Fitness tracker or smartwatch – what’s the difference?

Which wearable is best for you?

27 Jan 2022

When it comes to wearable tech that you strap to your wrist, there are two main categories - fitness trackers and smartwatches. The line between the two can sometimes get a little blurry, so let’s take a look at what you can do with each – just to help you figure out which is the best for you.

What is a fitness tracker?

Confused about fitness trackers? We’ll help you get it right. They come in all shapes and sizes but most tend to be a slim, lightweight bracelet or wrist-band design. The main function of a fitness tracker is to monitor your health using different types of sensors to track movement and heart rate. Some of the most common features on fitness trackers are:

  • Track step count to help you hit your targets.
  • Sleep pattern monitoring to help you improve the quality of your zzzzzs.
  • Distance tracking, whether you’re walking, running or cycling
  • Notification displays from your phone. Things like messages, emails and phone calls.

The display on most fitness trackers is usually smaller than a typical watch face. But with most offering touch-screen controls, they’re super-easy to navigate. Plus, the sleek, slim and lightweight design makes them comfortable to wear every day.

Most fitness trackers also come with an accompanying app for your phone, which displays all your stats in charts and graphs.

Why not try… the Fitbit Charge 5

The Fitbit Charge 5 is a great choice if you’re starting to get serious about fitness and well-being. It comes with a 6 months Premium Membership and is packed with smart features, including a Daily Readiness score which is based on your activity, sleep and heart rate variability. You get this score every morning. along with a personalised goal for the day, plus recommended workouts or recovery sessions depending on what your body needs. As you get more fit over time, your scores and daily goals adapt with you.

What is a smartwatch?

While most smartwatches offer the same functions as those you’ll find on a fitness tracker (like step counters and sleep trackers), you can do even more amazing things with them.

The main goal of a fitness tracker is to monitor your health, but a smartwatch is more of an extension to your smartphone. So communication is an important part of them.

Just like fitness trackers, there are a huge range of smartwatches available with lots of useful features. You can do things like:

  • Sending text messages straight from your watch
  • Browsing the internet
  • Making contactless payments
  • Storing music and connecting to headphones via Bluetooth

What about sports watches?

Sports watches (or running watches) fall into the smartwatch category, but offer more specialised features designed around sports like running, cycling and swimming. The best sports watches come with advanced GPS mapping to keep you on the right track, and they usually have a large display so you can see all your stats at a glance.

Why not try… the Garmin Forerunner 55 running watch

The Garmin Forerunner 55 is an easy-to-use GPS sports watch that’s basically like having a personal trainer on your wrist. It gives you on-screen guidance from expert coaches, along with free training plans to help you smash all your fitness goals.

It also has a PacePro™ feature that gives you GPS-based pace guidance when you select a course or distance. So, you’ll no longer have to worry if you’re going too slow or too fast during a run. You’ll always be hitting exactly the right pace!

If you want to get your kids into fitness, there are lots of good kids’ smart watches and fitness trackers around. Or if you’re after something for yourself, take a look at 3 fitness gadgets our experts love.

Need more help choosing the best piece of smart fitness tech? Then talk to one of our tech experts in-store or via live video chat on ShopLive. They can even help you checkout online if you’re having issues.

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