What’s the Distinction Between Smartwatches and Health Trackers? – Evaluation Geek


Fitbit, Apple

Wearable units are extra frequent than ever earlier than. However paradoxically, the phrases “health tracker” and “smartwatch” have solely grown extra complicated. Folks have a tough time understanding how these product classes are totally different—an issue that results in dissatisfied prospects and wasted cash.

Each health trackers and smartwatches have a spot on this world. However we’re going to attempt to discover which product belongs in your wrist.

Health Trackers Prioritize Well being and Train

An illustration of the Fitbit Charge 5 fitness tracker.

Practically each part of a health tracker revolves round well being and train. Health trackers use distinctive sensors to log your coronary heart price, sleep, exercises, stress stage, and extra. They include easy-to-use software program that encourages wholesome habits, they’re normally swim-resistant, they usually typically final for a number of days on a cost.

Health trackers should join together with your cellphone to offer detailed well being and health readings. The display of a health tracker can present your coronary heart price and step depend, nevertheless it’s too small for graphs or charts.

Additionally, most health trackers depend on the person’s smartphone for GPS performance. Some folks gained’t want GPS monitoring, nevertheless it’s helpful for cyclists or runners who need to look again at their route and see the place they slowed down, sped up, or hit an attention-grabbing coronary heart price. (Some health trackers include GPS built-in, which saves you from taking a cellphone in your run.)

However in recent times, health trackers have turn out to be extra “smartwatch-like.” It’s not unusual for a health tracker to point out notifications for textual content or calls, for instance, and NFC contactless cost help is normally included in high-end health trackers.

And a few health trackers appear like smartwatches! The Fitbit Sense, for instance, has a big full-color touchscreen show. However as you’ll be taught in a minute, there’s extra to a smartwatch than an enormous display.

Smartwatches Broaden Your Smartphone’s Capabilities

Apple Watch Series 8 in multiple colors.

A smartwatch makes use of cutting-edge options to broaden the capabilities of your cellphone. Smartwatches place a novel emphasis on communication, sensible residence management, and work-related duties. They typically help a ton of apps, together with issues like Spotify or Google Maps, which you’ll be able to management out of your wrist.

Your common smartwatch makes use of a big colour touchscreen show. And in case you pay further, it could even help mobile connectivity. This lets you go for a stroll with out your smartphone and nonetheless stream music, obtain calls or texts, or carry out most different duties.

Well being and health is a large a part of this equation, by the best way. Smartwatches can observe your train, sleep, and coronary heart price. Costly items just like the Apple Watch or Galaxy Watch have a tendency to supply the identical fitness-focused options as a correct health tracker. Plus, they’re normally water resistant for swimming and supply guided workout routines for a small month-to-month payment.

However well being and health are hardly ever a smartwatch’s major promoting level. And in reality, health trackers have an enormous leg up on this space—they have an inclination to final a number of days on a cost, and naturally, they typically promote for beneath $100. Evaluate that to the common smartwatch, which must cost on daily basis and should price a number of hundred {dollars}.

The Distinction Isn’t At all times Clear

The Galaxy Watch 5 in a maze.

Years in the past, the distinction between a health tracker and smartwatch was fairly clear-cut. A health tracker was a glorified pedometer, whereas a smartwatch was an extension of your smartphone.

However we’ve reached some extent the place health trackers and smartwatches fulfill related duties. You’ll be able to obtain texts or carry out contactless funds on a Fitbit, for instance, and each self-respecting smartwatch comprises superior sensors for well being and health.

The rising demand for large-screened health trackers has additionally muddied the waters. We now have merchandise just like the Fitbit Sense, which has an enormous display and presents a really restricted choice of “smartwatch options.” I’m inclined to name the Fitbit Sense a health tracker, however I wouldn’t bat a watch if a journalist or reviewer referred to as it a smartwatch—the excellence isn’t all the time clear.

That mentioned, don’t get too hung up on phrases like “health tracker” or “smartwatch.” These phrases are useful when attempting to explain a tool’s performance, however they by no means paint a full image.

Which Ought to You Purchase?

The Garmin Venu 2S on my wrist
Cameron Summerson / Evaluation Geek

For some folks, selecting a smartwatch or health tracker is a straightforward process. When you solely care about well being and health, a Fitbit Cost is simple to suggest. And in case you’re massive on taking calls or controlling Spotify out of your wrist, there’s all the time the Apple Watch or Galaxy Watch, which virtually double as health trackers.

However perhaps your wants aren’t so simple. Perhaps you need the absolute best health expertise with a number of smartwatch options—that’s the place merchandise just like the Fitbit Sense or the Garmin Venu come into play. These units toe the road between “health tracker” and “smartwatch.”

Heck, you possibly can even ditch this two-party system for a 3rd possibility; the hybrid smartwatch. In easy phrases, a hybrid smartwatch is simply an analog watch with fundamental “sensible” options. I’m an enormous fan of the Withings ScanWatch, because it tracks issues like train and coronary heart price with out changing into an enormous distraction.

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