It's already been a big year for Fitbit and we are only a month into 2021. It's now formally under the ownership of Google and we're waiting to see what that means for new devices.
This has us turning our attention to Fitbit's flagship models like the Versa and the Charge. The Charge continues to be the go-to fitness tracker for those who want the best Fitbit offers in fitness tracking without going all-in on a smartwatch.
With the Fitbit Charge 4, we got the notable addition of built-in GPS to go with its great sleep tracking, plus new features like Active Zone Minutes. That's not to say there wasn't room for improvement, though.
So just what can we expect from a Fitbit Charge 5? Will it be too early for Google's influence to show?
We take a peek at what could be in store and look to its pricier smartwatches to see what features might filter down to the next Charge.
Update: Fitbit has announced the Fitbit Luxe. Read all about the new tracker in our guide.
Fitbit Charge 5 release date and price
If we want an idea of when the new Fitbit Charge might land, the first thing to look at is just when the last couple of Charges launched.
The Charge 4 was released in April 2020 ‚Äď unfortunately when the first round of Covid-19 related lockdowns hit. Before that, the Charge 3 was officially unveiled in October 2018.
Fitbit will no doubt want to time its release right and may look to a spring/early summer launch, where hopefully we can be more mobile and not stuck indoors all the time.
As for pricing, despite the emergence of budget trackers that cost around half the price of the Charge, we imagine Fitbit won't be budging from the $149.95 mark, especially if the Inspire remains its sub-$100 option.
That would still put it slap bang in the middle of its cheapest tracker and its most affordable smartwatch option.
Time for a color display
Fitbit Versa 3 (left) and Sense (right)
One of our main gripes with the Charge 4 was the not-so-great display. In fact, you could level the same criticism at the Charge 3 as well. We got a bigger screen and a touchscreen that was nice and responsive, but the overall quality of the greyscale OLED and its visibility in bright outdoor light remains a bit of an issue.
It might finally be time for Fitbit to embrace color for its tracker ‚Äď even if it stays with the kind of transflective display that Garmin uses to great effect.
Especially as cheaper alternatives that sit below it in price offer not only higher quality color touchscreens, but still manage to deliver Charge-like battery performance alongside.
Having shown it can put a pretty impressive screen on the Versa and Sense and still deliver week-long battery life, it feels like it's time for the Charge to get in on the color show too. Oh, let's offer an always-on display option as well please.
The addition of fast charging on the Versa 3 and Sense was one of our favourite features. The fact that you could get a full day of battery from just 12 minutes of charge made it very useful to have.
If Fitbit struggles to bolster battery life on the new Charge beyond a week, adding that fast charging tech to its flagship tracker would be a welcome addition instead.
The idea that you can get that quick top-up, whether it's before bed or you're running low before a run, is really useful and we hope Fitbit has plans to bring it to other devices like the Charge.
Better music support
We weren't surprised that the Charge 4 lacked the same built-in music features as the Versa and the Sense, simply because that while the likes of Samsung have pulled off putting a music player in a band in the past, there's less space to play with here.
It was nice to see integrated controls for Spotify as a bit of a consolation prize, though one of the most disappointing aspects was that you couldn't access those controls when you probably would make use of it most, during exercise.
Other cheaper trackers do offer this kind of support and it feels like a no brainer for Fitbit to add this kind of simple functionality to the next Charge.
Active Zone Minutes 2.0
The introduction of Active Zone Minutes was a positive move by Fitbit in our eyes, though the execution may have needed a bit of a work. A bit like Amazfit and its PAI Health Assessment system, Fitbit wanted to try and get people thinking more about getting their heart pumping on a regular basis as well as clocking up those daily step counts.
As a feature its implementation was a little clunky, but at its essence, the feature wanted to help users make the most of that period of activity in their days. To push yourself within your own personalized heart rate zones to help you get fitter and feel fitter.
The problem is that like PAI, Active Zone Minutes is essentially a weekly goal, helping you achieve the WHO's recommended 150 minutes of elevated heart rate activity. However, it's confusingly presented as a daily target of 22 minutes.
We'd like to see Active Zone Minutes made a little clearer to users. We feel that moving to a more clear weekly target of 150 minutes (rather than a daily one of 22 minutes) would be a better implementation ‚Äď or even better, have users select a target based on their own activity levels.
The on device presentation could also be improved too. It's perhaps the most important metric for health, but is just another statistic. We'd like to see Fitbit really give it some extra importance.