New Fitbit Charge 5 gets ECG and new design in supercharged update

Fitbit's new tracker blows its own smartwatches out of the water
Fitbit Charge 5 lands with ECG
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The Fitbit Charge 5 is official, and is the biggest update to Fitbit’s flagship fitness tracker range since heart rate was introduced back in 2015.

The Charge 5 brings across Fitbit’s most advanced features from its Sense smartwatch, and packs them into a radically overhauled device, that’s a huge visual step up from the Charge 4.

It cements the fitness tracker as Fitbit’s flagship form factor – albeit one that blurs the lines between smartwatches and activity bands.

And at $179/£169 it undercuts the Fitbit Sense by almost half. Read on for everything you need to know.

Fitbit Charge 5 specs, features, price:

  • AMOLED display
  • Stainless steel case (black, silver, gold)
  • GPS
  • Heart rate and SpO2
  • Stress management
  • EDA sensor
  • ECG
  • 20 workout modes
  • 7 day battery life
  • Sleep tracking
  • 28g
  • 36.7mm L x 22.7mm W x 11.2mm D
  • Price: $179.99

Fitbit Charge 5 – all new design

Fitbit Charge 5 – all new design

As expected, Fitbit as totally overhauled the design of the Charge 5 – taking cues from the new Fitbit Luxe launched earlier in 2021.

There’s a stainless steel case with a vibrant AMOLED display, that fixes our main gripe about the appearance of the Charge 4. We found the dim, monochrome display to be out of step with rival bands from Xiaomi and Samsung, and lacking a premium feel.

The Charge 5 screen size is 11% bigger than the Charge 4, and the device itself is 1mm longer but over 1mm thinner.

  • Charge 5 screen size: 0.86” X 0.58” (21.93mm x 14.75mm)
  • Screen resolution is 326 PPI (pixels per sq inch)
  • Band Sizes: Fits wrists 130-170mm or 170-210mm

The display is always-on for the first time, so there won’t be any dead, black areas on the wrist. And it retains the 7 day battery life of the Charge 4, according to Fitbit, although using the always-on display will shorten that.

It’s set to come in platinum (silver), gold and black as standard – so there’s a unisex feel to the Charge 5 that was less apparent on the Luxe. There's also a host of band option, too.

Fitbit Charge 5 – supercharged sensors

Fitbit Charge 5 – supercharged sensors

The Charge range has always showcased the most advanced features of the Fitbit range – but has lagged the Fitbit Sense health watch since its launch in 2020.

But Fitbit has taken us by surprise, by adding all the top features from its flagship range, and putting them into the fitness tracker form factor.

That means there’s an ECG sensor for detection of abnormal heart rate rhythms, which will produce a PDF graph of your heartbeat which can be shown to your doctor. The ECG feature won't be available at launch – although it will arrive shortly after, according to Fitbit.

The electrodermal activity sensor (EDA) also makes it across, which can detect stress responses from sweat on your palm – and works in addition to the stress management score rolled out across the Fitbit range.

That’s on top of the GPS, skin temperature and SpO2 sensors found on the Charge 4.

The Charge 5 also retains 20 workout tracking profiles, autodetection of exercise and all the advanced sleep detection, high/low heart rate notifications you’d expect from a Fitbit device.

Daily Readiness score

Daily Readiness score

And the changes aren’t just hardware-related.

With the Fitbit Charge 5 comes the Daily Readiness score, which will roll out across Fitbit devices in the Dashboard.

This new score looks at how ready you are to train, and is aimed at those who want to push themselves.

Like the Stress Management and Sleep scores, the Daily Readiness score is built from three data points: activity/exertion, sleep duration and quality, and heart rate variability (HRV) which is monitored during deep sleep. A personal baseline is created, which changes as you get fitter.

Based on this score, the Charge 5 will suggest when to workout, and at what intensity.

It will offer personalized recommended workouts from the library within Fitbit Premium, which could be a lung-busting HIIT class when your body is prepped and ready to go, or some active recovery or even mindfulness.

The approach is reminiscent of the Whoop Strap 3.0, which scores Recovery and Strain to tell you when to train. While that is aimed at serious athletes, Fitbit's interpretation seems more of an everyday version.

Fitbit Charge 5 – release date and price

Fitbit Charge 5 – release date and price

The Fitbit Charge 5 has increased in price with all these additions, to $179 up from $149. It will be available for pre-order from today, and will ship "this Fall" according to Fitbit.

That’s unsurprising given that the Fitbit Luxe entered at the same price as Charge 4, and its feature-set pales in comparison to the Charge 5.

It also somewhat undermines the $299 Fitbit Sense health watch – and again shows that Fitbit’s heart and soul is the fitness band. We touched on this with CTO Eric Friedman in an interview earlier this year, and he said that:

“We've got some trackers that actually run apps, and so are those trackers or smartwatches? I think you're gonna see an increasingly blurring between those two categories,” said Friedman.

With Fitbit the driving force behind Google's smartwatch efforts, it seems the company is putting its weight behind fitness bands. And this is a serious statement.