After a year of focusing on smartwatches, Fitbit is returning to its old wheelhouse with the launch of the Charge 3.
Announced on Monday, Fitbit’s newest fitness tracker borrows a variety of features from its lineup of smartwatches. To start, while past Charge models have featured tap interfaces, Charge 3 instead includes an OLED display with a capacitive touchscreen. The move to a fully capable touchscreen means the experience of navigating Charge 3’s interface will be more akin to using a smartwatch when compared to past Charge models.
With the new touchscreen, Fitbit is also adding several features to Charge 3 that first made an appearance on its recent smartwatches.
Android users, for instance, will be able to use Charge 3’s Quick Replies feature, which Fitbit first launched earlier this year, to send pre-populated replies to SMS and app messages they receive on their phone.
Both iOS and Android users, meanwhile, will find pre-installed weather and calendar apps on the device, with a variety of second-party apps to come after launch. Lastly, the Versa and Ionic‘s ‘Dashboard’ feature, which allows users to see, at a glance, stats like their step count, calorie burn and more, will also be present.
Surrounding the new touchscreen is a frame made of aerospace-grade aluminum and Gorilla Glass 3.
According to Fitbit, the new OLED display in the Charge 3 is 40 percent brighter and features 40 percent more active screen real estate than the Charge 2. Additionally, the company says the entire unit is 20 percent lighter than its past Charge model.
The Charge 3’s frame is also water-resistant up to a depth of 50m.
To make its latest tracker water resistant, Fitbit developed a new inductive button that allows the Charge 3 to feature a seamless out casing. While I haven’t had a chance to check out Charge 3 in person, Fitbit promises the button works just as well as a physical button.
Tying everything together is a battery Fitbit promises delivers seven days of battery life.
One feature consumers won’t find on Charge 3 is standalone GPS tracking. Fitbit says its decision to omit GPS was deliberate to ensure it could deliver a device with seven days of battery life. Like with Charge 2, users will need to bring their smartphone with them when they go jogging outside and use the Fitbit app’s Connected GPS feature to track their routes.
Alongside Charge 3, Fitbit is launching several enhancements to its core tracking experience.
First, the company is adding a new goals-based exercise mode that allows users to set calorie burn, distance or duration targets when doing 15 plus physical activities, including biking, swimming and running. Similarly, building on its sleep tracking feature, Fitbit is introducing a new ‘Sleep Score’ functionality that rates the user’s previous night sleep based on a variety of connected factors. This feature makes use of Charge 3’s Sp02 sensor, which makes its way over from the company’s Ionic and Versa smartwatches.
Fitbit’s women’s health feature, which Fitbit calls ‘female-health tracking,’ is also making the jump to Charge 3. With health tracking included, women using the Charge 3 will be able to see information related to their menstrual cycle right on the wearable.
Like with Versa, Fitbit will offer Charge 3 in two different models. In addition to the base model, which includes all the features outlined above, the company will sell a ‘Special Edition’ variant that ships with an NFC chip and the company’s Fitbit Pay mobile payments platform. At the moment, Fitbit Pay supports RBC and ATB Financial issued debit and credit cards.
The special edition Charge 3 model marks the first time Fitbit has integrated contactless payments functionality into one of its fitness trackers. Previously, the feature was exclusive to its Ionic and Versa smartwatches. Each special edition Charge 3 will also ship with an additional classic ‘Black’ band.
The two models will launch at $199.95 CAD and $219.95 CAD, respectively.
In Canada, accessories will cost between $39.95 and 64.95. At launch, Fitbit plans to offer three alternate bands: a perforated silicone sports band, a woven band, and a Horween leather band.
Charge 3 pre-orders start today, Monday, August 20th. Fitbit plans to start selling the tracker in-store and online sometime in October. Amazon.ca, Best Buy, Indigo, SportCheck, The Source, Staples and Walmart will all carry the tracker at launch.