FitBit Charge retired, now it’s all about the FitBit Alta

FitBit Charge FitBit Alta

FitBit Charge FitBit Alta


My FitBit Charge fitness tracker recently fell apart for the fourth time. Bummer. What’s the point of exercising if you can’t log it on an app and gamify yourself to move more?

Each time this has happened in the past, FitBit’s excellent customer service have quickly replaced it with a new one. However, this time it turns out that the Charge has been discontinued, so instead I was offered a replacement of a FitBit Alta.

Change! I don’t do change very well. These are difficult times to be an introvert.

It’s both a good thing and slightly worrying how fast FB CS swoop into action. They’ve clearly dealt with a LOT of broken Charges. The new FitBit Alta was with me in a couple of days, just as the Charge was dying underneath its temporary masking tape bandage.

So how does the FitBit Alta differ from the Charge?

  • The band is about a third slimmer
    It’s a bit neater to wear on the wrist. Because the band is slimmer, the display is now ¬†vertical rather than horizontal. When you receive a text you can view it on the band as a scrolling message, which is pretty cool. It seems to be a couple of millimeters longer. Either that or my wrist is shrinking. I know a lot of people found the small Charge to be just that bit too small, so this could be why the small Alta feels roomier.
  • It doesn’t show the precise number of steps
    You’ll have to check the app on your phone for that. Instead, it shows steps to the nearest 0.1K when you are under 10K (so 2,323 steps would just show as 2.3K). Then once you’re over 10,000 steps it just shows it to the nearest 1K, because that’s all it has room for.
  • You can swap bands around
    This is the major advantage over the Charge. The Charge was all one moulded piece of rubber, except when it fell apart, and then it was useless. An interchangeable band means that the Alta potentially has a much longer life span. There are lots of alternative Alta bands available, so you can swap the colours around to match your outfit or just for funsies.
  • The FitBit Alta doesn’t track heart rate
    However, what it does do is log automatically if you take any exercise, building up to a 5 exercise sessions a week target. Since it counts a normal walk as a session of exercise, it’s not hard to hit this target.
  • No more counting floors
    To be fair, this metric never really worked particularly well. My family will miss me running up and down the stairs repeatedly at 11pm to hit my daily 30 floor target, but they’re coping very well under the circumstances.
  • It buzzes to remind you to move if you haven’t hit the 250 steps per hour challenge
    In theory the Charge was supposed to do this, but I could never get that feature turned on. Now I get a buzz at 10 to the hour to remind me that I haven’t shifted my butt for the previous 50 minutes. Given that sitting down to much is now seen as worse than taking all the drugs in the world, this is saving me from falling into the abyss.

Walk Idiot Walk

A glance at the online customer discussion forums on the FitBit website shows that the failure of the Charge is a very common experience. The Charge is still on sale at Amazon but to be honest, I wouldn’t bother, and go straight for the Alta or Charge 2 (which measures heart rate and has interchangeable bands).¬†I took incredibly good care of my Charge and it still fell apart four times.

If you are brand new to FitBit, then you might find my beginner’s guide to FitBit useful. And if you want to see how the story continues, check out what happens after you use a FitBit for a year.

As for my steps, I’ve upped my weekly goal a little. My daily target is still 12K steps per day, and I’ve been aiming for 100K steps per week for over a year now. I’ve just upped that to 105K per week. This works out at around 15K per day. I read somewhere on the internet that you need to do at least 15K steps per day to lose weight, so I’m testing that out. But hey, I read it on the internet, so it must be true, right?

Have you used a fitness tracker? Would you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments