Fitbit's Charge 5 reveal hints at the future of Android Wear

The company finally teased how it’ll handle smartwatches in relation to Wear OS.

Credit: Fitbit

Fitbit officially unveiled its latest fitness tracker on Wednesday, but for those following the rumors and leaks, the announcement of the Charge 5 comes as little surprise. Far more interesting are the new features of the Charge 4’s successor and the coming updates to Fitbit’s Premium service launching alongside it—plus the tantalizing hint dropped about the Google-owned company’s involvement with Wear OS (formerly Android Wear) devices.

Design and features

More streamlined, colorful, feature-rich, and expensive is the fastest summary of the Charge 5. Compared to its predecessor, it’s thinner by 10 percent, with a flatter shape and rounded edges similar to Fitbit’s smaller Luxe tracker. However, it still sports the same maximum battery life of up to seven days, despite that downsizing and a switch to a color AMOLED screen two times as bright as the monochrome Charge 4. Reading the Charge 5 in bright sunlight and indoors should be easier than with the Charge 4, as Fitbit has paired the brighter display with an ambient light sensor for automatic dimming as well. This tracker also now includes an Always-On Display option, eliminating the need to move your wrist to see the screen.

Also new are a built-in electrocardiogram (EKG) app and electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor, features previously limited to Fitbit’s smartwatches. The company says that the EKG app can be used to check for indications of atrial fibrillation (“afib”), or irregular blood pressure, which can lead to future heart problems like blood clots, stroke, heart failure, and other complications. As part of monitoring heart health, the Charge 5 will also show notifications when your heart rate is above or below your normal range.

older Charge trackers Fitbit

In contrast to previous Charge trackers, the new Charge 5 will sport a color screen and 20 clock-face options that take advantage of it.

The EDA sensor, for its part, monitors miniscule electrical changes on your skin—a potential indicator of stress. Stress was a dominant theme during Fitbit’s Charge 5 reveal, with an emphasis placed on how the Charge 5 and the Fitbit app together can help users track and reduce their stress levels. Fitbit has also enabled a higher number of exercise modes, with 20 available, putting the Charge 5 on par with the company’s smartwatches.

Pricing and extras

Making a return from the Charge 4 are built-in GPS tracking, which can be used to get real-time feedback on pace and distance during runs; auto exercise recognition; an estimate of your VO2 max; and support for Fitbit Pay. Unfortunately, the Charge 4’s MSRP of US$150 won’t carry over. Available for pre-order today, the Charge 5 costs $180 USD (€180 / $270 AUD) for its three color options—black, platinum, and gold—plus extra for optional sport, nylon hoop and loop, or leather bands.

Included in that higher price tag is a six-month trial for Fitbit Premium, which normally costs US$10 per month (or US$80 per year) for access to more detailed stats, guided programs, workouts from companies like barre3 and Les Mills, and more. In tandem with the Charge 5’s launch, Fitbit is expanding Premium, with a new Daily Readiness feature available for Charge 5, Sense, Versa 3, Versa 2, Luxe, and Inspire 2 users that offers a tailored set of recommendations each day for your body’s current state. Get a low number, and you’ll be directed to take it easier in the form of yoga and mindfulness sessions. A high number means you’re ready to rock a personalized goal for Active Zone Minutes and high-intensity workouts. Sense and Versa 3 users will also gain a Snore and Noise Detect feature, which uses the built-in microphones on those smartphones to analyze and track snoring and noise during sleep.

What lies ahead

fitbit charge 5 with afib reading result Fitbit

Is the Charge 5’s adoption of previously smartwatch-only features a hint at how the company will handle its trackers versus its smartwatches?

The Charge 5’s adoption of smartwatch features may be a clue about the future of Fitbit’s Sense and Versa lines. Since Google’s acquisition of Fitbit, which began in 2019 and became final in January 2021, many have wondered how exactly the fitness tracking company would fit into Google’s plans for Wear OS devices. During the Charge 5 announcement, Fitbit co-founder James Park said that Fitbit’s “most popular features” will become available on Wear watches, including the tracking of “health progress” during the day. Fitbit will also build “premium smartwatches based on Wear” that combine Fitbit and Google’s fields of expertise.

Whether these statements mean we’ll see Fitbit behind the production of Google-branded Wear OS watches (perhaps the long-anticipated Pixel Watch?), or a shift to Wear OS in the Sense and Versa lines remains to be seen. Park said that details specific to how Fitbit and Google will work together will come in a later reveal.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Alaina Yee

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?