently a curious person with a technology background, and thus I try and be as complete as I can. But, if I’ve missed something or if you spot something that doesn’t quite jive – just let me know and I’ll be happy to get it all sorted out. Also, because the technology world constantly changes, I try and go back and update these reviews as new features and functionality are added – or if bugs are fixed. So – with that intro, let’s get into things.

Unboxing – Fitbit Charge HR:

FitbitChargeHR-Box

We’ll stat off first with the Fitbit Charge HR, and then move to the unboxing of the regular Fitbit Charge (non-HR).

FitbitChargeHR-Unbox1

After you’ve cracked it open, you’ll find the following set of components:

FitbitChargeHR-UnboxParts

FitbitChargeHR-UnboxAllParts

First up is the paper manual and warranty.  It tells you how to wear it on your wrist for better optical accuracy, as well as when to take it off for minimizing a skin rash.

FitbitChargeHR-Manual

Next, is the charging cable.  This USB cable can be plugged into any USB port you’ll find on our little blue marble, and the other end plugs into the Fitbit Charge HR.  Note, this is not compatible with any other Fitbit products (the connectors are different).

FitbitChargeHR-SyncCable

FitbitChargeHR-CableCharge

Then we’ve got the USB sync adapter.  The cable above doesn’t sync with your desktop, for that you’ll instead need the small Bluetooth Smart adapter below.  If you have a semi-recent smartphone (something with Bluetooth Smart), then you can throw this in a desk drawer and forget about it – as you’ll sync with your smartphone instead.

FitbitChargeHR-USBAdapter

Finally, we’ve got the Fitbit Charge HR itself.  Here’s the front:

FitbitChargeHR-FrontShot

And the back:

FitbitChargeHR-BackOfUnit

We’ll get into some size comparisons after I walk through the non-HR version unboxing.

Unboxing – Fitbit Charge:

FitbitCharge-BoxFront

Next up we’ve got the Fitbit Charge (non-HR), which is nearly identical to that of the Charge HR from a packaging and contents standpoint.

FitbitCharge-UnboxParts

After removing everything from the multi-layered box, here’s what you’ve got:

FitbitCharge-Unboxed

To run through the components, we’ve first got the USB charging cable and USB sync adapter.  The charging cable doesn’t sync any data – only charging (you can plug it into any USB port you find in the world).  Meanwhile, the USB sync adapter allows non-smartphone users to sync via Bluetooth Smart using the small USB adapter.

FitbitCharge-USB

From a charging cable standpoint the Fitbit Charge and Charge HR are slightly different.  The Charge HR has two charging contacts within it, whereas the Charge has three.  The regular Charge and the Fitbit Force however do share what is almost an identical connector (it fits, but isn’t quite as snug…but nonetheless it will charge).

FitbitCharge-USBChargingCable

Next, we’ve got the manual.  It basically tells you to not wear it 24×7 for weeks on end so that Fitbit can cover their collective legal rears in the event you breakout with a skin rash.

Note however that it remains unclear as to what percentage of Fitbit Charge/Charge HR/Surge users are still seeing rashes (either due to reaction, or just general irritation of wearing something 24×7).  There’s a spreadsheet here by a 3rd party (not me) that collects those concerns.  However, do keep in mind that at the volumes Fitbit is shipping these units in (hundreds of thousands) – this is well less than 1% of users (not to minimize that, but to put numbers in perspective).  Of course, that doesn’t help if you happen to be in the 1%.

FitbitCharge-Manuals

Finally, here’s the Fitbit Charge itself:

FitbitCharge-Front

FitbitCharge-Back

As you can see, the band differs slightly at the clasp, where here it has two little pop-in connectors, compared to the Fitbit Charge HR having a secure clasp:

FitbitCharge-Clasp

That said, I never had any issues with it falling off my wrist.

Size Comparisons:

FitbitChargeChargeHRForceCombo

Probably the most important thing to keep in mind throughout this entire review is that the Fitbit Charge is really just the Fitbit Force with a new name and a new non-reactive band.  The functionality in the base Charge is no different than what was promised in the Force before the recall (inclusive of call notifications).

FitbitChargeChargeHRForceComparison

Similarly, the Charge and Charge HR are brothers of the same mother.  The only difference is one grew up with a HR sensor attached to the back of it:

FitbitCharge-ChargeHR-FrontDual

Outside of that heart rate component, they are nearly identical except for the rear clasp that secures them (the Charge HR is on top, the regular Charge on the bottom):

FitbitCharge-ChargeHR-Clasps

Additionally, you see a minor difference in the pattern in the plastic:

FitbitChargeAndChargeHR-Comparison

Here’s how they compare to watches, including the Fitbit Surge.  The Charge HR is to the far right (2nd from right).  Whereas the Surge is just to the right of center.

IMG_4471

Looking at sizing, the Fitbit Charge and Charge HR come in Small, Large, and X-Large sizes.

The Activity Tracker Basics (Steps, etc…):

FitbitChargeHR-Charge-SuitWrist

At the core of any Fitbit device is the ability to track daily activity including steps, distance walked/run, and calories.  Both the Fitbit Charge and Charge HR follow in those footsteps and delivery that, along with stairs climbed and in the case of the Charge HR – heart rate.

These metrics are shown on the small display on the front of the unit, and can be accessed at any time by pressing the little button on the left:

FitbitChargeHR-Time

When you press the button it’ll iterate through each of the fields, which are customizable.  These field are: Time, Steps, Distance, Calories, Stairs, and Heart Rate (Charge HR only):

FitbitChargeHR-CaloriesMetric

FitbitChargeHR-Calories

FitbitChargeHR-Miles

This information is also synchronized to the mobile app via Bluetooth Smart, which then makes the data available on the Fitbit platform as a whole:

IMG_4793 IMG_4796 IMG_4794

The Bluetooth Smart sync is available to compatible iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices.  That’s generally anything made in the last 2-3 years, though there are some caveats – so you’ll want to check Fitbit’s compatibility site.  Basically the device needs to have Bluetooth 4.0, which is the umbrella covering Bluetooth Smart functionality.

FitbitChargeHR-AppSync

Your activity data can further be accessed via the Fitbit website, as well as send to various partners such as MyFitnessPal and others.

image

So what about accuracy?  In general I don’t see any abnormalities with either the Fitbit Charge or Charge HR.  They were very close to other devices I was wearing at the same time (such as the Jawbone Move and Garmin Fenix3), for step counts.

However, keep in mind that there is not ‘perfect’ activity tracker.  Different companies use different algorithms to try and minimize inaccuracies.  Further, different wearable locations can also impact accuracy.  For example, if I’m pushing a shopping cart with a wrist-based device such the Fitbit Charge, I’ll likely get reduced step counts.  This is because the accelerometer isn’t likely to be triggered due to the static position of my hand.

Companies try and counter these sorts of items – such as ensuring steps aren’t counted when you’re showering or washing the dishes.  But the reality is that sometimes they do trigger steps.

Here’s what I’d remind ya: You shouldn’t be concerned about a few hundred extra steps.  At the end of the day, you’re aiming for a goal in the 10,000+ step range – so a few hundred steps really isn’t that meaningful.   If you only walked 2,000 steps, then no, you didn’t walk enough.  And at the other end of the spectrum, if you walked 18,000 steps – then yes, you walked a lot and an extra 100 steps washing the dishes wasn’t likely the cause for that 18,000 steps.

To that end these devices are best looked at from a trending standpoint.  They help you assess whether you’re walking a lot or a little.  That’s no different between a Fitbit, a Garmin, a Polar app – or even your phone.  They all have imperfections in certain scenarios – and excel at others.

Sleep Tracking:

FitbitCharge-ChargeHR-SleepTracking

The Fitbit Charge and Charge HR both automatically track and record your sleep.  Unlike other companies out there, there is no requirement to tell the device you’re headed to bed.  Instead, it just automatically figures it out – which is quite nice.

This means all you need to do is wear either unit 24×7 and it’ll pretty much track every aspect without any button pushing (except for a workout).

Here’s how the sleep looks from the mobile app.  You can see it tracks the time you went to sleep and when you woke up.  It also tracks how restless you were and how long you might have been awake.  In my testing I find it pretty much nails my sleeping times pretty closely.

IMG_4800 IMG_4801 IMG_4802

I don’t see any differences in sleep monitoring between the Charge/Charge HR, and the Surge.  Obviously there’s the heart rate element, but none of the data gathered from that component is surfaced into any of the sleep related pages.  Instead, it only shows up in the resting heart rate components…which, I’ll discuss in the next section.

Continuous Heart Rate monitoring (Fitbit Charge HR only):

FitbitChargeHR-HRScreen

The singular feature that you’d get when upgrading from the Charge to the Charge HR is the ability to display and capture heart rate (HR) data.  This data is essentially used in one of two places: Continuous HR monitoring (24×7), and Workout HR monitoring (i.e. during an activity).

For this section, we’ll talk about the continuous side.  In a following section, I’ll dive into the workout piece.  First though, we’ll take a brief diversion to talk about optical sensors.

Optical sensors measure your heart rate by shining a small light through your skin to your capillaries, where it then measures blood flow through a secondary sensor in the unit that ‘sees’ your pulse.  This technology isn’t terribly new, as it’s been used for years in hospitals and other medical facilities, primarily on pulse oximeters on your fingertip.

What is new however is applying it to the wrist and doing so either for 24×7 purposes, or workout tracking purposes.  In the case of 24×7 monitoring, it was really the Basis B1 watch that inaugurated that category (which they recently followed up with the Basis Peak).  Meanwhile, for sport, it was a variety of products from Mio, starting with the Alpha, but then including many more of their own, along with others that have licensed their sensor to such as TomTom and Adidas (the raw sensor is made by Philips).

These sensors generally use a green light, however some, such as the Scosche Rhythm+ also use a secondary colored LED (yellow) that can increase accuracy for certain skin types.  In the case of the Fitbit sensors, all use just a green light:

FitbitChargeHR-LEDLights

Now the thing with optical sensors is that they often take a few days/runs/walks to figure out where the exact best position is for your specific body.  Since the optical sensor enabled Fitbit products are all wrist based units, you’re somewhat limited to the wrist, which is a bit trickier than other locations.  That’s because you need to ensure a relatively snug fit to get accurate results.  This is due to potential leakage of outside light into the optical sensor area where it touches the skin.

With that background in mind, the Fitbit Charge HR (as well as the Surge GPS) have a 24×7 continuous heart rate monitoring function.  This feature monitors and records your heart rate continuously, allowing you to see the impact of various activities throughout the day.  At any time you can display your HR on the unit by simply pressing the button:

FitbitChargeHR-HeartRate

You can also do as I have done, and configured a simple double-tap to display your HR automatically.  This is within the settings menus:

FitbitChargeHR-Gestures

The app will also display a ‘Resting HR’ value for each day (aka RHR).  This value is generally considered to be the lowest HR value recorded during the day.  In my case though, it seems to be slightly inflated above that.  For example, while sleeping or just watching TV, I can usually get my HR down to about 39-42bpm.  But, I’ve never had the Fitbit (any of the HR capable products), record a value lower than 49bpm for the ‘Resting HR value’.  This again, despite the fact that it’s routinely below that level:

image

image

I’ve asked Fitbit twice now to clarify how precisely they determine the resting value, without any answer back.  They’ve stated in various manuals that it’s based on non-active moments (i.e. when not walking), but haven’t clarified if it’s perhaps some sort of time-averaged value or how the calculation is made – instead, just a post that kinda skirts around the issue with fairly nebulous wording.

Still, ignoring the official RHR value, I do find that for almost all other day to day activities, it seems to track reasonably well actually.  Figures are virtually always in the ‘reasonable’ category, and sometimes when I compare against a HR strap in a non-workout setting – they also seem to be inline.

Workout Tracking (generic mode):

The Charge and Charge HR have a workout mode that enables you to track stats specific to a given workout.  This can be steps, calories, distance, etc… For the most part, this workout mode is really aligned to running and walking, more than something like cycling (actually – to be really clear – it’s totally useless in cycling).

To start the workout mode you’ll just long-hold the button down.  Then it’ll display a little timer icon and you’ll see the counter begin:

FitbitChargeHR-StartWorkout

While the counter is running, you can tap the button to cycle through the different views.  These views will show you the same metrics as before, except only within the workout.  So it only shows you the distance/steps/calories you’ve done in the workout, while in workout mode.

FitbitChargeHR-WorkoutTimer

In the case of the Charge HR, it’ll also show your heart rate (more on that in the next section).  To end the workout, you’ll long-hold down again, which completes the session and returns you to the normal activity tracker functions:

FitbitChargeHR-FinishLine

Note that like virtually all other activity trackers on the market, your workout steps/distance will be added to your regular steps/distance for the day (both on the unit itself, but also in the app/site).

In addition you’ll see the workout listed within the app separately, under a workout section.  You can tap this workout to get more details about it (including HR on the Charge HR).  Further, you can change the classification of the workout, albeit minimally.

IMG_4806 IMG_4803 IMG_4804

The distances displayed while running or walking can be calibrated using a relatively straight forward equation, which helps increase accuracy.  In my testing, it did indeed get accuracy of my runs to within a few percent.  Similar to what I saw with the Fitbit Surge.  Not perfect, but much more in the ballpark than when I left it set at the default.

Note that while these are classified as ‘workouts’ within the Fitbit platform, there is no method of exporting them as a workout file at this time.  Fitbit has talked about enabling workout export capabilities at some point in the near future – but it’s unclear if that’ll include non-HR inclusive workouts, such as those created on the Fitbit Charge HR.  The primary reason you’d want to export a workout, is to import it into another platform – such as MapMyFitness or similar.

Finally, the regular Fitbit Charge is not capable of connecting to a heart rate strap (of any type).  Only the Fitbit Charge HR can display HR, and only using the internal optical sensor.

Workout Tracking with Heart Rate (Charge HR only):

P1000270

Now that we established in the previous section how the workout mode works, we’ll go ahead and layer in the heart rate component that’s only available on the Charge HR.

When you start the workout, the only difference between the Charge and Charge HR that you’ll note is that one of the screens now displays your current HR, such as below:

P1000521

But how accurate is this?  Well…it’s mixed.  In general, I find it very much the same as the Fitbit Surge GPS unit.  The optical sensor gets within the ballpark, but doesn’t accurately track quick HR changes such as during intervals.  For example, look at the following run where I had both longer intervals (middle) and a series of short 30-second hard sprints (end).  I’ve plotted it against a traditional heart rate chest strap:

image

image

Now you’ll see at the beginning the Fitbit actually tracked better – that’s because I likely hadn’t wetted my HR strap and it took a few minutes to catch (a common problem if dry).  But, after that point, you can see the HR strap tracks my intervals beautifully, whereas the Fitbit Charge HR struggles quite a bit and is rather variable.

If I look at spinning (was cycling on an indoor trainer), it’s not really that much better.  You can see that it generally trends in the right direction – but hardly matches it.  In fact, it’s kinda all over the place.  Note that the chest strap will appear more blocky – but note the scale – it’s only a handful of beta (meaning, I was pretty darn consistent).  Whereas with the Fitbit Charge HR it was a bit more variable.

image

image

Now, there are some ‘bright’ spots.  For example in the case of this run below, it generally trends fairly well, though it does seem to add two random HR spikes that definitely weren’t in my run (towards the beginning).

image

image

The challenge is that the sensor on the Fitbit Charge HR is situated in a way that just allows too much light to easily get under it.  Light is the arch-enemy of optical sensors, and with the Charge HR being very slim width-wise, there isn’t a whole lot of room to enclose it with darkness (as other optical HR sensors do).  Fitbit would likely argue that the thinness of the band is appealing (and it is).  But, I’d argue that it negates the benefit of the HR sensor when said sensor simply isn’t all that accurate.

P1000268

Note that like the regular Fitbit Charge, the workout data is also uploaded.  However, in addition to pace and distance you will also get HR data uploaded, like below:

IMG_4807 IMG_4808 IMG_4809

Fitbit has noted that they were planning on rolling out export capabilities for some workout types, originally scheduled for February 2015.

Waterproofing:

FitbitChargeHR-Waterproofing

The Fitbit Charge and Charge HR are only waterproofed to a ‘splash-proof’ standard.  This same disappointing standard was used previously on the Fitbit Force.  Here’s the official water resistance information from the site:

image

This is different from many of the other wrist-based activity trackers on the market that usually easily hit 30-meter deep waterproofing standards.  This does appear to be a bit of a trend with Fitbit products and lackluster waterproofing.  For example, while the Fitbit Surge is technically 50m waterproofed (which I tested myself here), the Surge also comes with the warning not to swim with it (and to avoid showering).

In any event, in the case of the Charge and Charge HR I completely ignored the ‘do not shower’ clause, and showered with it every single day, usually twice a day (once in the morning and once after a workout).  I never saw any issues.  For example, a simple video under a relatively high pressure shower at a hotel.  I’ve subjected the unit to similar shower pressures every day for a month now without issue.

Of course, I suspect the real reason behind the ‘do not shower’ with it clause has nothing to do with waterproofing, but rather legal liability.  When you shower with the unit it tends to cause moisture to build up under the watch band since you’d miss that area while drying off.  This in turn can cause simple skin irritation issues in some people – no different than anything else worn against your skin for days or weeks on end with no airflow.  So this is more about trying to avoid issues like they had with the Force recall.

As a side note, while I know there have been a handful of reports of people having skin issues with the latest round of Fitbit products, I think a bit of common sense needs to start being applied.  Having a couple (literally, just a couple) of people report reactions out of likely hundreds of thousands (or more) of units shipped is likely more a case of wearing habits than anything else.  That combined with the fact that people are hyper-sensitive to Fitbit skin reaction issues.  I’d be willing to bet you’ll see similar high profile ‘skin reaction issues’ when the Apple Watch comes out.  Even just 1/100ths of 1% of the Apple Watch estimated production volume is still 500 people.

(Preemptive why didn’t I put the Charge/Charge HR in the pressure chamber like other products?  Well, the goal of the chamber is to validate underwater ratings.  These two products don’t claim any underwater protection.  This, as much fun as it is to put things in the chamber, I see it as a bit of a waste of my money to destroy perfectly functional products beyond specification for what isn’t a terribly exciting video.  If a product claims something – I’m happy to validate it.  But if not, you’ll have to find a higher budget film company than mine.)

Call Notifications:

FitbitCharge-CallNotificationsEnablement

The Fitbit Charge and Charge HR include basic call notifications that can be enabled via your smartphone.  These notifications will appear on the tiny little LCD screen when an incoming call is made to your connected phone:

FitbitCharge-CallNotifications

But..there’s a catch.  If you enable All Day Sync, then you can’t have Call Notifications…and vice versa.  Which, is kinda  a bummer.  And on top of that, I find it rather flaky as to when it actually notifies me.

For me though, I tend to get more text messages than calls – so having a small notification on text messages like most other smart watches would honestly have been far more valuable than call notifications.  Especially given that text message function is both on the Fitbit Surge, but also many other $100+ activity trackers in the market.

Fitbit Aria WiFi Weight Scale (integration with):

FitbitAriaScale-WeightDisplayed

Well before the Charge or Charge HR came out, Fitbit introduced their Fitbit Aria WiFi enabled scale.  This scale will report your weight and body fat levels to you on the small display, but also transmit it wirelessly via WiFi to the Fitbit service.  It works beautifully, and I’ve been using it for years.

The use of the scale is silly simple.  You’ll setup pairing using your mobile phone or computer, and then once configured it’ll just silently do its thing sitting next to your toilet in the bathroom and broadcasting your burrito eating habits to the Fitbit platform.  All you need to do is step on it:

FitbitAriaScale-StandingOn

A few seconds later the weight shows up on the Fitbit platform, so it’s visible on the website and mobile app.  Now the value here isn’t that you can see your weight on your phone a minute later.  The value is in the daily logging.  Most folks (myself included) seem to have selective memory when it comes to weight.  By simply taking that out of my hands, I have a more realistic history of my weight – and my trending.  So in this case, I step on the scale and it broadcasts it.  No fudging.

FitbitScaleWebsite_thumb[2]

The data is also broadcast to Fitbit partners, such as MyFitnessPal.  Along with tons more partners.  Heck, you can even send it to Garmin Connect via some tricks.

From an accuracy standpoint, I’ve found the Fitbit scale spot-on when it comes to weight.  I’ve previously done some scale testing in the past in a scientific setting, which you can read here for other scales.  In looking at a comparison of the weight portion to those scales that I’ve tested previously, this matches.  Ultimately, I continue to use it as a scale that I often use myself (I have one Fitbit and one Withings, in different locations).

FitbitWeightScaleSyncwithChargeHR

Now a few will be curious on how the Fitbit Aria scale competes with Withings Wifi scale.  Simply put…it’s a wash.  Technology and platform wise they’re nearly identical from a weight standpoint.  My advice here has always been to chose whichever scale you have a device on.  So, if you have a Fitbit device – get the Fitbit scale.  And if you have the Withings device, go that way.  If you have neither, then look at their list of respective partners (huge), and see which apps/platforms you use that support which scale platform.  Failing anything else…just get whatever is cheaper that week.

Product Comparison Charts:

I’ve added in the Fitbit Charge and Charge HR into the product comparison database.  This means you can easily mix and match and compare it to other devices.

For the purposes of below, I’ve just kept it simple and shown the stats for those two units, but you can compare it against any other unit I’ve reviewed or have started the review cycle on, by building your own chart here.

Function/FeatureFitbit Charge HRFitbit Charge
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 19th, 2016 @ 7:47 pmNew Window
Price$149$109
Body PlacementWristWrist
Data Transfer TypeBluetooth SmartBluetooth Smart
Bluetooth to PhoneYesYes
Has GPS built-inNoNo
Waterproofing1ATM (~10m)ATM1 (~10m)
Battery LifeUp to 5 daysUp to 7 days
Battery TypeUSB RechargeableUSB Rechargeable
Changeable Bands/StrapsNo
Phone Music ControlNoNo
WatchFitbit Charge HRFitbit Charge
Displays timeYesYes
Has time alarmsYesYes
Has smart sleep alarmsNoNo
NotificationsFitbit Charge HRFitbit Charge
Smartphone NotificationsCall notifications onlyCall notifications only
WorkoutsFitbit Charge HRFitbit Charge
Workout guidance/coachingNoNo
DataFitbit Charge HRFitbit Charge
Step CounterYesYes
Stairs ClimbedYesYes
Distance WalkedYesYes
Calories BurnedYesYes
Sleep MetricsYesYes
24x7 HR MetricsYesNo
SensorsFitbit Charge HRFitbit Charge
Skin TemperatureNoNo
Heart RateYesNo
Optical Heart RateYesNo
Can re-broadcast Heart Rate dataNoNo
Skin PerspirationNoNo
Cycling SensorsNoNo
Action Camera ControlNoNo
SoftwareFitbit Charge HRFitbit Charge
Web ApplicationYesYes
PC ApplicationYesYes
Mac ApplicationYesYes
Phone AppsiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows Phone
Ability to export/sync settings from computer/phoneYesYes
PlatformFitbit Charge HRFitbit Charge
3rd parties can access data via APIYesYes
Ability to export your data out of platformYesYes (paid option)
PurchaseFitbit Charge HRFitbit Charge
Amazon LinkLinkLink
Clever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)LinkLink
DCRainmakerFitbit Charge HRFitbit Charge
Review LinkLinkLink

The above tables update dynamically based on the newest features.  So if Fitbit or someone else updates something, I usually update it within a few days at most.  And remember you can mix and match any products I’ve tested within the product database comparison tool.  Go forth and compare!

Summary:

FitbitChargeHR-Front

First up, let’s talk about the Fitbit Charge (non-HR).  For that, it makes for a perfectly capable little activity tracker.  The Fitbit activity tracking platform is without question one of the best (if not the best).  They’ve got partnerships with virtually every 3rd party site out there, and have a strong internal platform for allowing you to compete with friends and family on steps.  They’ve also got apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone – plus of course desktop access.  While the Fitbit is a tiny bit higher in price than some competitors, you’re effectively buying the brand name – and there’s nothing wrong with that brand in this case.

Next, we’ve got the Charge HR.  For that, I have almost identical feelings to that of the Surge GPS.  As a day to day activity tracker, it’s great.  Heck, even as a 24×7 continuous HR monitor, it’s pretty good (perhaps not perfect, but good).  But as a workout activity monitor for heart rate?  Not so much.  It has many of the same faults and flaws from an optical HR sensor that the Surge did.  Flaws that I’m not terribly convinced Fitbit can fix with software.

(I’d point out that Fitbit contacted me after my Surge review, but were only concerned with the GPS accuracy issues I saw – an implicit agreement that my HR accuracy issues were likely expected.  On the GPS front, though I provided plenty of data to them privately, they didn’t follow up with any further response).

So in some ways, you need to decide what you want the device for.  Is it for daily activity tracking?  If so – then great.  Is it for workout tracking?  If so, then there are better options on the market.

Unfortunately, it still seems elusive to have ‘the perfect’ optical HR activity tracker that does both workouts, and continuous 24×7 HR.  For example, the Mio Fuse does great workout tracking (and step tracking), but doesn’t have a 24×7 HR mode.  And while it might be easy to assume the Apple Watch will succeed in this area, recent articles seem to indicate they are struggling with the optical sensor – cutting many of the planned features.  Adding that to the lack of waterproofing of the Apple Watch (Update: As of Wednesday, it sounds like they’ve changed their story and it might be showerproof), I don’t think we’ll see what we want in the first iteration of it.  This will ultimately give many of the incumbents, like Fitbit, another year of reprieve.

With that – thanks for reading!

Wanna save 10%? Or found this review useful? Read on!

Hopefully you found this review useful.  At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device.  The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love).  As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers an exclusive 10% discount across the board on all products (except clearance items).  You can pickup the Fitbit Charge/Charge HR (or any other Fitbit) from Clever Training. Then receive 10% off of everything in your cart by adding code DCR10BTF at checkout.  By doing so, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get a sweet discount. And, since this item is more than $75, you get free US shipping as well.

Fitbit Charge HR (select dropdown for size)
Fitbit Charge (select dropdown for size)
Fitbit Surge GPS (select dropdown for size)
Fitbit Aria Scale

Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the unit (all colors shown after clicking through to the left) or accessories (though, no discount on Amazon).  Or, anything else you pickup on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells).  If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top.  Though, Clever Training also ships there too and you get the 10% discount.

Thanks for reading!  And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible.  And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below.  Thanks!

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542 Comments

  1. H M

    Your clever training links are broken …. at least to me.

    • Don

      I have apparently fallen victim to what many others have with the Fitbit HR…..it has stopped syncing after not even 24 Hrs! Not on the laptop, not on the phone….$150.00 and its been a part time job trying to get it to sync.
      I knew I should stayed with the Bodybug…it was a perfect for years………

    • JP

      These things happen with any product, and it’s been known for years that you’ll find more vocal people complaining on the Internet about product faults than praising them.

      I have been using my Charge HR even since it came out on the market, and it has worked flawlessly.

    • Brandy

      Does anyone know if the purple gets dirty and stained easy? I live in navy blue scrubs for work and I’m concerned the blue will rub/stain the purple band.

    • Michele S.

      Is here any way to restore to new again so my son can use it. I just got the new apple watch so Id like to make like new for him to use!

    • Annie

      I have a Fitbit Charge HR. It seems to me at times that the steps recorded are inaccurate. Does anyone else have this problem? One minute it says 6524 then 20 or so steps later it says 11628
      Thanks annie

    • Barry

      Same happened to me. Easy fix- just reboot ChargeHR. See their website for instructions, or use this link: link to help.fitbit.com

    • Eva

      Did you ever get yours working? Fitbit has an excellent customer support line and they can help. Even going as far as replacing the item free of charge if they cannot fix it. Don’t give up, give them a call.

    • Geezee

      I have the same question. Did you get a solution?

    • Geezee

      Same question. Did you get a solution?

  2. Sagar

    Lack of waterproofing in the Apple Watch is a big fail, no matter how they spin it

  3. Just thought I’d let you know, I pre-ordered a Fitbit Charge Hr Plum (or Violet) colored small for my Mom the first day of was available through fitbit. They sent me an email a couple of weeks ago saying they “hope to ship by the end of March”, though the original date was the end of January. So they’re a few months behind on at least the other colors, an it looks like black is back ordered all over the web. (Even at Clever Training!). Just FYI. Thanks for the posts. Your level of detail usually out runs my persistence, but I’m really interested in this one, so I got through the whole thing.

    • David

      luke…heads up on the small size, it is INSANLY small. I always get a small in EVERY a band Fitbit, Garmin, Nike etc. as I have a tiny 6.0 inch wrist and my wife’s is just 5.5 (she weighs 103 lbs). The small fit me on the very last hole and the end of the strap was so short I couldn’t even tuck it into the holder. Awful. And no way to slide it up the arm as recommended for working out. My wife could barely make it work too! Large fit perfectly with plenty of room to tighten it down even to my small wrists and obviously room to slide it up, all with neatly tucked band straps. The small size is like for toddlers or something!

    • AY

      My experience with Clever Training has been awful. The website is misleading in that it says “May take up to 2 to 4 weeks” when you add the item to cart. You will get notification later that it is actually a pre-order followed by occasional auto-generated emails that it is Fitbit’s fault.

    • Hmm, it shows the stock status on the same page that you selected the size (it’s actually part of the dropdown). It then shows it again on the cart page.

      I’ll have them double-check the language on the template for that product. But, it really is Fitbit’s fault. They’re having global problems keeping up with demand. It’s not as though CT wants to not ship you a product, that’s kinda silly.

      As for the e-mails, they actually aren’t auto generated. A human (Mariah, in case you’re curious), writes them each Friday afternoon. In many cases, it’s the same status as the week before.

    • Tom

      Agree clever training has had great customer service.

  4. Daniel

    >But, I’ve never had the Fitbit (any of the HR capable products), record a value lower
    >than 49bpm for the ‘Resting HR value’

    But even if the measured HR value (i.e. while sleeping is lower) you can see it afterwards or only in “workout sections” ?

  5. Evgeniy E

    Actually it looks like Apple solved waterproofing at least for the shower according to this: link to macrumors.com

  6. jason K

    My biggest question is does the continuous HR recording give you a better estimated calorie burn for the day?

    • Fredric W

      +1! I was wondering the same thing as well!

    • Jon Briafield

      No. I’ve been using Charge HR for a couple of months now and vastly overestimates calorie burn. Caveat emptor!

    • Oh? Interesting! Have you been able to get a trusted measure to compare? The HR does seem to measure a lot of calories, varying with activity level. It also seems more reasonable than the Wahoo app used with one of their straps (say, the Tickr X) So maybe it’s possible to somehow calibrate the HR using something more reliable. Apart from a lactate test, what can we use to more accurately measure burnt calories?

    • Chris

      Find someone who does a quick Medgem test in your area for about 75 bucks. That will give you a very accurate BMR. Then you shouldn’t have too much trouble figuring out your calorie burn for workouts and daily activity if it’s consistent. A basic heart rate chest strap and watch should get you close. Add that to your BMR

  7. CMPatti

    Since it seems that there is no optical HR device on the horizon that will “do it all,” I’m wondering whether the Charge HR might create an opportunity to completely separate activity & calorie tracking from measuring, monitoring and analyzing training/racing metrics. The Charge could give gross activity, HR and calorie burn information, including for workouts, and linked up with MyFitnessPal would serve as the activity/calorie platform. A dedicated GPS watch would be used for training and racing metrics using platforms that don’t need to be linked to Fitbit & MFP. This raises the question how the Charge HR measures calorie burn during workouts. Does its algorithm factor in heart rate?

  8. MattB

    “static movement” – presumably what happens when the old immovable object meets the irresistible force!

  9. Darren

    I have had a Charge HR for about a little while now, done 3 PT Boxing session and a couple of 8km runs. I think generally my resting heart rate seems reasonable, but it rarely ever measured me at “peak” heart rate levels (despite some hill sprints in my runs). Overall I still enjoy having it as a general activity tracker and measuring my heart rate whilst working in my office job (good to understand if/how stress impacts you).

    Although I am curious to know how you went with battery life ? I am only getting 3 days until i get the low battery email. Wanted to know what setting you had (bluetooth on/off constantly) for your normal battery life.

  10. Casey

    What HR recording device for working out would you recommend?

    My mother is looking to record HR while doing intervals without having a gps watch or smartphone on hand.

    • I’d really look at the Mio Fuse as a solid option for what your mother is looking at.

    • Lisa

      Hi, I saw you recommend the Mio Fuse for HR intervals… however it also uses the electro-optical cells which you seem to say is the biggest problem with the heart rate monitoring of the charge HR. So what makes Mio Fuse so much better? I am interested in the HR most of all, but everything else is great too.

    • Lisa

      One more thing- which one would you recommend that has good HR monitor plus the sleep functionality. I do cross training so not necessarily one type of fitness over another. Thx!

    • The difference is in the company that makes the optical sensors. Mio’s sensors and Valencells are among the best for sport, and are quite accurate. Most others on the market I’ve seen kinda suck for sport (but are generally find for daily HR tracking).

    • Lisa

      What about the UP2 or UP3? Many if the fitness trackers out there are too bulky for my taste.

    • Too soon to known on the UP3. The UP/UP24 are fine for what they are, but they don’t have a meaningful display. So given that it’s more post-data driven than anything else. Me personally, I like a wearable that’s glanceable if it’s worn on my wrist. Otherwise I might as well just wear it on pants/belt (i.e. Jawbone Move, which I actually have been wearing for the past two months).

      That said, I find the Jawbone app fairly finicky.

  11. Julian Wong

    Thanks for the great review!

    Any idea when the Garmin VivoActive review will be out? Not sure if you’ve received a final production unit…

  12. David

    Ray,

    All-Day sync and Call Notifications work at the same time for me using the latest Charge HR firmware and an iPhone 6 with 8.1.3

    • Weird, no luck for me at the same time on the same :-/

    • David

      The real pet peeve I have though is that although the Charge HR does notify me 100% of the time when there is an incoming call (including while All-Day-Sync is enabled) the “buzz” from the Charge HR is a single pulse and very, very short (much shorter than for example the “Goal” buzz). It is so short you almost miss it sometimes and wonder, “what was that?” rather than really being notified. In comparison to the Garmin Vivosmart there is no comparison, the Vivosmart buzzed more strongly and longer and there was no missing it, I have to assume Fitbit is desperate to conserve battery life on the Charge HR which struggles to meet the published specs.

    • private

      All-Day Sync and Call Notifications *do* work together on the Fitbit Charge, however, the catch is that Call Notifications do *not* work *during* a sync. Since syncing could occur at any time, the notification feature is basically useless. I’m looking forward to the Charge 2 with incoming call and text notifications AND *missed* call notifications (which are also missing from this device).

  13. Mike

    Thanks for another great review – I’ve had my Charge HR just over a week now. and it

    Sleep tracking: I found I had to change the Sleep Tracking sensitivity from ‘Normal’ to ‘Sensitive’ to get a more realistic reflection of sleep quality (that could just be me). Rather annoyingly, this can only be done from the device settings on the web console (Settings/Devices/Sleep Tracking)

    Two quick questions. Did fitbit give any indication that
    – message notification would be added in a future firmware update
    – movement/idle alarms (like on the vivofit or the UP for example) would be added in the future firmware update

    The idle alarms one seems like a no-brainer – It’s a long complained about missing feature apparently.
    You can hack around this with IFTTT recipes but it seems like Fitbit are letting their users down.

  14. Keith Weerts

    Ray, your product comparison tool is missing these two devices. Also, any possibility of adding the Mio Fuse and the Garmin Vivosmart to the comparison tool?

  15. Gunnar

    I’ve had the Charge HR for a few weeks now, and the most impressive thing I find is the resting HR monitoring. I’ve never really paid attention to my resting HR, and now I do. I just wish my resting HR was as low as Ray’s….

    Also, if you play guitar, remember to take the Charge off your strumming wrist! A three hour jam the other night led to VERY overinflated tracking.

  16. Jonas Kaufmann

    Thanks for the review! Is it possible to connect the Charge HR to Strava during training?

  17. Martin

    Ray,I hope you will review the new LG watch announced today with HR and GPS sensors.

  18. simon

    I’ve had my charge HR for just over a month and I basically agree with everything Ray has said. It’s my first tracker so I wasn’t sure what to expect – here’s my thoughts:

    -The CHR is good for identifying general activity trends.
    -The HR tracking during exercise is totally hit and miss (mainly miss). I wear an ANT tracker so it’s of no concern to me but you couldn’t rely on it for anything serious.
    – I get around 3 days or so battery with all day sync OFF – but charge time is very quick
    – Sleep tracking ‘seems’ very good – seems to know when I’ve dropped off and woken
    – Resting HR is a bit of a mystery – mine is normally around 50 but for the last two weeks it’s gone to 60 but no change in the actual HR graphs on the website – basically I’m not sure if it’s to be trusted
    – Syncing with myfitnesspal (and strava/garmin etc) is very slick
    – the web dashboard is very good
    – the IOS app is fairly good too
    – I’ve had a couple of lockups whilst syncing – and you need the charge cable to ‘unlock’ and they’re non-standard and £20 !!
    – the plastic face is a bit susceptible to scratching for something that’s worn 24/7

    after a few weeks I’m fairly pleased with it but I’m not sure how long the love affair will last.

    • Jan

      What did you sync to myfitnesspal/strava/garmin? Sleep data? I am keep to get my sleep data on Trainingpeaks. Daily steps or average HR would be a bonus.

  19. Alvaro

    Looks like the Apple watch will be at least shower proof: link to macrumors.com

  20. Matt

    With regard to your comment on a device that serve as both daily and workout tracker.

    Following the latest update, i think the Microsoft Band warrants finding some time in your busy review schedule to spend some time with it. My experience so far has been great as a cover all device, and with cycling and online dashboards now introduced it has certainly gone up a level in terms of capabilities. The release of a sdk and a commitment to future updates, make for exciting prospects also.

  21. Nev

    I’ve had a charge HR for a couple of weeks. I was disappointment it didn’t have a movement/idle alarm or that the alarm function doesn’t use sleep patterns like the up band.
    I also find the RHR elevated. My RHR is around 48bpm and the charge normally says 56 to 58 bpm. I’m interested in RHR for monitoring training fatigue. I guess if it’s consistently high it may be of some use.

    Thanks for the great review.

  22. Kyle Polansky

    In the Workout Tracking with Heart Rate section, I noticed: “Note that the chest strap will appear more blocky – but note the scale – it’s only a handful of beta (meaning, I was pretty darn consistent). Whereas with the Fitbit Charge HR it was a bit more variable.”

    Pretty sure this should be replaced with beats.

  23. Chris

    Ray, Did you run into any issues with the stair tracking elements of the metrics? I’ve had an HR since mid-January and I frequently see stair counts in the 50-70 floor range! I’m lucky if I actually climb 5-6 flights on an average day. I noticed in your review that one of the displays showed 53 floors and wondered what your experience was from that perspective.

    The Fitbit forums are packed with similar complaints about stair counting as well. Their canned advice to stop and restart the device seemed to work for a brief amount of time, but I’m seeing the numbers start to creep steadily back up again. Thanks for a great job as always!

    Chris

    • It seems to count them slightly higher than I’d expect. I don’t often re-count my stairs however, and living in a stair-filled apartment, I’m not quite sure. Sometimes on the case of the 53 floors, I believe that was a long-run day, which probably throws things off a fair bit.

  24. Jane

    Thanks for the detailed review – have been waiting for this as I want to upgrade from a crumbling ultra and am interested in the 24/7hr & the alarm feature. Would be interested to know more on the sizing of the band as have read complaints on the fitbit site about this. Any chance of a pic of how big it is on the girl and how big her wrist is.
    Thanks in advance
    Jane

    • Unfortunately I only bought the mid-size one, and not the small, so it’d be a bit unfair to stick it on her smaller wrists.

    • Jane

      I’m actually interested to see the size of a large (mid size) one on small wrists. The paper measurement guide from the FB site is on the small end of the s/l overlap area at the point on my wrist where I would wear it (although this is not narrowest part of my wrist) so I would like to see how it looks and what it measures when on its smallest setting – I’m afraid that if I go for a small there won’t be enough strap to go into the safety loop (like one of the other posters here)

    • kcdc

      Hi! I’m also interested to see the Charge HR on The Girl’s wrist and get her opinion. Several reviews on Amazon said that on the small watch, the strap length was so short it would only fit a child, but the rigid/functional part of the watch still extended past their wrists, so it almost seems like the only difference is the length of the strap vs the length of the rigid part of the watch.

      I stopped by Best Buy, and I was able to place the face of the dummy watch on my wrist, but I couldn’t buckle it because of the security wires. As mentioned in the reviews, the rigid part did extend past my wrist, and it seemed like there would be too much space for a snug fit and cumbersome if wearing long sleeves/jacket, so I was leaning towards not getting it even though I’d really like to buy a continuous HRM. Could you please post some pics of The Girl wearing it and her thoughts? Thank you!

    • megan

      Hello. For anyone reading this. I purchased my charger hr in the small size and had the same issue. my wrists are TINY and the band fit comfortably on the last hole causing the end to stick out. Well, it stopped working properly and fitbit replaced it with one that was supposed to be exactly the same but the band turned out to be about an inch longer on my new small. I guess they realized their mistake??? It now fits perfectly with 3 holes remaining to secure the end nicely.

    • Susan

      I’ve been using a FitBit Zip for about 3 years and would really like to get the Charge HR but am concerned about the size. My wrist is 5.5″. I’m also concerned that the rigid part might be longer than my wrist is wide. We don’t have anyplace where I live that I could try one on. Did you wind up getting one?

  25. Chris

    I wonder if FitBit decided to say “not showerproof” and make the statement about the band staying dry and clean as merely CYA due to their previous issues.

  26. xTHENKx

    I assume you tested the waterproofing in hot shower water conditions? I wouldn’t assume you only take cold shower but hey you never know. Either way I need to see if I killed mine last night. I know I showered with hot hot water last night. I remember my Charge HR being fully charged last night and working until I went to bed which was around 11PM PST. I don’t remember checking it this morning. But upon opening the app at lunch a few minutes ago I saw it wasn’t connecting. Did the tap-gesture and hit the button. Nada. I’ll stick it on the charger when I get home tonight to see if it turns on. Maybe it was a fluke in my charging. I’ve honestly showered with mine for the past 2 months with no issues at all.

  27. Albert

    Can someone tell me why isn’t garmin the one succeeding at this segment? The are the gold standard for sports but I wonder if there is hesistancy from garmin to implement optical heart rate monitors. I think they wouldn’t eat into their own marketshare because the other devices forerunner, edge…. are still needed and optical wouldn’t be of benefit for those that are paying those amount for better data collection.

    • The primary reason is because they’re waiting for optical sensors to mature a bit more. They can’t afford to have it not work for 5% of the population (as it is often the case for even the best of other sensors).

    • Carolina Monteiro

      Hi Ray

      But don’t you think there would be a market for a device with 24/7 HR optical reading for daily and resting HR and with a chest strap for workouts (when in use the HR info would always come from the strap). With ant + technology it wouldn’t interfere with the BLE and sync.
      The technology is there they just need to make such device. You see people that like fitbit and sports in the end getting a chest strap for workouts and finding ways around it to log their workouts correctly……so definitely there are people interested, now if we could only have it all in on product, garmin, fitbit, polar we are waiting and the market share might be bigger then you think.

    • Morten

      Actually Fitbit together with Endomondo does come close to what you are getting at :-)

      I’ve done some testing and it seems I can get a quite accurate calorie burn (Or perhaps reasonable as I never really can tell if the figure is accurate) that takes into account my heartrate the 23 hour of the day not working out and taking the 1 hour running.

      Might wanna see my pot on the Fitbit forum: link to community.fitbit.com

      I do however still need to use both my Fitbit Charge HR and my Garmin forerunner with heartstrap for that one hour a day workout, so your idea of a device for everything is definitely sound :-)

      //M

    • Saul

      Is it really that bad, do we “have” to use a heart-strap STILL for activities?
      I mean even if it’s a bit off, surely one can still see an improving (or declining) trend over time, & that’s all that matters, right?

    • Morten

      I guess it depends on what you want to do with the data. For me i need accurate heart rate readings when doing heart rate training (like interval runs), so in my case yes I need to use another device…

      But then again I didn’t buy the Fitbit as a replacement for my forerunner gps watch (and if so I would have bought the Surge), but I wanted a tracker that would be able to get a decent reading of my calories burn throughout the day, and for that it works quite well ;-)

      //M

    • Saul

      So maybe I’m wasting my money. I can’t recall all the specifics, will have to review them, but from what I vaguely recall there wasn’t much difference between the Charge & CHR: Caller_ID & Optical_HR IIRC.

      Maybe later I should get something better suited to active HR + other_stuff? Or is the CHR still decent for resting HR analytics, & can that data also be very useful in it’s own right?

      I would like to do some more serious training, but I’m not there yet, I’m only at the formative/planning stages. This time I’d like to do much more weight/x-training (all that buzz word stuff like cross-fit, tacfit, & all the other ones), all I’ve ever done in the past is jogging, with the very rare sprinting randomly thrown in. But this time want to mix-it-up much more, with heaps more short + intense stuff, instead of loong (mostly) slow-ish jogs.

      1:40am here, bed time, I have to buy tomorrow, I’m still leaning more towards the CHR, or the MioFuse, due to the reasons outlined from approx. here onwards:
      link to forums.whirlpool.net.au

      Cheers!

    • Morten

      Well if it was me I wouldn’t go for the Fitbit if the main purpose was to track any type of activities, it’s not made for that (regardless what Fitbit claims – goes for both the Surge and the charge HR based on Rays reviews).

      Personally I think you would be better off with a Garmin watch with heart rate strap and a cheap step based tracker (could be one of the older fitbit). There’s really no point in choosing the Charge over the Charge HR as far as I can tell (especially since the price difference is so small) – hell I really can’t
      see the justification for the Charge in any way, it brings next to nothing new when compared to the older Flex…

      My personal take is that the Fitbit Charge HR (for me) is a damn good all day all purpose tracker that I wear all day (only to be taken off while in the shower), but it never can and never will be able to replace my Gps watch (with heart rate strap) for any activity (step based or not). For me it does a solid job of getting my heart rate and estimate calories burn when looking at a broader perspective, but it seems not everybody has the second experience though…

      //M

    • Saul

      “I wouldn’t go for the Fitbit if the main purpose was to track any type of activities, it’s not made for that”

      Huh? How so?

      “Personally I think you would be better off with a Garmin watch with heart rate strap and a cheap step based tracker (could be one of the older fitbit).”

      But Garmin’s are crazy pricey, & the range is very limited here (Aust), I’m also not a fan of their general UX/UI? I hate heart-straps, the way they feel around the chest really annoys me. But if they’re the only option, based on what I’ve told you I’m looking to do eventually, then I guess I’ll have to get one eventually?

      “but it never can and never will be able to replace my Gps watch (with heart rate strap) for any activity (step based or not).”

      Can’t I just use my Note 4 + some decent sw (that talks with fitbit & others ofc) for the occasional times I want to use GPS?

      “For me it does a solid job of getting my heart rate and estimate calories burn when looking at a broader perspective”

      So long as resting HR works well enough, & is accurate enough to be a “useful” data-point, & so long as everything else it gathers works well, then yes, I’d hope it’s good from this PoV.

      Cheers!

    • Saul

      Did you read those posts talking about the miofuse (my earlier post links to it).
      Do you agree with ALL the claims there, about it’s advantages over any Fitbit?

    • Morten

      Optical heart rate tracking isn’t there yet, it’s still not on par with a chest strap (that goes for the mio fuse as well), so any device utilising optical sensors (especially if they are placed on the arm) is far for ideal for activity tracking…

      So No I don’t agree with the Mio fuse to be a better solution, it has the same basic drawback as the Fitbit,Tomtom watch, Peak etc…

      You could use your phone and a heart rate strap, personally I want higher accuracy than the phone can provide that’s why I’m using a gps watch.

      To put it a bit on the edge here; if all you want from the heart rate i s i get a sound calorie estimate the data is perfectly fine. If you want it for everything else (beside sleeptracking) it not precise enough. As I said it really comes down to what you’re aiming at here…

      //M

    • Saul

      It’d be better if you could address all points/Qns raised in both posts, by quoting them, & then providing your thoughts underneath, but “no biggy” now, I’ve already purchased.

      No, that’s not the only advantage to the MioFuse that’s claimed in that thread, but never-mind, I already have the CHR, MioFuse was nowhere to be seen in the store anyway, just a bunch of other makes/models. Plus, I already know of several disadvantages in going with the MioFuse.

      I find it quite unlikely that a GPS watch will have “higher accuracy” than GPS built into any of the top-end smartphones on the market, what’s your basis for that assertion?

      Thanks (again) for your time!

    • Morten

      Ok I hope it lives up to your expectations then. I wouldn’t have gotten the Fitbit for the purpose you imply,but each to their own ;-)

      Since I haven’t got a Mio Fuse myself there’s only so much in detail I would have been able to provide anyway ;-)

      Well from several tests I’ve done with a lot of different phones (I work for a large telco) the distance has been off when compared to gps watch, one of the reasons could be the refresh rate is higher on the watch another could be their ability to keep a gps lock – especially in urban areas and forests ;-)

      I see this consistently on both high and low end phones…

      //M

    • Saul

      Oh, I doubt it’ll be the sole device in use/play longer-term, esp. given my intended (but still forming) regimen.

      No biggy, I’m sure the CHR does the basic areas it’s generally meant to cover pretty well, even if there’s a few edge cases where it’s less than ideal -compared to the MF.

      I’m yet to notice any sustained/impactful issues with lock on my Note4, but one of the 1st things I did, was to ensure I enabled all the right twks/hacks to minimise any (potential) issues.

      BR.

    • A few thoughts here.

      1) I’d be very careful in saying optical HR isn’t there yet. For companies using Mio, Valencell (Scosche) and some other sensors (Epson, and those in the SmartBeam elmets)- it’s quite accurate for most people. To say they aren’t accurate simply isn’t true.

      2) There is differences in the sensors used by Fitbit and many phone makers in their various bands. Those sensors in general aren’t that great for fitness, as seen over and over again.

      3) As for GPS in phones vs watches, phones have gotten a lot better in the last couple of years. But, you’ll still often see variations more often on phones than on standalone devices. Of course, the bigger reason not to use GPS on the phone is simply battery life concerns.

    • Saul

      @DC

      1)
      But are any of those devices with better optical_HR hw/fw/sw, actually better devices “all-up” than the CHR?

      2)
      Are you referring here to it’s poor active_HR reading ability (due to it’s poor optical_HR implementation), or it’s poorness “all-up” as a tracker compared to other devices with optical_HR?

      N.B.
      That’s the only type of tracker I’m considering, for now…

      Thank-you.

    • 1) Those other devices are better workout devices. They aren’t better day to day trackers. There is no single device today that does both 24×7 HR, as well as workout HR…well.

      2) Correct, the Charge HR and Surge have generally poor workout HR. For the remainder of the day, it’s fine.

    • Saul

      @DC

      Cool, I suspected that much…

      Thanks.

    • Ryan Finco

      This just isn’t accurate – the Mio and Valencell sensors (and Epson now too) are dead on. The Mio Fuse and Alpha 2 are within 1 second of a HR chest strap – They absolutely are accurate.

      Chest straps have 1 thing still going for them – and that’s their technology is electro vs. optical. That means they get more accurate calorie burns, they also can do recovery timing and a few other things (V02 I think…).

      What you are saying is misleading and it’s not accurate to the current technology for those that got it right.

    • Saul

      Your post is redundant, DC already corrected him.

    • Andre

      @Morten have you read DC Rainmaker’s review of the Mio Fuse?

      link to dcrainmaker.com

      He finds results for HR that are contrary to what you are saying.

      For my wife i’m thinking of getting her the Fitbit Charge HR and for me i’m leaning towards the Mio Fuse due to the accuracy of the HR.

      However, my ideal scenario would be 24/7 continuous HR monitoring that is accurate.

    • Heather

      @Morten and DC Rainmaker or anyone else who has tested both and would like to give their 2¢:
      I’m interested in using my future fitbit for an activity tracker. Does the Charge HR track calories better than the non-HR since it tracks heart rate? Or do they rank pretty much the same? I don’t really need the heart rate monitor, but would consider it if it make the device more accurate. Otherwise I’ll just buy the Charge!

  28. Juro

    I upgraded to Charge HR a few weeks back from my One (which helped me lose almost 20 kilos) and I’m very satisfied so far. As Ray mentioned it’s quite important to set the expectations straight – the HR functionality works on a 24×7 scale but is not 100% accurate on a workout level. Having said that, for my runs the average HR (which, from a fitness/activity tracker perspective arguably matters more) is within 5 beats from the other meter I am wearing. On my last half-marathon run a few days back it was within 1 beat from my Scosche Rhythm+. I agree that this level of accuracy is a problem for Surge which is positioned as a high end training watch, for Charge HR it’s within what I expect from a tracker having a Garmin to trach “the rest”.

    Re. resting HR: Fitbit specifically states it’s not the lowest HR reading in the day (or night) – RHR should not be measured during sleep but just after waking up, which mine does. The RHR reading for the day is never populated after my first morning sync but appears roughly an hour later. While my sleep HR can dip to 39 my RHR is reported as 46-53 depending on fatigue; this is consistent with the HR I see when sitting still (as it should be).

  29. Brian

    Ray – Your comparison chart shows “smartphone notifications” as “yes” for Charge HR and only “incoming calls” for Charge. Does this mean that the Charge HR will show other notifications such as text messages? In your narrative that did not seem to be the case?

  30. Veny

    Has anyone been able to determine how reslient these units might be? If you look at the forums/complaints for the Fitbit Flex (I have, and how) there are literally thousands of complaints about the battery dying or the Flex battery not being able to be charged properly or synching with the s/w never happening again. My Flex was brilliant for 36 hours. The replacement lasted less than three days. Does anyone have any information on these new models and how well they’re performing? Many thanks!

  31. Jackson

    thanks ray!

    Do either have a vibrate alarm?

    So either pass all or some of their data to Apple health kit?

    Thanks!!

    • Yes, it has a vibrate alarm.

      And no, no information is passed to Apple Health. They’re in a bit of a tiff right now. And as I noted in the Fitbit Surge post, unfortunately no small company that I’m aware of has ever survived a long-standing tiff with Apple.

    • Various companies make variations on the ‘Sync Solver’ App(I paid €1.99). But the first thing you’ll find is that the graphs in HealthKit aren’t as useful as the Fitbit ones. HR isn’t yet passed through, and they say that it’s not in the API, so it looks like it won’t be in other 3rd party apps yet either.
      A new announcement from FitBit suggests that you will be able to use multiple bands on the same account.

      For me, the biggest selling point of FitBit is the community aspect. Getting out there to do more steps to be at the top of your group/challenge/family. Second is food logging so you’re not consuming enough to push that graph into the red.

  32. joe w

    My wife has had a Charge HR for a month and she doesnt wear it anymore. The protrusion that contains the HR sensor really bugs her since its a hard and unforgiving surface pressing on her wrists for hours. Maybe she is sensitive to that sort of thing, but I wonder if those with thin/bony/lean wrists will be bothered by that HR sensor protrustion.

  33. A. Non

    Ray, A big THANK YOU! for your review. It sounds like the Mio Fuse is a better HR monitor for workouts. It sounds like you like the Charge HR for daily activity tracking, dislike it for workout HR tracking, and have mixed feelings about the continuous HR monitoring. Which tracker do you recommend for continuous 24/7 HR monitoring?

    • I’d say for 24×7 tracking, the Charge HR isn’t too shabby. The other main competitor there is the Basis Peak, which, like the Charge HR generally works well for non-workout activities.

  34. lin

    Good stuff… With regards to the external light causing the optical HR sensor issues, have you tried maybe wearing it under a wrist band which would block all external light? If all you wanted to do was collect HR data for analysis after the fact, this might work. Granted, this is probably only a useful and/or acceptable workaround for a small percentage of users. Either way, I’d be curious as to if this resulted in more accurate optical HR values when compared to a chest strap.

    • simon

      when running I wear mine under a tight long sleeved jersey – which is pretty opaque/lightproof.

      still very hit and miss on the accuracy – this leads me to believe that light leakage isn’t the only issue with the accuracy

  35. Adam

    Small typo – at the end of the Basics section, it should be “They help you *assess* whether you’re walking a lot or a little.”
    (unless you are talking about multiple donkeys. :)

  36. FD

    Personally, after the Force issue and how it affected my family… I cannot in good conscience recommend and will not support fitbit, even if they were the last watch tracker maker in the world.

  37. Maxim

    Good review, thanks Ray.
    My wife had Charge HR for about a month, with pretty similar findings (resting HR a bit too high, workout HR not accurate). There were a few issues though, one being somewhat short battery life. Less than 3 days with HR 24×7 and Bluetooth connected.
    Can someone confirm that All-Day Sync does not kill battery life? In our experience, switching bluetooth off (on the phone) seemed to prolong battery life to 4 days.
    Another bug she experienced was 18hr sleep (she just left Charge HR on the table). Looks like FitBit considers any inactive time as sleeping.

  38. Joe E

    I have had really good results matching HR from Charge HR with Garmin HRM including intervals and hill repeats. Tracks really well for me.

    RHR does seem a bit high but I think they are using an average of sleep RHR and non-active wake RHR. Either way i use trend to watch for fatigue.

    One issue I have is syching with Android. Very inconsistent and requires Bluetooth reset typically.

    Really like link to MyFitnessPal for calorie tracking.

  39. MM

    I’ve only just starting reading reviews, (and thanks, this was a great one) but I’m specifically interested in accuracy in step tracking. I had a flex for over a year that seemed fairly accurate. Now I’ve had the charge for about a month and feel like it’s way too sensitive. I often hit the 10,000 step make when I’m sure I shouldn’t be. Also, due to car vibrations (I am assuming) I hit over 10k while on a 1200 mile drive. Anyone else experiencing this type of issue? I’m thinking of returning mine and going back to the flex.

  40. Georgia Mark

    I initially purchased the Fitbit flex. Upgraded to the Charge. Now I own the Moto360 watch which calculates my steps amongst many other items it does on the watch. Have given my Fitbit devices to one of my daughters to use. Btw, great review on the Fitbit but ….I love my new Moto360 watch by Motorola!!!

  41. Tosin Akinmusuru

    Ordered the charge hr in plum for my wife. Back ordered 8-10 weeks.

  42. Mikhail

    Ray, what do you think (or barely know) about Xiaomi Mi band?. For me its cheap (about 18$) fitness device with vibro alarm, battery life about 50 days, smart android lock, notifications from different apss, and with nice build quality, despite that its pure China device. Thanks.

  43. Göran Bostedt

    Hi Ray, First of all I would like to express my admiration for Your in-depth reviews, they are much more comprehensive then the magazine that do such things for a living… I got both the Fitbit Surge and the Charge HR and I kind of noticed that the Surge is somewhat better in tracking HR than the Charge, especially when working out. Not good, but a little bit better. Am I totally wrong or do You have the same feeling? If so it could depend on the location of the sensors and the width of the band. What do You think? Thanks in advance for Your comment on this topic.

  44. Chris

    Is it possible to track HR during 24/7 or while the night and display it on Garmin Connect? Or is HR only for Workouts?

  45. Tom

    Best review I’ve found to-date; great work. A couple questions (thus far un-google-able):

    1) Is the screen always-on in regular mode? In work-out mode? If not, is there an option to enable this?
    2) Is the strap replaceable?
    3) In work-out mode, is one of the screens a live stopwatch? Can it display up to 2-hours worth of time, to the second? (Some timers, when they roll over 59:59, will hide the seconds.)
    4) Is the face fairly scratch-resistant?

    Thanks!

    • simon

      1- no
      2 -no
      3 – yes but you have to press a button to see it and I’m not sure about the 2hour question as I don’t use workout mode
      4 – how long is a piece of string – I’ve already got marks on mine after a month, plus the edges of the screen is fairly exposed and I get the impression it ‘might’ be easy to damage

      don’t get me wrong, I quite like mine but it’s not perfect by any means

  46. Karl

    Thank you for this article, it was very useful. I was wondering, do you have any plans to test the optical heart rate sensor on the Microsoft Band. I know it has a lot of limitations, but I was curious.

  47. Bryan

    It should be mentioned the Charge HR display is very difficult to see in direct sunlight whereas the Charge can be seen fairly well. It’s obvious, Fitbit is using less power for the screen on the HR to prolong battery life. However, the HR screen does not brighten when the HR feature is disabled via the App. I reverted back to the basic Charge model given shortened battery life (3-5 days) and dim display on the HR model.

    • I just bought the Charge HR and was very disappointed in the display in sunlight. Since I bought it strictly for heartrate monitoring outdoors, I’m wondering what other options I have. Is the Superwatch better in this regard? My tennis opponent today had a fitbit that does not track heartrate, and I could definitely see her display better but couldn’t see hers or mine with polarized sunglasses. Pathetic! I can read my ancient kindle at the beach with polarized sunglasses.

  48. David F

    Ahh the wait for an all day tracker with optical HR that is good for work outs too goes on. Tempted to get an Adidas miCoach or a Tom tom cardio because they are so accurate ( according to Ray) for my work outs with an all day tracker for my day to day stuff. Ray do you think something like that will be out soon or should go for a combination for just now till they do?

  49. Adele

    Wow! What a complete review–thank you for investing all of that time. I am glad to see that someone else felt the smaill was really small. I have tiny wrists and it really made me wonder who a small would fit.

    A couple of questions:
    1. How loose should it be? I can easily fit my finger under the band but I wonder if it should be even looser.
    2. I am one of that small percentage with the skin irritation issues but I only have the irritation from the plastic piece that holds the tail down. Do you think I would be ok with the regular charge? It doesn’t have that clasp.

    Thanks.

    • 1) That’s far two loose for the Charge HR, you want it snug all the way around to get accurate results. You shouldn’t be able to fit anything of finger-sized under there.
      2) It’s hard to say, as I don’t know the exact plastic they use in the small push-through pin system.

    • Adele

      Thanks–I was thinking it was too tight.

  50. Phil

    Hello, just wondered if you can shed light on a possible problem I have with sleep tracking on the charge HR.

    If I go to bed at 10pm and wake up at 00:15. Then return to sleep again at 00:30 and wake up at 6:00am Fitbit records two sleep activities.

    Great that’s correct. But if I view the weekly chart for sleep it’s only showing the second entry for that given day. Ie between 00:30 and 6am.

    The first sleep isn’t shown so my logged hours of sleep on the bar chart is incorrect.

    • Stephen

      I’m having the same issue. Have you found a fix? By only logging one sleep session per day, the bar graph to check history is pretty useless.

      Thanks

  51. Chris Brown

    Great review – been wondering about these. Happy for now with my Garmin Vivofit. I have the 910xt which I use for all workouts so my Vivofit is NOT tied to my HR strap. Very interested to watch the health tracker market asApple Watch emerges. Water proof is so important.

    • Will

      Agreed completely. I’m using a Charge HR all day, and adding a Fenix 2 with HR strap for workouts. Ray, you’re right on about the Charge HR being a good continuous HRM, but not comparable to a chest strap for workouts. Apple will need to deliver on accuracy for workouts, UI and comparability for me to actually get one. But iWatch has pushed the market forward.

  52. Mike B

    A fix for the HR light problem is to partially enclose it. What I mean by that is to surround the light/reader with a raised square or circle ridge. This ridge will slightly press into the skin and shadow, essentially block any intruding exterior light. May also aid in dryness. Email me for clarification if you want to pass this on.

  53. Michelle

    Thank you for this awesome review ! I’m most interested in tracking calorie burn. Did you are a lot of difference in what was charted between the hr and regular charge ? Thank you !!

  54. Joe

    Two quick questions. Can the HR show military time and can you change the time display so that it shows seconds as well. That last bit is an absolute deal-breaker for me.

  55. Paul in Kirkland

    Well, I washed my Fitbit One this morning, so I’m suddenly in the market for a replacement band :(

    One thing I don’t see in the product comparison chart: can the display on these units be turned all the way off? If memory serves, the Fitbit Flex did not allow for this, which is why I returned it.

    It would seem logical that a device that encourages you to wear it while sleeping would allow the display to be completely off, but who says these companies are logical :)

    • Juro

      The display does not power on at all unless you push the button or double tap the device. Neither tends to happen accidentally (at least not too often) for me.

  56. Aliaird

    Thanks as always Ray, really comprehensive. But one area I’d love to know your thoughts on – calories burned. Having worn both, does the Charge HR input get factored in to the calorie calculation? Is the Charge HR a more accurate calorie consumed calculator? Any thoughts you might have on this important area would be much appreciated.

    • Juro

      If you have a look at the HR charts in the review you will see that the “calories per minute” information is embedded in the HR chart and is a function of HR.

  57. Alastair Ong

    Does anyone know whether the Charge HR is also 5ATM water tested? I think the Surge is 5ATM water tested and DCRainmaker brought his swimming although clearly not recommended. I would like to know whether the Charge HR has the same qualifications.

    Thanks

    Alastair
    misobrilliant@gmail.com

  58. Rod K

    I really learned a lot from your review-thanks. I attempted to order a Fitbit Charge HR via the Clever Training link, but they seem to only offer that model in Large and Black. This won’t suit the little lady.
    Thanks, Rod

    • Odd. I just shot over an e-mail, I suspect just a minor listing item that they should be able to knock out today. I’ll post back once they list.

      Thanks for the support!

    • Hi Rod-

      Meant to circle back yesterday, but they got the ‘small’ size all listed up by early afternoon. You can find it here (select Small from Dropdown): link to clevertraining.com

      As for the XL size (for those curious), Fitbit actually hasn’t released that to retailers yet, only their online store.

      Thanks for the support!

  59. Michelle

    Retweet to what Aliard said!

  60. craig

    Ray,
    Thanks for your great reviews. Quick question: I am looking for accurate sleep tracking and reporting. The activity tracking, diet tracking, continuous hr mean little to me. With this in mind, which product makes the most sense

    Craig

  61. Burned

    Although your article was very involved, a few points should be stated to clarify the scope of injuries from Fitbit products, which continue to this day. Over 1700 publicly posted injuries have been carefully catalogued by the “bescabbed” person referred to in your article, and that person is in frequent communication with the CPSC. This is far and above injuries from any other fitness device on the market. While refusing to divulge the irritant that caused some second-degree burns and permanent scarring from the Force, Fitbit put out new fitness bands which it promised were “clear” of the mysterious irritant (which they keep secret and claim is a trade secret). To date, there have been more than 450 online reports from the new Fitbit products, of injuries which appear eerily similar to those of the recalled Force. Many of these are not “minor irritations” as is the common perception from those not affected; rather they often describe and show the same serious rashes and burns as the Force, but also a new level of injury which affects the entire arm, both arms, and illness to the body. This last group reports relief when the Fitbit band is removed, and most reports clarify that the band had been worn loosely, cleanly, and the area kept hygenically clean. Additionally, Fitbit’s only advice for the injured buyers of their band (designed to be worn 24/7) is to not wear it for awhile. Those of us that were injured by the Force know that all too often the injury does not stop when the band is removed. Many of us, including me, have permanent scars from the serious injury sustained over a year ago. This must not be allowed to continue, and those experiencing reactions should contact the CPSC to file their complaint.

    • So to clarify, you don’t actually have the Charge and thus aren’t having issues with the Charge or Charge HR?

    • Burned

      No, I do not trust Fitbit after being badly injured by their previous product, and this fear appears validated as the many photos and reports of similar injuries from the new Fitbit bands continue to be published. It appears clear that Fitbit has not removed the irritant that burned so many.

    • If someone has an issue, then OK that’s reason for valid cause for concern – but otherwise as far as I see it, you’re basically just stirring the pot here based on past products without any actual use of the new product.

      Despite having been out now the better part of 3+ months, I can only find a couple of people who have had issues. This out of likely hundreds of thousands of units shipped globally. Which isn’t to discount those that are having issues, but at the same time when you get to the point of likely 99.9999% ‘good’ rate – you’ve gotta look elsewhere. In looking that the three instances of rashes on the Fitbit forums, all three people said they were wearing it 24×7 and that after simply cleaning the band things improved.

  62. Karina

    Hi – first of all I want to add my thanks for your very thorough reviews and responses to people’s comments. You are a great resource.

    I don’t want to beat a dead horse about the Fitibit rashes / burns, but I’d like to clarify one point. The Fitibit forum isn’t a reliable source of data on how many people have been affected, because they remove a lot of posts that mention it – particularly if they have gruesome photos and /or suggest that people contact the CPSC.

    I just want people to be aware that all of the Fibit products, including those since the Force was recalled and the materials were changed, are causing injury to more than a “couple” of people. There are hundreds of posts on twitter and FB about these injuries. You are probably right that most people will be fine; nevertheless, I think buyers and users should be aware that there is potential harm so that if it happens they know what it is and take it off right away. Thanks for letting me clarify.

    • Juro

      There are things like allergies. Not everyone can eat peanuts, yet there are no campaigns against them. People have rashes when they eat lemons or drink milk. Given how fitbit handled the Force issue and the percentages of users affected, I have little concern about their inability or lack of willingness to handle this and I see no point of posts like this one.

  63. KelleR

    I have the fitbit charge HR and I was comparing its heart rate and calorie burning with a Garmin chest strap monitor I’ve had for a couple of years. The heart rate seems for the most part the same. I think there was a little lag time in the fitbit HR but nothing crazy. How ever there was a huge discrepancy with the calorie burn. During an hour long work out with my trainer my Garmin chest strap monitor said I burned 480 calories and the fitbit said 190 calories. During 30 mins on the elliptical my Garmin said I burned 340 and the fit bit was 280, so closer but still off. I decided to wear my Garmin chest strap around the house will doing general cleaning and cooking. During an almost 5 hour period the Garmin said I burned 831 calorie and the fitbit HR said I burned 477. I was wondering if you or anyone else had more info or input on the discrepancies and have you ever checked the accuracy of the various heart/activity monitors in reference to the calorie burn tracker.

    • CMP

      I’ve also found that the Charge HR calorie burn calculation is significantly lower than other calorie burn calculators. Today, for example, I did a flat 13 mile run wearing both the Charge HR and my TomTom Multisport HR. The Tomtom estimated calorie burn at 1657. When the Tomtom data was uploaded to Strava, Strava estimated calorie burn at 1900. Entering the run details into an online calculator resulted in estimated calorie burn of 1750. The Charge HR estimated calorie burn at 1259. This is pretty typical of the differences I’ve seen in a week of owning the Charge HR.

    • Interesting. I’d say the 1,900 calories is pretty high, depending on your weight of course. The general rule of thumb is 100cal per 1-mile. Given you were on a flat run, that holds better. If however, you were running at VO2Max (a race), then you’d get more. Additionally, if you weighed a fair bit more, then you’d get more too.

      I do agree the Charge HR in this case definitely sounds a touch low, but may not as much as one might think. For example, if you were fairly petite, then it might actually be in line. Just food for though.

    • CMP

      Based on various online calculators, my “rule of thumb” (I’m a 157-pound male) is a bit higher than 100kCal/mile, and I suspect that the truth is somewhere between the Fitbit and tomtom estimates. I agree that the Strava estimate seems high. Ultimate accuracy is less important to me than day-to-day consistency, however. I’ve decided to link the Charge HR to Myfitnesspal and use the Charge HR for calorie burn and MFP to record calories consumed. If I see unexpected weight changes, I can “calibrate” the system by adjusting the MFP calorie goals. I will be separating “gross” daily activity/calorie tracking from detailed training metrics and use the Tomtom, Strava, etc. only for the latter.

  64. Paul in Kirkland

    Well, I bought one of these, but I think I’m going to return it.

    The reason is that the HR LEDs are really, really distracting when trying to sleep. I’ve put a lot into having a totally dark room – clock that turns all the way off (RIP Zeo platform), blackout material on the windows, etc – and that’s all negated by having a laser light show going on when I’m moving around in bed trying to sleep.

    I’ve done a bit of googling to see if you can turn it off while sleeping, but it doesn’t look like that’s the case. For me, sleep tracking is more important than HR monitoring, so I’m going to exchange this for the Charge and call it good. If I want HR monitoring, I’ll stick with something like the 920xt.

  65. frankis

    I’ve had the Charge HR for about a month and as far as I can tell, the resting HR is determined by seeing what your lowest HR is within the first few minutes after it determines you’ve woken up. It won’t count your “sleeping” HR as your resting HR. If I go about my regular morning routine as soon as I wake up, i get about 54 for a resting HR. If as soon as I wake-up, I sit down and don’t move for 5 minutes, the resting HR will drop to under 50. What my actual resting HR is, I don’t know, but the way I figure it, as long as you do the same thing everyday as soon as you wake-up, it’ll be useful for monitoring a trend.

  66. Julie smith

    Has anyone got a clear answer on the caloric count differences between the charge and hr

  67. Laurie

    Can I set up and use a charge HR without a smart phone? I have blue tooth on computer will that work?

    • EvilBobo

      I think you have to use the little dongle provided (photo 9 on this page). But yeah, you can either use the application in normal Windows or the Tile App in Windows 8 either. The computer is the easiest way to join communities, the handy things about the smartphone are that you tend to sync more during the day with it, and if you want to avoid the Surge you can log gps data through your smartphone sync with the Charge and Charge HR.

      I think they provide the dongle because FitBit use Bluetooth 4, and older laptops might not have that.

  68. NinjaEss

    I have worn a Charge HR for a month now and found your review to be very accurate. I too think that the resting heart rate recorded is too high (about 10bpm when compared to random use of Azumio heart rate monitor on iPhone) but tracking the trend is useful.
    I have also found that I have to move my arm on waking up to stop the sleep monitoring (on reflection pretty obvious really) otherwise if you lie in bed awake but motionless the Charge HR assumes that you are asleep.
    I wear it for workouts but only to monitor various stages of cardio activity.
    I’ve found it great for monitoring trends and the heart rate function without use of a chest strap is better than I anticipated.

  69. “Is it for daily activity tracking? If so – then great. Is it for workout tracking? If so, then there are better options on the market.”

    And if you really want both… What would you recommend?! My workouts mainly consists of strength training/circuit training and HIIT. And then lots of walking (with a baby in a stroller). I´d like to track my daily activity since I wont be able to workout THAT intensely for a while but I´d also like to be able to track my pulse during workouts. There are just so many choices…

  70. Harrison Zucker

    hey ray,

    Shouldn’t your graphs share the same visual size, axis, and positioning for comparison? I saw the HR differences, but the graphs are too different to draw conclusions from.

    Thanks,
    HZ

    • Ideally, yes. Unfortunately, Fitbit lacks any easy exporting capability.

      In this case, I made the length the same, and did as best I could. That said, had it been closer I might have made more of an effort, but it’s so easily seen that it’s just nowhere near the same patterns, that getting to the exact details was slightly less relevant.

  71. JohnPaul

    Hey Ray. Any chance you’ll review the interesting Inbody band?

    link to kickstarter.com

    • Hmm, interesting. I’ll probably wait till they ship. One of the challenges with crowd-funded activity trackers is that they seem to come out every other week or so. And so many of them really fail to get to market pre the timelines.

    • JohnPaul

      typically I’d agree, and I didn’t join the campaign as I’d rather see a DCrainmaker review before making a purchasing decision. These guys though are the real deal and are already well established using bioimpedence sensors. For me it was between this and the Jawbone UP3 however Jawbone is having production issues and their customer service has been widely reported as very poor, so not sure I’d buy their product.

      Anyways, hopefully you do review this, seems extremely promising and certainly differentiates itself from the rest of the HR tracking market in how its done, along with measuring your body fat index!

  72. Robbie G

    I’m not buying the “we fixed the skin irritation” line. My wife wore the Charge one time for 24 hours and had nine blisters on her arm. She is 5’6″ and 130 pounds, wearing a size large on a cool, cloudy spring day and showered immediately before putting it on and after taking it off. That isn’t a hygiene issue, that’s a material of construction issue.

  73. Robbie G

    Reading back through a portion of the prior comments, I wanted to add that I’m not necessarily saying that they should come out with a massive recall or that no one should buy a FitBit ever again, but I hope they don’t consider the problem “solved”. They clearly still have an issue at this point that they need to keep engineering their way around and I hope they are listening and not trying to sweep the issue under the rug.

  74. Karen

    Having a small wrist I bought a size small. I’m 5’4″ and weigh 108 pounds. I wear my Charge HR with the buckle in the 4th hole. It was uncomfortable until I put it on upside down and now I don’t know it’s on my wrist. It seems to record all the data just as well as right side up.
    My question is; I forgot to record my meals on 2 days. How can I add meals to a prior day? I’m sure I’m not the only one who forgets to enter things. If you don’t list any calories for the entire day, there is no history for that day under food.

  75. runningfool

    Fitbit is NOT a standup company. They have not addressed these complaints. As Robbie G says, by asserting that the problem is all with the users they are completely absolving themselves of any responsibility. One of their moderators said on their forum: “By simply following the care tips detailed here, we expect all Fitbit customers to be able to wear their device without discomfort.” That is clearly not true. If only people would pay attention to the hundreds of people who have publicly complained about their reactions. Yes, there are reactions to other company’s products, but at nowhere remotely near the rate of the reactions to these products. This problem at this level is unique to Fitbit. Unless you believe that the Fitbit community of users is unusually unclean or especially stupid, the problem is obviously with their product. People who haven’t had a reaction can belittle those who have by saying “well, I didn’t get a rash”. Please understand that (1) maybe you still WILL (a good example is the Engadget editor who wore his Force months beyond the recall and then later tweeted this) and (2) your non-rash does not in any way diminish the very real rashes other users are getting.

    • Again, as a reminder regarding the bands, unless you’re actively using said product and seeing issues – I’m not really one who likes people stirring the pot based on non 1st hand experience. That’s not the way things work around here.

      Additionally, I ask that posters use the same name when posting. I will delete posts that use a variety of names by the same individuals, as that’s called spamming.

      In the case of Robbie above, I appreciate that he’s got actual 1st-hand detail of his wife’s use, versus just random speculation of others. I’d love to see what Fitbit’s response is if he were to ask them. It’s quite possible that the response may well be that in the volumes Fitbit is likely looking at (roughly half a million units), that there will invariably be some portion of the population that has a reaction to any material they use. Fitbit is by far producing the most activity trackers of a single brand/model in the market, hence why you’re likely to see issues there not seen elsewhere.

  76. Wary

    I will preface my comments by saying I read and appreciate all of your reviews DCRainmaker, but I do have to disagree with your post that if someone does not own a Charge and has not been harmed by the Charge personally that they are merely “stirring the pot” here with comments. I do not own a Charge, nor will I ever own a Charge or any other Fitbit product as a result of the severe burn I received from my Fitbit Force. I do understand that many people were able to wear the Force without issue, many still wear their Force without issue. I will also say that I am an RN, I do have some medical experience and knowledge. The burn I received from my Force was through multiple layers of skin, resulting in blistering, oozing and tremendous itching for weeks AFTER I removed my Force. I am a different person from your previous posters, whom you are insinuating are spammers trying to discredit a product you like from a company you like and support. I do know the other posters and they are uniquely separate individuals, who were also “burned” by their Fitbit. We spent months on the Fitbit forums trying to help other affected users last year on our time by doing our own research into what was effective for treatment and what was not effective, as all Fitbit could and did say at that time was “we are looking in to that problem, and we are sorry you are experiencing an irritation”. My irritation took a month to begin to heal and over 6 months to fade. To this day Fitbit has never notified affected users of exactly what chemical caused the “irritation.”. They repeatedly tried to minimize the irritation, blame the users for wearing it too tightly, being allergic to nickel (I am not), allergy to materials used or maybe possibly an adhesive that was never supposed to touch your skin. Water under the bridge. Or is it? These same rashes are occurring with both the Charge and Surge, and the Flex as well. While not everyone will be affected, the rashes/burns continue. The burn penetrates all layers of the skin (5 layers to your dermis) which means the agent that causes the irritation enters the body and the bloodstream. Users should just be aware of Fitbit’s history and the fact that the rashes continue. There have been over 600 reported on the forums. As a previous poster stated, any posts about rashes are routinely removed from the forums and many posters to the forums were banned by Fitbit. This is how Fitbit eliminates the complaints. But the rashes are happening. If you are interested and willing to leave my post here to let the data speak for itself, the following link is a compilation of the rashes reported so far. The document includes descriptions and photographs should any of your readers care to look. I hope none of them is affected by their treasured Fitbit product. I was one of those who loved my Force, wore it daily, challenged myself to increase my steps, competed with my daughter on the web site. But I got burned, and Fitbit told me I was allergic to nickel. So I put moleskin over my Force battery port, and I got burned on my other arm overnight – even with it covered. I wear nickel containing jewelry all the time, never an issue with that nickel containing item. I have worn several other trackers, no rashes. Only with Fitbit. Please, if you experience any slight burning of the skin or a small spot that looks like a pimple or bug bite, take off your product immediately. You will probably still experience the rash/burn which will continue to grow and spread for days after you remove the Fitbit product (Force/Flex/Charge/Surge). That is scary enough to me – it can continue to expand and grow even when you aren’t wearing the product.

    This is the link to the rash document. Please read it with an open mind. These are not made up numbers or fictional users.
    link to docs.google.com

    • Lisa

      Thank you for this honest but kind post. We do need to know what we are getting into if we choose to purchase. I wish they made one water redistant and one sweat resistant. It seems it would have to do with those chemicals the burns are happening. I’m sorry you got burned so badly.

    • Hi Wary-

      I do appreciate your advice as a nurse. Really, I do. And I don’t think anyone disagrees with you regarding taking off a device if something develops. Nor do I disagree with you that Fitbit should make it clear what was causing the allergen.

      However, I do stand by that at this point, this is beating a dead horse on an unrelated product. Again, that’s a different product. I think the internet is well versed in issues with past Fitbit products at this point, and, if not, the numerous comments on it already in this post (both comments and post content itself), make it clear.

      Cheers.

    • Wary

      I will respectfully disagree with you DC. This is not beating a dead horse. These are horses of a different color, that is all. Very much alive. Commonality? Manufactured by a single company. The link to the google document is Charge rashes – new product, same company. There are also reports of rashes with the Surge. And the Flex which many went to when they returned their Force while waiting for a new Fitbit product. My own rash/burn with the Force came after wearing it without any problem for almost 60 days. Many wore their Forces for months (4 or more months is recorded and reported) with no problems before their rashes developed. Just a cautionary note as a medical professional. By the time you feel the tingle or get the little bump, it is already too late. The rash grows and worsens for days into weeks. Removing the product does not stop the rash, nor will any cream or lotion, these will actual worsen the reaction. We all should know when chemicals enter the body, most of us who choose to wear a tracker do so because we are trying to be healthy. We watch what we eat, try to exercise. This product has the potential to cause a very severe skin burn in people who are known to NOT be allergic to nickel or plastics.

      I have worn a Garmin Vivofit for 4 months since the Force with no issue, and after that my current product, a Jawbone UP, for 9 additional months with no skin irritations. I wear the UP on the same wrist I got the burn from the Force.

      I understand you feel the issue were confined to one product which was recalled by the company voluntarily (excuse my coughing fit) just one step ahead of the CPSC. That was an agreement Fitbit reached with the CPSC (Consumer Products Safety Commission). They recalled only under duress as the numbers of reports soared. Product recalled within 4 months of introduction. 600 Charge reports documented just so far.

      Fitbit only recalled the Force because the CPSC was closing in on them. They will not release the name of the chemical unless they are forced to do so in court, hence the legal battles that continue. They have had a year to release the results of their testing and they have not named the specific chemical or process, just a vague reference to “an adhesive used”.

      Just buyer beware. If you love your Charge or Surge, great. So did I. So did the thousands of others who got a burn. And so did the 600 who have already reported a rash/irritation/burn from the Charge. The horse is very much alive sadly.

    • Where are you seeing 600 Charge rash reports thus far?

      Again, I’m going to ask to focus on this product (Charge & Charge HR). The point of this review isn’t to become a hub for people to air their complaints about an older product. That’s not the point of the site, nor the review.

    • Nevermind, I see the document up above in the previous post.

    • I’ll go ahead and link to that in the review with a note about it. However, again, I’m going to ask really nicely that this post not become the epicenter of places for people to leave comments about their rashes. It sounds like that document is a much better place for it.

  77. Karina

    Hi again, I hope this doesn’t fall into the ‘beating a dead horse’ category, but I wanted to respond to your earlier concerns:
    a) that we are really one person posting with different names – we are not, this is only my second post, and I believe you can see our email addresses to validate that they are different?
    b) that we are troublemakers – as I said in my first post, my goal is to provide data that isn’t easily available elsewhere so people can make informed decisions
    c) people with no direct experience of the product – I for one have been burned, literally, by two Fitbit products. I LOVED my Force and was devastated that I had to give it up.

    Thank you. I appreciate your making this open forum available to varying points of view.

  78. JohnPaul

    I can appreciate Rays perspective as well as those with direct experience, and my opinion is that it is certainly relevant to this product being reviewed here since the same issues are starting to surface, particularly as the Force issues was one that evolved after some use. Funny how the Charge HR has been out for almost a couple of months, and here come the same issues the force had.

    I don’t think Ray, its appropriate to suggest that it shouldn’t be discussed in the comments of your review, but hey, it is your blog so you make the rules. My view though, is that it reflects on FITBIT, not you.

    Anyways, always enjoy reading. Cheers.

    • My concern here is that sooner or later (sooner, by the looks of it), all the comments here will simply be about rashes – as folks will think it’s an appropriate place to voice their concerns. If 100% of people were seeing rashes, I’d probably be OK with that. But that’s not the case.

      We’re likely at 1% (similar to before), based on looking at the numbers that I have for people who have purchased the Charge/Charge HR or Surge using the ‘Support’ links, and people have subsequently commented having actually experienced it firsthand (actually, it’s exactly .3%). In general, I find a pretty solid 1:1 relationship between people who have issues commenting after they’ve used the support links to buy a product.

      The challenge with letting the conversation run rampant that is that it starts to obscure the reality. Which isn’t to say it detracts from those seeing the issue, but starts to skew the true impact. You realistically have a 1% (heck, I’ll even say 5% for fun) chance of having an issue. But should that then dominate 95% of the conversation though? And isn’t the other spreadsheet a better place for that conversation?

      As an aside, for those that didn’t notice, I did add a bit more detail on the rash within the unboxing section at the warning page, along with a link to that Google spreadsheet. Further, I sent that over to a small pile of Fitbit folks, including one of the founders, for comment. I don’t expect a response however to the topic, but, in the event they do – I’ll post back.

    • JohnPaul

      ya, I like your perspective on this. Well said. I suppose its all about balance and true, things can become unbalanced quickly as popular opinion starts to take over. This probably is misrepresentitive in relation to overall sales, but that said I bet many would just stop wearing it rather than complain.

  79. Chris

    I’ve been wearing the Charge HR almost constantly for 6 weeks. I’ve had no problems with rash or irritation. I’ll leave it off maybe one night a week at most and while showering.

    Where I have had a HUGE problem is with device accuracy and lack of meaningful responsiveness from Fitbit support. This past Sunday it claimed I did 197 floors of stairs. I’m lucky if I did 2. That has been happening off and on since I got it, with ridiculously inflated numbers at least 3 days a week. I have updated firmware and rebooted numerous times to no avail. I could learn to ignore the stair counting but the heart rate tracking is also spotty at best. It seems to do ok for daily resting heart rate but the exercise heart rate tracking is all over the board. On numerous occasions the heart rate won’t even get close until half way through a 30-40 minute workout.Meanwhile the Garmin chest strap from my old FR60 and even the grip sensors on a stationary bike or treadmill are picking up the heart rate correctly and quickly.

    At this point I fear the Charge HR is just not where I need it to be for accurate daily tracking and 2-3 times a week moderate exercise. I may take a look at the Garmin Forerunner 15 or just wait a bit longer while optical heart rate technology evolves. Thanks for all your hard work as usual Ray!

  80. Sarah D

    Hi love the reviews.
    I had charge hr the battery wouldn’t hol d charge. The unit was replaced but now I cannot sync to app ive followed all instructions but the app keeps saying ( shoot can’t remember but something like ) can’t connect to fitbit site. Tried umpteen times. Anyone else had this issue? Any ideas?

  81. Taura F

    I can not get the fitbit to stay on my wrist. Grrrr!

  82. Matt

    Great review, very helpful, thank you

  83. Taylor Shaw

    I would just like to know if anyone that had the terrible rash with the Force is able to wear the Charge HR without getting one. I would like to buy it but don’t want to go through the same problem. Thank you

  84. Bri

    What were the differences between the daily calorie burn for the Charge vs. Charge HR? Basically, since the HR presumably added more accuracy to the calorie burn estimation, was there a noticeable difference between what the Charge and Charge HR reported with the same activities?

  85. Brian

    Ray – Thanks as always for such a thorough review. I picked up a Charge HR and I’m frankly kinda ambivalent about it now for a number of reasons (HR isn’t actionable, and the size). So I have a couple of questions:

    – What tracker are you currently using?

    – Fitbit announced multi-device support several months ago, and then another update early March that it was “coming soon.” Do you have any news on that front? I may consider keeping this ChargeHR as a secondary device if they enable multi-device support soon. Otherwise, it’s likely going back to the store.

    • Saul

      See this….
      link to engadget.com
      Not the 1st paragraph, also see the source article…
      May not be quite what you were hoping for, but changes for the better nonetheless.

    • Brian

      Thanks, that’s precisely what I was looking for. But I don’t see any updates for my Fitbit app? The article makes it sound like it’s already rolled out.

    • Saul

      Dunno, haven’t had time to dig deeper, have another careful re-read of both articles or something, let me know if you find anything more.

  86. LisaB

    I thought all of you would like to know that the plum fitbit charge hr will not be out again until June. That’s 10+ weeks from now. On par with what jawbone has said for UP3. I’ve only seen the black coming out in the stores… We keep waiting… :/

  87. susan

    Just wondering if you know if the side button can be replaced. My broke off.

    • Saul

      Don’t know what you mean by “fall off”, I hardly see how that could happen, but one thing I’ve noticed is that it’s pretty ridiculous trying to depress the thing, it’s very poorly designed. For this sort of money, the usability/quality should be FAR better.

  88. yolanda j

    I found your article wonderful. I have one question since you’re a wealth of info. I have a friend who has one but the display will not show. If you plug it in, the charge indicator shows up but nothing else. Any ideas? I did a general search but haven’t found anything yet.

    • Vicki G

      I would like to know the answer to that too, because my husband bought a Charge HR yesterday and it does the same thing. It will not charge and is now completely dead.

  89. Yoshi

    Ray,

    Is that battery life spec (4-5 days) with continuous heart rate active 24×7? that would blow mio, scosche away…

    I could not figure that out and fitbit never responded. wondering if you knew.

    thanks.
    Y

    • Saul

      According to my CHR, it’s with constant “resting” hr recording…

      I don’t know if that blows scosche/mio away battery-wise, but when it comes to “active” hr recording, it’s known to be far less accurate than mio/scosche.

    • Indeed, while the Charge HR can go multi-day for optical on, it’s not in a workout mode – but in a more passive mode. As Saul noted, the accuracy of the Charge HR for workouts pales in comparison to that of the Mio and Scosche.

    • Yoshi

      Ray, Saul – thanks!

      Do either of you know if I kept the charge HR in workout mode “24/7” (so higher sampling rate optical heart rate on) how long the battery would last? I assume HR in workout mode is a little more accurate than in non-workout mode?

      thanks,
      Y

    • Saul

      Doesn’t make much practical sense to me personally, so no, no idea.
      DC may have an idea…

    • Not sure off hand either.

  90. Deanna Herald

    You mentioned that grocery shopping only misses a few hundred steps,. On my last weekly grocery shopping trip, pedometer recorded 3800 steps while my fitbit recorded 1669. 2131 steps is a bit more than a “few”.

  91. Hi Ray, incredible review as always. I’m testing a fitbit charge HR, and saving workings with low heart rate values, it seems the app doesn’t register them, even I can see in the device that appear the flag after i stop the workout. I tried twice with yoga sessions about one hour long, and in both cases with no results. With run sessions i’ve never have a problem. Do you know why? thanks

  92. Bell

    Hello! I am an avid FitBit user and have been for about 2 years now. With the flex, I noticed my runs on the treadmill and days were I would use the elliptical, steps & distance were off. I’ve had the Charge HR for 42 days now. I’ve learned that clipping it to my underwear and holding it against my strap (elastic strap from gym shorts) helps in calculating more reasonable steps/distance for ellipticals, stair steppers, etc. The numbers NEVER meet the machine numbers which assures me my method is working. I have tried this for 2 treadmill runs now and I am getting more distance/steps than before, but nothing outrageous. Would you agree with this method? In my opinion, we use our hips and legs to move. Not our wrists.

    When I was wearing the Charge HR on my wrist, it would only register when my hands actually moved. Does it make sense that at the same effort on an elliptical in 30 minutes I only traveled 1.5 miles? One time when it was on my wrist at a 65 minute run ranging from 6mph-7.5mph the FitBit calculated 5 miles. I once wore it on my waist and got 5.74 miles. I found this more reasonable.

    Also, when I had the Fitbit Zip, an attachable to waist product, I found that OVER estimated steps & distance.

    Any ideas would help me! I love this product, but of course I want the most reliable. data.

    **Another thing is sometimes my steps and distance do not equate. For instance just four days ago my steps were 15,305 and i was given 5.6 miles. For a different day I was given 5.9 miles at 15,123.

  93. Suree

    Hi – this is a question somewhat unrelated -but her goes :
    ive been using the Polar ft80 to track my workout. But wanted to get an activity tracker for the rest of the day. Cant seem to decide between the Garmin vivosmart, polar loop, fitbit charge and mio fuse. I intend to contine using the FT80 for my workout.
    Any suggestions plss!
    thank you!

  94. Lisa B

    So I hate to beat a dead horse but what is the next best alternative if BOTH CHarge HR and the UP3 are either having production issues or functional issues?! Desire is for HR and for sleep mostly, but also activity tracker.

    • Ignoring workouts, the Basis Peak.

    • Saul

      What “functional” issues are so great for the CHR, that that one would have to skip it for the Basis Peak?

      Anyone heard any more about the UP3, what on earth is going on there?

    • Well, she asked for HR while sleeping, so there’s really only two options there.

    • Saul

      Well, I guess the question was more directed at her than anyone else.

      Any idea what’s up with the UP3?

    • Lisa B

      Apparently I confused things… I was actually looking for sleep tracker plus HR monitor for workouts… ideally it would also track activity during the day and HR during day.

      I love the UP3 and would go with that but who knows when they will get their act together. CHR is also a standstill as so few are being released. Both have issues with the products. Basis Peak I think is the nicest looking of those left, personally, and I have read some positive reviews of it. I don’t favor the looks of the MIO FUSE but sounds like it may be the best quality all around.

    • Got notification today that UP3 supposed to start shipping April 20th…

    • Don

      The Body Bugg. The Body Media group bought Fitbit { I think} but I used the Body Bugg for years and it never failed, was extremely accurate, with the only drawback being the arm strap and just under $8 a month for the service.

    • Lisa B

      Saul- here are things that make me leary about the CHR:

      burns/rashes
      inaccuracy of the HR while in activity
      read about the button popping off on the band
      bleeding of the bands onto skin and clothing (friends have reported this to me)

      Even though Ray says that the HR is better than the Basis Peak, his report to me suggested that the HR was worthless when it came to workouts. :( Nothing seems like it is that great of quality to me all around, except, *maybe* the Up3.

      For those wondering- I just checked today and CHR purple is still “out of stock” now until June. The UP3 silver model is not even available yet.

      Recently read on another review that the Mio FUSE does not track sleep.

    • Saul

      The rash issue is a beat-up by people keen to get another litigation going. It’s a very tiny percentage, one can get it just as easily from wearing many other things. But because there’s a high profile co. behind this wearable, with a past with these “issues”, people are jumping on it again. Been wearing mine 24/7 (except for showers), zero issues, that’s the case for the vast majority of users.

      Supply issues, we have none of them here in SEAsia/Oceania, not sure where you’re getting that, it’s by far the most visible tracker in shops of all types here.

      I hope Jawbone gets its act together, keen to see what the UP3’s all about…

    • Saul

      “Got notification today that UP3 supposed to start shipping April 20th…”

      Great news, is this worldwide or just the US?

    • Saul

      “The Body Media group bought Fitbit { I think}”

      They did? You sure about that?

    • Saul

      “inaccuracy of the HR while in activity”

      Yes correct; fine for resting HR, not fine for active HR.

      “read about the button popping off on the band”

      Not had this, & it doesn’t seem likely any time soon…
      But the tiny side button is getting a bit strange when I depress it, it’s also too small/unweildy.

      “bleeding of the bands onto skin and clothing (friends have reported this to me)”

      Seen absolutely nothing of the sort, sounds like someone’s imagination to me.

      Nothing seems like it is that great of quality to me all around”

      This market’s been like that for years now, no one seems to be able to nail everything.
      Pick the one that has the best mix of things (that it does well) “for you”.

      “For those wondering- I just checked today and CHR purple is still “out of stock” now until June.”

      That may explain your confusion, i.e. you’re only looking at Fitbit’s website as the sole outlet for its’ devices, in fact there’s many major wholesale/retail channels around the world. Perhaps they’re constraining availability via their site, so that they can maintain supply to other channels.

    • Saul

      I’ll answer my own Qn…
      link to jawbone.com
      According to JB themselves, the roll-out plans sound VERY US-centric.
      That’s nice, for folks who pre-ordered & who aren’t in the US.
      How very professional… >.>

    • Lisa B

      Saul- I wasn’t just checking fitbits website… I’ve been monitoring all other distributors out here in the US. They are only carrying the black model at this point.

    • Saul

      Ah, personally I don’t care about other colours, I usually just go for black for any CE, & black CHR of most/all sizes is readily available in many channels here.

  95. Lisa B

    Ray- you have said Mio FUSE before… but what about the Mio Alpha? Haven’t heard you say much about the basis peak.

    • I don’t like the Alpha because I think it’s just a bit oversized for my tastes, and it’s only Bluetooth Smart – not ANT+. Plus, it doesn’t do activity tracking either.

    • Saul

      So, you’ve recommended the Mio Fuse over everything else that has a similar emphasis, even the Basis Peak?

    • For workouts, yes. If you’re after something else (i.e. 24×7 HR), then no. They really are slightly different products with different focuses.

      That’s because the optical sensor on the Charge HR isn’t as accurate as that on the Mio Fuse. And the Basis Peak’s optical sensor is pretty much worthless on workouts. Whereas Charge HR’s optical sensor for workouts is so-so (within the limitations I’ve described in the post).

    • Don

      I was thinking about renewing my Body Bugg just for a month and for the hell of it, wearing both the HR and the Body Bugg for a few workouts and see what the differences are. Like I said in another post, the Body Bugg was very accurate and I was optimistic about the HR, but like I said before, it certainly has its syncing issues.

  96. Lisa B

    So I just saw that Up3 is supposed to ship in the next 10 days! Who knows how many back orders they have.

    link to slashgear.com

    It sounds like there is nothing on the market that is quality which does all around fitness tracking, sleep tracking, HR all day and workout, and looks nice… except maybe UP3. Let’s just see…

    Other thoughts?!

  97. Saul

    @DC

    What’s going on? How come my post never appear right away any more?
    For some reason I’m getting blocked by your spam filter all the time now & my posts don’t appear till “later”.
    Very annoying… I also didn’t get emailed about all these new posts…

  98. Aaron

    I use an Arc Trainer for cardio (similar to an eliptical/stairmaster combination). Will my steps register with the Charge/Charge HR?

  99. Dennis

    Received a Charge as a gift of encouragement. Band was too small so I contacted Customer Support about getting an XL. Believe it or not they sent me to the retailer. Not sure why as XL’s are only available through the Fitbit web site. Fitbit customer support should know that!! After repeated emails of being put off by Fitbit, I made the mistake of wearing the Charge with only part of the clasp in place. Within 60 days I lost it when it came off my wrist without me knowing. Contacted Customer support and obtained the same information that is posted on the Fitbit web site. Not sure why Fitbit has a customer support group. Now I try to buy a Charge HR with a XL band and they are not available for another 2 months even though the the HR is available now in smaller sizes. Hey Fitbit – if you guys are truely interested in helping people get fit why are you making products only for the “smaller” people who are already somewhat fit????

    • Dthomas7

      Dennis my husband and I went to Best Buy and bought him an XL Fitbit Charge HR and I bought a small with no problem. They were well stocked.

  100. Bit the bullet and got a fitbit Charge HR, a week ago. Better than I thought.
    Was waiting for the ideal device, but each of them had some dealbreaker, I thought. The lack of sync was the main one for these fitbit devices, in my mind. Still think it’s really sad that they don’t integrate better with other systems, but that’s what happens with some companies with a restrictive business model. Even Apple, obsessed with controlling the “whole experience”, can be somewhat more forthcoming than fitbit, in such a situation. Ok, maybe that’s pushing it. But you get the point.

    For a bit of background… Trying to get in better shape (lost 44 lbs., gained muscle mass…), been getting a variety of devices, in the past few years. Including some fitbit ones (spent a while with a fitbit Zip, after losing a fitbit One). My favourite fitness device at this point is the Wahoo Tickr X. Its ability to track cadence is really impressive and remarkably useful at the gym. Really wishing Wahoo could release an activity tracker or some other device for casual users. Sounds like they’re really focused on athletes, which makes sense but can be a missed opportunity. Occasionally been wearing the Tickr through workdays, doing something close to the 24/7 HR tracking from Basis-style devices.
    My latest tracker acquisition was the Garmin Vivofit, in December. Liked it enough, pairing it with the Tickr makes for a really nice experience during workouts or even casual activities. But, of course, it’s a bit limited in what it tracks and Garmin Connect isn’t that useful an app.

    So, getting the Charge was a step up from other things, but not expected to be a “game changer”.

    For the first few days, was wearing both the Charge and the Vivofit (to compare Tickr and Charge HR tracking). Had a hard time positioning the Charge, was getting inaccurate readings even at rest. Thought about returning the Charge, right away. Also was unsure about sync and battery life, maybe because it was set to always track HR instead of auto.

    But, at this point, it looks like the fitbit is actually changing my “game”.

    An unexpected benefit is climb tracking. Got a knee problem and been avoiding stairs to a fairly large extent. Still ended up with 83 floors by early evening, yesterday, which encouraged me to climb some more (to reach 100). Encouragement can be much stronger than extrinsic motivation, in my case. Knowing you’ve already been climbing quite a bit is very encouraging. (Still not clear on how fitbit measures floors, though.) Had only spent a few days with the fitbit One, before getting knee issues. And the fitbit Zip doesn’t track stairs. So this was a known feature with an unexpected effect.

    The sleep-related features were expected and aren’t necessarily as useful as Jawbone’s. But they’re nice to have and better than Garmin’s, even after the recent (welcome) update allowing Garmin to automatically track sleep duration (even retroactively).

    Continuous HR tracking is the “killer feature”. Just this weekend, a pharmacist friend was asking me what difference it made. Was a bit evasive. But it makes a significant difference to anyone who wants to track a lifestyle. And can get very encouraged by the results.

    This is tonight’s revelation, after a week. According to the fitbit app, burnt almost 22Mcal, this week. Including close to 4Mcal. That’s encouraging. Funnily enough, the Wahoo app calculates to things differently and would have my burnt calories even higher than the fitbit. But the fitbit rating might be more reasonable, and that’s ok.

    Tracked two ebike rides, today, an hour each. Wahoo had my burn rate at over 1Mcal per ride. Fitbit shows about 700kcal per ride. Quite significant a difference. What’s funny, though, is that both show similar results for HR, which was unexpected. For instance, the amount of time spent in the highest zone is quite similar in both apps and my average HR is pretty much the same (158 & 164 for Wahoo vs. 157 & 160 for fitbit; rather high for a 42yo non-athlete, but haven’t been feeling pain or exhaustion and my physician isn’t concerned). Sounds like the discrepancy in calories burnt might have to do with their algorithms. Calibrated the Wahoo app, at some point. Not sure if the fitbit does its calculations based on RHR.

    Speaking of which… My RHR tends to be quite high (sometimes, over 90). Been a bit preoccupied by this (have yet to discuss it with my physician). Which is a pretty decent reason to get the Charge HR.

    After just a few days, getting encouraging result. Was at 92 on Monday, but that might have been because it was a partial day. Got 86 the following day, which is quite high. But been getting down from this to 76 today, which is encouraging. Part of the reason is that my morning routine includes some yoga, and tracking everything encouraged to extend this yoga section. Even if my RHR goes back up, it’s nice to track everything and start noticing patterns. Doing more yoga might be a good strategy, in any case. Didn’t really need motivation to do so, but these results encourage me to do so.

    Sooo… Getting a fitbit Charge HR was probably a better decision than it first seemed. Sure is a bummer that fitbit doesn’t play nice with others. But maybe it doesn’t matter much.

  101. Theresa

    Just happened on this site while researching the Fitbit Charge Activity and Charge HR. I received a Force for Christmas 2013 and had no problems at all–until about a month ago and only with the band. It seemed to buckle up around the face, then a few days ago I noticed it was disintegrating around the screws on the back. I emailed Fitbit to see if the band could be replaced and was pleasantly surprised when they informed me that I could return it for a Charge or get a complete refund. I was trying to decide when I found your very helpful review and decided to get a Charge minus the HR. Sounds almost identical to the Force except for the automatic sleep tracker. Just hope the band is a little more durable.

    I was very impressed with Fitbit’s response and really can’t understand the griping by some people because of a minor rash. I’ve had the same thing happen with certain metals in earrings. No big deal. They gave you a refund, so why the drama? Guess no matter what you do there’s no pleasing some people.

  102. Mary

    I ride horses and was wondering what you think could be a good activity tracker- I’m guessing something good for cycling, or possibly running? I don’t believe the fitbits have this function, but are there any that have a decent speed tracker, and if so, do they read out as a real time report? Thanks!

    • Don

      What do you mean? An activity tracker for riding horses? ….not really sure why you would want to track that anyway. The fitbits of course track running and walking, not cycling so much unless you get the FitbitHR as it monitors your heart rate. Nothing beats the Body Media….I wore it for years and wanted to get away from the arm band so I went to the FitbitHr.

    • sasha

      Is looking into the fitbit for horse riding as well. Endurance riders always track their distance. That goes on the horses record. They need to add a gps to it tho. I think that is what may was asking about. I’m looking for the same thing!

  103. Peg

    Thank you for an informative review! As a cardiac patient, I am looking for something to help track irregular heartbeats. When I have an issue, by the time I get a monitor, everything is back to normal. Would the Charge HR be of help with this? Again, thanks for a great review.

    • No, unfortunately not. It doesn’t really have all that much granularity, nor record any of the HRV/RR data.

      Meaning, if the event was only a few seconds, you’re not really going to be able to see that afterwards in the Fitbit logs.

  104. annette frisbie

    I bought the Fitbit HR. I found that when I worked out at a high heart rate either the fitbit didn’t show my heart rate or it was off by 20-30 points.

    when I called Fitbit they convinced me I was wearing it wrong and gave me a number of suggestions for changing how I wore it. I followed the advise to no avail. it continue to either register no hear rate or a very inaccurate heart rate. I called Fitbit back and they sent me a replacement HR. However, it also did the same thing. when I called back again they said ‘you were aware of our refund policy of 45 days’. you have exceeded 45 days. when I explained to them my first call was well within 45 days they said, sorry, we will only send you another replacement. the company does not stand by its product.

    • Saul

      Had you done the slightest research, you’d know that only a tiny subset of activeHR readers actually do activeHR accurately, & CHR isn’t one of them, heck even in this very article that’s confirmed.

      You don’t buy it for activeHR, you buy it for the other things it does well compared to the alternatives. There’s devices that do activeHR via an optical reader okay-ish, but fall down in other ways.

      Then you could’ve said to the Fitbit tech: Look, you’re full of it, I know for a fact activeHR doesn’t work well, stop wasting my time & give me a refund, OR: Look, help me with some other aspects of this device that do work, so that I can start using them to their full potential.

  105. Sharon

    I really enjoyed the reviews on the Charge/ChargeHR and the Surge. I do have a question. I work a lot with my arms but do not take many steps at work. Would the ChargeHR or the Surge monitor my “arm activity” to show calories burned or are the calories burned only calculated based on steps taken? Thanks!!

    • It might trigger, but it’s hard to know exactly to be honest – as it just depends a bit on if it thinks you’re also walking. Sometimes the cross-cancellation aspect is pretty strong and it doesn’t trigger. Other times, it triggers falsely.

  106. Tmac

    I bought the CHR about a month ago and find it very accurate. I’m sure if I was an athlete it wouldn’t be as accurate for my needs. I’ve tested it against my dr HR and it’s always with 5. I find it measures my steps and dustances very accuate as well. When I walk with my GPS and it, the miles are within .05 of each other.

    I don’t know if it makes a difference, but I set my settings that it’s in my dominate hand even though it isn’t and I do wear it an inch above my wrist bone.

    It measures my heart rate well in doing step ups & the normal feedback does give you incentive to push a little harder.

    Also spells if rapid heart rate run in my family and I’ve had two episodes & it was measuring it very well. Key point is the display HR is an average whereas the app us supposedly real time. For me it’s accurate.

    I tie mine to myfitnesspal & track food there and fitbit adjusta my calories & adds my burn to the calories.

    My sleep times are very accurate.

    For vitals comparison, I’m female, 5’5″ 315 lbs (lost 10 since getting my fitbit and 110 during the yr before buying it so I’ve been tracking vitals for awhile)

    • TMac:
      What an encouraging testimony! Both on your CHR use and on your journey. These devices are marketed with specific usage in mind but you show that the benefit can go deep.
      It’s also an underrated feature of Ray’s work: allowing diverse voices to be heard. Hope Fitbit knows that customers like you are very valuable. Those of us who aren’t athletes still care about health.

  107. Mandy

    Ok, I’m looking for the most accurate device for calories burned, steps and distance. I was considering the charge HR only because I thought it might be most accurate. Knowly my actual HR is no big deal. Do I really need to put out the extra money or is only of the cheaper models just at good?? TIA

  108. David

    Does the HR Charge display seconds on the time of day display? I work in healthcare and need to count the HR of my patients.

    • Don

      Wear a watch with a second hand……

    • Thomas

      I don’t see why it wouldn’t. I have the predecessor Force, and you can choose one of 3 or 4 time readout styles, and one which I have includes seconds. Though, to get the display you may have to hold the little side button on the Fitbit in, but then it only stays on for several seconds. So I think you’d be hard-pressed to use it, what with having the having a hand to hold the button, and hold the patient’s wrist for pulse. Seems a stretch to imagine, so I wouldn’t count on the Fitbit display, but maybe a store like REI could show a model to test for youself.

    • Martin

      There are 4 different watch faces, two of which show seconds. The screen only stays on for 5 seconds at a time though, so it may not be that useful for you.

  109. bigcat

    Is the Charge of any use when cycling?

  110. Rachael

    Thank you for the very in-depth review! I have a Fitbit Charge but was looking into the HR one. I just do not like the fact that the Charge does not accurately track when I am cross-training using a stationary bicycle (I put it on my shoe laces but the counts are still not correct) or doing a work out video, only when I am walking or running. Is the HR one any different? Like does it show you burning more calories when you heart rate is up, or does it only still count calories by how many steps you are taking?

    Thanks a lot

  111. Kerry

    I read in your article how the optical sensor works by basically looking through your skin. I have a full sleeve on my non dominant arm (and I would hate wearing it on my dominant wrist). Will the optical sensor still read my heart rate through my very solid and dark tattooing?

    • It really depends. For some, they haven’t seen issues – and yet for others, there have been some problems. I wish I could give you a solid answer there.

    • Kerry

      Darn…I wish you could too. Guess it’s probably better to save my bucks then. Thank you for your honesty.

    • Connie

      I got my Charge HR last week and have been wearing it on my non-dominate hand that is solidly tattooed and have had constant problems with getting my HR. Moved it over to my dominate hand today where the wrist is not tattooed and so far no problem. I had wondered if the tattoos where the issue.

    • W. Hauser

      I too am having trouble with heart rate, active minutes and sleep monitoring which I believe is due to being heavily tattooed at wear sites.. If I hold the led sensor to untattooed skin (rare) it actually displays a heart rate.. Fitbit has not acknowledged the issue as thouroughly as Apple has … I understand that tattooed people are not a large % of the market but it would have been nice to have known about the green led sensor issue reading through tattoos

  112. Slee

    Hi Ray,
    Sorry if this is a dumb question(!), but I can’t seem to get to the page on the dashboard where you can look at the stats for continuous monitoring when not in activity mode. Any thoughts? Thanks!

  113. Merry

    I am 67, have 75 lbs yet to lose, and have owned several trackers. I would really like your opinion on what is the best choice for me. I have an office job, and I don’t get a lot of exercise – not as much as I would like anyway. I am trying to do more walking, and I want the sleep tracking. I have a Moov, a NordicTracker, and I have owned Fitbits. I loved the Force, and I was looking at the new one and the HR. The one thing I hated was the little button closure. It comes off too easily. Does the new Force have a better system for closure?
    I saw the HR has a reliable buckle system. I do water exercise at the Y, so I thought the Moov would be good for that. So far it is still not up on the software enough to interact easily with most other programs I use – like My Fitness Pal.
    What would you suggest as the best product for me? It looks like you have tried them all so far!
    Thanks!

  114. Esselte.Fi

    Hey, thank you for the great review. I’d be really grateful to hear your opinion on my thoughts.
    How would you say covering the Fitbit Charge HR with a sweatband (thus eliminating extra light) would affect the HR accuracy during workout mode?

    Thank you in advance.

  115. brandkloc

    Thank you VERY much for this review, Ray. This will be my very first fitness tracker, as I’ve been waiting for one that monitors HR (and does all of the other stuff while looking nondescript). Even if it’s not very accurate, I can at least spot trends and get a good idea of my day-to-day habits.

    I was going between this and the UP3 but it’s passive HR/resting HR only feature isn’t really what I’m looking for, not to mention it’s shipping and manufacturing hiccups… will you be reviewing it?

    • Yup, my UP3 arrived this past Friday to my US forwarding box, and it’ll be shipped out to my Paris address later this afternoon from my forwarding box, for arrival on Thursday.

    • Awesome. Definitely want to hear your thoughts.

      I’ve been wearing this CHR for 4 days now and I’m really liking it. Syncing has been simple and the heart rate readings match my old Polar chest strap within a couple of BPMs. The only thing I haven’t liked is the double tap (it never works) and the constant sync really decreases the battery life (not surprising). The sleep monitoring is spot-on in “normal” mode.

      Your review really sold it for me so thanks a bunch!

    • Saul

      “The only thing I haven’t liked is the double tap (it never works)”

      Hey yeah, I remember thinking “wasn’t this supposed to have that”, but forgot about it shortly after I got it, it’s never worked for me too!

      “and the constant sync really decreases the battery life (not surprising).”

      Be good if there was a way to manually decrease the rate, even better it auto dynamically adjust that, based on am’t of measures taken (or lack there-of).

    • Since it starts to sync every time I open the app, which is also when I’m interested in looking at the data, it starts to sync so it’s almost like having constant sync on anyway. I guess constant sync is more for peace of mind.

    • Saul

      I just worked out I can get double-tap to work if I focus my tap on the right half of the screen, might be diff. location for others. It’s still patchy, though.

  116. korebee

    I have a Charge and really like it. I have several friends that also purchased one – the group challenges you can set up with your friends through the app is really fun and a great accountability mechanism. The only disappointment is the band dual snaps. After having the Charge unsnap on me 10 times or so (unplanned), the inevitable happened – I lost the Charge after one month. I really like the product but not the clasp mechanism. I was wondering if others have had this experience. Fitbit was very supportive and sent a replacement with proof of purchase. But, the new one has come off twice so far…

    • Saul

      The only annoyance I have about it is getting it strapped on, thanks to the stupid stub that gets in the way of where you need to slide the band through.

      Far more secure than earlier versions “once on”, how on earth one could lose it I don’t know, you’d have to be really hammering it.

    • korebee

      I lost it somewhere between row 25F on the plane and my car. Taking off a jacket or simply reaching into your pocket is enough to unsnap it. Never lost any of my $50 -$200 sport watches because of the buckle. When any compression loads surround the steel insert/snaps, the clasp comes undone without much effort. Still like it – just think this is under designed for the price.

    • Saul

      “Taking off a jacket or simply reaching into your pocket is enough to unsnap it.”
      “When any compression loads surround the steel insert/snaps, the clasp comes undone without much effort.”

      No chance in Hades IME, it must’ve already been damaged in your situation, or it must’ve come up against a lot of force in those situations your describe.

      The latter wouldn’t happen for me, or if did, I’d definitely notice that it’s gotten caught, & hence too much force is being applied.

    • kim

      I lost my fitbit a couple weeks ago because the snap let go and no I didn’t use force. This wasn’t the first time it happened either. I’ve only had my fitbit since February. I’m afraid to wear it now as it costs too much to lose it again. I wish they had a better clasp to replace it.

    • Saul

      Again, really fail to see how it could happen without anyone noticing, it’s just not designed that way.

    • Saul

      It’s funny, the last clasp was criticised for a host of issues, those issues were addressed.
      But now a bunch of new “issues” supposedly exist. One can never please the consumer.

  117. Gato Barbieri

    I just returned the Fitbit HR. I read the complaints and thought it was just people complaining. I didn’t care much until I started using it all the time. Used it for a week and was the most inaccurate and inconsistent gadget I have ever used. So, what is the point. Yes, it helps people just by the fact that they are measuring so they get metrics good or bad, but if I was really training for something specific where I had to really measure accurately, this wouldn’t be it. This was supposed to be the great Fitbit model and it was a total disappointment.

    • Intriguing. Care to elaborate on the results you were getting? It might be one of those (in)famous YMMV situations, but I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised with how much agreement there was between my CHR and my TickrX, even during heavier exercise (up to 185bpm). So, I wonder what factors are involved. I do wear the band relatively tightly, though I’ve loosened it a bit after reading Fitbit’s recommendation. And much of the exercise I do is quite regular (biking, elliptical, rowing…), unlike tennis or most team sports. But there might be other factors involved, if you’re getting such unreliable measurements. It can’t be sweat, because I’m one of those people who sweat profusely at the weirdest times and the CHR hasn’t had much of a problem which I could attribute to sweat. I don’t have any tattoo, if that makes a difference.

  118. Brian

    I’m curious what Ray and everyone else does with the Charge HR when doing an activity that you’re not specifically tracking with the CHR.

    For example, when I cycle, I wear the CHR but I completely ignore the metrics there as I have tons of other data coming from the bike computer (connected to speed, HR, etc).

    However, when all that gets ported into MyFitnessPal the calories burned get wonky because I get credit for the cycling as an activity, but the Fitbit recorded “steps” during the activity and thus adds/subtracts calories burned based on what it tracked.

    However I am hesitant to just remove the device when I cycle, because then it will subtract even more calories from my activity burn.

    Suggestions?

  119. AFisher

    I currently have the Basis Peak, and I am fairly happy with the device, although I do not like that I can not pair it with any of the third party fitness apps (android MapMyFitness, Endomondo or S Health). I have been Considering the CHR but can not find any definitive answers about third party app support and android devices, can anyone tell me that the CHR will sync with my Samsung s4 using MapMyFitness or Endomondo?

  120. Gaby

    Hi, I found your review very useful. Thanks for doing it.I just got the Fitbit Charge 3 days ago and I like it. This being my first fitness gadget, I don’t really know what to expect.
    However, my cell phone is not compatible with it and I am trying to use the sleep function on Windows 8.1 with the suggested app from Microsoft store.
    The sleep data does not get synchronized to the computer, it asks me to enter Start and End time of sleep and it comes back with a strait calculation of the number of hours.
    Do you know if this is the app’s limitation or I am missing something?

  121. Miriam Olesen

    There are many posts on the Fitbit Community Forum regarding inaccurate step counting.My own experiences consistently reflects the ChargeHR fails to register 30-35% of my steps. Fit bit refuses to comment or acknowledge that there is a problem with step counting.If a basic function is so inaccurate how can any of the data be trusted. A waste of $150+.

    • Saul

      There’s MANY complaints (I dare-say more %-wise in most instances) for most -if not all- health wearables, & for most CE discussion on the net for that matter.

    • There’s some research done on this. From this interview, it sounds like stepcount is pretty consistent across a variety of devices and apps, except for Nike’s FuelBand.

      Ray has made similar comments.

      Will check the Patel et al. article once I’m on university VPN.

    • Miriam Olesen

      All I know are the results I have been getting. I use the S Health app on my Samsung Galaxy Note3 for comparison. I have actually counted my steps many times along with the S Health app to check its accuracy and I find it amazing that it is right on; Makes me ask how a phone app can be so accurate but the activity tracker is not. Most recent walks tracked: 90 minutes 11020 steps counted–Fitbit, however, only 9344. 20 minute walk 2536 counted; Fitbit 1753. 40 minute walk 4851 steps counted’ Fitbit 2958. Fitbit’s Community Forum has many posts regarding inaccurate step count.

    • Always useful to have more datapoints.

      That Case et al. JAMA report was based on experiments done on treadmills. Interestingly enough, while some phone apps looked rather accurate, the Fitbit One and Fitbit Zip had the narrowest range of measures, for either 500 or 1500 steps, very close to the actual count. The median from measurements using the Moves app on Galaxy S4 undershot a bit (so did the Fitbit Flex), while the same app on iPhone 5s overshot a bit.

      Sounds like there are several factors involved, hence the whole YMMV thing. The study reported in JAMA was done at a walking speed (3.0 mph). Maybe wrist-worn devices don’t work so well at higher speeds, which makes quite a bit of sense. According to podiatrist, running coach, and Wirecutter reviewer Jim McDannald, it sounds like clip-ons tend to be more accurate. Perhaps because you can position them on parts of your body which move quite consistently, when you walk or run. That’d fit a phone app, too. As we realise from the shoppingcart test, a wrist isn’t that great a place for a pedometer. It’s not ideal for heartrate monitors either. But it’s a decent compromise for device which does both and displays data in a convenient way while walking or exercising.

      Sounds like an opportunity for “crowdsourced” research. Anyone knows of a site where we can post these kinds of datapoints?

    • Don

      So far I found it pretty accurate. I’ve done controlled tests and the step count recorded accurately. For false counts from vibration I did a “table drum” test and none of the times I banged my hands on the table drumming registered as a step. I just posted today I will be doing a comparison between the Bodybugg and my Fitbit HR….should be interesting. The Bodybugg is the most accurate device in this market….I wore it for several years.

  122. Lisa

    Well I finally got my chr. I have to say I’m relatively pleased. The heart rate seems quite accurate as I know its dead on from what I’ve had mine read at doctors office. I love the sleep feature- very accurate. Not sure about calorie burn, and the steps seems ok. i had one incident in 2 days of having it where the steps were way inflated. i didnt know why it would do this or how I can reset the band. any ideas Ray? It was at 15,000 steps by 10am and I did not exercise.

    Some features I love and was surprised I do-
    The caller id, the alarm you can set to wake you up…and…. I discovered the band has a stop watch with lap times if you hold down the button!!!! I did not read this anywhere in reviews. ?

    Also, I have found it a little uncomfortable with the battery or whatever pressing into my skin but it fits well against my wrist. i HAVE noted some skin irritation after 2 days but I took the band off and it has gone away. ?

    All in all VERY pleased!!!! Thanks Ray.

    • brandkloc

      Lisa:

      When I took my fitbit on a car ride on an unfinished road, it recorded a ton of steps. Bumpy car rides and shaking or vibration can account for false steps.

      The stop watch function: that will work as a stop watch but it’s main function is the activity mode. This will record “active” minutes, whether you’re running or walking or doing pushups. The heart rate monitor takes more frequent readings while you’re in this mode. Once you sync, you’ll see these minutes and have some pretty decent stats on the quality and quantity of your workout. Just remember to turn it off when you’re done.

      More on this function here: link to help.fitbit.com

      I have super sensitive skin, so I’ve been taking it off while I read my email and news in the morning. An hour of not wearing it seems to do the trick and keep irritation to a minimum. There’s also some fabric sleeve/covers people have posted on Etsy if you’d like the feeling of fabric next your skin rather than rubber.

    • Lisa

      This is great to know about the activity level. I actually really like the product. And I went into it knowing the history of burns irritation. I’m ok with that right now and I do believe a lot is common sense- take it off if it bothers you.

      Also, point well taken that all products have some complaint. Good luck finding one that has everything you want or will be perfect! And you might pay a ton of $ for it!!

  123. Lisa

    I also have listened to the fitbit recommendation and after my hr wasn’t registering during workout moved my band to 2 inches below wrist bone. wear a close fut and it works well. Quite accurate!

    Question for you all:: how the heck do you get Floors to register??? Mine haven’t at all and thats in 3 days. I have put it in active mode. and once I was climbing stairs for 15 minutes… Nothing registered.

    thanks:)

  124. Katie

    Great review! I think I really want a Charge HR, but I have one issue. I work around water (aquariums), and I would need to know how water-resistant it is. You said showering seems to be fine? Mine would probably get wet doing dishes, occasional splashes, and sometimes being submerged just under water. I wouldn’t be swimming or diving with it, but probably similar to keeping your hands in a full sink for doing dishes. I’d hate to have to take it off constantly, especially if I am working hard at scrubbing, but happen to get my hands underwater!

    Thoughts?

    • Sandra

      From what i saw online the fitbit is not waterproof, I would go with a garmit vivosmart (50m) or the mio (fuse, alpha,alpha2) they both can be used for swimming

    • Saul

      As proven by Ray, the CHR is fine in the shower (I’ve been wearing it with no issue), the surge might be bit better than that, given Ray’s analysis.

  125. Théophane

    Hi Ray,

    Do you know if there is a way to get more than 30 days of historical data for the heart hate metric ? I can’t find this on the iOS app nor their website. Having charts with monthly averages (just like the other available metrics) would be awesome over time.

    Thanks and advance !

  126. Don

    I found my Body Bugg {I thought I lost it} because I wanted to do a test between the Fitbit Hr and Bodybugg. For anyone who doesn’t know, the Bodybugg is extremely accurate so, it will interesting to see the comparison between the two in calories burned. Its worth the $8 I’ll pay for another month of the Bodybugg.

    • Nickol

      Hey Don. I have a bodymedia device but they’re no longer selling the straps and mine broke so I’m looking g at replacing it but want something with the same caloric accuracy of the bodybugg. Having said that, I was wondering how the test results came in and if they’re fairly close to one another. This will totally help with my decision on whether I should buy the Fitbit charge HR of the UP3. Thanks so much!

  127. Thor Stas

    Excellent reviews!
    As far as ‘resting’ heart rate goes, It is never your lowest heart rate which typically occurs when sleeping. RHR is defined as VO2Max = O. That occurs when AWAKE but absolute minimum activity. Usually the lowest you find over many days when you wake up but before you get up out of bed. Basically awake ‘brain turned on’ but all other ‘subsystems’ still shut down. It is the point of awake with minimal energy consumption. As a note, studies have shown that when exercising you typically suppress ‘cardiac vagal tone’ for something like 48hrs (probably age variable) post-exercise which has the effect of increasing heart rate. So to find an accurate RHR need to take after a couple of days of no exercise. Wonder if Fitbit calculates accurate RHR? They have the data such as weather asleep or not etc.
    Hope it helps.

    Thor

    • Which, would be great if the Fitbit seemed to even follow that logic. It doesn’t though, the RHR values are all over the place – even ignoring times I’m sitting there on the couch.

    • Zest

      Agree on all DC’s observations. I bought the monitor and it works ok. I have a problem with the Fitbit app. The monitor is one thing but the interpretation of the data is just as important, and they seem to turn a blind eye to the requests from users on their forums. The website as an example, which has much better graphs etc. is not IOS friendly. The app has to connect to the Fitbit servers with your data to get the interpretation of it (the app itself doesn’t calculate much), so no internet connection, no graphs. Resting heart rate is not of much use here and the sleep graph doesn’t show REM sleep etc. even though it could take your nocturnal heart rate variation into account, yawns. Tracking water intake is a pain in the app since you cannot customise often used measures and the slider is fickle. I like the band itself but for the App and software I would look somewhere else with my next fitness tracker. Did I mention you have to pay to get ‘premium’ interpretation of your data, so it is dumbed down on purpose. Seriously? With all the competition out there they should make it available just for choosing to buy their device.

  128. Lisa

    soooo I’ve had my chr for a week now! love it! but…. It has since died. Any word on the battery issues and how they are resolving it??!!

    Thanks,
    Lisa

  129. Corie Lovrien

    Today I tracked 200 steps DRIVING A CAR!!! Complete waste of money!! Fitbit offers a 45 money back guarantee for any reason….I’ve been trying to get a hold of them to get a RMA number to return my charge hr​. Trying without success! I’ve done all the advice, I’ve switched the setting for dominant and still kept it on my non dominant, no change. I bet I’ve tracked 20+ more steps just by typing this response!!!!

  130. MARIE MALONE

    Hi, I just want to know can the Fitbit Charge HR be part charged rather than waiting for it to completely drained of battery power. I find it needs charging at inconvenient times for me. I don’t want to destroy the battery but giving it boosts of charge at times that suit me. Thanks

  131. Walter

    For a total body fitness work out encompassing weight lifting and resistance training, would the Scoshie Rhythm Plus or Mio Link track HR more accurately than the Fitbit Charge HR? What about the number of calories burned for such a workout—which of these devices would you prefer?

    • JB

      I’ve actually been using the scosche rhythm + with the Digifit (Icardio APP) that syncs to the fitbit app. The heart rates using it are pretty accurate, but it won’t sync the heart rate into the fitbit app, which really sucks. I have a fitbit one, and am currently looking to upgrade to the Charge HR…but it just seems kind of pointless if I can use my standalone monitor to do it already….it would be perfect if fitbit’s app would sync the heart rate data, but then if they do that I suppose they wouldn’t need to sell the hr or the surge.

  132. Yana Magee

    So I have been wearing both the CHR and the ONE to get a comparison, as I have found the ONE to be quite accurate with step and mileage counting when compared with the Health App on the iPhone, as well as actually measuring eg a route that I just ran. I have found that the CHR consistently records steps at about 80-85% of the ONE. Had a long dialogue and some testing with the Fitbit folks, and they sent me a new one, which is doing the same thing. Has anyone else had this experience?

    • Miriam

      My CHR did the same thing until I discovered that if I stopped swinging my arm while I walked and just held my arm/wrist against my leg/hip so that my moving leg “bumped” against my wrist I got a perfect count. Heart rate recorded well, too. Still have a problem with distance. It doesn’t seem to matter what a input in my profile (I am 5’2″ with stride of 24.3″)my Fitbit over calculates distance. Seems to use a stride length that varies between 31-33 inches. Would be a giant step for me.

    • Lisa

      Yama I’ve been wondering about the run tracking on fitbit. i compare it to my nike+ on ipod and it is WAY below on distance. Nike + is Ahead of the treadmill but I believe its accurate. The fitbit pace is also much slower because the distance is about half, even the time is less. I dont get it. i love my chr but its disappointing how inaccurate it is during activity.

      Anyone know how to get the stairs to activate?? Mine wont.

  133. Irene

    Hi! Thank you so much for your thoughtful review. I have decided not to keep my Fitbit HR charger as my Garmin Vivoactive does what I need. I need to know how to turn off the green sensors lights in the back so that I can return it. I have never warn the watch but charged it thinking I might keep it but an not going to. Can you help me out. Do not need both watches. Thank you for your help.

  134. Charanpal Sekhon

    My fiitbit requires charging every 3rd day. Is it something wrong with the device or need some change in settings??

  135. Heads up: All is not so calm on the fitness front.

    Jawbone is suing rival fitness technology firm Fitbit, accusing it of stealing commercially sensitive data.

    The lawsuit accuses Fitbit of poaching staff, stealing intellectual property and confidential trade data.

    Former Jawbone staff used USB storage devices to take data to Fitbit, the San Francisco lawsuit alleges.

    Earlier this month Fitbit, which makes wearable devices that record health data, launched its first share sale in which it hopes to raise $100m (£65m).

    Full workout here:- link to m.bbc.com

  136. Andre

    @DC Rainmaker you said that light is the archenemy of the optical HR sensor….my biggest goal is accurate HR readings during my runs and RHR

    1. During the former would it help if I ran at night where my track has no lighting but the moon shining down?

    2. As for the latter you mentioned your typical RHR is upper 30’s lower 40’s…did I read correctly that the Fitbit Charge HR for the most part was accurate during sleep for RHR

    3.last, in my day runs would it help the accuracy of thr optical sensor if I covered it an sweat arm band or something to put on top of Fitbit to help keep light out?

    • Andre

      My bad on 3rd question its been answered already by DC Rainmaker…I have not read all 325 comments/replies nor is there a “search” button to avoid duplicate questions…my apologies

    • Martin

      If accurate HR is your biggest goal, I’d say steer clear of optical HR for now.

      Having said that, I’ve tested the Charge HR against my Polar M400 while running and, for me at least, the two have been pretty similar. I’ve only tested during light running/jogging though.

      I’ve also used the Charge HR while playing badminton, where it does not fare so well. Usually with a chest HR strap I’m anywhere in the 130-180 range, but the Charge HR frequently shows “–” instead of a reading during a game. Checking the dashboard shows the readings around 100-155, and calories burned is a few hundred less.

      I’ve tried wearing it at different positions/band tightness with little success. Last night I did try wearing a sweat band but it didn’t help when worn over the device. What did seem to help is having the sweat band just below, which stopped it from moving about on my arm. I only discovered this towards the end of the evening though, so I’m not sure how effective this will be. It certainly seems to be an improvement though!

  137. Martin

    Just for reference, here’s a couple of screenshots from a slow run/walk I did earlier:
    link to i344.photobucket.com
    link to i344.photobucket.com

    Hopefully the links work! Basically the Charge HR was within 2-10bpm at all the peaks/troughs, and it gave me an average HR of 117 vs 110 for the Polar. The part I’m most suspect on is at the end (walking), where the Polar had me at around 80bpm all the way. The Charge HR had a dip where it had me in the 60s, then it went back up right before the end.

    BTW the Polar was used with a Scosche Rhythm+, and the Charge HR was under my sleeve, but I’ve had similarly matching results with short sleeves.

    • Andre

      @Martin, thank you so much for this testing of comparing and contrasting.

      My two main goals are for accurate Heart Rate while I run and or jog and while I sleep.

      So now im on the fence as to which to get or to just hold of for a year or so for technology to improve.

      I’ve already been waiting several years though for a good continuous heart rate monitor without annoying chest strap.

  138. Juliana

    Will or have they got blood pressure activity on these??

  139. Laurie

    Very helpful. I purchased both the Mio Fuse and the ChargeHR. Wore the Mio yesterday for my workout and it was great, but overall too bulky and it was easy to activate the screen. I’m only 5’1″ and about 108 lbs and it just looked too big on my wrist. Will try the ChargeHR tomorrow for my workout and see how it does. I wanted to love the Mio Fuse, but the app was lacking and the screen too sensitive. I had the Fitbit One for two years and it was slowing dying on me…and really wanted a HR monitor added (sans cheststrap). I guess I’ll have to make a decision between the two at some point, but both of your reviews…Mio Fuse and ChargeHR were very helpful.

  140. Barbara

    I have the ChargeHR for about one month. Previously used the One. I had no issues with the One. I have both attached to my account (thought I saw somewhere in your review that this was not possible). I have been able to switch between the two and wear the One when I don’t want the ChargeHR on my wrist. One issue I discovered this morning was that my One battery life went completely dead and although my ChargeHR was completely charged, the display went blank. I couldn’t get it to light up at all for several hours. Then I plugged in the dead One and magically my ChargeHR came back on (although the fully charged battery was drained). I recharged the ChargeHR and it seems to be working perfectly. Is this a known issue as to why the recommendation is that you don’t have two devices linked to one account? My daughter has two linked to her account as well and doesn’t have any issues. Just curious. BTW your reviews are OUTSTANDING! Thank YOU!

  141. John David

    I’m looking at getting either the Fitbit Charge HR or the Polar M400. I am a beginner runner. I run about 20 miles a week and have completed one 10K Race. My main goal is to lose weight but I use running performance goals to keep me interested.

    What I am wondering is: which device would give me the best overall estimate of my days total caloric burn. Seems like m400 with the chest strap would give me a much better account of calories burned during my daily workout but the Fitbit Charge HR would give me a better estimate os my non-workout calories burned as it will be using the continuous HR data in the equation while the m400 would not have that as I would not be wearing the chest strap all day.

    So at the end of the day which one would give me the better estimate? Anyone have any thoughts on that?

    john david

    • Martin

      This is only my personal experience, but I find the Charge HR is pretty accurate for running. As such I’d say it would be better for all day use. Having said that, it’s not really a great running watch because the display doesn’t stay on for longer than 5 seconds. The M400 is nice and easy to use while running, with customisable info screens.

  142. Abey

    Before you purchase fitbit products please check if you can download the software to your desired device (Tab/ Phone). I bought a Fitbit Surge and they don’t allow me to download the software in my country. you have to be using a US app store account. the tech support of fit bit says “tough luck”. please do not waste money. check app first as without the app nothing much you can do with the USD 250 worth band.

  143. Will

    Dc or anybody,

    When I try to go to workout mode by holding the button down I see the timer start, I complete my workout, and hold it once again until I see the checkered flag. However, once I sync with the Fitbit app on my iphone I do not see where there has been an exercise logged. I keep reading that I should be able to see information related specifically to that workout. I can only see overall stats. Am I doing something wrong? Please help.

    Thank you

    • Martin

      If you tap on the exercise section (on Android it’s the one under Active Minutes, and says “Track your Exercise” or “no exercise logged” usually), you should see it listed in the calendar view. I read on the Fitbit forum that this can be buggy, I’ve seen it where I’ve logged an activity but it hasn’t shown for that day. They recommend syncing soon after completing the workout. Once the activity has synced you will see it listed as “Workout” – you only appear to be able to edit this on the website, not the app.

    • Brian

      Sometimes on mine (android) i have to sync a few times for it to show up, but it always does eventually. Syncing to my laptop always works first time.

  144. Russell

    am I right in thinking this can’t be used as a wrist-mounted HR monitor for other devices like the Garmin Vivoactive?

  145. LeRoy

    I recently purchased a Fitbit Charge HR and my data usage has skyrocketed; how am I able to reduce the data usage?

  146. Benjamin

    I do not need the heartrate monitor for my activity tracker { after using a Garmin with the chest strap for running in the past I think the decrease in accuracy of a wrist model might seem offensive :) }.

    So without the need for an HR, is the Fitbit Charge the best Wrist Activity Tracker on the market for under $130?

    Great review and thanks!!!

  147. Dina

    Can anyone tell me how to get the Fit Bit HR to show me my heart rate on the app, for my daily sync? It only shows me or records my “resting” heart rate. During my workouts it shows me my heart rate, when I push the button but when I sync it at night I only get my resting…. Getting frustrated..

  148. Maurice Pascal

    Do you think that the Fitbit Charge HR would provide a good estimate for calorie expenditure during a stop-and-go sport like Volleyball? Is the estimate based purely off of steps or does it take HR into account? I play volleyball for several hours on weekends, and I’d like to know how it compares to weekdays, when I have little cardio with a couple days of weightlifting.

    How would compare to Mio Fuse in calorie tracking? Any other devices I should look into for my purpose of getting a decent estimate of calorie burn every day?

  149. Giovanna

    I wore my fitbit charge HR to the gym today and it didn’t calculate my steps or floors properly. I was on the stairclimber and I don’t understand why? Is this common? Is it because I was on a machine?

    • Reva Riley

      I know the trackers will only register that you have walked up a flight of stairs if you go over a 10 feet elevation because that is the standard height of stairs.

    • André Lemos

      There’s actually an “altimeter” on the device (probably a barometer, I guess), so you need to really go up in height. Just pretending to be going up a flight of stairs won’t cut it.

      Now, as for the steps, it is a bit weird. Maybe you were holding the machine while doing the steps? Your arms need to swing…

  150. Michelle

    Thanks, great article. It told me everything I needed to know. I’ll keep my Polar M400 with a heart rate monitor strap for now!

  151. robyn

    I have a fitbit hr and I do hair ! I think the steps are Web being counted by the use of my wrists! What can I do?

  152. Cathy

    I received my fB for Christmas. I have worn it 24/7. Today it no longer works. What is the life expectancy?

  153. Saul

    Hi DC,

    Sorry to bother you again, but this seems to be still not working for me…
    Could you please change my sub. to this thread from: “replies only” to “all comments”?
    I think I’ll remain completely unsub’d from your FitBit Surge surge comments thread.

    Thank-you!

    • Sorry! As of 9 minutes ago the developer support folks were testing a fix…

    • Saul

      Thank god so it really is a confirmed issue* & not “something on my end” (as you initially felt), thought maybe I as going nuts! Thanks for the heads up, & thanks for modifying my sub. to “all replies”.

      BR.
      *I hope it’s fixed soon -taken way too long TBH

    • It should be fixed now. You’ll need to use the new link within the e-mail to manage/unsubscribe (so e-mails in links 3+ hours ago won’t work).

      Thanks!

    • Saul

      Just tried this email (from your post), clicked the “unsub.” link in the email & then a page comes up with my email addresses in it, I hit the “send” button & it takes me to the management page. This all seems disturbingly familiar, bizarrely it still says that I’m set-up to receive “replies only”.
      I give up, you changed something before & I’m now receiving all replies, so that’s all I care about, maybe one day they’ll get it right.

      Thanks again.

  154. Jake

    Hey,

    So I’m debating getting the Charge HR but I was hoping to find out before I do, if it will still track my steps/calories burned if I don’t have my phone on me or near me for probably close to an hour or two? Any chance you’ve tried this already or know the answer to this question?

  155. JukeboxJezabel

    These things are falling apart. There are several threads in regard to this in the Fitbit forums. The thread I posted in is link to community.fitbit.com and you can see pictures of mine under jukebox jezabel on 05-23-2015 06:08 – edited 05-23-2015 11:21. If I was a first time purchaser today I would not buy a Charge seeing the extent of this. Fitbit did quite quickly replace this as Fitbit stated because it was under warranty but what if the same happens with the replacement and it is outside the warranty. This would limit the usable life to the life of the warranty.

    • I don’t know, I don’t really see anyone unhappy in that thread. Given the hundreds of thousands of units they’ve shipped thus far (probably closer to a million), and given that thread has perhaps a dozen people – those are pretty good odds. Also, Fitbit has happily taken care of everyone no questions asked.

      No different than any other company out there taking care of one-off items.

  156. Cornbread

    Is Fitbit going to update their Charge Hr iOS to incorporate text messages?

  157. Rick Connors

    Thanks for the review. By the way, you said “jive” where you meant to say “jibe”.

  158. Eileen

    The help info says not to wear with the back of the display on the inside of the wrist. Why? Wouldn’t that be a better way to wear it?…. more form fitting to wrist configuration, less sensor light escaping, closer to blood flow..

  159. Jon Briafield

    Ditching my Fitbit Charge HR this morning. I’ve been persevering with it for almost 6 months but I’m fed up with its misleading data. Heart rate consistently low when exercising and calories burnt consistently high on a day to day basis. All makes it a bit pointless – if you can’t trust the data…?

    Love the concept of 24/7 heart rate measurement and will revisit when someone can make it work, but at the moment I feel it’s all marketing hype (and I’m in marketing) that doesn’t work.

    Will stick with my Ambit 2 for the time being or maybe try to pick up a used Garmin 920XT for the BT4.0 connectivity (now much cheaper than the Fenix 3) until the Ambit 4 or Fenix 4 integrates HR monitoring accurately. Or should I get Apple Watch and accept the lack of GPS – but I prefer not to run with a phone.

    I’ve also got/tried the Scosche Rhythm+ but was never 100% convinced with the data that produced either to be honest.

  160. Jim

    I had my fitbit charge for 2 weeks and the button fell out. For as much as they cost I would think that they would last better than that. By what I have been reading, it seems they are not worth the money. I do like what they are trying to do. The battery does not last very long either.

    • Today is officially button falling off today.

      This morning: A person noted the button on their brand new Garmin Fenix3 fell off.
      By lunch: Someone said the same for their Polar M400
      By dinner: Your Fitbit button fell off.

      (And this weekend, a button on my Suunto Ambit3 got all stuck for a while).

      Lemons happen. Just ring up customer service and they’ll swap it out. Searching for a problem on the internet will only show you people with the problem – not the other 99% who haven’t had a button fall off.

  161. Lisa

    My button has not fallen off. I have not gotten a rash, though sometimes being pressed in my arm for so long makes me itch. Battery lasts 3 days, but shoot does your cell phone last more than a day when using it?! We can’t expect it to be perfect and if it were what everyone wanted (impossible) it would cost a fortune. It’s $150 for most ppl… you want $600 or $1500?

    It may not be perfect but I think its pretty darn good! Go fitbit!

  162. Pierre

    Great review.

    I’m still wondering if
    – 1 the HR data and especially resting HR at wake up could be identified
    – 2 exporting and loading data into Sporttracks is possible

  163. Maureen

    Holy smokes, amazing analysis! EXACTLY the kind of article I was looking for. I’ll be back to view your other product reviews, no doubt about it. Awesome awesome.

  164. Lisa Zadonsky

    I’m having a problem with run accuracy. Got a Fitbit Surge HR a few weeks ago, and have done a few runs with the Fitbit on one arm and my trusty Garmin 210 on the other. The Fitbit is sadly and surprisingly inconsistent with distance, although I calibrated it so it could understand my running stride. Getting 8.08, 9.15, 10.18, and worst of all 7.32 for runs that were almost exactly 10K. It also seems the faster I go, the worse it does with distance. Have you seen/heard anything like this?

  165. JukeboxJezabel

    I wrote a while ago on the bands peeling off. This is not such a rarity and I am on my third replacement. Fitbit wrote that “Regarding with the issue, it usually occurs when the environment is exposed to heat or humidity.” This will not explain that this problem started in winter or have they given an ideal weather range. This is happening what ever the weather conditions are. The bands last approximately 3 months. Fitbit will keep on replacing them during the warranty period. I have an expectation that a product will be usable beyond the warranty period. This is not bad luck on my part that I keep on getting defective bands.
    Fitbit has lost me as a customer.

  166. Denise

    WOW – Thank you SO much! How wonderful that you are a photographer too! This is an amazing review and I will check out other ones you have done. I just purchased the Surge but now realize that it doesnt have an app for my phone (Droid Turbo) and Ii dont use my laptop often :-( So I may not be able to use Fitbit. Also the Surge is super large for my frame to use this as an all day wear item. I feel like Im ready for the track! That is why I was checking out the HR.

    Thanks again for the great review! You really did a fantastic job!

    Denise

  167. glenn

    This article mentions, in the table under ‘Software’ that there is a PC Applications (as well as Web application and Device application) . . . . Is there really a PC Application (so that you don’t have to be connected to the internet) to sync and view charts?

  168. Liza

    Thanks for your revue. I just purchased 2 units from clever training using your code as my thanks.

  169. Ric

    I have the Charge HR. I ride a motorcycle on a daily basis and for whatever reason (vibrations maybe?), riding a motorcycle adds thousands of steps and up to 100 extra steps or more when I ride back and forth from work. To my martial arts training, and so on. Depending on what i’m doing, I see an excess of 2 to 3k steps and 100 to 150 in stairs. This throws everything out of wack in my daily training and planning.

    Have you heard of any fixes to this issue? I did in contact fitbit and at first the representative denied it was a problem, but after talking to a few different reps, they stated they knew it was a problem, but never said they were looking at a fix for it, even though I gave them a few suggestions. They seem to be doing nothing about it all. I later learned they’ve also been aware of the problem for close to a year which bothers me.

    If you don’t know of a fix, what would be a good recommendation for a monitor that also has the heart monitor based in the wrist. Thanks… your review was very thorough.

    • No brand is immune to random extra steps showing up for certain people in certain situations. For driving, 100 steps isn’t unheard of – and quite honestly would account for a mere 1% on your daily total. Thus, I wouldn’t really worry about it.

      For 2-3K doing martial arts, it’s kinda tough there. The way these products are designed is to track that type of movement. It’s extremely difficult to differentiate between martial arts vs other movement, and thus I think pretty much any activity tracker out there is going to do the same.

    • Ric

      The 2 to 3k extra steps is actually from riding the motorcycle along with an extra 100 to 150 stairs. I can deal with 100 or so extra. Unfortunately motorcycle is my primary transportation and fitbit is aware of the problem but doesn’t seem to be addressing it. Even taking the hr off and putting it in a backpack doesn’t atop the high count so was hoping with your knowledge that something better might be out there.

    • Ahh, yeah, that’s definitely a wee bit high then for driving, even compared to most other driving steps issues.

      Some folks have had luck trying to turn it upside-down while driving (just rotate on wrist), or putting it on the other wrist while driving. May be worthwhile to see if it helps.

  170. André Lemos

    His FAQ states the following:

    “Can I link to your site?

    Absolutely! Feel free to link to it all over creation! Links are good, copying content is bad. Make sense?”

    link to dcrainmaker.com

    • (Just in case your curious where her comment went – I zapped it. It was spam. Looking at her site it was basically no more than two randomly wordy paragraphs about nothing, her comment here was to increase her searching rankings)

      Obviously, I’m all for linking to cool things, and having commentators here link to their respective sites. But..I’m really good at sniffing out spam too. ;)

    • Saul

      Picked it as that right away, smelt like one of those temples you see everywhere.
      Damn spawn of Satan, all spammers must die & burn in hell.

    • Saul

      temples = templates

  171. dan

    as usual, you provide simply the best reviews. One thing that I was hoping you would show is a graph of the resting hear rate of the fitbit vs heart rate strap. this would have been useful. thanks.

  172. Golfer29

    I have had a problem with the wrist clasp on the Fitbit Charge in the 2 months since purchasing it. It has come loose and fallen off numerous times on the golf course, at home and in businesses I’ve read all the notes on how to size and put the Charge on correctly. The Fitbit company has not been very helpful in resolving this issue or allowing me to upgrade to the Charge HR and pay the $25 difference in price.

    The Charge wrist clasp is a design flaw and reviews seem to skip over the problem. Since Fitbit doesn’t have a satisfactory plan for addressing the problem. Reviewers should let us know.

    • I discussed the clasp in the review (which I thought was greatly improved), and by my count there are now a total of a mere three people unhappy with the clasp (out of 406 comments). Typically speaking, when people are unhappy, they post here (rather than happy people ever posting). Thus, I don’t really think it’s a widespread problem. Reviewers tend to discuss the experience of the devices as they used it – not as every last human on earth uses it.

  173. Jana

    I appreciate your review it was very thorough and helpful.

  174. Rina

    Had Fitbit Flex for a year and a half, was happy with it.
    Decided to upgrade for Fitbit Charge HR, bought it in April 2015. And what happened?
    I was very pleased with device until August when I started to experience strong pain in my wrist inside the tissue which felt as arthritis-like pain.
    It went inside to the big thumb and up to the elbow and the shoulder.
    Pain was going away after I was taking Charge HR of from my non-dominant hand.
    I made sure that the bracelet was not tight but the pain was coming back while wearing Charge HR. It got extremely intense around the base of my thumb.

    I made research in internet to find out if anybody else has the same sensations.
    And I found that I am not the only one having it.
    On that link people in comments describing the same symptoms I have :

    link to wareable.com

    As well as in that discussion:
    link to community.myfitnesspal.com

    link to dailymail.co.uk

    link to thehealthyhomeeconomist.com
    —-

    KJ July 25, 2015 at 8:07 am
    This is intersecting. I am the biggest Fitbit fan.. So I bought the HR. I’m noticing wrist pain that I have never had before… And it def scares me. Why on earth would this device cause this pain. When I take it off the pain goes away. I dont want to stop wearing it but I’m scared it could be harming my body.

    Lynnmsn says:
    yes terribly bad. I could barley close
    My wrist. I thought I had carpel tunnel. The pain radiated and my whole arm would itch up to my shoulder. My hands began to swell and turn red as well. I got sick a lot. Took my fitbit off and everything went back to normal. It was really painful in my hand sharp pains in the wrist and hand.
    link to wareable.com

    Raine says:
    I am so relieved to read that other users have experienced the issue of pain. I seriously thought I was going crazy. My pain started in my hand and then several days later continued in my wrist. Several days later, I’m now debilitated by pain in my knee. It’s all on my left hand side – the side I wear the Fitbit Charge HR. I had been eagerly awaiting the release of the new Fitbit and I am now very disappointed that once again I have to give it up and find an alternative :(

    o Natural1 says:
    Same here…intense pain in my wrist regardless of how loose or tight I wear it. I came on specifically looking to see if anyone had the same issue. Been wearing it for a week, and I love it, but the fact that I have a pain radiating through my wrist is concerning. And as an oncology nurse, it’s really concerning! My first thought was radiation causing the pain..and I’d be surprised to hear that it’s not related to that! Its definitely not from it being on too tight! For $150 I expected more…I will be returning mine as well :(
    Reply
    • 13-Apr-2015 6:21 am
    maggie05 says:
    Yes I experienced pain like busing in my arm just after wearing it for two days, had to take it off. I even loosened it and went back and got swaped it for the large size, same thing happened, now it feels like I have a bruised arm. Took it back and got my money back. Whats that telling us, obviously its not good if its causing pain.

    • Saul

      No probs here, same for the overwhelming majority, people (honestly) having probs in that respect are miniscule compared to those who aren’t. When people are having a prob. free experience, you don’t hear from them, they’re the silent majority.

    • Lisa

      Hi- I was a huge fan of fitbit. Liked the look plus app. Got charge hr purple and have never had a contact allergy. I’ve had it for 3 months now and consistently get a burn rash on my wrist!!! I can basically wear it for workouts 1x a day then need to take it off or I will get avrash which takes a week to go away. This defeats the purpose of all day activity track. Also, the sleep stuff is cool but you don’t use it much if your sleep is basically the same. It gets boring. The floors tracking is abismal. All in all, I am contacting fitbit to get a refund and send it back. This is ridiculous.

      Ray- what do you recommend in place? I don’t care about continuous just accuracy. Relative same price range. Mio? Garmin? Thanks

  175. tyson

    Great review. Thanks.

    Do you think the “calories burned” is accurate? It claims i have burned 3360 calories and there is still 4 hours left in the 24 hour cycle. I have entered the correct height and weight (100kg, 6 foot, 10%body fat) but that number seems ridiculous. I stand all day but my job is hardly active. Do you know if it calculates this based on weight, height and heart rate? Or do you think the inaccuracy of the pedometer/ “steps walked” data affects this algorithm. I cant seem to find this info anywhere. Currently injured. Need to return this product if its not going to give me a reasonably accurate calories count so i can eat accordingly.

  176. tyson

    Great review. Thanks.

    Do you think the “calories burned” is accurate? It claims i have burned 3360 calories and there is still 4 hours left in the 24 hour cycle. I have entered the correct height and weight (100kg, 6 foot, 10%body fat) but that number seems ridiculous. I stand all day but my job is hardly active. Do you know if it calculates this based on weight, height and heart rate? Or do you think the inaccuracy of the pedometer/ “steps walked” data affects this algorithm. I cant seem to find this info anywhere. Currently injured. Need to return this product if its not going to give me a reasonably accurate calories count so i can eat accordingly.

    • Hope Ray can answer (or, perhaps even better, someone who’s done extensive research on this with robust data) but, my 2¢ as someone who’s done the Quantified Self thing for calories,
      Obviously, YMMV. None of these devices can give accurate data for everyone. Way too many factors involved. Some people claim, for instance, that their steps are over- or under-measured, possibly because of their movement patterns but also based on how they wear the devices, published research on the topic gives pretty reliable results in very controlled situations, even for something as simple as a smartphone app using the phone’s accelerometer. Same can be said about HR or floor counts. If you rely on each data point, you better have lab equipment, not a consumer device.
      But these devices are pretty useful to identify trends. Did you walk more than you had thought? Good to know! Has your HR been higher than you realized? Useful data! Are there times during the day when you clearly are very inactive. Call for action.
      In my experience, the Charge HR provides very useful data. I have no way to really check the accuracy, but haven’t had any reason to doubt it, really, as it goes in line with other devices I’ve been using.
      Speaking of which, I spent about a year going all in on measuring all my intake and output, calorie-wise. Surprisingly, the values matched very precisely with my weightloss, albeit with a short delay. In other words, if I spent 3500 calories more than I ate, my weight really did go down by a pound, it was really striking.
      That was before I got this particular Fitbit but the data I’m getting would probably not go in the wrong direction.
      Speaking of data points: 3400 calories isn’t that absurd given the weight to carry, especially since muscle mass burns a lot of energy. That’s pretty much what I was burning when I weighed 100kg.

  177. Okay Ray…reading through many of these reviews and comments I am still struggling with what you would recommend for the Ironman athlete wishing to track their HR during the hours of nonexercise. Additionally I would like to wear something that has a reminder to move (when I am sitting at my work desk) and tracks my non-Ironman training steps. Most important for me is trends. I don’t care if the data is spot on accurate as long as the inaccuracy is consistently dependable and the trends are accurate. I want to be able to tell after a race how my resting HR is to long term look at recovery time, etc.

    I currently have a Fenix 3 and it is great for all training moments however on my tiny wrist it is annoying for daily wear (which really stinks…that we can’t make a watch face to work for female endurance athletes with small bones!).

    Your thoughts on daily 24 hr HR monitoring for geeky ironman athletes would be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers,
    Angela

    • Jon Briafield

      Hi Angela, The Fitbit Charge HR is probably the best option currently for 24/7 HR, although I think Epson also do one.

      I’ve just recently upgraded myself from the Ambit 2 to a Fenix 3 and I am loving the change. I was using the Fitbit Charge HR but have stopped wearing in favour of the Fenix for activity tracking. Only intend to use the Charge HR from time to time for the odd day to check my resting heart rate, but can’t see any real use for it other than that.

      Very sceptical about calory burn by activity monitors and found the HR was seriously overestimating daily burn. Reasonably accurate for light activity – good for when I was out walking the dogs for example compared to a chest strap, but wildly inaccurate when exercising hard or general day to day activity involving any kind of hand movements.

      What I’d like to see is an external sensor for the Fenix 3 which could track heart rate 24/7 and feed into Garmin Connect. I have a Scosche Rhythm+ which again doesn’t give me good accuracy for excercise but would work if the battery could match the Charge HR and could feed into Garmin when not undertaking an activity (24/7). I like the form factor of the Mio Link which would be another alternative but no 24/7.

      For me the only potential advantage of optical HR over chest straps is the capability for 24/7 use, but only if they monitor 24/7, otherwise I’m happy to wear a chest strap whilst I exercise for improved accuracy. But when they get their algorithms for optical HR right, and I don’t doubt they will eventually, then that’ll be the ideal. Maybe by the Fenix 5 or 6?

      Good luck, Jon

    • Tyson Ritchie

      Very good comment. Thank you. Yes I also find the calories burned is way excessive and the pedometer is useless if your at a job requiring mass hand movement. Apparently I average 150 steps in my sleep and it’s attached to my less active wrist. (Yes I see the joke opportunity there.)

    • Tyson,

      I needed a good laugh ;)

      Cheers,
      a

    • Jon,

      I went through the 920 and Epix to get to the Fenix 3. I really wish that Garmin would get their technology a tad bit more bugfree before they send it out to everyone. Anyway, I digress.

      The Fenix 3 suits my triathlon needs. It is fine. However it is HUGE on my wrist and I do not like wearing it all of the time (5′ 5″, 129 lbs). So it isn’t of much use as an activity tracker for me (it is currently turned off in my car waiting on my next bike ride). Now, if I were a guy and didn’t mind a hunker of a watch weighing me down then I would wear it all of the time. The 920 is much smaller/lighter however I strongly dislike the color options (sounds trivial but gosh for a $450 watch you would think Garmin could plan for a few females).

      As for calorie burn I really could care less. I don’t monitor that at all. I know when my clothes are tight that it is often due to my frequent stops at Dairy Queen or my over indulgence in oreos. So I cut those out and am back to my happy self.

      The HR strap is fine for running, biking, and maybe swimming if I purchase the latest one. However I am not going to wear it 24/7 (pretty sure my husband wouldn’t find it sexy and we all know the dang thing chafes). What I am interested in trends for 24/7 to monitor my recovery after races.

      So to this point if Garmin came up with a wearable 24/7 one that was compatible for a device (or even a new model because I am a geek and will likely buy the new gadget to test out anyway) then I would be thrilled. I very much want to transfer the data to Garmin Connect and TrainingPeaks so I can monitor changes over time (again I really only care about trends and not absolute finite number accuracy).

      For activity tracking I am fine with it being inconsistent as long as it is consistently inconsistent and therefore accurate for trend analysis. Just the alert to “move” while I am at my desk is helpful. (Granted the alert to “move” after I am resting from a marathon or an ironman is less than helpful and has caused me to say a few choice words to my watch.).

      So….is the data from the 24/7 hr portion on it trending well enough for an ironman athlete to use it to judge recovery or is there a better alternative? Also, is this info 100% not loadable to things like Training Peaks?

      Cheers,
      Angela

    • And for full disclosure…I work at a hospital that is doing a move incentive and so I can get one of the Fitbit devices at a STEEP discount. I am not sure I even want to spend the money but it seems some of my coworkers are working to get me on their team as a ringer for some contests ;). So I am trying to justify if the $$ spent will be worth it to me. ;))

    • Jon Briafield

      Hi Angela, I think the Charge HR will meet your needs. From my own personal perspective I can state that amount and quality of sleep and alcohol consumption have had a greater effect on heart rate trends than exercise. Improving fitness obviously has a positive effect over the longer term.

      Just my experience – I rarely drink but have noticed that a few glasses of wine over the course of a weekend raises my resting heart rate slightly for two or three days. Similarly a couple of late nights (without the alcohol) can have a similiar effect.

      Happy trails :-)

    • Thanks Jon. I absolutely agree about the sleep and the alcohol comments (but gosh, I am not giving up wine for a few beats of my heart :)). However, I can say that extreme exercise, such as that done during an Ironman race, might be different. Considering I do several a year I would like to look over time for trends. I also might want to look at it for some of my athletes to get a better “whole body” look.

      And to your comments to sleep you are spot on. Given I sadly only get about 6 hours of sleep each night I would be willing to track that without whopping my husband with a brick on my wrist if I roll over (what I suspect the Fenix 3 would feel like).

      Thanks for your thoughts. They are appreciated. Cheers to a few points of HR for a few glasses of wine!

      Cheers,
      a

  178. Elreen

    Thanks for the very informative review! I want to get myself a Fitbit Charge HR, but the only thing I am wondering about, is which size would work best – small or large? My wrist is 6.5″ / 17cm… What would fit best? Thanks!

  179. Jackie

    Hi, I have only had my Fitbit Charge HR a week and I love it but one thing has changed. On the water level, when logging the amount I drink I used to click on the water icon, this used to give me a ‘man’ symbol and different options of the amount I had drunk, once I had chosen the amount and logged it I used to see the level creep up the ‘man’, All of a sudden it has changed to a graph and how I log my water intake. Do you know if there has been an update or if I can change it back please?

    My colleagues have the ‘man’ still.
    Thanks

  180. I’ve had the HR for about a month. I’m a heart transplant candidate and have to calibrate any exercise fairly carefully to my heart rate. So I need continuous HR, especially at exertion. The FB HR is continuous…but, still, I do have to tap it to get a readout. That’s easier than any unit I’ve tried so far, but still lacking.

    I know continuous readout display is a battery killer. The problem with the chest strap is that
    1. it’s finicky about placement and moisture. I have a giant heart surgery scar across my sternum, so getting it set right and to stay right is nearly impossible
    2. It’s a pain in the ass to put on
    3. it’s a pain in the ass to change batteries. Why can’t we have a strap that charges?
    4. I need a smartphone to receive the data and then report it to me. Aiyeeee. crazy.

    I know optical sensors aren’t there. I just want to alert you to the distinction between “Continuous HR monitor” and “Continuous HR display.” For us heart patients, the latter is where we need to get.

    Thanks not only for a detailed report, but for answering comment questions. Excellent.

    • Dan Robach

      Michael, it sounds like either the Garmin FR225 or alternatively the Scosche Rhythm+ in combination with an M400 would be a good fit for your needs. Both options let you see you HR rather precisely in realtime and constantly without the need of a chest strap.

  181. Owen Wormser

    My Charge HR Manual says there is an AC adapter charger to use with the USB charge cable. No where to be found. I am in electronics. I have other AC adapters from as low as 1.5v to 5v and several in between. What is the correct charging voltage for my brand new Charge HR? I got no help from Fitbit after several days wait.

    • You can use any USB port on the planet. USB is designed so it will ‘pull’ the required power, so you don’t have to worry about giving it a port with too much power.

      Some devices (i.e. an iPad) might pull more than a given port can provide (i.e. 2A), but the Fitbit usually pulls less than .5A.

  182. Margaret

    Great review. I appreciate knowing about the waterproofing- or lack thereof – or more precisely, pretty decent water resistance based on your shower footage. I’ve been avoiding even minimal splash so feel I can relax with that a bit.
    Question : my co-worker and I both bought a Fitbit HR within days of each other, she, a burgundy one online and me, a black, large from Best Buy in store. She gets little messages on hers (‘Good morning’, or ‘Step geek’ she said after charging …etc) and I’ve never noticed these. Is this a model difference ( thought the only difference we had was colour) or is there a setting adjustment for this? Or am I just not observant of these brief messages? ( I know you can’t answer that one!)
    Curious.
    Thanks,
    Margaret

    • Martin

      Just to provide a counter comment, my first Charge HR did NOT like water at all. I left mine on while showering and it locked up, needing to be plugged in to get it working again.

      Re: the messages, does you friend have (or had) a previous Fitbit model? I noticed mine does the same thing, but I also have a Fitbit One, which has the option to enable these messages. I don’t have the option for my Charge but maybe it’s a side effect of running both on the same account.

    • Margaret

      Hi Martin,
      Thanks for your reply.
      We are both new Fitbit owners/users, no previous models. Any other ideas?

      Thanks,
      Margaret

  183. Steven Johnson

    Nice review. Now I would like to share some long term durability issues with the charge. There is a design flaw in the band. My Charge has fallen apart twice in the last 10 months. My son’s has fallen apart once. They were gracious and replaced them in about 10 days but if you look on Fitbit’s blog you will find this is extremely common. They will replace them until the warranty runs out on the first one purchased. It appears that we are the beta testers for the reworked band that was created in response to the allergy issue. I expect that we will see a new band next year to replace the current one and we will again be expected to beta test this one at our expense. I am on my third Charge in less than a year. When this one breaks it will be out of warranty. I will not buy another Fitbit product. There are plenty of alternatives that are not having their quality/durability issues. I was impressed. No longer.

  184. Christina

    I had the Fitbit Charge HR since April (birthday present), it recently fell off of me while out and didnt realize it until it was too late. After doing some research, it seems as though this is a known issue. I called customer service and they told me that it can’t be warrantied because it is lost (even though it was defective and that’s why it fell off) They should be replacing it but they wouldn’t budge. They offered me 25% off a new one however, I think it’s ridiculous that I now have to go spend money to replace something that is not my fault that it’s lost. It not like I just misplaced it or left it somewhere, it’s the manufacturers fault. So frustrated. Customer Service was rude, the woman I spoke to said that she was doing me a favor by giving me a discount since warranty doesn’t cover lost trackers. Shame on you Fitbit for not taking care of something that’s your fault!

    • JukeboxJezabel

      My warranty runs out in the end of November. Within the warranty period I am on my 5th replacement. If there was any reason for a recall this is it. All Fitbit has been doing is replacing with the same defective product. Most people I know that have had them have just tossed them after the first band break. Personally I will never buy another one of their products. My Fitbit force also had band problems. The unit was also comming out of the silicon band.

  185. Amanda Opsal

    I got the fitbit HR and when I put it on, I can feel an electrical pulse the entire time I wear it. I initially put in on my left hand. When it made me have muscle spasms in my left arm, I switched it to the other side. So far no spasms, but I can still feel a constant electrical pulse. Is this safe for continued use?

  186. Nathan

    Just want to say thanks for the great in-depth reviews.

  187. Silvana

    Hi! I am a Charge HR new user and I was wandering if the watch can be set to vibrare when high HR is rached. I am in bad shape and doctor’s advise is to train in short periods until I reach 160 bpm then
    pause to recover before continuing training. Thanks!

  188. Ann Marie

    I found your review to be quite informative! Thank you! Mine is more of a comment than a question. I just purchased a fitbit charge for my youngest daughter -turned 10- went to set up an account for her, input the info…email, age weight,etc only to find out that her account was denied. Apparently there is a federal law that prohibits fitbit from letting a minor create an account. After a 30 minute phone call to customer service, no real resolution except to create yet another email account for my daughter and put false information in regards to her age. Not a huge problem but I have 3 kids, all of whom I expect will have some firm of the fitbit by Christmas…so can’t put all under my email account… Just thought a little crazy that there was no real satisfactory fix after my customer service call. Not sure if you have children but they make these products that are appealing to kids and then, with no disclaimers to make the parents aware or nothing (that I saw) in the box, directions, etc, throw up a roadblock. It’s almost as if they are alienating a whole demographic…. Thought you might like to know. And thank you again for your information on the fitbit(s)!

    • And to think that there could be school programmes to keep children active…
      We sure live in an interesting world.

      There’s a lot to be said about protecting minors’ data. While they’re not doing anything nefarious with our data, fitbit is still collecting information which can be used in diverse ways, especially in connection with other pieces of data. But instead of making a program for schoolchildren, say, they’re “throwing the towel” and asking you to do something which is actually a breach of their own policy.

      Not sure how different guidelines for children are from adult ones, but there are very different patterns of activities when you’re growing up. Will be interesting to track this kind of thing, including heart rate data.

      You’re clearly a responsible parent, doing the right thing for her children. It’s just sad that you have to jump through hoops to do so and aren’t getting the kind of support you might find useful.

      Ah, well…

    • Roadstr

      You have to agree with a legal agreement, that says things like you cannot open suites agaist Fitbit. It’s probably because it’s not legal for minors to enter into such agreements because binding is based on understanding. Just a guess.

  189. Tom

    awesome reviews! thanks for the time and effort to make these truly useful.

    I am trying to find a HRM that allows me to set a workout range (max and min heart rate) and gives an alarm of some kind when the limits are hit. Kind of a heart rate based intervals. Can the fitbit or anything do that?

  190. Tom

    aha! keep looking seems to be the answer – I just read the Garmin 225 manual and it does do what I want … now, wait for 235 or spring for the 225 today ????????????

  191. Marcey Poeckes

    I really appreciate your review! My question is, and maybe (probably) I missed it, but if HR isn’t all that important to you, would it be best to still get the ChargeHR because the band seems more secure?

    Thanks,

    Marcey

  192. Johnny Row

    link to gadgets.ndtv.com
    Haven’t seen these updates yet but they sound good. Auto-detects exercise without putting into exercise mode, plus improvements to HRM for high-intensity workouts.

  193. Barrie Street

    I have enjoyed an athletic career all my life but I have NEVER experienced such a thorough investigative report. Every minuscule detail has been covered in depth. It is amazing the time and professionalism you have put into your report – it is staggering.

    Thank you so very much for your insightfulness, time and patience.

    Barrie Street
    Canada

  194. Tom H

    Given that “Light Pollution” is the downfall of the Charge HR heart rate accuracy, will a wrist band over the unit solve the problem?

    • It might help, but I don’t think that light is the singular problem of the Charge HR. I think it’s also just the sensor and algorithms around it.

    • Martin

      What helped for me is to have the wristband below my fitbit, so it stops it falling down my wrist. I don’t use it often for intense exercise as I have a Polar M400 for that, but did try it last week after the new firmware update. I was impressed to see it not lose a reading once, which was a big improvement on the last time I tested it.

      Off-topic, but now that the Microsoft Band is reduced I picked one up to test out. That just works, no issues with capturing heart rate with it worn normally.

  195. Courtney

    I am interested in the FitBit Surge (I think), but I have a question about the music. If I purchase wireless headphones to use with the Surge. What is the max distance that it will reach my phone? I’m wondering if I could leave my phone at home.

    Thank you for your time! I loved your reviews on the different FitBits.

    • The Surge doesn’t store any music, it just controls the music on your iPhone. So in this case, the maximum distance is perhaps 3-6ft, maybe slightly more depending on the Bluetooth Signal. But definitely not leave the room capable, nor house or neighborhood.

    • SS76

      Ray, the most recent update of the Charge HR & Surge supposedly increases the accuracy of the optical HR during high intensity training.

      Have you had a chance to test this? I think your review should be updated to account for any improvements, as I know this is a major reason why I don’t have a fitbit as I’d like to see what my heart is doing during soccer training sessions and games.

    • No, I haven’t re-tested it with the update. I might tackle it after the new year – but as I’m travelling now for the holidays I didn’t bring either unit with me to re-test.

      Fwiw, I haven’t actually seen any reader comments that says they saw improved accuracy (usually someone would have chimed in by now).

    • SS76

      Well the strange thing is, I haven’t much of anything on the web with respect to the update, both good or bad. Usually someone has tested it to see if its improved..

    • Freek

      Ive done two runs with mine, a long run and a Fartlek. The Charge HR had pretty good but not perfect heart rate in both, as compared to my F225. In one run it missed one of the 10 or so sprints, and in the long run it had one high spike. I think that’s pretty decent.

      Freek

  196. Cfc

    Never again will I purchase a Fitbit product.
    Iis impossible to purchase accessories in Canada, particularly Fitbit chargers. They are unavailable! Very costly through the Fitbit store as there is a $10 shipping charge and the cost is in US dollars. Also it is mandatory to purchase a clasp as they come undone at the slightest movement. Hardly worth owning if it can’t be charged!

  197. Susan

    I was concerned that the FitBit Charge HR would be too big for my wrist which measures 5.75 inches. I’ve read numerous comments from women with small wrists who say the hard part is just too wide for the wrist resulting in a large gap. Verizon is offering, at least in my town, $20.00 off until the end of the year. I was able to try one on and it fits just fine. There is a tiny gap but even when one wears a watch there is a gap. I would not want to wear anything on my wrist that made me feel bound. The flat part of my wrist measures just under 2″ and the hard part of the Charge extends just a tiny bit beyond that, no “gap” to the band. It’s charging right now but I plan on coming back with an evaluation in a few days.

  198. Debbie

    I own a FITBIT CHARGE HR.. your article was very informational by the way.. but I have one question.. If there a way to change out the band on the HR to the Charge band ? seems how there basically identical.. I hate the buckle clasp on the HR

    Thank you for your time

    Debbie

  199. Andrea Gibson

    I got my Fitbit Charge HR in July 2015 for my birthday. It is purple with a red secure clasp, which has become loose and falls off, making charging difficult. Who should I contact to get this replaced. I use mine everyday except when I shower. I should not have to be calling every vendor to get this fixed.
    I called fitbit but could hardly understand what the young lady was saying because the connection was horrible, and she did not sound like I was going to be able to get it fixed, something about 15 days warranty. Are we serious $150.00 plus shipping and tax and a 15 day warranty?

  200. Mindy

    Great article! I
    I am looking into purchasing a Fitbit but am unsure if I should go for the Charge or spend the extra cash for the Charge HR. I don’t really need the heart rate function but I read that the Charge HR has Automatic exercise recognition and can identify which activities you are performing (what activities these are fully I am unclear on). I am wondering if the Charge HR would be a more accurate option to account for elliptical, strength training and biking since those are the activities I do most. I read online a lot of people say they have issues since it does not count the elliptical as a “step” with the Charge.

    • Johnny Row

      The activities it supposedly recognizes are walk, run, outdoor bike, elliptical, sport, aerobic workout, or at least puts it into one of those categories. I cannot speak to how well it recognizes these. I usually start and end a workout via the button push; then it just classifies it as ‘workout’ which I could subsequently change but I don’t care, as long as I get credit for it. I did try the auto-recognition once, not using the button to stat or end, and it correctly recognized it as ‘walk’.

    • Mindy

      Thanks for the quick response!

      So compared to the regular charge, the charge HR is supposed to monitor those activities more accurately compared to the charge? I’m just debating if its worth spending the extra money to track for elliptical and biking. Would the charge account for those activities or would they need to be entered manually?

      Thanks once again.

    • Johnny Row

      For myself, I really don’t know much about how how Charge without HR works. Maybe others can help you. I’m mainly interested in heart rate to judge intensity and calories. The Charge HR does a decent job with heart rate during mild normal daily activities but is erratic in exercise activities raising the heart rate much.

  201. Kit the Cat

    Hey guys! I’m looking to purchase my first activity tracker ( late to the game i know!) and am most interested in the FitBit Charge. The only thing in question is the quality of the materials. I’ve read many reviews that within a few short months there is water built up in the screen and the rubber peels away from the electronic piece. Is this an issue that you guys have had?

    Thanks!
    Catherine

    • Michelle

      I purchased my Fitbit HR on January 4th 2016 and as of today February 16th 2016 the plastic that wraps around the sides covers the back is falling off. I’m very disappointed! After looking over the warranty information it seems like a lot of messing around to get it replaced and they don’t offer a timeline for repairs.

    • Iuliana

      Same problem here, but I have send an email to fitbit. The reply was in 2-3 hours. They asked for pictures with the problem. I’ve send the pictures and in 5 days they send me a replacement. Very fast and efficient.

  202. Richie

    I ran 18 miles last Sunday but it only recorded 10. I had a similar problem with other run. Is there an issue with distance accuracy?

  203. Limda

    I was wondering if anyone else has problems with the charging end staying in the hr charger when trying to charge . The USB end isn’t the problem, it’s the end that attaches to the actual hr charger. I wish the cord was longer because I have to have the whole thing sit on top of plug that is in the wall, otherwise it comes apart.

    • Johnny Row

      One solution is to charge it in a wall plug via an inexpensive wall-to-USB adapter plug, which it sounds like you are already doing. Then use an extension cord and set them down on a counter or such.

  204. This is a great review. I am using the FitBit charge for almost 4 months. I like it very much it keeps me motivated all the time. But i think if it would be better to have the charge hr for more accurate results.

    thanks again

  205. iaincbr

    I’m interested in the RHR issue as mine is low thirties and I’m interested in monitoring fatigue, but if it is reading high it may prove problematic to gauge. What is the best for monitoring RHR?

  206. Kaye

    Hi, another great and helpful review from you. Can I just ask a question though. With the Charge or Charge HR, can you link your Fitbit account with Garmin Connect at all? I do a lot of cycling and use a Garmin device for this, amongst other activities. I’m ideally wanting to use the Fitbit Charge or Charge HR for my workouts in the gym (cardio and weights) and just daily to see how far I walk during normal working days etc. However, I’d like to see all of my workouts in one place (preferably on the Garmin connect site). Is this possible? Thanks

    • Juro

      You can insert the calorie count and a simple summary from Garmin Connect into Fitbit through MyFitnessPal. This will not transfer the Garmin Connect activity name or map or other details though — just the basic summary.

    • Juro

      (I do not think it’s possible to do this the other way around, from Fitbit to GC… only total calories can be synced, again via MyFitnessPal)

    • Kaye

      Thanks for your help. I guess if I wanted to include my workout details from fitbit onto garmin connect I could always enter them as a manual entry then?

  207. Kaye

    Just thinking, would you suggest the garmin vivosmart hr would be more suitable for what I wanted to do? Thanks, Kaye

  208. TT

    Just checking out the new Alta.
    Do you have a time frame for the release of the next generation Fitbit Charge HR?

  209. Mark

    3rd party android app “bit ticker notification” will also push texts, and any other android phone notification, to the charge hr… very useful!

  210. W H Born

    Bought a Fitbit charger HR. Heart rate monitor is completely useless. Has been consistencly off by up to 50 BPM. Only accurate when I am sitting still. No use wren doing activity or exercise.

  211. diane

    hi
    i find the calorie count really low if i do a 5 mile run i burn 467 calories yet my nike watch burns abot 560. Also is the charge hr tracking burnt calories or bmr as well I find it very difficult to burn more than 2000 calories in a day unless i play golf for 4 hours and run
    cheers

  212. Scott M

    Not sure if this will help anyone with the decision to buy a Charge HR or not but here is my experience so far. I purchased mine in June 2015 and have really liked it (I agree with others that step count is probably off, but not so much that it concerns me) except for one big problem, the battery. My first unit started to not charge in October and the second unit had the same issue (plus the button on the side stopped working) in February. Both units lasted for 3 months (give or take a few weeks) and that is not good. Now to give Fitbit their props they did replaced both units with no issues free of charge, but come on they should last longer. I am primarily a runner and log around 100 miles a month the issue I think might be that I sweat like crazy. Have you heard of anyone one else who seems to be killing their Charge HR with sweat? I tried to look through all of the comments but did not make it all the way so sorry if I missed a previous answer. By the way love the site, been following you for years, and I love the Podcast!

  213. Lily

    Hi! I have been looking on a lot of websites and I just don’t know which one to buy:) I love running and I play basketball so I need to stay in shape. Im in the 6th grade which is kind of young but should I buy the charge or charge Hr? Cause ive heard that the charge falls off of a lot of peoples wrists. But the Charge hr isn’t very accurate:( Please help me out with this problem!

    Thx, Lily

    P.s Can I wear them in the shower or will that ruin them?

    • Hi Lily-

      The Charge HR isn’t too accurate, and for basketball it likely won’t keep up with the quick shifts of pace. For running, if you run at a constant pace – then it’ll generally catch-up to it and be mostly accurate (but just not for very fast shifts in pace/intervals).

      Generally speaking showering is OK, but it is not warrantied against it. You could also look at the Garmin Vivosmart HR – but that’s a bit more expensive and a bit bulkier. Another option would be something like the Vivofit2, which is cheaper. And then you could pair a HR strap to it for runs/basketball/etc (all for roughly the same price as the Fitbit Charge HR).

  214. Lily

    Sorry about the picture I dont know how that got on there

  215. Lex

    Hi Lily,

    You might want to post your question to the “activity Trackers” group on Facebook. There are a lot of helpful people in the group. link to facebook.com

  216. Lily

    Im in 6th grade I dont have facebook :/

  217. Lily

    Please help! But I think I might get the charge hr

  218. Lily

    Thank you guys and Im going to just get the charge like my friend Lauren thank you guys so much Im really excited!!!!

  219. Nancy Harris

    Can the fitbit charge HR be repaired, it did go in the shower, it sort of works but it will not sync

  220. jennifer

    Is charge HR more accurate than regular Charge at tracking calories burned? Or does the HR part not effect that?

    • Johnny Row

      If my understanding is correct, the HR should be much more accurate in calories burned. Without the HR, it just tries to estimate activity and calories based on steps (and maybe stairs climbed) and of course your own parameters such as weight. But the HR uses your heart rate to calculate calories which is a more accurate gauge of activity level. The caveat to that is the accuracy of the heart rate, which for some people is not so good at higher intensity workouts.

    • Johnny Row

      Also depending on what kind of exercise you get. If you do much that is not walking, then the HR becomes more of an advantage. If you are mostly walking (or running) i.e. taking steps the Charge can measure), the the Charge is not at as much of a disadvantage.

  221. Jim

    Any suggestions on why the fitbit is not calculating the correct distance? Tonight I went for a 2.4 mile walk using both the fitbit and a forerunner 15. The planned route was 2.4 miles and the garmin was spot on but the fitbit came in at 1.77 miles. I have set the walking and running stride online but still seeing the same result as before setting them.

    Thanks for any help.

    • Johnny Row

      First make sure you have done a sync since you set your stride lengths.
      The FR 15 uses GPS so it should be near exact. The Charge distance is just estimated from steps times stride length. It sounds to me that you underestimated your stride length. I would try multiplying your stride length entry by 1.36 (2.4/1.77), and then doing another test walk. It can be tricky getting accurate stride length. Perhaps when you get outside walking a decent distance, your stride gets longer than what you measured.

  222. Lisa Newell

    i got a fitbit charge july 31 2015 a few months later the band broke. i got a replacement the year was up. yesterday i looked the band is broke in the same place i’m not very happy with fitbit right now 2 in less then 9 month.

  223. Marian Arndt

    I presently have a fitbit charge. I wear it all the time and charge it whenever it tells me to charge. Here’s my problem, I was charging and when I went to disengage the cord the back of the fitbit came off. Also, the mechanizism that you press to view the screen (ie … steps walked, time, timer etc) popped off too.

    Is there a place I can send the fitbit to be repaired? What is the life span of a fitbit. I had lost it on a walk about 6 months ago, found it, and it was working great! So, please advise me on how to proceed.

  224. Elisha

    Been wanting to get a fitbit for weeks. Was looking through different reviews trying to decide whether it is worth it or not. Overall I think it will be a good purchase for me. I looked online for several different deals, the best one I found was for $117 on ipzmall. Anyone let me know if thats a good price? Thank you for the review.

  225. April

    While on a LEISURELY stroll today my CHR showed my heart rate at 180. I have a hard time believing this to be accurate. Can you explain more about how the light affects the HR data? I am wondering if bright sunlight may have had an impact on my data. I do wear it snug, but not tight. There is no mark on my skin from the HR sensor when I remove the device.

  226. ArmedPT

    I purchased this in March of 2015 for $150. In August, it was showing me that I was performing over 30 flights of stairs per day even if I did not leave the house. They replaced it for free as it was covered by warranty, and I was very impressed with their customer service!
    Then, in March 2016, the replacement started to fall apart! The skin started to bubble and peel off, and the plastic backing that covers the button and frames the charging port just fell off randomly. It was never dropped, washed, showered in, etc. Not once. But, they honored the warranty and sent ANOTHER replacement. I would love to have a unit that would last longer, but having such great customer service is the next best thing, right?…..
    Well, last week the THIRD replacement stopped working altogether. Just froze. No response, unable to restart it, button is frozen, and the display shows that it is in the middle of an update. They could not find an answer for me, and now that the warranty is expired on the FIRST unit (nevermind the fact that they sent me 2 refurbished inferior devices) they will not replace it.
    So that I’m clear: To replace a unit that only lasted 5 months, they send me a faulty piece that only lasts 7, and when THAT one fails, they send me another piece of garbage that only lasts 5 months again!!! The warranty should renew for 12 months with each unit, otherwise what would stop them from taking advantage of people like they did to me?
    They do make a pretty neat product with a lot of features, but I would advise against this company as clearly once they have your money they are only interested in convincing you to buy a newer more expensive device.

  227. Alisha

    VERY INACCURATE for walking. I have been counting, comparing, adjusting stride, etc. A lap of 175 steps by counting and fitbit tells me 83-93!?!?

  228. Ilanit

    I have extremely small wrist and saw your wife tried on the Alta to show how it fit . Anyway she can try on the charge for comparison. I find the charge he too long for me and looking for other options

  229. Fitbit Charge HR. After using this device for 7 months it wouldn’t charge, after many emails to them for a warrantee replacement or a repair they said in a email there is no warrantee and I am out the cost of this device. even though paper work sent in the box by them describes a 1 year warrantee. I wouldn’t recommend buying a Charge HR.

    • Call back. Fitbit is well known for giving out replacement devices like candy – even well beyond the warranty period, so this doesn’t really jive with that.

    • We’ve exchanged a couple of emails with them. The last one dated 9/2/2016 from “Ghia D. and the Fitbit team” Stating “We would like to inform you that, Fitbit does not provide repair services or send replacement part” it can’t be more clearer than that. I could forward this email to you if you like. Thanks for you interest

    • Yeah, again, I’d just give them a ring. Their US support number is: (877) 623-4997

    • Alfred Algeria

      I want to thank this web site “dcrainmaker” for giving Fitbit the push needed to replace our Fitbit. We got a replacement yesterday and all is good. Yous did a great job. Thanks

    • Johnny Row

      So they are still giving Charge HR replacements even though they are no longer selling them. I’ve got one under warranty that is starting to have some problems. I was hoping if I tried to exchange it, they might replace it with a Charge 2, or at least offer a discount on it.

    • Alfred Algeria

      I don’t know about them not sell the charge HR any more we just bought one last week and there was a good supply at Target

    • Johnny Row

      link to dcrainmaker.com

      Fitbit has replaced both the Charge and Charge HR with the Charge 2 which looks like an upgrade to the Charge HR. It sells for $150 from fitbit.com
      Depending on what you just paid for the Charge HR, you might want to see if you can return it and get the altest model.

    • Alfred Algeria

      I didn’t know that. The Charge HR was $129 at Target and they priced matched Walmart’s price of $107.

  230. Jason

    I bought my Charge in Dec 2014, and the band failed on it eight months later, delaminating and pulling right off the computer piece (the tracker is now in two pieces). Fitbit was really good about this, and provided a free replacement. This free replacement lasted exactly eight months before the exact same issue occurred. My wife went through the same, eight months in her unit came apart, Fitbit replaced it and the replacement lasted 8.5 months. They replaced her second one with an Alta as we had no confidence in the Charge lasting. Curiously they declined to replace my second and offered me a 25% discount on replacing mine, even though I had the same exact issue, under the same circumstances as my wife (and all experienced only light to medium use and were well taken care of). I wasn’t really looking for a third replacement (even though my wife received one) – and wasn’t really sure what I was hoping Fitbit would do to make this right – but perhaps a slightly larger discount than 25% might have been appropriate as four of four activity trackers have only lasted 66% of their warranty period. Fitbit has a great online UI, app and fantastic competitive social aspects to gamify the experience, but I’ve been really dismayed with the durability of the product, especially as it’s been very lightly used. Regrettably I’m going to be looking outside of the Fitbit brand for my replacement as I can’t be sure of the build quality.

  231. Beth

    Do you have an opinion on the Charge, Charge HR, the new Charge 2 or any other fitness tracker for playing a sport like ice hockey. My husband plays in a rec league and we are wondering if there is a good device that will accurately account for the activity.

    Will you be reviewing the new Charge 2?

    Thanks

  232. Jeanne M.

    I want an activity tracker with an HRM, but my wrist only measures 5 inches. What brand/model would work for me?

  233. Jodi

    ​I bought a Fitbit charge hr then not quite a yr after purchasing it, it broke but then they sent me another. Only the replacement but 5 months later broke same place. Contacted the customer service to only have them tell me that the warranty was up and I would be given 25% off my next purchase.But the original problem has NOT BEEN RESOLVED! Who would purchase ANYTHING from your crappy company when you don’t stand behind the product you already have! People RUN AND BUY SOMETHING ELSE! This product is cheap! I will now make sure EVERYONE KNOWS DAILY NOT TO BUY ANY FITBIT PRODUCTS! Hunk of junk! WASTE OF MONEY!! Don’t purchase this garbage!