Fitbit Charge 2 review: This activity tracker goes the extra mile

IDG.TV | Sep 23, 2016

With notifications, deep breathing, sleep tracking, and heart rate monitoring, the Charge 2 has everything you could want in a tracker.

Fitbit’s best-selling fitness tracker just got a reboot, and it’s better than the original by a mile.

The $150 Fitbit Charge 2 is probably the most powerful, feature-packed fitness band at its price point. The new tracker improves every feature that made the first-gen Charge HR so popular while costing just 20 bucks more.

The Charge 2 looks like a cross between the Charge HR and the new Fitbit Alta. It’s the same size as the older Charge, but has a larger touchscreen display and interchangeable bands, like the Alta. The Charge 2 is a bit too large for me, but your mileage and wrist size will vary.

The Alta is slimmer, but it lacks a heart rate sensor, which is where the Charge 2 shines. The band tracks your heart rate while you work out and while you sleep, then the Fitbit app uses that data to calculate a personalized cardio fitness score. The higher your score, the better. Fitbit told me my score of 39 is good for women my age, though I haven’t seen any actionable tips for improving that score. I’m not even sure I need to.

The Charge 2 also has a new feature called Relax, which is similar to the Breathe app in the latest Apple Watch software. Every tech company is getting on board with mindful breathing to relieve stress, though the Charge 2’s prompts to breathe aren’t as polished as those on the Apple Watch.

The Charge 2 does everything you expect a Fitbit to do. It tracks various forms of exercise both automatically and by activating a workout on the display. It tracks your sleep. It buzzes your wrist to wake you up in the morning, and reminds you to get up and move throughout the day. The Fitbit app has a community of users and social features to motivate you.

There are a few missing pieces. Unlike the second-generation Apple Watch, the Charge 2 lacks GPS and isn’t swim-proof. The Fitbit app still doesn’t work with HealthKit, so you’ll need to find a workaround.

That said, you’d be hard pressed to find a better fitness tracker for $150, though I wish all of these features could fit into a smaller, Alta-sized package. If you’re looking to upgrade from the Charge HR, then the Charge 2 has everything you need and then some.