Wearable tech aimed at consumers can be categorized into two popular gadgets – the smartwatch and the fitness tracker. Technically speaking, these are two different gadgets, even if they may seem similar at first. Smartwatches and fitness trackers have many overlapping features, which makes choosing one quite difficult.
If you are in the market for a wearable gadget, you may wonder which would suit you best. If you are an exercise buff, a fitness tracker may seem like the natural choice. But is it? Go ahead and read about what makes smartwatches and fitness trackers different and how to pick the best device out of the two.
A smartwatch is very similar to a regular watch but isn’t mechanical. Instead of cogs that turn the time hands, a smartwatch has a processor and a touchscreen for the watch face. Unlike regular watches, smartwatches can tell a wearer more than just the time.
Smartwatches can work independently but are often paired with a smartphone. If your smartwatch is connected to a phone, you will receive notifications on the watch face for emails, texts, and calls. You could also play music stored on the phone or even access photos.
These gadgets can function independently of a phone equally well. They have their own battery and some models can access the internet without the aid of a phone.
Do note that the functionality of smartwatches can vary depending on the brand and the product. Some models have inbuilt cameras and even support SIM cards. This means users can take photos and accept calls using the device.
Don’t assume that smartwatches are just digital extensions for smartphones. These wearables offer features not typically found on smartphones. They can be excellent GPS trackers compared to the map apps found on your phone. Also, they can gather data on the distance you walk, your pace, how long you’ve been sleeping, and even your heart rate.
Of course, smartwatches also tell the time. These devices have digital time-reading interfaces, much like digital watches. But newer devices offer users the option to download watch faces. Wearers can download classical watch faces that make the smartwatch look like a traditional watch. Alternatively, users can choose digital watch faces for a more sci-fi look.
Fitness Trackers At-a-Glance
Fitness trackers are highly specialized in the functionality they offer when compared to smartwatches. Like smartwatches, fitness trackers can be synched with apps downloaded onto the phone. However, fitness trackers are designed with a particular goal in mind – monitoring your health.
Fitness trackers are commonly equipped with a range of tools to monitor your sleep, heart rate, distance travelled, time travelled, pacing, and many more.
Some fitness trackers can also display time and notifications from the phone, similar to smartwatches. Generally speaking, if you buy a fitness tracker, you can expect an array of health and exercise-related features.
Fitness trackers have smaller screens and are slimly built compared to smartwatches. Also, they tend to be sweat resistant as well. They should be worn when you exercise at the gym or outdoors. Therefore, you can expect more specialized features than what smartwatches offer.
Which Costs More – Smartwatches or Fitness Trackers?
Price-wise, there isn’t a massive difference between smartwatches and fitness trackers. Prices can vary depending on the brand. You can buy both smartwatches and fitness trackers on a budget or aim for a more luxurious option with a higher price tag.
On average, fitness trackers may be more budget-friendly than smartwatches. The most popular smartwatch, the Apple Watch, costs around $400. In comparison, the most popular fitness tracker, the Fitbit Charge 2, costs about $150. Fitness trackers don’t aim for stylishness like smartwatches, so they may cost less.
How Smartwatches and Fitness Trackers are Similar
Most consumers point out the overlapping features smartwatches and fitness trackers share that make them appear similar. The most obvious of these is the design. Both devices are shaped like traditional wristwatches and can be worn the same way. It’s not uncommon for some smartwatches and fitness trackers to look almost exactly alike.
Both devices may also offer similar tracking and data collection functions. They also come equipped with heart rate monitors, calorie counters, and sleep trackers. Both gadgets also tend to have sophisticated GPS tools to track your movements from points A to B.
Smartwatches and fitness trackers are also accessed similarly. Both devices come with touchscreens for interfaces. Users can download new “faces” to alter the appearance of the touchscreen. The sizes of the screen will vary depending on the brand. Most smartwatches and fitness trackers have manual controls as well.
How Smartwatches and Fitness Trackers Differ
The devices look and function very similarly, but there are notable differences between them. These can be summed up as such: smartwatches are built for communication while fitness trackers are built for monitoring and data gathering.
The main function of a smartwatch is to facilitate communication. You can use a smartwatch to read emails, texts, or at least receive notifications with a glance at your wrist. Smartwatches equipped with SIM cards allow users to make phone calls as well.
Smartwatches do have health monitoring apps and various tracking capabilities for fitness purposes. But these are in addition to the main communication function they offer. Fitness trackers, on the other hand, are not built with communication in mind. Users may be able to receive notifications on some branded devices, but these features are not the most prominent in a fitness tracker.
Compared to smartwatches, fitness trackers usually come with additional functions for monitoring health and location. Fitness trackers from major brands like Garmin have high-end GPS tools that are not typically found in smartwatches.
The two devices may differ in how they are constructed as well. Smartwatches come in various sizes and shapes. You could either purchase a smartwatch that resembles a classic wristwatch or one with a more modern style. Fitness trackers don’t offer many style options. Most sport slim profiles so they are easy to wear for prolonged periods.
Which Should You Choose?
Ask yourself why you need a wearable. If you need one for monitoring your vitals when exercising, then go for a fitness tracker. If you need a more convenient way to communicate while your hands are busy, pick a smartwatch. Whether you should buy a smartwatch or a fitness tracker depends on which of these functions are more important to you.
Those who aim for style may prefer a smartwatch. High-end smartwatches are elegantly designed to make the gadgets suitable for formal wear. Fitness trackers tend to have bland, plastic exteriors built for sweat resistance.
There are worthy hybrids you may want to consider. Low to mid-range smartwatches and fitness trackers have many overlapping features. Ultimately, however, you should choose the product that best matches your needs and budget.