Hands-on Review: Fitbit Charge 5 Activity and Fitness Tracker

Fitbit Charge 5 draped over a dumbbell with other workout gear.

I have lost count of how many Fitbit devices I have reviewed over the years, including many fitness, activity, and health trackers. The latest to come my way is the Fitbit Charge 5, which boasts a few notable upgrades from the previous-generation Fitbit Charge 4 along with a sleeker design.

The look of the Fitbit Charge 5

The Fitbit Charge 5 is 10% thinner than the Charge 4, which might not make a huge difference for anyone but those with particularly thin wrists. What is more notable is that it has a 200% brighter colour touchscreen, which is more pleasant to view when choosing workouts, checking out stats, or reading notifications and calendar reminders. It also has a nicer stainless-steel case. It secures around your wrist via a soft loop, which is super comfortable: you’ll easily forget you’re wearing it.

The tracker is larger than fashion-forward Fitbit trackers like the Luxe, which I reviewed earlier this year. But it’s still attractive enough to wear with both casual everyday clothing and office chic dressier attire. The screen is big enough to show plenty of details when you get an incoming message or simply want to check the time and/or your daily stats. It’s a great in-between fitness tracker if you find that a smartwatch is too large but thinner trackers are too small.

The Charge 5 runs for a rated up to one week per charge, which I have found to be accurate. It recharges quickly so you can pop it on a charger while you sit down to watch a couple TV shows or the evening news and it will be fully charged and ready to go back on your wrist by dinnertime.

What does the Fitbit Charge 5 do?

Like other models in the Fitbit line-up, the Charge 5 lets you keep track of all the usual activity stats, including steps, activity zones, and heart rate, along with stress, heart health, and overall well-being.

Additional tools for managing stress, heart health, and sleep include EDA Scan for stress management, ECG assessments for AFib (coming soon), high/low heart rate notifications, and sleep insights. I love that it also includes Sp02 measurement, which the Luxe does not have, so you can check your blood oxygen level and breathing rate to identify things like potential sleep apnea or other breathing issues.

Those who like to go for runs, hikes, cycles, or walks, will appreciate the built-in GPS, which means you can leave your phone at home. I often bring my phone with me anyway, for both safety and connectivity reasons. But if you’re going out with the family or a partner and feel that you don’t need your phone, this means you can still track your route without it.

The device can track 20+ exercises as well as Active Zone Minutes in real time so you know when you reach your peak heart rate or you have entered fat burn and cardio zones. I love this feature while I do my daily workouts, as the tracker will buzz and display what zone I’m in so I know if I need to amp things up to reach my peak and simply to advise when I enter fat burn or cardio zones. The time I spend in each of these zones is also logged, viewable in the app along with detailed workout summaries for review once you’re done.

The device also provides smartphone notifications, quick replies for Android smartphone (I use an iPhone), timers, alarms, and contactless payments at compatible payment terminals. Notifications are easy to read on the bright and beautiful screen. Choose from 20+ colourful clock faces. I wish there were more clock face options as I was not able to find one that would display all of the pertinent stats I would want to see on the home screen. But chances are that more might be coming in the future.

Differences between the Charge 5 and Charge 4

A few things to note when looking at the Charge 5 versus the previous generation Charge 4: the Charge 5 does not include built-in Spotify Music, a feature that was included in the Charge 4. The Charge 5 doesn’t have on-board storage for music at all, in fact, which means you need a connected smartphone if you want to listen to music or podcasts while you work out, walk, or go for a run. You also can’t log stair climbs with the Charge 5, a notable omission, particularly for those who like to see how many inclines they get per day on a hike or even just going up and down the stairs at home.

The Charge 5 comes with a six-month subscription to Fitbit Premium for accessing more than 500 workouts, mindfulness, and nutrition sessions from brands like Calm and LES MILLS while the Charge 4 does not come with a trial. With Fitbit Premium, you can view the Health Metrics dashboard, Stress Management Score, and Sleep Score for deeper insights into your well-being. The most useful feature I have found thus far in Fitbit Premium is the ability to download a PDF health report to see an overview of your health stats and how you have progressed in terms of weight loss, sleep, and other useful data. After the trial period, if you choose to renew, a Fitbit Premium membership is either $13.49/mo. in Canada or $106.95 for the year.

Should you get the Fitbit Charge 5?

The Fitbit Charge 5 is a solid Goldilocks fitness tracker within the Fitbit line. It’s not too thin such that you need to squint to see text when you get an incoming notification, but it’s also not so big that you feel like you’re wearing a clunky watch on your wrist. It’s a perfect size, fitting nicely on thin wrists like mine and adjusting to fit thicker wrists with the included second larger band.

If you are considering upgrading from the Charge 4, keep in mind the notable omissions like built-in Spotify music access and control and stair climb tracking. But note that it is thinner and the AMOLED screen is world’s better, and in colour. The band might also be more comfortable.

The Fitbit Charge 5 is a good upgrade option for someone who has been holding on to an older-model Fitbit for years or who is considering switching from another brand. It has all the premium features you’d expect in a top-line tracker, fits nicely, and won’t break the bank.

The Fitbit Charge 5 is available in Canada for $229.95.

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