Fitbit Charge HR vs. Fitbit Charge 2

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Currently, Fitbit sells six activity tracker wristbands; the Flex 2, Alta, Alta HR, Charge 2, Surge and Blaze. Activity trackers can motivate you to exercise more and improve your sports and fitness regimes. Everyone is aware of the benefits of exercise, as even moderate exercise exerts a positive effect on your physical and mental health. And physical activity also reduces the risk of diseases such as diabetes and some cancers. It is also a key factor in losing weight and general fitness.

There are many activity trackers available in the market, but many people regard all activity trackers as “Fitbits”. Fitbit is by far the market leader and it provides quality trackers for most people. Fitbit offers several devices from the plain and simple Flex to the GPS sports watch, known as Surge. One of the flagship devices of the Fitbit is the Charge HR. The Fitbit Charge HR has been on the market since 2015. The Fitbit Charge HR is still one of the popular fitness trackers for a number of reasons. It is accurate, affordable, packed with useful features and is pretty attractive little wearable with built-in OLED display and excellent support for ecosystem.

If you are familiar with the Fitbit Charge, then you know a great deal about the Fitbit Charge HR, already. The two devices are the same to almost all intents and purposes, but as the name suggests, the Fitbit Charge HR provides heart rate monitoring.

The Fitbit then launched the successor that replaced both the Charge and the Charge HR. The feature set of the Fitbit Charge 2 is very close to the Charge HR. The Charge 2 also includes heart-rate monitoring without boasting the letter HR in its name. The Fitbit Charge 2 has interchangeable straps and also some new alerts to make it a worthy update to best-selling Fitbit Charge HR.

The Fitbit Charge HR is no longer sold by Fitbit directly, but it is available on sale at online retailers. For example, you can get it from Amazon for under $80 which is a great deal compared to the Charge 2 that costs $129.95. This is a compelling prospect for those who don’t want to stretch to the newer model.

In this piece of writing, we are going to put the Fitbit Charge HR and the Fitbit Charge 2 side by side, mentioning both the similarities as well as differences between the two.

First, let’s have a glance over the main feature differences between the both via a comparison chart. We will discuss the details later on.

FEATURES FITBIT CHARGE HR FITBIT CHARGE 2
Dimensions Small: 137mm – 157.5mm (21mm wide)
Large: 157.5mm – 193mm (21mm wide)
Small: 139.7mm – 170.2mm (21.3mm wide)
Large: 170.2mm – 205.7mm (21.3mm wide)
XL: 205.7mm – 236.2mm (21.3mm wide)
Display Narrow Touch OLED 1.5-inch multi-line Touch OLED
Color Black, Blue, Plum, Tangerine, Teal Standard: Black, Blue, Plum, Teal
Special edition: Lavender/Rose Gold, Black/Gunmetal
Heart Rate Monitor Optical Optical
Sleep Tracking Automatic Automatic
Silent Alarms Yes Yes
Sensors Optical heart rate monitor
3-axis accelerometer
Altimeter
Vibration motor
Optical heart rate monitor
3-axis accelerometer
Altimeter
Vibration motor
Estimated VO2 max, guided breathing No Yes
Water-resistant Splash proof Splash proof
GPS No No, connected GPS
Compatibility Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Web Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Web
Interchangeable bands No Yes
Notification Call Call, text, calendar alerts
Battery Up to 5 days Up to 5 days
Price $72 $129.95

Now Let’s Dig Deeper Into The Details!


One of the amazing things about the Charge HR is its simple design. The Fitbit Charge HR is pretty sleek and because of simplicity, it doesn’t really stand out that much which is both positive as well as negative. The black is particularly more nondescript compared to other colors provided by Fitbit. So if you want people to notice the tracker on your wrist, go with the colors other than black such as Teal, Tangerine, Plum, and Blue.

It is made mostly of a soft rubber material, except for the small OLED display which shows you steps, calories burned, time, distance traveled, flights climbed and heart rate. The screen color matches the color of your band and this is one reason why it doesn’t stand out much.

Its display is easy to read both indoors and outdoors. It is off by default but with its handy Quick View feature turned on, it shows you the time when you raise your wrist or tap the screen. This feature impacts the battery life but not much.

The Charge HR features only one button on the left side of the OLED display. When you press the button, the display cycles through steps, time and other information, and when you hold it down for a second or two starts a stopwatch. The heart rate sensor is located on the bottom of the device. Though it looks like a bit too bulky for comfort, it is actually very tough to notice.

Fitbit had a design problem prior to 2016. But then the company launched two new fashion-focused devices, the Blaze and the Alta. And the Fitbit Charge 2, just like the Alta before it, features a stainless steel chassis and a tap-enabled, big display. Like the Charge HR, there is a button on the left side of the device which cycles through different modes and functions.

Pressing the buttons will cycle you through heart rate, current time, stopwatch, activity start, active silent alarms and relaxation timer. You can also remove any of these and reorder them from within the Fitbit companion app. Tapping on the display cycles you through daily stats including heart rate, steps taken, distance traveled, stairs climbed, calories burned and active minutes.

The larger display not only shows more information but also unique clock faces which are about 7 and they all provide a good mixture of functionality and style. The Bigger display also means more room for notifications. While the Fitbit Charge HR is able to provide call notifications only, the Charge 2 supports text and calendar events along with calls. The display is not actually that big; therefore notifications are sometimes difficult to read.

One thing worth noting is that the display of the Charge HR gets pretty easily scratched, but this issue has been fixed in the Charge 2. Another major design change is the support for interchangeable bands that Charge 2 supports but the Fitbit Charge HR doesn’t. The Charge 2 is offered in Blue, Black, Plum and Teal color options along with Special Edition Lavender/Rose, Gold and Black/Gunmetal colors. You can also buy any of these bands from Fitbit’s website with the price tag of $29.95 each.

While the Charge HR doesn’t have the same amount of customization, the Fitbit Charge HR and the Fitbit Charge 2, both are only and sadly splash resistant. Unfortunately, Fitbit has not made its Charge 2 waterproof like the Flex 2. This means that you will not be able to take it in the shower or go swimming with it. Overall, the Charge 2 comes with a nice design and even though it is not a million miles away, being able to swap out bands is quite a big deal.

A good deal of features on both the Charge HR and the Charge 2 are the same. Both will track your steps, floors climbed, heart rate and your sleep. So forgive the lack of HR in the name of Charge 2 as it is still going to be monitoring your beats using the Fitbit’s PurePulse technology. However, the Charge 2 introduces a multi-sport mode to let you key in a range of activities such as biking and yoga.

The Fitbit Charge 2 also introduces Cardio Fitness Level where Charge 2 takes into account all of your biodata such as age, height, weight etc. and then analyses how your cardio health is compared to other people in your age bracket. Though it lacks the lab conditions to get it done more thoroughly as would be ideal, as it is likely some estimating going on, still it is a significant feature that Charge 2 has introduced and also something big to hold over the HR.

In the heart rate section of Fitbit app, you will see a personalized score based on your VO2 Max, estimation how well your body used oxygen when you work out the hardest. It is pretty much the gold standard for grading cardiovascular fitness. The higher your VO2 Max and Cardio Fitness Score, the better will be your cardiovascular fitness.

Another new feature that Charge 2 has but the Charge HR doesn’t is Guided Breathing. And this is something Apple is also trying to add in Apple Watch Series 2 through the watchOS 3 update. As the name suggests, this feature will get you to focus on your breathing, based on the heart rate. This guided breathing feature is called Relax and when you navigate to the Relax feature, the Charge 2 will walk you through short 2-5 minute breathing exercises that will help you to lower blood pressure, reduce stress and lessen anxiety.

The Fitbit Charge 2 also deviated from the Charge HR by connecting with your smartphone to track your GPS information. Unfortunately, it is not built-in like some other device on the market, but the ability to track is something that the Charge HR can’t boast about.

Sleep tracking is another feature where Charge 2 has been modified. While the Charge HR and the Charge 2 both offer the same sleep tracking features, the Fitbit Charge 2 has been updated with Fitbit’s Sleep Insights and Bedtime Reminders. After a night of sleep with the Charge 2 on your wrist, the Fitbit companion app delivers insights on how you can make your night sleep better. On the other hand, the Bedtime reminders will gently remind you that it is time to hit the hay.

The Fitbit Charge HR and the Fitbit Charge 2, both are pretty on-par with each other regarding activity tracking. Both will track distance traveled, floors climbed, calories burned, steps taken, active hours and sleep and both the devices do all accurately. But at the end, the Charge 2 does vaunt some extra features that Charge HR doesn’t.

As mentioned earlier the Fitbit Charge 2 comes with a big screen compared to the Charge HR, and because of this the Charge 2 is able to throw up more notifications. While the Charge HR is able to display only caller IDs, the Charge 2 can show text and calendar notifications along with calls. It is not a smartwatch in the way the Blaze is, though, there are no ways you can respond to notifications directly from the device, but the touchscreen offers a new way to interact with notifications.

You will get a little buzz to inform you of an incoming notification, but the screen will clip the messages if they are too long and you will not be able to see emojis at all if that matters for you. If you are a meeting or a class, you can mute the notifications quickly by holding or pressing the side button while on the clock face. Overall, all the added notifications make the Fitbit Charge 2 a better device.

Fitbit claims you will get five days of battery life from the Fitbit Charge 2 depending on use and it actually performed a little higher from our expectations, squeezing out over six days total. It is quite the same what you get on the Fitbit Charge HR. Short charging cycles are particularly good where half an hour gives you almost a week of life from the device.

Checking the battery level of the Charge 2 is, however, a little frustrating, for which you have to enable the option in the app and then on the device and then keep tapping all the way to the end of the menu options where you get the battery level indicator.

Dongles are small USB attachments allowing non-Bluetooth desktops to connect wirelessly to Fitbit devices. With many PCs, Macs and smartphones that are now capable of transferring data wirelessly over built-in Bluetooth 4.0, demand for dongles has declined and therefore Fitbit no longer offer these like they did with the Charge HR and Charge 1.

There are people who don’t have a smartphone or a Bluetooth compatible device but want to track their fitness data. If you are one of them, don’t worry because the Charge 2 may not be shipped with a dongle in the box, but it is compatible.


Pros And Cons Of The Fitbit Charge HR And The Charge 2

Pros:

Fitbit Charge HR
  • Affordable
  • Simple, clean design
  • Basic but accurate fitness tracking
Fitbit Charge 2
  • Bigger display is a welcome addition
  • Sleek Modern Design
  • Advanced fitness tracking

Cons:

Fitbit Charge HR
  • Display is easily scratched
  • Not shower/swim friendly
  • Heart rate monitoring could be better
Fitbit Charge 2
  • Interchangeable bands are pricey
  • Not shower/swim friendly
  • Heart rate monitor struggles with high intensity workout

Verdict

The Fitbit Charge 2 is a beefed-up version of the Fitbit Charge HR. The Fitbit Charge 2 is for those who are more serious about their health. The Sleep Insights and more in-depth information such as VO2 Max mean the Charge 2 will give you a more comprehensive picture of your fitness. The added notification feature also adds a nice touch. With bigger display and interchangeable bands, the Charge 2 is sleek and nicer looking compared to the Charge HR.
That’s not to say the Fitbit Charge HR is a bad device. But it’s just a couple steps behind. If you want an affordable and simple device to keep an eye on your fitness routine and are not too concerned with in-depth cardio fitness, breathing exercises, and more advanced sleep tracking, the Fitbit HR is a decent choice for you. And as mentioned before, the Charge HR is not sold by Fitbit anymore; you can get this device at a really affordable price.
Apart from the Fitbit Charge HR and the Fitbit Charge 2, other Fitbit fitness trackers are also available. If you have already looked for them but still don’t know what to get, we feel your pain, as we know Fitbit line-up is pretty crowded. And with that said, it is also a benefit because Fitbit has got one for someone out there. Whether you are a male, female, active or lazy, there is a Fitbit for you.
With the price range from $59.99 to $249.95, Fitbit has something to cater to everyone searching for their best fitness tracker.

Let’s have a brief look at other Fitbit fitness trackers which may help you find the one Fitbit for you.


Best smartwatch alternative – Fitbit Blaze:

The Fitbit Blaze, half smartwatch, half fitness tracker, provides heart rate data and built-in workouts all on the wrist. It is designed with keeping customization in mind. Gym people will approve of the automatic exercise detection and biometrics, but for runners and cyclists, it is disappointing as it relies on your smartphone for GPS data.

To make this hybrid a more feature-packed option, an update brings the guided breathing and cardio fitness features from the Charge 2. You also get sleep stages. That is currently available only on the Blaze, Charge 2 and Alta HR.

Feature check: Heart rate, exercise tracking modes notifications, guided workouts, steps, connected GPS, sleep stages.


Best for Style – Fitbit Alta HR:

Fitbit Alta HR, Black, Small (US Version)
List Price: $149.95
Price: $148.95
You Save: $1.00
Price Disclaimer
Its big new feature is continuous heart rate tracking. Also, it is the debut device for Fitbit’s improvement in sleep monitoring by using the accelerometer and heart rate sensor which determines whether you are in REM, light or deep sleep. The Sleep Insights also give you tips for rest.

Despite those improvements, the Alta HR still tries to keep things simple, no workout recording, VO2 Max tracking or guided breathing or connected GPS. It still does SmartTracking and it also displays incoming calls, SMS notifications and calendar updates.

If you want more from this stylish tracker, check out Alta HR which is the Fitbit’s most stylish tracker but it is not for serious athletes but for those wanting to keep track of health, fitness, and well-being without all complicated stats.

Feature check: Sleep Stages, steps, SmartTrack auto exercise detection, screen. 


Best for runners – Fitbit Surge:

It is the priciest Fitbit you can buy and was billed as the company’s sports super watch. If you want GPS for running routes as well as everyday activity tracking, the Surge is worth looking. Although it has 5 ATM water-resistance rating, the Fitbit advises against wearing it in pool. A few more biggies are music control and text notifications and also caller ID.

Feature Check: GPS, notifications, steps, sleep, running and cycling modes. 

Best Clip-on – Fitbit One:

A bit of retro tracker but comes at the same price as Flex 2 now. It differs by coming in the form of a clip-on. It also has a clock and offers elevation tracking like the Charge. It features sleep tracking but with no automation detection and no extras like automatic exercise detection either. It works with Fitbit’s Sleep Schedule mode. It is a bit fugly but its OLED displays fitness stats. Its battery life is a winner at 10 days or more.

Feature Check: Time, steps, sleep (not automatic).

Best for simplicity – Fitbit Zip:

It is pretty basic next to all trackers above. It tracks your distance, calories, steps and also active minutes with no altimeter to record elevation and no sleep tracking. It features a clock, wirelessly syncs to your phone and also comes in some funky colors. It is rain, sweat and splash proof with a whopping 6 months battery.

Feature check: Steps only, six months battery.

Best to save money – Fitbit Flex:

Fitbit Flex Accessory Band, Black, Large
List Price: $14.95
Price: $14.95
Price Disclaimer
Like the Charge HR, Fitbit stopped selling Fitbit Flex, but it is available on Amazon. Without the water-proof design, it still offers good value for money. It is oldest wrist-based tracker of the lot and provides handy light notifications, accurate tracking and between five and seven days battery life.

Feature Check: Sleep, steps, five days battery. 

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