Which brand should you choose for your fitness tracking watch?
Fitbit and Garmin are two heavyweight brands that over the last couple of years have earned themselves a position at the top of the fitness tracking market.
Garmin already offers plenty of smartwatches and sports watches as part of its product range. But Fitbit is catching up fast with the release of both the Versa and the Ionic.
Both brands have their distinct strengths, but it can be hard to choose between them. Here we take a look at their respective hardware and features to help you come to a decision.
Who is Fitbit?
With headquarters in San Francisco, California, Fitbit was founded in 2007 by James Park and Eric Friedman. The company had previously been known as Healthy Metrics Research Inc. Fitbit has won a number of awards over the years including being placed runner-up in 2008 at TechCrunch50. It was also best in the category of Health & Wellness in 2009 at CES and, in 2016, was ranked 37 out of 50 companies for being most innovative.
The Fitbit product range includes clip-on trackers like the Fitbit Zip and a wide variety of wristband trackers including the Fitbit Alta and their most recent wristband tracker the Fitbit Charge 4. There are also several smartwatches available in their product range.
Who is Garmin?
Gamin is headquartered in Kansas. Formerly known as ProNav, it was founded in 1989 and initially specialised in GPS technology for aviation, marine, automobile and outdoor activities. The company’s first customer was the US Army. Later, it moved into the activity tracker market with the development of wearable technology and it now holds a significant number of patents.
In addition to a wide range of top-rated GPS tracking devices for cars, walking and even diving, Garmin also produces the Vivo series of fitness trackers. These include the Vivofit, Vivosmart and the Vivoactive.
What is a fitness tracker?
A fitness tracker is a device specifically designed to record exercise and other health-related data. Most fitness tracker will include the ability to analyse the quality of sleep, monitor heart rate, count calories and track number of steps. But even those with similar features may differ in the way they operate. For example, heart rate monitoring can be done using a separate chest strap or via the wrist band. Some sensors can automatically log your data, while others require manual intervention.
Many fitness trackers specialise in one type of exercise. Those more commonly used for running or cycling include GPS. In general, Garmin products are more suited to athletes, while Fitbit targets those with a more casual exercise routine.
Budget fitness trackers
When it comes to fitness trackers, there really is something for every budget. If you are looking for something a little less costly, then there are a couple of budget trackers that are worth considering.
Fitbit Inspire 2
The Fitbit Inspire 2 is an ideal choice when it comes to a budget tracker. It is one of the smallest models available on the market and offers a nice sleek option.
- Sleep Tracking
- Step counting
- Calorie counting
- Distance tracking
- 5-day battery life
- Additional strap styles available
- Water-resistant – suitable for showering or swimming
- No heart rate monitor
- No GPS
- The strap is rather stiff
Overall, the Fitbit Inspire 2 is a good option for the average user. The strap can be changed for a metal or leather band, and the water resistance feature is a nice touch. It can track your sleep quality and it does offer the option to log the length of your swim. The screen is a bright touchscreen OLED. At around $69 the Fitbit Inspire 2 really is a great tracker for the price, especially for the more casual user.
- Free 1-year Fitbit Premium trial for new Premium users with personalized guidance, insights and...
- Earn Active Zone Minutes as you progress toward your weekly 150 minutes of heart-pumping activity...
- Track all-day activity: your steps, distance, hourly activity and calories burned
Garmin Vivofit 4
Garmin has the rather lovely looking Garmin Vivofit 4 as its rather more wallet-friendly model. Like the Inspire 2, this is a rather slim model with a beautiful sleek look to it, and of course plenty of features.
- Sleep Tracking
- Step counting – with daily personalised step goal
- Calorie counting
- Distance tracking
- 1 + year battery life with no need to charge
- Synchs with Garmin Connect™ periodically – allowing you to save and share your activities
- Heart Rate Monitor
- Water-resistant – suitable for swimming or showering
- No GPS
- Strap looks cheap
- Has LCD but no backlight making it difficult to check at night
- No altimeter
With great battery life and the extra bonus of a heart rate monitor, the Garmin Vivofit 4 ($71.50) is a great tracker for those who are looking for a little more without spending too much.
- Features always on customizable color display and 1+ year battery life; no charging necessary. Safe...
- Tracks steps, distance and calories burned, monitors sleep and provides a personalized daily step...
- Periodically syncs to Garmin Connect, where you can save, plan and share your activities, get...
In comparison to the Fitbit Inspire 2, it certainly offers a few convenient extra features but it doesn’t have the choice of straps or look quite as dressy as the Inspire. If you are looking for a budget tracker that gives you plenty for your money, then this, however, could be the tracker for you.
High-end fitness trackers
If you are looking for a luxury tracker that offers you more, then Fitbit and Garmin have some fantastic high-end fitness trackers available. They offer a wealth of different features that should suit every type of exercise regime.
The Fitbit Sense is a stunning health, fitness and wellness smartwatch that will undoubtedly turn heads. It comes in a variety of different colourways with interchangable straps. In addition to all the standard features, you would expect such as step count, calorie tracking etc. it also offers the following extras
- Stress management
- SpO2 Clock face
- Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility
- Temperature checking
- On-board GPS
- Active Minutes
- Controls for Spotify Premium
- Sleep Tracking with sleep score which allows you to assess your sleep routine
- Built-in Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
- 6-day battery life
- Fitbit Pay – the ability to pay without your wallet
- 24/7 Heart Rate Monitor
- Smartphone notifications
- Water-resistant up to 50 metres – suitable for swimming or showering
- Ability to control your Spotify app and add music to your Deezer playlist
- Display sensitivity could be better
With a price tag of $299 this is a great tracker for daily use that is being compared to the mighty Apple Watch Series 6. It offers all of the usual features but it also provides some extra ones that can really help to motivate those who find it hard to stick to an exercise routine.
- EDA Scan app detects electrodermal activity which may indicate your body's response to stress and a...
- Assess your heart for atrial fibrillation –a heart rhythm irregularity- and easily share results...
- An on-wrist skin temperature sensor tracks yours each night so you can see how it varies. You can...
Garmin Vivoactive 4
The Garmin Vivoactive 4 has the looks of a classic sports watch while really packing in the features. It is available in classic black or white with a couple of different colour choices for the bezel. This tracker has all the standard features you would expect from a Garmin and plenty of extras.
- Tracks heart rate variability
- 7-day battery life in smartwatch mode, 13 hours using GPS
- Garmin pay – the ability to pay without your wallet
- Smart notifications
- Daily fitness and stress monitoring
- Ability to download and create workouts
- Vivoactive 3 Music allows you to download 500 songs and connect with Bluetooth headphones
- Quite a bulky tracker
- Gamin pay not supported everywhere
- Not able to store music on the watch
The Garmin Vivoactive 4 which retails at $246 is a top of the range fitness tracker that offers excellent functionality. It is aimed at those users who take their fitness very seriously. This is a tracker that has been designed with the sportsperson in mind. The extras such as the ability to listen to music are a plus.
- Keeps track of your energy levels, Pulse Ox (this is not a medical device and is not intended for...
- Easily download songs to your watch, including playlists from Spotify, Amazon music or Deezer (may...
- Record all the ways to move with more than 20 preloaded GPS and indoor sports apps, including yoga,...
Which is better between Fitbit and Garmin?
It’s a tie!
Both these brands are reputable with fantastic offerings, it all depends on your requirements.
Last Updated on December 22, 2020
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