Google has recently announced changes in its Fitbit business, pulling out of over a dozen markets worldwide. But the brand continues in New Zealand, and the new Fitbit Charge 6 has just landed.
This new version looks like the existing Fitbit Charge 5 in terms of design and incorporates some new features that make it more useful for those looking to track health signals.
The body is made of aluminium, and the face uses Gorilla Glass. It has both small and large flexible silicone bands in the box so you don't have to worry about size. These are very comfortable to wear and easy to release in case you want to swap them or use other available options.
The display has a portrait aspect ratio, measuring 3.87 cm x 1.86 cm with 1.17 cm depth. It’s so light you can barely notice while wearing it.
Set-up is easy and guided through the app. You will need a Google account, as the company has recently notified users that they are moving from the existing Fitbit accounts to Google, for login.
A Google account also gives you access to new features that rely on this platform. The YouTube Music controls and turn-by-turn directions from Google Maps are new in this version.
Also included is the Google Wallet option, which promises to allow you to pay using contactless transactions without pulling your phone out of your pocket. The Google Wallet option didn’t work though. I tried adding three cards to my Fitbit Charge 6, and all refused to be added, despite all three cards already being used on my Android phone.
The Fitbit Charge 6 has built-in GPS so you can leave your phone behind while exercising which is a great advantage over other devices that rely on the phone’s GPS for tracking.
You can manually start an exercise session or rely on the tracker to automatically detect it. This feature works well, but you might not capture the whole session, since it may take a few minutes for the tracker to identify the exercise. In my experience, it automatically started tracking walks after about five to seven minutes.
With the Fitbit Charge 6 you can also watch (no pun intended) other health signals, including an ECG app that allows you to monitor your heart health and check for irregular rhythms. It also uses the ECG sensor to track your heart rate during exercise. The ECG reading takes about 30 seconds; you will immediately know the results.
An Electrodermal Activity Sensor (EDA) scan is available to determine your stress levels at any time, giving you a daily score. You also get a sleep score every morning, which is useful to determine the occurrences of disturbances during the night. This scan takes three minutes
Other health indicators are the SpO2 and skin temperature, collected during sleep. Unfortunately, there isn’t an option to take SpO2 readings on demand.
The Fitbit Charge 6 is water resistant, but not waterproof. This means you can use it for some activities, and it is protected up to 5 ATM (around 50 meters), so it is ideal for swimming but not good for skiing.
Step tracking seems accurate, and in line with other counters I wore simultaneously. It does not have stairs or altitude sensors though.
The mobile app is easy to use and displays information clearly with help text that gives you information about each measurement collected.
When you set up your Fitbit Charge 6 for the first time you also receive a trial subscription for the Fitbit Premium service, which gives you even more information with extra daily scores and suggested exercise routines including workout video and audio sessions, a detailed sleep profile, mindfulness sessions and a wellness report.
With an introductory price of NZ$ 289.95, the Fitbit Charge 6 is a well-appointed tracker with features worth exploring.