Three Things Fitbit Does Better Than Apple

Wearables make me cranky. Each one seems to let me down in differing, but very specific ways. By most measures, current Apple Watch models are far superior to the Fitbit Versa 2, in things like build quality and breadth of functionality. However, despite Fitbit’s wildly inaccurate non-exercise step counts (you had one job!), I swap my Versa 2 into rotation for a few select reasons. And, no, 3rd party faces isn’t really one (as most are bad). Nor is the knee-capped Alexa integration.

  1. Fitbit SmartTrack automatically and reliably captures my long walks, when I either forget to manually trigger an exercise or when I don’t want to — briskly walking alongside my daughter as she gets comfortable on her new Frozen bike, for example.
  2. Speaking of efficiently capturing exercise, the Fitbit Versa line includes a programmable button. And I’ve set my left Versa 2 button shortcut to initiate a walk. However, a long press can also be configured to deep link all sorts of exercise modes. Or, in lieu of Apple’s numerous complications, bring up music controls, notifications, the relax app, and more.
  3. For at least a few more hours, Fitbit provides native sleep tracking, whereas Apple does not. Rumor has it sleep tracking will be announced with watchOS 7 later today, although the (fuzzy) oxygen monitoring Fitbit provides may not be replicated by until Apple Watch 6 this fall.


17 thoughts on “Three Things Fitbit Does Better Than Apple”

  1. Hi Dave, I have a few major issues with Fitbit that resulted in my abandonment of the platform late last year.

    1) Widely inaccurate heart rate monitoring. My Fitbit Blaze did a reasonably decent job of heart rate tracking although it varied widely when I was on the tennis court. My subsequent Fitbit Ionic was horrible at tracking heart rate during exercise. From my online research, this was likely due to the reduction in heart rate monitoring LEDs from 3 to 2. It is widely know that the Apple Watch does a much better job at monitoring heart rate especially during exercise. I’m not allowed to connect an Apple Watch to my iPhone due to my job so I ultimately settled on a Polar Fitness Vantage V Titan which has outstanding heart rate monitoring.

    2) Fitbit does not repair out of warranty devices. When my Ionic starting faltering, I finally decided that I needed to start looking elsewhere for a supported device.

    3) Regarding sleep tracking, I love the HRV (Heart Rate Variability) measurements that my Polar Vantage Titan offers which is highly correlated with my HRV measurements on my Oura ring.

  2. It’s often hit or miss. Three different Apple Watches showed me with periodically super high heart rates. So I ended up at a cardiologist and wore a Holter monitor for 2 or 3 days. Turns out Apple would periodically double my heart rate on its own, not a reflection of what my heart was really doing. So now I know to take all the health data from all these devices with a grain of salt. On Apple Watch, I use AutoSleep and get HRV – but the measurement and meaning is somewhat silo-ed. For out of warranty stuff, Fitbit will often cut you a break on replacement hardware. My mom’s Fitbit Charge 2 screen was failing, so they gave us 30% off an Inspire HR to replace it.

    By the by, you see Wymer may have been involved in that ebay harassment campaign? When at TiVo, he sometimes seemed awfully close to, if not outright over, the appropriateness line.

  3. I didn’t know that about the Fitbit out of warranty stuff — filed in the good to know category!

    Related to eBay PR… I had no idea. To be honest, I’ve lost track of a most TiVo and former TiVo Investment related issues. I’ve moved on to COVID-19 related biotech which has been much better to me than TiVo (from an investment perspective).

    I didn’t think I would ever recover (financially) from the extremely unusual stock performance following the day in court oh so many years ago. I had some capital loss carryovers that I wasn’t sure I would ever extinguish with the IRS $3,000 per year loss carryover provision. Anyway, I’m happy to report I’ve finally recovered and I learned a heck of a lot from my TiVo investing days.

    If you get a chance, check out the Polar Fitness line of trackers. I tried Garmin and wasn’t happy about the heart rate tracking. So far I’m happy with Polar although my one pet peeve is it doesn’t auto start or auto end during exercise.

  4. It sounds like FitBit is incorporating some PebbleOS features. Maybe picking up the Pebble assets has paid off.

  5. Why can’t Fitbit at least give us the data that Pebble did? I used to wake-barely- and see on my Pebble that I had only slept, say 5 hrs, and go back to sleep. The Fitbit makes me open the Fitbit app and sync (wait several minutes) before it tells me anything—and by then it’s too late.

  6. Did anyone mention battery life? I have owned and worn both the Apple watch and various Fitbit models. And, I like the Fitbit better mostly because of the 5-day battery life. I can wear it to bed and track my sleep (instead of constantly having to recharge it overnight). Until Apple starts adding a 5-day battery, I’m going to stick with my Fitbit.

  7. Mabuti, I feel like the latest Charge and Versa models are significantly improved. But, only time will tell…

    Davyator, I rarely get a full 5 days from my Versa 2, but it’s nice not having to thinking about it regularly as I do with the Apple Watch. Also, maybe not a big deal for most, but I also prefer that the Fitbit charging cables are so short. On the flip side, only the Inspire has an Apple-esque magnetic attachment and that’s a desirable feature.

  8. I just got an Apple Watch 5 a couple of months ago, and using AutoSleep, I get about 2 days of use before I need to charge (and even then, I still have 25-ish percent remaining).

    I typically leave my display off when not looking at it, but have had it turned on for most of the last week, and I haven’t noticed a significant difference in battery life between the two settings. Clearly it drops more when using Maps or various other apps, but those are few and far between for me, at least since I’ve had it.

    When I first got it, I was charging it overnight, then moved to just before going to bed after getting AutoSleep, and now transitioning to every other day since the battery is holding up better than I had expected initially.

    There are devices that may do things better, but having so much integration between my watch and phone was my main key. I rarely pull out my phone to check notifications, use Apple Pay, etc, and that has been the biggest benefit when I am out in public since I can keep my mask on and not have to worry about pulling it down to unlock my phone or pay for my groceries.

  9. The Fitbit Charge 3 has some major device faults inside and outside of warranty. The device will suddenly start to vibrate and switching/ jumping between screens. Just check out the Fitbit forum and you will find many complaints of this. Fitbit just ignores the users who are out of warranty and wont admit that the charge 3 has built in flaws

  10. I feel Fitbit is not reliable company as I bought my new vesta2 it develop fault with the first month. The company didn’t deal with issues even after they get all the information via App. Watch didnt log steps correctly nor the battery only lasted 2days. I had not even start to use the full feature. I contacted Fitbit and they’re comments were as the watch was not bought from them directly they will not exchange or refund the watch. Very sad experience I had with spending lots of money for a faulty features.

  11. I just bought a fitbit on autopay just after i finished the last payment i dropped it in water luckily i bought the warrenty its not waterproof and they replaced it immediately which I am pleased but if i would have switched to another brand if there wasn’t a warranty which i purchased ona hunchdays after but considering it broke down 3months after purchase it is not the quality i expected from a 175$watch

  12. I am using Apple watch to monitor my glucose readings from FreeStyle Libre sensor. While I can use Apple watch to see my glucose readings update every 5 minutes but with FitBit watches I have to carry phone also

  13. I am using Apple watch with the NightRider to monitor my glucose readings from FreeStyle Libre sensor. While I can use Apple watch to see my glucose readings update every 5 minutes but with FitBit watches I have to carry phone also

  14. I am/was totally Apple. Having read all the comments and recommendations put out there by the impartial researchers, I decided to sell my Apple Watch to buy the Fitbit Versa 2. And I made the right decision. But, I and my wife don’t fit within the age group where we’re concerned about what many younger people want. We’re Boomers..! We want reliable step count and reliable sleep monitoring. When we keep our Versa 2 screens defaulted to off, until with press the button, we can get 7-days battery before needing to charge.
    So, for us it’s Fitbit Versa 2 9/10 and Apple Watch 6/10.

  15. I charge my Apple Watch while watching TV or working from home, as I keep my charger right by my seat. It takes about an hour to charge up, depending on where the battery is. I had been charging after 2 nights of sleep, but the last couple of days I have reverted back to daily charging whenever I am going to be sitting for an hour or so with minimal standing. When I drain the battery to 20% or so, it takes about 2 hours to charge, and I just haven’t had that long that I’ve been willing to not wear the watch. I typically do this in the evenings when I charge daily, and in the mid-day timeframe when wearing it two nights. YMMV

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