Fitbit’s Charge 3 adds a better screen, swim tracking, and smartwatch-style features

It may feel like all the attention is on full-fledged smartwatches these days — devices like the Apple Watch, Galaxy Watch, and Fitbit’s own Ionic and Versa watches — but the popular fitness company hasn’t forgotten about its fitness trackers yet. Today, Fitbit is announcing (as the leaks predicted) the Fitbit Charge 3, the latest update to the company’s Charge line of trackers.

At first glance, the Charge 3 looks pretty similar to the Charge 2: there’s a vertical black-and-white screen, and the overall shape and size are pretty much the same. But a closer look shows that Fitbit has completely overhauled the Charge 3 with a new aluminum body and Gorilla Glass 3 screen borrowed from the Versa line. The display is now a touchscreen with support for grayscale colors (in addition to just plain black and white) along with 40 percent more active screen area than the Charge 2.


Image: Fitbit

The Charge 3 is water resistant (up to 50 meters) and now offers swim tracking in addition to the other forms of exercise that Fitbit has offered in the past. Fitbit has also upgraded the heart rate sensor for better accuracy and added the same SpO2 (or oxygen saturation) sensor found on its smartwatches. Crucially, the Charge 3 now offers up to seven days of battery life on a single charge (up from five days on the Charge 2).

The physical button on the Charge 2 has also been replaced with a new “inductive button” that’s similar to the fake home button on Apple’s more recent iPhones. There are no moving parts, and the tactile “press” has been replaced by haptic feedback. Fitbit says that the change to the inductive button helped save room on the inside of the device for more battery and sensors while also making it easier to waterproof the device.

There’s still no GPS on the Charge 3, a decision Fitbit notes was an intentional trade-off for the improved design, price, and battery life. The company pointed out that the population of people who run without their phones is still relatively small.


Image: Fitbit

But the Charge 3 isn’t just an aesthetic redesign: Fitbit is also adding several new fitness features that have trickled down from its smartwatches to make the Charge 3 more useful. Similar to the Versa, the clock face now has an option to swipe to the dashboard where users see stats like current step count, active minutes exercised, calories burned, and more.

There’s a new goal-based exercise mode, which lets you set specific calorie, time, or distance goals ahead of your workout and then track them over the course of your exercise. Fitbit is also bringing in the run detect feature from its smartwatches, which can automatically start and stop tracking runs without having to manually select them.

Additionally, Fitbit is continuing to blur the line between its trackers and its smartwatches with smartphone notifications on the Charge 3, marking the company’s first tracker to get the feature. You’ll be able to see app notifications, calls, calendar, and texts on your Charge 3. (Users will be able to filter out by app what shows up.) You’ll also be able to accept or reject calls, and Android users will get the option to quickly reply to messages with canned responses.


Image: Fitbit

There are also several new apps on the Charge 3, including alarms, timer, weather, calendar, and Fitbit’s leaderboard. Additional “popular brand apps” with selected partners are planned for the future, too, although the company didn’t have any information to share on that count yet.

The Charge 3 will come in two models: a $149.95 Core version and a $169.95 Special Edition that features NFC and supports Fitbit Pay for payments. For now, there are two color options available: a graphite tracker with a black band and a rose gold device with a lighter gray band (The special edition model will come with an additional band in the box.)

Fitbit is offering preorders for the Charge 3 from its website beginning today, and it hits stores sometime in October.

Fitbit’s Charge 3 might include a full touchscreen and new smartwatch-like features

Fitbit’s rumored Charge 3 fitness band might include some upgrades taken directly from the company’s smartwatch work. Android Authority says it received leaked images of the device that show off the wearable’s new touchscreen display and physical redesign. That new display, which used to only be tap-enabled, would be able to handle some smartwatch features, like Quick Reply, which allows users to send messages when they receive a call or text. The feature is already available on Fitbit’s Ionic and Versa watches and would likely only work with Android devices. The Charge 3 might also be swim-proof and water resistant, according to the report.

Android Authority also reported that Fitbit will launch a “special edition” model that’ll include an NFC chip for making payments over Fitbit Pay. Similar to the Charge 2, the new model won’t include a built-in GPS; instead, it will require a paired smartphone for exercise tracking.


Image: Android Authority

Fitbit has primarily focused on its smartwatches over the past year, but it seems the company is getting ready to upgrade its classic wearables. The company just announced its latest earnings and said that those smartwatches accounted for 55 percent of revenue, although CEO James Park said he expects the traditional trackers to sell well because of health care initiatives and trackers for kids. The company launched its first kid-friendly tracker earlier this year. The Charge 2 came out in 2016, so it definitely could use a refresh.