Fitbit Charge HR Review
Workouts are dissected to deliver a deeper understanding of your activities.
We’re not going to go into detail about the Fitbit app, which is available for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, since we’ve covered it extensively in our Fitbit Charge review. It’s no different, obviously, but there’s one new category that’s of particular interest in this review – the section in the app pertaining to heart rate.
With the Fitbit Charge HR and its PurePulse heart rate sensor, it’s constantly flicking and on to monitor our heart rate. Any hardened fitness buff will surely know and appreciate this new feature, seeing that it’s able to provide better accuracy with the amount of calories we burn throughout the day – both from workouts and through normal activity. Using the app, we can visually track the progress of our resting heart rate (BPM), which in turn can indicate improvements to our health. Of course, the lower the number, it means that the heart muscle is in better condition and doesn’t have to work as hard.
In addition, the heart rate sensor continues to prove its value when checking out the “workout” category in the app. When beginning a workout, a long press of the button next to the OLED display places the Fitbit Charge HR into its workout mode – and once finished, another long press is needed to end it. Going back to the app to check out the results, it’s broken down to three different heart rate zones that include peak, cardio, and fat burn. They’re classified according to the heart rate measurements taken by the sensor throughout the workout.
Pairing it with an iPhone 6 Plus via Bluetooth, the Charge HR is able to synchronize data on a timely basis, which is done as a background process – to minimize the impact to its battery. In addition, we can even have the Charge paired to allow Caller ID notifications to pop up on our wrist. Text messages, emails, and other notifications aren’t handled by the Charge HR; a bummer to say the least. At the end of the day, it really would’ve been swell to see its notifications support extended into those other things.
It’s still plagued by phantom step movements.
Before getting down and dirty with the Fitbit Charge HR, we first had to test if it’s still registering phantom steps – a problem we’ve seen in the Fitbit Flex and Charge. Unfortunately, it’s still a persistent issue here, as moving our hand to mimic the walking movement causes the Fitbit Charge HR to register it as a step taken. Who knows why Fitbit is unable to address this problem by now, especially when it’s been a common occurrence with its previous products.
Sleep tracking is available as well with the Charge HR, but unlike the Flex, which needed to be physically placed into sleep mode, the Charge HR’s tracking is done automatically. Frankly, this is a special treat, since we’re no longer needed to place it into sleeping mode. In general, it’s pretty accurate in determining when we’re asleep – and when we wake up.
And finally, the Charge HR can also track how many floors we climb thanks to the altimeter that’s inside of the unit. Interestingly, it’s more accurate than tracking actual steps, which is ironic, seeing that we can’t fool it into believing that we’re ascending steps by using a stair climber machine or something similar.
Due to the always-on heart rate sensor, its battery life is less than the standard Fitbit Charge.
Fitbit claims that the Charge HR is able to achieve up to 5 days of usage with its rechargeable lithium ion battery. In our experience, it’s just a smidgen short of that at 4 days. Now, that can be due to the fact that it’s constantly paired with our iPhone 6 Plus for call notifications, which can inadvertently lessen its tally. Comparing it to the Charge, we get half the amount of battery with the Charge HR, since the heart rate sensor-less Fitbit Charge got 8 days of battery.
No doubt, the only thing notably different here is the heart rate sensor tacked onto the Fitbit Charge HR, as its name so happens to imply. With that addition, it receives a higher price point of $149.95, which is a $20 premium over the standard Fitbit Charge model. To that effect, we find the price point to be more than justified – making it a better option to pick up over its sibling. Workouts are more accurately monitored because the heart rate sensor is actively on to provide users with informative data, which in turn, delivers real numbers based on actual physical data obtained by the unit.
In contrast, the Fitbit Charge is only able to estimate things. Fitness buffs will no doubt appreciate the inclusion of the heart rate sensor, but the compromise in having it is its lower battery life. Sure, it might not be as feature rich or stylish as some other wearable trackers, but nevertheless, when it comes to tracking fitness, it can’t be beat due to the information it obtains and how it presents the data in a meaningful manner in its app.