If recent headlines were any indication, Amazon’s fall hardware event was all about Amazon’s forthcoming home robot, Astro, and its new home surveillance drone. Buried in the deluge of announcements, however, was the Halo View, an $80 fitness tracker that bears a striking resemblance to the recently released Fitbit Charge 5. The similarities become even more pronounced when you consider the View’s new display and its ability to track your heart rate and sleep quality. In many respects, it seems as if Amazon created a Fitbit Charge 5-like wearable at a price point that makes it far more accessible. Or did it?
We analyzed the two to find out. We have yet to test the Halo View, however, so note that the comparison below is based on the View’s specs and our hands-on review of the Fitbit Charge 5. We’ll dig even deeper once we get our hands on the new wearable.
Fitbit Charge 5 vs. Amazon Halo View
|Specification||Fitbit Charge 5||Amazon Halo View|
|Maximum battery life||Up to seven days||Up to seven days|
|Size||35.8mm x 22.7mm x 12.5mm||TBD|
|Weight||28 grams||Small band and capsule: 20.6 grams, large band and capsule: 21.85 grams|
|Device compatibility||iOS 12.2+ or Android OS 8.0+||iOS 12.0+ or Android OS 7.0+|
|Display size||21.8mm x 14.7mm||TBD|
|Band colors||Steel blue / platinum, black / graphite, lunar white / gold||Active black, lavender dream, sage green|
|Band sizes||Small: fits wrist 129.5mm - 170.2mm, large: fits wrist 170.2mm - 210.8mm||Small / medium: 129.5mm to 195.6mm, medium / large: 160mm to 226.1mm|
|Bluetooth||Yes||Yes, Bluetooth 5.0|
|Water resistant||Yes, up to 50 meters||Yes, up to 50 meters|
|Heart rate monitor||Yes||Yes|
|ECG monitor||Coming soon||No|
A (slight) difference in design
Like the Fitbit Charge 5, the follow-up to the Amazon Halo Band is essentially a bracelet with a rectangular body and a color AMOLED display, one equipped with haptic feedback. The View, however, also features a digital home button. That’s something the Fitbit Charge 5 lacks, which my colleague Jay Peters found makes returning to the homescreen particularly challenging. Amazon has yet to reveal specific dimensions for the View, but we do know it’s slightly lighter than the Charge 5. The small band and capsule weigh 20.6 grams, while the large band and capsule weigh 21.85 grams. In contrast, the Charge 5 weighs 28 grams and is 10 percent thinner than its predecessor, according to Fitbit. Amazon hasn’t revealed how thin the View is or the size of its screen, however, we do know the Charge 5 offers a 21.8 x 14.7-millimeter display, which we found to be too small.
On the accessory front, both the View and the Charge 5 offer three default colors with options for additional bands, so you can customize the device’s appearance. The View comes in active black, sage green, and lavender dream, while the Charge 5 is available in steel blue / platinum, black / graphite, and lunar white / gold. Amazon says additional bands will be available for the View starting at $14.99 each, including fabric, leather, and metal variants for $29.99 apiece. The Charge 5 comes in leather, metal, and fabric variants, too, but they’re more expensive. The leather bands, for example, start at $49.95.
While both sport two band sizes, the View can accommodate larger wrists. The latest Fitbit offers a small band for wrists that measure between 129.5 and 170.2 millimeters and a large band for wrists that fall between 170.2 and 210.8 millimeters. In contrast, the Halo’s small / medium band size is for wrists measuring between 129.5 and 195.6 millimeters and the medium / large size should accommodate wrists between 160 and 226.1 millimeters.
Sensors and small discrepancies
Being fitness trackers, both the Halo View and Fitbit Charge 5 share similar sensors. Each touts an accelerometer, as well as sensors for monitoring your blood oxygen level (SpO2), heart rate, and skin temperature. Users can easily gain information about these through the display, which also shows activity, sleep scores, live workout tracking, move notifications, and more. They’re both also water-resistant up to 50 meters, and both claim to offer up to seven days of battery life.
However, the Charge 5 boasts a few sensors and features the View doesn’t. The Charge 5 comes with a new electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor that measures your body’s response to stress. Fitbit uses that information to then generate a Stress Management Score, which Fitbit Premium members can access via a report with additional information. Fitbit said it also plans to introduce a new EKG app in the future that can share your results with your doctor after checking your heart for atrial fibrillation. The Charge 5 also offers built-in GPS and the ability to make contactless payments (via Fitbit Pay), two things the View lacks.
When it comes to smartwatch-like functionality, we know very little about the View besides the fact you can access text notifications on it. The Charge 5, meanwhile, provides notifications for texts, calls, calendar events, and even select smartphone apps like Gmail, WhatsApp, and Facebook. Android users can even use the Charge 5 to send quick replies in some apps — though, iPhone users will need to pull out their phones. The Charge 5 also allows you to mute notifications, and it features a sleep mode that allows you to schedule and silence notifications at night. It even has a Smart Alarm that will wake you up within half an hour before your regular alarm does, during what Fitbit considers the “optimal stage of sleep.”
There are also some minor differences in battery life between the two. Amazon claims the View can fully charge in under 1.5 hours, while Fitbit says its device can take two hours. While we praised the Fitbit Charge 5’s battery life in our review, Fitbit’s seven-day promise also drops to two if you use its always-on display mode. The View, as far as we know, lacks an always-on display.
In addition, both wearables work with iOS and Android phones and are Bluetooth-compatible, but it looks like you’ll need a slightly newer operating system to use the Charge 5 app. The View requires your device to run at least iOS 12.0 or Android OS 7.0, however, the Charge 5 requires you to update to a minimum of iOS 12.2 or Android OS 8.0.
The Fitbit Charge 5 and Amazon Halo View both offer and work with separate membership-based wellness services. Whether you pick up the View or Charge 5, you’ll be able to sample either for free for a limited time. Like the latest Fitbit, the membership services for the View will include a new fitness feature that provides access to “hundreds” of workouts from popular brands like Orangetheory and Aaptiv, as well as some guided meditation and relaxation exercises from the likes of Headspace. Amazon says the service, called Halo Fitness, will arrive later this year and be available to those with the original Halo as well.
Yet that may be where the similarities end on the services front. As previously noted, the Charge 5 comes with six months of Fitbit Premium for free, but the View comes with a yearlong Amazon Halo membership. After the end of their respective trials, however, Fitbit Premium costs $9.99 per month, whereas an Amazon Halo Membership costs $3.99 a month. Non-members can still use the View after the subscription ends, but they’ll not be able to enjoy a good chunk of the membership’s features, including tone analysis, body composition, movement insights, activity and sleep scores, sleep stages data, and activity intensity information. They will, however, be able to access a limited number of workouts, programs, and recipes.
In addition to the new fitness feature, the monthly Halo membership will include a new nutrition service come January: Halo Nutrition. The new perk will supposedly function like a personalized meal planner, giving you access to roughly 500 recipes from companies like Weight Watchers, Amazon-owned Whole Foods, and Lifesum. It will also integrate with Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa, meaning you can easily add the ingredients and groceries to your Alexa shopping list. While you can connect your Fitbit to your Alexa, Fitbit Premium currently lacks a comparable nutrition service.
Other capabilities of the View include the ability to estimate your body fat percentage via your smartphone camera, and a tool that will allow you to measure and help create a plan to improve your mobility, stability, and posture. While the View dropped the microphone found on the original Halo, the Halo smartphone app still offers a feature that can analyze your tone and emotional state so you can better understand how you sound to others.
Although Fitbit Premium doesn’t offer a meal planning service, it does offer some perks that Amazon’s premium subscription doesn’t (for an added cost). For one, the service can connect you with a professional health coach, who can help you create a custom action plan. Many of these coaches are personal fitness trainers and dietitians who are there to help support you in reaching your overall wellbeing goals. The service, “Fitbit Premium + Health Coaching Membership,” is available for $54.99 per month. The regular Fitbit Premium subscription also offers detailed health reports you can give to your doctor, however. It features a Health Metrics dashboard, for instance, that provides you with an overview of your breathing rate, skin temperature, resting heart rate, heart rate variability, and SpO2 over the past month. You can also print a monthly wellness report of your activity, sleep, heart rate, weight, and menstrual health statistics.
In some ways, the Charge 5 also prioritizes mental health and other aspects of your wellbeing a little more than Amazon’s wearable. Unlike the View, the Charge 5 offers a Stress Management Score report using its EDA. The results are based on your responsiveness, exertion balance, and sleep patterns. The View’s new tone analysis feature is designed to improve your “social health,” but Fitbit Premium offers games and challenges you can participate in with others. For example, members can invite their friends in timed step, distance, or active minute challenges to see who can do the most amount of activity. The upcoming Daily Readiness score feature will also let you know how mentally and physically ready you are to work out, or if you should prioritize recovery instead. It supposedly does so with an algorithm that analyzes your recent activity, sleep quality, your body’s responses to various stress factors as measured by heart variability while sleeping, and other factors.
The bottom line
On paper, both the Fitbit Charge 5 and Amazon Halo View are very similar. Yet there are still features the Halo lacks and vice versa that may make one or the other potentially a better fit depending upon your goals and priorities. That said, our comparison is only based on what Amazon has revealed so far regarding the View — not necessarily real-world performance.
Both are designed to help you lose weight and stay physically fit if that’s your primary goal. They each offer what most fitness trackers do, providing insight into your daily activity. Their membership-based wellness programs both offer hundreds of workouts from experts.
If you need a little more help managing your diet, though, Halo Nutrition may benefit you. However, if you regularly participate in activities where distance tracking is an important goal, like running, hiking, cycling, or distance swimming, a built-in GPS can be helpful. The Charge 5 has one, which allows it to provide more accurate pace and distance metrics without you having to bring your phone along.
If you have specific health conditions that you also need help with, each wearable could also offer different perks depending upon what those are. The Charge 5’s EDA and the ability to play games with other contacts can be helpful for those who are prioritizing their mental health, especially during a pandemic where many still feel isolated. Those who have heart problems or come from a family with a history of cardiovascular issues may appreciate Fitbit’s EKG app as well. On the other hand, an individual with a disease like Parkinson’s may find the Halo membership helpful with features designed to improve mobility and posture.
If you don’t particularly care for the extra membership perks or GPS, though, there’s something to be said about saving $100. At the end of the day, it seems like the Halo is an affordable fitness tracker offering many of the features the latest Fitbit Charge comes with at nearly half the price. That’s not a bad deal, at least on paper — which is all we have for now.