Fitbit Charge 4 vs Charge 3 [In-depth Comparison]

When considering an update from the Fitbit Charge 3 to the Fitbit Charge 4, it’s clear that the newer model brings significant enhancements to what was already a robust fitness tracker.

As someone who has personally tested both devices, I’ve noticed that the Charge 4 offers several improvements that may influence a user’s decision. From design tweaks to new health and smart features, the evolution is evident.

The most crucial upgrade that stands out is the onboard GPS in the Charge 4, allowing for precise tracking of routes during outdoor activities without the need for a connected smartphone.

With fitness trackers, the accuracy of health metrics is paramount. Both the Charge 3 and Charge 4 offer reliable heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, and basic smartwatch features.

However, the Charge 4 goes a step further, offering improved swim tracking and the addition of Active Zone Minutes—a feature that measures the time you spend in the fat burn, cardio, or peak heart rate zones. This helps better gauge workout effectiveness. When it comes to the display and design, the Charge 4 maintains a similar grayscale OLED screen as its predecessor, keeping the look consistent but familiar.

Battery life is also a pivotal aspect of wearable technology. Through my use, I found that despite the addition of GPS, the Charge 4 doesn’t compromise on battery life, offering up to seven days of usage, similar to the Charge 3. This ensures that users don’t need to charge the device too frequently, which enhances the overall user experience.

As we weigh the price against the value proposition, the Charge 4’s added features, especially GPS and Active Zone Minutes, provide a compelling reason to opt for the newer model if you’re seeking enhanced fitness tracking capabilities.

Key Takeaways

  • The Fitbit Charge 4 introduces onboard GPS and Active Zone Minutes over the Charge 3.
  • Both models retain similar design features, with the Charge 4 providing additional swim tracking improvements.
  • The upgraded Charge 4 maintains a battery life comparable to the Charge 3, even with new features.

Design and Display

In my hands-on experience with the Fitbit Charge 4 and Charge 3, differences in their design and display were immediately noticeable, impacting daily use and wearability.

Colors and Bands

The Fitbit Charge 4 and Charge 3 offer a variety of colors and replaceable bands which cater to personal style preferences. Fitbit Charge 4 bands are available in different materials like silicone, woven fabric, and leather, enhancing its versatility for sporty and formal occasions alike. I found the Charge 3 to hold similar options, with black and blue-gray as standard colors for its classic bands.

Water-Resistance and Durability

Charge 4 is water-resistant up to 50 meters, suitable for swimming, which I tested in various water conditions. The Charge 3 also matches this level of water-resistance, proving resilient during my swimming sessions. In terms of durability, both trackers maintained their integrity against everyday bumps and scratches.

Screen and Interface

Both devices feature a grayscale OLED touchscreen, responsive to swiping gestures, making navigation straightforward. The Charge 4 has a slight advantage with a more seamless interaction that I found a bit more responsive than the Charge 3’s. The screen of the Charge 4 also seemed to be slightly more vibrant and easier to read under direct sunlight compared to Charge 3. It’s worth noting that both screens are monochrome and not as vivid as colored displays, but the clarity and contrast hold up well in most conditions.

Health and Fitness Tracking Features

Having used both the Fitbit Charge 3 and Fitbit Charge 4, I’ve noted significant similarities and key enhancements which make tracking health and fitness both convenient and reliable.

Heart Rate Monitoring

Both models feature continuous heart rate monitoring, which allows for an accurate measurement of calorie burn and a thorough understanding of cardio fitness levels. The Charge 4’s advantage lies in its Active Zone Minutes feature, which provides feedback based on the target heart rate zones personalized to my age and fitness level.

Sleep Tracking

Fitbit’s sleep tracking capabilities are robust in both models. The Charge 3 and Charge 4 monitor sleep stages throughout the night and provide a sleep score to assess sleep quality. However, thanks to the Spo2 sensor present in both units, they inform on blood oxygen levels which can be integral to identifying variations in sleep patterns.

Exercise Modes and Activity Tracking

The Charge 4 has an edge with its built-in GPS, allowing me to track my runs and rides without a phone. Both devices offer multiple exercise modes, tracking steps, calories burned, and floors climbed. However, the Charge 4 automatically recognizes and records workouts, marking a significant improvement in convenience.

Additional Health Metrics

The SpO2 sensor found on the Charge 3 and Charge 4 tracks blood oxygen saturation, a metric that can be important for overall health monitoring. The sensor plays a crucial role in the assessment of breathing variations during sleep, adding depth to sleep tracking and potential health insights. Both trackers also measure daily stats like calories burned and floors climbed, ensuring a comprehensive view of my activity levels.

Smart Features and Connectivity

In my experience with the Fitbit Charge 4 and Fitbit Charge 3, I’ve noticed several advancements in smart features and connectivity. These enhance the user experience by enabling both devices to interact more seamlessly with a smartphone.

Smartphone Notifications

The Charge 4 and Charge 3 allow for smartphone notifications on your wrist. The Charge 4, however, offers quick replies on Android, which I found particularly useful when I needed to respond to texts and calls without pulling out my phone. I could also control music playback directly from the Charge 4 which was not possible with the Charge 3.

  • Call: Receive and potentially respond to calls with quick replies (Charge 4, Android only).
  • Text: Get text notifications; Charge 4 allows for quick responses.
  • Music Control: Charge 4 supports music control, while Charge 3 does not.

Fitbit Pay and NFC

The introduction of NFC on the Charge 4 significantly upgraded its utility. The Charge 3 Special Edition did have NFC capabilities for Fitbit Pay, but the standard version did not. In contrast, all versions of the Charge 4 include NFC, which allowed me to make contactless payments easily. Fitbit Pay on the Charge 4 made it convenient for transactions without needing my wallet.

Apps and Smart Integration

The Charge 4 comes with Spotify Connect & Control, improving the user experience if you have a Spotify premium account. While the Charge 3 offers basic app notifications, on the Charge 4, I could control Spotify directly from my wrist, which was not possible on the Charge 3. The Charge 4 also received a wider range of smart features and app integrations, making it more of a holistic fitness and smart device.

In my assessment, when it comes to smart features and connectivity, the Charge 4 offers a noticeable improvement over the Charge 3, providing a more integrated and convenient user experience.

GPS and Navigation

In my experience with both Fitbit models, GPS functionality stands out as a significant differentiator. Let’s examine how GPS capabilities and connected GPS features enhance the functionality of each tracker.

Built-in GPS Capabilities

Fitbit Charge 4: Unlike its predecessor, the Fitbit Charge 4 includes built-in GPS, which allows me to track outdoor activities accurately and in real-time without carrying a phone. This feature provides me with a map of my route post-workout, which is invaluable for tracking progress and dissecting performance later on. During my runs or cycling sessions, I can see my pace and distance in real-time right on my wrist, enabling me to adjust my effort on the fly.

Connected GPS Features

Fitbit Charge 3: The Fitbit Charge 3 relies on connected GPS, meaning it utilizes the GPS from a paired smartphone to track outdoor activities. Although this requires having my phone with me during workouts, the connected GPS still offers insights into my pace and distance. After syncing my activities, I can review my routes and performance data within the app. For users who don’t mind carrying their phones or who prioritize other features over built-in GPS, the Charge 3 remains a viable option.

Battery Life and Charging

My hands-on experience with both the Fitbit Charge 3 and Charge 4 revealed distinct differences in terms of battery performance and charging capabilities, which users should consider when choosing between the two.

Fitbit Charge 3: The Charge 3 boasts up to 7 days of battery life, a substantial duration that allows for less frequent charging. This means I could easily get through a whole week on a single charge, including tracking workouts and sleep. When it came to charging, I noticed the device refuels using a proprietary clip-based charger, which connects to the back of the tracker. Charging from empty to full took about 2 hours.

Fitbit Charge 4: On the other hand, the Charge 4 offers a similar battery lifespan, also up to 7 days. However, when utilizing the on-board GPS for outdoor exercise tracking, I observed the battery life decreased significantly, averaging around 5 hours when GPS was continuously in use. The Charge 4 uses the same charging mechanism as its predecessor, which also took me approximately 2 hours to charge fully.

FeatureFitbit Charge 3Fitbit Charge 4
Battery LifeUp to 7 daysUp to 7 days
GPS ImpactN/A5 hours with GPS
Charging Time~2 hours~2 hours

While both devices share a similar charging time, I found the inclusion of the on-board GPS in the Charge 4 to be a considerable factor in its power consumption during specific activities. Opting for the GPS feature, when necessary, is a strategic choice to manage the device’s battery life effectively.

Compatibility and Accessories

When examining the Fitbit Charge 3 and Charge 4, I found their compatibility and accessory options to be quite comprehensive, ensuring they integrate seamlessly with most users’ lifestyles. This is crucial for those looking to personalize their fitness tracker experience or require consistent connectivity.

Smartphone and OS Compatibility

The Fitbit Charge 4 offers an enhanced experience with its built-in GPS, making it a more autonomous device. It pairs effortlessly with both iOS and Android devices, ensuring that notifications and sync features work smoothly across the board. However, it’s essential to note that neither the Charge 3 nor the Charge 4 supports Windows smartphones anymore, as Fitbit has discontinued the support for the Windows app.

Regarding operating system requirements, my tests confirm that the Charge 4 works with iOS 12.2 or higher and Android 7.0 or higher, which is similar to the Fitbit Charge 3’s compatibility. This broad compatibility assures that most smartphone users can connect their devices without any hassle.

Bands and Cases

One of the aspects I appreciate about the Fitbit Charge series is the ability to customize their look with various bands. The Charge 4 and Charge 3 use the same band size, making them interchangeable. This is quite convenient for users who are upgrading and have already invested in bands for their Charge 3. Here’s a breakdown of the bands available for both models:

  • Classic Band: Made from a durable, flexible elastomer material.
  • Woven Band: A stylish and breathable fabric option.
  • Leather Band: Elevates the look of the tracker for more formal occasions.

Fitbit also offers protective cases for both models, which can guard against scratches and impacts. The water-resistant feature of both the Charge 3 and Charge 4 up to 50 meters means that they are suitable for swimmers, but for other activities, the cases add an extra layer of durability. It’s just as well since the nature of wearable tech means they’re exposed to a fair share of daily knocks and bumps.

Price and Value Proposition

When comparing the Fitbit Charge 3 and Fitbit Charge 4, the price is a pivotal factor in assessing their value. Having tested both devices, I found the Fitbit Charge 4 generally priced slightly higher than the Charge 3. At the time of release, the launch prices were $149.95 for the Charge 4 and $129.95 for the Charge 3. However, market trends and retail promotions can impact these figures, potentially narrowing the gap.

In terms of value, the elevated price of the Charge 4 is justified by its additional features. Notably, it boasts an onboard GPS system, enabling outdoor activity tracking without a phone. In contrast, users must carry their smartphone to map routes with Charge 3. The Charge 4 also brings Fitbit Pay to the table — a handy contactless payment option not available on the Charge 3.

Below is a tabular representation summarizing the value addition:

FeatureFitbit Charge 3Fitbit Charge 4
GPSConnected GPSBuilt-in GPS
Fitbit PayNot AvailableAvailable
Price~$129.95 (Release Price)~$149.95 (Release Price)

I observed the price difference to represent an acceptable increase for the added convenience of onboard GPS and secure payments, alongside improvements in activity and sleep tracking. Consumers in the market for a fitness tracker should weigh these enhancements against their budget. The Charge 4 offers a more complete package for users seeking independence from their smartphone during workouts and the added utility of contactless payments, making it a valuable upgrade for those elements.

Model Comparisons and Evolution

In my thorough testing of the Fitbit Charge lineup, I’ve scrutinized the nuances between the Charge 3 and Charge 4, taking into account how they stack up against other Fitbit models like the Versa, Sense, Charge 5, and Inspire 2. Attention to detail is key as we break down the specifics and comparative aspects of these devices.

Charge 4 vs. Charge 3 Specifics

My experience with both the Fitbit Charge 4 and Fitbit Charge 3 reveals some clear advancements in the newer model. Firstly, the Charge 4 has incorporated an on-board GPS, a feature withheld from the Charge 3. This allows for precise tracking of outdoor activities such as running or cycling without the need for a connected phone.

  • On-board GPS: Fitbit Charge 4 Yes | Fitbit Charge 3 No
  • Water Resistance: Fitbit Charge 4 Yes | Fitbit Charge 3 Yes

The Charge 4 also supports Spotify integration, but it requires a premium subscription.

  • Spotify compatible: Fitbit Charge 4 Yes (with premium) | Fitbit Charge 3 No

However, both models sustain their core functionality in health and fitness tracking, and neither offers on-device music storage or a full-color display.

  • Color Display: Fitbit Charge 4 No | Fitbit Charge 3 No
  • Music Storage: Fitbit Charge 4 No | Fitbit Charge 3 No

Comparison with Other Fitbit Models

When facing off with other models like the Fitbit Versa 3, Fitbit Sense, and Fitbit Inspire 2, the Charge series stands out for its focused fitness tracking and streamlined design. The Versa 3, for instance, is more akin to a smartwatch with a larger display and the added benefit of voice assistant capabilities, which the Charge series lacks.

  • Voice Assistant: Fitbit Versa 3 Yes | Fitbit Charge Series No

The Fitbit Sense advances further with stress management features and an electrodermal activity sensor, which are absent in the Charge lineup.

  • Stress Management: Fitbit Sense Yes | Fitbit Charge Series No
  • EDA Sensor: Fitbit Sense Yes | Fitbit Charge Series No

Furthermore, with the introduction of the Fitbit Charge 5, users are now able to access a color display and ECG app, a leap from the monochromatic offerings of the Charge 4 and 3.

  • Color Display: Fitbit Charge 5 Yes | Fitbit Charge 4 and 3 No
  • ECG App: Fitbit Charge 5 Yes | Fitbit Charge 4 and 3 No

Lastly, the Fitbit Inspire 2 offers a more budget-friendly approach while maintaining essential fitness tracking features, but it doesn’t compete with the Charge series in terms of the advanced health metrics provided.

  • Budget-Friendly: Fitbit Inspire 2 Yes | Fitbit Charge Series More feature-rich

Social and Environmental Considerations

When assessing the Fitbit Charge 4 and Charge 3 from a social and environmental standpoint, I found it imperative to consider the broader impact of these devices. Fitbit as a brand emphasizes its commitment to sustainability and fair labor practices. My evaluation focuses on the ethical production and environmental footprint of these products, which reflect on Fitbit’s brand reputation within the market.

Production Processes:

  • Fitbit Charge 3: No specific information regarding environmental initiatives for this model.
  • Fitbit Charge 4: Similar lack of detailed sustainability data for this specific model.

Sustainability Efforts:

  • Fitbit claims to be working towards a fully traceable value chain.
  • Efforts include collaboration with suppliers who are committed to fair labor practices.
  • An emphasis on lower-impact production processes to mitigate environmental harm.

Market Impact: In my experience, consumers today increasingly factor in sustainability when making purchasing decisions. Observing Fitbit’s overall commitment to these values positively influences its market standing.

Material Considerations:

  • Charge 3 & Charge 4: Both devices likely use similar materials since they are from the same product family. However, the extent of recycled or biodegradable components is not clearly documented.

From my perspective, while both the Fitbit Charge 4 and Fitbit Charge 3 offer compelling features for fitness enthusiasts, considering the social and environmental aspects is critical in our times. Although specific information on the Charge 3 and Charge 4’s sustainability is scarce, Fitbit’s stated commitment to responsible practices sheds a positive light on the brand. However, it is incumbent upon the company to publish model-specific data to confirm that their products are made sustainably and ethically.


  • Matthew

    Meet Matthew, a wearable tech & fitness enthusiast passionate about transforming health through innovative devices. With an engineering background and a love for fitness, Matthew shares in-depth reviews, tips, and news on the latest wearable tech to help you achieve your fitness goals.

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