Should you buy a smart watch vs a fitness tracker? With so many choices, deciding which one is best for you can be challenging. This article analyzes the advantages and disadvantages of these two devices. You will have a better overview and easily decide whether to buy a smart watch with integrated features or an advanced fitness tracker at a reasonable price.

What Is a Fitness Tracker?

“Fitness trackers” is a broad term, but the general concept is that these devices are intended to be used for tracking things related to fitness. The features to do it vary, but the goal is the same.

Fitness trackers can outlast smartwatches due to their more uncomplicated nature. Features for fitness tracking range from simple step tracking to advanced heart rate and blood oxygen measurements.

a fitness tracker has less features than a smartwatch

Although both can track fitness, there is still a difference between smart watch vs fitness tracker

However, not all fitness trackers are created equal. For example, the Fitbit Inspire 2 can do as many basic fitness tracking activities as you want for $100. For an extra $30, you can get the Fitbit Charge 5 with the addition of GPS, blood oxygen, electrocardiogram, colour touchscreen, and more.

What Is a Smartwatch?

Smartwatches have a lot in common with fitness trackers. Many smartwatches — such as the Apple Watch — focus on health and fitness. Almost every smartwatch is also a fitness tracker, but not the opposite, not every fitness tracker is a smartwatch.

Simply put, a smartwatch does more than a fitness tracker. Apps, notifications, music controls, microphone for phone calls, speaker, NFC, cellular connectivity, GPS and touchscreen.

While smartwatches can do more, it’s a less focused experience than a fitness tracker. Almost all smartwatches have some physical activity tracking capabilities, but not all have advanced features like blood oxygen and electrocardiogram (some do). A smartwatch may have more features overall, but they span more things.

Actually, a smartwatch is a miniature version of your smartphone. It’s a device that aims to do many different things.

See more: Values of the smart watch.

Pros and cons of a fitness tracker

At a basic level, an activity or fitness tracker can give you insights into your daily activity, tracking your steps, calories, or sleep. More advanced devices support specific types of exercise or sports, such as running, cycling, swimming, or golfing. Others also offer multi-sport tracking so you can track your entire workout, from the treadmill to the swimming pool.

Some have more advanced sensors for monitoring, such as heart rate monitors, and some basic smart notifications like text or email. Devices with built-in GPS can work independently of your phone, meaning you can leave your phone at home while jogging or cycling.

  • Pros: Normally, a fitness tracker is cheaper than a smartwatch, so it is a good option if you’re on a tighter budget. Many models are designed with comfort in mind so that you can wear them all day without a problem. Advanced equipment is available for specific activities and sports but at a higher price. Therefore, you should consider choosing between a high-priced fitness tracker and a smart watch.
  • Cons: Concentration is also the downside of this device, as they are only valuable for fitness. They cannot integrate other functions and applications, such as smart phone notifications or music playback.

Pros and cons of a smart phone

A smartwatch’s biggest strength is its ability to link notifications from your smartphone, such as messages, calls, emails, directions, calendar appointments, and social media messages, in comfort and style.

They allow you to easily view and respond to announcements, dictate text or email replies, or send ‘smart’ responses, and most of all, they have to deal with the basics, at least activity and fitness tracking.

The smartwatch will also allow you to quickly view your workout details or smart notifications without taking out your phone, thanks to a larger screen than a fitness tracker.

As mentioned, some are equipped with sensors and technology for running, swimming or exploring the great outdoors. They may include:

  • Altimeter – uses barometric pressure or GPS data to tell you how high you are above sea level so that you can pinpoint your location on a map.
  • Barometer – records changes in barometric pressure, so you can predict whether the weather will worsen or improve. Some can even warn you if they sense a storm is coming.
  • Navigation features – location tracking services (such as GPS, Glonass and Galileo), compass, visual maps and the option to save ‘memories’ of the routes you have taken and add descriptions to them
  • Thermometer – can help you plan what to wear when hiking
  • Running metrics – such as pace, cadence, altitude, customizable workouts, and insights into your performance and recovery time
  • Swimming-specific metrics – such as speed, distance, SWOLF (a measure of your swimming performance)
  • Compatibility with chest heart rate monitors – these are more accurate than heart rate readings from your wrist.
  • Some are built to be exceptionally durable, with sturdy straps and scratch-resistant screens.

Pros and cons of smart watches

  • Pros: Devices with enhanced intelligence are excellent for updating and responding to notifications. The best sports watches offer accurate fitness trackings, such as step, distance and heart rate tracking, and even more detailed sports metrics.
  • Cons: Overall, the smartwatch is more expensive than the fitness tracker. And many of them have short battery life, so frequent, even daily, recharging will be required. 

See more details about the advantages and disadvantages of smart watch.

When to buy a fitness tracker

Although all can track fitness, in general, there is still a big difference between smart watch vs fitness tracker. Therefore, you should choose the device according to personal purposes and preferences

When you spend a lot of time in fitness

Because of its long battery life, this is a suitable device for you. In addition to tracking your sports activity, the fitness tracker has enough battery life to track your sleep.

You only have a small budget.

The extensive price gap between fitness tracker and smartwatch is a factor that influences buyer decisions. Choose a fitness tracker if you don’t have much budget and just want to focus on fitness tracking.

When to buy a smartphone?

You want something stylish

To be fair, smartwatches look a bit better than fitness trackers with more functionality. That makes them an obvious choice for style.

You want to work out and still be able to keep track of your work

While smartwatches are still largely phone-based, they give you more autonomy. Especially when you work out, you can still monitor messages and notifications or track work without carrying a phone with you.

The bottom line

Above is a comparison between smart watch vs fitness tracker. Both of these devices have their own pros and cons, so depending on your needs and purposes, you should choose the right device for yourself.