In Use (continued):
One of the things I found very intriguing about the Charge 3 is the inclusion of the SpO2 sensor. While this is not currently active, Fitbit did have a Beta program to test this sensors capabilities. This sensor has the ability to read your blood oxygen levels, this has a multitude of applications but the most common is for sleep monitoring. By monitoring the blood oxygen levels the Charge 3 could potentially alert users to a potential problem like sleep apnea. I could also see this being useful for someone that has other pulmonary issues like asthma or even hidden conditions like a blood clot. It is great technology, I just hope they get to release it.
One thing I found super interesting was the Charge 3's sleep monitoring. While the Mi Band had this too, I often would wake in the morning and feel like crap. Looking at the Mi Band log it seemed like a good night. But what I am noticing with the Charge 3 is on nights like that I can see I was actually up several times through the night. I guess not long enough to be lucid but long enough to interrupt sleep. I also noticed if I have a lot of REM sleep I wake up more tired than usually. While these additional insights don't change the quality of my sleep at least I can begin to understand why some mornings are rough.
Surprisingly the one area I find the Charge 3 to be a little weak is in step counting. It does a great job tracking my steps all day, but I have also noticed some activities like mountain biking or cutting the grass on the riding mower all get tallied. I am not sure if this is due to it using the phone's GPS and calculated steps I would have had to take to cover that ground or the accelerometer getting confused by the bouncing. This was not something I ever saw with the Mi Band and sometimes the difference can be huge. One day cutting the grass
on a lawn tractor I got close to 5000 steps!
I also found the heart rate monitor to register a little higher than the Mi Band did. Independent checks put my actual heart rate somewhere between the two. But they are not far off, it is certainly good enough to give you an idea of what heart rate zone you are in and if you are burning fat or not. One thing that never seemed to work for me was their relax feature. Maybe I just suck at relaxing and breathing, but every time I did this my heart rate at the beginning and end were the same.
One thing I really like about the Charge 3 is the ability to read the entire text message when I receive it. Not just a notification that I got one, but the whole thing. I found this super helpful at times when I was really busy or in a tight space working. A quick glance at the screen and I knew if it was something that could wait or something that needed my immediate attention. I would however like to see a few more canned responses or the ability to create your own in the app.
Speaking of the app, I found it to be very clear and easy to find what you needed quickly. Front and center when you open the app is your current activity; showing steps, floors, miles, calories and minutes active. Tapping any of these will bring you to charts for each metric, then you can further analyze the data by week, month, 3 months and one year. I found it a great way to spot trends or determine outliers. You can do the same trending with your sleep and heart rate data. Honestly I am not sure what to do with all this data yet, but I do like that the app itself gives you some general guidelines to determine if these are normal or not.
One area the Mi Band clearly has the FitBit Charge 3 beat is battery life. I could regularly go a couple of weeks on the Mi band without needing to recharge but I only get about 6-7 days on the Charge 3. This is certainly good enough to last a long weekend, but if you go away for a week or more you will need to charge it. Unfortunately it does have a proprietary charging cable so if you forget to pack it your watch will be dead before you come home.