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Fitbit Charge 6 review: Should you buy it?
Fitbit Charge 6 review: Should you buy it?
Apr 24, 2024 4:43 AM

Fitbit Charge 6

The Fitbit Charge 6 represents the companys best fitness tracker, with powerful hardware, useful design updates, and smart features not found on many other band-style wearables. It also boasts upgraded heart rate monitoring and ECG support, as well as skin temperature, SpO2, and stress monitoring. While there are some odd GPS issues that could put off long-distance trainers, the Charge 6 packs a lot of tools into a fairly small device and provides an approachable point of entry to a reliable ecosystem. Fitbit Charge 6 review: At a glance

What is it? The latest addition to the companys top tracker line, the Fitbit Charge 6, follows up 2021s Charge 5. The newer model brings a physical button back to the line, improvements for athletes, and useful Google app integration. What is the price? The Fitbit Charge 6 costs $159. Where can you buy it? Shoppers can purchase the Fitbit Charge 6 from Fitbit.com and third-party retailers like Amazon. How did we test it? I tested the Fitbit Charge 6 for three weeks. The review unit was supplied by Fitbit. Is it worth it? The Fitbit Charge 6 is the best pick for anyone shopping for a band-style Fitbit fitness tracker and a better value buy than the company’s top smartwatches. With the return of a physical button and more sport modes, the user experience on the device is simpler and more efficient. It features upgrades to its heart rate sensor and a few other useful tools for working out. Meanwhile, Google Wallet support, YouTube Music, and Google Maps sneak the tracker into smartwatch territory. Unfortunately, though, it suffers from some major drawbacks regarding GPS performance, making it hard to recommend for serious distance training. Update, March 2024: This review has been updated to discuss the growing influence of Google on Fitbit products.

Should you buy the Fitbit Charge 6?

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android AuthorityThe Fitbit Charge 6 looks a lot like the Charge 5, with a 1.04-inch AMOLED display programmable to always-on or gesture-based settings. The rectangular touchscreen is crisp, colorful, and easy to view even in sunny conditions. The device also brings a physical button back to its design for easier user interactions.

Meanwhile, swiping through metrics and apps onscreen is responsive. Users will find minor changes to some design features of the UI but much more significant changes in the device’s companion app. The Fitbit app recently received a significant redesign that users aren’t necessarily stoked about. It’s largely simplified and adopts a more Google-esque aesthetic. As recently as March 2024, we’ve seen signposts that Google is continuing to envelop Fitbit deeper into influence. Most recently, the Fitbit website was changed from “Fitbit by Google” to “Google Fitbit,” a subtle but clear indication of each brand’s role. As such, the presence of Google is abundant on this device.

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android AuthorityFocusing on the device, underneath its hood, the Charge 6 packs the Charge 5’s capabilities, including step and activity tracking, sleep tracking, ECG support, skin temperature tracking, SpO2 monitoring, and the ability to take EDA scans. The device also provides Daily Readiness and Stress Management scores with a Fitbit Premium account. For heart rate tracking, the Charge 6 boasts even greater accuracy than its predecessor, largely thanks to improved machine learning algorithms, which I’ll cover more below.

The tracker also boasts several iterative improvements that round out the user experience regarding activity tracking. Though not a perfect device, the Charge 6 is easily Fitbit’s biggest product push, as other Fitbit-branded lines continue to strip back features in the wake of the Google Pixel Watch series.

The addition of Googles top apps round out the Fitbit Charge 6 and inch the tracker further into smartwatch territory.Namely, the Fitbit Charge 6 also represents the inevitable influence of Google’s ecosystem on Fitbit’s top tracker line. The device packs several Google tools, including Google Wallet support, YouTube Music controls, and Google Maps turn-by-turn directions. These additions help bridge the gap between the Charge line and the company’s Sense and Versa lines, increasing the value of the much cheaper device.

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android AuthorityI found Google Wallet particularly useful, especially given all the mileage I clocked testing the device’s GPS tracker (what’s a multi-mile walk without a stop for snacks?). The digital wallet lets users access payment cards, IDs, passes, and tickets without pulling out a physical wallet. It’s also useful for those awkward scenarios when you want to grab a coffee but haven’t planned for it.

For moments when users do have a phone handy, as mentioned, the newest Charge 6 also boasts YouTube Music controls. This feature only works within Bluetooth range of a connected phone, and generally speaking, that’s fine. I consistently used my wrist-based controls to skip slow songs during cycle sessions or to pause music when my gym partner got chatty. The controls only work on saved playlists, so download your workout jams to your phone before relying on your Charge 6 interface.

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android AuthorityFinally, Google Maps integration means on-device turn notifications when the tracker is connected to a phone running Google Maps. The feature is of limited use, in my opinion, but offers as much functionality as you can expect from such a small screen. The tool is most useful if you are content to bring a phone on runs or rides. If outdoor workouts aren’t your cup of tea, the tracker also adds 20 additional sport profiles, making it a more well-rounded activity tracker for all types of users. More importantly, it now stores all exercise modes on-device, rather than just your top 6 like the previous generation. 

Since activity monitoring is the primary focus of any band-style tracker, it’s great to see the Charge 6 simplify the user experience. In addition to storing all activity modes on-device, the Charge 6 can broadcast heart rate data to popular exercise equipment such as a Peloton bike. For now, the list of compatible equipment isn’t all that extensive, but I hope that Fitbit will continue solidifying more partnerships in the future.

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android AuthorityOn the other hand, not all aspects of the device’s performance are commendable. Most particularly, I struggled to attain reliable GPS data throughout my Fitbit Charge 6 review period. On most occasions, the device failed to connect at the start of my run, no matter how long I was willing to wait. On the rare occasions the tracker did lock on, it dropped GPS shortly after, recorded inaccurate routes, or grossly overestimated distances. In short, it struggled hard.

After several unsuccessful workouts, I finally reached out to Fitbit for guidance. While the team was very responsive and helpful, I didn’t land on a fantastic solution. After reading a Charge 6 review from DC Rainmaker, I learned that the GPS antenna can be impaired when the tracker is snuggly worn. I verified with Fitbit’s team that loosening the fit can help improve GPS accuracy. The cost, however, is that strapping the band on loosely can negatively impact heart rate accuracy. (It also feels ridiculous, like a bouncing rubber bangle.)

When wearing my band appropriately, the Charge 6 recorded reliable heart rate data compared to my Polar H10 chest strap. As mentioned, the Fitbit Charge 6’s heart rate accuracy has improved from last year’s, largely thanks to machine learning algorithms. When wearing the band loosely, my data waivered less than I would have expected for such a fit, but it was slightly less accurate. When wearing it laughably loose to resolve the GPS tracking issue… see above. It’s disappointing to sacrifice one successful feature (heart rate tracking) to compensate for a poorly executed second feature (GPS tracking), especially considering I didn’t find GPS tracking flawless, even at a loose fit.

I still struggled to lock on at the start of runs and found myself working out excessively, trying to troubleshoot. Ultimately, the Fitbit team suggested using the tracker with connected GPS enabled and bringing my phone on runs and rides. This worked as expected but isn’t a great solution for those of us without pockets in our running shorts.

I suppose if the purpose of a tracker is to get users to break a sweat, the Charge 6 passed with flying colors. If you are willing to workout with a phone in tow, the device can leverage the phone’s GPS and alleviate the fit issue. In that case, heart rate accuracy is fantastic as well. However, built-in GPS is one of the band’s major selling points. At this price point, the GPS issues make it a hard device to recommend to anyone looking for accurate distance training.

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android AuthorityOne silver lining of the Charge 6 for a reviewer facing immoderate use is that the device’s battery life is still commendable. Fitbit touts seven days between charges in gesture-only mode and up to two days in always-on mode. The Fitbit Charge 6 outperformed the company’s estimates during my review period, easily lasting 2-3.5 days in always-on mode. The device uses the same charger as its predecessor with a USB cable.

Fitbit Charge 6

Fitbit Charge 6Useful physical button • Updated heart rate sensor • All sport modes now on deviceMSRP: $159.99The Fitbit Charge 6 is the companys 2023 top-of-the-line fitness trackerWhen it comes to fitness trackers, the Fitbit Charge 6 is now the best product in the companys portfolio. To get anything better, youd need to jump up to the Sense 2, which is more like a smartwatch. The Charge 6 has a full-color display, 40 exercise modes, and the most advanced heart-rate tracker Fitbit offers.See price at AmazonSee price at Fitbit

What are the best Fitbit Charge 6 alternatives?

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android AuthorityFitbit’s Charge 6 is one of the best fitness bands available, but it’s not the only option. Whether you can stretch your budget or want to cut costs, consider these Fitbit Charge 6 alternatives.

Fitbit Charge 5 ($134 at Amazon): The previous generation Charge 5 is still a good option for a solid fitness tracker. It lacks the smart features of the Charge 6, the physical button, and a few other improvements, but still offers basic sleep and activity tracking. Fitbit Inspire 3 ($99.95 at Amazon): For a more affordable entry point into the Fitbit ecosystem, the Inspire 3 offers a stripped-down tracking experience for a fraction of the price. It lacks tools like built-in GPS, ECG, and EDA sensors but nails all the basics. Google Pixel Watch 2 ($349.99 at Amazon): For a fully-loaded smartwatch experience, the Google Pixel Watch 2 is the best device featuring Fitbit’s top tools. It’s much pricier than the Charge 6 but also significantly more feature-packed, though it’s still not quite the fully-featured smartwatch it should be just yet. Xiaomi Mi Band 8 ($37.82 at AliExpress): Our top pick for a budget fitness tracker, the Xiaomi Mi Band 8 is considerably cheaper than the Charge 6, yet still offers many of the same tools. With long battery life and more than 100 activity modes, it’s a good band at a great price. Garmin Venu Sq 2 ($249.99 at Amazon): At a considerable price jump, the Garmin Venu Sq 2 represents Garmin’s most affordable tracker. It offers better GPS accuracy and more detailed fitness tracking than the Charge 6. Apple Watch SE 2022 ($269.99 at Amazon): Though also quite pricey compared to the Charge 6, the latest Apple Watch SE represents the company’s budget offering. It’s a great smartwatch and capable fitness tracker for those with iPhones.

Fitbit Charge 6 specs

Fitbit Charge 6
Display

1.04-inch AMOLED

Full-color

Touchscreen

Dimensions and weight

36.7 x 23.1 x 11.2mm

37.64g

All measurements do not include a band

Materials

Aluminum, glass, and resin

Limitations

Operating temp.: 14 to 113 degrees F

Max operating alt.: 28,000ft

Phone compatibility

Android 9 Pie or later

iOS 15 or higher

You MUST use a Google account to log in

Battery and power

Up to 7 days advertised battery life

Charge time (0 to 100%): Two hours (advertised)

Proprietary charger included in box

Sensors

Optical heart rate monitor

Sleep tracking

AFib monitoring

3-axis accelerometer

Built-in GPS + GLONASS

SpO2 monitoring

EDA ECG sensors

Ambient light sensor

Connectivity

Bluetooth 5.0

NFC

Durability

Water resistant up to 50m

No official IP rating

Services

Google Wallet/Pay

Google Maps (connected notifications only)

YouTube Music (connected controls only)

Notifications (read-only)

Heart-rate transmission to supported gym equipment

In-box contents

Fitbit Charge 6

Proprietary charger

Small wrist band

Large wrist band

Six-month Fitbit Premium trial subscription

Paperwork

Fitbit Charge 6 review: FAQ

Is the Fitbit Charge 6 waterproof?The Fitbit Charge 6 is water resistant at depths up to 50m, making it safe for tracking swimming.

Does the Fitbit Charge 6 measure blood pressure?The Fitbit Charge 6 does not measure blood pressure.

Can you answer calls on the Fitbit Charge 6?The Fitbit Charge 6 does not support on-device phone calls.

Does the Fitbit Charge 6 track stairs?The Fitbit Charge 6 lacks an altimeter and, therefore, cannot track stairs or floors.

When did the Fitbit Charge 6 come out?The Fitbit Charge 6 arrived on September 28, 2023.

Is the Fitbit Charge 6 good for swimming?The Fitbit Charge 6 features water resistance up to 50m as well as a dedicated swim workout. The device even offers water lock for protecting the wearable while swimming.

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