Fitbit Charge 4 review: A smart, streamlined fitness tracker watch

Taking your fitness to the next level is made easier with the Fitbit Charge 4.
Fitbit Charge 4 smartwatch review
It's meant for working out, but choose a subdued colorway and it will work in just about any setting. Fitbit

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›

If you want to change your health over the long term, it comes down to forming habits. A University of Southern California study found that creating long-term behavioral change comes down to repetition, stable cues, and intermittent rewards. So whether you’re a dedicated fitness enthusiast or just trying to meet your daily step count, a reliable fitness tracker can help you reach your goals and form healthy habits. But with so many products offering different functions and designs, selecting the best fitness tracker can be overwhelming. The simple interface, easily accessible controls, and app to track your progress make the Fitbit Charge 4 fitness tracker a streamlined tool to improve your health without overwhelming you with data and options. 

For such a small gadget, the Fitbit Charge 4 packs a powerful suite of features. The fitness watch offers necessary health features like 24/7 heart rate tracking, built-in GPS for mapping workouts, and sleep monitoring. At the same time, it provides practical features that are useful outside the gym—like Spotify controls, one-tap payments, and a long seven-day battery life that cuts down on charging. Over the several weeks when I wore the watch, I integrated new health habits into my daily routine and improved my fitness regimen.

The Fitbit Charge 4’s design

The screen is small enough to be subtle, but has enough room to show you essential information.

Most Fitbit models promise thin profiles and lightweight design. The Charge 4 model is no exception. It measures 1.5-inches long, less than 1-inch wide, and roughly one-half-inch tall. This latest model weighs 30 grams, which is just 1 gram more than its Charge 3 predecessor. To put that in perspective, even the smaller 40mm Apple Watch 6 weighs in at 47.1 grams. If you’re looking for the best fitness tracker to wear day-in and day-out, Charge 4 can fit the bill. 

The Fitbit Charge comes with a standard—and somewhat boring—silicone band, but you can always swap it out for a variety of Fitbit Charge 4 bands of varying colors and materials that suit your style. I opted for a woven purple band that resembled a bracelet but easily interchanged it with the silicone option for more intense workout sessions. 

The largest part of the device is the 1-inch (measured diagonally) LED touchscreen. Despite its relatively low 100 x 160 pixel resolution, it’s simple to scroll through apps, peruse data, and manage settings with the swipe of your finger. The inductive button on the left side of the watch allows you to easily wake or sleep on the screen, which came in handy when I wanted to clear alerts or notifications. The layout is tight, but well thought out and overall easy to navigate.

The Fitbit Charge 4 is designed to be minimal and lightweight enough for everyday wear so you can track all your fitness information in high detail. Even while lifting weights, running, or slipping on a coat it never impeded my movement, which is essential for me when it comes to wearable tech. 

Setting Up Your Fitbit

Fitbit Charge 4 smartwatch review
It’s lightweight and small, which makes it simple to wear while working out. Fitbit

Before you can begin tracking your fitness routines and gear up to reach goals, you’ll need to set up the Fitbit Charge 4. Thankfully, mine came partly charged so I didn’t need to wait to wear it, I just clipped on my choice of the Fitbit Charge 4 bands and adjusted it to my wrist size.

Though you can see a majority of your stats from the LED touchscreen, the Fitbit app allows you to keep track of achievements, mindfulness, sleep, exercise, heart rate, weight, and even water intake. The app automatically sets your goals for each metric, but you can easily adjust those numbers to match your preferences. I’ve tested other apps like MyFitnessPal and the pre-installed Apple Health app, but this option consolidates all health information in one seamless and user-friendly interface to ultimately save time and phone storage space. 

To set up your Fitbit account, you’ll need to sync the watch to a smart device with Bluetooth and create a user profile that includes your height, weight, and gender. Creating the profile takes little time, depending on how many adjustments you want to make to the pre-set fitness goals. These targets include eight hours of sleep, exercising five days a week, a 64-ounce water counter, and 10,000 steps a day. 

I kept these settings, but still felt challenged to reach goals despite my relatively active lifestyle. Over time, you can ramp up your goals to maintain the challenge. In the long run, this may help to prevent burnout from making too many drastic changes at once. 

Key Features of the Fitbit Charge 4

The Fitbit Charge 4 has carried over all the features that put the previous model in the conversation for the best smartwatch for fitness. There are some upgrades in this latest version that you won’t find in the Fitbit Charge 3 or earlier models. Compared to the Charge 3, the Fitbit Charge 4 has more powerful sensors to accurately measure fitness data. They include a three-axis accelerometer, an optical heart rate monitor, altimeter, GPS, and relative SpO2 sensor. Though these specs might sound complex to the average user, they’re translated into accessible information that even fitness novices can understand. 

Despite the wealth of information available through the Fitbit tracking systems, I relied mainly on the exercise, BPM, and step tracker to reach new fitness goals. All of these categories (and more) are featured on the homepage within the app—making it convenient to check updates as you move throughout your day. 

Fitbit Premium

Fitbit Charge 4 smartwatch review
The companion app provides insight into your health metrics. Fitbit

If you want to access even more tracking features, the Fitbit app offers a Premium service, which will cost $9.99 per month or $80 per year. While I didn’t take the plunge on buying the Premium side of the app, there were a few bonus metrics that the free section left to be desired. When tracking my fitness goals over the two weeks I wore the smartwatch, I wanted to easily compare previous data to my current metrics for an overall report, which is only offered with Premium. 

In addition to this 30-day compiled set of data, Premium also offers 150 workouts, guided meditation, and in-depth sleep analysis. While the regular app gives plenty of features to set your personal health goals, the Premium option is worth it if you’re looking for guided workouts and more precise tracking tools. If you’re going to take the leap into Fitbit hardware, you’ll likely also want to set aside the budget for a Premium membership.

Fitbit Charge 4 day-to-day use

Regardless of your current fitness level, the Fitbit Charge 4 can motivate you to implement new healthy habits into your daily routine. While I initially planned on using the fitness watch to measure my pre-established workout routine, it surprised me by introducing new goals that felt challenging, yet achievable. I maintained my five workouts per week, but integrated new habits, like a long morning walk to get steps in before work. 

Whether you’re a marathon runner or prefer a leisurely yoga session, this fitness tracker can measure your workout precisely with its three-axis accelerometer and the optical heart rate sensor. Before exercising, you have the opportunity to enter your workout of choice from the Fitbit shortcuts menu; the selections include run, bike, walk, treadmill, and outdoor workouts. While I wish there was a strength training option, the Charge 4 automatically detects your exercises so you can still chart metrics like heart rate, Active Zone minutes, and distance. 

During my workouts, checking in on these stats encouraged me to challenge myself. This was one of the greatest benefits for me—as someone who maintains a consistent fitness routine, I can be caught in a slump where I lose motivation. The Fitbit Charge 4 pumped me up to hit the pre-set goals and reinvigorated my workouts. 

You can also unlock awards when you achieve your daily fitness goals and share them within the app with other users in the Fitbit community. This portion of the app serves as a social networking site where you can join groups to share goals, tips, or support. For those that want to share progress or achievements, this function is a great way to join a health-oriented community. 

Additional Features

While the Fitbit Charge 4 is first and foremost a fitness watch, it offers added features like Spotify control, tap-to-pay, and phone notifications. The music controls and notifications came in hand while biking and working out, so I could leave my phone without missing any calls or messages. Users can also turn on Do-Not-Disturb Mode if you’re wanting to disconnect while working or relaxing. 

This fitness tracker also uses a small vibration to remind you to get steps in if you’ve been sedentary. While at work I rarely hit the 250 steps-per-hour goal set by the device, but it could be a helpful reminder for those who want to get their steps in throughout the day. If you’re not a fan of this step tracker function, you can also customize your settings to control when you get reminders. 

Who Should Buy the Fitbit Charge 4?

Whether you’re a dedicated fitness fiend or are trying to create new habits, the Fitbit Charge 4 can help you take control of your health. This fitness tracker is smartly designed with repetition, stable cues, and rewards to make goal-setting easier. The features and precise data collection system paired with the app allow you to track your progress and stay accountable in a single streamless tool. While this pick comes at a higher price than some other fitness watches, the cost is on par with the high-quality functions and features the Fitbit Charge 4 offers. 


Quinn Gawronski Avatar

Quinn Gawronski

Editorial Assistant

Quinn Gawronski joined Popular Science in April 2021 as an Editorial Assistant. Since then, she has covered everything from solar-powered headphones to the best home workout gear. Currently, she lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where she spends her spare time reading, drawing, thrift-shopping, and exploring the city.