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Fitbit Charge 4 vs Alta HR (2020): Which Fitness Tracker Should You Get?

The Fitbit Charge 4 is the San Francisco-based giant’s latest iteration to its highly-rated Charge series. Among other upgrades, Fitbit finally included what many of its users have been asking for: a built-in GPS. How does the latest Charge compare against the more affordable, but well-received Fitbit Alta HR released in 2017? We weigh in on their features and specs in our detailed comparison below.

Fitbit Charge 4 vs Alta HR Fitness Tracker Comparison Chart

ModelFitbit Charge 4Fitbit Alta HR
 Fitbit Alta HR
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
DisplayGrayscale TouchscreenBlack and White Tapscreen
Dimensions1.4โ€ณ x 0.9″1.5″ x .4″
StrapClassic BandClassic Band
GPSBuilt-inNo
Call & Text AlertsYesYes
Quick RepliesYesNo
Smart AwakeYesNo
Water ResistanceWaterproof for up to 50 metersWater, splash, and sweat-resistant
Heart Rate MonitorYesYes
PedometerYesYes
AltimeterYesNo
Calorie Burn TrackerYesYes
Sleep ReportsYesYes
Resting Heart RateYesYes
Active Zone MinutesYesNo
Blood Oxygen LevelYesNo
Swim TrackingYesNo
Female Health TrackingYesYes
Bluetooth4.04.0
Fitbit PayYesNo
CompatibilityApple iOS 12.2 or higher
Android OS 7.0 or higher
Windows 10 version 1607.0 or higher
Apple iOS 12.2 or higher
Android OS 7.0 or higher
Windows 10 version 1607.0 or higher
Subscription90-day free trial of Fitbit Premium90-day free trial of Fitbit Premium
Battery LifeUp to 7 daysUp to 5 days
ColorsBlack
Rosewood
Storm Blue/Black
Black
Black Gunmetal
Blue/Gray
Coral
Fuchsia
Pink/Rose Gold
Year of Release20202017

Design and Comfort

The Fitbit Charge 4 sports a significantly larger display than the Alta HR

fitbit charge 4 vs alta hr
Fitbit dubbed the Alta HR (right) as its slimmest fitness tracker when it was launched in 2017

At a glance, you can tell right away that the Charge 4 is significantly wider and has a larger display than the no-frills Alta HR. The Alta HR is barely half as wide as the Charge 4 and looks more sleek and stealthy than the latest Fitbit. While it’s easier to see the Charge 4’s screen right away, their different sizes may attract different types of users.

As for their screens, the Charge 4 is equipped with a grayscale touch screen display that’s more tactile than the black and white tap screen found in the Alta HR. The latest Charge also has a touch-capacitive button on the side for easier navigation. Since the Alta HR can only be tapped, there are times when you need to keep tapping to get to the screen or mode that you want.

The Fitbit Charge 4 comes in black, rosewood (which is similar to mauve), and a Fitbit exclusive storm blue band with a black frame. Meanwhile, the Alta HR offers more variants to choose from, including vibrant hues like coral, fuchsia, and a rose gold frame with a pink band. With that said, both have interchangeable bands for full customization.

GPS

The Fitbit Charge 4 is equipped with a built-in GPS while the Alta HR doesn’t have GPS support

Using the GPS in the Charge 4 (right), you won’t need to take your phone with you to track and record distances

Fitbit’s Charge 4 is equipped with a built-in GPS, making it the only Fitbit so far that won’t need to connect to your phone’s GPS to track and record distances and routes real-time. Users have been asking for this feature and the wearable fitness giant has finally come through.

The Charge 4 can track distances, steps, and routes, and maps your exertion levels at various points of your activity. However, this upgrade comes with a downside. Heavy use of the built-in GPS tends to deplete its battery life faster

Meanwhile, the Alta HR does not support GPS altogether. It cannot be connected to your phone’s GPS to map your routes, so if that’s a requirement for you, the Charge 4 is clearly the better fit for you.

Health and Fitness Tracking

The Fitbit Charge 4 comes with more health and fitness features than the Alta HR

fitbit charge 4 vs Alta HR fitness tracker
Fitbit’s basic health and fitness features are available in both the Charge 4 (right) and the Alta HR (left)

Fitbit’s Charge 4 and Alta HR deliver the following essential health and fitness tracking features:

  • set fitness goals and track your progress
  • monitor your resting heart and heart rate zones
  • give reminders to move, hydrate, or even sleep
  • track sleep stages and give insights for better sleep quality and overall health
  • monitor menstrual cycles and record symptoms (only in-app for the Alta HR while the Charge 4 also comes with on-wrist integration)
  • track and record steps, distances, pace and calorie burn
  • get guided breathing sessions based on your heart rate

The Charge 4 has better capabilities than the Alta HR. In addition, you can expect more health and fitness features to be added in the Charge 4 when Fitbit rolls out software updates in the future. In addition to the abovementioned features, the Charge 4 can do the following:

  • track swim sets, distances, paces, and calories burned while swimming
  • measure elevation (e.g track floors climbed)
  • measure blood oxygen levels through its SpO2 sensor
  • map your workout intensities and exertion level throughout your route
  • wake you up at the most ideal time based on your sleep scores and stages (Smart Wake will be activated in future updates)
  • set goals, get alerts, and receive bespoke recommendations based on your heart rate through the Active Zone Minutes

Fitbit highlighted the Active Zone Minutes when it announced the release of the Charge 4. You can now set your Active Zone Minutes goal. Your Fitbit will give bespoke recommendations and insights to help you better achieve your health and fitness targets based on your heart rate metrics.

Connectivity and Compatibility

Both the Charge 4 and the Alta HR use Bluetooth 4.0 and are compatible with iOS, Android and Windows

Pairing with either the Charge 4 or the Alta HR is easy and straightforward

Pairing and syncing the Charge 4 or the Alta HR with your device is a smooth and effortless process. They use Bluetooth 4.0, and while not as up-to-date as the newest 5.0, they connect easily to compatible devices. If you’re looking to connect your chest strap activity monitor, then a Fitbit may not be for you, as neither Fitbits support this.

Fitbit made its app and fitness trackers compatible with iOS, Android and Windows, ensuring more users can benefit from what Fitbit can offer. You can further set-up either the Charge 4 or the Alta HR to receive text and call alerts from your phone. However, the Alta HR’s small footprint also displays smaller and limited texts. The Charge 4 takes it up a notch by letting you send preset replies through its ‘Quick Replies’ feature for Android users.

Smart Features

The Fitbit Charge 4 boasts Fitbit Pay and Spotify control

Pay straight from your fitness tracker using the Charge 4’s Fitbit Pay (right)

Equipped with Near-Field Communication (NFC) connectivity, the Charge 4 lets you pay contactless through Fitbit Pay. This is another reason to leave your phone during runs or workouts in addition to the built-in GPS of the Charge 4. Fitbit Pay can be used with establishments that accept Apple Pay, Google Pay, or other contactless payment methods. This feature is not available in the Alta HR.

The latest Fitbit Charge 4 also comes with a Spotify control in its app dashboard. This lets you manage tracks directly through your fitness tracker. While this is a minor upgrade, Spotify users can benefit from this, especially if their headphones’ playback controls are not as intuitive or responsive.

Battery Life and Additional Features

The Fitbit Charge 4 is waterproof and has a longer battery life than the Alta HR

With a 5 ATM rating, the Charge 4 can be submerged for up to 50 meters

For more consistent and accurate results, especially the sleep scores, it is recommended that you wear your fitness tracker even while sleeping. This is why long battery life is a must for fitness trackers. Fitbit designed the Charge 4 and the Alta HR to last for up to 7 and 5 days, respectively. However, battery life may vary depending on your usage and settings. As mentioned earlier, heavy use of the built-in GPS on the Charge 4 will result in remarkably shorter usage hours.

Users who swim, surf, or do any other water activities from time to time are better off getting the Charge 4. Fitbit’s flagship activity tracker is 5 ATM certified, so it can withstand submersion of up to 50 meters. This means you can track and record your sets, pace, distance, calories burned, and intensity while swimming. However, do not expect advanced data from the Charge 4.

The Alta HR is not waterproof and should not be submerged in water, but it is splash and sweat resistant. This means the Alta HR can be used while doing sweat-inducing workouts or running under or training under the light rain.

Verdict

The Fitbit Charge 4 delivers features that make it a worthwhile purchase

The Fitbit Charge 4‘s more updated specs and all the additional features that come with it will give you more than your money’s worth. It offers a lot more health and fitness tracking features, has a larger and more responsive display, comes with a built-in GPS, is waterproof, has longer battery life, and supports contactless payment. Not to mention Fitbit’s future software updates will allow the Charge 4 to offer even more going forward.

With that said, the Fitbit Alta HR is still a reliable, no-frills fitness tracker that only offers health and fitness essentials. Perhaps the major reason why one would go for the Alta HR is its slimmer design. The Fitbit Charge 3, which often goes on sale and only costs a little more than the Alta HR, is a better alternative to the Charge 4. It offers a lot more features than the Alta HR minus the steep price tag of the Charge 4.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ What’s the difference between the Fitbit Alta and the Fitbit Alta HR?

The Fitbit Alta HR can monitor your heart rate as it’s equipped with a heart rate sensor.

๐Ÿ“Œ Which Fitbit is the best?

As the only Fitbit fitness tracker that features an onboard GPS, the Fitbit Charge 4 is the best Fitbit to date. It also offers more features that make it worth the upgrade.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is the Fitbit Alta discontinued?

Yes, Fitbit doesn’t manufacture its the Alta and Alta HR anymore.

๐Ÿ“Œ Can you still buy a Fitbit Alta HR?

Yes, you’ll come across the Fitbit Alta HR in leading stores from time to time. However, we recommend opting for the Fitbit Charge 3 or Inspire HR instead if you’re looking for a budget-friendly Fitbit.

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Rhodaline Escala-Phelps
Rhodaline Escala-Phelps

Managing Editor and Team Leader at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about people, product comparisons, culture, and current events.