Fitbit has had quite a busy 12 months or so. It extended its Fitbit Premium free trials during the COVID-19 pandemic, and added new workouts, reporting, and services, such as a new Mindful Method meditations with Deepak Chopra. The company announced its most advanced smartwatches ever in the Versa 3 and Sense, and continued to partner with and lead health research initiatives around COVID-19, heart health, and mental health. And let's not forget that Google's acquisition of Fitbit was finally approved and formalized.
While those are all major accomplishments, Fitbit also announced two new devices in 2020 that were among the best fitness trackers you can buy, but that may have flown under the radar just a bit. Of course, I'm referring to the excellent the Inspire 2 and Charge 4 bands. As they are relatively basic trackers compared to the more complicated smartwatch offerings the company is pitching, you may not expect there to be much room for these devices to grow. I tend to agree with that assessment, but I don't think that Fitbit has to do too much to make a new Charge device a worthwhile purchase.
Around this time last year, I wrote a similar wishlist about the things that I was hoping for out of the Fitbit Charge 4, and for the most part, I wasn't disappointed. After all, the Charge 4 added things like built-in GPS and NFC on both the regular and premium models, and it kept the bands interchangeable with the Charge 3. We didn't see a color screen or always-on-display, but it didn't seem like a realistic wish at the Charge 4's price point anyway.
I should note that we don't yet have official confirmation that a new Charge device, whether it be called the Charge 5 or something else, is imminent or even in the works. But assuming things stay true to form and that we're only weeks or months away from a new device, here are the top 5 things that I want to see in the Fitbit Charge 5.
Make the battery life even better
Fitbit has always done a pretty good job when it comes to battery life on its trackers and smartwatches, and each successive generation seems to get just that much better. The battery life increased from five to seven days between the Charge 2 and the Charge 3, and Fitbit was able to keep the same seven-day lifespan with the Charge 4, while adding more features.
This year, I'd love to see a more significant jump in battery life, as we saw in the Inspire HR upgrade to the Inspire 2. That generational improvement doubled the simple tracker's battery life from five to 10 days. If we could see something similar, say, an increase from seven to 10 or even 14 days on the Charge 5, I'd upgrade for that alone.
Include a long Fitbit Premium trial
I mentioned earlier how Fitbit generously expanded its free Fitbit Premium trial from a week to 90 days during the pandemic, but even more impressive was that it bundled even longer extended trials with the purchase of its newest trackers. Customers who purchase a Versa 3 or Sense smartwatch get an automatic six-month free membership, while those who buy an Inspire 2 get a full year of the service.
How great would it be to see Fitbit throw in a full 12 months of Fitbit Premium to customers who purchase a new Charge 5 tracker? With increasing competition from Apple Fitness+, Peleton, and even Whoop, the more happy and active users it can get to sign up and stay on the platform, the better for its longterm viability.
Don't change the bands
After years of making continuously changing proprietary accessories like chargers and watch bands, Fitbit has seemed to settle on standardizing things a bit. The bands for the Charge 4 remained similar and interchangeable with the Charge 3, and even the Versa 3 and Sense use the same band sizes and attachments.
I hope that Fitbit sticks with this (recent) policy and keeps the same attachment mechanism and band size from the Charge 3 and Charge 4 on the Charge 5. If you're someone who has a previous model and has already invested in additional bands, there is nothing more aggravating than having that money, and those bands, go to waste. So long as Fitbit releases new styles and colors for the Charge 5 (and you know they will), they shouldn't lose out on too much accessory money. Heck, Charge 3 and Charge 4 owners might just buy the new Charge 5 bands for their devices to upgrade their look. This is a strategy that has worked well for the Apple Watch for over half a decade, so there's no reason Fitbit can't follow suit.
Integrate more Google-y stuff
Now that Google officially owns Fitbit, I would love for the Charge 5 to incorporate some Google goodies into its software. This may be a stretch, but I'd love it if there was a way that Fitbit/Google could find a way to bake a basic version of the Google Assistant into the band. It could be similar to the Amazon Alexa integration on the Wyze Band, where any responses are in text form only. Even if the functionality is rather basic and limited to things like controlling smart home devices or asking the temperature, it would be a nice touch.
The Charge 3 and 4 both have NFC for Fitbit Pay, but it might be interesting to see at least the option to have Google Pay on your wrist instead. This may be something that could come in a Charge 6, Versa 4, Sense 2, or some future device, but the more integration with Google services, the better, in my opinion.
Introduce features from newer wearables
Smaller trackers and bands like the Inspire and Charge don't have much room to pack in additional sensors or features, but as long as we're asking for things, it might be nice to see just what all Fitbit could fit into the Charge 5.
For starters, it would be nice to see a next-generation heart rate monitor, as well as the temperature sensors found Versa 3, or even the EDA sensor from the Sense. The Charge 4 just received a firmware update that allowed users to view SpO2 data from the wrist, so of course, we'd like to see that out of the box with the Charge 5.
The other thing that I'd really like Fitbit to bring down to the Charge 5 from the higher-end smartwatches and even the lower-end Inspire 2 is an always-on display (AOD) mode. I know that AOD runs the battery down faster than not having it on, but if Fitbit is able to improve the battery per my first request, that shouldn't present too much of a problem.
What do you want to see?
I think that the Fitbit Charge 5 has the potential to be the best Fitbit, at least, the best Fitbit for me. What about you? Are you looking forward to a new Charge tracker? If so, what do you hope to see from Fitbit?