Fitbit Inspire 3 vs Charge 5: Which fitness tracker should you buy?

We compare key differences between the Fitbit Inspire 3 and Charge 5, to help you decide which to go for.

If you’re looking for a new fitness tracker, you might be comparing the Fitbit Inspire 3 and the Fitbit Charge 5, two of the more affordable offerings from Fitbit’s stable of fitness trackers and smartwatches. 

But should you go for the cheaper, lighter Inspire 3, or the more feature-filled (and pricier) Charge 5? Each has its merits, and sometimes there isn’t an immediately obvious reason for selecting one over the other. 

Below, we’ll explain the key differences between them. Ultimately, either one could help you on your fitness journey, but factors such as your goals and the types of exercise you do may make one the better choice – and it won’t be the same for everyone. 

So here’s what you need to know about the differences between the Fitbit Inspire 3 and the Charge 5… 

the Fitbit Inspire 3 next to the Fitbit Charge 5 on a wooden backgroundCredit: Saga Exceptional

Fitbit Inspire 3 vs Charge 5: price

The difference isn’t as big as you might expect…

The Fitbit Charge 5 was released in September 2021 with an RRP of around £169.99. The Fitbit Inspire 3 launched in September 2022 with an RRP of £84.99.  

But prices change rapidly, and the Charge 5 has come down significantly. It’s now generally available for under £130 – in sale periods we’ve even seen it under £90, close to the full price of the Inspire 3.  

The Inspire 3, meanwhile, has sometimes been available for less than £65 through promotions. It is still the cheaper of the two, although the price difference is smaller than it was.

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Screenshots from the Fitbit app, showing Cardio Fitness, the Home Screen, and stress managementCredit: Saga Exceptional

Both devices come with the offer of a six-month Fitbit Premium trial. Fitbit Premium is a subscription service offering a host of additional content and features, including extra data insights, a Daily Readiness Score, as well as guided meditations, workouts and recipes. After the trial period ends, Fitbit Premium costs £7.99 a month, or £79.99 if you pay upfront for a one-year membership – and some find it irritating you have to pay a subscription to access content based on your own data.

Given that the subscription service costs the same whichever device you go for, it will really come down to what you’re willing to pay for your new fitness tracker. And as the Inspire 3 is undoubtedly the cheaper of the two, if price is key then that’s the obvious pick.  

However, given that the price difference is far smaller than it was, do the Charge 5’s extra features justify spending a little more? 

Fitbit Inspire 3 vs Charge 5: design

Both devices are slim and comfortable

The Inspire 3 and Charge 5 side by side on a wristCredit: Saga Exceptional

Both the Inspire 3 and Charge 5 follow the classic fitness tracker band-style design. The Inspire 3 is smaller and lighter, weighing just 17.69g (0.62oz) with a body that’s 39.32mm x 18.6mm x 11.75 mm (1.54in x 0.73in x 0.46in).  

The Charge 5 feels comparatively hefty, weighing 28g (1oz) and measuring 36.7mm x 22.7mm x 11.2mm (1.5in x 0.9in x 0.5in). 

The extra size and thickness of the Charge 5 means that it also comes with a slightly larger touchscreen. This may be significant if you prefer larger text, for example. It also means that it’s slightly easier to check your exercise data while you’re on the go.  

Both screens use AMOLED display technology, making them bright, clear and colourful. In comparison to more traditional watch faces, however, both screens are relatively small. 

The fastening mechanisms on the Fitbit Inspire 3 and Fitbit Charge 5, shown side by sideCredit: Saga Exceptional

Both devices have removable wristbands. If you don’t like the colour or the style of clasp, you can source a replacement in a variety of styles and materials. Straight out of the box, the Inspire 3 uses a traditional watch-style buckle while the Charge 5 loops back inside itself.  

Once on, both were comfortable. We found the Charge 5 was trickier and less comfortable to put on, but again, personal preference will be a factor.  

Finally, the Charge 5 uses a magnetic charger, whereas the Inspire 3 charger needs to be clipped into place. This makes the Charge 5 a lot easier to plug in; the Inspire 3’s charger felt like a potential weak spot that might even snap off with enough time and wear. 

Fitbit Inspire 3 vs Charge 5: features

The Charge 5 offers more than the Inspire 3

While the devices look similar, there are potentially important differences in their features. 

The Fitbit Charge 5 offers several that you just don’t get with the Inspire 3. The prime one is undoubtedly its built-in GPS, which allows you to track your walk, run or bike ride, for example, without having to take your phone with you.  

If you want to track your outdoor exercise with the Inspire 3, you’ll need your phone. And in testing, we didn’t find the connected GPS on the Inspire 3 to be particularly accurate. 

If you’re a keen runner or pursue other outdoor activities, then spending a bit extra for the Charge 5 is probably worth it for the increased accuracy you’ll get. But if most of your workouts are completed in the gym, or you do an at-home workout with a service such as Apple Fitness Plus or the Peloton app, it may not be as valuable to you. 

As well as GPS, the Charge 5 offers ECG (electrocardiogram) and EDA (electrodermal activity) sensors. ECG will monitor your heart rate and alert you to irregular heart rhythms. EDA keeps track of your stress levels by checking electrical activity on your skin. If these are features that are important to you, then you’ll need to choose the Charge 5. But if you aren’t too bothered about those, the Inspire 3 offers almost everything else the Charge 5 does.  

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Fitbit Inspire 3 vs Charge 5: performance

One is more suitable for casual users

Screenshots of heart rate tracking on the Fitbit app, recorded by the Fitbit Inspire 3Credit: Saga Exceptional

When we tested these two devices, we found that the Fitbit Inspire 3 and Charge 5 were generally in close agreement when it came to estimating things like calorie burn and step count (although the Inspire 3 was generally a little higher in terms of total steps each day).  

Heart rate monitoring was similarly close, with the Inspire 3 usually a few beats per minute lower than the Charge 5 when exercising. 

The lack of built-in GPS really did make a significant difference when tracking outdoor activities. The Charge 5 was consistently more accurate than the Inspire 3, and by a significant margin. When walking our usual 5.6 km (3.47 miles) route, the Inspire 3 was a full kilometre below the actual distance covered. 

Overall, the Charge 5 was the better, more accurate performer. For casual use, the Inspire 3 will still do much of the job, and was in the right ballpark for a lot of measurements, but the Charge 5 was more reliable. 

Fitbit Inspire 3 vs Charge 5: battery life

The Charge 5 doesn’t hold its charge as well as the Inspire 3

In terms of battery life, the Inspire 3 claims much better performance, lasting up to 10 days, compared to seven days for the Charge 5.  

During testing, we found that the Inspire 3 did last for around nine or 10 days. In contrast, the Charge 5 tended to need a recharge after around six days. 

For many, charging your fitness tracker once a week won’t be a hardship. But if you want to charge your device as little as possible, then the Inspire 3 has the edge.  

Both devices charged quickly. The Charge 5 took about two hours to go from 0% to 100%, while the Inspire 3 took about 90 minutes.  

Fitbit Inspire 3 vs Charge 5: verdict

Do you just want the basics, or the more complete option?

The Fitbit Inspire 3 lying on top of the charge 5 on a white surfaceCredit: Saga Exceptional

So, which comes out on top in the Fitbit Inspire 3 vs Charge 5 contest? As you may expect, a lot depends on exactly what you want from your fitness tracker.  

Do you want a basic device for counting your steps, heart rate, estimating your calorie burn, and your sleep? If so, then the Fitbit Inspire 3 will do all of that at a lower cost than the Charge 5. It also has slightly better battery life. 

But for anyone who wants more accurate exercise tracking – for example, because you’re about to train for a 5k – the built-in GPS of the Charge 5 will make it the more useful, and accurate, choice. You’ll also get a slightly larger screen and some added health tracking features like ECG and EDA. 

Of course, it might be the case that neither of these is the perfect choice for you, and there are other excellent fitness trackers like the Garmin Vivosmart 5 and the Honor Band 7 that are worth considering. Our guide to the best budget fitness trackers can help you narrow things down. 

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Steven Shaw

Written by Steven Shaw he/him

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Steven Shaw has been a freelance writer for a variety of outlets, most notably TechRadar. His degree in Medieval History prepared him less adequately for his career than you might expect, but the years spent working in technology focused retail were much more helpful.

Outside of work, Steven is passionate about health and fitness, and particularly enjoys high-intensity interval training, weight training, and increasingly, spending time recovering. Steven loves reading, films and a wide variety of sports. A particular highlight was watching Viv Richards and Sachin Tendulkar batting together in an exhibition match.

He wishes he could travel more. He can also tell you a lot about the Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and Carolingians. Most of his non-work time is spent with his young children, who are the living embodiment of high-intensity training.