Smartwatches Vs. Fitness Trackers – The Major Differences

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Smartwatches and fitness trackers both provide some of the same features to users. They might even serve the same purpose for some users too.

They're also both fairly different in some respects and one of them is usually a better fit for consumers than the other. Which one is right for you personally? That depends. And that's really a question you can only answer for yourself.

Chances are that if you only want to track a few things related to your fitness, then the tracker is probably your best bet. It'll ultimately have less stuff you will need to fiddle with. Which means it will also be easier to use. Or it should be anyway.

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It would also cost less. And, you wouldn't be spending money for something as powerful as a smartwatch for features you'd never touch.

This post will help break down major differences between the two types of devices. Should you be looking to get one or the other, you can compare the two with the information here.

Smartwatches and fitness trackers usually have a vastly different cost

When it comes to buying new tech, one thing that most people will take into consideration is the cost.

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While not all smartwatches are hundreds of dollars, most of them are significantly more expensive than your fitness tracker. Some of the more established brands, like Samsung and Fitbit, have sold trackers for upwards of $150.

Right now in fact the Fitbit Charge 4 is retailing for $150. But most smartwatches tend to cost upwards of $250-$300. Or more depending on the brand, its specs, and feature set.

Many if not most trackers, are in the sub-$100 range. So from a purely cost standpoint, that put trackers at a big advantage for anyone looking to spend as little money as possible.

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Fitness trackers tend to have a smaller footprint

Fitness trackers don't just usually have a smaller price point, they tend to have a smaller footprint too.

Meaning they take up less space on your wrist and, in most cases they weigh less. So there feels like there's less fatigue on your wrist from the wearable. This also plays a little bit into the comfort.

If the tracker weighs less, it might actually be more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time. But this isn't always the case. Sometimes the materials used on trackers feel more rigid and/or irritating to the skin. Especially after sweat gets under them.

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For the most part though, trackers are smaller and don't weigh as much. So if you're looking for something lightweight, then a tracker might be the right fit for you. The bonus is also save some money.

Smartwatches have bigger displays

Another obvious difference between smartwatches and fitness trackers is the display size. This doesn't always translate to being able to see the display better especially if you're trying to view things in bright sunlight.

It does make things easier a lot of the time though. The bigger displays make more room for the content on the display, and this can translate to bigger icons. Which you may not need to struggle as much to see.

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There's nothing worse than having to squint just to figure out whatever's on your wearable display.

And if you get the right smartwatch the display might be fairly good quality, with high visibility in direct sunlight, too.

Smartwatches have more features than fitness trackers

It can be both a blessing and a curse. A Pro and a con. Smartwatches have more features than fitness trackers and that's due to the overall possibilities of what you can do with them.

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They were designed to offer you apps on a larger scale. To work with your smartphone as an extension of the device so that you don't always need to pull your phone out of your pocket to do something. Whether it be to read a message or skip a track in your Spotify playlist.

Some fitness trackers can offer this too. But by nature they aren't smartwatches. And they're not designed to bring you all the things that a smartwatch can. They're more about simplicity and fitness. So the focus is exercise data and things that go along with it.

If you want something with a whole lot of features, then a smartwatch should be your go-to. If you'd rather not deal with all that and you just want something that can read notification alerts, track some of your fitness data, and show you the time, a fitness trackers is what you need.

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Most smartwatches are severely lacking in battery life

Some smartwatches have pretty good battery life, but fitness trackers take the cake here. There are more than a few fitness trackers that will last for a week or more.

By comparison smartwatches, especially if they're Wear OS by Google, will struggle to last even a few days. In fact you'll be lucky if any Wear OS by Google smartwatches last you entire week without turning off everything that makes it more useful than a fitness tracker.

This along with cost, is probably one of the most important things to consider when looking at purchasing either one. Because if the battery life sucks, then your device will be low on power A LOT.

At that point you will either need to be ok with charging it as often as it would need, or deal with it running out of power when you're in the middle of using it. Which no one in their right mind would want.

As a recommendation, look for something with really long battery life. You'll be thinking about one less thing as often. Which means you can focus on more important things. Ideally, if you don't have to charge your wearable until the end of the week, perhaps on a Sunday night so it's ready for Monday morning and the next week, that's your target.

Smartwatches have more customization

The more popular fitness trackers will have options for different bands or straps, but smartwatches really have a lot more customization here.

This day and age smartwatches are designed to fit with your standard watch strap sizes. And on top of that they're easily swappable. Which means you can customize them with almost any strap or band you want.

If you want a luxury strap for your smartwatch there's a really good chance you can add one to it. Maybe you just want something that looks cool but only costs $25.

Scroll through Amazon and you'll probably find what you're looking for. This is one of the big benefits of smartwatches. You might even already have a favorite strap that you use with another watch and want to wear it on your smartwatch too.

Fitness trackers unfortunately don't have this capability, and are limited to the options the brand makes specifically for them. If you want customization options, go with a smartwatch.

In the end, both have their strengths and weaknesses

Neither device is really the perfect fit for everyone as each person will have something a little different they're looking for.

You might be ok with spending more money if it means more features and a larger display. Then again maybe you really just want the best battery life possible. In which case the fitness tracker will almost always win.

Either way, both are a good option for adding some functionality to your everyday life. Whether it's fitness-related, work-related, entertainment-related, or a mixture of all of it.