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Fitbit Charge 2 hands-on review: Successor to its best-selling wearable ever

Fitbit Charge 2 hands-on review: Based on the huge success of 2015’s Charge HR, it’s a tough act to follow, but Fitbit thinks it’s cracked it with the new Charge 2.

The Charge 2 looks to be a considered update on last year’s tracker with some important additions like continuous heart rate tracking and new fixtures that make it a better fit amongst the current competition.

It offers the same familiar design language, but the most obvious new addition is a new OLED display that’s four times larger (read: taller) than the sliver of a screen found on the HR. At launch there are nine different strap/body combinations to choose from including three leather band hues, however, the design accommodates easy band replacement, although the proprietary design means you’re unlikely to find any options outside of Fitbit’s own store.

The back of the Charge 2’s body accommodates a PurePulse™ optical heart rate sensor, which offers continuous monitoring and can help calculate estimated VO2 Max to offer what Fitbit calls a cardio fitness level. As you work out the Charge 2 uses heart rate, exercise and user data to log your improving fitness over time and should suggest ways on how to continue to improve via the updated Fitbit mobile app.

If this works in practice as well as Fitbit claims, it might make for a formidable pairing for those who want to reap real benefits from their fitness wearable beyond simply quantifying what they’re body is up to when they work out. That said, the Charge 2 can scratch that itch too, with real-time, heart rate, step and distance tracking (provided you’ve got it paired to your smartphone, it lacks an integrated GPS chip).

Like the new Flex 2, which launched alongside it, the Charge 2 features the company’s SmartTrack automatic exercise detection technology to differentiate between walking, jogging, running, cycling and a handful of other activities including aerobic workouts without the need for user interaction. There’s also automatic sleep tracking, move reminders and not unlike the new additions coming to Apple’s wearables with watchOS 3, a feature dubbed ‘Relax’ which helps you focus on deep breathing.

Despite treading similar ground to fully-fledged smartwatches, like relaying select notifications and incoming calls from your smartphone, the Charge 2 is still primarily an activity tracker, with the promise of up to five days use from a single charge (like its predecessor and practically all of Fitbit’s wearables it relies on a proprietary charger, which is a little frustrating as its dimensions could accommodate a microUSB or Type-C USB connection).

Fitbit Charge 2 - Luxe range

The Fitbit Charge 2 replaces the Fitbit Charge HR at the same £129.99 price point and is available now. Stay tuned for a full review.

Read next: Fitbit Flex 2 hands-on review: A slicker design and swim proofing

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