Fitbit Charge 3 vs Alta HR

Fitbit Charge 3 vs Alta HR

Updated: February 7, 2019 by Kelsey Clubb

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.

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Design

Fitbit Charge 3
Fitbit Charge 3
Fitbit Alta HR
Fitbit Alta HR

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.

Display

Fitbit Charge 3 Display
Fitbit Charge 3
Fitbit Alta HR Display
Fitbit Alta HR

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.

Winner:  Fitbit Charge 3  (for a touchscreen display that is more durable)

Battery Life and Charging

Fitbit Charge 3 Charging Cable
Fitbit Charge 3
Fitbit Alta HR Charging Cable
Fitbit Alta HR

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.

Winner:  Tie

Features

All-Day Activity Features

All-Day Activity Features

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.

Winner:  Fitbit Charge 3  (for more accurate calorie burn estimation and ability to track floors climbed)

Hardware Features

Hardware Features

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)

Display Features

Display Features

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.

Winner:  Fitbit Charge 3  (for having a touchscreen, adjustable brightness, and a few more stats available to view on the display)

Exercise Features

Exercise Features

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)

Sleep Features

Sleep Features

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

Smart Features

Smart Features

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.

Winner:  Fitbit Charge 3  (for having some on-device apps and being able to view smartphone app notifications, accept or reject calls, send quick text replies for Android)

Wellness Features

Wellness Features

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.

Winner:  Fitbit Charge 3  (for having Guided Breathing sessions and showing a female health stat on its display)

Social Features

Social Features

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.

Winner:  Fitbit Charge 3  (for having a Fitbit Leaderboard app coming later this year that will show your rolling 7-day step count ranking on its display)

Accuracy

All-Day Activity Tracking Accuracy

All-Day Activity Features

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.

Winner:  Fitbit Charge 3  (for having “enhanced heart rate technology” that “better measures stats like calorie burn” — yet to be tested / confirmed)

Heart Rate Tracking Accuracy

Exercise Features

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)

Sleep Tracking Accuracy

Sleep Features

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.

Winner:  Tie

Specs

 Fitbit Charge 3Fitbit Alta HR
Fitbit Charge 3Fitbit Alta HR
MSRP$149$129
Release DateOctober 2018March 2017
Smartphone CompatibilityAndroid, iOS, Windows PhoneAndroid, iOS, Windows Phone
Battery LifeUp to 7 daysUp to 7 days
Hardware FeaturesFitbit Charge 3Fitbit Alta HR
Swappable Bands
Heart Rate
External Heart Rate Strap Connection
Waterproof
GPSCan only connect to your phone's GPS
Bluetooth Wireless Headphones Connection
Music Storage & Playback
PaymentsSpecial Edition Only
Relative SpO2 Sensor
Display FeaturesFitbit Charge 3Fitbit Alta HR
Displays Time of Day
Customizable Clock FacesLimited selectionLimited selection
3rd Party Clock Faces
Always-on Display
Color Display
Touchscreen
Adjustable Brightness
Fitbit Today
View Fitbit Leaderboard
View Sleep Duration
View Female Health Stat
All-Day ActivityFitbit Charge 3Fitbit Alta HR
Steps
Distance
Total Calories Burned
Active Minutes
Floors Climbed
Exercise FeaturesFitbit Charge 3Fitbit 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
On-Screen Workouts
Cardio Fitness Level
Pool Swimming
Open Water Swimming
Sleep FeaturesFitbit Charge 3Fitbit Alta HR
Automatic Sleep Detection
Basic Sleep Tracking
Resting Heart Rate
Silent Alarm
Sleep Stages
Sleep Schedule
Bedtime Reminder
Sleep Insights
Sleep Score BetaComing Soon
Smart FeaturesFitbit Charge 3Fitbit Alta HR
Call Notifications
Accept or Reject Calls
Text Notifications
Quick Text RepliesAndroid only
Calendar Notifications
Smartphone App Notifications
Basic Apps
Weather App
3rd Party Apps
Smartphone Music Playback Control
Wellness FeaturesFitbit Charge 3Fitbit Alta HR
Hourly Activity
Reminders to Move
Guided Breathing
Female Health TrackingIn AppIn App
Water LoggingIn AppIn App
Food LoggingIn AppIn App
Weight LoggingIn AppIn App
Social FeaturesFitbit Charge 3Fitbit Alta HR
FriendsIn AppIn App
GroupsIn AppIn App
FeedIn AppIn App
ChallengesIn AppIn App
Solo AdventuresIn AppIn App
Adventure RacesIn AppIn App
Where to BuyFitbit Charge 3Fitbit Alta HR
FitbitBuy at FitbitBuy at Fitbit
AmazonBuy at AmazonBuy at Amazon

Alternatives

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.

Fitbit Ionic

Best Fitbit with Built-in GPS

Fitbit Ionic

MSRP: $299  Check Price on Amazon →
Released: October 2017
Compatibility: Android, iOS, Windows Phone
Battery Life: 5 days

The Fitbit Ionic is Fitbit’s first smartwatch and the one to get if you’ve got your heart set on a Fitbit with built-in GPS.

Pros:

  • Built-in GPS
  • Music storage and playback
  • 3rd party clock faces and apps
  • On-screen workouts
  • Slim charging cable

Cons:

  • Significantly higher price
  • Shorter battery life

Fitbit Versa

Most Popular Fitbit Smartwatch

Fitbit Versa

MSRP: $199  Check Price on Amazon →
Released: April 2018
Compatibility: Android, iOS, Windows Phone
Battery Life: 4+ days

The Fitbit Versa is Fitbit’s second attempt at a smartwatch. It’s got 3rd party clock faces and apps as well as music storage and playback, but doesn’t include built-in GPS. With over one million devices sold to date, this Fitbit is already a hit.

Pros:

  • Music storage and playback
  • 3rd party clock faces and apps
  • On-screen workouts

Cons:

  • Somewhat higher price
  • Shorter battery life
  • Still no built-in GPS
  • Bulky charging cable

Fitbit Charge 2

Cheaper than Charge 3, with less features and not waterproof

Fitbit Charge 2

MSRP: $129  Check Price on Amazon →
Released: September 2016
Compatibility: Android, iOS, Windows Phone
Battery Life: Up to 5 days

The Fitbit Charge 2 is the predecessor to the Charge 3. So, if you like the looks of the Fitbit Charge 3, but don’t need all the latest and greatest features (including waterproofing), you can save some money and get the previous version.

Pros:

  • Cheaper than Fitbit Charge 3

Cons:

  • Not waterproof/swimproof
  • No touchscreen
  • Can only show call, text, and calendar phone notifications

Fitbit Alta

Cheaper than Alta HR, with less features and no heart rate

Fitbit Alta

MSRP: $99  Check Price on Amazon →
Released: March 2016
Compatibility: Android, iOS, Windows Phone
Battery Life: Up to 5 days

The Fitbit Alta is the same design as the Alta HR, but if you really don’t care about heart rate tracking and the many features it enables, you can save some money and get the non-HR version.

Pros:

  • Cheaper than Fitbit Alta HR
  • Slim design

Cons:

  • No heart rate tracking
  • Not waterproof/swimproof
  • No touchscreen
  • No advanced sleep stats
  • No advanced exercise stats
  • Can only show call, text, and calendar phone notifications

Final Thoughts

If you’ve narrowed your decision down to the Fitbit Charge 3 vs Alta HR, it’s a balance of which tracker you prefer the looks of, what features you really want vs those you can live without, and what price you’re willing to pay.

Best Fitbit Fitness Tracker

Fitbit Charge 3

Fitbit Charge 3

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

Fitbit Alta HR

Fitbit Alta HR

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.

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