From the huge amount of fitness wearables, two stand out the most: The smartwatch and the activity tracker. But what is really the differences between these two wearable devices? It is sometimes hard to know exactly what are the features that each of them can offer to the end user and if it is what you are really looking for. In this post, we will go deep down and give you all the general information concerning these two type of devices so you can make the best choice.
The Activity Tracker
If you want a device that gives you all the details about you health and fitness level, the activity tracker is the solution. All the features like calories burned, steps taken, distance, sleep patterns, sports monitoring can be found in a fitness tracker.
And when you pair you device with a compatible app (using a phone or PC), you can set you own goals, log you progress and sharing with friends or a community. It can also include an integrated GPS chip to measure the distance.
There’s more and more of these devices that have ”smartwatch” functions but they are limited. Still, the activity tracker primary objective is to help you get in shape.
The Smart Watch
Smartwatches have been here longer than the fitness tracker. They started including a calculator and game-playing at the beginning of the 80s but have completely exploded in the wearable technology market since the last few years. A smartwatch can now take pictures, pay you bills, show phone notifications and of course track you fitness.
The smartwatch is more a multi-tasking device that can entirely manage you digital life. If you are kind of tech lover, the smartwatch is a nice alternative to traditional watches. People can now find a nice looking smartwatch that offer different features (including health and fitness) with a style that they will like.
One thing to note is that most of the smartwatches in the market now need to be coupled with a smartphone to take full advantage of all the features that it can offer.
Fitness tracker bands
Most of the activity trackers need to be worn on you wrist or on the belt (pedometers by example). But there is some like the Fitbit activity trackers that can be used as a necklace or inside a pocket, thanks to their removable electronic tracker.
They generally feature a flexible silicon band (which is good for indoor or outdoor fitness activities) that comes in small or large sizes with different length to fit any wrist size.
On the smartwatch side, you have definitely more choices of styles and designs concerning the bands. You can easily find a band with a classic style in leather or stainless-steel if you don’t like the silicon band at all.
Designers like Michael Kors, Fossil, Kate Spade and Tag Heuer, are all getting into the ”smartwatch” world, so if you are a stylish kind of person you will fall in love with one of these.
The bands can be found with standard 16mm, 20mm and 22mm sizes to please all types wrist sizes. You can also find third party brands that makes compatible bands for a multitude of smartwatch models.
The Displays Features
This is definitely a big feature to take in count with you purchase you device.If you are planning to use it outdoors with all kind of activities, you should think about getting at least a water-resistance band or watch. If you are a swimmer or someone that doesn’t like to take it off when taking a shower (I am one of the guys) or a bath, go for a waterproof device.
Black and White
These screens are the ones that take less energy so the battery life will last longer between charges than the color displays. Make sure you try it before you buy since some displays reflect the light and other not. E-link and E-Paper technology are the most currently used.
LCD, OLED and AMOLED
If you are not a tech person, you probably don’t know much about these screens but they are different. LCD (liquid crystal display) uses a back light to produce the images on the screen and it performs good in sunlight. It is an older technology than the other two but do the job and is a little bit less expensive so you could see it on the end price of the device.
The OLED (organic light emitting diode) and the AMOLED (active-matrix organic light emitting diode) displays don’t use a back light but instead each pixel is illuminated separately and produce a greater contrast ratio for a nice look to the eye.
They are also thinner and uses less power than the LCD. OLED can display the screen in single, multi or full color and AMOLED is always in full color.
Apps And Compatibility
Fitness Tracker Apps
There is a very limited type of applications that you can use once sync with you an activity tracker. The apps are useful once you transfer you daily fitness data to a PC or you smartphone. At that time, you can use by example a third-party app like Strava to see you last run and share it with the community.
Another way is once connected via Bluetooth to you fitness tracker, you can get a notification directly on you phone (using the app from the manufacturer) to remind you to move and get active.
Setting and managing daily or weekly goals is also possible when connected. You can also plan and download to you activity tracker (if you have an internal GPS) a specific route that you want to redo or discover on you next run.
Features like receiving text messages or incoming call notifications are available on some activity bands. So, if you want them make sure you check if these additional features are included on the tracker before purchasing it.
On the smartwatch side, there is a more vast amount of apps that are available. Beside fitness tracker apps, you can now find many popular smartphone apps on a smartwatch and the list is growing pretty fast. From social media updates like Twitter to music apps like Google Music, the library will satisfy everyone since you can ”tweak” you smartwatch how you want it.
Beside the Apple Watch that uses iOS operating system, most of the branded smartwatches are using Android Wear OS that is compatible with all Android smartphones in the market. Another big ”plus” with Android Wear is that since the latest version (2.0) you can now pair it with you iPhone (model 5 or higher with iOS 9 +) and get almost the same features as an Android user.
You can find more information about each watch operating system and what they can offer by clicking below.
Even if the smartwatch market has taken more place since the last 5 years, due to their trending style and versatility, the activity tracker is the most widespread device in terms of choices that you can find. Whenever you choose one or the other, it will go depending on of how you will use you device and how it fits you better. For a good quality smartwatch, you will need to pay more than when purchasing a good activity tracker. Still, if you want more than just you health data on you wrist, the smartwatch is a better option.
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