On Monday, Fitbit announced that its iconic Charge wearable fitness tracker is getting an update. The Charge 3 ($150) will have all the fitness- and health-tracking capabilities Fitbit is known for, plus more accurate sensors, a sleeker design, and additional lifestyle features that bring it closer to smartwatch territory.
Fitbit fans will not notice a huge change in the basic functions of the Charge 3. Like its predecessor, it tracks exercise in 15 different sport modes, including pace, distance, and heart rate (GPS works only when paired with a cellphone), and there’s a sleep-tracking function. On top of that, the Charge 3 gets features that have trickled down from other Fitbit devices, like women’s health tracking (essentially, menstrual cycle tracking), unveiled earlier this year with the launch of the Versa; water resistance up to 50 meters; goal-setting functionality that allows users to set pace or calorie-burn goals for each workout; and a blood oxygen sensor that tracks disruptions in breathing during sleep. Other Fitbit products, like the Versa and the Ionic, have these features, but this is the first time they’re being introduced to the Charge.
Appearance-wise, the Charge 3 looks like a slimmed-down version of the previous iteration, thanks to an aluminum frame around the face and Gorilla Glass over the screen, both of which reduce weight while adding durability. The display is brighter, better defined, and 40 percent bigger. The large side button is now sensor-based, similar to the home button on new iPhones.
The seemingly small detail of a new button is actually the crux of the Charge 3’s improvements. Because the button got slimmer, it left internal space for designers to build in additional sensors (the sensors are also more accurate) and a slightly bigger battery. As a result, Fitbit claims the Charge 3 has a seven-day battery life (two days better than the Charge 2), as well as better tracking for data like heart rate and caloric burn.
All of these updates combined with a sleek, modern look and new smart features—like quick notifications for calls and texts, wallet-free payments (available only in the $170 special-edition Charge 3), and onboard apps for things like weather, alarms, and yet-to-be-announced select brands—spell out a wearable that is equal parts fitness tracker and smartwatch. In many ways, this feels like part of a larger trend in wearable sport technology. Over the past few years, companies like Garmin and Suunto have also begun introducing smart features like music storage and quick notifications into their endurance watches. If they hold up, however, Fitbit’s claims of more accurate data seem like an upgrade that fans should be excited about.
The Charge 3 is available for preorder now and goes on sale globally in October.