Fitbit vs Smartwatch: 7 Important Things You Don’t Know

You have made your mind that you want to buy your first wearable. That’s pretty cool. But wait! You are also pulling your hair trying to decide whether you should go for a smartwatch or a Fitbit band.

This blog post will make this decision a lot easier for you!

Fitbit has established itself as one of the authorities in the industry of fitness trackers. In fact, when smartwatches weren’t a popular thing, people pictured Fitbit when they heard the word smartwatch.

But things have changed. Now that there are hundreds of smartwatches in the market, we can clearly see Fitbit has created a category of its own without going after everyone. Here is what we mean by that.

1. Fitbit is More of a Fitness Band, Less of a Smartwatch

You most certainly know this one. But still, we decided to include this in our list as we cannot emphasize this point enough. Fitbit is fitness band first, smartwatch second.

If you picture a Fitbit next to a smartwatch, you will see a few obvious distinctions. While other smartwatch companies are going after larger displays and premium material, Fitbit focuses on smaller displays and lightweight material.

That also comes at a price. To keep Fitbits small and light, the company cannot just throw a lot of hardware or larger software in it. That results in only a handfew of features compared to what powerful smartwatches can do nowadays.

Not only that it is capped in the number of features. But if you look closely, you will also see they don’t exactly look like a watch either. In my eyes, they are like rubbery wrist bands with some good tracking sensors in them.

You can probably replace your mechanical watch with some good-looking smartwatches, but not with a Fitbit for sure. That’s how I usually compare it against regular smartwatches.

Having that said, Fitbit is rock-solid as a fitness tracker (except a few things we don’t like about them, read the points below!) and reliably does what it should.

2. Fitbit Lacks Apps Compared to Other Smartwatches

Fitbit started its smartwatch journey late and it has only been a few years since its first smartwatch launched in 2017. They created their own operating system called Fitbit OS to go inside all their products.

A good software experience is a hard thing to achieve especially for a newcomer. It becomes more difficult (sometimes impossible) when software giants like Apple and Google are competing against you.

This comparison is pretty easy. Google Wear OS and Apple watchOS are hands-down more superior than Fitbit OS. Time will tell if Fitbit would ever be interested in collaborating with any of those companies for a better software experience.

Concerning the availability of apps, Fitbit is picking up some momentum and has the necessary apps in their app store already, but again that is really a small amount compared to Google’s or Apple’s app store.

3. Fitbit Boasts More Accurate Biometrics Than Most Smartwatches

This is where things start to take sides with Fitbit. Being fitness first, it was obligatory for Fitbit to offer more accurate biometric data than its competitors. It actually did. Kind of!

According to this research published on NCBI, Fitbit offers accurate step tracking half the time. Although it may so bad, it isn’t actually if you compare it to other smartwatches. It is the average of a lot of data and there weren’t any ground rules set, for example, it should be worn according to the manual. Fitbit himself emphasized that the accuracy will improve a lot if you wear it properly according to their given manual.

Fitbit also does a pretty good job at tracking sleep. But when it comes to heart rate monitoring, Apple Watch, Garmin and Polar offer slightly lower error rates to Fitbit but here we are talking about fractions. So all of them are acceptable.

To date, none of the smartwatches in the market seems to calculate calorie burn accurately. They would either overestimate or underestimate it depending on your activity. So nobody is to blame there. Maybe the technology itself?

4. Fitbit (Partially) Works Without a Phone Dependency

People are very concerned about privacy in electronic devices and it is for a good reason. They are times when you want to have full control over how your data is being stored. Perhaps, it would be good too if you don’t have to send this data to an online server at all.

We recently posted on the blog how Fitbit works without a phone. To summarize what we found, Fitbit works without a phone’s dependency but with limitations. It will work just fine if you take it away from a smartphone, but at the end of the day, it has to sync the data somewhere.

The internal storage it has can storage 3 days of detailed data and 30 days of summary data. After that, they will start freeing up storage from the bottom-up and all unsynced data will be lost.

But under all circumstances, you will have to create a Fitbit account and share your data with Fitbit to enjoy most of the features. While some other smartwatches allow you to operate offline, this is not the case with Fitbits.

5. Fitbit has Subpar Build Quality Compared to Some Smartwatches

This is something even the most avid Fitbit fanboy will agree on. The built quality of Fitbit is subpar. There are other smartwatches that would offer you a much better built at the same cost.

There are a couple of hypotheses why Fitbit decided to keep it this way. The first and the most logical hypothesis is that they want to keep the device as light as possible. But this statement has been proven wrong by companies over time. Maybe they need to step up their game.

Another statement could be that they have a high-profit business model. Fitbit bands are somewhat cheaper than full-fledged smartwatches but it is easily possible for them to offer higher quality without affecting their business.

But before you draw a conclusion, Fitbit is not bad in terms of longevity. They might feel cheap in hand but they do last a good few years without any problem. It is definitely still better than some smartwatches.

6. Fitbit Doesn’t Have Any Smartwatch With Sim Card

This is the truth that nobody wants to hear. While all companies are stepping up in their game, Fitbit decided to stay the way there were. This probably has something to do with them categorizing their products differently.

Unlike others, Fitbit decided not to include a sim card facility in any of their smartwatches. Yes, none of their smartwatches has support for the cellular network which is a bummer.

What I think is that it wouldn’t have hurt to have a few models just to accommodate people who like Fitbits and would also like to have cellular connectivity on their bands.

Anyway, if not having cellular connectivity is a deal-breaker for you, we have reviewed smartwatches with sim card support which you might be interested in.

7. Fitbit Offers Longer Battery Life Than Most Smartwatches

I cannot think of any better reason to choose a Fitbit over other smartwatches. It simply lasts longer, actually much longer.

To give you some numbers, the battery life of the Apple Watch Series 6 is 18 hours max. It is variable as well and can dip down to only 1.5 hours when you talk over the LTE network.

With Fitbit, it can be as high as 10 days (Fitbit Inspire 2). Their smartwatches like Versa 3, Charge 4 last up to 6-7 days and it will go down depending on your usage.

To generalize the battery life of Fitbit vs all the other smartwatches, where you are looking at a full-day battery life on most smartwatches, Fitbit will make it at least 2-3 days for you, making it exactly 2-3 times better.