Review: All-New Waterproof Fitbit Charge 3 Health Tracker

If you want to get a good jump on this year’s New Year’s resolutions or looking for a great health and tracking gift for the holiday season, the all-new Fitbit Charge 3 might sit on the right side of your Naughty or Nice list. The latest reboot of the tried and true offers a number of new features and enhancements, the biggest being that’s it’s now waterproof. You no longer have to worry about frying it when you get caught out in the rain, you can wear it 24/7 except for when charging; then happily take it into the shower or pool and track your laps in water up to 50m deep.

It has virtually all the features from its predecessor, the Fitbit Charge 2 we recently reviewed at Troy Media.

New Fitbit Charge 3 (L),  Charge 2 (R)

At first glance, wearing the two models side-by-side, the newer model may appear larger while in fact overall, it’s actually slightly lighter and slimmer than before maintaining the look and feel of a traditional digital watch. One reason is the stainless steel casing has been replaced with aerospace-grade aluminum and the slimmed connection to the watchband makes the band itself a little less bulky. The display is slightly larger and used more efficiently. It also offers a better handling and viewing experience. The new model does away with a physical side button; it’s been replaced with a water-sealed touch sensor.


The basic tap surface and monochrome display has been replaced with a full greyscale OLED touchscreen so you can quickly tap or swipe to get the info you need with it’s much improved user interface. The enhanced resolution allows for crisp viewing of graphics, mini animations and smaller fonts. I also appreciate that the display is also now backlit. Right from the handset you can choose to brighten or dim the display or configure it to automatically adjust on its own to match the ambient lighting conditions. Physically, the screen is also more robust and a little more resistant to scratches as it’s made from the durable Corning Gorilla Glass 3.

Some of the other enhancements include better accuracy for the heart rate monitor and calorie tracking. There’s now also a sensor that measures your SPO2 oxygen levels in the blood, but at this time it appears to be in testing mode and a new feature that specifically tracks Female Health. Fitbit Charge 3 also now automatically senses and recognizes activity so it can tell if you’re cycling, swimming or walking and better track your goals. Like it’s predecessor, it does not have a built-in GPS, but if absolutely necessary, which I rarely find it is, you can quickly connect it to your phone’s GPS, but it will consume data.

The Sleep Tracking function has also been enhanced to better track your sleep stages, i.e. light, deep and REM sleep so you can better understand your sleep quality. And new Sleep Insights can help you better comprehend your sleep stats and how you compare to others.

The updated interface allows you to do more right from your wrist, including a slate of 15+ goal-based exercise modes. For swimming you can adjust the pool length and for the treadmill you can adjust the time, calories and distance as a few examples. You can also set timers, track alarms and even adjust the intensity of the handsets vibration and opt to turn notifications on or off when sleeping.

Fitbit Charge 3 Special Edition Lavender and Rose Gold

With the new display you also get updated clock faces. Some include little animations including a seconds counter. While I do like this modernization, it would be nice to be able to customize your faces. I like to be able to see the date, time, steps and heart rate on one screen. This clock face, on the Charge 2, is no longer available on the Charge 3.

Fitbit Charge 3 still offers calendar, text alerts and call notifications. In fact you can directly reject or accept an incoming call, but of course you’ll need to grab your phone to actually speak to the caller. I also like that it can now store alerts and gives you the option to clear them when read. Quick reply, according to Fitbit, is coming soon – handy when you have to send along a quick yeah or nay or “I’ll call you later.” This will only be available to Android users – so iOS users will be out of luck. There’s also added support for some 3rd party apps like Weather.

Charge 3 Charging Cable

While one wishes for a Christmas gift of the Fitbit Charge 3 with a standard USB charger, we’ll have to settle for yet still a proprietary one, albeit a little smaller. Then again, there is the added bonus of two extra days of battery life, bringing it up from four or five days, to a whole week on a single charge. Of course better battery life means it will likely take a little longer to get a full charge.

While not perfect, the Fitbit Charge 3 is a major step up from the Charge 2. It is perfect if you want a simple, sleek and waterproof step, sleep and activity health tracker with features like alerts and notifications without having to wear a smartwatch in addition to all the other smart devices you already carry around.


The Fitbit Charge 3 in Canada retails at $199.95, the same price as the previous model. It comes in different colour combos and is now almost a one-size-fits-all with two sized bands in the box. Of course, there are a plethora of options of bands available like woven material and leather (not all are waterproof). If history repeats itself like the last holiday season, you should be able to get a deal on it over the holiday season and save yourself at least $50. You can find it at many retailers, including Amazon.

There is also a Fitbit Charge 3 Special Edition – the lavender model is shown above. This model offers NFC support and offers Fitbit Pay, so you can pay for things directly from your watch – although unlike Apple Pay, support from Canadian financial institutions appears to be extremely limited.

A  version of this article is published and syndicated by Troy Media News Service.

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