Ready to get a fitness tracker or smartwatch? Like buying any new technology gadget, you should carefully consider your options when shopping for a fitness tracker or smartwatch. If you’re in the market for a wearable device, you will find many options from different companies with a variety of features and trade-offs. Here are the key factors you should keep in mind when buying a fitness tracker or smartwatch.
1. Form Factor
Unlike smartwatches which tend to follow a few basic design conventions, fitness trackers come in various shapes and forms. You can wear some on the wrist while others are clip-on devices or even rings that you can wear on a finger. Still, most of the fitness trackers on the market are worn on the wrist.
You might pick one form factor over the other solely based on preference, but each has its advantages and disadvantages. A clip-on or ring might be a good alternative if you don’t like wearing a device on your wrist but it could be easier to lose than a watch that’s strapped on.
On the other hand, wearables in the form of bracelets or watches are convenient and hard to lose, but they may feel uncomfortable to wear for long periods or even interfere with your other activities. If you prefer to wear the device on your wrist, a smartwatch is generally more stylish and can complement your outfit.
Straight off the bat, fitness trackers can be much cheaper than smartwatches. That’s typically because of the difference in features and priorities. For starters, a smartwatch is a wearable device with a form factor similar to what you get on a regular wristwatch. The connectivity, sensors, and computer smarts are just some of the aspects that differentiate them from regular wristwatches.
Smartwatches can measure different fitness and health factors and, on top of that, they can provide you with a convenient interface for interacting with your smartphone. Aside from the robust functionality, they are also generally aesthetically pleasing.
Fitness trackers are typically more limited, but that’s a feature, not a problem. Fitness trackers are designed to be simple, resilient, and good at collecting data. Fitness trackers have their pros and cons, but their focus on practicality makes many of them cheaper than smartwatches. If you have a tight budget, you should consider a fitness tracker.
3. Tracking Capabilities
Companies equip these wearable devices with a host of different sensors. Generally, the more sensors a device has, the better since you can measure different factors. Wearables can track your heart rate, body temperature, steps while walking, speed of movement, blood oxygen, sleep, and more. As such, you need to know your needs before you can identify which device will be your best option.
Why are you shopping for a tracking device? You may want help in your weight loss journey or a device to promote effective training. You might want to hit a number of steps every day or track your hydration. Depending on your goal, you will have to prioritize specific tracking abilities over others. The abilities included should be the ones that resonate with your goals.
For instance, if you want to keep track of your steps, you don’t need to buy an all-around device like the Apple Watch Series 7 or Fitbit Charge 5. It’s probably not worth the high price. In fact, maybe you shouldn’t buy a fitness tracker or smartwatch as your phone can probably already do what you need.
Since you will depend on your tracking device to inform different areas of your life, it should be able to provide accurate measurements. Sadly, smartwatches and fitness trackers are not medically certified devices, so don’t expect 100 percent accuracy.
Fitbit’s safety information says, “unless otherwise specified, Fitbit products and services are not medical devices, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.” The company adds that the accuracy of its products is not intended to match those of medical devices or scientific measurements.
The same applies to other tracking devices, as well. However, you can try to check for scientific reviews of different tracking devices to see how accurate they are in comparison to medical-grade devices. At times, companies might also provide this information, although it’s often found deep in user guides or online documentation.
5. Battery Life
A tracking device should be your everyday companion. For that, it ought to have excellent battery life, and, fortunately, most of them do. Generally, smartwatches tend to have less battery life compared to dedicated fitness trackers.
The key reason for that is often the brighter displays with better display technology. Many fitness trackers can last as long as two weeks, while smartwatches have to trade off longer battery life for advanced functionality and better displays.
A good smartwatch should still last a couple of days before running out of juice. But the more features you use (including apps, notifications, sensors, and complications), the more you’ll drain the battery. Before splurging on any tracking device, check online reviews about its real-life battery life.
6. Water Resistance
Water resistance is just as important when shopping for a smartwatch or fitness tracker. The good news is that many are increasingly shipping with this feature out of the box. For example, Fitbit Charge 5 and Xiaomi Mi Band 6 offer water resistance up to 50 m (about 164 feet) deep. The extent of water resistance varies across models, so check out the specifications for each device you consider.
And don’t confuse splash resistance with water resistance. Devices that are splash-resistant should not be submerged in water. For peace of mind, ensure it can withstand water for an extended period without damage. Dust resistance, which is available on the Apple Watch Series 7, is also a plus.
7. Comfort Fit
One of the ways to get the most out of your fitness tracker is to ensure it fits well. A snug fit may also ensure that your tracking device provides more accurate measurements. An all-day activity tracker should be comfortable since you will be wearing your device much of the time. Plus, it should be comfortable to wear while you’re sleeping.
How to Select a Fitness Tracker or Smartwatch That Suits Your Needs
To find a suitable device, you must consider your needs above all else. What exactly do you plan to achieve with your purchase? Once you know your goal, the next question is whether you need a smartwatch or a fitness tracker. As mentioned before, smartwatches are generally pricier but more robust than most fitness trackers.
If you don’t care about all the additional functionalities a smartwatch provides, you’re better off picking a fitness tracker. If you want all the bells and whistles and are willing to splurge, then go for a smartwatch.