The 2010s were the decade of smart technology – smartphones, smart TVs, smart cars, and, of course, smartwatches. If you’re trying to joining the smartwatch or fitness watch craze, then you’ve almost definitely hit the crossroads between Apple Watch and Fitbit.
Fitbit got the trend going with their famous line of fitness watches, while Apple kicked things up a notch by popularizing the smartwatch with live phone connectivity and calls, texts, and other notifications straight to your wrist. All of a sudden, the science fiction of Star Trek became reality.
Of course, Fitbit has caught up to the competition since then, and they’ve added true smart technology to their products as well. That gives you a tough decision if you’re thinking of buying a smartwatch. Do you go with the pioneers at Fitbit or the mega-popular brand name in Apple?
Don’t worry though – we’re going to lay out all of the pros, cons, differences, similarities, and selling points of both brands so you don’t have to stress about any of those pesky details. By the time you finish this article, it’ll be clear as day which product is best for you.
Which Is Better for Fitness?
I don’t think it’ll be all that surprising to hear that the aptly-named Fitbit is the king of the hill when it comes to fitness technology in smartwatches. Of course, I want to break down exactly what makes Fitbit products so great for any gym rat or running addict. Fitbit brought the phrase “getting my steps in” into the mainstream, but the newer Fitbit watched do much more than just count how many steps you’ve taken on a given day. This list might get a little long, but I’ll try to include all of the major fitness features that Fitbit has to offer.
To start off, the newest Fitbit smartwatch, the Fitbit Sense, has a stress management score to help you keep track of the toll day-to-day life is taking on your mental health. The Sense monitors your stress by detecting changes in your skin’s conductivity. It can also detect variance in skin temperature, which can be a sign of an upcoming illness. On top of that, it can also keep track of your heart rate and blood oxygen saturation. And if you don’t trust the electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor to accurately determine your mood, you can always log it manually. Finally, the Sense watch also measures your breathing rate while you sleep so that you can keep track of your sleep patterns and better understand your body. There’s even a Smart Wake feature that lets you set your Fitbit alarm to wake you with a quiet vibration during a lighter sleep stage to help you feel more refreshed.
That more or less covers the features geared towards general health, but now we have the whole wide world of Fitbit functions geared towards exercise. There’s a workout map that lets you check exactly when your heart rate peaked during workouts so you can learn more about your habits and see where you need to kick things up a notch to get the results you want. There are more than 20 goal-based exercise modes. These let you get real-time stats during your workouts. Or you can let SmartTrack™ automatically recognize and record your exercises.
As for Apple and their newest Apple Watches, well, they’re nothing to sneeze at either. Apple has put in active efforts to make their newest watches more geared towards fitness, so don’t be surprised if they completely overtake Fitbit in the near future. The newest Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Series 6, has a lot of the same features and body sensors that the Fitbit Sense does, including the sleep sensor and the EDA Sensor. Of course, it also has the heart-rate monitor, which is pretty much standard in all smartwatches, and plenty of iOS-exclusive fitness apps.
If fitness and health are your top priorities, then Fitbit is probably still the way to go for you. Even though Apple is quickly catching up, Fitbit has an advantage of years of experience. You’re sure to find the layout and user interface of the Fitbit fitness and health apps more polished and intuitive, and there are still some features that are exclusive to Fitbit.
It’s important to mention, however, that your smartphone is an important factor as well. If you already have an iPhone, then you may want an Apple Watch to go with it for maximum synchronization and performance. On the other hand, if you have an Android device, it’s probably worth sticking with the Fitbit even for more general usage.
Which Is More Popular?
Normally, I don’t really focus on popularity when it comes to technology, as there are plenty of hidden gems out there from lesser-known companies. But wearable tech is a different conversation entirely. A watch is an article of clothing after all, and your smartwatch is just as much a fashion statement as it is a functioning piece of technology.
When it comes to popularity, very few brands – of any product, tech or otherwise – have reached the same level as Apple. Steve Jobs did an incredible job of branding the Apple name, and that hasn’t gone away since Tim Cook has taken over. Every iPhone release date is a celebrated holiday, and most Apple fanatics will want a matching watch to go with the newest phone. Since it’s initial release 12 years ago, 2.2 billion iPhones have been sold. That means that there’s an iPhone for roughly every three people on earth. In the first quarter of last year, 7.6 million Apple Watches have been sold. For a quick comparison, Fitbit sold 16 million units in the entire year of 2019. While that’s certainly an impressive number, it pales in comparison to the rate at which Apple is able to churn out and sell watches.
Numbers don’t lie, and the data has spoken. Apple Watches, and Apple products in general, are just about the most popular products out in the world today. And it’s obvious to anyone who’s been paying attention that the biggest reason for that popularity is their aesthetic and their easy-to-understand interface. You know that the physical look of the Apple Watch Series 6 is sure to have the crowd’s approval. Plus, the Apple Watch series comes with customizable wristbands to fit the rest of your wardrobe and your style.
I can rant for hours about how I think that Android smartphones are better than iPhones, but the people have spoken. When it comes to popularity, there’s no contest in a matchup of Fitbit vs Apple Watch. If you want a smartwatch that’s really going to turn heads when you walk into the room, then you’ll definitely want to go out and buy the newest Apple Watch Series 6, though an Apple Watch 5 probably won’t go unnoticed either.
Which Has More Features?
We already discussed fitness features, and while Fitbit and their Fitbit Sense are still the cream of the crop in that regard (for now), the Fitbit vs Apple Watch battle swings the other way when it comes to overall features and apps.
PC Mag praised the Apple Watch Series 6 for having the best third-party app selection and being a big improvement over its predecessor the Apple Watch 5. As PC Mag stated in their review, “Apple’s changes include a faster processor, an always-on altimeter that lets you see your elevation in real-time, and a bump in screen brightness when your wrist is down. These improvements, plus many new additions in watchOS 7, including a 20-second handwashing timer and sleep-tracking capabilities.” That faster processor will help our watch handle all the new apps about there, and the handwashing timer is sure to be useful in a world that will certainly be more hygienically conscious even once the phrase “social distancing” is a distant bad memory.
On the other side of things, even with their fancy new Fitbit Sense and Fitbit Versa, the fitness tracker mega-company is still relatively new to the game when it comes to full-on smartwatches. What this means in practice is that a lot of features that are big selling points for the newest Fitbit watches, particularly the Fitbit Sense, have already been standard amongst the competition for a little while.
For example, PC Mag praised the Fitbit Sense for supporting Amazon Alexa, Fitbit Pay, and Spotify. While this is great, and will certainly make your smartwatch experience more streamlined, most products from the Apple Watch, even those before the Apple Watch 5, supported these features, or at least similar features.
While the Apple Watch Series 6 obviously doesn’t support Fitbit Pay, it does have Apple Pay, and you can even use Alexa instead of Apple’s patented Siri assistant. Additionally, PC Mag criticized the Fitbit Sense for having one of the smallest libraries of 3rd party apps, so there’s really no contest in that regard when comparing Fitbit Sense vs Apple Watch Series 6.
As we mentioned before, if you’re looking for something that will predominantly serve as a fitness tracker, then the Fitbit Sense, or any Fitbit Watch for that matter, is definitely a viable option. However, if you’re looking for a watch that will do a little more than simple heart-rate and sleep tracking, then an Apple Watch is definitely the way to go. Even if you aren’t interested in the newest Apple Watch, the Apple Watch 5 of older models will serve just fine in this regard. For the full smartwatch experience, the Apple Watch line beats Fitbit every time.
Which Is Cheaper?
I don’t think there will be any surprises for most readers in this section, especially if you’re familiar with the smartphone or laptop market. It’s no secret that Apple products are what some customers might call insanely expensive. The newest Macbook or iPhone can each cost close to $1000, while less popular brands can easily cost half or even a third of that price. Don’t worry, neither the Apple Watch 5 nor the Apple Watch 6 are that expensive, but they’re still pricey. Even the older Apple Watch 5 is more expensive than the newest Fitbit Sense, and you’d have to go all the way back to the Apple Watch 3 to find an Apple Watch that’s comparable in price to the products from the Fitbit Versa line, which is cheaper than the Fitbit Sense. And at that point, the obvious choice is to go with the more modern Fitbit.
So, at the end of the day, a simple price comparison shows what most users already knew. If you want to save money on your new watch, then the right choice is to go with Fitbit or maybe even a third brand. You could go with one of the older Apple watches, but those are pretty bare-bones, and at that point, you could save even more money and get similar functionality from the original Fitbit products that just served as fitness trackers. At the end of the day, the Apple Watch is just not geared at customers trying to stay on a budget.
Which Has a Better Battery?
Before I even compare the battery life of our two smartwatch lines, I want to point out that good battery life is much less important in smartwatches than in other devices like smartphones. The reason for this is that smartwatches in general just have very strong batteries. Remember the good ol’ days when you could go a few days in a row without charging your phone and not have to worry about it? That’s about where smartwatches are in terms of battery life. They all last more than a few days, which means that it kind of becomes entirely irrelevant. No matter which watch you own, you won’t really have to worry about having your charger with you during the day. You can just leave it at home and charge your watch overnight or while you’re in the shower.
All of that being said, some customers might have their own reasons for still wanting a watch with better battery life. Maybe you’re the forgetful type and you don’t want to constantly need to remember to charge your watch even just every night. Or maybe you go on a lot of multi-day hiking or camping trips and you want a watch that’ll last through all of that adventuring. If that’s the case, then we still want to provide you with all of the meaningful information.
The short answer is that the Fitbit has better battery life. If you want to know the details and numbers, the Apple Watch Series 6 offers the same 18-hour battery life as the Apple Watch 5, though it is a bit more efficient with its battery life when it comes to streaming music and tracking your workouts. A test from PC Mag showed that the Apple Watch Series 6 had 14% of its battery life left after 24 hours.
In comparison, Fitbit says the Fitbit Sense offers up to around six days of battery life on a charge, or 12 hours with continuous GPS on. According to a PC Mag test run, “After 24 hours, the Sense still had 65 percent battery life. After two full days of heavy use, it had 29 percent battery left.” So we see that after the same amount of time – 24 hours – the Apple Watch had just 14% percent of its charge remaining while the Fitbit Sense had an incredible 65% battery life remaining.
So in the battery aspect of the Fitbit watch vs Apple Watch debate, there’s no question, Fitbit comes out on top by miles. If you want to freely forget about your watch charger completely, go with a Fitbit watch.
Conclusion: Fitbit vs Apple Watch – Who’s the Winner?
We’ve broken down all of the information to help you decide which watch you’ll side with in the Fitbit vs Apple Watch debate, but that was a long breakdown. We don’t want to just throw a bunch of maybe-overwhelming information at you and then send you on your way without recapping things at all. There are a lot of concerns to take into account when buying your new smartwatch, but we’re going to break things down based on what your priority is, so everyone can quickly and easily decide whether the Fitbit of Apple Watch is best for them.
If you want the best fitness tracker, pick Fitbit.
Fitbit is still the name of the game in fitness for now. I literally wouldn’t be able to write out every amazing fitness feature that the Sense comes prepackaged with, but it includes the standard heart rate monitor, as well as a sleep cycle monitor, smart wake alarm, and an electrodermal activity sensor to help you keep track of your mood and manage your stress (more important than ever these days). There’s a more comprehensive list of the different features of the Fitbit Sense, but honestly, it’s a bit overwhelming. If you’re a real workout fiend and you need a new smartwatch, the Fitbit Sense is the best choice for you.
If you want the most versatile watch, pick the Apple Watch.
Fitbit may have gotten the wearable tech ball rolling with their heart rate measurers, sleep monitors, and step counters, but Appl probably perfected the game with their line of smartwatches. Apple has gotten closer and closer to making their watches basically wearable smartphones. If you splurge on the LTE-capable models of their watches, then you are in fact getting a watch that can make phone calls and receive texts completely independent of your smartphone. This is a feature which the Fitbit Sense does not offer, though it’s likely future models will add this feature. On top of that, PC Mag specifically praised the newest Apple Watch for having the largest library of 3rd party apps. So if you want your watch to be able to everything and anything you can think of and more, then you’ll want a watch from the Apple Watch series.
If you want to keep the spending within a budget, pick Fitbit.
Apple products are just not meant for customers on a limited budget. The sad truth is that part of the reason they’re just as much a fashion statement as they are functional pieces of technology is that they’re incredibly expensive. You can go back a few numbers in the Apple Watch series and still not find a watch cheaper than the Fitbit Sense or Versa. The Apple Watch 5, for example, is much more expensive than the newest Fitbit Sense. If you want to keep things affordable, Fitbit is the way to go.
Remember that most of the specific details in this article referred to the Fitbit Sense and the Apple Watch Series 6. That means that, if you want a specific comparison pertaining to other products from the Apple Watch line or Fitbit – maybe the Apple Watch 5 vs the Fitbit Sense – then you’ll need to find a different source, though I’m sure that’s a quick Google search away.
The comparison and breakdown we gave is a great jumping-off point for understanding what to expect from both Apple Watch and Fitbit more broadly, as there are always trends and styles among specific manufacturers. Though Fitbit was very recently purchased by Google, so it’s possible they will see a big change in management.
It’s worth remembering that there are plenty of respected smartwatch brands other than Apple or Fitbit. So, if neither of the two brands we’ve covered today seems to be what you’re looking for, it may be best to explore the market a little bit more. The most noted of these “third brands” would be Samsung, who you’ll surely know from the Galaxy phone line that’s been the main competitor of the iPhone for the past decade. If that’s the direction you go in, then we wish you the best of luck in your research, and if you still plan on going with Fitbit or an Apple Watch, then we hope our article has made that decision as easy as possible.