Fitness tracker or smartwatch – what’s the difference?

Which suits you best, smartwatch or fitness tracker?

30 Dec 2019

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


What is a fitness tracker?

Fitness trackers (or activity trackers) 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 main functions of fitness trackers are:

  • Track step count and help you hit your targets
  • Monitor your sleep patterns to help you improve the quality of your sleep
  • Track distance, whether you’re walking, running or cycling
  • Display notification from your phone like messages, emails and phone calls.


The display on most fitness trackers is usually smaller than a more traditional looking watch face but with most offering touch-screen controls, they’re super-easy to navigate. And the sleek, slim and lightweight design of can make them much more appealing to the everyday wearer.

fitness tracker fitbitfitness tracker fitbit

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

Check out our range of fitness trackers


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), they do tend to come with a few extra features. Whereas the main goal of a fitness tracker is to monitor your health, a smartwatch can be seen as an extension of your phone with communication being the key function.

Much the same as fitness trackers, there is a huge range of smartwatches available. And depending on how far up the range you want to go, an equally impressive range of features.

  • Send text messages straight from your watch
  • Browse the internet
  • Make contactless payments
  • Store music and connect to headphones via Bluetooth

samsung smart watch

Take a look at our full range of smartwatches


What about sports watches?

Sports watches (or running watches) certainly fall into the smartwatch category but they offer more specialised features designed around running, cycling, swimming, etc. And they usually have a slightly larger display so you can see all your stats on one screen at a glance without having to strain your eyes.

Watches like the Fenix 6 Pro from Garmin even come with advanced GPS mapping so whether you’re a long-distance cyclist or an ultra-marathon runner, it’ll always keep you on the right track.

With a Garmin watch, you also get access to the excellent Garmin Connect app which tracks all your activities in detailed charts. And if you’re a runner who needs a little motivation from time to time (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) there’s Garmin Coach. Just enter your goal and running availability and get a fully personalised plan from a top running coach synced straight to your watch – now there’s no excuse!

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