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Fitbit is one of the largest brands in the wearable tech industry, alongside Apple, Samsung, Garmin, Fossil, and Huawei. In this post we will explore how the Charge 3 and Alta HR compare and which device you should get.
Before we do that though, let’s run through the areas of overlap between these two Fitbit devices. After all, they’re both fitness trackers from the same brand so they’re bound to have a lot in common.
– Sleek Design: The Alta HR and Charge 3 are both fairly minimal in design.
– Bands: Out of the box, they have silicone wrist bands, but, you can swap these for metal, leather, etc.
– Watch Style Fit: Both have a traditional locking system that you see mostly on watches.
– Activity Tracking: Record your steps, calories, distance, heart rate, and more.
– Sleep Tracking: Fitbit has upgraded their sleep tracking feature. It now monitors REM sleep.
– Wrist HRM: The PurePulse sensor tracks your heart rate via your wrist.
– Workouts: The devices automatically recognize when you’re working out.
– Smartphone Notifications: You can see certain smartphone alerts on your wrist.
– Fitbit App: This is where all of your personal data is housed (activity, sleep, weight, diet, etc.)
There it is, the Charge 3
Regardless of which of the two devices you end up with, you’ll get standard activity and sleep tracking features, a wrist-based heart rate sensor, and some smart features. They’re both pretty good at what they do, but given that the Charge 3 is newer and more expensive, it has more to offer.
Like the Versa, Blaze, and Charge 2, the Charge 3 has Connected GPS, which allows you track and map running, cycling, and hiking. The device doesn’t actually have a GPS chip, but rather works in tandem with the Fitbit app on your phone to provide all of the normal stats such as distance, pace, and route.
Recording using Connected GPS
Connected GPS works just fine, but it does require that you bring your phone with you on a run, bike ride, etc, which, for the record, the vast majority of people do. If you have headphones connected to our phone you can even get status updates on your run.
Also, something that’s new to the Charge 3 is that you can create workout goals before you start your workout. In other words, before you go on a run, you can set a distance goal to achieve. It’s not a game-changing feature, but it’s nice to have.
The Charge 3 is water resistant down to 50 meters and can track your pool swimming workouts. The Alta HR is just water/sweat resistant, which means it’s fine for running in the rain or doing the dishes, but it’s not equipped to handle swimming or submersion.
Swim tracking on the Charge 3
The Charge 3 will track your distance, pace, time elapsed, and calories, but it won’t provide a SWOLF score like will Garmin vivoactive 3 Music and other Garmin devices. Regardless, for the majority of casual swimmers, the Charge 3 should be just fine.
Grey Scale Display
The Charge 3 not only has a larger display than the Alta HR, but it also shows more detail since it’s on a grey scale rather than being just black and white. Will you care? Probably not, but it’s worth pointing out.
The Charge 3 also has a proper touchscreen whereas the Alta HR has a “tap-screen”, which is imprecise and can be frustrating to use. Edge goes to the Charge 3. Also, the Charge 3 has a 40% larger display than the Charge 2, so you’re working with a lot more screen real estate on this new device.
Touchscreen on a grey scale
The Charge 3 achieves about seven days of battery life on a single charge, while the Alta HR is only about five days. Because both use a proprietary charger the edge has to go to the Charge 3, especially for anyone that travels regularly.
On the special edition Charge 3 (which costs more), there is support for Fitbit Pay. This allows you to pay for things on the go, directly from your wrist. Fitbit Pay only works with certain banks right now and at vendors that have contactless payment terminals. Fitbit Pay is neat, but we’re not convinced that people will pay more for it.
By now I’m sure you’re thinking, “Yeah, I’m definitely going with the newer, better Charge 3,” but it’s not quite that simple. The Alta HR, yes, is older, but it’s still a pretty good device with a few relative advantages.
The Alta HR wins hands down on price. It has an MSRP of $130, but we’ve seen it cheaper several times on Amazon. In fact, as I’m writing this post, the Alta HR is $99. The Charge 3, on the other hand, retails for $150 [check price on Amazon]. So, at a minimum, you’ll be saving $20 on the Alta HR, maybe even $50.
The Alta HR is about 60% of the width of the Charge 3. If you have a more petite wrist or if you’re trying to pass the device off as a piece of jewelry, the Alta HR is the way to go.
Alta HR is a sleek, slim device
The Charge 3 is not bulky, but in comparison to the Alta HR, it has a lot more meat on the bone. If you’re concerned with the size fo the tracker, go Alta HR.