Two months ago, I talked about my terrible sleep habits, and how using an app on the phone to track my sleep wasn’t the best solution for me at the time.
Since then, I’ve gotten my FitBit Charge 4, and have been using it for a little over a month. I got the Storm Blue Classic Band — to be more accurate, my friend Siew who placed the order for me got me that variant (I told her to surprise me) — but any of the other choices would have fit my dark and neutral wardrobe anyway.
This would be my first smart wearable, besides the one week I tried with a company-owned Apple Watch a few years ago. As far as wearing watches go, I’d consistently worn one until I was 17. Then, as phones got more ubiquitous, I ditched my watch.
By that count, that was almost half a lifetime ago.
Is it weird that I have something on my wrist again? Not really. It doesn’t bother me as much, but I have definitely forgotten I was wearing the Charge, and somehow slammed my wrist against a window frame after opening the window. But that is more of a ‘me’ thing, and not so much a ‘wearable’ thing.
Some things I really like:
Consistently wanting to hit my goal: Seeing my step count gives me the visual reminder that I need to hit my goal. It’s currently “just” 5,000 steps a day, and I’m working on extending that bit by bit. In fact, I usually try to get that before 9:30 AM aka the time I start work in front of my laptop, and it’s absolutely a new habit with wearing this device.
Previously, with just the tracking from the odometer on my phone, it’s out of sight and out of mind for me on some days when I was clocking in just a few hundred steps.
Also, it’s definitely good for me that it tracks steps while I’m running in place.
Tracking parameters I wasn’t before: I get to see my heart rate, which is cool because when I walk out with my mask on, it reminds me of my poor, asthmatic self when it goes +40 my resting heart beat rate.
The Charge also tracks my active zone minutes, which should in theory help me improve my cardio health.
Battery life is pretty good: I’m still figuring out the optimal time to charge, but I’ve been doing it in the morning right after my workout + aforementioned jogging session while I shower. You can see it in the picture in this post actually, and it is surprisingly consistently at 87% when I start charging it. I haven’t noticed how long it takes to charge exactly, but I would pick it up half an hour to an hour after, and it would be fully charged until the cycle continues the next day.
Gradually shifting my wake up time earlier: The Charge has the vibrating alarm that happens in a half-hour window for my wake up time, which works by tracking when it would be the least disruptive to your sleep cycle.
A month ago, I started off waking up at 8 AM, with the alarm window between 7:30 – 8 AM. Now, I’m waking up between 6:30 AM and 7 AM, and I want to see if I can shift that even earlier.
And some things I wish could be improved:
Sleep monitoring could use more stats: In addition to the sleep alarm, the device and app also come with sleep monitoring stats. I get to see how long I slept, how much time I spent in each category of REM, Light and Deep sleep (with a 30-day average, and a benchmark against women my age), a sleep score (I’m only getting 10% Goods, and Fairs the rest of the time), estimated oxygen variation which is supposed to detect breathing issues, and… that’s it.
Fitbit Premium is needed to unlock two more stats: my sleeping heart rate, and a restlessness score. I’m not sure that is worth ten bucks a month, to be honest. I’d also like to see other meaningful stats, like time taken to fall asleep.
Trapped dirt: Could be another ‘me’ thing, because my room does get really dusty. But between the detachable straps and the watch face, I have to wipe it daily to get the layer of dust off.
Responsiveness of touch screen: Compared to the Apple Watch – even the earlier Series that I was testing with – it seems a lot more delayed in reaction time, and the screen wake via a hand raise works 80% of the time.
It’s not a huge deal though, because I don’t actually use it as a phone accessory (I’ve turned notifications off because I don’t want it buzzing all the time when I already have vibration off even on my phone) so I don’t need to swipe through the screens all that often. Still a little annoying though.
Contactless payment: I can’t use it. My bank isn’t on it. End of story.
There are some other features on the watch and app that I don’t really use, like meditation/mindfulness (I already have one too many app for it, which are Headspace and Insight Timer), period tracking (thank you, Clue), food logging (been on My Fitness Pal for far too long), and I don’t have a fancy weighing scale to automatically sync my weight.
In all, though, I still think this was one of my best purchases of 2020.
Which isn’t a lot, because I didn’t buy too many things.
Being able to track sleep and getting that consistency to hit my steps are huge deals though! We’ll see if I will upgrade to a Sense or Versa in a few years, but I can say that I’ll continue to wear this for as long as it lasts.