Fitbit Charge 2 review: A great wearable with snazzy extras
When I took a look at the Fitbit Charge HR a few months ago, I was a touch underwhelmed. Fitbit’s more recent models (see the Alta and the Blaze) were stylish and customisable, and the Fitbit Charge HR felt like a dinosaur by comparison – albeit a dinosaur with all the features you might need in 2016.
I’d like to imagine that Fitbit read my review and took all my complaints on board, because the Fitbit Charge 2 fixes every one of my qualms, while adding in a few nice-to-have extras that avoid tipping it over into “jack of all trades” territory. Given that I only wrote that review back in May, however, I have to concede that this probably isn’t anything to do with me at all.
Read on to find out why the Fitbit Charge 2 is taking a spot high up in our best fitness trackers guide.
Fitbit Charge 2: Design
In the last generation of Fitbit devices, there was a Fitbit Charge and a Fitbit Charge HR. These devices were identical, except that the HR had a built-in heart rate monitor and £20 added to the RRP. This time around, Fitbit has simplified the range – there’s no Fitbit Charge 2 without a heart rate monitor, so the HR part of its moniker has been dropped.[gallery:2]
That was a sensible move, to be honest. For those who just wanted step tracking, the Fitbit Flex and Alta offered similar functionality for cheaper (Flex) or the same price (Alta), so it’s hard to see who the Fitbit Charge was aimed at. Now, the Charge 2 finds a more natural place in Fitbit’s new-look lineup – not least because it’s the cheapest model to offer 24/7 heart rate monitoring.
In terms of design, the Charge 2 is the love child of the original Charge and the Fitbit Alta. It retains the rubber textured strap of the Charge, but adds in the longer OLED display of the Alta, as well as inheriting its customisability. You can now remove the straps and replace them with ones of the colour of your choosing, simply by releasing a couple of metal clips on the underside.
These small changes make the world of difference, and pretty much wipe out every complaint I had with the Fitbit Charge HR: it’s more comfortable, less bulky, displays all its useful information at-a-glance; and if you’re easily bored of the design then you can mix things up with new straps.[gallery:3]
The display on the original Fitbit Charge range was tiny. While Fitbit still opts to display one stat at a time, the Charge 2’s larger display is a big improvement. Just tap on the screen to scroll through steps, heart rate, distance travelled, calorie burn, stairs climbed, active minutes and hourly activity. All the while, the time and date stays fixed to the top of the screen, meaning the Charge will always function as a watch.
That may sound like a small change, but it translates into a much nicer-looking device, and the bigger screen now also allows you to receive basic text and call alerts, blurring the lines between fitness wearable and smartwatch.
The single button remains, but it now acts as a trigger when you want to do something specific – such as setting a stopwatch, starting a run, or meditating with breathing exercises.