Fitbit has two of the best fitness trackers you can buy in 2018 with the Fitbit Alta HR and the brand new Fitbit Charge 3. One is the slimmest fitness tracker that can track heart rate and the other is the company’s smartest fitness tracker yet.
In this Fitbit Charge 3 vs Alta HR comparison, I’ll cover the design, features, accuracy, specs, and a few alternatives you may want to consider. I’ll also offer some final thoughts based on my personal experience wearing and using the devices in everyday life.
Both the Fitbit Charge 3 and the Alta HR look like your typical fitness tracker wristband. The most noticeable difference is that the Fitbit Alta HR is significantly less wide than the Charge 3. This slimness can make it feel like you’re wearing more of a bracelet than a fitness tracker.
Another major difference is how you interact with each device. The Fitbit Alta HR has a screen that only responds to tapping, while the newer Charge 3 has both a touch screen as well as an inductive button to help you navigate the display.
Winner: The touch screen and inductive button definitely make it easier to interact with the Charge 3, but the slimness of the Alta HR is also appealing. So, ultimately it comes down to personal preference.
The Fitbit Charge 3 has a touchscreen interface and a display made of Corning Gorilla Glass 3, making it more durable and less susceptible to scratches than the Alta HR.
Neither have a color display, but the Charge 3 does have a grayscale display compared to the purely black and white display of the Fitbit Alta HR. The Charge 3’s display is also significantly wider than the Alta HR’s display, which allows for more information to be shown on a single screen.
The Fitbit Charge 3 has an amazing battery life of up to 7 days, which is the same as the Alta HR. So, both trackers should last about a week on a single charge.
Both trackers still require a proprietary non-standard charging cable and the Fitbit Charge 3 has a different charging cable than the Fitbit Alta HR. Both charging cables are designed to clip onto the sides of the tracker.
The Fitbit Charge 3 and Alta HR are two of the best fitness trackers you can buy in 2018. As such they can both track your all-day activity including your steps, distance, calories burned, and active minutes. However, the Fitbit Alta HR lacks an altimeter, so only the Charge 3 can track your floors climbed.
Something you may not know is Fitbit has enhanced its heart rate technology in the Fitbit Charge 3. Ultimately, this means that the Charge 3 can better estimate all-day calorie burn compared to the Alta HR, giving it another clear advantage in all-day activity tracking.
Both the Fitbit Charge 3 and Alta HR have interchangeable bands, a battery life of up to 7 days, and can track your heart rate, while neither have the ability to store and play music. That’s about where the Hardware Feature similarities end.
Most notably the Fitbit Charge 3 is now swimproof so you can wear it in the shower, pool, or ocean. It also has enhanced heart rate technology which Fitbit claims will improve heart rate accuracy during exercise compared to Alta HR, and provide a better estimate of calorie burn and resting heart rate.
Fitbit Charge 3 also has a relative SpO2 sensor and the Special Edition versions of Fitbit Charge 3 have an NFC chip which allows you to make wallet-free payments from your wrist.
Unfortunately, neither have the ability to connect to an external heart rate strap nor do they have on-board GPS, though the Fitbit Charge 3 can use your phone’s GPS to map your route during workouts.
Winner: Fitbit Charge 3 (mostly for being waterproof, but also for having connected GPS, enhanced heart rate tracking, wallet-free payments (Special Editions only), and a currently unused relative SpO2 sensor)
Neither Fitbit Charge 3 nor Alta HR have a color display, however, the Charge 3 does have a grayscale display with new animations and graphics that can automatically adjust to lighting conditions throughout the day and night.
Both the Fitbit Charge 3 and Alta HR have multiple clock faces to choose from, though they aren’t customizable and there are no 3rd party clock faces like there are for Versa and Ionic.
Additionally, the Fitbit Charge 3 has a touchscreen display that is also more durable, as well as the ability to view your sleep duration on the tracker itself. All of your health stats are displayed on a personalized dashboard called Fitbit Today and Charge 3 can also display for females where they are at in their cycle.
Both the Fitbit Charge 3 and Alta HR have Automatic Exercise Detection. You can also view your Cardio Fitness Level and Minutes Spent in Each Heart Rate Zone in the Fitbit Companion app.
The Fitbit Charge 3 introduces the ability to start a goal-based workout for those times when you want to exercise for a certain amount of time, a specific distance, or to burn a set number of calories. Only the Fitbit Charge 3, however, allows you to track specific exercises with 15+ exercise modes.
It also has enhanced heart rate technology which Fitbit claims improves accuracy of heart rate tracking and calories burned during exercise compared to older Fitbits like the Alta HR (one of the first things I’ll test when I get mine).
Neither the Fitbit Charge 3 nor the Alta HR have on-screen workouts or built-in GPS, but the Charge 3 can connect to your phone’s GPS to record a map of your workout route and have it appear in the Fitbit app. Fitbit Charge 3 can also record pool swimming stats, but not open water swimming stats.
Winner: Fitbit Charge 3 (for swim tracking, multi-sport exercise tracking, goal-based exercise tracking, and connected GPS, and — still to be tested — more accurate heart rate and calorie burn during exercise)
Fitbit trackers are hands-down the best wearables for tracking your sleep and, while other brands are still trying to catch up, Fitbit has introduced a few new Sleep Features with the launch of the Fitbit Charge 3.
Both trackers can track your sleep automatically, measure your resting heart rate, and wake you with a silent vibration. They can also measure how much time you spend in each Sleep Stage and give you Sleep Insights. Additionally, the Fitbit app can help you set a Sleep Schedule and give you a Bedtime Reminder.
The Fitbit Charge 3 follows the trend of Ionic and Versa with an on-board relative SpO2 sensor that may one day help diagnose sleep apnea (though it does not currently and there is no certainty that it will ever actually do so).
Fitbit also announced a Sleep Score beta that will provide a nightly score of your overall sleep quality and said it would be available in late 2018 to trackers with advanced heart rate tracking like the Charge 3. The Alta HR is not considered to have this enhanced heart rate tracking so it will not get this feature.
Finally, if you’ve ever wanted to see how much sleep you got on your tracker’s display, the Fitbit Charge 3 will be the first Fitbit tracker to show your sleep duration on its dashboard display (note that you still do have to sync with your phone first).
Winner: Fitbit Charge 3 (for improved resting heart rate accuracy (yet to be tested and confirmed), Sleep Score beta (launching later this year), included relative SpO2 sensor (yet to be utilized), and sleep duration shown on the display
The Fitbit Charge 3 really ups the ante over the Alta HR when it comes to Smart Features. You can view call, text, and calendar alerts on both trackers, but the Fitbit Charge 3 also allows you to view all your smartphone app notifications, accept or reject incoming calls, and even send quick text replies (Android only).
Neither tracker has access to the Fitbit App Gallery available on the Versa and Ionic smartwatches, but the Fitbit Charge 3 does include some on-device apps including Alarms, Timer, Weather, Calendar, and Fitbit Leaderboard.
You’ll get Reminders to Move on both trackers and the ability to customize the reminders and see your Hourly Activity history in the Fitbit companion app. The app for both trackers also allows you to log your food, water, and weight.
Additionally, females can use the Fitbit app to track periods, record symptoms, see a predicted ovulation calendar and more, but only the Charge 3 can also let you know where you are in your cycle on its display. Also, Guided Breathing Sessions are only available on the Fitbit Charge 3.
The Fitbit companion app for both the Charge 3 and Alta HR allows you to add friends and compare your step counts in a rolling 7-day leaderboard. The Charge 3 takes this one step further than the Alta HR as you can see the leaderboard directly on your tracker’s display (Fitbit Leaderboard app coming later this year).
You can also create challenges with some or all of your friends to see who can take the most steps in a day, workweek, or weekend.
If you want some extra motivation you can try Fitbit’s Adventures and take a virtual hike with your daily steps, or discover like-minded people through topic-specific communities with Fitbit Groups. Fitbit even has their own Feed where you can see updates from your friends and groups.
We’ve got two Fitbits being put up against each other in this Fitbit Charge 3 vs Alta HR comparison, so the algorithms used to track all-day activity stats like steps, distance, and active minutes are identical. What is different, however, is the heart rate tracking technology.
Fitbit has announced “enhanced heart rate technology” for the Fitbit Charge 3 and claims it offers improved accuracy during exercise compared to Alta HR and better measures stats like calories burned.
For now, we’ll assume Charge 3 has the advantage over Alta HR in terms of calories burned accuracy, but you can be sure this is one of the first things I’ll be testing when I get my tracker and I’ll let you know if the claims have any truth.
Back in January 2015, Fitbit introduced the first wearable technology that could automatically and continuously measure heart rate from the wrist. This has been ground-breaking new technology, but it hasn’t been without its flaws.
Although Fitbit trackers are often quite good at measuring heart rate while you are sleeping, sitting, or doing low-intensity activities, they can often be hit or miss at measuring heart rate accurately during higher-intensity exercise, even if you follow Fitbit’s own tips to get accurate heart rate readings during workouts.
Because of my own personal experience with inaccurate heart rate readings during high-intensity exercise, no Fitbit has yet to appear on my list of the best wearables for tracking your heart rate during exercise.
Fitbit has announced “enhanced heart rate technology” for the Fitbit Charge 3 and claims it offers improved accuracy during exercise compared to Alta HR and better measures stats like calories burned and resting heart rate.
For now, we’ll assume Charge 3 has the advantage here, but you can be sure heart rate accuracy during exercise will be one of the first things I test once I receive my Charge 3, but I suspect it won’t be any more or less accurate than the newer Fitbit trackers like the Ionic and Versa.
Winner: Fitbit Charge 3 (for having “enhanced heart rate technology” that offers “improved accuracy during exercise compared to Charge 2” and “better measures … resting heart rate” — both yet to be tested / confirmed)
Though Fitbit did introduce some new sleep-related features with the launch of Charge 3, they didn’t announce any improvements to its sleep tracking accuracy.
They did announce enhanced heart rate technology that can better measure resting heart rate, but it is yet to be determined if this is actually the case, and if it has any effect on sleep tracking accuracy.
So, for now at least, the Fitbit Charge 3 and Alta HR are equally accurate at sleep tracking and two of the best wearables for tracking your sleep.
|Fitbit Charge 3||Fitbit Alta HR|
|Release Date||October 2018||March 2017|
|Smartphone Compatibility||Android, iOS, Windows Phone||Android, iOS, Windows Phone|
|Battery Life||Up to 7 days||Up to 7 days|
|Hardware Features||Fitbit Charge 3||Fitbit Alta HR|
|External Heart Rate Strap Connection|
|GPS||Can only connect to your phone's GPS|
|Bluetooth Wireless Headphones Connection|
|Music Storage & Playback|
|Payments||Special Edition Only|
|Relative SpO2 Sensor|
|Display Features||Fitbit Charge 3||Fitbit Alta HR|
|Displays Time of Day|
|Customizable Clock Faces||Limited selection||Limited selection|
|3rd Party Clock Faces|
|View Fitbit Leaderboard|
|View Sleep Duration|
|View Female Health Stat|
|All-Day Activity||Fitbit Charge 3||Fitbit Alta HR|
|Total Calories Burned|
|Exercise Features||Fitbit Charge 3||Fitbit Alta HR|
|Automatic Exercise Detection|
|Multi-Sport Exercise Tracking|
|Goal Based Exercise Tracking|
|Customizable Data Fields During Exercise|
|Customizable Alerts During Exercise|
|Post-Workout On-Screen Summaries|
|Minutes in Heart Rate Zones|
|Cardio Fitness Level|
|Open Water Swimming|
|Sleep Features||Fitbit Charge 3||Fitbit Alta HR|
|Automatic Sleep Detection|
|Basic Sleep Tracking|
|Resting Heart Rate|
|Sleep Score Beta||Coming Soon|
|Smart Features||Fitbit Charge 3||Fitbit Alta HR|
|Accept or Reject Calls|
|Quick Text Replies||Android only|
|Smartphone App Notifications|
|3rd Party Apps|
|Smartphone Music Playback Control|
|Wellness Features||Fitbit Charge 3||Fitbit Alta HR|
|Reminders to Move|
|Female Health Tracking||In App||In App|
|Water Logging||In App||In App|
|Food Logging||In App||In App|
|Weight Logging||In App||In App|
|Social Features||Fitbit Charge 3||Fitbit Alta HR|
|Friends||In App||In App|
|Groups||In App||In App|
|Feed||In App||In App|
|Challenges||In App||In App|
|Solo Adventures||In App||In App|
|Adventure Races||In App||In App|
|Where to Buy||Fitbit Charge 3||Fitbit Alta HR|
|Fitbit||Buy at Fitbit||Buy at Fitbit|
|Amazon||Buy at Amazon||Buy at Amazon|
The Fitbit Charge 3 and Alta HR are both great fitness trackers, but maybe you want a tracker that has built-in GPS or at least has music storage and playback. Or maybe you want to save some money and don’t need the latest and greatest.
If so, here’s a look at some of the best alternatives to the Charge 3 and Alta HR.
Best Fitbit with Built-in GPS
Fitbit Ionic is easily the best Fitbit with built-in GPS. Considering the limited feminine color options and the somewhat larger form factor, it’s clear Fitbit intended this to be one of the best Fitbits for men, but women who need a Fitbit with built-in GPS shouldn’t be scared away.
2nd Best Fitbit Smartwatch
Fitbit Versa is Fitbit’s most popular smartwatch. With a rose gold watch face option and pink and purple band color options, it’s also one of the best Fitbits to buy for a woman.
Best Value Fitbit
Fitbit Inspire HR is a replacement (and upgrade) for the Fitbit Alta HR. It’s essentially the same size as the Alta HR, but it has a new touchscreen interface with a physical button, it’s swimproof, and it can display all your smartphone notifications.
Best Fitbit Fitness Tracker
If you’re on a budget or you prefer the look of a fitness tracker to a smartwatch, it’s hard to go wrong with the Fitbit Charge 3. You’ll get an ultra-modern, swim-proof tracker that can optionally display your smartphone app notifications directly on your wrist.
Slimmest Tracker with Heart Rate
If you want your fitness tracker to be slim and still capable of tracking your heart rate, look no further than the Fitbit Alta HR.