Google has just unveiled the Fitbit Charge 6 – the latest in a long line of Fitbit fitness trackers that looks to bring a bit more smarts to Fitbit’s most popular wearable. This latest iteration not only emphasizes accurate heart rate tracking but introduces new abilities with the integration of first-party apps like YouTube Music and Google Maps for a bit more of the smart watch feel. And it will come in at a cheaper $159.95 price, too.
Small hardware changes
Design-wise, the Charge 6 resembles its predecessor but comes with a small-yet-significant addition: the return of the side button. It’s haptic (not a physical button), but it should quell the requests for the button to make its return to one of Fitbit’s most-purchased devices. Here’s hoping it works well and feels good as it is one of the things people have waited a long time to be remedied on this device over the years.
Crafted from 100% recycled aluminum, the new Fitbit Charge will be available in a classic Black case with an Obsidian band, Silver with a Porcelain band, or Champagne Gold with a Coral band. For a more unique look, Fitbit also offers Woven, Leather, Sports, Adjustable Stretch, and Hook & Loop bands. With Gorilla Glass shielding the screen from scratches and a water resistance of 50 meters, this wearable is ready for most activities you’d want to put it through.
All the sensors you need
Inside, the Charge 6 is borrowing heart rate techniques from the Pixel Watch, leveraging machine learning and AI to deliver “60% more accurate readings during vigorous activities’ – a significant upgrade from Charge 5 that should result in more accurate calorie burn calculations; but it’ll take actual testing to verify those claims once the device begins arriving.
For exercise and health tracking, the Charge 6 introduces 20 new exercises (now totaling 40), including options like strength training, HIIT, skiing, and kayaking. Other features include built-in GPS (for tracking runs without a phone), an ECG app for irregular heart rhythm checks, low/high heart rate notifications, SpO2 monitoring, nightly skin temperature variation tracking, breathing exercises, and an EDA Scan app for stress tracking.
And when you are exercising indoors, the Charge 6 now has the ability to connect to compatible exercise apps and machines you may find in your gym setup. With a quick, secure Bluetooth connection to machines from NordicTrack, Peloton, Concept2 or Tonal, you’ll be able to see real-time data like heart rate from your Fitbit Charge 6 displayed on the screen of the workout equipment you are using.
Google services on board
Besides health and fitness, the availability of Google services should significantly elevate the user experience. The YouTube Music integration (Premium subscription required) allows control over your music right from your wrist. Whether it’s playing, pausing, or adjusting volume, the controls look simple and intuitive – though there’s still no music storage on-device.
Google Maps is also on board to deliver turn-by-turn directions whether you’re on a run, a walk, or just navigating the city. And when you need to stop, Google Wallet is also available for tap-and-go payments, so one of the most-used smart watch features is here on the Charge 6 as well.
And even with all these additions, the Charge 6 maintains a remarkable 7-day battery life (with the always-on display toggled off), ensuring you stay connected even when you forget to charge it. The same magnetic charger as the Charge 5 powers this device, making it a hassle-free transition for existing Fitbit users, too.
Why it might be my next watch
Here’s the thing: I normally wouldn’t even consider something like the Charge 6 for myself. I keep up with some of the basic health tracking, but my needs are pretty basic. For me, the thing on my wrist needs to handle notifications, let me take a call when my hands are full, let me control the music, and allow for tap-to-pay for convenience. And it looks like the Charge 6 might be great at all that.
I’m not a watch guy, so I don’t get wrapped up in watch bands or classic looks: I just want a functional thing on my wrist that gets out of the way most times and handles the handful of “smart” features I need on a daily basis. If the Fitbit Charge 6 can do all that while fitting on my wrist comfortably during my two main activities – golf and pickleball – and can be a bit more comfortable to wear in bed (for sleep tracking), I might be ready to dumb-down my smartwatch experience in favor of a more-focused device that isn’t trying to be everything on my wrist. For those interested, the new Fitbit Charge 6 is now available for pre-order and will ship starting October 12th.