There’s never been a better time to get a new fitness tracker smartwatch with the recent releases of the 7th generation Apple Watch, Fitbit’s Sense and Versa 3. As Apple and Fitbit offer an array features, it’s easy to question which one should be on your wrist for your next workout. Let’s break down some of the key differences.
- What's a Fitbit?
- What's an Apple Watch?
- Apple Watch vs. Fitbit: Which Design Is More Attractive?
- Can the Apple Watch and Fitbit Track Your Workouts?
- How Do Apple Watch and Fitbit Sensors Compare?
- Is the Apple Watch or Fitbit Better at Tracking Calories?
- Is the Fitbit or Apple Watch Better at Tracking Your Heart Rate?
- Which Has Better Battery Life: Fitbit or Apple Watch?
- Can You Personalize the Fitbit or Apple Watch?
- How Do Fitbit and Apple Watch Notifications and Sleep Tracking Compare?
- Apps, Apps, and More Apps
- Buy a Fitbit If ...
- Buy an Apple Watch If ...
- Frequently Asked Questions
What’s a Fitbit?
When you think of a Fitbit, you should think of an activity tracker that is worn on your wrist. It’s also a smartwatch that can track when you run, swim, cycle, walk and sleep. Want to listen to your music as you work out? You can do that. You also get notifications for incoming calls, messages and calendar alerts.
As of November 2021, there are three Fitbit smartwatches offered on the official website.
- Fitbit Sense – The Sense represents the broadest availability of features in Fitbit’s smartwatch lineup. Standard features include 50M of water resistance, GPS, accelerometer, oxygen tracking, heart rate sensor, SP02 (Oxygen) sensor and altimeter. The Sense also adds ECG, skin temperature sensors and EDA scanning for gauging your body’s response to stress.
- Fitbit Versa 3 – The Versa 3 includes every Sense feature above but excludes the ECG, EDA and skin temperature sensor.
- Fitbit Versa 2 – It’s the first Fitbit product to include Amazon Alexa, 24/7 heart rate and sleep tracking. The Versa 2 includes many of the mainline features on the Versa 3 but lacks onboard GPS. The Versa 2 also includes onboard storage for music listening without a smartphone, something not carried over to the Versa 3.
What’s an Apple Watch?
Apple’s popular smartwatch is the current king of the hill thanks to the Apple ecosystem, intuitive interface and large function set. Tracking fitness workouts, providing notifications for calls/messages/email and tracking sleep are some of the features. The watch taps directly into Apple’s ecosystem to create a feature set that rivals cannot match.
As of November 2021, there are three models on Apple’s website.
- Apple Watch 7 – Available in two different sizes (45mm or 41mm), the 7 is water resistant up to 50M and has an ECG app, high/low heart rate notifications, irregular heart rhythm notifications, workout tracking with an always-on altimeter, activity rings to track your daily activity and more.
- Apple Watch SE – Sitting in the middle of Apple’s Watch lineup, it has a smaller size screen (44mm or 40mm) while adding the same level of water resistance, workout tracking, heart rate notifications and more. Where the SE differentiates from the Apple Watch 7 is that the latter has blood oxygen and ECG apps for additional health and fitness tracking.
- Apple Watch 3 – Released back in September 2017, Apple continues to support its most inexpensive model. The first to feature LTE/cellular connectivity, the current 3 lacks LTE connectivity to keep its price lower while also losing the always-on altimeter and fall detection.
Apple Watch vs. Fitbit: Which Design Is More Attractive?
The Apple Watch has a now unmistakable design. However, the Sense and Versa 3 also come with a similar squared-off face even as the Apple Watch’s 41mm and 45mm dial size allows for more screen real estate over the Sense’s 40.5mm dial. Fitbits are also somewhat lighter than the Apple Watch, so they may be more comfortable. As both watches offer a modern look with clean lines and little bulk, it’s a personal decision.
Can the Apple Watch and Fitbit Track Your Workouts?
To keep track of workouts, the Apple Watch focuses on its Activity and Workout app. Data from walking, cycling, running, indoor activities, swimming, etc. is collected, and you can look at progress as well as set goals. Want to burn 500 calories a day? Set that goal in the Health app on your iPhone and track progress all day long. steps counted standing a certain number of times per day are tracked similarly. Ultimately, Apple makes your goals calories burned, standing a certain number of times per day and exercising for X number of minutes.
In comparison, Fitbit does allow you to set goals for steps, the number of stairs you have climbed, active zone minutes, hourly activity goals, etc.
Fitbit also enables goals based on:
- Water intake
- Body fat percentage
In this case, Fitbit wins out a little over the Apple Watch, thanks to its slightly more dedicated focus on setting goals. Goals can be set either in the Fitbit app on your iPhone or Android smartphone or on the computer.
How Do Apple Watch and Fitbit Sensors Compare?
In addition to goal setting and workouts, the Apple Watch and Fitbit lineup also excel at tracking. When it comes to sensors, all of the current Apple Watch and Fitbit models excel.
Apple Watch 7
- Electrical heart rate accelerometer (ECG)
- Optical heart rate sensor
- Barometric altimeter (always-on)
- Sp02 (Oxygen)
- Light sensor
- Fall detection
- Noise monitoring
Apple Watch SE
- Fall detection
- Noise Monitoring
- Optical heart rate sensor
- Ambient light sensor
- 3-axis accelerometer
- Vibration moto
- Ambient light sensor
- Temperature sensor
- Multipurpose electrical sensor
- Multi-path optical heart rate tracker
Fitbit Versa 3
- 3-axis accelerometer
- Vibration motor
- Ambient light sensor
- Temperature sensor
Is the Apple Watch or Fitbit Better at Tracking Calories?
When it comes to tracking calories, there is one giant difference that can impact results. In the case of the Fitbit, calories are counted beginning at midnight and will include any calories burned while sleeping. Apple allows for a distinction between “active” and “resting” calories. Because of this, your Move ring only shows the active calories.
Ultimately, both the Apple Watch and Fitbit are equally accurate at tracking calories burned, but the Fitbit will show a larger number because of the inclusion of “resting calories.”
Is the Fitbit or Apple Watch Better at Tracking Your Heart Rate?
What makes the Apple Watch 7 (and lower models) and the Fitbit lineup easy to compare is that both brands use PPG (photoplethysmography) to track your heart rate. In the case of Fitbit, it detects your heart rate in three customizable zones: fat burn, peak and cardio.
While Apple uses the same technology, it doesn’t match Fitbit’s action of measuring your heart rate every five seconds. Instead, Apple varies timing to account for how active you are. An exception to this is when you are in the workout app, it will trigger the Apple Watch to constantly monitor your heart rate. The Apple Watch 7, SE and 3 will also monitor heart rate up to three minutes after a workout ends.
The Apple Watch 7 (not the SE or 3) and the Fitbit Sense and Versa 3 both detect irregular heartbeats through ECG tests. When it comes to the question of which is more accurate, Apple may edge out the Fitbit thanks to its ability to better detect both low and high heart rate irregularities. That said, both do a fantastic job.
Which Has Better Battery Life: Fitbit or Apple Watch?
The Apple Watch has a max battery life of 18 hours according to Apple. That’s good for the Apple Watch 7, SE and 3. The former can fast charge allowing for up to 33% faster charging, but Apple is definitely a one-day-only type of wearable.
The Fitbit is definitely superior with up to six days of battery life available across its entire lineup. The Sense, Fitbit’s flagship, can power up for an entire day’s worth of messages, notifications and workouts in just 12 minutes of charging. Fitbit is the definite battery life winner.
Can You Personalize the Fitbit or Apple Watch?
You can choose from three different Apple builds: aluminum, stainless steel and titanium. The Fitbit only comes in stainless steel. Both are available in a variety of colors with the Apple Watch offering 10 different color options, Space Gray and Silver being the only choices for the 3. The Fitbit Sense comes in three colors, the Versa 3 adds five different color options and the Versa 2 adds three color choices.
Where things get more interesting is in the ecosystem of interchangeable bands. Fitbit has options and a third-party market available, but it pales in comparison to the depth of Apple’s third-party band options. If you want to really personalize, Apple is the clear winner.
How Much Do the Fitbit and Apple Watch Cost?
The thing with Apple is that you will see a bunch of “From” pricing. Each model goes up in price depending on the type of face you choose, whether or not you include cellular connectivity and so on.
- Apple Watch Series 7 GPS: From $399
- Apple Watch Series 7 GPS + Cellular: $499
- Apple Watch SE GPS: From $279
- Apple Watch SE GPS + Cellular: From $329
Fitbit’s pricing scheme is a lot more simplified:
- Fitbit Sense: $299.95
- Fitbit Versa 3: $229.95
Of course, prices will fluctuate based on holidays, sales, new product releases, etc.
How Do Fitbit and Apple Watch Notifications and Sleep Tracking Compare?
Apple and Fitbit let you choose phone, email and message notifications. Each one adds the ability to see who is calling, emailing and texting. You can also take calls directly on your Apple Watch thanks to the speaker and built-in microphone. The same holds for texts, as only the Apple Watch lets you respond to texts. Fitbit requires the use of the phone to reply. Both product lineups will handle notifications with aplomb.
Apple’s sleep tracking is relatively new but quickly caught up to the competition by offering schedules to help meet your sleep goals. You can set sleep goals, what time you want to go to bed and wake up. The Apple Watch isn’t hugely deep on its sleep tracking features but works and gives you all the main information you need.
With the Fitbit, the heart rate sensors and motion detectors work in tandem to help track your sleep. You can get detailed insights about each night while also setting goals, bedtime reminders and even waking up with calm so you can ease into your morning. The Fitbit adds sleep stages to the mix too so you can see how much time you spent in REM sleep, light or deep sleep. All totaled, both watches give you the basics, but the Fitbit adds just enough to make it a winner.
Apps, Apps, and More Apps
When it comes to apps, especially third-party, there is no question Apple wins. Fitbit has a robust ecosystem of third-party apps that build on top of your existing apps. Most of these apps communicate via Bluetooth back to your smartphone and the Fitbit app on Android and iOS. Fitbit does offer built-in Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant as opposed to Apple offering Siri.
Apple definitely adds a wider scale of built-in apps and a more robust ecosystem of third-party apps. Whereas Fitbit adds hundreds, Apple Watch adds many thousands of apps. At the end of the day, when you factor in third-party options, Apple is the clear winner for apps.
Buy a Fitbit If …
- You want a fitness tracker first and a smartwatch second
- You want more battery life
- You want a more robust sleep tracking app
- You want to pay less
- You are an Android user
- You are not concerned about thousands of apps
- You want multiple voice assistant options
Buy an Apple Watch If …
- You are entrenched in Apple’s ecosystem
- You want thousands of apps to choose from
- You want to respond to incoming notifications for calls and texts
- You want hundreds of colorful straps and case designs
- You want to choose between two different face sizes
- You want to have fall and noise detection
- You want cellular connectivity so thatyour watch can work independently of your phone
Frequently Asked Questions
1. If you have an Android device, is there any reason to use an Apple Watch?
Realistically, using an Android smartphone and Apple Watch would not make for the best experience. You’d lose a lot of the ecosystem features that have made the watch a success.
2. If fitness is my main focus, which one is the better option?
The answer is the Fitbit. The Apple Watch is a smartwatch first, then a fitness device. The opposite is true of Fitbit, and while the feature set is more than 90 percent the same, Fitbit inches out the Apple Watch.
3. Do either the Fitbit or Apple Watch require a subscription?
The only Apple subscription would be to Fitness+, its dedicated workout service, but you are not required to use it. It will still track your workouts without the service. Fitbit does offer a premium plan to get the most out of its fitness features which add premium partners like Calm, Eating Well, Daily Burn and actor Will Smith.
At the end of the day, the right fitness tracker for you is purely subjective. There are strong arguments for both sides. Android users should stick to the Fitbit side, while iPhone owners should absolutely look at the Apple Watch first. No matter which option you choose, you can be sure that you will have a full-featured smartwatch and fitness tracker on your wrist.