Fitbit Charge 5 update is bricking the fitness tracker — what you need to know

A photo of the Fitbit Charge 5

The Fitbit Charge 5 is one of the best activity trackers you can buy, but a new firmware update appears to be bricking the device for some users. According to multiple reports, the latest update from Fitbit — v194.61, which started rolling out towards the end of June — is having some unintended consequences.

The update is available to download now and includes a slew of new benefits for the tracker, which was first released back in 2021. New clock faces, added support for global language characters, more exercise modes in the Exercise app and general bug fixes are all offered as part of the upgrade. Unfortunately, the side effects seem to include drastically draining the battery before killing the device and leaving it unresponsive with a black screen.

“I was running and tracking the exercise, and the screen went black. Now it charges, tracks my heart rate, steps, etc… I can tell that as it syncs with my phone, but the screen is completely off,” one Charge 5 owner posted on the Fitbit community forums. Fitbit's forums have a thread on the Charge 5 update pinned to the top. There are currently over 130 messages in the thread with Fitbit itself seemingly aware of the problem.

“I've seen some of you have mentioned having trouble with the screen no longer responding or the battery draining too fast,” wrote a Fitbit moderator in a pinned message atop this thread. “Since this thread is about the firmware update, let me know if you specifically started having these problems after you updated your Charge 5 to version 194.61". 

The moderator in question recommended the steps below as a troubleshoot for anyone suffering the issue:

Fitbit's guidance

  • Complete the 3 pulse restart procedure using the charging cable.
  • Follow these steps in case you're having trouble to charge your device.
  • Please sync your device in the Fitbit app by tapping your profile picture > Charge 5 > Sync Now.
  • If you can't sync, tap on your profile picture > Charge 5 > Tile to see if a firmware banner appears and complete any update if needed.
  • If it's still unresponsive, please try changing the clock face as well and check if you're able to see anything on the display.

However, many have reported that following the steps outlined hasn’t worked and their device is still faulty. Tom’s Guide contacted Fitbit separately and we received the following response:

“We’re aware that a small number of Charge 5 users are experiencing problems with their devices. We’re currently investigating and will update users when we’ve identified the issue. In the meantime, users should contact Fitbit Customer Service at help.fitbit.com to help troubleshoot the issue.

As news of the issue is starting to spread, plenty of Fitbit owners are warning others not to download the firmware upgrade until the company has fixed the issue.

See more

Unfortunately for many Charge 5 owners who bought their device at launch or soon after, the one-year warranty will have elapsed. And the 35% discount code Fitbit is offering as a token gesture to those affected is causing further community backlash. 

After all, it’s understandable that many Fitbit owners won’t be too pleased with having to hand over more cash to replace a device that’s seemingly been broken by the company’s own update.

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Jeff Parsons
UK Editor In Chief

Jeff is UK Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide looking after the day-to-day output of the site’s British contingent. Rising early and heading straight for the coffee machine, Jeff loves nothing more than dialling into the zeitgeist of the day’s tech news.


A tech journalist for over a decade, he’s travelled the world testing any gadget he can get his hands on. Jeff has a keen interest in fitness and wearables as well as the latest tablets and laptops. A lapsed gamer, he fondly remembers the days when problems were solved by taking out the cartridge and blowing away the dust.