Fitbit Charge HR

Fitbit Charge HR

4

RATE IT

From yoga to sleep tracking, the Fitbit Charge HR is a simple, intuitive device with multiple applications.

  • design

    80%

  • battery

    100%

  • performance

    80%

  • software

    80%

Review image

Ashley Hauck Ashley Hauck --0001-11-30 00:00:00

The Fitbit Charge HR excels in its simplicity. It’s an affordable heart rate monitor that isn’t bloated with unnecessary features or bulk. Buy one if you want a functional, well-designed fitness tracker and heart rate monitor for virtually any activity at a reasonable price.

The Charge HR isn’t categorized as a “performance” model on Fitbit’s website, but I used it for activities that ranged from yoga in my living room to running a half marathon, and it performed well at both ends of the spectrum.

Fitbit Charge HR Features

Heart Rate Tracking

Heart rate tracking is the flagship feature of the Fitbit Charge HR, and also the most interesting and useful. Once the Fitbit established my baseline resting heart rate, it was fascinating to see how it fluctuated with exercise and regular activities throughout the day. I was surprised to learn that driving, even without traffic, raised my heart rate considerably.

The heart rate tracker separates elevated heart rates into 3 categories: Fat Burn, Cardio, and Peak. The app draws a line graph of how your heart rate fluctuates during exercise.

Exercise Mode

Yoga is a huge part of my fitness routine, and I’d always questioned the one-size-fits-all approach when it came to other fitness trackers and apps’ estimations of calorie burn. It was simple to hold down the side button to put the Charge HR into exercise mode as I stepped onto my yoga mat, and find out for myself just how many calories my favorite yoga practices burned.

The answer varied from under 100 to over 400, and it seemed pretty aligned with my level of exertion. Getting a more personalized view of my workouts was really cool.

A Regular Run

Fitbit app showing running

A Half-Marathon

Fitbit app during half-marathon

Ashtanga Yoga

Fitbit app during yoga practice

Battery Life

Fitbit claims that the Charge HR battery will last “up to five days.” I got four, but I was also syncing obsessively, so I believe four is possible.

Caller ID

As someone who doesn’t make or receive phone calls all that frequently, I found the caller ID feature to be useless and jarring. When my phone rang, my wrist started vibrating, and all I wanted was to make it stop — which meant scrambling for my phone to decline the call.

Auto Sleep

I appreciated that I didn’t have to do anything in order to track sleep with the Fitbit Charge HR. Some wearables have to be put into sleep mode manually, and I’m likely to fall asleep without remembering.

However, I thought the device’s sleep tracking capabilities were questionable. During my first night with the Charge HR, it recorded me as sleeping soundly at a moment where I distinctly remember waking up and looking at the clock. I know I don’t move much in my sleep, so I tried switching the tracking to “sensitive” mode.

After that, my sleep graphs turned into a wild, restless thrash-fest. Just looking at the data made me feel tired. Sleep sensitivity settings somewhere in between “sensitive” and “normal“ would have represented my actual sleep patterns more accurately.

Fitbit Charge HR Software

The App

With the Fitbit Charge HR, setup is mostly straightforward. The tracker displays a four-digit code, and you enter the code into the app to pair the two devices. I had one minor issue when I realized I was holding the tracker upside down.

Fitbit sync screen

Upside down Fitbit Charge HR

Fitbit Charge HR right side up

The Fitbit app was pleasant to use — it was simple and intuitive, and it synced seamlessly with MyFitnessPal, which I already use. However, Fitbit doesn’t integrate with Apple’s Health app. If you use and love Health, you’ll be disappointed here.

The sleep graph interface could use some work. The design seems unfinished, and it’s awkward to drag my finger over the graph to pinpoint the times when I was sleeping poorly.

The sleep graph was weird and seemed unfinished

Notifications

Fitbit’s default notifications are annoying. I got emails and push notifications when the battery was low, emails and push notifications when the battery was full, and emails when I achieved fitness “milestones.” It’s all too much and, in my opinion, not particularly helpful. You can’t modify or unsubscribe from these notifications in the app, but you can via your profile on Fitbit’s website.

Fitbit notification

Accuracy

At one point, I was kneeling on the floor sorting laundry, and I noticed that the Fitbit was actively logging steps. On the elliptical trainer, however, it displayed the exact same heart rate reading as the machine, so I’m inclined to trust the heart rate monitor more than the pedometer.

Caloric estimations were also questionable. When I logged a run in MyFitnessPal and Fitbit’s Exercise Mode simultaneously, the calorie burn estimations differed by 500 calories.

Calorie burn differed between MyFitnessPal and Fitbit

Design

The Charge HR is, for the most part, well designed. It stays firmly on my wrist and isn’t too bulky. Because of the way the band sits securely behind my wrist bone, the Fitbit doesn’t get in the way during yoga, which is awesome. Other wearables I’ve used slide into my wrist crease, but this stayed without incident.

The buckle has a pronged keeper that secures the end of the band. It seems simple, but it’s a thoughtful touch: I never realized how much I needed that design element until I had it.

The screen, on the other hand, could use some work. I discovered during my first run with the Fitbit Charge HR that I couldn’t read the screen outside. This is an unforgivable oversight.

A minor note: I forgot to take my Fitbit it off at airport security, and it didn’t set off the metal detector, which was extremely convenient.

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