Fitbit vs Apple Watch: Which smart fitness tracker should you buy?

Fitbit vs Apple Watch: Which smart fitness tracker should you buy?

If you're looking for a fitness tracker and you want top of the range, but you're not sure if you should go with Fitbit or Apple Watch. Read on.

First of all this is not a comparison of Apple Watch features vs Fitbit features, we are focusing on the fitness aspect of both brands and not the non-fitness extras.

When it comes to comparison, it's difficult to compare all of Fitbit to the singular line of Apple Watch. Fitbit's trackers come in various different shapes, sizes, and price ranges, while the Apple Watch technically comes in three (Mobile + GPS, GPS-only, and no GPS). You can't really compare them, with each other. You can, however, get a general understanding of what each brand is trying to accomplish with its wearable device and decide which one is right for you. If you can't decide whether to go with Fitbit or Apple Watch, read on.

Fitness tracking

If you're interested in a Fitbit, it's likely that you're most interested in fitness tracking. Both Apple Watch and Fitbit excel at keeping you informed about every step you take and every beat of your heart. Fitbit has devices that range in features from nothing more than a step tracker to a full-fledged smart fitness device, complete with GPS, heart rate monitor, music storage, and much more. Apple Watch has step tracking, heart rate monitoring, GPS, music storage (and streaming with Series 3), and much more.

Depending on how much you want to spend, it's difficult to decide which is better for fitness tracking specifically, Fitbit or Apple Watch.

Apple Watch Series 1 or Fitbit Surge

Apple Watch Series 1 and Fitbit Surge are most comparable in price and features. 

  • Apple Watch Series 1 (refurbished) starts at £229.99, which is somewhat comparable in price to Fitbit Surge. Series 1 has a heart rate sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, ambient light sensor, and 8GB of on-board storage for apps. It does not support GPS. It also has the benefit of the Apple App Store ecosystem with a selection of health and fitness based apps.

  • Fitbit Surge costs £169.99 and has a heart rate sensor, accelerometer, barometer, and more. Though it doesn't support an app store, it does support the most commonly used features of a smart device, like call and text notifications and a music playback controller.

Fitbit Surge is £60 less, but does have less features, but it is deeply focused on exercise tracking. It even has a feature called "SmartTrack" that automatically recognises what type of workout you're doing and logs the activity in your data tracker.

Though the Surge is cheaper and has some robust fitness tracking features, it's lack of hardware features and additional third-party app support make it less than ideal at that price point. If you want a lot of fitness based hardware and software features, you're better buying an Apple Watch Series 1.

Also see: Fitbit Charge 2 UK Review: A top choice fitness wearable

Apple Watch Series 3 GPS or Fitbit Iconic

If you want to spend a little more, Fitbit's latest smart fitness tracker, Iconic, is most comparable in price and features to Apple Watch Series 3 GPS.

  • Apple Watch Series 3 GPS starts at £329 (available in the UK til 22nd September) and has GPS, barometric altimeter, swim-proof, heart rate sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, ambient light sensor, and 8GB of onboard storage. It also has the benefit of the Apple App Store ecosystem with various health and fitness based apps.

  • Fitbit Iconic costs about the same £299 and has GPS, barometric altimeter, swim-proof, heart rate monitor, multi-sport tracking, sleep tracking, and 4GB of onboard storage. It has a dedicated app gallery where third-party developers can create fitness apps specifically for Fitbit, though there is no information at this time how many apps or what type there will be.

Though the prices are not far apart, the Fitbit Iconic has a lot of potential to be exactly the kind of fitness-focused device that you are looking for. It's also got a lot of the same features that the average smartwatch does, like call and text notifications, NFC payments, music storage, calendar alerts, and more. With a dedicated app gallery, it's possible that the Iconic will really hit that niche market that fitness fanatics have been longing for.

If you're all-in on all fitness and don't care about all the extra options that come with a typical smartwatch like the Apple Watch, the Iconic is poised to become a true smart fitness tracker. It will become a firm favourite fitness-focused device I am sure.

Prices

Fitbit offers eight different fitness trackers ranging in price from £54.00 to £299.99. The most expensive Fitbit is cheaper than the least expensive Apple Watch Series 3.

If price is your most important concern, then Fitbit is your best bet. You've got more options and a wider-ranging price scale to choose from. 

Style

Style is a personal choice. What I think is stylish, you might think is tacky. 

The slim bracelet style Flex 2 and Alta HR are OK, but I wouldn't describe them as stylish. Though, some of the trackers can be encased inside more fashion-forward accessories, like the Flex 2, which can be worn as a gold bracelet or pendant. The Special Edition version of the Charge 2 is probably the best looking of the lot.

The watch style Fitbit devices are much too large for most women as they are so big. The Blaze has a very different design and the Iconic really looks like a fitness tracker, not a style item.

Some would say the Apple Watch is ugly some would say it is stylish, a question of style and taste. 

See also:

Fitbit Ionic UK Review: This is Fitbit’s answer to the Apple Watch

Sleep tracking

If sleep tracking is your highest priority, then it's Fitbit, it does a much better job than the Apple Watch which does not have any special hardware for sleep tracking. Apps are downloadable to help keep a watch on your sleeping, waking, and resting activities throughout the night, but because the Apple Watch battery only lasts about 24 hours with average fitness activities, you'll want to take it off your wrist and charge it every night, which makes sleep tracking a impractical option.

All of Fitbit's trackers except the Zip feature a sleep tracker and silent alarm, which means it'll give you a buzz on your wrist in the morning which is such a useful option.

Which one is the most versatile?

This article focuses specifically on the fitness features of the Apple Watch and Fitbit's devices. But, you can't talk about either without at least mentioning the additional features. The Fitbit Iconic is the closest thing to a smartwatch out of the whole range. It supports downloaded music, NFC payments, call and text notification, and more. There is an app gallery with third-party apps and a guided breathing tool to help keep your mind relaxed. This may well be all the features some people will need.

Apple Watch is many additional features. Sometimes the extra software options can be overwhelming. Most people I know that wear an Apple Watch don't use most of the compatible apps and usually focus on the fitness and notification options. The Apple Watch has hundreds of apps that run across all different categories well beyond just fitness.

If you only need a few smartwatch features and don't want a plethora of extra software options, the Fitbit Iconic is the best choice.

If you love to engross yourself in technology and want a wide variety of smartwatch options, then it's the Apple Watch.

Which one is the right choice to buy a Fitbit or an Apple Watch?

Covering five different categories; fitness tracking, price, style, sleep tracking, and versatility, to summarise.

Fitness tracking

  • If you want a lot of fitness hardware options, but can only spend about £300 at the most, buy the Apple Watch Series 1.
  • If cost doesn't come into it and you really want a top-of-the-range dedicated fitness tracker, the Fitbit Iconic is the most suitable.
  • If your fitness tracking needs are minimal, get a less-expensive Fitbit tracker like the One or Flex 2.

Price

  • As far as price and and choice, Fitbit wins easily. There are eight different trackers that range in price from £54.00 to £299.99, so you can pick the one that suits you best without spending a lot of money on features you don't need.

Style

  • Style is a personal choice that said I do think Apple takes fashion into consideration when designing the Apple Watch though. Whereas fashion is not the priority with Fitbit, especially when it comes to the women's watches. The Apple Watch is most definitely going to look more sophisticated if you are going out for the evening. 

Sleep tracking

  • Fitbit is the definitely the best in this category because Apple Watch doesn't directly track your sleep. Plus, even with a third-party app, the limited battery life wouldn't necessarily make it through your sleep cycle.

Versatility

  • If you want a smartwatch that tracks your fitness and you don't want loads of extra features, such as letting you know when you've received a call or text and notifying you of upcoming events, then it's the Fitbit. It's got the most-used features of a smartwatch without the extras.
  • If you want to engross yourself in technology and need the extra features that a smartwatch can offer,  then it's the Apple Watch.

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