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Once reserved for athletes and researchers, wearable devices have become a staple among consumers interested in learning more about their activity patterns, workouts, sleep habits, and more.
While numerous brands offer smartwatches and fitness trackers, Fitbit is one of the most popular and well known.
Since releasing its first fitness tracker in 2009, Fitbit has expanded its product line to include trackers and smartwatches that are more high tech and stylish than ever before.
Among these new offerings is the Fitbit Charge 5, the company’s most advanced fitness and health tracker to date.
We tried the Fitbit Charge 5 for more than 2 months to see if it’s worth the investment.
The Fitbit Charge 5 is an affordable fitness tracker designed to provide deeper insights into your exercise, sleep, and wellness patterns.
When used with Fitbit Premium, the Charge 5 makes it easy to understand what your data actually means and provides actionable tips for improving your mental and physical well-being.
Worn around your wrist, the Fitbit Charge 5 is a fitness tracker that monitors more than just your steps.
Equipped with GPS, skin temperature tracking, and a heart rate monitor, it provides key insights into your health and activity, including your exercise performance, sleep habits, and changes in heart rate.
It also offers electrical sensors that are compatible with Fitbit’s Electrocardiogram (ECG) and Electrodermal Activity (EDA) Scan apps, the latter of which helps monitor your stress level at various times throughout the day.
What’s more, when used with a Fitbit Premium account, the Fitbit Charge 5 offers detailed sleep, stress, and readiness scores to help you make more informed decisions on your health.
Fitbit Charge 5 at a glance
- Price: $179.95
- Display: color AMOLED touch screen
- Battery life: up to 7 days
- Waterproof rating: 164 feet (50 meters)
- Operating temperature: 14–113°F (-10–45°C)
- Maximum operating altitude: 28,000 feet (8.5 kilometers)
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
What’s new with the Fitbit Charge 5
Compared with its predecessor, the Fitbit Charge 5 offers more advanced and robust health tracking features, including an EDA sensor for monitoring stress levels and an ECG sensor that can detect possible signs of atrial fibrillation (AFIB).
The Charge 5 is also slightly slimmer than the 4, and the newer model has a stainless steel case.
However, unlike the Charge 4, the 5 doesn’t support Spotify and lacks a weather app.
Have you tried anything like the Fitbit Charge 5 before?
I remember purchasing the original Fitbit that clipped onto your waistband.
However, because I usually have my smartphone in my pocket, I slowly got out of the habit of wearing a fitness tracker, relying on various tracking apps instead.
With that said, I’d been trying out the Apple Watch 7 for a few months when I received the Fitbit Charge 5.
- long battery life
- comfortable to wear
- easy-to-navigate app
- detailed sleep, stress, and readiness scores (requires Fitbit Premium)
- vibrating reminders to move or stand
- impressive list of sensors and features given the affordable price
- text and phone call notifications
- built-in GPS
- small screen size
- requires Fitbit Premium membership for the best experience
- can’t make or respond to texts or phone calls
- always-on display can be temperamental at times
- not as stylish as some other wearables
The Charge 5 retails for $179.95, though you can often find it discounted on the company’s website and at third-party retailers.
Depending on the features you’re interested in, you can choose to use the free version of the Fitbit app or purchase a Fitbit Premium membership for $9 per month or $79.99 per year.
Purchase of the Charge 5 includes a free 6-month Premium trial. However, at checkout, you also have the option to add a 1-year Fitbit Premium membership and a 2-year protection plan, with accidental damage coverage, for $39.98.
If you’re unhappy with your purchase, you can return the Fitbit Charge 5 within 45 days of your shipment date for a full refund. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to return the device in its original packaging.
The Fitbit Charge 5 features a slim design with an 0.86 by 0.58-inch (1.28 by 1.47-cm) color touch screen made from protective Corning Gorilla Glass 3.
The fitness tracker is secured to your wrist with an infinity loop band, which comes in small and large sizes and can be easily swapped with the touch of a button.
The Charge 5 comes in three colorways: a black band with a graphite stainless steel frame around the screen, a white band with gold stainless steel framing, and a blue band with platinum stainless steel framing.
If you’re not a fan of the style or material of the infinity band, Fitbit offers accessory bands that you can purchase separately, including sport bands, leather bands, and hook-and-loop bands.
In addition to the screen and infinity band, the Fitbit Charge 5 comes with a charging cable and a quick-start guide.
Getting started with the Charge 5 requires four painless steps:
- First, you’ll need to fully charge your device, which takes about 2 hours.
- While it’s charging, you’ll need to download the Fitbit app to your smartphone.
- Once the app is downloaded, you’ll follow prompts to create your Fitbit user account.
- Following prompts in the app, you’ll sync your Fitbit to your Fitbit app account.
If you already have a Fitbit account, you can pair your new device by clicking on your profile icon in the app and clicking “Set Up a Device.”
Using the Fitbit Charge 5
The Fitbit Charge 5 features a color touch-screen display that’s simple and intuitive to use.
On the home screen, you’ll see the date, time, and number of Active Zone Minutes. At the bottom, you can cycle through your daily step count, distance traveled, and calories burned, as well as your most recent heart rate reading.
From this screen, you can swipe right or left to set a timer or alarm, start tracking a workout, view your current notifications, and access the ECG monitor or the EDA scan.
Once back on the home screen, you can also swipe up to access Fitbit Pay, turn the Do Not Disturb mode on or off, turn the Sleep Mode on or off, change the Screen Wake settings, turn the Water Lock mode on or off, and access additional settings.
Alternatively, you can swipe down from the home screen to see a daily summary of your steps, distance, and Active Zone Minutes.
If you keep swiping down, you can view your hourly activity, current and resting heart rate, recent sleep score (for Premium members), oxygen saturation level (SpO2), menstrual cycle tracking, and progress toward your weekly exercise goal.
Because the device is Bluetooth-enabled, all your data is synced with the Fitbit app, which offers deeper insights into your data along with other features, such as community forums and global challenges.
The Fitbit Charge 5 offers up to 7 days of battery life and notifies you when the battery is running low. Recharging the tracker takes just 2 hours using the included charging cable.
Other important specs to be aware of are the device’s 50-meter waterproof rating and operating temperature range of 14–113°F (-10–45°C).
With that said, I wore my Fitbit several times while skiing in temperatures below 14°F (-10°C) and didn’t encounter any issues with it not working, though it was covered by my ski jacket most of the day.
The Charge 5 has robust sensors to monitor everything from blood oxygen to skin temperature. Here’s a list and brief explanation of each:
- Multipurpose electrical sensors. These sensors allow you to use the EDA Scan and ECG apps.
- Optical heart rate monitor. Using continuous heart rate tracking, this sensor allows you to see your heart rate in real time and measure your average resting heart rate. It also helps the device determine your cardio fitness level.
- SpO2. Using red and infrared sensors, the device can measure the level of oxygen in your blood and alert you to a potential health issue.
- Temperature sensor. This allows for skin temperature tracking at night and can alert you to health changes such as fever or ovulation.
Additional sensors include built-in GPS, accelerometer, vibration motor, ambient light, near-field communication (allows for wireless communication), and a radio transceiver for Bluetooth connectivity.
The Charge 5 has some of the most robust features of any Fitbit fitness tracker. Below is a brief overview of all that the tracker has to offer.
The Fitbit Charge 5 includes the following health features:
- ECG monitoring: tracks heart rate rhythms and can potentially alert you to signs of AFIB
- EDA scan: an on-wrist scanner that detects changes in electrodermal activity and can indicate a stress response
- SpO2 monitoring: measures the level of oxygen saturation in your blood
- Skin temperature tracking: measures variations in your body temperature while you’re sleeping
- Breathing rate: measures your average breaths per minute
- Heart rate variability: uses variations in your heart rate to help identify potential signs of stress, fatigue, or illness
- Menstrual cycle tracking: logs your period and symptoms and estimates your fertile window and potential ovulation day
- Sleep: provides information on the duration and quality of your sleep, although you’ll need a Premium Membership to access more detailed information on your sleep habits
- Daily stress score: can help you identify how other aspects of your health affect your stress levels (requires Fitbit Premium membership)
- Mood: allows you to log your mood in the Fitbit app and see how it changes over time
- Blood glucose tracking: allows you to log or import your blood sugar readings and view trends in your levels over time (requires Fitbit Premium membership)
In addition to keeping tabs on your health, the Fitbit Charge 5 offers plenty of ways to track your movement throughout the day:
- Active Zone Minutes: uses your heart rate to help you reach your desired intensity level
- Exercise modes: provides real-time performance metrics and helps you set personal goals for 20 modes of exercise
- SmartTrack: automatically starts tracking workouts if it notices movement patterns that indicate an activity, such as biking or running
- Workout Intensity Map: displays your pace and heart rate zones throughout your most recent outdoor exercise route
- All-Day Activity Tracking: measures movement throughout the day, including steps, distance, calories burned, and Active Zone Minutes
- Cardio Fitness Level: measures your VO₂ max and provides tips on how to improve it over time
- Daily Readiness Score: recommends whether you’re ready for an intense sweat session or need a recovery day based on your recent sleep scores, stress scores, and activity level (requires Fitbit Premium membership)
- Built-in GPS: allows you to track and view your outdoor exercise performance stats in real time without having to bring your phone with you
The tracker is also swimproof and offers continuous heart rate tracking.
While it’s not a smartwatch, the Fitbit Charge 5 offers an impressive number of smart features, including:
- Fitbit Pay: syncs your credit card to Fitbit pay for contactless payments
- Smartphone notifications and calls: allows you to accept or reject incoming calls and view recent text messages (although you can’t speak into the tracker itself and can’t make calls or send texts using the Charge 5)
- Smart Wake: wakes you up during your optimal stage of sleep within 30 minutes of your desired wakeup time
The fitness tracker also offers optional Sleep and Do Not Disturb modes.
Like other Fitbit devices, the Charge 5 is compatible with numerous wellness, nutrition, and exercise apps, including:
- WW (Weight Watchers)
- Amazon Alexa
You can find the full list of compatible apps on the company’s website.
As someone who isn’t technologically savvy, I was relieved at how easy the Fitbit Charge 5 was to set up and start using.
Especially in the age of smartphones, the Charge’s touch-screen display is intuitive to navigate.
With that said, other than viewing quick stats like my step count and calories burned, I found the screen a bit too small and preferred to view my stats in the Fitbit app.
Additionally, because the battery actually lasted about 7 days when fully charged, I rarely missed out on a day’s (or night’s) worth of data.
Speaking of numbers, while I found the activity tracking data to be motivating — being periodically reminded to walk around during the day was particularly helpful and appreciated — I was most interested in observing trends in my sleep and stress levels.
Thanks to the Charge 5’s slim design, I found it comfortable enough to wear all day and all night, which wasn’t the case with the slightly bulkier Apple Watch 7.
Another advantage of the Charge 5, and other Fitbit devices, over the Apple Watch is that you can get detailed sleep data and tips on improving your sleep directly from the Fitbit app rather than having to research and then purchase a third-party app.
If you have a Fitbit Premium account, you can view a quick snapshot of your sleep stats from the homepage, including:
- the total duration of sleep
- a breakdown of how much time you spent in each sleep stage
- a personalized sleep score
To dive deeper into the numbers, simply tap on your sleep score. You’ll then be taken to the sleep hub, where you can view your sleep score trends in weekly increments.
What I like most about this feature, however, is the “why it matters” link that brings you to a page where you can find answers about how your sleep score is calculated and tips for improving your sleep.
The Stress Management Score, another Fitbit Premium feature, provides a daily score of 1–100, with a lower score indicating that your body is showing greater physical signs of stress.
The device uses three factors to calculate this score:
- Responsiveness. This is a measure of autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity. A higher number indicates that your body recently showed signs of low ANS activity. ANS activity is measured using heart rate variability during deep sleep, resting heart rate during the day, sleeping heart rate, and data from a recent EDA scan (if available).
- Exertion. This is a measure of your recent physical activity level, including daily steps, weekly activity level, and fitness level versus exercise fatigue. A lower exertion number means you may be exercising too much or too little.
- Sleep patterns. This is a measure of your sleep patterns and how they might be affecting your stress level. A lower number indicates that you may need to adjust your sleep habits to help reduce your stress level.
In the app, you can view your daily stress score and the factors that contributed to it. I also appreciated the ability to add personal reflections for a more complete view of my current stress level.
To help reduce sedentary time, the tracker features a move reminder to help you get in at least 250 steps every hour.
I found these vibrating reminders on my wrist particularly helpful on busy days when it would have been easy to sit and work for 7 hours straight.
Like most other fitness trackers, the Charge 5 also tracks your step count and includes exercise modes for monitoring your performance.
My family and I walk a lot, and in the chaos of getting my dog’s harness on and my toddler dressed, I’d often forget to start recording a walking workout. Thankfully, the SmartTracking feature would do this for me, though it often logged that I was riding a bike instead of walking.
Just keep in mind that while the app does provide some performance metrics, including duration, calories burned, average beats per minute, and Active Zone Minutes, the data isn’t as detailed as you’d get from a dedicated multisport GPS watch.
Daily Readiness Score
The Daily Readiness Score was the feature I was most curious about, as only a handful of wearable brands offer it.
The company defines readiness as how ready your body is for physical activity. There are three categories of readiness:
- Low readiness. A score of 1–29 indicates that your body could use a recovery day. While this doesn’t mean you should stay in bed all day, it does signal that maybe your body would benefit from a yoga class or a walk rather than a more strenuous activity.
- Good readiness. A score of 30–64 indicates that your body is equipped to handle your usual amount of physical activity.
- Excellent readiness. A score of 65–100 signals that it could be a good day to tackle a new or more challenging workout and push yourself just a little bit harder than usual.
I really liked the Readiness score, as it helped inform my workout type and intensity based on what my body could actually handle.
For example, I was able to better understand when my body needed a yoga class, even if I typically would have done a high intensity interval training class that day.
I also found that it helped remove the guilt I used to feel when I’d dial down the intensity or take a rest day.
The Fitbit Charge 5 is an affordable fitness tracker that boasts numerous features to help you better understand your overall health and wellness.
While it isn’t particularly stylish, I found the device to be very comfortable to use and loved that I had to charge it only about once a week.
It’s also a good option for casual exercisers and people looking for motivation to move more during the day. In addition to regular reminders to walk, the device has built-in GPS, offers 20 exercise modes, and can automatically start recording your workout if you forget to press start.
However, the performance metrics aren’t as detailed as the ones you’d get from a multisport watch like the Garmin Fenix. Therefore, it’s not ideal for more competitive or serious athletes.
Similarly, keep in mind that the Charge 5 is a fitness tracker, not a smartwatch. This means that the screen size is relatively small and the device lacks certain smart features, such as the ability to play music.
Therefore, if you’d prefer to access most of your data from your wrist rather than your iPhone or Android device, I’d recommend checking out the Fitbit Sense instead.
If you’re primarily interested in the fitness tracking aspects of the Charge 5, then you might not need to spend extra on a Fitbit Premium membership.
However, to take full advantage of the tracker, I highly recommend budgeting for a monthly or annual membership.
Fitbit currently offers a free 6-month trial for new Fitbit app users, so you can try out the Premium version before subscribing.
To help you decide whether Fitbit Premium is right for you, here’s a list of the features that are included with the free version of the Fitbit app and the features that require a Premium membership:
|Free version||Fitbit Premium|
|• activity tracking|
• weight racking
• nutrition tracking
• basic sleep tracking
• basic insights into your data and habits
• introductory workouts and mindfulness sessions
|• detailed Stress Management Score|
• detailed Sleep Score
• Daily Readiness Score
• blood glucose trends
• wellness reports
• 90-day trends
• 200+ workouts
• 200+ mindfulness sessions
The Fitbit Charge 5 is far from the only fitness tracker on the market. Here’s how it stacks up to Fitbit’s other fitness trackers, as well as to the Garmin Vivosmart 4 — the Charge 5’s closest competitor:
|Fitbit Charge 5||Fitbit Luxe||Fitbit Ace 3||Fitbit Inspire 2||Garmin Vivosmart 4|
|Battery life||up to 7 days||up to 5 days||up to 8 days||up to 10 days||up to 7 days|
|Waterproof rating||up to 50 meters||up to 50 meters||up to 50 meters||up to 50 meters||10 ATM|
|Menstrual cycle tracking||yes||yes||no||yes||yes|
|Number of workout modes||20||20||n/a||20||9|
|Workout modes||• bike|
• boot camp
• martial arts
• outdoor workout
• boot camp
• martial arts
• outdoor workout
• boot camp
• martial arts
• outdoor workout
• gym cardio
• kid activity tracking
• strength training
Note that according to Garmin, a water rating of 10 ATM indicates that the watch can withstand pressures equivalent to up to 328 feet (100 meters) deep. This means the watch is safe to use for swimming, snorkeling, diving, and high speed water sports (3).
The Fitbit Charge 5 is Fitbit’s most advanced health and fitness tracker to date.
While it offers numerous fitness tracking features, including built-in GPS and 20 exercise modes, the Charge 5 stands out for its ability to provide you with data about your health in a way that feels informative and actionable.
If you’re interested in becoming more informed about your overall health and wellness but don’t want or need the bells and whistles of a smartwatch, the Fitbit Charge 5 is worth considering.