Fitbit and Garmin are leaders and forerunners in the business of tracking health and fitness. But how should you choose?Read this article and you'll find a brand that fits your needs.
If you are conversant with the fitness and health tracking industry, you must have come across the brands “Fitbit” and “Garmin.” These brands are leaders and forerunners in the business of tracking health and fitness. These two brands manufacture smartwatches that allow you to keep tabs on your fitness and exercise routines in most cases.
Garmin is the older of the two brands, having been around since the early 2000s. It launched its first product, Forerunner, around that time. Since then, Garmin has continued to produce more quality fitness smartwatches.
It is important to note that Garmin started with sports watches at its inception. As time went on, it branches out into smartwatches and manufactured popular smartwatch collections such as Vivoactive and Fenix. These smartwatches allow you to track your fitness and other sporting activities. They come in different designs and have a mix of additional features and benefits.
On the other hand, Fitbit is relatively younger than Garmin in the business. It entered the industry with a pedometer-style watch device that tracks your sleeping durations. From that point on, Fitbit’s products evolved to a better standard with new features. These features include sensors, GPS trackers, and many more.
Today, Fitbit is one of the most reputable and arguably, the most popular smartwatch brand in the business. The brand has a Kleenex effect, as almost everybody refers to a tracking smartwatch as a Fitbit. This goes to show how popular Fitbit is in the fitness tracking smartwatch business.
Most Popular Models
Having spent years in the business, these two brands have churned out numerous smart and sports watches. This section will list out a few of the most popular models manufactured by these brands in recent times.
The Best Fitbit Models
- Fitbit Charge 4 – The first Fitbit tracker with onboard GPS. It is the brand’s flagship fitness tracker fulfilling the yearnings of users with the onboard GPS feature.
- Fitbit Inspire 2 – This is the barebones fitness tracker produced by Fitbit. While the smartwatch doesn’t have much to show in terms of design, it is ideal for tracking basic activities. You also get to enjoy Fitbit premium for a year when you buy the smartwatch.
- Fitbit Versa 3 – Fitbit Versa is a fitness smartwatch that excludes all the extra features and designs. It gives you a basic fitness watch without additional features.
- Fitbit Sense – This smartwatch is an embodiment of smartwatch features and packages. It has numerous features such as an EDA sensor for keeping tabs on stress levels, an ECG monitor for your heart, and a sensor that tracks the sin temperature.
- Fitbit Ionic – This is Fitbit’s first smartwatch. Newer versions such as Fitbit Sense and Fitbit Versa, built upon the features of this product.
The Best Garmin Models
- Garmin Venu –This is Garmin’s first AMOLED display smartwatch. It has a better display feature than the Vivoactive, but a bit lower on the battery life.
- Garmin Vivoactive – This is a popular sports watch with numerous features. These features include music storage, in-built GPS, a lasting battery (lasts for about a week), and Garmin Pay.
- Garmin Forerunner series – This sports watch collection is the first product from Garmin. Garmin built this sports watch for runners and athletes. There are numerous watches in this series that you are sure to find one that suits your budget.
- Garmin Fenix Series – This is another collection that has a lot of sports watches in it. This collection is suitable for athletes and people who engage in outdoor activities. The number of watches in this series makes it easy for people to get one that fits their budgets well.
- Garmin Instincts – This product is primarily for outdoor activities and excursions. The watch uses solar power; thus, it never runs out of battery.
Fitness tracking is one of the important activities that products of these smartwatch brands do. Both Garmin and Fitbit have excellent fitness tracking features; thus, it is difficult to decide on the better of the two when it comes to fitness tracking. Let’s examine the different aspects of fitness tracking and how the trackers from these two brands fare.
Because the algorithm that tracks the fitness and heart rate runs in the background, there is no way to actually compare and decide which the better of the two is. Moreover, when the tracking results come around, one sees a little difference between the results and its accuracy. However, Fitbit offers faster and more accurate fitness tracking results between the two brands.
This is another aspect of fitness tracking that we should consider. As a first impression, Fitbit comes out great with the simple way to present its resting heart rate data. The Fitbit Sense watch provides you with a standard medical heart reading style through its ECG sensor. Moreover, the watch comes with a temperature monitor indicating the state of the user’s body system.
On the other hand, Garmin provides an excellent information system on the heart rate via exercise. You get more information on heart rate zones and VO2 Max. While these parameters may not make sense to you, they help compute and provide information on the effect of training, stress, and load on your heart.
Winner: Draw (go Fitbit for lifestyle, Garmin for sport)
There was a lag in Garmin products' ability to accurately track sleeping durations and levels in the past. However, there has been an upgrade to these products to successfully track light, deep, and REM sleep. Garmin now has sensors that allow it to factor in the respiration rate and blood oxygen level in tracking sleeping duration and levels.
On the other hand, Fitbit has the necessary sensors and features to track your sleep stages and duration. It uses heart rate to compute the sleeping stages. The edge that Fitbit has over Garmin regarding sleep tracking is the number of insights and information provided. While Garmin products have a lot of advanced metrics, it doesn’t provide the same quality insights that Fitbit products provide.
Stress and Recovery
The major difference between the stress tracking features of the two brands is the system used. The system used by Fitbit comes by the name Relax. This system uses the inbuilt heart rate monitor and the HRV monitor to track your heart rate and breathing patterns. This system then offers different personalized breathing options to help calm you down, based on the heart rate and breathing patterns observed.
The Fitbit Sense watch uses an EDA scan application to measure electrodermal activity, which is an indicator of your body’s response to stress. Finally, Fitbit’s Versa and Charge 4 uses another system to monitor the resting heart rate, a metric that shows your overall state of health. Fitbit products use these systems and features to provide accurate information on the body’s stress level and possible recovery options.
Garmin, on the other hand, uses almost similar systems and approaches. You will at least find similar features with products such as Vivosmart 4, Vivoactive 3, Fenix 5, and 5 Plus Range.
However, Garmin goes an extra mile by providing information on the effect of training and exercises on the body’s stress level. This helps ensure that you are not overtraining, nor are you putting your body under undue and unhealthy stress in the name of exercising.
Winner: Garmin (for sport) and Fitbit (for serious health)
Female Health Tracking
The two brands' female health tracking features allow you to provide data on occurrences of headaches and cramps. Using these provided data, Fitbit will be able to analyze whether or not you are in your menstrual period. Also, it will predict the next period based on these data.
On the flipside, Garmin allows you to provide data on your symptoms, track your menstrual cycle, and provide predictions on the next menstrual and fertile periods. You also get educational insights from the Garmin Connect App associated with Garmin smartwatches.
By providing information on mood, sleep, diet and appetite, and athletic performance, female users can track and monitor the fluctuations in these metrics in relation to their overall physical and emotional health.
Every aspect of the brands’ platform matters when comparing and trying to select the better of the two. While some people pay a lot of attention to these brands' design and hardware, it is the ecosystem and the apps that matter most in comparisons like this.
The reason is that the ecosystem and apps determine the features and benefits you get from these brands’ products. Hence, the better the apps, the better the brand. Let’s compare the applications and ecosystem of these two brands.
One of the advantages that the Fitbit app has is it’s easy to use application and interface. It is rounded, and most users won’t have to sweat a bit to use this app. This is against the downside of not providing the most detailed metrics, especially after a workout.
As a result, beginners and new users will find it very easy to track their sleeping and workout rate. They will also find it easy to get trends and insights on the state of their health and the effect of exercises on their overall health. There is also the social aspect where users can link up with friends and complete challenges on the Fitbit ecosystem.
The Fitbit app allows you to track your sleep duration, level, and quality through a feature known as Sleep Score. This feature tells you the number of breathing interruptions you have during sleep and how it affected your sleep quality. With this feature, it is safe to argue that Fitbit has the best sleep tracker in the business.
Finally, the Fitbit ecosystem allows for collaborations with third-party apps. You can thus exchange data on exercises and workouts, diet, appetite and calories, and other information that you may wish to exchange. An example of a third-party application allowed by Fitbit is Strava.
Strava is a collaborative app that allows you to feed your Fitbit daily stats with your runs and other data. O the other hand, any Fitbit activities will also show up on the Strava app. When Fitbit manufactured and launched Ionic, an app store came with the product.
Although there were some beginner problems with the app store at inception, the app store grew over time and has now found acceptance with bodies like the New York Times, Yelp, Philip Hue, and many others.
As with its competitor, Garmin also has an application that serves as the home of all activities, which is called Connect. There is also Connect IQ, an app store where you can get new watch faces and apps. The Connect App is a companion app, which means that it works with all Garmin products. You can also sync the app to a desktop platform for easy planning, tracking, and review of your activities.
One of the standout features of the Garmin app is its detailed data and information provided. As the Performance Stats section of the Garmin app, you will get a thorough insight into your activities for a stated period.
Also, the Garmin app store, Connect IQ, offers better options and personalization features than the Fitbit app store for the purpose of comparison. You get impressive interfaces and watch faces on the app store, in conjunction with numerous Connect IQ applications.
Garmin is popular when it comes to sports tracking (due to its dedication to producing sports watches). However, how much of a difference is there between Fitbit and Garmin's offerings with regards to sports tracking? Let’s find the answer to this question below.
GPS Tracked Workouts
Only Charge 4 and Versa 3 are the Fitbit products with GPS features. This means that, should you possess any other Fitbit products, your phone is the most likely device for GPS tracking. Even at that, most people do not appreciate using phones during workout sessions, while the position of the phone may throw the GPS sometimes.
The obvious option here is Garmin. Garmin products allow you to track GPS-related activities such as hiking, running, triathlon training, and others. There is also a Garmin UltraTrac device that works for longer distances while conversing battery life.
As an upside to Fitbit’s offerings, it now has four products that can tolerate water and swimming operations. These products include Ionic, Versa, Charge 4, and Flex 2. Having said that, none of these products offers open water swimming tracking.
However, the entirety of Garmin’s products are water-resistant and can track swimming activities. It should not surprise you that ordinary running watches also have pol swimming features. Thus, Garmin offers better products for swimming activities with water resistance, metrics accuracy, and reliability.
Heart Rate in Workouts
Generally, heart rate metrics provided by both brands are accurate and impressive. However, concerning sporting activities, Garmin stands clear ahead.
Both brands have products that track heart rates during sport sessions, provide information on heart zones, and rest heart rate improvements. There is no disparity in this aspect of their features.
But regarding VO2 max, Garmin provides more accurate metrics than Fitbit. While users of Fitbit products know it as Cardio Fitness Score, the score is usually higher than the accurate rate. Also, the Forerunner by Garmin provides more information on these heart metrics.
Moreover, a lot of Gamin watches allow you to link up with a chest strap during HIIT sessions. You cannot enjoy this feature with any Fitbit device. This is a massive advantage over Fitbit.
From the comparisons done above, it is clear that both of these brands are top names in the fitness tracking and smartwatch business.
Why Choose Fitbit?
Firstly, it is clear that any beginner interested in using fitness bands and smartwatches should go for Fitbit. This is because of the ease of use and simplified insights that you get from Fitbit devices. Moreover, Fitbit gives you more rounded and lifestyle features that are useful in different aspects of a user’s daily life.
Thus, if you are more invested in personal health and wellness, Fitbit is for you. This way, you can enjoy the brand’s impressive sleep tracking feature and other advanced health metrics such as guided breathing and VO2 max.
Why Choose Garmin?
While Garmin has some series and collections that appeal more to beginners and personal wellness enthusiasts, you get more exercise and sport-inclined devices with Garmin. Save the Vivo series that is easy to use and geared towards personal wellness; other watches are best suited for sporting activities.
The design and appearance are not the best around, but you get more features with this brand. These features allow you to get more insights into the state of your health before, during, and after the workout or sporting activities.
Thus, if you are down for getting sweaty, sporty, or swimming, Garmin is the brand for you.