After more than a year, the long wait for the next generation of Fitbit’s Charge fitness tracker is over: On Wednesday, the quantified fitness company introduced its latest Charge 5, along with enhancements to its Fitbit Premium service and a cadre of new partners — including Will Smith.
The actor, rapper and producer, who has been chronicling his fight to get his pandemic bod back in shape on social media, often invoked the tech company in comments like, “Y’all tell Fitbit to sponsor me yet?”
Looks like he was actually teasing a deal anointing him as a Fitbit ambassador and content producer for the company’s paid subscription service, where he’ll offer training videos.
It’s one dimension of a bundle of announcements planned with the Charge 5 at the heart.
The new tracker looks like an improvement over the previous model, as a thinner, sleeker and more elegant device. Seemingly taking cues from the Fitbit Luxe, the fifth generation Charge tracker features rounded edges and corners in place of version 4’s sharp lines and squared-off screen. Also like the Luxe, the Charge 5 offers a brighter, always-on color AMOLED touchscreen, instead of the predecessor’s black-and-white display.
The new Charge borrows from the Fitbit Sense smartwatch as well, with its support of ECG, or electrocardiogram, features for monitoring heart rhythms and EDA (electrodermal activity) — which, as the company explained in the announcement, “measures your body’s response to stress through tiny changes in the sweat glands on your fingers.” It’s the first Fitbit tracker to include an EDA sensor, it added.
With GPS on board, so users can track activity and distance, it’s impressive that there’s no hit to the seven-day battery life — though the company cautions that actual longevity can vary based on usage.
Customers can select from a range of optional straps across lightweight silicone infinity bands, breathable sport bands, nylon hook and loop or hand-crafted premium Horween leather straps.
In some ways, the Charge 5 seems like a blend of Fitbit’s favorite aspects of its existing products, plus a few upgrades, rolled into a premium package. Indeed, at $179.95, the device is the brand’s most expensive tracker.
Naturally, the company prefers to describe it as its “most advanced health and fitness tracker,” one that can help users make sense of their metrics and shape their behavior with customized recommendations.
That may solve a common conundrum with modern wrist devices. At this point, most are pretty good at quantifying a slew of fitness and health metrics, from steps to sleep to heart rate and more. But having the data doesn’t mean that people know what to do with it.
The Fitbit platform bases its recommendations on device readings, which means they’re individualized for the wearer. This requires the right mix of hardware, software and services, all working together.
The company’s approach led to changes in its Premium service to deliver more insights and actionable guidance, as well as more than 500 workouts, mindfulness and nutrition sessions. Charge 5 customers receive six months of Fitbit Premium for free.
Once registered, they’ll see a new “Daily Readiness Score,” which evaluates activity, HRV (heart rate variability) and recent sleep. The assessment determines if the user is ready to work out, even push themselves, or if recovery should be the priority instead.
“Daily Readiness is built on research that proves taking time to recover can generate stronger results in the long run versus pushing yourself all the time,” the company explained. The feature also becomes more personalized over time, as the fitness level changes and more data comes in.
Premium members can access more than 200 audio and video workouts from Aaptiv, Barre3, Daily Burn, Obé, Physique 57 and PopSugar, as well as 25 high-intensity, science-backed sessions from fitness brand Les Mills, including BodyPump, BodyAttack and BodyCombat.
Of course, content programming is also where Smith’s deal will loom large. The famous Philadelphia native and his training team worked with Fitbit on an exclusive series of wellness videos to help paid users focus on physical and mental strength. Offering workouts and mindfulness training, the series kicks off with the premiere session launching on Sept. 27.
As for Daily Readiness, the feature will be available in 18 languages globally to Premium subscribers with the Charge 5, Sense, Versa 3, Versa 2, Luxe and Inspire 2.
Stress is another focus area for the platform. Fitbit promises to shed light on physiological stress and overall health, with a feature that breaks down responsiveness, exertion balance and sleep patterns. The company also offers more than 300 mindfulness sessions from Aaptiv, Aura, Breethe, Mindful Method by Deepak Chopra and Ten Percent Happier. New partner Calm, a sleep, meditation and relaxation app, will begin offering 30 pieces of content next month in seven languages.
Although Fitbit has released other wrist gizmos this year, the Charge 5 is the company’s first flagship fitness tracker following its acquisition by Google, which completed in January.
In May, the tech giant announced that it’s working with its new subsidiary to build a premium wearable, while Fitbit’s platform will inform its parent company’s Wear smartwatch software — which could mean that Daily Readiness or other new features will eventually step into Wear devices.
For now, it may just be a relief for Fitbit fans to see that the company hasn’t stopped evolving its own popular flagship tracker and its premium services. And if that’s not enough, a little help from the Fresh Prince doesn’t hurt.
As for Smith, his partnership goes beyond Fitbit to the broader Google universe, with an unscripted YouTube Originals docu-series planned, called “Best Shape of My Life.”