So first off, let me start off by saying, I have loved Fitbit for a long time, I jumped on board hard with the Versa 1. This was the BEST and REMAINS the BEST Fitbit to this day.
But how is it that such an old device is still the best? Simple: Great battery life, great size, great contact with the skin, and has EVERY FEATURE the “high end” devices have. Altimeter, Find my phone, customizable watch faces, music storage, physical buttons. You name it. But this isn’t about that and you can read more about why I think Fitbit really lost its way here: https://craftingworlds.com/fitbit-has-lost-its-way-it-makes-no-sense/
This is about the Fitbit Charge 5 and me thinking, WOW finally a 7 day battery on a slim profile device with an accurate heart rate sensor unlike the Versa 3 and Sense 3 are absolute rubbish(which btw is still not as accurate as the Versa 1)… what the hell? But finally an affordable Fitbit with all the features I wanted… well sans find my phone, customizable watch faces, and an altimeter, because why not remove everything that previous versions of the watch had and sell it as “new and improved” then cite it as “users didn’t want these features”…
I DIGRESS! Let me get to the major point here which is:
I purchased the Charge 5 as it seemed like the best
Compromise Upgrade since the Versa 1.
The Fitbit Charge 5 has 2 major flaws that they are not telling you about. And these major flaws are not worth the sacrifice of those “features we don’t want” because they can cause you physical harm.
First: Electrical Current running through your hand and arm while using the Fitbit Charge 5.
Yes you read that correctly. If you have ever had electrode therapy for a bad back or muscle you will understand the idea that when an electrical charge is run through your body, it causes muscles to twitch and tense, which in therapy can get to deeper muscle issues than a normal massage gun etc. However, when you are trying to sleep and you notice your index and ring finger involuntarily twitching… Well that is something seriously wrong. The Fitbit Charge 5 has a Heart Rate issue, where if you do not wear the watch pretty tightly during exercise and other activities the experience may differ for users. See this review here by DC Rainmaker: https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2021/09/fitbit-charge-5-in-depth-review.html
He talks about how depending on the band you wear, where you wear it, and how tight you wear it, your results may vary.
He is 100% on point here.
Now here is the crux. When you wear your watch around a malleable surface such as your wrist and there are electrodes and charging ports on the bottom of the watch, your skin will fill those holes. Now normally these should be inactive unless connected to a charging port… but I have experienced the exact opposite on multiple devices!
Here is the back of the Fitbit Charge 5. See the indent for the charging connectors? Guess what happens when that is on your wrist? Your skin FILLS the gaps. And guess what that means, you are making a VERY hard connection to the part of the watch that accepts electricity.
Now I am not claiming to be an engineer but common sense here tells me, connection with these with sweat or even normal skin moisture that we carry on the daily, makes this an active connection. And from my hands twitching experience at night, this is exactly the case.
I found that when the SP02 sensors clicked on at night when I was laying down, that is when my hand would twitch. And deepening on the band, it would either be barely perceptible or enough to make me question my sanity. And last I checked, having anything pulsing electricity through your body at a constant rate is not good for your heart or other body functions. So this was my first indicator that this was a defective product line.
The second, was during workouts, I would feel the exact same electrical current when running in workout modes, but going UP my arm into the bicep tricep area. Which indicates sweat was interfering with the device. HUGE problem.
This alone is worth a return, but there is ONE more thing fundamentally broken with the Charge 5:
The Charge 5 “ages” your skin on your wrist.
No I am not talking about an allergy or reaction to the watch, I am talking about what you could essentially see as when you have been out in the sun too long, or you chaff or build up callouses, but ON YOUR WRIST where the watch makes contact. And not the charging part, the part that holds the sensors. The things that make this worth your while and you need to make contact. My Versa 1 never did this, but it also balanced better on the wrist and made a smaller contact area. But this Fitbit Charge 5. Holy hell. Just look at these photos:
My right wrist where I do not wear the watch:
My left wrist with the watch:
You can see a distinct difference in the texture of my wrist where the sensor lays. It looks almost like the light it is emitting or the heat it generates is drying out the skin/burning the skin/aging the skin. You have to wonder if it is because the contact is so tight around your arm that it leaves no breathing room like the versa did or if it is just getting hotter or has stronger lights that can hurt your skin.
I have NEVER had this with any other Fitbit device. It took me by surprise actually and I ended up swapping wrists for a week and using Aquaphor on it for a week straight. It helped a bit and what you are seeing is after a week of “treatment”. I hope it isn’t permanent. Because the Fitbit Charge 5 caused a good deal of skin damage.
What the heck Fitbit?!?!
Contacting Customer Support
When I reported this to Customer support, it was the strangest game of bounce me around to different departments and never actually acknowledge the problem at hand, I have ever experienced. A lot of PR “This isn’t the intended way the watch is supposed to operate”. Really?!?! I thought I was supposed to get shock therapy every time I tried to close my eyes to sleep.
Ultimately, the last rep I spoke with after speaking to 5, said “We are going to email you with a proposition if you choose to accept it” I am not making this up. I was like, what is this cloak and dagger BS, can you just tell me what the problem is here? Do I have a defective unit, are you sending me an in warranty replacement?
Turns out, they will actually not do replacements, exchanges or anything of that matter for this type of issue and will NOT say that until you get the email. It is all very “liability first”. They also process refunds through a direct payment through paypal, not your original purchasing method. It is all super weird. Look at this email:
So I have sent it back. But to me it looks like this just happens to people. And there is no “this is defective” we are sending a new unit, this is just the design. That is really scary honestly.
Words of Warning
So look, as someone who loves my fitness devices the new Charge 5 is either defective, emitting a harmful light, has bad connectors, or some combination of both that is causing DAMAGE to my body. I would very much double think purchasing this device.
I am back to my Versa 1. And have had no issues at all. That is how much I love Fitbit. But at the end of the day, I am wearing this to be a better, healthier version of me. Not for shock therapy and California sun treatment on my arm!