It’s been nearly two years since Fitbit announced the Charge 5. But the company has taken that time to deepen its ties with the Google ecosystem, following Google’s $2.1 acquisition of it in 2021. The new Charge 6, announced today, is Fitbit’s first fitness tracker specifically designed to take advantage of its new owner’s services.
The sixth-generation Charge will start at $160, which is $20 less than the Charge 5’s launch price (though, that’s fallen to just $150 these days). The bigger news, though, is that the navigation button is back. After an earful of complaints from buyers, Fitbit decided to bring back the physical side button that it removed on the Charge 5. This means you will no longer solely rely on tapping to navigate the watch’s apps — a relief for those with touchscreen fatigue.
The Charge 6’s face is made of aluminum, glass and resin and comes in black, champagne gold or silver. Each face can be paired with three new primary silicone bands that are water-resistant — an off-white porcelain, a black-like obsidian and a bright coral band. The loops are interchangeable with previously released Charge 5 accessories, giving buyers dozens of color combinations to choose from. Like the previous generation, the bands come in both small and large sizes, and connect to the tracker’s 1.04-inch AMOLED touchscreen.
The Charge 6’s battery is supposed to last seven days without a charge, like its predecessor, and can be fully recharged in about two hours. In terms of memory capacity, the new wearable can save seven days worth of detailed motion data and can sample heart rate data at one-second intervals during exercise tracking.
One of the biggest improvements to the Charge 6, at least according to Fitbit, is that it should provide heart rate readings that are up to 60 percent more accurate than its predecessor through its optical heart rate monitor and electrical sensors during vigorous activities like HIIT, spinning and rowing. Fitbit claims that the Charge 6 is the most accurate heart rate tracker it has made to date. This means you will get more precise information about calories burned and Active Zone Minutes, a metric unique to Fitbit that uses heart rate data to provide clearer insights into how effective your workouts are.
Another new key feature on the Charge 6 is the ability to pair the tracker with compatible exercise machines to see how your heart rate performs in real time during workouts. This will allow you to focus more on your movement and less on your wrist while you are on a treadmill, elliptical, rower or exercise bike. The tracker will pair with select workout machines that support Bluetooth Heart Rate Profile, like those from Peloton, Tonal and Nordic that the company has established partnerships with. While it is notable, this is a feature we’ve seen on devices from competitors.
Additionally, Fitbit says the Charge 6’s tracking capabilities have expanded with 20 new exercise modes and it will continue to offer a six-month premium Fitbit membership to new buyers. This will include smart recommendations for workouts based on your Daily Readiness Score, which helps users figure out how hard to push it at the gym based on things like heart rate variability, sleep quality and stress levels.
Furthermore, as part of its software updates, Fitbit’s Charge 6 will now give you the option to stream and listen to music through YouTube Music Controls. Everyone knows good tunes can make all the difference during a workout. This is a considerable change from the Charge 5, which removed all music control functionality, even for Spotify Premium users. Now, you don’t need to pull out your phone to pick a song mid-run and you can skip through 100 million tracks that are available through YouTube. However, you will need to pay for a YouTube Music Premium subscription.
In addition to tracking your pace and distance during runs and bike rides with GPS, the Charge 6 can now give you directions if you’re trying out a new route thanks to Google Maps integration. This means you can see turn-by-turn directions right on your wrist. In the same vein of expanding Google integration, you can also tap to pay with Google Wallet on the Charge 6, when previously you could only use Fitbit pay. All of these updates come in tandem with the launch of Fitbit’s redesigned app, which simplifies engagement to three categories on the Today tab, the Coach tab, and the You tab, each offering unique metrics and access to activities.
The Fitbit Charge 6 will work with most phones running Android 9.0 or newer or iOS 15 or newer and it still requires a Google Account. You can still get notifications for calls, texts, and smartphone apps like Google Calendar, Gmail, and WhatsApp and also send quick replies from your wrist.