I am not going to attempt a full review here, there are plenty of them out there that will give you the full technical specs and a detailed analysis of how well the new tracker works. Suffice it to say that this tracker is indeed an advance from the Charge 2, with several new features and more detailed metrics, particularly with regard top sleep analysis. At £125, the Special Edition costs more than the standard version and offers Fitbit Pay NFC over the counter payments so it can be used in place of a bank card for wireless purchases in shops. It also comes with a standard black strap in addition to the garish coloured one supplied.
As a long term happy Fitbit Charge 2 user I was saddened when the metal wrist strap bracket suddenly broke rendering the Fitbit useless for anything other than counting steps, I had had the device for several years and although it was working perfectly until then I did not feel too hard done by as I had certainly had my moneys worth from it. I decided to move on to the Charge 3 and was happy to pay a few pounds more for the Special Edition as Fitbit Pay claimed to work with my bank, Santander, here in the UK. I already use my phone for Google Pay in-store purchases and thought it might useful to be able to do the same with the Charge 3.
I was happy enough when the device arrived but from the start, I found the screen small and fiddly to use. As a runner, I use the Fitbit device as a backup to my Polar watch when on the road and like to be able to start and stop tracking an exercise session quickly and easily, as I could with the Charge 2. Not so with the Charge 3 as multiple swipes and button presses are needed made worse by the small, dim screen and the single almost flush button. The screen is often split to show two apps, which makes it even harder to use. The device is supposed to auto-detect activities but this does not seem to be reliable. As a workaround, I now start and end exercise tracking using the Fitbit app on my phone. I must say again that the Charge 3 does a great job of tracking sleep, steps, and the many other metrics it follows at least as well, if not better, than the Charge 2. However, these days I seldom interact with the Charge 3, it just sits on my wrist recording its data which I then check on my Android phone or PC. I do use it to get an instant display of my heart rate, which it does better than the Charge 2 and is always very close to that from my Polar running watch. I should also say that once or twice I have had problems getting it to sync to my watch, a problem I never had with the older model.
I was hopefull of the Fitbit Pay service and registered my Santander bank account with it through the app but each time this has been rejected with no reason given. It may be an issue with the Fitbit service or even with the bank but the upshot is that it does not work. In fact, I am not too bothered about this as using the service seems more fiddly than I thought and probably not worth the effort when I can just use my phone.
Knowing what I do now, I am still mulling over sending the Charge 3 back and getting another Charge 2. At the moment I intend to send it back but I may finish up keeping the Charge 3 due to the advanced metrics and treat it as a simple tracker.
If you have don’t mind the small and hard to read screen, are not bothered about Fitbit Pay, but appreciate the advanced metrics then this might be a good buy for you. For everyone else, I would advise getting the standard Charge 3, unless you have poor eyesight in which case I would suggest finding a Charge 2, currently available heavily discounted.
Good Build Quality
Good Battery Life
Great Web Interface
Two Wrist bands
Poorly Designed Button
Poor Fitbit Pay functionality the UK