The fans of Apple products who are interested in fitness tracking have two basic options: go with the Apple Watch or purchase one of Fitbit’s numerous activity trackers—like the Charge 2, which is the most popular activity tracker Fitbit currently sells.
Apple Watch vs Fitbit Charge 2
Choosing the more expensive route leading to the Apple Watch Series 3, the latest version of the Apple Watch, has many benefits, but the
Fitbit Charge 2, which costs only around $150 (the Apple Watch Series 3 retails for almost $400) has plenty to offer as well.
Design and Build
At first glance, it’s immediately obvious that the Charge 2 doesn’t aspire to be and do everything proper smartwatches, like the Apple Watch Series 3, can do. It’s an activity tracker first and foremost, and, as such, it sports a smaller display that doesn’t drain the battery too much and has a slim profile and moderate width to stay out your way when exercising.
The Apple Watch Series 3 is Apple’s first smartwatch that is controlled predominantly with swipe gestures and taps, as opposed to the Digital Crown and Force Touch, which were the primary means of interacting with the previous two Apple Watches.
Because the Apple Watch Series 3 is powered by Apple’s S3 processor and WatchOS4, it has some serious processing power. The display instantly responds to every input, and the user interface never lags or stutters, with animations being as smooth as they are on the latest iPhone. This alone can make you feel like you’re interacting with a very capable device that is more than a gyroscope and a heart-rate sensor with a wristband attached to them.
The Charge 2, on the other hand, is clumsy to control and slightly unpleasant to interact with. It has no real touch screen, and switching between activities requires you to tap the display with a considerable amount of force for the input to register. And when it does, the animations that follow are laggy, making the Charge 2 look cheap. But because you don’t have too many reasons to interact with it, this aspect of Fitbit’s premium activity tracker is easy to overlook.
The Charge 2 has a much longer battery life than the Apple Watch Series 3, often lasting up to 5 days even with heavy use. The Apple Watch Series 3 comfortably gets up to a day on a charge, provided you don’t use LTE too much. The version without LTE can last up to 3 days, but it all depends on how often you interact with it.
In terms of fitness tracking functionality, the Charge 2 and the Apple Watch Series 3 are equal except for one crucial difference: the Apple Watch Series 3 doesn’t depend on your smartphone. Because the Apple Watch Series 3 has a built-in GPS and LTE (depending on which model you choose), you can go for a run without your smartphone and still track your progress without any limitations.
The Charge 2 makes up for its dependency on your smartphone with its automatic fitness tracking feature, which recognizes what kind of activity you’re performing and starts tracking it for you. Unfortunately, there’s one activity that you can’t track with the Charge 2 even manually, and that’s swimming. As unfortunate as it is, the Charge 2 isn’t waterproof. The Apple Watch Series 3 is waterproof up to 50 meters, so it can be used for shallow-water activities like swimming in a pool or ocean.
Both the Charge 2 and the Apple Watch Series 3 can track your speed and calorie intake, and we’ve found both equally reliable.
Being a proper smartwatch, the Apple Watch 3 can do a lot more than the Charge 2, including NFC payments with Apple Pay, playing music, allowing you to talk to Siri and make phone calls, running many third-party apps, and displaying smartphone notifications. The Charge 2 supports smartphone notifications as well, but the execution is so clunky that it’s often better to just take out the smartphone.
The Apple Watch Series 3 is a more capable activity tracker than the Fitbit Charge 2, but it’s also considerably more expensive. Provided if you’re not an avid swimmer and are only looking for a simple device that can help you achieve your fitness goals, the Charge 2 might be enough for you. But if you’re invested heavily in Apple’s ecosystem and have a soft-spot for beautiful gadgets that don’t fail to surprise with their features, the Apple Watch Series 3 might be a better buy.