02AE6: Fitbit Dependency

Fitbit Crisis

Metro Manila Community Quarantine - Day 718

After over three years of regular Fitbit use, it's an understatement for me to say that I find these fitness trackers to be pretty useful. I'm pretty sure that they've been a big part of my fitness journey - one that really feeds my love for data and routine. And whenever I find myself in need of a new Fitbit, it really feels as serious (or more) as when I need to get a new Kindle.

I got my current Fitbit Charge 5 back in December as a bit of a treat to myself since I had my 13th-month pay and nothing else to spend those weird Lazada bonus credits on. I was initially happy with the device until I realized that I needed to charge the device almost daily instead of the advertised 7-day battery life. An exploration of the user forums revealed other users had similar complaints and the only strategy was to disable a lot of the features unique to the tracker like the built-in GPS and the like. I followed those instructions and got to a point where I only needed to charge my Fitbit once a day, and I figured that was acceptable enough.

Yesterday, things got really weird. While I was cooking lunch, I noticed that my Fitbit display was not turning one when I raised my arm as normal. This persisted despite my directly tapping the screen, so I went through troubleshooting including reconnecting it to the charger and going through the device reboot sequence. Even this took a while to trigger and once I finally got the display on again, it would reboot periodically while I was wearing the device and I had no idea why.

I'd typically charge it after my daily step reminder hour (after 10pm) so that I'd have a full charge for bedtime. I got to 100% by midnight but was surprised to find that I was getting a battery warning within the hour - somehow it had drained despite minimal activity. This already felt pretty fishy, but I figured we'd have to test and charge it again to at least help me get through the night. I managed to get it charged to 60%, which I figured should be enough for bed on a normal day then went to sleep.

I woke up to a dead Fitbit and no sleep data at all, so it means it didn't stay on very long. I set the Fitbit to charge once more so that I could use it while working out and ended up using the time to contact Fitbit Support and to see what else we could do. The first rep wasn't all that helpful since he had to insist that I go through all the basic troubleshooting steps again, then charge the device to 100%, then report back after monitoring it. I got it charged to 90% first, went through a 30-minute workout, and found that I had just over 30% left by the end of things. Something was really wrong.

But I didn't want to give the Support Team an opening, so I reset the device, charged it to 100% then noted my battery life and step count to see how fast it would drain. In the first 10 minutes, I had lost 12% battery and by the time the first hour had ended with less than 500 steps added to my count, it was already warning me to charge it as it was down to 15%. Now I had a detailed breakdown of the discharging behavior and reported back to Support.

This time they immediately offered a replacement directly on the website but there was also an option to get a 50% voucher for a higher value Fitbit. I really wasn't feeling all that confident in the Charge 5 at this point and figured that I might as well go for the upgrade and get the newer Sense that friends had recommended more. I did the math and my discounted Lazada cost for the Charge 5 together with the half-off Sense on the Fitbit store resulted in me pretty much just having paid the retail price for a new Sense altogether. Not an ideal scenario, but at least I didn't lose a significant amount of money.

In the meantime, my dying Charge 5 needed to be charged pretty much hourly and this was wreaking havoc on my ability to hit my step goals for the day. So I dug up my older Inspire HR, whose main issues were shorter battery life and a less sensitive screen, and got that charging, I switched my active device to the HR, removed the Charge 5 from my account, and went back to more basic tracking (sans things like Move minute tracking and more sleep data). At least I'll be able to keep up with my steps and heartrate tracking while exercising without needing to rush to a charger for now - at least until my new Sense arrives. 

All this drama just so that I can continue to treat myself like a human Tamagotchi.