27th Sep, 2022

I bought the wrong smartwatch

I bought a Fitbit Charge 5 a few months ago. I think it was a mistake.

On paper, it ticks a lot of boxes that are important for me. I want a device that I don’t have to worry about while wearing it. A device that I can wear while exercising and in the shower and at all other places. I want it to track certain things. Most important to me are my heart rate, my steps and my sleep. And I don’t want to worry about how much battery is left all the time.

The battery thing was the main point I chose trackers/smartwatches by in the last few years. That’s why I owned a Fossil HR Collider before the Charge 5. Because it had an e-ink display I had to charge it about once a month.
Battery life is great on the Charge 5 as well. I can go a week or two without charging. Also, sleep tracking is accurate, and they have an API to get your data. That’s all the points I have on my list of positives.

Let’s talk about what I do not like about it.

Syncing to the App

To make use of the data, I have to look at it in the Fitbit App. I can see the data of the current day on the bands display, but that is not useful except for the current step count. For any insights (e.g. on sleep) or long term trends, I have to use the app. To get any data from the band to the App, I have to open the App and initiate a data sync by hand. That’s tedious.

The App

The app itself works fine, but using it feels clunky at times. The interface looks dated. Also, it feels like constant upselling for Fitbit Premium. The band comes with 6 months of Fitbit Premium for free, in theory. You have to buy a year of premium to get your 6 months, though.

No Widgets on iOS

I mean, come on. There is a feature suggestion that is open since 2018. I get that not every app offers widgets, but in this case it would make sense. Increases the feeling that Software is not that important to Fitbit I contrast to hardware sales.

Updating the Firmware

Updates require (or at least it is recommended) the band to be connected to power and the phone has to be nearby. I get that, that’s how other devices do updates. The App told me it might take up to 45 minutes and That feels long. You can argue that it does not happen frequently and you can continue using your phone during the time. But it feels long.

Watch faces

There is a handful of watch faces you can choose from. They all don’t look great.

This all reads bad. It’s not that bad. The device does what I bought it for at a cheap price. Still, these things bother me. To be honest, this whole post was probably just written to justify buying an Apple Watch sometime in the future.

© 2024 Chris Jarling