The Tragic Passing of My Favourite Fitness Tracker

I’m not much of a fitness freak but I do try to be on my feet more often and squeeze in some exercise while I’m at it.

So far, I’ve done mostly swimming in the pool at my condo and the occasional jog around our neighbourhood football stadium. With the amount of time spent working and crashing in bed, it’s all I could do to keep my heart rate up.

But in January 2019, all that changed. I felt I needed more motivation to keep going so I saved up a few months’ of salary and splurged on a Fitbit Charge 3.

However, I failed to take note of how few and far between the reviews for Fitbit Charge 3 were. Still, I went ahead with it. So here’s what I thought of the Fitbit Charge 3. Stay with me until the end to know how it truly felt to use one of the big brands of fitness trackers.

At first, things were great. I earned a few badges. I was able to track my sleep, the laps I did in the pool, my heart rate, the number of steps I took each day. Everything. It looked good on me, too, since having Asian hands meant that my wrists were kind of small and narrow.

Going, Going, Gone

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After that, it began to break down. The reason why I got it in the first place was that it could track my swimming. But it began to fail me and if this was supposed to be a motivation to keep me going, it sure as hell wasn’t doing a good job.

There were two setbacks of my Fitbit Charge 3. One was the screen. When the battery went flat, it refused to wake up even after charging it full overnight. The screen didn’t even flicker! I thought it was one faulty part of the unit and my husband took it back to the shop where we bought it from. Since it was under warranty, we were given a new unit.

The second one was notifications. Despite turning the notifications on in the settings, it refused to track incoming calls and WhatsApp, SMS or Telegram messages. If it did track my incoming calls, it would only vibrate twice and that’s it. The weird thing was that my phone had to be within the range of the fitness tracker to be able to detect the incoming call to be able to vibrate and notify me. My husband’s Xiaomi Mi Band 3 successfully did all these at a fraction of the Charge 3 price!

No matter how many times we’d uninstall and reinstalled the app, nothing worked. So I lived without the notifications. Not that it was a big deal. After all, who would want to be woken up at 3:00 AM because your boss suddenly had a great idea!

From then on, things began to go downhill. Every so often, the screen would fail and my husband had to bring it back to the shop. This happened 3 times before it went flat for good today (Friday, 26 April 2019) and there was no way we could keep doing this. They couldn’t give me a refund but they did give us store credit in the full price of the Fitbit Charge 3. Welp, it was better than nothing.

But Then Again…

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Despite its shortcomings, there were a few good things I liked about it. Seeing as this was my first venture into using a fitness tracker, I was impressed they had a Female Health tracker. But my menstrual cycle wasn’t regular so I had to turn off the prediction notification and input the data manually each time it came.

The sleep monitor was pretty good. It didn’t matter how much of a light sleeper I was as I was still able to track how many hours I’ve slept at night, how much of it was deep sleep, light sleep, and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Wearing it to sleep at first was a little cumbersome as the strap can get a bit uncomfortable. But then I got used to it and it stopped bothering me.

The heart rate monitor was pretty good, too. Unlike the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 which would only calculate your heart rate if you clicked on it and waited, the Fitbit Charge 3 was constantly checking and monitoring your heart rate. So any time you wanted a quick glance, you could always lift your wrist or press the sides to wake it up and see what the score was.

The battery life was quite solid. It could go for six days without running out of power, even with the heart rate monitor on 24/7. It was also waterproof up to 50 metres, and it could track the laps I did in the pool, which was the main reason why I bought it. It could also track other workouts like weight training, running, cycling, and walking.

The Fitbit Charge 3 was a big deal for me and I admit that I’m sad to see it go. Now that I have RM700 worth of store credit, I’m wondering if I should get myself a Xiaomi Mi Band 3 like my husband, or top up a little more to get the Garmin Vivomove HR. Have any of you used the Fitbit Charge 3 before?

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