The new Fitbit Charge 5 crams all Fitbit's best features into one tiny package

Man with backpack wearing Fitbit Charge 5
(Image credit: Fitbit)

After many leaks and much speculation, Fitbit has finally unveiled its latest fitness tracker: the Fitbit Charge 5.

The Charge 5's official launch video appeared online earlier this week, revealing many of its features, but we now have a lot more detail about exactly what the new watch will offer – and it sounds very promising.

As we saw in leaked images a few days ago, the Charge 5 has a sleek new look with an AMOLED touchscreen, much like that of the Fitbit Luxe. This is a major upgrade from the Charge 4, which was limited by a low-resolution monochrome display that could only show a limited amount of data at once.

During the launch presentation, the company also explained that the watch will have an ambient light sensor that can automatically brighten or dim the screen to suit lighting conditions, plus an always-on mode that makes it easier to see your stats at a glance during workouts.

Fitbit Charge 5 in black and lunar white

The Fitbit Charge 5 has a new design with a metal case that sits flush with a soft silicone Infinity Band (Image credit: Fitbit)

In fact, the whole watch has been redesigned to bring it in line with the rest of Fitbit's current range. Gone are the sharp angles and plastic case of the Charge 4, replaced with a new stainless steel body that sits flush with a silicone Infinity Band (a soft silicone strap secured with a simple loop and tang fastening rather than a hard plastic buckle).

There'll also be a range of breathable perforated sports bands, nylon hook-and-loop straps, and premium leather bands.

Workout tools

The Charge series have always been fitness-focused, and that's continuing with the Charge 5. Like The Charge 4, it will have on-board GPS for tracking your route and pace on runs, walks and bike rides, without the need to carry your phone.

It also has NFC so you can make contactless payments via Fitbit Pay (very useful for picking up a bottle of water mid-run, provided your bank is one of those supported.

Three people on basketball court wearing Fitbit Charge 5 devices

The Fitbit Charge 5 is fitness-focused, with on-board GPS (Image credit: Fitbit)

Unlike its predecessor, the Charge 5 will also have an ECG (electrocardiogram) sensor, as seen on the Fitbit Sense, which allows you to perform spot-checks for signs of atrial fibrillation. This can be an early sign of heart disease (often known as the ‘silent killer’ due to the lack of early symptoms). After running a scan, the Fitbit app will generate a report that you can share with your doctor if you have any concerns.

The Charge 5 will monitor your heart rate 24/7 too, and can give warnings if it detects that it's unusually high or low. Again, this can be a sign of a health condition that should be investigated.

Stress management 

It’s not just about physical health, either. The Charge 5 is also getting the EDA (electrodermal activity) sensor that first appeared on the Fitbit Sense, and uses changes in your skin’s conductivity that happen as a result of stress. Many other devices track stress levels using heart rate variability, but EDA gives a more detailed insight into changes over time.

Man wearing Fitbit Charge 5 writing in journal

The Fitbit Charge 5 has an EDA sensor, first seen in the Fitbit Sense, which helps you monitor stress throughout the day (Image credit: Fitbit)

You can pre-order the Charge 5 now directly from Fitbit and third-party stores for $179.95 / £169.99 / AU$269.95. The company hasn't given an exact shipping date yet, but says it'll be available worldwide "in the fall". Since Fitbit is a US-based company, we're therefore expecting it to start arriving between September and November.

We'll be getting hands-on with the new watch soon, and will bring you a full review as soon as possible.

Analysis: what's next for Fitbit?

Earlier this year, Google completed its acquisition of Fitbit. Fitbit didn't give too much away during the Charge 5 launch, but did remind us that it’s bringing some of its key features to Google’s smartwatch operating system, Wear OS, including ‘celebrations’ when you hit certain targets, such as your daily step goal.

The company also reiterated that it’s working on its own ‘premium watches’ using Wear OS, which look set to be a big departure from its existing fitness trackers.

There’s no indication of when these devices may arrive, and since Google only completed its acquisition in January this year, it’s likely to be a little while yet – product development takes time, and these watches will be a first for both companies.

Woman doing yoga wearing Fitbit Charge 5

Fitbit is pouring resources into developing its mobile app, with particular attention paid to Fitbit Premium subscribers (Image credit: Fitbit)

One thing that does look certain is that the two companies have big plans for Fitbit Premium. The new Readiness Score, for example, is being touted as one of the Charge 5's biggest new additions, but is only available if you have a Premium subscription.

Fitbit is also rapidly expanding its selection of mindfulness and workout sessions – both audio and video – and has just announced a new deal with Les Mills to bring some of its most popular classes (such as Grit Cardio interval training) to subscribers. The company also has a new deal with the team behind meditation app Calm, and will be adding a selection of new Calm mindfulness tools to the Fitbit app soon.

Fitbit is already the biggest name in fitness trackers, and with the extra power of Google behind it, it may well have fitness subscription services such as Peloton and Apple Fitness Plus in its sights as well. We'll keep you updated as soon as we know more.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)