There’s a lot of focus on the Google-sphere right now, thanks to the announcement of a new Pixel Watch complete with Fitbit integration. But even when the long-rumored smartwatch actually shows up, it still may not be the best option for your fitness and workout tracking.
It’s part of the reason why proper fitness trackers like the Fitbit Charge 5 and Garmin Vivosmart 5 remain so popular. You can get most of the same experience without needing to fiddle around with a bunch of different settings and apps.
With the Fitbit Charge 5, there’s a good reason why it remains the best fitness tracker on the market. It offers a fantastic combination of health tracking features and a gorgeous display to view notifications or data in a flash. But as is usually the case in the tech space, it left some room for improvement.
We’ve spent enough time with the Charge 5 to know what we want to see whenever the Fitbit Charge 6 is introduced.
Bring back the physical buttons
When Fitbit made the move from the Charge 2 to the Charge 3, the company decided to ditch the physical button that was found on the left side. This was replaced by an “inductive” button, which is essentially a sensor that can identify whether it’s being touched, along with the amount of pressure being applied. Fitbit has stuck with this inductive button for the past few years, as it also made its way to the best Fitbit smartwatches.
The problem with this inductive button is that it doesn’t always properly register “clicks” when you’re trying to select an app or do pretty much anything. If some recent leaks and rumors are to be believed, Fitbit might be reversing course with the button decision. We’ve seen supposed leaked images of the Fitbit Versa 4 sporting a physical button on the side, and we really want to see this make its way to the Charge 6.
Better integration with third-party services
If you look through the apps and services that “Work with Fitbit," you’ll see a lot of the best fitness applications. These include the likes of MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper, and others — but there’s at least one glaring omission. Despite Google’s purchase of Fitbit back in 2020, there is still no way to simply and seamlessly sync the data from your Fitbit to Google Fit.
Alongside the Charge 6 announcement, Fitbit and Google could really blow us away by making it possible to automatically transfer data between the platforms. This also applies to Apple’s own Health app, but the Fitbit CEO infamously stated (opens in new tab) that it would likely never actually make that possible. So instead, we just have to keep our fingers crossed that Google Fit and Fitbit can actually communicate, as opposed to jumping through a bunch of hoops.
Speaking of jumping hoops, there are some applications that do feature Fitbit integration, but it’s a clunky mess. One example is Strava, which requires you to basically do everything from the Strava and Fitbit websites. Even if Fitbit doesn’t provide Google Fit integration, it really needs to make it easier to sync with the services that it does support.
Swap out Fitbit Pay for Google Pay
Fitbit Pay was a neat parlor trick designed to make it so you could pay for everything using your Fitbit, as opposed to taking out your phone. At the time, it made sense because Fitbit was still operating on its own accord. But it didn’t take long to realize that Fitbit Pay is just a pain to use, and is nowhere near as intuitive as Google Pay, Apple Pay, or Samsung Pay.
A great way for Fitbit to remedy this frustration is to swap out its own payment method and slide Google Pay in its place. We love Google Pay for what it offers, and this implementation makes more sense now than ever.
Keep the price the same (or lower it)
When the Charge 5 was introduced, Fitbit also decided to raise the price a bit. Because of that, the Fitbit Charge lineup has gone from one of the more affordable options to one of the higher-end ones. That’s not to say that it’s not worth the money, as the Charge 5 is arguably the most advanced fitness tracker we’ve tested.
But there are growing concerns that Fitbit’s next Charge wearable will up the ante, getting it even closer in cost to the best Android smartwatches. The $180 price tag is steep enough as it is for a fitness tracker, but if Fitbit ends up reaching or crossing that $200 threshold, it might have a tough time keeping customers on board. While we would like to see a price drop with the next iteration, that’s highly unlikely, so we’re really hoping that Fitbit at least keeps the Charge 6 at the same price as the currently-available Charge 5.
It’s time for an improved display
Much like the complaints surrounding the inductive button on the Charge 5, Fitbit Sense, and Versa 3, there are also issues surrounding the touchscreen. There are times when you go to tap a notification to read it, and it just disappears. It’s almost as if your Charge 5 assumes that you’re trying to swipe away the notification, as opposed to just tapping it.
There’s nothing wrong with the screen from a design standpoint, as the slim OLED panel looks absolutely gorgeous and can easily be seen even in direct sunlight. But if you have a fitness tracker that never responds to your inputs, are you ever really going to use it? Implementing a better touchscreen, paired with the return of the hardware button, would really go a long way to keep Charge users happy.
Battery life like the Fitbit Inspire 2
This one’s definitely subjective, as some of us here at Android Central enjoy pretty great battery life out of the Charge 5. But there are others that can’t make it past a couple of days without needing to reach for the proprietary charger. With a screen that’s this small, there’s no reason why you should be able to get better battery life out of Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 than the petite Fitbit Charge 5.
If Fitbit needs some inspiration for this one, all it has to do is look to its own Inspire 2. This is the perfect example of a fitness tracker with a battery that doesn’t quit, while still providing enough fitness and health tracking features.
Obviously, we wouldn’t want to see a larger battery built into the Charge 6, as that would likely change the design and result in a heavier wearable. But if we could squeeze a bit more juice out of an updated version, it would make a lot of people very happy as well.
Have we reached peak fitness tracker?
If you look at the Fitbit Charge 5, it's arguably the most well-rounded fitness tracker available today. It provides all of the health and fitness tracking metrics you would want, along with some that you might even care about. But does so in a package that is so lightweight and compact that it's easy to forget that it's on your wrist.
That being said, is it possible that we've reached the peak? Sure the Fitbit Charge 6 could offer all of the suggestions above, but would it really matter in the end? Only time will tell, and now we'll need to sit back and see what happens with the future of Fitbit trackers.
Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.
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