Fitbit Charge 4 on long-term test: Good features, but battery life with GPS is an issue

Matthew N. Henry

Wristband wearables have occur a very long way, and these days we anticipate them to offer you GPS, coronary heart amount monitoring, alarms and a selection of handset connectivity functions. The £129.ninety nine/$149.ninety nine Fitbit Demand 4 has all of these, plus a mix of other functions, some of which Fitbit phone calls ‘apps’. You can choose to show or not show these wristband apps, which include things like a contactless payment wallet termed Fitbit Fork out, on the system by creating selections in the Fitbit smartphone application (iOS or Android). Fork out £149.ninety nine/$169.95 for the Distinctive Version and you get a woven again wristband instead than a rubbery one. I have been utilizing the Demand 4 for many weeks, and offer you these observations as a comply with-up to Matthew Miller’s April critique.


The Fitbit Demand 4 (£129.ninety nine/$149.ninety nine) delivers coronary heart-amount tracking, constructed-in GPS, purpose-based mostly work out modes, drinking water resistance, rest monitoring, notifications and on-band apps.

Pictures: Fitbit


The conventional wristband can be replaced with vibrant or woven choices.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The general layout is common to any individual who has a previous Fitbit Demand system: an elongated contact display a single side (contact) button on the left edge of the Demand 4 (if worn on the right wrist) and a removable wristband which is simply replaced with vibrant choices. The Demand 4 arrives with two wristbands and I found the smaller one was high-quality for me. All but the biggest of wrists should be accommodated.

The grey OLED touchscreen is significant and you navigate around it utilizing the side button and a mix of display sweeps and taps. It’s really quick to get utilised to how factors work. Tapping on the clock encounter toggles via metrics like measures, length, and coronary heart amount. A selection of faces can be established exhibiting diverse selections of metrics, plus time and day, by way of the Fitbit smartphone application. Sweeping right to left brings up numerous wristband apps that have been enabled in the smartphone application.

Essential exercise tracking functions high-quality. You can convey to the smartphone application your normal stride lengths for each managing and strolling, and it shares this with the Demand 4, which can then transform paces into length. It’s not best, but I have always found Fitbit products to be really correct when tested on calculated distances, and that stays the case with the Demand 4. 

The Demand 4 will automatically detect when you are managing, cycling, on a treadmill or strolling, and it is drinking water resistant to the extent that you can swim for up to 50 metres wearing it without adverse result. If you might be critical about cross-education with these kinds of pursuits, then you could possibly want a much more subtle system that can deliver a larger selection of metrics. But if you might be just on the lookout to do a sure quantity of measures or go over a sure length, then the Fitbit 4 functions well, such as issuing alerts when you arrive at your preset targets each working day.

With a coronary heart amount watch on-board, the Fitibit Demand 4 can do fascinating factors like measure your resting coronary heart amount, established exercise zones and report on these, and — new for this model — deliver a report of Active Zone Minutes. This is a calculation based mostly on age and resting coronary heart amount, and the plan is to arrive at a purpose of a hundred and fifty minutes a week in your Active Zone. It’s very a clever plan for those people utilizing a Fitbit to burn up calories or lose excess weight. Just ambling around is considerably less practical in this regard than transferring a bit faster, and creating your coronary heart work a bit more difficult. As your resting coronary heart amount lowers, the Fitbit variations its focus on minutes, so in principle there’s always a relevant purpose to purpose at. Full reporting finish with graphs is out there in the Fitbit smartphone application.

SEE: 5G smartphones: A cheat sheet (absolutely free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Of all these metrics I found the resting coronary heart amount info significantly helpful. I have observed from previous Fitbit use how my coronary heart amount fluctuates if I have a cold or fever, and how it falls as I get fitter, increasing as my health and fitness wanes. These metrics can support people today keep track of their progress alongside a health and fitness trajectory.

The rest tracking is also helpful. I like to continue to keep an eye on the several hours I devote asleep, as well as monitoring my rest top quality to make sure I’m not small-changing myself. The Fitbit application has some nicely offered graphics exhibiting general rest several hours and intervals of restlessness. If you truly want to weigh in with the metrics, the Fitbit application presents you a rest score based mostly on the top quality and length of rest, with a score these as ‘fair’ or ‘good’ for each night. 

As for the supplemental functions, I failed to bother with the Spotify controls, Fitbit Fork out (a new attribute with the Demand 4), the weather application, or notifications. My handset is the go-to location for this functionality, but I can see how some consumers may find them helpful. What I like a lot is the silent, vibrating alarm, which is robust adequate to wake me, but way too delicate to wake another person else.


The Demand 4’s demand cable is instead small, and fiddly to have interaction.

Image: Fitbit

The battery is rated to final for 7 days presented you aren’t utilizing GPS, in which case it is only excellent for 5 several hours. This essentially rendered the GPS unusable for me on very long weekend walks, even if I began with it fully charged. That’s a shame, as GPS is a major promoting place for the Demand 4. I found the demand unit to be a bit of a fiddly suit, and I had to double-examine that it was in location correctly. Also, its cable is very small, which meant my usual desktop demand station was just a tiny uncomfortable to use. Lengthy time period this would most likely be very an situation.

General, the Fitbit Demand 4 has some fantastic functions and is a excellent action up from the Demand 3, even though the Fitbit application shows a lot of very complicated info in an accessible way. Eager athletics people today will want a extended-long lasting battery for GPS use and much more granular metrics, but as a health and fitness tracker for typical health and fitness the Demand 4 does very well.

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