Released in August 2016, the Fitbit Charge 2 was the company’s second generation fitness tracker for the Charge series. Like the previous Charge HR, the new Charge 2 comes with the heart rate monitor and unlike the previous Charge does not have a sibling model without the feature. Following the success of the Fitbit Charge HR and the Fitbit Alta, the Charge 2 is essentially a merging of the two models. Just like the Charge HR, it tracks steps, distance, floors, calories, sleep and heart rate, but now shows this information on a much larger screen to provide more information at the same time. However one of the big issues with the previous Charge generations was that the band itself was not easily replaceable. The Alta brought in a new band style with metal clasps to make it easily removable. The Charge 2 uses the same type of clasp to make its bands changeable. Coming in a slightly larger form factor by contrast to Alta, the Charge 2 keeps a similar size and weight to its Charge HR predecessor. Like the Alta, the Charge 2 has a few special edition models available in the rose gold and gunmetal stainless steel, as well as the fancier leather bands. A new addition is the sports band which offer a perforated and more breathable wristband for users doing intense activities. The new generation of Fitbit trackers also includes a new Relax feature which will guide you through some breathing exercises.
- Wrist-based tracker makes it easy for sleep tracking
- Easily removable and interchangeable bands
- Several colors and material available
- Screen gives daily totals of steps, calories, distance, floors and active minutes, as well as current heart rate
- Watch-style latch and pin makes the tracker more securely attached
- Uses a different charger than all previous models
- Can become expensive with additional bands and chargers
- Charger pins are fragile and can stop working over time
- Heart rate monitor can still be somewhat inaccurate
The Fitbit Charge 2 is great overall fitness tracker for more advanced users who want a bit more than just steps and daily activities, by getting a glance at their resting heart rate and sleep quality. Available starting at $149.95 USD, the tracking it provides along with the Fitbit mobile app make it a great fitness upgrade kit for any user with a previous generation device.
Like it’s predecessors, the Charge 2 comes with the ability to track activities directly from the device, but now gives options for which activity you are tracking. As mentioned, the addition of the relax or breathing coach is a nice add-on. The device also comes with a stopwatch feature for easy timing intervals during workouts.
Like any wrist-based tracker, step tracking can become a bit of a challenge when compared to a belt-based tracker. For activities like walking and running, the Charge 2 works as expected. Unfortunately, when walking whilst holding a bag, a box, or even a shopping cart, step tracking can become slightly frustrating to the avid user, as it may lead to it missing steps. In contrast, however, certain activities where your feet remain mostly immobile but your hands are moving a great deal, such as table tennis, your step tracking will go much higher than a belt-based device. The main advantage for Charge 2 users, when compared to Fitbit One users, is that the tracker doesn’t require a change in position between activity and sleep tracking, so users are far less likely to forget to put their device on their wrist when preparing for bed.
The Charge 2’s battery life is fairly decent, lasting up to 5 days. The charging process can become a bit of a challenge over time, as the fragile charger pins may become bent, and no longer function properly. It is highly recommended to obtain a secondary charger for the device.
In regards to the heart rate monitor, it has been classified as fairly accurate, but will pale in comparison to the accuracy of a true chest strap heart rate monitor. For most daily activities as well as resting and sleeping, the Charge 2 gives a fairly good reading of the heart rate. However, when doing some intense activities, the tracker is known to undervalue the heart rate when compared to a chest monitor. It is not uncommon for Charge 2 users to get an average heart rate of 20 bpm less than what it actually was. By adjusting its positioning and tightening or loosening the tracker, one can troubleshoot the heart rate monitor to get a more accurate reading. Fitbit improves the accuracy of the heart rate monitor with each release, but there is still some work to be done there.
After several months of usage, the Charge 2 might be in need of a new wristband. For the rather active users, it is recommended to get at least one more wristband in order to provide a backup should one break or tear. The watch-style latch greatly increases the strap’s sturdiness, making it less likely to fall over time, by comparison to the previous Charge and current Alta.
Overall, the Fitbit Charge 2 performs very well, and is a great device for intermediates or committed users wanting to track their activities at a new level. The Fitbit platform adds a very practical backbone to the Charge 2. When comparing the Charge 2 to the previous Surge and Blaze models, it’s slightly lower price point makes it a decent upgrade for users who are currently using an Atlta, Flex or One.