Which should I choose – an Apple Watch or Fitbit? This is a key question for the majority of buyers in the market for a wearable, particularly if fitness is your thing. Both watches come packing premium features – but how do they compare and which one is best?
Here to help answer those questions, we’ve created this guide detailing how the two compare at a technical level, plus our day-to-day experience with them while writing our in-depth reviews.
There isn’t a huge difference in price between the Fitbit Sense and Apple Watch 6, so it’s likely that you’ll need consider a few features rather than basing your decision purely on cost.
The Apple Watch 6 costs £379, while the Fitbit Sense comes in cheaper at £299.99, which is more in line with the Apple Watch SE.
|Price UK (£)||Price US ($)||Price EU (€)|
|Apple Watch 6||£379.00||£399.00||€679.00|
Both are premium fitness trackers, which makes choosing between them tough. Fortunately, we’ve done the hard work for you, having physically tested both devices extensively for features, performance and benchmark data by Trusted Labs.
The Apple Watch 6 impresses at first glance, sporting a pebble-shaped chassis with a digital crown and always-on display. Equipped with all the bells and whistles that its predecessors were lacking, it includes sleep tracking and a nifty new SpO2 (oxygen saturation) sensor for measuring blood oxygen levels.
This makes it a little more technically advanced than the Fitbit Sense, which features a very similar-looking main chassis, with the only difference being the absence of a digital crown control.
However, throughout testing we found both devices super-easy to use; the Apple Watch’s always-on, variable refresh rate screen and digital crown are key differentiators.
The crown lets you swipe through menus and interact with the Apple Watch without having to touch the screen. This is a big deal if you plan to use the watch during exercise – trusts us when we say that touchscreens and sweaty digits don’t play nice together.
The always-on, variable refresh rate screen lets the Apple Watch permanently display incoming notifications and the time, just like a normal time piece, without impacting battery life. The Apple Watch screen can lower its refresh rate to 1Hz when needed, reducing the screen’s battery drain.
The Sense’s 1.58-inch AMOLED screen looked wonderful during testing, too, and it does have an always-on setting. However, its locked 60Hz rating heavily impacts the device’s battery – more on this later.
Under the hood, though, the Sense offers a definite upgrade on the Fitbit Versa 2, coming loaded with Electrodermal Activity (EDA) to monitor stress and Electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors for heart rate, and a similar SpO2 to the one seen on the Apple Watch.
Fitness and health features comparison
In addition to onboard music, message notifications, hands-free calling and contactless payments, both the Apple and Fitbit are loaded with premium health and activity-tracking features that give both wearables a serious edge over their predecessors.
ECG monitoring is feature of both devices, as are excellent trackers for steps, sleep and calorie counting. When it comes to stress management, Fitbit has the edge. While the Apple Watch 6 comes with a built-in breathing app, the Fitbit Sense uses its EDA sensor to alert you to stress and includes mediation tools for improving mental health.
In addition, the Fitbit allows for more in-depth sleep analysis, whereas Apple is better suited for monitoring and improving set sleep goals.
|Apple Watch 6||Fitbit Sense|
|Heart Rate Monitor||Yes||Yes|
|Blood Oxygen (SpO2)||Yes||Yes|
When it comes to general wellness tracking, however, the Apple Watch is much more advanced. The ECG offering is more developed, with Apple having paired with numerous medical institutions to accurately use the data collected to flag any potential issues with your heart early on.
If you’re elderly, it is also the only one of the two to come with emergency fall detection. This is an excellent feature that pings an alert to emergency contacts and services if the Watch detects a fall. We found it a great feature that makes the Apple Watch an ideal purchase for people with ongoing conditions, or those who wish to keep tabs on elderly parents’ wellbeing remotely.
As a smartwatch, although Fitbit OS is one of the better rivals, Apple’s watchOS is significantly more developed. During testing we found it difficult to ignore the fact that the Apple Watch has far more apps available to users, and far more developed quick notifications and reply systems, making it better as a smartwatch.
The best part about Fitbit and Apple is that you don’t have to be a marathon runner to enjoy them. We found both devices were excellent for keeping tabs on movement levels throughout the day – whatever that might mean for you.
However, if you’re a runner then you may find the Fitbit Sense more tailored to your needs. It comes with informative running data that you can access mid-run, allowing you to monitor pace and heart rate via Map view for improvements in real-time.
By comparison, the Apple Watch 6 is better for managing everyday fitness. While the Workout App does track running, cycling and walking, which you can view via the app, longer activities requiring GPS drain the battery even further. Therefore, serious runners will be better off opting for the Fitbit, or one of the other devices in our best smartwatch guide.
Choosing a watch is a personal choice. If you’re still looking for one that suits your needs, check out our guide to the best fitness trackers.
Battery life comparison
The great thing about the Apple Watch 6 is its always-on display, which allows you to keep on top of your fitness. The bad side? Its impact on battery life.
According to Apple, the Watch 6 lasts 18 hours per charge. In our tests, we found this an accurate figure, but of course battery drain will be quicker depending on how the device is used. Long story short: if you’re using the Apple watch enough to get the best out of it, you’ll need to charge it every night.
Fitbit, on the other hand, offers impressive battery life, reportedly lasting for six days – so long as you don’t use the always-on display option. In our test, it lasted five days and six nights following the tracking of three workouts (one with GPS turned on). When using the always-on display and listening to music for three workouts, it still lasted two days – which remains a lot longer than the majority of fitness trackers. However, with the always-on display setting turned on, things took a turn for the worse. During testing we managed to kill the watch’s battery in less than half a day tracking a 5km run with GPS active and using its apps throughout the day.
The Fitbit Sense is an excellent alternative to the Apple Watch, particularly if you use an Android phone. This is especially true when you factor in the difference price of the two wearables.
It offers robust fitness tracking for entry to mid-tier athletes, excellent stress tracking, plus all the basic music and location-tracking services most users will need.
However, during testing we found there’s no getting round the fact that the Apple Watch 6 is far more advanced as a smartwatch. It features a developed always-on, variable refresh rate display, plus a significantly more diverse application library. This makes it a much better option for people who want a smartwatch first, and fitness tracker second.
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Yes. The Fitbit Sense works with Android and iOS devices.
No. The Apple Watch 6 is compatible only with iPhone.