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Fitbit Announces New Charge 6: What’s New and Different?

Fitbit Charge 6 Lifestyle Photography

Fitbit has just announced an update to their most popular fitness tracker series, with the new Fitbit Charge 6 (obviously, replacing the existing Fitbit Charge 5, from September 2021). The Fitbit Charge 6 has much the same form factor as the Charge 5 did, but now gains back a haptic button, as well as a new optical heart rate sensor. In addition, there’s a slate of new software features inside of it, including new sport modes and even new heart rate broadcasting via Bluetooth.

I’ll have an in-depth review of the new Charge 6 here soon, but in the meantime I figured I’d just run-through what’s new on the unit after spending a bit of time talking to the engineering team behind it.

What’s new and changed:

– New heart rate sensor: Fitbit says this is the “most accurate sensor yet in a Fitbit tracker” (though, not including either Pixel or Fitbit smart watches). It’s not the same sensor as last year’s Pixel Watch, but rather a different one. The sensor in the Pixel Watch (which tested very well for me) wouldn’t really fit the bill for this smaller wearable (in terms of physical size or power consumption). However, Fitbit says they are borrowing quite a bit of tech on the “machine learning and AI” side from the heart rate algorithms of the Pixel Watch. They’ve taken those algorithms and “fine-tuned them” to work on the lower-end processor of a Fitbit Charge series device (because this device has to last 7 days, versus 1 day for a Pixel Watch.

– New heart rate broadcasting: The Fitbit Charge 6 will allow you to broadcast your heart rate via Bluetooth to any compatible device/app. This would include anything from pairing it up to a Peloton Bike (or app), gym equipment, Zwift, or really basically any app/device that accepts Bluetooth heart rate connections. Newer gym equipment might, but older most likely wouldn’t. Still, every app on the planet can pair to Bluetooth HR sensors, so compatibility is pretty wide. Hopefully this will prod another California company, Apple, into doing the same broadcasting on their devices.

– Adding 20 new exercise/sport modes: This brings it to a total of 40 exercise/sport modes, matching what’s on the Fitbit Sense 4 today

– Adding YouTube Music controls: When paired with a YouTube Premium account, you’ll get music controls on the Charge 6, when your phone is within range

– Adding Google Maps Turn-By-Turn directions: When your phone is within range, it’ll give you turn-by-turn instructions directly on the wrist, pulled from Google Maps

– Adding Google Wallet support: Pretty straightforward, allows you to pay from your wrist with Google Wallet

– Adding ‘Zoom Magnifier’ accessibility feature: This allows you to get larger text on the device, making it easier to navigate the UI

– A bunch of new bands: These include new woven bands and sport bands, but the Charge 5 bands are fully compatible here as well.

– Requires usage of a Google Account: As Fitbit/Google previously announced, eventually all Fitbit accounts will become Google accounts. The Charge 6 is the first device that’s going to be Google-account only, even if you’re an existing Fitbit user (you’ll have to migrate your account to use it)

– Continues to work with both iOS & Android: No change here, but figured I’d mention it

The Charge 6 is priced at $159USD, with pre-orders starting today (Sept 28th), and shipping/available on October 12th in 30 countries.

Fitbit Charge 6 Charge 6 - Float - V0 - R2

Unless noted otherwise, most other things remain the same. That includes the battery life claim, remaining at 7-days – which tends to hold water, Fitbit has historically done a good job of matching their battery claims. Likewise, the 1.04” color display remains the same from the past, as does the existing built-in GPS sensor and notably the GPS antenna design (not changed). And retains the ECG functionality, and skin temperature sensing, as well as SpO2 monitoring.

However, it’s the GPS antenna design that had I substantial troubles with on the Charge 5, specifically I found that you had a trade-off between either good GPS data, or good HR data – but not booth. That’s because when you tightened the Charge 5 band, it would impact the GPS antenna, which was essentially along the underside edge of the band (thus, blocking the view of the sky). If you loosened the band you got poor HR tracking, but good GPS. I did some fascinating tests with this.

In talking to Fitbit about it, they said that portion remains unchanged. However, what has been changed is the heart rate algorithms behind it all – as well as the sensor itself. Thus, it remains to be tested whether changes in those two components could mitigate the combo-dish problems I had in the past. But, that’ll come here shortly. The good news is I’ve got a very easy-to-follow/replicate protocol for how to validate that piece, so obviously, stay tuned.

Fitbit Charge 6 Lifestyle Photography

(Also, I appreciate that the cyclist removed the empty Hammerhead Karoo mount from the bike in the first shot, before this shot here. Albeit, that would have been a great place to show off the new heart rate broadcasting feature, which would work with the Hammerhead Karoo cycling GPS that he had on his bike).

Of course, it’s worthwhile pointing out that Fitbit’s parent company, Google, has also announced their fall 2023 hardware event next week in New York City. The company says they’ll be announcing new hardware there, likely including new phones and hopefully wearables. No matter what’s announced, I’ll be on-hand in person (well, with two hands), to test it all out, in New York City. Looking forward to it!

With that – thanks for reading!

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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.

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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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  1. Neil Jones

    The Fitbit Charge 5 was released when? You seem to be struggling with the 2020’s this week Ray ;-)

  2. King Bradley

    The Fitbit does look cool. 1 week battery life and the features are also good. But my problem would be the subscription. If you assume several years of use, then it’s no longer so cheap. Then you could go straight for a Garmin or Apple Watch.

    Which annoys me a bit:
    Apple and Fitbit have cool different original wristbands. Cool designs (like the Fitbit fabric wristbands) and colours.
    Garmin is too lame and offers far too little.

    • funkright

      This is so true!

    • Todd Tannenbaum

      Unless you want to access their workout videos, there is very little need anymore to purchase the Fitbit subscription. People complained so bitterly to Fitbit about requiring a subscription to access historical metric charts (like hrv, resting hr, etc) that this is now free without a subscription.

    • pehash

      You should go for a Garmin Vivofit Junior if all you care about is colours.. ;)

    • King Bradley

      Oh la la, they actually have coloured wristbands. Unfortunately, I have a Forerunner 265 ;) and the wristband range looks pretty dull. Whoever is responsible for the colour selection…has no idea and no taste.

    • King Bradley

      And Apple has something like that…thats my little collection:) If you take a look at the thread “Every Apple Watch band Apple released. Ever.” on macrumors and see how people talk about the different e.g. blue tones from different years or collections, then you understand how the wristband selection alone keeps people with the Apple Watch or creates a hurdle so that they don’t switch somewhere else.

  3. David B.

    I had the Charge 5 for a few months. The incompatibility of the HR/GPS made it kind of useless for outdoor activities. I’m not in the market but I’m still looking forward to Ray’s evaluation. If Fitbit can fix that issue with software, I’ll be impressed.
    With the Charge 5, they dropped the price within a month or two by $50. on Black Friday.
    If someone is considering this tracker, it could be worthwhile to wait till November.

  4. Chris Rider

    My biggest concern with the Charge 5 was its longevity. I had battery issues with two of them. One drained rapidly, was replaced under warranty and then seven or eight months later the replacement stopped charging. I ended up shifting over to a Garmin Vivosmart 5 which is no where near as nice to use, but seemingly a lot more solid.

    I may have been incredibly unlucky, but if not, I hope that the Charge 6 resolves some of these reliability issues.

  5. Ed

    The cyclist pictured is Erick Cedeno.

  6. JonD

    I think the mount is still on the bike. Just not as obvious from that angle due to the weird angle it’s mounted at.

  7. Aleksander H

    Are you optimistic for the Pixel Watch 2 and WearOS 4? I was hoping the workout app on my Pixel Watch would get more advanced through software updates, but not really much seems to have happened.

  8. Steve

    Unfortunately the HR broadcast feature does not seem to work with bike computers. Tried it with Garmin 1040 solar and Elemnt roam, both connected no problem but will not show HR. Tried it on Zwift it connects and then broadcasts. With Zwift I got a approve to share on the 6 but this was not the case with the 2 bike computers.

    • JUSTIN

      I came here looking for this. Same problem for me. Won’t connect to Garmin or Karoo. I also tried Zwift via an iPad and it wouldn’t transmit there either.

      I was suspicious about how specific their language was about gym machines etc vs just blanket any fitness device.