With the rapid expansion of the wearable tech market, we’re starting to see a lot of variants out there, both in terms of models and brands. There are numerous devices available out there, and it can be confusing to decide which one to opt for. If you’re in the market for one of these, a common question that comes up is whether to go for a smartwatch or a fitness tracker.

Smartwatches are multipurpose devices that come with a lot of features. This device is much more than a watch and often has a camera and fitness tracker built in. However, even with advanced features and a dedicated fitness app, a smartwatch is not the same as a fitness tracker. There are quite a few differences between them.

The Differences between Fitness Trackers and Smartwatches

Fitness tracking devices are available from a number of brands like Fitbit, Misfit, and Garmin. The Apple watch is the most well-known smartwatch out there, but there are also plenty of Android compatible devices out there like the Samsung Gear Sport and the Gear S3.

There are some fundamental differences between Smartwatches and Fitness trackers. Smartwatches are multipurpose devices that can be used to perform a number of functions. In addition to tracking fitness, they can also give you notifications and run a large number of apps. When it comes to fitness trackers, as the name suggests, the primary function is to measure various fitness aspects such as calories burned, heart rate, sleep quality and distance covered. Let’s take an in-depth look at fitness trackers and smartwatches – differences and common functionalities between them.


The most significant difference between smartwatches and fitness trackers is the screen. For instance, the Apple Watch 3 has a 312 x 390 resolution OLED screen which is as good as those on top smartphones. On the other hand, the screen is not usually a prominent part of a fitness tracker. This is because they are GPS enabled and battery life is much more important. Screens drain a lot of energy, and a large and colorful display is not as important for a fitness tracker.


The hardware elements that come in a GPS watch are extremely important since they need to be able to reflect variations immediately to offer accurate activity tracking. This is particularly important when you’re performing activities like trail running or interval training workouts. These hardware elements include Heart Rate sensors and GPS trackers. Some advanced fitness trackers also come with thermometers and altimeters.

These hardware elements are given preference over others like internal storage since most fitness trackers have limited physical space. When it comes to smartwatches, internal storage is very important, since a lot of different apps are downloaded and stored on them. This makes them similar to smartphones.

Fitness Tracking

Both fitness trackers and smartwatches perform daily fitness tracking activities. However, dedicated fitness trackers do have some significant advantages over watches in terms of analyzing daily activities. Fitness tracking such as calories burnt, sleep tracking, step counting, and others do require some amount of hardware and software specialization.

There are some drawbacks to using a smartwatch to track daily activity. Smart watches have short battery lives and need to be recharged on a daily basis. This may get in the way of regular sleep tracking. Another downside is the social sharing aspect. Since fitness trackers have been around for longer, their systems are more refined, and they have more developed social networks. So if you want a device for purely fitness tracking reasons, you’re probably better off going for a dedicated fitness tracker.

Fitness Tracker vs. Smartwatch: Our Verdict

If your key focus is fitness, and you don’t really need the extra features that come with a smartwatch, you’re probably better off purchasing a fitness tracker. These are better at their core function and typically cost less than smartwatches.

Once you’ve decided which one to opt for, the next step is to look at the various brands available out there. If you use an iPhone and love Apple products, then the Apple Watch Series 3 is the one for you. The Samsung Gear S3 is an excellent option for Android users since it comes with the Samsung Health platform and can also perform run-tracking with GPS.

If you decide to go with a fitness tracker, an entry-level Fitbit is a good option to get started with. It is a relatively small investment, and you can test it out to see if it helps you with your fitness goals. If you feel like you need more advanced features, you can then go in for a better model.

Keep in mind that while these devices and advancements can help, it’s ultimately up to you to get out there and run, jog or hit the gym. But a good fitness tracker or a smartwatch is definitely a step in the right direction towards better health.

One Reply to “Fitness Tracker and Smartwatch: Difference Decoded!”

  1. The biggest difference is that one of them is actually useful and worth buying, and the other one is just a dumb gimmick that no one really wants or needs.

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