The Fitbit Charge 2 is the upgrade to last year’s Charge HR, which introduced a heart-rate monitor. The most noticeable difference in the follow-up device is the bigger screen. It’s optimised to show you fitness data; smart notifications, not so much. The text message notifications that pushed only showed the sender name or number, not the actual message or snippet; this does not include social media or 3rd party messaging apps. That said, a lot of people still don’t know the difference between a smartwatch and fitness tracker, but let’s leave that for another post.
In this review, I’m not going to cover every single feature as I’ve written about Fitbit many times before, and reviewed some of the devices quite in-depth. The core features of Fitbit are all the same when paired to the app (Android/iOS), which gives you daily stats like steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes, heart rate where supported, and sleep tracking. You can add your calories and water intake if you prefer using one app/system for everything.
LOOK AND FEEL
The Charge 2 comes in various summery colours, including interchangeable bands. I loved the turquoise I saw at the launch, but got to test a plum coloured one. The strap fits like a watch band, and unlike some other straps, there’s no way it will fall off by accident – I know this has been a concern for many. Also, at times I felt I had to wear it too tight or else my heart rate wouldn’t track accurately. I wore it most times, but when it felt tight, it got uncomfortable so I’d loosen it, so not sure how it affects the accuracy of heart rate monitoring. The band I reviewed had a more sporty look to it, so you may to swap the band for an evening out as purple doesn’t match a lot of stuff.
I should point out that the Charge 2 is only splash resistant, and not water resistant. So it can track almost every type of exercise, just not swimming. If you want something especially for your swim tracking, I suggest looking at the Flex 2.
The multi-sport mode is new to the Charge 2, it tracks workouts that are either biking, weights, treadmill, workouts, elliptical, or yoga. You just go into the the mode you want to track and start the timer.
Most of my workouts at the gym are in the weights section so I tracked those, and tried to remember to turn off the timer when I was done. So the ‘more detailed’ info you are given is heart rate zones, you can see where you peaked, when you were in the ‘fat burn’ zone and when it was cardio. You can also see your heart rate in a graph form, and calories burned. Your exercises also have a quick snapshot view of your progress.
The above workout details are great if you’re the type of person who wants to know every bit of information about your workout. However, I don’t think every single person wants to know what their heart-rate was during every minute of a workout. It’s great to have a fitness tracker with a heart-rate monitor like the previous-gen Charge HR, but not sure what the average person would do with this type of data. Unless you’re an athlete and need to know this, or your doctor needs this info, then it could be useful. Don’t get me wrong, I love tracking my workouts but at a basic level and would still use the Charge 2 for my workouts but not necessarily track each session every time, unless I try something more intense. The data from the workout tracking did not get me to change the way I was working out, or do things differently. Perhaps it was lost on me, or just information overload.
I feel the same way about sleep tracking info. It’s great to see your sleep patterns for a week or two, but thereafter, how useful is it? Will it help you sleep better? It certainly hasn’t made me fall asleep earlier, or stop my cat from waking me up. If you love stats, you will love every single detail on the app.
Included in the box is a proprietary charger so make sure you keep it safe, and not let it break, etc. I found battery life to be really good on the Charge 2. I think I was only charging it about once a week. At times I had to double check the battery life on it to make sure it didn’t need to be charged, because it felt like I was going on for too long without charging. That’s a first.
The Fitbit Charge 2 can be purchased at iStores online/nationwide or resellers for a retail price of R2999, which doesn’t come cheap. At the time of publishing this post, the plum and black are available for purchase in either small and large bands. Pricing of individual bands not online.
Overall, I think this particular model, the Charge 2 is great if you’re buying a Fitbit for the first time and want to track a bit of everything (heart-rate monitoring, sleeping, workouts), or if you’ve been waiting for any of the specific updated features. But if you already have a Fitbit (with HR) capabilities, carry on using it.
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 13 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. I’m usually unashamedly taking food photos (@nafisaeats on IG).