This week I got my hands on the brand new Galaxy Fit from Samsung, which can be considered a competitor to the Fitbit Charge 4, but at a much more affordably comfortable price point, coming in at about $99 for the regular version and even lower for the Galaxy Fit e version, if you are not at all interested in the full-color AMOLED display.
Although I am also a fan of the Fitbit Charge series and the Fitbit Charge 4 bands that can be changed on demand, unlike the Galaxy Fit's band.
I picked up the regular version mainly because Samsung is one of the top players in the game when it comes to screens. And the promo videos made it a point to hype up that the Galaxy Fit has a pretty decent screen. Which I must say it definitely does.
It's a very nice display, I will give Samsung that. It has a 120 x 240 resolution with a 24.1mm overall screen size. But it's also a $99 dollar device, let us not forget that either. If you are looking for sharp and high-res, then you might want to spend the extra $100 and go for the Galaxy Watch Active instead. Which I can attest as I considered buying it, has a gorgeous display.
But this review is about the Fit. The Galaxy Fit has a super easy on the eyes display. What do I mean by that? That in a sunny outdoor environment, the display breaks through and looks totally fine and readable. And likewise, in the dark, you can dim the display to a comfortable setting that still makes it easy to read and you don't really lose out on the details and sharpness.
The display can be dimmed right through the Fit itself through the top-shelf menu, or through the accompanying phone app.
The look and feel
The Fit itself is a very small device. Smaller than the Fitbit Charge 3 for sure. The screen size is not large by any means, but then it isn't marketing itself as a screen-friendly device either. The wrist bands that come with the Fit are super light-weight and have a thin overall size to them. The Fit pretty much won't win any design and fashion awards. It's a solid black (or whichever color you choose) relatively thin tracker, with a very clean display.
And that is exactly what I personally was looking for. I did not want anything that distracted me out of my usual day to day focus. I didn't want to be notified of anything every 5 seconds or any fanciful animations whenever I looked at the time. And that's the market that Samsung is aiming here with the Galaxy Fit I feel. It blends in to your casual work or workout attire.
It is lightweight
This is another area that Samsung made a point to emphasize. It is light. Very light. Like I don't feel it at all when wearing it, and that is awesome and takes some getting used to. So far it's been on my wrist for a few days and it's survived a few gym sessions without a hitch. This is my first wearable since my last venture with FitBit . The Fitbit Charge 2 was my last wearable, with decent results. However, due to the shorter battery life on the Charge 2, eventually it ended up in a backpack slowly to be forgotten.
So I get to test the Galaxy Fit with fresh eyes if you will. And I will say this, it gets out of the way when I'm at the gym. It tracks, and I trust it to track. It doesn't vibrate me to inform me of things and if I wish, I can keep the screen off during my workouts, which helps to preserve that sweet battery life or I can leave it on to track of my time.
Tracking at the gym
I'm a calisthenics kind of guy. I push and pull and jump and run in place for the most part. So my heart rate elevates in bursts and comes right back down. Which so far the Galaxy Fit has measure totally fine. Based on my own heart-rate calculations, it's pretty accurate for the most part. Though it does have a delay with varying heart rate elevations. But I am assuming that the algorithms take this into account, since every wrist worn tracker pretty much has this same issue.
The accuracy of the heart-rate sensor overall however, is still something that I am playing around with and evaluating. But the same is true for most light-based wrist trackers. We move and we shift and we all have varying skin thicknesses and pigments and hues and such, and to think that one tracker can work for every single person isn't something that I hold Samsung to.
But from a comfort and convenience perspective, the Fit does the job. It stays in place, can take a hit or two, and most controls are simply a swipe or button click away. And yes, you can pause a workout, which is something that other trackers always forget to implement.
The reason I picked up the Galaxy Fit was for the sleep tracking mainly. Not because it has phenomenal sleep tracking. But because it's decently priced with a solid display, battery life, heart rate sensor, and it can track sleep. This is one of those areas that is always subjective and prone to errors, both from the hardware perspective and from the user perspective. So I will attempt to give an honest review at the whole thing, taking it with a grain of salt.
The Galaxy Fit automatically detects sleep, which I found to be somewhat uncomfortable at first. Because I kept wondering whether it would start on time or not. After a few sleep cycles however, and remembering how long it took me to fall asleep, it seems to be pretty accurate in knowing when sleep is beginning.
The sleep numbers themselves are valid, however, I can't for certain say how accurate. I'll say this now, using wrist monitoring is not the best way to track sleep. Other products like the Oura ring have been shown to be more accurate due to the placement of the ring itself. And heart-strap based trackers are always going to be levels more accurate at tracking sleep, though cumbersome. Perhaps in a future post I can compare the Fit with a more proven sleep tracking piece of hardware.
If accurate, then my sleep is pretty solid overall. On a side note, during a particularly not so great sleep session that I recently had, the Fit's numbers were able to capture that and did in fact show that my deep sleep cycle was relatively low. Future numbers will be shared as they come in!
The Galaxy Fit is stated to last "a good while" with single charge. There's no real number that I could find online as to the actual time. But "a while" seems to be a contender. That's of course if you run it on minimal display settings without real-time heart tracking. And where's the fun in that. I have real-time heart tracking on as well as real-time stress tracking. I keep the display relatively bright for the most part and actively use as many features as I can, such as the timers and stopwatch features.
I also have notifications on, but only for certain ones that are higher priority, such as emails and messaging apps. So you can say that I am using it the way that it was probably intended to be used. And by the looks of it, I won't be getting a full week out of it. But, I'm still pleasantly surprised. A good 3-4 days seems to be the sweet spot with my level of usage currently, which I will take.
Charging times are decent and the magnetic USB charger makes it pretty convenient to just take out and forget about the process. I was able to get roughly a 10% increase in battery for every 15 minutes. So you can estimate that 2-3 hours of charge time are required to be fully loaded. There is no quick-charge feature, from what I have seen so far.
Other things I liked
There are a few extra features that I actually found pretty convenient with the Galaxy Fit, such as "Good night mode", which will turn off notifications and the trackers display unless you manually press the action button to turn it back on. It is done through the app, or through the top-drawer notification window on the device itself, however you probably only need to do this once per day. It would be nice if a timer could be set for this at the same time per day, as I personally tend to do this closer to bed time.
The notifications were another favorite feature of mine. Not because of how thorough they were, but quite the opposite. They were kept to a minimum and once checked they pretty much vanished. With the raise of the wrist, you can get a quick sentence in an email or text message and decide where to go from there. When I wore a more feature rich tracker, like the stylish but long gone Moto 360, one of the issues was that it wanted to almost be your phone. So you would spend more time swiping through emails on your wrist in some type of year 2030 cyber-noir novel. The Galaxy Fit shows you your message, and then it vanishes just as quickly as it came.
But there's some bugs
This was not unexpected seeing as to how new the Galaxy Fit is and me having picked it up on day 1. There are a few bugs that have stood out to me, such as the following:
- Galaxy Wear mobile app forgets the device sometimes
- Data doesn't fully sync sometimes with the Samsung Health app (sleep data)
- Heart rate is still questionable until further research is done
- Notification icons are broken (really Samsung?)
That last one doesn't bother me at all, but it's too funny to not mention. The icons for the application sending notifications are currently broken, at least on my model. They appear with a slight glitchy Matrix type blur. Like I said, not a big deal and I'm certain that future updates will fix the problem. None of the bugs are detrimental to overall use. I've had plenty of wearables in my time, and those slight few errors mentioned are much tamer than others that I have seen.
Overall (7.5 / 10)
You have to remember that Samsung isn't aiming to tackle the Apple Watch here. And if it were, it has other devices that can do the job in a much better fashion, such as the Galaxy Watch Active. The Galaxy Fit is a minimalist health tracker with a solid AMOLED display and a long battery life and more importantly, it comes in at under $100, which other brands and manufacturers have failed to do so in the past few years. It blends general health tracking into your day to day without taking too much energy or focus away from your activities.
Should you buy the Galaxy Fit? If you don't have a health tracker currently and are looking to get into that habit (which I would recommend), then I would say that the Galaxy Fit is great way to get started. And if you are looking for a high-tech wrist mounted bio-marker tracker, then there are dozens of solid options out there for you, though at a relatively higher cost and much less stable battery life.
Whichever route you take, tracking your overall health metrics is a great way to begin to increase your daily performance and build better habits!
Walter Guevara is a software engineer, startup founder and currently teaches programming for a coding bootcamp. He is currently building things that don't yet exist.
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