The future seems bright for smartwatches. This year, the war between Apple and Fitbit released heated up dramatically after the hardware giant seemed to move in on the fitness wearable company’s territory by equipping its new smartwatch with an array of new fitness and health features.
In light of the Series 4’s pivot to consumer health — which include an EKG reader — it’s fair to wonder again how it will stack up against the Charge 3, which tried to improve upon its more long-held reputation in the fitness field.
In terms of market share alone, it’s not really a contest. Apple dominated a majority of the wearables global market coming in at 16.1 percent, according to the International Data Corporation. While Fitbit boxed out 8.7 percent of the market in the same analysis.
So has Fitbit poised itself to make a triumphant comeback? Or will Apple hold its grip on consumers’ wrists?
Apple Watch Series 4 vs. Fitbit: Price and Release Date
Costs for the products are vastly different. While the Apple Watch has distanced itself from its once exclusively luxurious aesthetic, by discontinuing it’s $10,000 Watch Edition, the Series 4 is still pinned to a hefty price tag. A basic model with just GPS capabilities starts at $399, but that can jump to as much as $849 depending on the size of the face, band, material, and if you want LTE support. The Apple Watch went on sale on September 14 and is currently available for purchase.
The Fitbit Charge 3 will cost you half as much. The fitness tracker will start at $149.95 for the baseline model and $169.95 for the model that can communicate with your smartphone using Near-field communication (NFC). Both are available for pre-order and will be released on October 7.
Apple Watch Series 4 vs. Fitbit: How the Features Stack Up
The Series 4 comes loaded with applications that work seamlessly with the iPhone. But its two newest marquee features are the built-in electrocardiogram (EKG) heart monitor and fall detection.
Previous Apple Watches used photoplethysmography, or PPG, to track users’ pulse by converting light from two green LEDs into an electrical current which tracked the amount of blood flowing through your wrist. EKG is much more powerful, and can measure minuscule electrical changes on the skin caused by the heart muscle expanding and contracting with electrodes. Doctors use this tech.
Integrated fall detection will also probably help the Series 4 appeal to an older demographic, as well as people with potentially hazardous jobs or those that love extreme sports.
This feature actively looks for a “significant, hard fall” and immobility, so don’t worry about accidentally calling the ambulance. Someone needs to and stay still for a minute before the Series 4 begins a 15-second countdown to alert emergency services.
For its part, Fitbit’s biggest selling point is probably its compatibility between mobile phone platforms. The Apple Watch is specifically geared towards iPhones, while the Fitbit app can get you phone notifications from an Android phone or iOS device in a snap. All you have to do is download and sync up. Android users, then, have very little incentive to buy an Apple Watch, as they would be missing out on a majority of its features.
Women looking for women’s health tracking may also prefer the Charge 3. While Apple’s Series 4 offers similar features, they’re buried in various tabs and menus while the Charge gives its women’s health tracking features much more prominent placement.
Women can track their menstrual cycle, visualize fertile windows, and get easy access to medical reading material, while also having access to a community support forum. These features are partially included in Apple’s product but seem to be tacked on, while Fitbit has made it a point to make them front and center.
Apple Watch Series 4 vs. Fitbit: Specs
The Series 4 comes with 40-millimeters or 44mm watch faces in either stainless steel or aluminum cases. All variants come packing the S4 processor that has been found in tests to be able to perform as well as an iPhone 6S. Apple says the OLED display is 30 percent larger than that of the Series 3, giving users a bit more screen real-estate this year, with up to 18-hours of battery life.
The Charge 3, on the other hand, comes with one 39.8mm display size and only comes with an aluminum case. Fitbit says its OLED display offers 40 percent more space than the Charge 2. The Charge 3 lives up to its name and is advertised to have a 7-day battery life, blowing the Series 4 out of the water in that aspect.