Fitbit Charge 2 review: battery life

Fitbit claims that the new Charge 2 has a battery life of up to five days, a little less than the 5+ days promised by the older Charge HR. This slight reduction is probably due to the larger display screen, and is the same claimed for the Alta. The battery is lithium-polymer, with a charge time of between one and two hours.

We found battery life to be a little better than five days, but knowing when to charge was always a problem until Fitbit added the On-Device Battery Life display. Now you can see the percentage of battery life you have left directly on your Charge 2 display. Fitbit also emails you when the battery dips to 20% charge, so you shouldn't forget to power it up to max again.

Fitbit continues its annoying habit of designing a new charging cable for every single one of its trackers, with the Charge 2 requiring a different cable (above and below) to the old Charge HR and Charge 1. It does look similar to the Alta's charging cable, but has a slightly different fitting. Why?

Fitbit Charge 2 review charging cable

The charging cables cost £16.99 (US$19.95; €19.95) if bought separately. Each Charge 2 will ship with a charging cable but Fitbit users will be used to the idea that having at least one more (say, at work) is essential to ensure your tracker doesn't lose you steps when it eventually runs out of juice.

Fitbit Charge 2 review: water resistance

Fitbit's Flex 2 and Ionic trackers are waterproof and ready to track swimming stats, but the Charge 2 remains water resistant only, so good against rain, sweat and splashes but not up to a dive in the sea or your local swimming pool. Read our Fitbit Flex 2 review.

That said, we think Fitbit's being over cautious here. A Fitbit product manager told Yahoo tech expert David Pogue that he always wore his Charge 2 in the shower, so Pogue did too – with "zero problems", although that was for a limited time only. Conclusion: the Fitbit Charge 2 is water resistant enough for showers and maybe even a dip in the pool/bath, but don't go diving with it. However, remember that this is not what Fitbit recommends.

Fitbit app 2016 2017

Fitbit Charge 2 review: app, Challenges and badges

The joy of using a Fitbit as your wearable activity tracker is not just in the hardware. The mobile Fitbit app is superbly designed, with simple, clear graphics and graphs showing you how you are doing to hit those daily health metrics (step count, floors climbed, distance, calories burned, sleep duration and quality, heart rate, weight loss, etc). Each can be tapped for more detailed historical trend analysis so you can see how all that exercise is helping you get fitter.

Fitbit also shows off your health data on its desktop dashboard, which is more than most other tracker brands do.

The company also leads the way in making fitness fun and competitive, if you want to, that is. It's a real incentive to compete in your 7-day step count against friends, colleagues and family. You can also contest in special daily or weekend Challenges.

Fitbit Adventures is a new series of immersive Challenges in the Fitbit app that let you virtually exploring scenic destinations and even compete on famous running courses. Get more steps by seeing how you are doing on the New York City Marathon, which features a 3.1-mile Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K race experience, a 10-mile challenge, and the full 26.2-mile distance. With each of your real-world steps you virtually advance on a pre-set route.

Fitbit Charge 2 vs Charge HR

Fitbit Charge 2 vs Fitbit Charge HR

Fitbit has retired the best-selling Charge HR, although you can still find it on Amazon for reduced pricing. We have no doubt that the Charge 2 is a great update on the HR, but is it good enough for HR users to upgrade to the new tracker?

If you value minimalism over on-the-wrist stats display then the HR might suit you better than the Charge 2, but maybe you're really a closet Fitbit Flex 2 fan and don't know it. HR owners who want to keep their tracker as small as possible while retaining the heart-rate monitor might favour the Alta HR.

At 35g the Charge 2 is 9 grammes heavier than the HR (26g), but you won't notice it. The Charge 2 costs £10 more than the HR used to, but you'll find it cheaper from online retailers.

The Charge 2's larger display shows off a lot more stats than the HR's but how much you need all that data then and there is up for debate. From my point of view I'm learning to really appreciate the larger display. It also makes the Charge 2 into more of a watch replacement, albeit one with fitness and smartphone notifications built in.

The ability to switch strap colours will appeal to some, although at the date of release the HR actually had a wider choice of Classic colours, but none of the Leather or Special Edition fancies.

Runners will appreciate the Charge 2's ability to connect with their smartphone's GPS, a feature missing from the older HR.

Reminders to Move are a neat little touch, with the buzz prompting you get out of your chair and move around a bit. With the HR you have to refer to the mobile app to see how you are doing on an hourly step goal.

Also see: Best Fitness Tracker Deals

Fitbit Charge 2: Specs

  • Tracks steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes & hourly activity, heart rate, Cardio Fitness Level, plus sleep quality
  • Tracks steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes & hourly activity, heart rate, Cardio Fitness Level, plus sleep quality

SHOULD I BUY FITBIT CHARGE 2?

The Fitbit Charge 2 is a worthy upgrade to the extremely popular Charge HR. It will appeal to both the casual get-fit user and the more serious fitness freaks, although runners might prefer a tracker with built-in GPS. Users will love the larger display and interchangeable wristbands, plus the updated fitness features. It boasts most of the features a serious keep-fit enthusiast demands, and can connect with a smartphone GPS for runners who want to track their pace and lap times. Fitbit has more minimalist or fashion-conscious wristband trackers (Flex 2 and Alta, both of which lack the Charge 2's heart-rate monitor and associated benefits such as Cardio Fitness ratings) but the Charge 2 has it all and still looks more chic than the average activity tracker. It remains our favourite mainstream activity tracker.