Fitbit wristbands no longer need an introduction. Since the first generation from 2015, it has been helping people become more active and provides valuable insights into heart rate and sleep data to become healthier and fitter. This fourth generation doesn’t seem like much new to the eye, but the Fitbit Charge 4 is more versatile than ever – and finally less dependent on your smartphone.
Fitbit Charge 4
price € 149, –
Colors Black, purple, gray (special edition)
Platform Android, iOS, Windows
Screen Colorless OLED
Format 3.6 x 2.3 cm
Weight 26 grams
Sensors Heart rate monitor, accelerometer, pedometer, calorie counter, sleep monitor, altimeter
Connectivity Bluetooth, GPS, NFC
Other waterproof, removable straps, Fitbit Pay
9 Score 90
- Contactless payment
- Waterproof build quality
- Data fixed in app
- Fitbit Pay does not support many payment services
At first sight, little seems to have changed if you put the Fitbit Charge 4 next to the third generation. The design with the rectangular black and white screen has remained and the strap also has the same recognizable block pattern. When I reviewed the Fitbit Charge 3 in late 2018, there was also nothing to complain about the appearance of the wearable. It had a positive change and the battery life had also noticeably improved. The criticism was somewhat in the lack of innovation. Especially the function of recording routes with GPS felt a bit harsh. The Charge 3 did not have a GPS chip, but used the GPS of the smartphone. So you still had to bring your phone to record routes. Why other Fitbit wearables without GPS did not get this function also felt unfair.
The Fitbit Charge 3 also had Fitbit Pay, so you can make contactless payments with your bracelet. But here you had to have the more expensive Special Edition, which had an NFC chip built in for these payments. Needlessly confusing.
The Fitbit Charge 4 series puts an end to the third-generation confusion.
GPS and NFC
In that respect, Fitbit has rectified these issues with the Charge 4. This latest Fitbit has its own GPS chip, so routes can be recorded without the need for a smartphone in your pocket. The bracelet also has an NFC chip, so you can pay with your sports bracelet with Fitbit Pay. There is no more confusion about a “special edition” of the Fitbit Charge 4. Although there is a special edition version, it only has a different band. Functionally, the regular edition and special edition of the Fitbit are just the same.
Fit (bit) without smartphone
The addition of Fitbit Pay and the GPS make the Fitbit less dependent on your smartphone. In fact. The Fitbit Charge 4 feels like a smartwatch, but in a compact form. Your Fitbit is less dependent than ever on your smartphone. Of course, synchronizing the data and routes and looking back is still done via your smartphone app. But when you become active, you can do that without a smartphone. Whether you go walking, cycling, running … or any activity whatsoever. That can also be swimming, because the Fitbit Charge 4 is waterproof. Although for the sake of convenience, I assume that most swimmers are already active with their Fitbit without a smartphone.
So you can go without a smartphone. The built-in GPS records your route. You can even leave your wallet at home. You pay for that pit stop halfway with a bracelet. That said, the GPS won’t work until you manually start an activity on your bracelet. That’s not too bad, but in practice I noticed that it sometimes takes a little longer before the connection is made, so that a starting part of your route is missing.
Before you start a full sprint to the store to buy a Fitbit Charge for Fitbit Pay, it is good to know that not many banks work with the payment service. Fitbit Pay only works with a Mastercard credit card from ICS or via your Rabobank or ABN Amro account. In the Fitbit app you can link your payment card to the Wallet, so you can pay contactless with your Fitbit. You tend to think that you can only do it with a credit card, because a long card number is required. However, you can look up this card number when you log in to Rabobank or ABN Amro internet banking.
Paying with Fitbit Pay is very easy and has the necessary security on board. You unlock Fitbit Pay with a four-digit PIN code, after which you can pay by holding the Fitbit against the payment terminal. The lock will automatically re-activate when you have removed the strap or 24 hours after your last payment. In addition, you must also re-enter the PIN if you have reached the payment limit. Just like contactless payment with your debit card.
Fitbit with smartphone
If you still have your smartphone in your pocket, you can keep it there: you can control your Spotify via the linked app via your Charge 4. Even if you do not start training manually, it is recognized manually – and that goes remarkably often well. Everything that the Fitbit Charge 4 keeps track of can be seen in the app. Think of workouts, steps taken, climbed stairs, heart rate data and extensive statistics of your night’s sleep. The app is clear and user-friendly, and you can also add other data, such as your weight, calorie and fluid intake, so that you get an idea of how much you consume versus how much you burn.
However, there is a disadvantage of the app, Fitbit is closed. So it cannot be linked or exported to other apps, such as Google Health and Apple Health.
Small size smartwatch
The new functionality ensures that the Fitbit Charge 4 feels more and more like a smartwatch, but in the size of a bracelet. Of course, smartwatches are often more versatile and thanks to the heart videos, the Apple Watch is a lot more advanced than Fitbits. But since the existence of the smartwatch seems mainly sports, it is nice that the Fitbit Charge 4 is less in terms of functionality and comes in a modest size (and price).
The Fitbit Charge 4 can run for about five to six days on a full battery. That is an excellent battery life. In practice, you will notice that when you use the GPS to record your walking or cycling tour, your battery content will deteriorate rapidly. That depends of course on the distance and frequency, but to give you an idea: with a daily run of five kilometers with the GPS on, the battery lasted two to two and a half days.
The charger is a kind of clip where you click the Fitbit. It is a pity that the charger has not received a renewal, because the clip is easily next to it. It is also difficult and expensive to get another charger. Wireless charging would have been more universal and easy to use.
The Fitbit Charge 4 feels like a smartwatch, but in a compact form
In November, Google’s parent company Alphabet announced it will acquire Fitbit for $ 2.1 billion. Because this acquisition is fairly recent, in practice there is still no evidence of Google’s influence on Fitbit. Still, it’s something to keep in mind, as Google has a poor reputation for privacy and the resale of your data for advertising purposes. Fitbit’s wearables naturally collect a huge amount of health data, which may not be in the best hands with Google.
Although the Fitbit Charge 4 does not seem much innovative at first sight, the sportswear subcutaneously makes a big step towards a smartwatch. Thanks to GPS and mobile payment, the Fitbit is less dependent on your smartphone. While the heart rate sensor is not as advanced as the last generation of the Apple Watch, it provides a lot of health data insight, giving you just that little bit of help to get healthier and fitter.