The Fruit vs. The Fitbit

Brian tricked me the other day. He said he wanted to go into the Apple Store to look at the new iPhones. He was interested in an upgrade. But when we got there, he bee-lined for the Apple Watches and I looked at him with rolling eyes.

I have been pretty anti-Apple Watch since they debuted a year ago. Reviews were so inconclusive depending on who wrote it and I just did not feel the need to be so connected. I already feel like my iPhone is a ball and chain sometimes. This Apple Watch thing would literally be like a handcuff! Shackled to anyone who wanted to get a hold of me or advertise to me.

I’m all about the idea of fitness trackers though. I had the original fitbit when it came out back in 2011 or whatever. And for the past 6 months or so, I’ve been using the Fitbit Charge (no heart-rate monitor). I’ve loved it (aside from the slightly bulky and utilitarian feel). It works consistently, gives me the data I need and doesn’t try to be something it’s not.

A couple of the main Cons I feel the Apple Watch has are the following:

  1. No GPS – Why the hell not?? You’re an Apple product! You couldn’t find some way to shove GPS in there? Not having GPS means you can’t leave your phone at home and still get accurate results when mapping your run or walk
  2. No Sleep Tracking – Again, if developers can take what you give them to make third party apps that are third rate… why not take a few more months to have your Apple developers make a sleep tracking app?
  3. Oh wait, here’s why: Battery Life lasts only ~18 hours. If you’ve worn the Watch all day there will be no charge left when you’re about to go to sleep. (Fitbit boasts 4-5 days before needing to plug in)
  4. Unable to remove Default Apps – I abhor Apple Maps. I don’t look at Stocks (Brian keeps me up to speed there), I’m not going to use the Passport/Wallet feature. Yet, they have to remain on the Watch, taking up valuable space.
  5. Too Many Options, Not Enough Customer-Friendly Customization – Let me explain. When B and I went into the store, we saw laid out before us a beautiful array of watches with different bands and color schemes. This was exciting for my brain! I could choose the watch face and the band I wanted and have the perfect custom combo that fit my style. Wrong. The way Apple set it up is that – if you want the gold Watch face, it comes with the white plastic band initially – you can’t swap it out for the black leather one if that’s what you truly want. No, instead you have to spend $50+ more on the band you want and basically toss out the band it comes with (unless you like white plastic bands). In short, there’s a lot of variety. But to take advantage of that variety you have to spend a lot more money (or buy cheap alternatives at Amazon that don’t match up in quality).

I should probably stop here. I don’t want this to become a big negative post about the Apple Watch. It’s beautiful and functional. It has been fun getting notifications of texts while I’m at the grocery store and don’t want to lug my iPhone 6S Plus out of the bottom of my purse. It’s almost kinda fun that I don’t have to have my phone next to me all the time to get notifications. That’s the big draw here, especially for women who are juggling a lot at once. You don’t need a whole hand (or two) to check a text or see who’s calling – just flip your wrist toward the sun and keep movin’.

For those interested, I did a small and unscientific sleep tracking comparison last night.

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Fitbit Charge / Apple Watch

I wore my Fitbit Charge and the Apple Watch on the same wrist and slept with the trackers going. I was curious to see if the Sleep++ app for the Watch could match up to the Fitbit. Check out the images below!

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Sleep++ screenshot

 

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Fitbit App screenshot

The Fitbit:
This little device tracks my every move – but not in a creepy way. It knows when I go to bed and when I fall asleep (I swear, it’s really not creepy!). It knows when I get up in the middle of the night and when I finally get out of bed in the morning. And it does all of this automatically. All I have to do is get in bed and sleep.

The Apple Watch:
This device doesn’t track sleep. But this is a sleep tracking comparison so there’s gotta be a way. I downloaded the Sleep++ app on my iPhone, went to the Watch app and installed it to the Watch itself. Then, when I was ready to snooze, I opened up the app from my Watch and hit the “Start Tracking” button.

The image below has a side-by-side comparison of my sleep last night via the Fitbit (left) and Apple Watch (right). They are actually quite similar. The Apple Watch detected a lot more movement, as you can see from the more plentiful light-blue bars. But it didn’t really know I fully woke up around 6:15 to use the bathroom, it just thought I was moving around a lot. Fitbit calculated all that movement as actually being awake… because, I was quite awake for those few minutes! No sleep-walking here!

While the Apple Watch seemed to catch most of my movements and tossing/turning, the Fitbit took only the biggest movements and restlessness into account. I’m satisfied with that, especially since it did register when I woke up for a potty break.

The other item to note is the total sleep time difference. Sleep++ probably calculated the whole time between when I initiated the tracking and when I stopped it, which clearly was not all the time I actually slept. One perk of this app is you can edit down the time. Say you woke up at 8:00am but forgot to turn it off until lunchtime. You can trim off those extra hours for a more accurate calculation. But that process makes the automatic tracking of the Fitbit a lot more appealing. There’s something nice about Fitbit just knowing.

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In summary: The Fitbit blows the Watch away when it comes to sleep tracking, in my opinion. The details are better and it seems more efficient.

However, I really think there’s an argument for both devices. If you’re really into tracking fitness I’d go with the Fitbit Blaze. The Blaze tracks heart rate, sleep, activity, and receives notifications from your phone (texts, phone calls, calendar updates) and much more. It does not have GPS tracking. I’ve been using the Fitbit Charge which lets me know when someone is calling me by a quick vibration and that has been really great. Compare all the different Fitbit styles here.

If you want a more well rounded smartwatch and you’ve got the iPhone, give the Apple Watch a try. You’ll need to do your research regarding apps and it takes a good day or two to figure it out. Sleep++ is the best rated sleep app specifically for the Watch. If you want GPS tracking, you’ll need to arrange to bring your phone with you everywhere – maybe this will bring fanny packs back in style?

Leave your thoughts or questions below!

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