Fitbit/Google need to do better.

Out of nowhere, a couple of weeks ago, without ever installing any firmware update (at least intentionally), my Fitbit Charge 5 started:

  1. reporting incorrect battery numbers, swinging wildly from 40% to 90% to 77% and so on, and,
  2. turning off randomly with the only way to turn it back on being to plug it into a charger.

As a reminder, I bought this thing for $155 off Amazon back in April 2022. At the time, and I can’t speak for now, there weren’t any service centres present in India. I told myself I’m taking a gamble and I’d be happy if it lasts longer than a year. It has. And yet, I am unhappy.

Reports are coming in about a software update causing issues for a number of Charge 5 users, including even bricking (TechRadar, AndroidCentral). These are from July 2023 — a time where I did not face any such issues, which makes this all the more weird for me that it’s happening in January 2024, presumably not as a result of a software update.

A $155 piece of equipment being useless does not inspire confidence and Google’s response, and I highly doubt it applies to India, is abysmal (emphasis mine):

Fitbit, it seems, isn’t handling the issue properly for those affected. Those with broken trackers have been left out to dry. Support isn’t offering to replace the device, but rather just giving a 35% discount on new hardware assuming the tracker is still under warranty – the device just launched in 2021, but Fitbit does only offer a 1-year warranty from the time of purchase. But, even then, Fitbit should be offering a free resolution to that problem, given the broken device is being caused by an update from Fitbit directly.

https://9to5google.com/2023/07/11/fitbit-charge-5-battery-bricking-update/

Troubleshooting.

So far, I have tried:

  1. Restarting the device from the device itself.
  2. Restarting the device using the charging cable (three 1-second taps on the button embedded on the power end of the USB cable)
  3. Changing the watch face
  4. Updating the firmware from 188.58 to 194.91 (the problem was reported on 188.61)

I’m currently in the process of draining the battery, which is a very involved, unforgiving, and annoying task given that the device randomly turns off and has no accurate number on its battery capacity.

Right this moment, as I opened the Fitbit app to look at the firmware version, the device went offline. Perhaps there is something there to look into for Google? Maybe a sync throws the device off?

Anyhow, I managed to get it from a reported 97% to 9% through the course of the night, using the always on display feature. Plug into the charger to turn it on, and the battery is 88%. 🤡 As a battery preserving measure (<10%), the AOD seems to be automatically turned off. Perhaps a good sign that the hardware still has an accurate internal reading on the battery. Using the AOD also helps prevent the device from turning off. I am usually able to bring it back to life by tapping the screen a dozen times.

Let’s see when it drains completely and what it does next.

Alternatives.

I don’t want to purchase a cheap, Chinese fitness band.

I also don’t want to necessarily invest in a “smart” watch – something I mentioned before. Who has time to charge a watch every single day? Impossible. This rules out Apple Watch.

Garmin is an option with its vivosmart 5 (₹16,990, ~$205), but it is more expensive than even the newly released Charge 6 (₹14,999, ~$180*). Probably Garmin vivosmart 5 is worth a try if at least the device will l last me three or, ideally, more years than that?

* I also find it ridiculous how this sells for $160 plus sales tax in a very rich country, and $180 in a very poor country like India. Like-for-like, pricing, almost.

0

Comment via email.