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Apple Watch vs Fitbit: 2500+ Word In-Depth Smartwatch Comparison

The Apple Watch and Fitbit devices lead the smartwatch market, generating an estimated $14 billion in sales annually. But with key differences across health tracking, battery efficiency, and smart connectivity there’s no one size fits all option.

This comprehensive 2500+ word guide examines all the latest Apple and Fitbit wearables across 8 metrics to help you decide which model best suits your needs and budget.

Models Compared

Apple Watch

We focus on Apple’s newest flagship – the Apple Watch Series 8 released in September 2022. Available in 2 case sizes:

  • 41mm
  • 45mm

Pricing starts at $399 USD for GPS model, rising to $499+ for cellular connectivity.

Fitbit

Comparisons cover Fitbit’s latest generation of smartwatches with built-in GPS:

Pricing ranges from $149 to $299.

Note the Sense 2 and Versa 4 run on Google’s Wear OS, while the Charge 5 remains Fitbit OS.

Comparison of Design and Display

The Apple Watch draws the eye with its distinctive square face and crown dial, available in aluminum or pricier stainless steel. The Sport Band is a comfortable, lightweight silicone strap that comes as a default.

The more fitness-focused Fitbits feature softer lines with rounded edges. Straps come in flexible, durable elastomer with a textured tactile feel.

Both Apple and Fitbit cases use premium materials like aluminum, stainless steel and Gorilla Glass for durability with a nice finish:

Apple

  • Series 8 casing: 100% recycled aluminum or stainless steel
  • Ion-X strengthened glass (basic) or Sapphire crystal (pricier) displays

Fitbit

  • Premium bio-resin, aluminum alloy, stainless steel casings
  • Gorilla Glass 3 scratch-resistant displays

When it comes to display size, clarity and responsiveness all models deliver nicely:

Model Size Resolution Brightness Touch tech
Apple Watch Series 8 41 / 45 mm 352 × 430 px / 396 × 484 px 1000 nits max LTPO OLED
Fitbit Sense 2 40.5mm 336×336 px up to 450 nits AMOLED
Fitbit Versa 4 41mm 336×336 px up to 450 nits AMOLED
Fitbit Charge 5 37mm 152×272 px up to 450 nits AMOLED

The key advantages of OLED vs AMOLED displays comes down to better outdoor visibility, darker blacks, and battery life. So while Apple squeezes out a slight edge, both technologies nail the basics like color accuracy, response times and touch sensitivity.

Health and Fitness Tracking Compared

Advanced wearables like the Apple Watch Series 8 and Fitbit Sense 2 have moved far beyond basic step counting to provide detailed health data through an array of cutting edge sensors.

Let’s examine the biometric tracking capabilities of each platform.

Click to expand table
Sensor technology Apple Watch Series 8 Fitbit Sense 2 Fitbit Versa 4 Fitbit Charge 5
Heart rate
Heart rhythm √ ECG app √ ECG app √ ECG app
Blood oxygen
Skin temp
Sleep tracking
Female health √ Cycle tracking
Stress tracking √ EDA
Spo2 tracking On-demand On-demand + sleep On-demand On-demand + sleep
Respiration
GPS
Altimeter

With the exception of the temperature sensor exclusive to the Series 8, both platforms deliver comparable health tracking capabilities. Accuracy is also broadly similar – typically within 5% deviation from medical devices across heart rate, SpO2 etc based on clinical studies.

However Fitbit provides more holistic health analysis tools. For example, the daily Fitbit Readiness Score leverages resting heart rate, activity and sleep data to determine if your body is prepared for exercise. This helps prevent overtraining and fatigue.

The Sense 2 also includes an EDA sensor to monitor electrodermal activity indicating stress responses. And its sleep profile measures breathing disturbances, SpO2 variability, time spent in bed vs asleep and assigns a sleep score each morning.

Apple fights back with watchOS 9 updates allowing the Series 8 to track sleep stages like REM, Core and Deep sleep. And the Cycle app helps women understand their menstrual cycles.

Both platforms also include an ECG app to check for signs of atrial fibrillation. The Sense 2 edges Apple with the addition of a heart rhythm assessment to monitor for irregularities.

For hardcore athletes, the Apple Watch is hard to beat for detailed performance metrics. Alongside the usual step count, calories burned, and workout presets, you’ll also get data like:

  • Ground time and elevation on runs
  • Form metrics for dances/workouts
  • Kickboard detection for swims
  • Compass headings during hikes
  • On-screen metrics for races and triathlons

And if you forget to start a session, the Series 8 will automatically log runs over 15 minutes, walks over 10 minutes and swims over 25 yards.

The Sense 2 and Versa 4 put more focus on holistic health guidance with features like sleep profile, stress management and readiness scores over hardcore fitness stats. But their multi-sport tracking is perfectly adequate for most buyers.

One concern for Apple has been short workout battery life given the maximum 18 hours on a charge. Fitbits promise over 5 days exercise tracking even with continuous heart rate enabled.

Smartwatch Functions Compared

The tight integration between watchOS and iOS gives Apple the edge for smartwatch capabilities. From notifications to payments to apps, the Series 8 removes dependence on your iPhone. See how the platforms compare:

Notifications

  • Apple Watch – receive/view notifications from any app on your iPhone. Reply via dictation, quick replies or scribble.
  • Fitbit – basic notifications from Android/iOS including texts, calls and calendar. Quick replies on Android only.

Digital Payments

  • Apple Watch – Apple Pay on the wrist for all transactions. Just double click and authenticate with Face ID.
  • Fitbit – Only Fitbit Pay. More limited bank compatibility than Apple.

Music

  • Apple Watch – sync playlists and podcasts to 8GB storage. Stream from Spotify, Pandora etc via WiFi/LTE
  • Fitbit – only music control. No offline storage.

Apps and watch faces

  • Apple Watch – Over 40,000 apps like Uber, Tile, Shazam etc optimised for watchOS. Unlimited custom/photo watch faces.

  • Fitbit – Small app store with popular apps due in 2023. Choice of 50 basic watch faces.

  • Voice assistant – Both support either Siri or Google Assistant.

  • LTE connectivity – Available on Apple Watch allowing you to stay connected without your phone. Not offered on Fitbits.

The Apple Watch is in a league of its own as an independent extension of your iPhone. The always-on display keeps content visible without lifting your wrist. And features like fall detection and crash alerts could literally be life saving.

Conversely, Fitbits focus purely on health metrics and guidance. Without cellular connectivity or apps, they lack standalone functionality beyond notifications. But their cross-platform support between Android and iOS remains a strength.

Durability and Water Resistance

Durability is crucial for devices worn round the clock. All models feature durable casings, plus water resistance for wearing in the pool or shower:

Scratch proofing

  • Apple Watch – Ion X glass/Sapphire crystal face
  • Fitbit – Gorilla glass

Swim tracking

  • Apple Watch – WR50M rating. Auto-detects stroke type and laps
  • Fitbit – WR50M rating. Must activate pool workouts manually

Testing

  • Apple Watch – Complies with ISO standards for submersion up to 50 metres
  • Fitbit Versa/Sense – Water protection tests up to 50 metres

While Apple don’t publish exact durability credentials, independent tests indicate both can withstand scrapes, bumps and drops without damage.

We’d recommend a screen protector for Apple Watches used intensely for sports. But overall build quality is robust across the board.

Battery Life and Charging

With 24/7 health tracking and sensors draining power, battery life is a key consideration when choosing a smartwatch.

Battery runtime

  • Apple Watch Series 8 – Up to 18 hours typical use
  • Fitbit Sense 2 – 6+ days
  • Fitbit Versa 4 – 6+ days
  • Fitbit Charge 5 – 7+ days

So a key advantage of Fitbits is only needing to charge them weekly, rather than daily. However the Apple Watch offset shorter runtimes with rapid charging– going from 0 to 80% in under an hour.

All utilise their own proprietary magnetic charger cables that clip securely to contacts on the rear casing. Fitbits can fully recharge in 1-2 hours.

For Apple, buying a second charging cable makes sense. Place them in locations like your desk and nightstand to juice up conveniently. Fitbits require less charging discipline thanks to their exceptional battery efficiency.

Interface and ease of setup

Open the Apple Watch app on your paired iPhone and it guides you through the onboarding process including:

  • Software install
  • Restoring from iCloud backup
  • Transferring apps and settings
  • Customizing watch faces
  • Confirming activity goals

It takes less than 15 minutes thanks to tight integration with your Apple ID. You can largely personalize the Series 8 without touching the watch itself.

Fitbits also offer smooth pairing, either direct from your phone’s Bluetooth settings, or downloading the Fitbit app. Connection is fast whether you use iOS or Android devices.

The setup wizard will connect to your WiFi, link with GPS satellites if available, install updates and walk through customization like:

  • Entering personal stats like height and weight for accurate health metrics
  • Selecting a starter watch face
  • Setting daily step goals and target heart rate zones
  • Enabling notifications from your smartphone

We found the Fitbit interface a little less slick than Apple’s, but perfectly user friendly. Syncing data to view trends in the app is virtually instant.

Price and Value Comparison

The Apple Watch Series 8 retails at $399 for the 41mm size. Here’s how pricing shakes out across the model lineup:

  • 41mm, GPS: $399
  • 45mm, GPS: $429
  • 41mm, Cellular: $499
  • 45mm, Cellular: $529

Note that fancier casing materials like stainless steel quickly bump up costs further.

By contrast, Fitbits position as budget smartwatch alternatives retailing at lower price points:

  • Fitbit Sense 2: $299
  • Fitbit Versa 4: $229
  • Fitbit Charge 5: $149

So across the board, Fitbits come in at 30-60% cheaper than the equivalent Apple Watch model.

You get longer battery life and more comprehensive health data from Fitbit. While Apple justifies its premium pricing through connectivity, apps, interface polish and tight integration with your iPhone and digital lifestyle.

Neither platform offers clearly better value; it comes down to feature priorities. But budget conscious buyers get more tech for their dollar with Fitbit devices sporting the latest sensors and performance at fraction of the price.

Which Smartwatch is Right for You?

Apple Watch Buyers

Apple offers the best smartwatch experience for iPhone users hands down. With deep iOS integration, apps at your fingertips, fall detection and crash alerts, it’s a simple choice for iOS ecosystem inhabitants.

While the Fitbit Sense offers compelling health tools, its useless without your phone on hand. Solo runners are better served with onboard music storage, GPS, contactless payments and cellular connectivity the Apple Watch provides.

However, the need to charge daily inhibits aspects like sleep tracking. If 24/7 battery life is crucial, a Fitbit is a smarter pick.

Fitbit Buyers

For cross-platform households mixing Android and iOS devices, Fitbits make way more sense. Their fitness focussed features work seamlessly across smartphones without compromise.

And tools like the daily Readiness Score or Sleep Profile provide actionable health insights – perfect for casual athletes. GPS and multi-day battery life makes them ideal companions on backpacking trips or music festivals.

The extras like apps and WiFi streaming don’t outweigh core health tracking capabilities Fitbit excels at. Unless you need deeper smartwatch functions, Fitbits do 95% of what an Apple Watch can for under half the costs.

FAQs

Q. Which is more accurate for health metrics – Apple or Fitbit?
A. Broadly speaking, both achieve comparable accuracy – mostly within 5% deviation from medical devices on key biomarkers. Fitbit’s longer heritage may give it a slight edge. But Apple Watch delivers impressive capabilities given a shorter time in market.

Q. Can a Fitbit work with an iPhone?
A. Yes absolutely. While Apple Watches only support iOS devices, Fitbits sync perfectly via Bluetooth to Android or iPhones. The versatility to work cross-platform is a major perk.

Q. Is the Apple Watch waterproof enough for swimming?
A. Yes, with a 50 metre water resistance rating, Apple Watches can track metrics like laps, stroke efficiency and duration in the pool without issues. Just remember to rinse chlorinated water after sessions to prevent skin irritation.

Q. Which has the bigger app library – Apple or Fitbit?
A. Apple Watch by far! With native apps designed specifically for watchOS, Apple offers tens of thousands of apps from leading brands. Developer support is huge given the Watch‘s popularity. Fitbit‘s own app ecosystem is still emerging but lags miles behind currently.

Q. Can a Fitbit track heart rhythm problems?
A. Yes. Like the Apple Watch, Fitbits like the Sense 2 provide an ECG app allowing users to take a spot reading to detect atrial fibrillation which can indicate an irregular heart rhythm. The medical community still debates the significance, but it offers helpful context alongside background heart rate data.