Fitbit Charge 2

The Next Step Up from the Charge HR, but still falls short for a fitness devotee

Fitbit Charge 2 is the latest sequel to the popular Fitbit Charge HR. It basically covers what Charge HR has to offer but more.  Although the Charge 2 lacks any smartwatch imagination, it has a few additions from guided breathing, a bigger screen, interchangeable bands plus a new metric data, the VO2 Max.  Whilst the Fibit Charge 2 is not the best fitness wearable available, it comes close to ‘almost the best’. Here’s our take on the Fitbit Charge 2:

Fitbit Charge 2 – Design & Comfort?

First off, we’ll begin by taking a look at the overall design and comfort of the Fitbit Charge 2. At first glance, those of you who are familiar with fitbit devices, will know right away that this is a Fitbit, as it doesn’t try to hide the fact, and why would it? The device comes in the form of a sleek and trendy wristband that features a fairly large OLED screen in black and white.

Those who are familiar with the previous incarnations of the charge, will instantly recognize the fact that the screen is now four times bigger than on previous models, which is a very welcome addition indeed. As well, the design of the Fitbit Charge 2 is more fashionable which has a polished silver slim body, much similar to the Fitbit Alta.

The design is simple and minimalistic, which is why it works so well. It attaches to the wearer’s wrist via a simple clasp system, and it is fully adjustable, and what’s more, it is very easy to do so.

The screen is a touchscreen and metrics are operated by scrolling up and down on the screen, before modes being selected on the side button – which will require a long press on the button to access the mode of choice. Here exercises can actually be chosen from by the user simply swiping down.

The Fitbit Charge 2 fits very comfortably on the wrist, it is easily adjusted, it does not dig into your skin, and it does not cause the wrist to sweat either. It is also a good size, so that you know it’s there, without it taking over your entire wrist in the process.

But for a fitness wearable device that requires little interaction from the user, it’s not so easy to use and takes time to get used to.  As the fitness band is interchangeable, you can use the fitness tracker outside of fitness.

Activity Tracking Function

Now for arguably the most important part – the activity tracking. The device allows users to manually track workouts by simply long-pressing the button located on the side of the device, usually for a second or two. After your workouts, by entering the app, you can then get a detailed breakdown of your entire workout for that particular session.

It is however, the ‘Smart track’ feature that is most impressive in regards to tracking your workouts, as this will allow the device to instantly recognize what kind of activity you are taking part in – walking, running, cycling and so on. It will even track how many floors you have climbed, active minutes, and how much sleep you get each night.

Overall the Fitbit Charge 2 activity tracking is fairly accurate, although certainly not flawless, as sometimes stairs can be missed out if your arms are not located in the correct location. Plus it tends to over-estimate or clock the number of steps for long distances. The device does not feature an in-built GPS, but rather it syncs up with your smart device via a connected GPS feature, which in turn, will provide distance and pace stats.

Fitbit Charge 2 Guided Breathing Function

Breathing is actually an integral, and often overlooked, aspect of exercise and fitness, and Fitbit have recognized this perfectly with their guided breathing function. The great thing about this function is that it is 100% customized for the wearer, as it takes readings from your pulse to detect a nice rhythm, and then provides you with help on how to breathe optimally for perfect performance and recovery. It will therefore ensure that you are not inhaling or exhaling too deeply, or too infrequently. The guided breathing can even be used to help you to cool down, or for rest and relaxation purposes, similar to meditation, so you can actually use the device at home to relax and unwind.

In addition, you can take advantage of your cool down period post workout to complete a 2 minute or 5 minute session to relax. All you have to do is follow and breathe to the pattern on the OLED screen.

In our trial after a workout, we have found that the Charge 2 was able to find that nice rhythm which allowed us to watch and breathe to the animations and simply cool off. Whilst it was oddly comforting watching the screen, the two minute session flew by quickly.

This is a great new feature and it is certainly a welcome addition.

Amazon Customer Reviews

Everything considered, this is truly an amazing piece of technology that is priced extremely fairly for all that it offers, including the best fitness app that is included at no extra charge.” – By College Girl

So far I am loving this Fitbit. I like all the information it gives me, including letting me know I have a phone call or text. The heart rate monitor seems to be pretty accurate for me and I love the look of it with the changeable bands” – By RCBS

Need to list the different activities available. Battery life should be able to last a minimum of 2-weeks and not 5-days” – By RJM

Bought this as a replacement to my Charge HR as the face was getting scratched up. So far very pleased with the fact that I can replace the band, unlike the Charge. I also like the fact that I got the large and it fit great. I had to have the XL for the Charge. I was amazed at how easy it was to set up and deactivate the old one. I am looking forward to losing another 45 pounds with this Fitbit. Great weight loss aid that gets you off your a@@ and walking for your health. It saved my life.” – R Michels

VO2 Max Features

Labelled as the cardio fitness level, your VO2 Max is measured via the device when you exercise and when you sleep, and it is all based upon your personal profile details, I.E height, weight, age, gender, etc. Here it measures yours and will provide you with a comparison against other people with similar stats to your own, so you can see how you measure up. The device will also, via the app, provide bars which display how much fat you’ve burnt, calories burnt, optimal heart rate, and more. This data can be accessed by pressing the heart rate tab on the dashboard of the Fitbit app. The VO2 Max is not monitored over time, and is presented as a figure.

Although it is not 100% accurate, the general consensus is that the Fitbit Charge 2 is pretty good at providing a fairly accurate VO2 max estimation. Whilst it is a good fitness metric to have, let’s hope they will make this even better over time and more useful.

Fitbit Charge 2 : Heart Rate Tracking

The Charge 2 features an in-built heart rate tracker and monitor, which measures your pulse from your wrist, so you don’t need to wear any extra monitors like you do with some devices. Though accurate, readings do tend to lag, so it may take a few extra moments before you get a true reading of your heart rate, so basically it is not quite in real time. Fitbit have however, acknowledged these shortcomings and have provided fixes in the form of updates. Overall the tracking is fairly accurate, although you may need to wait a while to get a true reading of your heart rate, so if you heart rate does look unusually low during high intensity exercise, don’t get too excited, you may not have suddenly become super-fit, it may just be that the info is running late, so it may be displayed a few seconds later.

In most cases with wrist heart rate sensors, the heart rate metrics tracked for long steady runs tends to be fairly useable but with a tendency to under estimate the heart rate. However for HIIT, the Charge 2 misses the mark.

Much like the Fitbit Blaze, Garmin Vivosmart HR, the Fitbit Charge 2 is not for hardcore training, and is more suitable for daily lifestyle use. Despite the inclusion of the VO2 Max, the fitness wearable is not up for the high intensity of hardcore fitness training nor high intensity workouts.

Very Basic Smart Notifications

The charge 2 is not a smart watch, nor does it claim to be, so smart notifications are nothing out of this world. They do however, cover the basics quite nicely – sms, call, calendar reminders and an alert to move. The device will vibrate briefly when you receive a text or call, and you will get a display of the number/caller ID on the screen, plus part of any text messages, if they are quite long. Emojis are not displayed, and you won’t receive social media alerts

Fitbit Charge 2 App

The Fitbit Charge 2 app is very important, and has hardly changed over the years. The app features a dashboard and standard graphs which will provide a brief breakdown of your activity for the day. This is useful because you can refer back and can compare the differences, and see hopefully, how far you have come. The app also features a new ‘adventures’ tab, which provides step goals and targets, so you can see how many steps you have taken in comparison to if you were, say, hiking in Yosemite Vernal Falls or running in NYC.

The step goals you meet on the ‘trail’ unlock a new panorama image that Fitbit’s taken in real life, called ‘Landmarks.’ The company noted that these are about the same amount of steps you’d need to take to actually reach the locations in real life. After reaching one, moving your phone out in front of you will let you pan around the image. There are also ‘Treasures’ to discover, which are just bits of trivia, little health quizzes and motivation.

The app basically is the hub for all of your activity data, and it is very user-friendly.

The Battery Life

If used daily, the battery life of this device will last for roughly 5 – 6 days before it needs re-charging. What’s more, it only takes around 20 minutes to re-charge, so truthfully, unless you are very unprepared and unorganized, there is no reason why you should ever run out of battery with this device. The device doesn’t have a battery life indicator, which is a little annoying, but c’est la vie, as they say.

Final Thoughts on Fitbit Charge 2

Overall, the Fitbit Charge 2 looks great, it is very stylish, and it is very comfortable. Not only that, but it is a great deal more accurate than other fitness wearables on the market today, so it can provide a fairly accurate breakdown of your workouts, and of how much you are progressing. The new guided breathing feature and VO2 Max are nice inclusions. The battery lasts longer than expected, it charges very quickly, and there are plenty of features to keep you busy, without becoming too complex.

Whilst it is not waterproof and has no in built GPS capability, it is reasonably priced for most people looking to use it track their activity and fitness. But for the hardcore fitness warrior, the Fitbit Charge 2 is not for you. Overall this is a fantastic ‘lifestyle’ fitness device for moderate activity that is well worth purchasing.