Fitbit, a San Francisco-based company launched in 2007, has released 7 fitness trackers in its lifetime. This includes the largely unpopular Force wristband that gained its infamy after the massive recall for causing rashes on the users’ wrists.
Undeterred by this “setback”, Fitbit went on and recently released the Fitbit Charge HR, which is Waterfi Waterproofed. It is also the first in their line to include a heart-rate monitor.
My verdict: We can sum up this tracker by saying that the Fitbit Charge HR is a decent fitness tracker that offers mid-range tracking capabilities. It can be chunky for some people, and the battery needs some work (4 hours use per charge), but it tracks steps taken and stairs climbed just fine. The heart-rate tracker shows potential, but the analysis and data it provides is close to useless.
Overview & Features
If you’ve had the Fitbit Charge before, you will find that the Charge HR is almost the same, only that the HR comes with an optical heart-rate sensor now.
As with its predecessor, the 1 cm think Charge HR band is minimalistic and (if I may say, overly) understated. It’s all black, with a small rectangular plastic section that forms the screen which displays the heart rate, time, distance travelled, stairs climbed and steps taken.
Because of their past issues with the Force sports band, Fitbit has clearly made sure that the Charge HR does not cause rashes. But it’s important to point out that the device should not be worn tightly, and should be slight loose to move on the arm.
Fitbit recommends that it be worn a finger up the arm from the wrist bone to ensure accurate heart-rate readings. Yes, it will take some getting used to having the band far up your arm. Because of its plastic material, you’ll find that it’s sweaty and may cause you a bit of discomfort, so you might want take it if and give your skin a bit of rest.
The Charge HR’s activity tracking features are decent, and can easily compete with its contemporaries. Using an accelerometer, it measures your daily activity, including distance covered and steps taken. It uses an altimeter to track the number of stairs you climbed, and its heart-rate sensor records your heart beats per minute.
The Fitbitt Charge HR app is user-friendly, and the screen displays your stats clearly so you can check it even when on the go.
One thing that we are not really convinced about is its heart rate tracking data, which is not the full picture you’d often get from other fitness activity trackers. Fitbit focuses on exercise zones and resting heart-rate, which means that the data provided is lacking and not that meaningful or useful.
You’d find that it’s challenging to use the readings to improve your training sessions, compared to, say Nike’s FuelBand SE or even Polar’s A360.
The sleep monitoring is poor, as it measures total sleep time and only indicates when you are awake or restless, so your sleep quality cannot be determined.
A “premium” service is offered by Fitbit if you want to receive better data analysis, weekly health stats and fitness reports, but other fitness trackers offer these services and analysis for free.
While its design can improve, the Fitbit Charge HR’s price is very attractive, considering the wide array of features it packed into the unit. It includes nutrition-tracking, heart-rate-tracking, sleep-tracking and social sharing, making it one of the best in the market today.
Its simplistic design makes it a comfortable wear, and because it has no other frills than the constant heart monitoring, its battery life is more than decent at 4 days.
Again, its display and LED is basic, but it’s easily visible and you can see the time and other data with just one tap of its responsive screen. The wraparound band is rubberized, with a typical buckle-type watch clasp, which could have been designed better to make it more attractive.
Some people may find its snug fit uncomfortable, as the green LEDs bulge out at its bottom and may press against or even irritate your skin. Fitbit highly recommends wearing the unit a couple of inches or more above your wristbone to ensure heart-rate reading accuracy, which is a bummer for people who don’t like wearing things up on their arms that way.
Software & App
Recent firmware and software updates have significantly improved the tracking and syncing functions, making everything automatic. The Fitbit Charge HR package comes with Fitbit proprietary USB dongle for plugging and charging, so make sure you don’t lose it.
Another excellent feature is the unit’s caller ID. The band will buzz when someone calls your smartphone, and will display the name of the caller.
The Fitbit Charge HR is water-resistant at 1 ATM, which means that you won’t have to worry wearing it to the shower. But you cannot wear in the bath or when swimming in a pool.
The Fitbit Charge HR comes with a user-friendly app that’s quick to sync, clean and easy to pair.
The app shows all your data for the day, including your heart rate data, steps, calories burned, number of active minutes, stairs climbed, distance travelled, stopwatch activity and sleep.
You can sink your teeth into different metrics, and any of those metrics can be collated to show weekly totals and historical data, which is useful in tracking if you are making any progress.
Check out other great waterproof fitness trackers at our full Buyer’s Guide!
Advantages & Disadvantages
- Tracks every activity of yours
- Monitors your sleep
- Has a silent alarm
- OLED display which shows daily activity and notifications
- Comes in a ton of colors
- Has a sizing option
- Shows Caller ID
- Heart rate monitor isn’t the best
- Quite expensive
- Sleep monitoring isn’t on par with its competitors
If you want the Fitbit experience but can’t afford their more expensive products, check out our Fitbit Flex fitness tracker review. It is a model with similar functionality but lacks a few features for which the price is far more affordable.
Conclusion and Rating
If you are looking for a decent water-resistant fitness activity tracker that constantly monitors your heart-rate, Fitbit Charge HR is right for you. Its basic design can be a drag, but the features it packs is more than enough to forget that one snag.
Fitbit Charge HR really took advanced tracking to another level; with it you can track your daily activities—including daily steps, calories, and sleep. The best thing is you won’t have to tell the unit that you are going to sleep. The device will automatically go into sleep mode based on your heart rate and movement data.