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Smartwatch vs Fitness Tracker: Which Way to Go?

Smartwatch vs Fitness Tracker
Latest Update: October 22, 2018

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More and more individuals are becoming health conscious because of the increased awareness of the benefits of overall wellness. In fact, some are even torn in choosing between the battle of smartwatch vs fitness tracker when it comes to supplementing their daily regimen of proper diet and exercise.

These wearable supplements assist by keeping track of any activity performed during the period in which the person doing the exercise wore them. While they don’t increase the stamina or physical strength, they are best used if you want to analyze the details and keep track of how well you are doing.

In an ideal world, regular exercise is the best way to lose weight or maintain your fitness, seamlessly blending a couple of hours of it within a busy time frame. In the real world though, these periods of activity can only be done a few minutes at a time, and it takes more than just doing physical exercise to achieve your goals.

Having a proper diet and staying active are still the best way to keep fit and supplements, medical or otherwise, only help in an area or two, but they don’t necessarily help when it comes to achieving your overall goal. Fitness trackers and smartwatches are your best bet in supplementing your overall plan as certain features found in either kind of devices does drive results, given that you’re serious about them.

The Basics of a Fitness Tracker

Fitness trackers are a kind of wearable technology that offers several fitness-related functionalities, wrapped around the wrist. Some of these features include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Heart Rate Monitor

Wrapped close to the area of the wrist where the pulse is, fitness trackers can monitor your heart rate and tell you how well you are doing by the heart rate displayed.

  • GPS

Several fitness trackers are now GPS-enabled that lets you track the distance you have run or cycled, sending signals as you run or bike and then it plots out the course using a third-party site or app.

  • Exercise Recognition

A few fitness tracker models now come with an automatic exercise recognition software that assumes the exercise you are doing based on the speed of your movement as well as your plotted location based on its GPS.

  • Waterproof

Anything made to support fitness goals should be waterproof, or at least sweatproof, because they will and will be soaked in fluids as you jog, bike or swim.

  • Activity Reminder

Fitness trackers, nowadays, can check if you have moved within a pre-determined period, and it will notify you if you’ve been inactive for a certain period.

  • Voice Coach

In conjunction with the activity reminder, the voice coach encourages you to move about after a period of inactivity. Some models even come with a feature that gives you an update of how fast you are going or how far you have gone.

Types of Fitness Trackers

Fitness trackers usually come in the form of wristbands, but there are also some other types that you need to be familiar with:

  • Motiv Ring

These rings are usually made of titanium and can be sized to fit any finger you may want to wear it in. These trackers can monitor your sleep, activity and heart rate.

  • Basic Tracker

These trackers usually come in the form of clip-on that have an LCD screen with indented buttons for quick access. They act as pedometers and can track the distance that you have walked, based on the measurement of your pace.

  • Wrist Trackers

This kind of fitness tracker looks like a watch, but they can monitor more than just your pace and the distance that you have traveled. Some wrist trackers even come with Bluetooth and music functionality to boost your energy as you go.

The Marvels of a Smartwatch

Smartwatches are another form wearable fitness device that lets you keep track of your physical activity, and it can coach you as you go as well. Here are some of the features that you can expect in a smartwatch:

  • Apps

Several mobile app developers have launched programs and, well, apps that have new and improved features, aiming to elevate the smartwatch to a different level.

  • Connectivity

Smartwatches are known to be paired with mobile phones and often come packaged with one brand or another. These fitness devices can be synced via Bluetooth, with some models having the ability to answer phone calls and send or receive text messages.

  • GPS

Smartwatches are GPS-enabled, and they can track their wearers wherever they go, which makes it ideal for cyclists and distance runners.

  • Infrared Sensors

A not-so-fitness related feature is the IR sensor which is a common feature and is more often used to transform the watch into an expensive remote control.

  • Fitness Tracking

Smartwatches can have all the features that a fitness tracker can have, from heart rate monitor to pedometers and GPS tracking.

Similarities in Motion

Some experts would argue that a smartwatch is essentially a type of a fitness tracker while smartwatch aficionados would want to differ and say that it belongs to a different category. Functionality-wise, both the fitness tracker and the smartwatch offer the same kind of technology and benefits towards fitness, although their set of features vary from one model to another.

Most models of both the smartwatch and the fitness tracker are equipped with GPS technology, while some of the later models of fitness trackers now have advanced connectivity like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. These two trackers both use third-party applications to consolidate the data that they have gathered and convert them into something more readable for you to analyze.

Running Through the Differences

In physical form, especially in form, fitness trackers and smartwatches are similar, especially the way they look and feel, and other than being equipped with GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity, the similarities end there, and the debate begins.

Fitness trackers have limited functionality, especially clip on and the basic trackers, while advanced fitness trackers have more features that are packed into a tight package, much like how a smartwatch is packaged. However, smartwatches offer more than what fitness tracker can–more applications and more ways to use it, like telling time and using it for phone calls and such.

Smartwatch vs Fitness Tracker

Fitness-wise, there is no debate as to which is better between smartwatch vs fitness tracker as they have the same fitness features like heart rate monitors, step counters, GPS-mapping, and voice coaching, among others. However, the main advantage of a smartwatch is that is can be paired with a cellphone and used as an extension as well.

This is beneficial in more ways than one.

Smartwatches can make that important phone call whenever you run into an emergency or when you have to report something to the police. Smartwatches can also provide additional entertainment through the various apps, on the other hand, fitness trackers give you a more focused device for your fitness program which can be beneficial as it eliminates any distraction.

However, smartwatches help minimize the number of devices that you own and wear at the same time as it can replace the fitness tracker while still providing the same features. This also lessens the weight that you have to carry around as you run or cycle or go about your day to day activities.

In the end, knowing which wearable device is better for you depends on how focused or light you want it to be. Take into consideration that technology is always advancing every minute, and the way you track your activity can change faster than you can go a mile.

Date Published: December 5, 2018

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