Article updated on October 11, 2023 at 10:00 AM PDT

Fitbit Charge 6 Review: More Google on Your Wrist

The Charge 6 is a solid fitness tracker, but you'll need a number of subscriptions to get the most out of it.

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Lexy Savvides
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Lexy Savvides Principal Video Producer
Lexy is an on-air presenter and award-winning producer who covers consumer tech, including the latest smartphones, wearables and emerging trends like assistive robotics. She's won two Gold Telly Awards for her video series Beta Test. Prior to her career at CNET, she was a magazine editor, radio announcer and DJ. Lexy is based in San Francisco.
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The $160 (£140, AU$260) Fitbit Charge 6 has plenty of features that make it a worthy upgrade from the Charge 5, including a button for easier navigation, heart rate broadcast to gym equipment, and Google apps like Maps and Wallet. Surprisingly, it also costs $20 less than the Charge 5 at launch.

But after using the Charge 6 for the past week, it feels more like a Google fitness tracker than a Fitbit at its heart. For example, the only music app it supports is YouTube Music and the redesigned Fitbit app is less intuitive than before. I'd recommend the Charge 6 if you're looking for a robust health and fitness tracker with strong battery life, but if you are upgrading from an older Fitbit, the new interface and Google features may take some getting used to.

8.4/ 10

Fitbit Charge 6

$130 at QVC


  • Great battery life
  • Heart rate broadcast support
  • Google Maps turn-by-turn navigation
  • The button is back!


  • No altimeter for elevation tracking
  • Music controls need a subscription
  • Biggest heart rate accuracy improvements only on 3 workout types

The Charge 6 still works with iOS and Android and the experience across ecosystems is almost identical. It has the same sensors as the Charge 5 including:

  • Built-in GPS
  • Blood oxygen
  • EDA or electrodermal activity for stress tracking
  • ECG or electrocardiogram with high, low and irregular heart rhythm alerts

These work the same as on the Charge 5, so this review focuses mostly on new Charge 6 features to help work out if it's the best choice for your needs.

Charge 6 brings back the button

Older Fitbits like the Charge 4 had a physical button, but the Charge 6 has a haptic button that's raised out of the left side of the case. It's much easier to navigate the Charge 6 compared to the buttonless Charge 5. Use the button to return to the clock face, or if you're in a workout and press the button, it scrolls the screen so you can hit pause. 

Fitbit Charge 6 button

The new haptic side button.

Celso Bulgatti/CNET

Speaking of clock faces, the Charge 6 has four new ones to choose from. One wishlist item for on-screen data fields: weather. Please, Fitbit add in the option to see temperature on the clock face, even if it's only just a forecast from when you first sync with the Fitbit app in the morning.

The Charge 6 has the same AMOLED screen as the Charge 5 and you can switch between three brightness options in the settings. If you struggle to read a small screen, the Charge 6 has a new magnification tool. Once activated in settings, tap three times on the screen to zoom in and tap once to go back to the regular magnification.

Like earlier Fitbit trackers, the Charge 6 can get notifications from your phone including text messages, answering or rejecting calls and apps once you set this up in the Fitbit app. You can only send quick responses to texts from your wrist if you are paired with Android.

Watch this: Living With the Fitbit Charge 6

A little bit Fitbit, a lot more Google

The Fitbit Charge 6 gets some of its parent-company's apps, including Google Maps and YouTube Music, but your phone needs to be in range. For instance, start a walk, bike ride or driving navigation from your phone and the Charge 6 will show turn-by-turn navigation on your wrist.

The same goes for YouTube Music as the Charge 6 acts as a remote control for your phone. You can see and change tracks, playlists and adjust the volume from the wrist, even during a workout. It also can give you exercise-specific music recommendations if you share data with YouTube Music. However, you'll need a YouTube Music Premium subscription that costs $11 per month to use all these features after your one-month trial is over. 

Fitbit Charge 6 Google Maps

Google Maps turn-by-turn directions on the Charge 6. It's going to be a long walk.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

The Charge 6 doesn't let you load music onto the tracker or support offline storage from YouTube Music. I wish Fitbit used generic music controls for any music app, especially when earlier Fitbits had that feature. Other trackers have this option, like the $70 Xiaomi Mi Band 8. Fitbit removed Deezer, Pandora and offline music storage on its Sense and Versa smartwatches earlier this year, so if you want the most music flexibility, Google is pushing you toward the Pixel Watch.

Having music controls as subscription-only is a bummer, considering you might want to get Fitbit Premium. That's the additional $10-a-month subscription to get a Daily Readiness Score, deeper sleep insights and workout plans. You get a six-month trial of Fitbit Premium with the Charge 6, but together, both subscriptions cost $21 per month once free trials are over. 

You can still use the Charge 6 without either subscription. You'll just lose out on music control and the extra metrics provided by Fitbit Premium, which I find really helpful.

Fitbit Charge 6 music controls

You can control the volume of music playing back on your phone.

Celso Bulgatti/CNET

I always loved the Fitbit app for being easy to use, but the recent redesign is not as intuitive for me. It lacks a dark mode, you can't see your tracker's battery life percentage.

The Charge 6 now uses Google Wallet instead of Fitbit Pay for mobile payments. Load cards from the Fitbit app then you're prompted to set a PIN on the tracker. Because the Charge 6's screen is so small, entering the PIN is a tedious process.

One other Google-thing. If you have a Fitbit account, you'll need to transition it to a Google account in order to use the Charge 6. It's easy enough to do in the settings, and you'll use this different login going forward.

Charge 6 is better for fitness enthusiasts than earlier Fitbits

Fitbit is doubling-down on fitness as the Charge 6 now supports broadcasting heart rate to supported bikes, treadmills and rowing machines. Some popular brands include NordicTrack, Peloton and Tonal.

But more useful for me is being able to see your real-time heart rate on fitness apps like Peloton. To set this up, scroll to find the HR on Equipment option on the Charge 6 and turn it on. Then go to a supported app and select the Charge 6 as the heart rate sensor. I tried it with Strava and it worked seamlessly. It's good to see the feature natively available on Fitbit as it's something Garmin devices have been doing for a while.

Fitbit Charge 6 heart rate on equipment

Using heart rate broadcasting to Strava.

Celso Bulgatti/CNET

There are also 20 new workout tracking modes, including surfing, skiing, CrossFit and HIIT. That brings the total number of workout types that the Charge 6 can track to 40. Recently used workout modes now show at the top of the app, which is easier than having to scroll to find your favorite workout.

Another feature Fitbit borrowed from the Pixel Watch is its heart rate algorithms. Fitbit claims the Charge 6 gives 60% more accurate readings than the Charge 5 during HIIT, spinning and rowing. Know that it's only for those particular activities and not for any other workout type like running. I reached out to Fitbit to see why the accuracy improvements only apply to these three sports. Fitbit said it saw increases across all workout types, but highlighted these workout types because they have been challenging in the past.

I compared the Charge 6 to a Viiiiva heart rate monitor for a quick HIIT workout and found it matched up within a few bpm, though it did take a couple seconds to catch up to the strap during spikes of activity. Average heart rate on the Charge 6 also matched the strap after my workout. I'll update when I've had a chance to compare it against the Charge 5 for a spinning workout.

I also compared the built-in GPS against the iPhone 15 as a control phone and the Charge 6 mostly matched it in terms of overall distance, but it did experience a few drop-outs along the way that resulted in an awry route map compared with the phone. The Charge 6 is still missing an altimeter for elevation tracking, instead using GPS data to track your elevation after you complete a workout. 

Fitbit Charge 6 readiness score

When it calculates correctly, the Daily Readiness Score is very helpful.

Celso Bulgatti/CNET

The same great sleep tracking as earlier Fitbits is onboard, and you can see most of the helpful data even without a Fitbit Premium subscription, like your score and sleep quality. I also love the Daily Readiness Score -- which is a Fitbit Premium feature -- that takes into account sleep, activity and heart rate variability. I find this super helpful for determining if I need to take a rest day or whether I can push myself to do a workout. 

My readiness score from the Charge 6 is a little wonky though, as some days it doesn't calculate correctly and reads as a score of 1. Fitbit says you'll need to wear the Charge 6 for 14 days to fully calibrate, because it uses activity gathered over the last two weeks more than historical data to calibrate its score. But if you come from an older Fitbit model and don't take a prolonged break between switching to the Charge 6, the score should stay calibrated. I'll update once I've worn the Charge 6 for two weeks to see if it resolves my issue.

Charge 6 battery life is great, just know the limits

Fitbit knocks battery life out of the park compared with smartwatches like the Apple Watch and Google's own Pixel Watch. Fitbit says you can get up to seven days of use out of the Charge 6 with light use and the always-on display off, but in my testing that is closer to four or five days. I was only able to meet the seven-day battery life claim with very minimal use, only using the Charge 6 to tell the time, track sleep and not doing any workouts.

With the always-on display active, I averaged just under two days with regular use: a daily GPS workout, normal screen brightness, sleep tracking and call/text notifications from the phone. Broadcasting heart rate data does drain the Charge 6 much faster. Over the course of a 1-hour outdoor walk and sending heart rate data to Strava, the Charge 6's battery dropped almost 20%. If you need the best battery life of any Fitbit, try the less-expensive Inspire 3 that can go up to 10 days between charges -- but the Inspire 3 doesn't include the broadcasting feature.

Watch this: Wearables Buying Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Charge 6 is a great all-round tracker for most people

The Charge 6 is Fitbit's most robust tracker yet, especially thanks to easier navigation and useful Google apps. Even though it's less expensive than the Charge 5 when it launched, you do need to factor in potential subscriptions to either YouTube Music Premium, Fitbit Premium, or both when looking at the total cost over the lifetime of the Charge 6. 

Though you don't need to get either subscription to get the most out of the Charge 6, Fitbit Premium at least has become a key part of the Fitbit experience and helps set it apart from less-expensive trackers and smartwatches out there. Regardless of whether Fitbit Premium is worth it to you, the Charge 6 is a solid option if you need Android and iOS compatibility, with better health and fitness tracking compared to cheaper alternatives.