Fitbit’s latest health tracker, the Cost 5, could be the most important change to the Cost line but. It has a shade display screen, the primary for a Cost, and you’ll decide to maintain the display screen on on a regular basis. It has a brand new rounded design that’s thinner than the Cost 4. New sensors measure how your physique responds to emphasize. However all that change additionally comes at the next $179.95 worth, a $30 improve from the Cost 4.

That costlier value edges the Cost line nearer to the costs of many smartwatches. So in reviewing the Cost 5, I needed to determine if it provides sufficient at that worth to make it a compelling health machine than the extra expensive smartwatch rivals. To try this, after I bought the Cost 5, I picked up an Apple Watch SE to match it with, set them each up, put one on every wrist, and promptly went on a four-hour marathon coaching run.

To my disappointment, the Cost 5 didn’t fare nicely.

Earlier than I’m going additional, I ought to let you know what I want a health tracker or smartwatch for. I’ll be the primary to confess that it’s a considerably particular set of necessities and wishes.

My favourite type of train is operating. I fortunately submit myself to multi-hour runs many weekends of the yr. I don’t actually care about operating quick; as a substitute, I wish to run far. So once I’m on a run, I desire a health tracker to inform me how far I’ve run, how lengthy I’ve been operating for, what time it’s, and my coronary heart charge. The Cost 5 did inform me all of these items. Nevertheless, it did a lot much less elegantly than the Apple Watch did.

A lot of my frustrations come all the way down to the Cost 5’s small 14.7mm x 21.9mm display screen, which is surrounded by a lot larger bezels than the official product pictures would recommend, and its UI, which isn’t as simply glanceable as I might have preferred. Throughout a run, the Cost 5 reveals three metrics at a time, and two of them are all the time seen in small font on the high and backside of your display screen: your mileage and the way lengthy you’ve been operating. Helpful.

However in the course of the display screen, you may solely see certainly one of 9 different metrics at a time, comparable to tempo, coronary heart charge, and step depend. To get to the following metric, it’s a must to faucet the display screen to advance them one after the other. Infuriatingly, I couldn’t determine a technique to go again to a metric if I by chance tapped previous the one I used to be on the lookout for, typically that means I might be tapping the display screen repeatedly.

The Cost 5’s small display screen can also be poorly optimized for displaying future instances. Throughout my coaching run, I preferred having the size of my run proven as the principle metric in the course of the display screen. However after I crossed two hours, I seen that the Cost 5’s display screen reduce off a part of the time on each ends. It seems ridiculous — see for your self under — although Fitbit tells me that this can be mounted for remaining retail models.

Fitbit says that the time being reduce off can be mounted in remaining retail models. Additionally, sorry to topic you to my sweaty arm.
Picture by Jay Peters / The Verge

Additionally annoying is the truth that the Cost 5 has no bodily buttons, that means it’s a must to get up the display screen by elevating your wrist or by tapping on the display screen. Many instances throughout my four-hour run, I might faucet on the Cost 5’s display screen a pair instances to wake it, solely to by chance faucet previous the final metric I had up, forcing me to preserve tapping simply to return to the place I used to be earlier than. This was very annoying, and I typically needed to utterly cease operating so I might faucet the display screen sufficient instances to get my Cost 5 located once more.

The Apple Watch, then again (pun supposed), confirmed me the entire stats I care about on one display screen, no additional tapping required. And since I can use the digital crown or the button on the aspect to wake it up, I by no means felt any threat of tapping one thing I shouldn’t that will mess up my run.

Apparently, the Cost 5 and Apple Watch SE recorded some completely different metrics once I took them out on runs. The Cost 5’s metrics portrayed me as a greater runner; throughout two runs, the Cost 5 recorded barely longer distances and barely sooner paces than the Apple Watch SE did. But it surely’s laborious to know which is really correct. In line with MapMyRun, which helps you to plot runs on Google Maps, certainly one of my routes was 6.28 miles, however the Cost 5 recorded it as 6.1 miles and the SE tracked it as 6.02. Each units, nevertheless, tracked the very same common coronary heart charge throughout each runs.

Fitbit Cost 5 and Apple Watch SE comparability

Run Metrics Fitbit Cost 5 Apple Watch SE
Run Metrics Fitbit Cost 5 Apple Watch SE
Time 1:03:50 1:03:15
Distance 6.1 mi 6.02 mi
Tempo 10:27/mi 10:30/mi
Common Coronary heart Price 133 BPM 133 BPM

These are Fitbit Cost 5 and Apple Watch SE metrics taken from a run. For those who can’t see the labels on cell, the highest metric is the Fitbit Cost 5 and the underside is the Apple Watch SE. The Apple Watch SE reveals a shorter time as a result of I ended it first.

(Sadly, I don’t have comparative information for my four-hour run as a result of at one level I by chance paused run-tracking on the Cost 5 for 20 minutes. This was my fault, not the Fitbit’s.)

Runs are my joyful place — particularly actually lengthy ones. I wish to run in a forest whereas listening to podcasts or music. I haven’t relied on a health tracker in years, as a substitute utilizing an inexpensive Casio watch to trace my time. However after every week of operating with each the Fitbit Cost 5 and the Apple Watch SE, if I needed to choose only one for future lengthy runs, I’d seize the Apple Watch each time.

Once I’m not operating, I need my health tracker to be as inert as attainable. I sometimes flip off as many notifications and buzzers as I can. I attempt to preserve a comparatively easy face. The Cost 5 works effective for this, although I’ve some annoyances with it.

I really like that the Cost 5 is smaller and lighter than the Apple Watch; it’s far more snug to put on and I usually neglect that it’s on my wrist. However I believe the change to take away any kind of bodily button-like mechanism is a step again.

The Cost 3 and 4 created the phantasm of a button with a small capacitive ridge that had haptic suggestions while you pressed it. When utilizing the Cost 4, if I ever bought buried in menus, I’d simply mash the “button” a bunch of instances till I bought again to the principle homescreen.

The Cost 5’s display screen is vibrant, even within the solar.
Picture by Jay Peters / The Verge and Picture by Jay Peters / The Verge

However with out buttons on the Cost 5, diving into menus nearly looks like you may get misplaced. There’s no clear technique to return to the principle watchface, which was irritating at first. I finally realized you can double faucet the display screen to return to the homescreen (which, to Fitbit’s credit score, is one thing the app tells you while you arrange the Cost 5, however I missed it). Doing that double faucet is nerve-wracking, although. Each time I used to be about to do the double faucet, I’d maintain my breath, faucet twice shortly on the display screen, and hope that I didn’t by chance faucet one thing I didn’t wish to simply to return residence.

I additionally wished there was a button I might use as a dependable technique to activate the display screen. Generally, I’d rotate my wrist up or double faucet the Cost 5 to wake it up, nevertheless it simply wouldn’t activate. That will drive me to rotate my wrist just a few instances or faucet the display screen in frustration to attempt to flip it on.

The always-on show isn’t one of the best repair as a result of it has some annoyances, too. Like different always-on shows, when activated, you may’t truly work together with something on the Cost 5 till you raise your wrist or faucet on the display screen. Whenever you do this, the display screen briefly glints on and off once more earlier than you need to use it.

Fitbit additionally estimates a dramatic discount in battery life while you use the always-on show — from seven days to 2 — that means you’ll have to cost the machine much more should you use it.

That stated, in my testing, the battery has been wonderful. Within the practically two weeks I’ve been testing the Cost 5, I’ve solely plugged it in thrice, toggling on the always-on show for just a few hours right here and there all through. (Although to be truthful, once I went on the four-hour coaching run, I had by chance turned off the guts charge monitor, which could have saved some battery.) For those who don’t have the display screen on on a regular basis, it’s best to get a number of days on a single cost.

The Fitbit Cost 5 in gold.
Picture: Fitbit

And in silver.
Picture: Fitbit

For those who do wish to use your Cost 5 like a smartwatch, there are some limitations. Whereas the Cost 5 can notify you about calls, texts, assembly alerts, and updates from sure apps, you may solely ship fast replies to textual content messages and messages from some apps should you’re on Android. As an iPhone person, this supplied a half-baked expertise each time a textual content message got here in; whereas it was simple to take a look at texts, truly responding to them compelled me to drag out my telephone.

There’s no native technique to sync your Fitbit information to Apple Well being or Google Match, so your stats received’t present up on these platforms. There aren’t any third-party apps for the Cost 5. And there’s no built-in voice assistant, such as you would possibly discover on an Apple Watch or a Put on OS smartwatch.

The Cost 4 (left) subsequent to the Cost 5 (proper). There’s nothing truly flawed with the Cost 4’s display screen, it simply photographed this manner.
Picture by Jay Peters / The Verge

Fitbit is promoting just a few new well being options for the Cost 5, together with the brand new electrodermal exercise (EDA) sensor to measure how your physique responds to emphasize. (Fitbit launched this characteristic with final yr’s Fitbit Sense smartwatch.) When you’ve began the studying, you place two fingers on the perimeters of the Cost 5 and maintain them there for 2 to seven minutes (you may customise the size). After, you’re requested to document your temper, after which the Fitbit will let you know extra element about your scan. Fitbit may also offer you a Stress Administration Rating, however you’ll solely have the ability to entry an in depth report about it should you’re a Fitbit Premium subscriber.

Two different options aren’t prepared but, although, so I couldn’t take a look at them. One is the “Daily Readiness Score,” a Fitbit Premium-exclusive characteristic that recommends how laborious it’s best to work out primarily based on components like your current exercise and high quality of sleep. Fitbit says that characteristic is “coming soon,” and it’s not a Cost 5-exclusive characteristic; it’ll even be obtainable on the Fitbit Sense, Versa 3, Versa 2, Luxe, and Encourage 2. An ECG app is on the way in which, too, however that additionally has a obscure “coming soon” launch window. Once I requested, the corporate wouldn’t give a extra particular timeline.

The Cost 5 is accessible to preorder now, although Fitbit wouldn’t share a extra particular timeline for delivery past “late September.” (Amazon’s itemizing for the Charge 5 says will probably be launched on September twenty seventh, nevertheless.)

Total, it’s laborious for me to advocate the Cost 5. It’s a succesful health tracker, and it provides a whole lot of options discovered on costlier smartwatches at a lower cost. However the small show, lack of a bodily button, and typically poor UI imply it may be a trouble to make use of. For me, any annoyances are magnified when I’ve to take care of them in the course of a run. Till Fitbit fixes these, you would possibly wish to contemplate one thing else.


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