Apple Watch v. Fitbit Charge HR

Now that I’ve had my apple watch for over a year I thought it was time for me to write this post on the Apple Watch Series 2 v. Fitbit Charge HR.

First, a little background on why I got an activity tracker…While I was in college I was looking for something to track how active I was being. In High School I was always running around participating in different activities, but in college that all changed. I was focused more on school work and other activities rather than active ones. I went from being a very active person to being a complete potato couch. As you can image when I saw what the Fitbit I was overjoyed!

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Sophomore year  I had the Fitbit Flex, one of the simpler activity trackers. Around junior year of college I started running again, I still had my flex band but after two years it started to tear and wear off and I was in need of something that tracked more than just my steps and I wanted something with more visuals. This is when I upgraded and got the Charger HR. It was nice! It worked as a watch, I could see my number of steps and miles I had walked, and it was Bluetooth compatible! It had almost everything I needed… the one thing that was missing was that it was not yet waterproof.

Well as you can image when Apple announced that their Apple Watch series 2 was waterproof I couldn’t resist and had to get it! The word “waterproof changed everything.

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Since making the switch I’ve been asked by many people on which one I like better or which one I would recommend. So if you’re one of those people still on the fence here’s my review.

 

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Activity Tracking

In addition, the Fitbit wristbands (excluding the Flex 2 and Alta) have an altimeter that counts distance climbed (take the hilly route home, not the flat one). The Fitbits also sync weight data from the optional Fitbit Aria scales. As a result the Fitbit models range from everyday fitness and active fitness (like the Apple Watch) and further to sports and performance fitness – with the Surge supporting running, cross-training, biking, strength and cardio workouts.

The Apple Watch offers two main fitness apps: Activity, which is all about health, movement, wellness and your daily routine; and Workout App, which tracks running, cycling and walking. All this data is collected on your iPhone via the Activity app, although users can get a more holistic view of their health by using the Health app, which integrates data from multiple sources, not only the Watch.

While they work brilliantly with the iPhone, Fitbits do not officially support Apple’s Health Kit, although integration is offered by third-party apps.

Heart Rate Monitor

The Apple Watch and Fitbit Charge 2, Blaze and Surge use something called photoplethysmography to measure your heart rate. This uses safe green LED lights on the underside of the wristband to detect blood volume and capillary-size changes under pressure. When your heart beats, your capillaries expand and contract based on blood volume changes. The LED lights reflect onto the skin to detect blood volume changes.

The Fitbit Charge 2, Surge and Blaze monitor your heart rate continuously, 24/7. They can store heart rate data at 1-second intervals during exercise tracking and at 5-second intervals all other times.

On the other hand (or should I say wrist?) the Apple Watch checks your heart rate only every ten minutes during the day. However, it does record your heart rate continuously when the Workout app is turned on, so you get constant feedback during training sessions. The Watch’s built-in heart-rate monitor does support external heart-rate monitors too.

Sleep Monitor

Because its battery life is so challenged (see below), the Apple Watch has to be charged every night so sleep monitoring would obviously be a pointless function. So if you want a sleep monitor, the Apple Watch is not going to help you.

The Fitbit trackers, however, do monitor the length and quality of your sleep. A Fitbit tracker’s settings can record sleep in either “sensitive” mode for detailed sleep reporting or “normal” mode for a more basic idea of your sleep patterns. The normal setting counts significant movements as being awake (such as rolling over) and is appropriate for most users.

The sensitive setting causes your tracker to record nearly all movements as time spent awake. This setting may be helpful for users with sleep disorders.

Apps

Apple’s Activity and Workout apps look glorious, of course, but Fitbit’s appealing multi-phone app features more stats and data graphics. Fitbit also wins by having a rich desktop dashboard to collect and organise your activity data.

Design

There are many different combinations of Apple Watch types, sizes and straps, from the simple Sport to the blingtastic Watch Edition. Apple has scored another design success with the Watch, and it’s really rather beautiful.

Fitbit’s tracker wristbands are a lot more minimal, with simple screens and stark straps, available in a range of several colours.

Screen

The Apple Watch’s touchscreen is a colourful beauty, while the Fitbits’ minimalism means displays are mainly white on black with some grey.

GPS

Series 2 Apple Watch, which has a GPS built-in. Using a hiking app ViewRanger you can pick from nearby hikes, get notifications about scenic points while en-route, make sure you don’t go off the trail, and record your activity tracking, all using the Watch’s GPS.

Of the Fitbits, only the Surge has built-in GPS, and it’s great for mapping your runs and hikes.

Battery Life

The Apple Watch has so many potential uses (make calls, view photos, send and check messages, change music, check weather, activity tracking, digital payments, and, er, tell the time) that its battery runs down a lot faster than standard activity trackers. So you need to charge every night unless you use it only to tell the time in which case you might get three days out of it in Power Reserve Mode.

Fitbits last a lot longer between charges, at around five days. Fitbit charge time is around two hours, around the same as with the Watch.

Water Resistance

Rejoice! The Apple Watch Series 2 is waterproof, “up to 50 metres” – means that it may be used for shallow-water activities like swimming in a pool or ocean. Apple Watch Series 2 should not be used for scuba diving, waterskiing or other activities involving high-velocity water or submersion below shallow depth.

Fitbits are sweat, rain and splash proof, but only the Flex 2 is swim proof, and even boasts some basic swimming tracking features. Fitbit also recommends taking its wristbands off before showering because, as with any wearable device, it’s best for your skin if the band stays dry and clean.

What’s your verdict; Fitbit or Apple Watch?