Fitbit Charge 2 fitness tracker review

fitbit-charge2-7

It’s been almost a year and a half since I reviewed the Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge activity trackers. Fitbit’s newest wrist-based tracker merges the features of both of the activity trackers from last year into one new wearable for 2016 called the Fitbit Charge 2. Let’s take it for a walk.

What is it?

The Fitbit Charge 2 is a wrist wearable fitness tracker that is sized midway between the original Fitbit Charge HR and the Fitbit Surge. The new Charge 2 tracks steps, flights of stairs, distance, active minutes, hourly activity & stationary time, sleep, calories burned and continuous heart rate.

What’s in the box?

fitbit-charge2-1

Fitbit Charge 2 tracker
USB Charger

Design and features

fitbit-charge2-2

The Fitbit Charge 2 has a narrower band than last year’s Fitbit Surge, so it’s more comfortable to wear 24/7. The wristband is made of a flexible, durable elastomer material that is similar to the bands used in many sports watches. The Fitbit Charge 2 comes in a few different colors, but you can also change the bands anytime you like. Fitbit even sells a leather wrist band for this tracker.

fitbit-charge2-3

On the back of the Charge 2, you’ll find the heart rate sensor which records heart rate data at 1-second intervals during exercise tracking and at 5-second intervals all other times.

Also on the back of the tracker are the electrical contacts for the battery charger.

fitbit-charge2-8

Continuing the trend with Fitbit’s other fitness trackers, the Charge 2 uses a proprietary USB charging cable which clips to the bottom of the tracker.

When fully charged the Charge 2 will run for up to 5 days before you need to recharge it.

fitbit-charge2-4

The Fitbit Charge 2 has one button on the side that wakes the white on black OLED display when you press it. You can also wake the display by tapping it with your finger or by raising and turning your wrist towards your face.

See also:  Adonit Pixel Stylus review

The display is bright, crisp and easy to read in any type of light.

The default screen can be customized to show different types of clock faces as well as your current accumulated steps and your heart rate.

Additional presses of the button on the side of the tracker or additional taps on the display will cycle through other fitness stats such as the number of flights climbed so far that day, distance, calories burned and active minutes.

The Fitbit Charge 2 has a built in vibration reminder that prompts you to get up and move if you’ve not walked at least 250 steps each hour. You can set this reminder to only occur during certain hours of the day, or you can also disable it.

fitbit-charge2-5

This fitness tracker also has a silent alarm (vibration) feature that can be set to wake you in the morning at the best time during your sleep cycle.

Using the Fitbit Charge 2 to track your activity is simple. Just charge it up, put it on your wrist and get moving. You can check the data anytime by looking at the tracker’s display and you can also check the stats in the Fitbit app for iOS and Android.

The Charge 2 syncs wirelessly with your mobile device and the app. The app shows all the stats on one easy to read screen. Even more information can be seen when you tap each activity type.

I like being able to see a timeline of when I’m active and when I’m sitting on my butt at work all day 😉 It’s also cool that the sleep tracker is able to determine when you’re in a deep sleep, light sleep and when you got up in the middle of the night.

In addition to keeping track of my steps throughout the day, my favorite feature of the Fitbit app and the Charge 2 is the cardio fitness level info.

See also:  Samsung Galaxy Note8 review (day 5)

My resting heart rate used to be in the high 80 to low 90bpm, but it’s come down over the years as I’ve become more active.

I like knowing that my cardio fitness level is excellent and I also find it interesting that when I’m active that I’m almost always in fat burning mode for the longest time. Looks like I need to work on staying in the cardio zone more often.

fitbit-charge2-7

The Fitbit Charge 2 tracks all your active moments, but it can do other things too. It has a stop watch feature and it can help you chill out if you’re stressed by guiding you through breathing sessions based on your heart rate. You can also enable notifications to receive call, text and calendar alerts on the display when your phone is nearby. It even works with Google Hangouts to show scrolling messages when someone pings you.

Final thoughts

When it comes to fitness tracking wearables, Fitbit is still the one to beat. The Fitbit Charge 2 has all the features most active (and people who aspire to be active) need to know. It shows you the time, date, daily step count, heart rate, stairs climbed, calories burned, distance traveled, and sleep tracking. Throw in smartphone notifications, reminders to move, guided breathing exercises to help you destress and automatic exercise tracking, allows the Charge 2 to easily earn an award for my current favorite fitness tracking device.

Source: The sample for this review was provided by Fitbit. Please visit their site for more info.

If you liked this story, be sure to read our other stories:


 

Product Information

Price:$149.95
Manufacturer:Fitbit
Pros:
  • Continuous heart rate monitoring
  • Tracks steps, sleep, stairs and more
  • Easy to use
Cons:
  • None
15 comments… add one
  • Bob Kolin December 9, 2016, 8:46 am

    Julie,

    You’ve done a nice job of describing all of its bells and whistles, but how accurate is it though? I moved away from Fitbit products (I now use Garmin) several years ago because they just weren’t very accurate. And while none of these devices are perfectly accurate, with Fitbit, clapping your hands or shaking your wrist would increase your step count.

    • Julie Strietelmeier December 9, 2016, 10:12 am

      No step tracker is 100% perfect. I keep a simple tracker in my pocket all day and the difference between that one and wrist worn trackers is usually within 200-500 steps. The Fitbit Charge 2 was the same. Who knows which tracker is more accurate. It used to bother me, but anymore, I just use them to make sure I’m getting enough movement during the day. Seeing the exact number of steps isn’t a big deal… at least to me.

  • Lynn Lopez December 9, 2016, 12:22 pm

    How accurate is the HR monitor. I had the original Charge HR and it was horrible. It took forever to get a reading and it was not good on recording changes. If you just ran or did an aerobic exercise it would ‘eventually’ start showing the heart rate. However if I was doing strength training or some other activity where my heart rate would fluctuate, it would not pick up those changes quickly enough. I am curious to see if this HR monitor is more accurate in picking up HR changes.

    • Julie Strietelmeier December 9, 2016, 1:00 pm

      I’ve not noticed any issues with it recognizing changes in my heart rate due to different activities. Granted, my activities are walking, sitting, and workouts that include squats, crunches, lunges, pushups, bicep curls, calf raises and other low movement type strength exercises.

  • Jackie Cheng December 9, 2016, 12:44 pm

    I used to be loyal to Fitbit. Started out with the Flex and upgraded to the Charge HR which I loved. But I’ve since moved to using Garmin’s Fenix 3 HR and love it. It’s definitely a bigger tracker but I got used to it.

  • Ray Raddatz December 10, 2016, 3:45 pm

    I’ve given up on Fitbit as well. I picked up the first Samsung Android Wear watch over two years ago and it’s still going strong. I’d like the battery life of the Fitbit but I’m done with closed ecosystems and Fitbit keeps your data in their walled garden.

    • Julie Strietelmeier December 11, 2016, 10:38 am

      Can you explain what you mean about Fitbit keeping your data in a walled garden? You can export your data from the Fitbit dashboard and you can also link up the Fitbit data with other apps like Runtastic, MyfitnessPal and others.

  • Ray Raddatz December 11, 2016, 10:51 am

    The Starving Dietician has a good article about it but, essentially, they don’t integrate with Heathkit or Google Fit and they won’t take step data from Android Wear.

    http://www.starvingdietitian.com/2014/11/01/why-i-quit-fitbit-for-now/

  • debbie December 18, 2016, 8:01 pm

    i know i cannot go swimming with the fit bit on but can it be worn while in the shower?

  • Sailon December 20, 2016, 12:11 pm

    The FitBit scam:

    I am not buying any products that require a special plug to charge.

    These “proprietary” adapters are just a way to gouge additional funds from the public. In the case of FitBit, your charging cables don’t even fit other Fitbit products within your own product family!

    What a scam. But hey, maybe the buying public is too stupid to understand this… and then again, maybe they aren’t.

    I will try and help them understand what your company is doing here by posting this all over the Internet, I suggest others do the same.

    Merry Christmas!

  • Jane P. December 24, 2016, 8:57 pm

    Julie,
    Great review. I ordered a Charge 2 on Cyber Monday from Amazon. It was on sale for $100.00. I have been interested in a tracker for some time, and the price was right on a fairly new product which had received positive reviews.

    One thing right off: I really like the Charge 2. It is “relatively” nice looking – much more pleasant on the wrist than the Apple watch. And for a reasonable price ($10-$30), you can get a wide array of interchangeable bands from other manufactures. How fun is that? I also like the fact that you do not need a phone near by – unless you want to piggy back on your phone’s GPS or take advantage of Fitbit’s notification function.

    And Fitbit customer support is superb. They have a great community forum. You can also contact them via phone, email and online chat. I happen to like using Chat and they helped answer several questions. They also update their software on a regular basis. Just last week they added several functions which added value to the product (i.e. displaying the battery level on the tracker). And … Fitbit recently purchased Withings. They apparently want access to Withing’s fitness tracker programming expertise. This tells me that Fitbit plans to be around a while and wants to innovate.

    The Charge 2 has lots of bells and whistles. But I was curious regarding HR accuracy. I have a HR chest strap, and found the Fitbit extremely accurate when using a stationary bike and elliptical trainer. My Polar Strap reported my HR just one point lower than my Charge 2 which amazed me. It also converted my aerobic workouts into steps – so my workouts count towards achieving 10,000 steps per day. However, it seemed to underestimate the distance “traveled” when compared against my stationary bike or elliptical trainer.
    Moreover, when taking a walk … not very accurate at all. It understated my steps and overstated my HR by 70-80 points!

    I have been on Fitbit’s web site and step inaccuracy seems to be a common complaint. Fitbit recommends clients calculate their stride and input that into their individual profiles. But I have no idea why the Charge 2 recorded my HR so radically.

    I do like the sleep tracking function on the device. And I found it to be fairly accurate. And it is motivating me to get to bed earlier.

    The other function i appreciate is movement reminder. It gently vibrates every hour and displays “cute” reminders to get up and walk around. This reminder is not particularly obnoxious – which, IMHO, is a big plus. However, I have begun to respond and leave my desk to take a short walk around the office.

    I have not yet set up the notification function. But I intend to do so this weekend.

    Evenso, I do not think I’d spend much more than $100 for this device. And i do agree with Sailon that requiring a special charging plug is bulls#*t. I also agree with Ray R. that Fitbit should allow for data sharing with Apple Healthkit and Google Fit. It may be that Apple charges developers to integrate with Apple. But if that is not the case, they have no excuse.

    I kinda disagree with Julie regarding the importance of accurately recording steps. I plan to dig up my old pedometer and compare it against my fitbit. Where a couple of hundred steps out of 10,000 are not all that important much more would begin to bother me. Same concern with underestimating distance on aerobic exercise equipment. Which is why I’d wait for this product to go on sale.

    However, it does motivate me to take walks throughout my day, workout daily, get more sleep, and think about my diet. And did I mention that I can customize the “look” using a variety of off market Charge 2 bands? In my gadgeteer world, looks count too.

    BTW, as of last night, Amazon was selling the Charge 2 for $126. Not sure what they’ll go for after Christmas.

    Jane P.

  • Suzie Winget January 22, 2017, 10:59 am

    There is also a breathing exercise to relax your body by following the on-screen instructions. It can also show notification of incoming calls, messages and calendar alerts. Thanks for sharing

  • Bennett April 28, 2017, 10:02 pm

    I prefer classy design of fitbit charge 2 & It’s comfortable and feels like good quality leather.According to me i also Makes the Charge 2 look like a real watch over a sports accessory.

Leave a Comment