Fitbit Charge 4 on long-term test: Good features, but battery life with GPS is an issue

Wristband wearables have come a prolonged way, and these times we be expecting them to supply GPS, heart charge monitoring, alarms and a range of handset connectivity options. The £129.ninety nine/$149.ninety nine Fitbit Demand 4 has all of these, additionally a mix of other options, some of which Fitbit phone calls ‘apps’. You can choose to demonstrate or not demonstrate these wristband applications, which incorporate a contactless payment wallet referred to as Fitbit Fork out, on the gadget by building choices in the Fitbit smartphone application (iOS or Android). Fork out £149.ninety nine/$169.ninety five for the Distinctive Edition and you get a woven back wristband somewhat than a rubbery a single. I’ve been applying the Demand 4 for many months, and supply these observations as a abide by-up to Matthew Miller’s April overview.


The Fitbit Demand 4 (£129.ninety nine/$149.ninety nine) presents heart-charge tracking, created-in GPS, aim-based mostly exercise modes, drinking water resistance, sleep monitoring, notifications and on-band applications.

Images: Fitbit


The common wristband can be replaced with colourful or woven solutions.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The total layout is common to everyone who has a prior Fitbit Demand gadget: an elongated touch monitor a one aspect (touch) button on the remaining edge of the Demand 4 (if worn on the right wrist) and a removable wristband that’s effortlessly replaced with colourful solutions. The Demand 4 comes with two wristbands and I identified the compact a single was good for me. All but the greatest of wrists should really be accommodated.

The grey OLED touchscreen is massive and you navigate around it applying the aspect button and a mix of monitor sweeps and faucets. It is rather simple to get applied to how items get the job done. Tapping on the clock encounter toggles by way of metrics like methods, length, and heart charge. A range of faces can be established displaying distinctive choices of metrics, additionally time and day, by using the Fitbit smartphone application. Sweeping right to remaining delivers up a variety of wristband applications that have been enabled in the smartphone application.

Fundamental exercise tracking works good. You can tell the smartphone application your typical stride lengths for both of those working and walking, and it shares this with the Demand 4, which can then change paces into length. It is not perfect, but I have always identified Fitbit devices to be rather exact when tested on measured distances, and that continues to be the case with the Demand 4. 

The Demand 4 will quickly detect when you are working, biking, on a treadmill or walking, and it is drinking water resistant to the extent that you can swim for up to 50 metres putting on it without adverse result. If you might be severe about cross-instruction with these types of activities, then you could possibly want a more subtle gadget that can deliver a increased range of metrics. But if you might be just seeking to do a sure quantity of methods or protect a sure length, then the Fitbit 4 works well, such as issuing alerts when you reach your preset targets every day.

With a heart charge check on-board, the Fitibit Demand 4 can do fascinating items like measure your resting heart charge, established exercise zones and report on these, and — new for this design — deliver a report of Lively Zone Minutes. This is a calculation based mostly on age and resting heart charge, and the thought is to reach a aim of 150 minutes a 7 days in your Lively Zone. It is fairly a intelligent thought for those people applying a Fitbit to burn calories or shed weight. Just ambling around is significantly less helpful in this regard than moving a little bit faster, and building your heart get the job done a little bit more difficult. As your resting heart charge lowers, the Fitbit variations its focus on minutes, so in concept you will find always a relevant aim to aim at. Complete reporting finish with graphs is out there in the Fitbit smartphone application.

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Of all these metrics I identified the resting heart charge info specifically useful. I have noticed from prior Fitbit use how my heart charge fluctuates if I have a chilly or fever, and how it falls as I get fitter, mounting as my health wanes. These metrics can enable people today keep track of their progress together a health trajectory.

The sleep tracking is also useful. I like to maintain an eye on the several hours I invest asleep, as well as monitoring my sleep excellent to make guaranteed I am not brief-switching myself. The Fitbit application has some properly introduced graphics displaying total sleep several hours and periods of restlessness. If you definitely want to weigh in with the metrics, the Fitbit application provides you a sleep rating based mostly on the excellent and period of sleep, with a score these types of as ‘fair’ or ‘good’ for every night. 

As for the more options, I did not hassle with the Spotify controls, Fitbit Fork out (a new characteristic with the Demand 4), the climate application, or notifications. My handset is the go-to position for this performance, but I can see how some people may obtain them useful. What I like a whole lot is the silent, vibrating alarm, which is sturdy enough to wake me, but way too delicate to wake somebody else.


The Demand 4’s charge cable is somewhat brief, and fiddly to engage.

Image: Fitbit

The battery is rated to previous for 7 times furnished you aren’t applying GPS, in which case it truly is only superior for 5 several hours. This mainly rendered the GPS unusable for me on prolonged weekend walks, even if I started out with it entirely charged. That’s a disgrace, as GPS is a significant promoting position for the Demand 4. I identified the charge device to be a little bit of a fiddly healthy, and I had to double-test that it was in position correctly. Also, its cable is fairly brief, which meant my standard desktop charge station was just a minor awkward to use. Very long phrase this would probable be fairly an issue.

All round, the Fitbit Demand 4 has some excellent options and is a superior stage up from the Demand 3, when the Fitbit application displays a whole lot of fairly sophisticated info in an available way. Eager sports people today will want a for a longer period-lasting battery for GPS use and more granular metrics, but as a health tracker for standard health and fitness the Demand 4 does very well.

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