Smartwatches need to be charged at least every other day, and millions of people don’t want the constant distraction of another device full of third-party apps on their wrists. New Fitbit Charge 6 It offers a powerful wearable device in a stylish form factor with battery life that only needs charging once a week.
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I continue to see more Google integration with Google’s ownership of Fitbit. This year, the Charge 6 includes support for Google Music playback controls, Google Maps prompts on the tracker, and Google Wallet payment support. These features are in addition to all the useful Fitbit functions, which include detailed sleep tracking, EDA scans, Daily Readiness score, ECG measurements, step tracking, and an integrated GPS receiver for detailed outdoor tracking.
I’ve been wearing a silver aluminum Fitbit Charge 6 with a porcelain band for the last few weeks. Also available are obsidian/black aluminum and coral/champagne gold aluminum. $159.95.
Looking at the hardware, Fitbit offers a nice 26 x 21.8mm AMOLED color touchscreen display. It’s made with Corning Gorilla Glass, which looks great and responds flawlessly to swipes and taps. The aluminum casing surrounds the display and extends to the rear heart rate sensor with beautiful curves and attractive aesthetics. The tracker is water resistant up to 50 meters, so you can wear it 24/7 without worry.
The heart rate sensor on the back has been greatly improved. Fitbit states that it is 60% more accurate during intense activities compared to past Fitbit devices. The sensor also supports ECG and EDA measurements to help detect heart rate irregularities and monitor stress.
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Fitbit Charge 6 also supports sharing your heart rate measurements with some supported gym equipment, including treadmills, rowing machines, and bikes. Check it out Fitbit support site To see if your equipment is supported by this functionality. Although the Fitbit Charge 6 isn’t on the official list, I tested it with my Hydrow rowing machine and it connected in seconds. With improved accuracy during activities that involve a lot of movement, this is a nice ability to have if you don’t have an HR chest strap.
There is a tactile button on the left side of the Charge 6. This model has a designated target area to help you increase your accuracy, which is better than the no buttons we saw on the Charge 5. I’m still a fan of a physical button, but I understand that using a tactile button is preferable for build and water resistance.
The Infinity silicone band comes with the Fitbit Charge 6, but there are many other options ranging from $29.95 to $49.95, including fitness bands, Horween leather bands, woven bands, velcro bands, and vegan leather bands. The bands on the Charge 5 continue to work on the Charge 6, so if you’re looking to upgrade after a few years, the Charge 6 is definitely worth considering.
The software on the watch is easy to navigate with swipes and taps, providing access to important data and utilities. Google Maps works with the app on your connected phone, so turns and other important information are shown on the Charge 6 while your phone stays in your bag. YouTube Music playback controls are supported for YouTube Premium subscribers; so you can put your phone away and stay in control of your music while you exercise.
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Google Wallet works to support payments right from your wrist, but entering the PIN by swiping up and down one digit at a time is a bit cumbersome. Some work is definitely needed to make this easier, otherwise I will never use Google Wallet on the device.
Unlike smartwatches and some older Fitbit devices, there are no third-party apps available for the Charge 6. Important Google, Fitbit and essential watch utilities are provided on the watch and in the Fitbit app; so you can manage whether applications will be available or not. It appears on the Charge 6 when scrolling through the tracker. You can choose from around 30 watch faces that you can customize according to your preferences.
The Charge 6 has an integrated GPS receiver; so you can run, walk, hike and exercise outside without your phone. I tested this while running and walking with an Apple Watch Ultra 2 on my other wrist, and was very pleased with the accuracy of the GPS on the Charge 6. While the Charge 6 has GPS and GLONASS support, other watches generally support at least five global navigation satellite systems, which will never be as accurate as dedicated GPS sports watches in harsh environments.
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Google provides six months of Fitbit Premium service for free with 6 Paid purchases. Fitbit Premium is required for Daily Readiness Score and other advanced features in the Fitbit app.
Compared to the Charge 5, I’m very pleased to see the return of the floors climbed meter, improved heart rate sensor performance, side haptic button, and Google features (Wallet, Maps, and YouTube Music). It’s also $20 cheaper than the Charge 5’s launch price. Sleeping with the Fitbit Charge 6 is much better than my larger smartwatches. Using the Charge 6 made me consider whether I really need a full-size watch mounted on my wrist at all times.
ZDNET’s purchase advice
While smartwatches are popular and often heavily promoted, having another device on your body that you need to pay attention to may not be best for you and your mental health. Google touts the Fitbit Charge 6 as a device that captures important health and wellness data in a comfortable form factor while minimizing the distractions of third-party apps and constant notifications. It is very comfortable to sleep on your wrist, and the data collected can be used to improve your health and lifestyle.