I'll admit it. I freaking love fitness trackers.
The notion that I can wear a device that can help me keep tabs on my activity, my fitness goals, and my sleep habits, and even function as a regular watch (how novel) is one that never ceases to amaze me. Smartwatches are great for some, and Fitbit makes one of our favorites in the Versa 2, but the simpler bands like the Inspire and Charge lines are more my speed.
The Charge 3 was released in the late summer/early fall of 2018, and rumors point to a Charge 4 device launching at some point this year, though who really knows with all of the delays and uncertainty that the COVID-19 scare has created. Regardless of when it is released, I do have faith that Fitbit will give us another Charge device, presumably called the Charge 4. So taking that as a given, here is what I hope for out of that new wearable.
What others have been asking for
Before I share my wishlist, I'd like to start by sharing some of the common feature requests for the Charge 4 that I've seen across the web and heard from friends and colleagues. Many of these tend to focus on major enhancements, that honestly, I don't see coming in this next revision.
The first major request that I've come across is for onboard GPS, rather than the connected GPS that most Fitbit devices offer. While I understand the motivations behind this request (not having to carry a phone being the primary one), I'm a bit skeptical that this will be added. Including this feature would mean a hit in battery life, and could increase the size of the device, and the price tag as well. I suspect most who wear the Charge line of trackers don't really care too much about this feature, because if they do, they're probably already looking at a Garmin or something similar.
Another request I've seen is for a color OLED screen. I think this is somewhat likely, but I wouldn't hold my breath here either. Color screens are one of the points of differentiation between the fitness trackers and smartwatches in Fitbit's portfolio of products, and I don't think it's as important to people as NFC, longer battery life, or more case and band color options.
One of the most common requests that I actually do think could show up on the Charge 4 is an always-on display feature. Since Fitbit rolled this out last year on the Versa 2, I think this would be a mode they could easily add to this monochrome OLED display.
What I want on the Charge 4
I'm a simple man with simple needs, and I don't need much. I've gone on and on before about how much I love the basic Fitbit trackers over smartwatches, and barring any major changes, I'm going to continue purchasing devices like the Charge 3. Knowing where I'm coming from, you can understand why my wish list for the Charge 4 is relatively modest.
The biggest wishlist item for me is an improved display. Don't get me wrong, the OLED screen on the Charge 3 is good enough for the indoors, but with my aging eyes, it would be better if it could be made to be more visible outside (where most of my athletic activity takes place). When I'm out on a walk, hike, or the rare run, I can't really see my time or stats very well. If Fitbit would increase the brightness or have an outdoor setting it would vastly improve the functionality of the device for me.
Keeping with this train of thought, I'd love to see some more watch face options. I imagine that the Charge's rectangular shape is hard to work with, but I think Fitbit could either open it up to third-party or indie developers (like they do for the Versa and Ionic lines) or refresh some of the dated designs currently on offer for the Charge 3 tracker.
Hand-in-hand with more watch faces, it would be nice to see more apps on the Charge 4. The Charge 3 doesn't have any real apps apart from the Relax app, the Weather app, and basic functions like exercise modes, timers, and alarms. If Fitbit could squeeze in another couple of basic feature apps like a to-do list or even just the Leaderboard app that the Versa and Ionic have, I'd be happy.
The Charge 3 currently allows for basic notification responses in the form of pre-selected messages, likes, and dislikes. I'd love to see this expanded to allow for custom replies like the Versa and Ionic offer (which you could type in the app), or even for Fitbit to add a microphone and/or speaker to enable voice replies like my trusty old Pebble Time had back in the day.
If Fitbit did see fit to put a microphone and/or speaker on the Charge 4, it would be great to see built-in Alexa support like on the Versa 2, or, more likely, Google Assistant support (since Google is attempting to buy Fitbit). Being able to interact with a voice assistant on the go would be a real benefit, and it's something that even the new $25 Wyze Band is reportedly offering.
With my final wish, I'd ask Fitbit for improved battery life. Sure, five-day battery life is great, but you know what would be even better? 7. 10. 14 days. You get the idea.
So what are we going to get?
Over the past week, we've seen leaked renders of the Charge 4 , which on the surface don't seem to show significant changes to the wearable. Apart from some new color options in the bands and casings, we don't have a lot to go on here.
If I had to bet based on these leaks, I'd say we might see slightly improved battery life, NFC payments on all variants, and maybe an always-on display option. I don't mind it if Fitbit stays with the same general design as the Charge 3, and I have to say that I'm super excited about that purported Storm Blue/Black variant! Time will tell how far off the mark I am though.
What changes do you want to see in the Charge 4? Let us know in the comments below.
Best in clasp
The best at what it does, but nothing more
The Fitbit Charge 3 is just the right size for most people, offers week-long battery life, notifications, and special extras like blood oxygen variation measurements and sleep tracking.
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