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Apple Watch vs Fitbit Charge 3 Best Fitness Tracker 2018

Just like the original iPhone marked the end of the dumb-phone era, so did the Apple Watch put an end to traditional fitness trackers and convinced consumers that smartwatches with smartphone notifications and fitness-tracking features are the way to go.

FitbitFitbit Charge 3 Fitness Activity Tracker, Graphite/Black, One SizeBuy on Amazon|$149.95(Price as of 11/20/2018 04:50 ET)
AppleApple Smart Watch 38mm Watch Series 3 - GPS - Space Gray Aluminum CaseBuy on Amazon|$289.99(Price as of 11/20/2018 04:50 ET)

To remain relevant in this new market, Fitbit has updated its popular fitness tracker to include many useful smartwatch capabilities at an affordable price. But the question everyone’s asking is whether the Fitbit Charge 3 can rival the already popular Apple Watch. Let’s find out.

Design and Build

The previous Fitbit Charge was more elegant than sporty. The new Fitbit Charge does away with 90-degree angles and, instead, features a sleeker aerospace-grade aluminum case with angled sides for maximum comfort. The Fitbit Charge 3 is approximately 20 percent lighter than the Fitbit Charge 2, making it slightly lighter than the Apple Watch. Regardless of how large your wrists are, you can wear the Fitbit Charge 3 and know that it won’t stand out and make you look dorky.

The design of the Apple Watch is so iconic at this point that you can most likely close your eyes and imagine it to the very last detail. Over the years, the Apple Watch grew slightly thicker as Apple added new features, but the device’s overall thickness is still more than acceptable. With the latest version of the Apple Watch, Apple has fully embraced swipe gestures and taps as the primary means of interacting with the smartwatch and moved away from the Digital Crown.

Display and Controls

The Fitbit Charge 3 features a similar change: the physical button that was previously used as the sole means of controlling the fitness tracker has been swapped out for an inductive button with haptic feedback and a touchscreen display. The new inductive button makes the watch feel a lot more responsive, and it also created space for a larger battery and new fitness features. You can press the button at any time to go back to the home screen, and there’s a new settings option that lets you adjust the intensity of the vibrations.

The new touchscreen display offers approximately 40 percent more active area than its predecessor, and you can swipe down on it to view all notifications or swipe left to cycle through various modes, such as exercise, relax, timer, weather, or settings. Unfortunately, the display is still only black and white, so it doesn’t have the same wow-factor as the OLED display on the Apple Watch.

Fitness Tracking

The main criticism we had about the Fitbit Charge 2 was the lack of water resistance. Whereas the Apple Watch may be used for shallow water activities like swimming in a pool or ocean, the Fitbit Charge 2 wasn’t water resistant at all, making it feel somewhat incomplete. The good news is that this oversight is now fixed, and the Fitbit Charge 3 is water resistant down to approximately 50 meters (164 feet).

To make the most out of the water resistance, the fitness tracker now comes with a new swim mode, which lets you track laps and distances. The Fitbit Charge 3 can now also rate the quality of your sleep thanks to its SpO2 sensor, which measures peripheral capillary oxygen saturation in addition to heart rate.

Where the Fitbit Charge 3 still falls shorts is in tracking autonomy. Because it doesn’t include built-in GPS nor LTE connectivity, you won’t be able to record as much information about your activity as you might like unless you bring your smartphone with you, which somewhat defeats the purpose of buying a dedicated fitness-tracking device in the first place. The Apple Watch has a built-in GPS and LTE, allowing you to leave your smartphone at home and still track your activity without any limitations.

Since the Apple Watch is a proper smartwatch, it can do a lot more than the Fitbit Charge 3 can, including making phone calls, playing music, running third-party apps, and so on. The feature discrepancy is something you should keep in mind when comparing the two devices in terms of their price.


At just $150, the Fitbit Charge 3 is significantly more affordable than the Apple Watch, which starts at $329 and ends at $1,399 for the GPS- and LTE-enabled version with a leather strap. Needless to say that both devices target entirely different market segments.

There’s also a special edition of the Fitbit Charge 3, and it includes support for Fitbit Pay, a contactless payment solution from Fitbit that launched with the Ionic watch in 2017 and has around 100 bank partners at the moment. Considering the Fitbit Charge 3 Special Edition also comes with an extra black band in the box, we see it as a pretty good deal.


While the Fitbit Charge 3 is far more capable than its predecessor, it still isn’t nearly as capable as the Apple Watch, which is understandable considering the former is a fitness tracker and the latter is a smartwatch. Things get much more interesting when you compare the price of the two devices and look at them in terms of how much value they offer. When seen in this light, the Fitbit Charge 3 emerges as an excellent option for those who don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for the Apple Watch.

FitbitFitbit Charge 3 Fitness Activity Tracker, Graphite/Black, One SizeBuy on Amazon|$149.95(Price as of 11/20/2018 04:50 ET)
AppleApple Smart Watch 38mm Watch Series 3 - GPS - Space Gray Aluminum CaseBuy on Amazon|$289.99(Price as of 11/20/2018 04:50 ET)

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