The Battle of the SmartWatches: The Apple Watch vs. the FitBit Blaze

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With the saturation of the smartphone market, technology brands and manufacturers are fighting for the next area for smart technology – your wrist.  The challenge has been to create a device that demands more ubiquity than what our phones already occupy of our waking time.

Enter the smart watches…

In September of 2014, Apple debuted the Apple Watch.  A wearable device that synced with your phone expanding its capabilities to be more than just a digital watch.  In short, it was a smart device that augmented the capabilities of your iPhone (and ONLY your iPhone).

In September of 2016, Apple released the second generation of its smart watches named the Series 1 and Series 2.  At the same time, Fitbit, a company known for fitness tracking wearable technology released the Fitbit Blaze.  For the first time, the 2 companies fought in the same space.

What we’ll try to do in this article is compare them “pound for pound” as it were.  Or in this case, value “dollar for dollar.”

 

What are they?

While they may compete somewhat in the same space, we want to be clear that the Apple watch and the Fitbit Blaze are not analogous devices.  The Apple watch is a Smartwatch with fitness tracking capabilities.  The Fitbit Blaze is a fitness tracker with Smartwatch Capabilities.

In short, one is primarily a smartwatch meant to augment your experience with your iPhone and the other is primarily a fitness tracker.

So if they’re not fundamentally the same device, why make a comparison at all?  Simple:  In spite of their fundamental function, they each overlap into the other.  In short, buying one of them makes the other redundant.

 

Let the Battle Begin

Let’s begin with aesthetics.  Apple has always been known for its design.  This is how they’ve remained the undisputed company to beat in terms of Phones and Tablets.  The sexy factor is undeniable in all apple devices.  This is consistently true for the Apple watch with its beautiful curves and face designs.  Not to mention over 2 dozen clock face options to choose from.

The Fitbit Blaze is undeniably masculine.  A stainless steel frame cradles the strongly angular device.  There are 12 clockfaces to choose from depending on your aesthetic inclinations. It’s simple, sturdy, and functional.  It’s not an eye-catcher (in spite of the bracelet options) but it’s not an eyesore.

 

So in this case, it’s Apple: 1, Fitbit: 0

 

Price Points

The Apple watch started at a base price point of $249.  In 2016, when Apple released the Series 1 and 2, it commanded a price point ranging from $269 to $549 for the sport edition.  This is about the same time that the Blaze came out at a price point of $199.

 

So for now, it’s Apple: 1, Fitbit: 1

 

Battery Life

This one’s a no brainer.  If you’ve ever owned an iPhone, then you already know this is Apple’s Achilles heel – and it is consistent in the Apple watch.  The battery life is primarily due to the depth of utility – but that flexibility comes with a price.  The Apple watch has to be charged daily giving it very limited sleep tracking capabilities.

photo credit from Mashable

This is where the Blaze really shines!  Fresh out of the box and your Fitbit Blaze won’t need charging for 5 days.  Over time, the battery will decline and you’ll probably need to charge 2 times per week.  However, even after 2 years of performance, your Fitbit Blaze will still beat your Apple Watch’s battery life hands down.

If I were going to be unfair, I would give the Blaze 4 points here just for outlasting the Apple Watch by a factor of 4.  But let’s keep it simple.

 

Apple: 1, Fitbit: 2

Usage Depth

As I mentioned above, the reason the Apple Watch’s battery life doesn’t last as long is because of usage depth.  This is where the Apple watch will kick the crap out of the Blaze.  The Apple watch has upwards of 40 features.  It will display your SMS, allow short SMS responses, ping your missing iPhone, track your heart rate, take your ECG, control your music, interface with your iPhone’s Siri, notify you of e-mail and your calendar, control your music, and on and on and on.

The Blaze as a fitness tracker revolves most of its features around your fitness.  There are 7 base fitness trackers including step, activity, heart rate, calorie burn, distance walked and floors climbed.  There are 6 exercise trackers and it can automatically track whether you are performing any exercise without prompting the device.  It automatically detects prolonged walks, running, biking, and some limited work-outs.  It has a breathing and relax feature, music control and it has 3 notifications.

So, this round clearly goes to Apple.

 

It’s Apple: 2, Fitbit: 2

 

The Phone Ap

Because neither of these devices are a complete experience without the intervention of your phone, it’s important we cover the Ap for these devices.

Due to the depth of use, the Apple watch’s ap can be very complex to use – and that’s an understatement.  But even just in terms of design, the Fitbit’s Ap is decidedly cleaner, simpler and more intuitive to use.

Both have weaknesses in terms of using the potential of your biometric data.  But in terms of gamifying your work-out, the Fitbit Ap clearly has it figured out rewarding you with badges and even allowing you to compete with a community or your friends.

So for the Ap, the Fitbit gets the cookie

 

Apple: 2, Fitbit: 3

 

Other Features

Can I swim with it?  The Apple watch from Series 2 onwards is waterproof.  The Fitbit blaze is not advertised to be waterproof, however, there are several youtube videos of users testing the water resistance of their Blaze and sure enough, it can go for a swim and keep on “ticking” as it were.

How about accuracy?  Each time we’ve tried to measure each device against a third party fitness device such as InBody devices or the tracker on a treadmill, the Blaze tends to be more accurate approximating the other trackers on the conservative side by 2 to 4 points, while the Apple watch can be off by as much as 5 to 10 points on the conservative side.

 

The Verdict

It would be a total cop-out to conclude this article by saying “It depends” but to a degree, that is the right answer.  If you’re not sporty, and fitness tracking is an aside for you and you’re more interested in the “sexy” factor, the Apple watch is for you.

If you’re a fitness nut – or just plain conscious, then the premium on accuracy and fitness features of the Blaze will be right for you.

However, we did want to give a definitive opinion.  And by tallying the points above we come up to:  Apple: 3 (the extra point is for waterproof), and the Blaze: 5 (waterproof and accuracy).

So overall, due to the price point, battery life, and ap interface, dollar for dollar the blaze wins this round.

 

EDITOR’s NOTE:

The Fitbit Blaze has been discontinued but has a successor called the Fitbit Versa.  And as of this writing, the Apple watch is at Series 4.  Stay tuned for our inevitable review of the successors of Apple and Fitbit’s wearable technology.