Smartwatch Vs Fitness Tracker – What Is The Difference?

Last Updated: June 11, 2022

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If you are on the market for a smartwatch or fitness tracker, the first thing that you will notice is the fact that there are plenty of options to choose from. When looking for a regular watch that just tells time, the most important factor is usually style. However, when choosing a smartwatch or fitness tracker, you will have to base your decision on the features that you are interested in. 

Now, you may be wondering what the biggest difference between a smartwatch and a fitness tracker is. It is important to note that they differ in a variety of ways, including what features they include and how they can be used. If you are a fitness enthusiast who wants to monitor your overall health, you may be interested in both options. 

In this article, we will be discussing the difference between fitness trackers and smartwatches. More so, we will mention how you can go about deciding which product is best suited for you and your needs. 

What Is A Smartwatch?

A smartwatch is essentially a smartphone-like device that can be worn on the wrist. In fact, many smartwatches connect directly to your smartphone, providing you with a number of convenient features. For example, you will receive notifications on your watch every time a message or update is delivered to your phone. On top of this, some smartwatches can even make direct phone calls. 

Most smartwatches include displays and are operated through touch screens. However, it is important to note that the features included with the watch you buy will depend on how much you spent on it. As with all things, the more money you spend on a smartwatch, the better the quality and overall functionality will be. 

If you are a fitness enthusiast, you may want to consider a smartwatch that includes health features. For example, some smartwatches feature a heart-rate monitor. This means that the user will be able to track their health stats while exercising or moving around. However, there are some smartwatches that are specifically designed to be used for training. 

The Best Smartwatches

There are a number of incredibly popular and well-known smartwatches to choose from. For example, the Apple watch series is commonly used amongst athletes. You will also find a number of Fitbit and Samsung smartwatches. 

Why Choose A Smartwatch?

You may be wondering why a smartwatch is the best choice for you. If you are looking for an all-round device that keeps you updated on a number of aspects, you may want to consider a smartwatch over a fitness tracker. 

Wearing a smartwatch is similar to having your phone attached to your wrist. Not only can the device track your fitness and health stats, but it is also very convenient when it comes to everyday tasks, such as checking your messages. 

GPS And GPS Watches

If you would prefer a smartwatch that is specifically designed for exercising, there are plenty of great options to choose from. For example, GPS watches can be used to physically track your location and workouts. 

Before you go for a run or workout, you can connect your smartwatch to GPS. In this way, your watch will be able to provide you with a number of additional workout details, including distance, pace etc. This will make it much easier to analyze your training session after it is completed. 

Some smartwatch companies even offer their user’s compatible apps that connect directly to the watch. Once your workout is completed, your workout will be automatically uploaded to this app, allowing you to check the details of your session.

For example, your heart rate throughout the session will be displayed, letting you know when you were pushing harder and when you were taking it easy. For serious athletes, these features are of utmost importance. 

What Is A Fitness Tracker?

A fitness tracker is a wrist-worn device that can be used for a number of purposes. Unlike smartwatches, fitness trackers are specifically designed to be worn and used by athletes. They cannot be used for other tasks, such as making phone calls or answering messages. 

However, they are still helpful in several ways. Fitness trackers detect a number of details regarding your daily exercise. For example, they can track the number of steps you take every day, how far you run, your heart rate and how many laps you swim in a pool.

On top of this, fitness trackers are able to monitor your sleeping patterns, letting you know how many hours of sleep you get in every night and how much energy your body has. In other words, they monitor more functions than regular smartwatches. 

The Best Fitness Trackers

There are plenty of top-quality fitness trackers that you can consider. For example, the Fitbit range is incredibly popular and used by some of the best athletes around the world. These devices include a number of helpful features – for the most accurate results, be sure to wear your fitness tracker at all times.

This will ensure that your heart rate and sleeping pattern are tracked correctly. Polar, Suunto and Garmin are also very popular brands that are known for making top-quality fitness trackers. Coros is also a fairly new player in the field that is doing great.

Why Choose A Fitness Tracker?

As we have already mentioned, you will be able to track a number of details with a fitness tracker on your wrist. For example, you will be able to log every single step taken, providing you with incredibly accurate information regarding your overall fitness and health. 

If you are looking for a smart device that will be able to provide a detailed outline of your health and fitness data, a fitness tracker is definitely the best choice for you. 

It is also worth noting that most trackers are designed like a bracelet – they are thin, comfortable to wear and light. In other words, you are likely to forget that the tracker is even on your wrist. Most trackers also feature convenient touch screens. When considering comfort alone, fitness trackers are the standout choice. 

You might hear some of the fitness trackers / watches being referred to as a GPS smartwatch or GPS running watch and that’s fine to, what you are looking out for is the activity tracking features which makes it suitable as a fitness tracker. Therefore you can still find some that look like regular watches such as those from the Garmin and Polar range.

Fitness Tracker Apps Offer Additional Tracking

Another major advantage associated with fitness trackers is the fact that you will be able to simply look down at your wrist and see whether or not you are meeting your fitness goals. Some devices include companion apps that provide you with even more details regarding your health and overall fitness. For example, a number of these apps offer food tracking, water-intake tracking and weight loss information. 

You can monitor your health and fitness information over a period of days, weeks, months and even years. In other words, you will be able to track any progress that you have made over time. This makes it easy to see whether or not your fitness has improved or dwindled. 

For the best results, it is highly recommended that you invest in a fitness tracker that includes a heart rate monitor and GPS tracker. These devices offer 24/7 tracking, providing you with more accurate information. 

What’s The Difference?

So, what are the main differences between smartwatches and fitness trackers? 

The most obvious difference that you are likely to recognize on your own is the variation in appearance. Smartwatches are designed to look like regular watches. In fact, you will be able to choose from a wide range of styles.

On the other hand, as we have already mentioned, fitness trackers are designed to look and feel more like bracelets. They are only used for fitness tracking purposes, meaning that style and appearance are not top priorities. 

On top of this, there are a number of functionality differences to take note of. Smartwatches can connect directly to your smartphone. More so, they can be used to perform a number of admin tasks, such as messaging or making phone calls. Fitness trackers do not offer these capabilities.

While some devices can still connect to your smartphone, these trackers are really only designed to serve one purpose: monitoring your health and fitness. 

It is important to remember that technology is constantly evolving. For this reason, smartwatch designers are now able to include several features in their devices that were previously only offered by fitness trackers.

For example, older models of smartwatches did not feature GPS trackers or heart rate monitors. On top of this, older models of fitness trackers could not connect to smartphone devices or companion apps. 


There are a few significant differences between fitness trackers and smartwatches that you should take note of. For example, fitness trackers are specifically designed to track your fitness and overall health.

However, while many smartwatch models can be used for this purpose, they also include a number of additional functions, such as the ability to answer messages and make phone calls.

Overall, fitness trackers are ideal for athletes who want to closely monitor their workouts. Smartwatches do not provide as much information regarding fitness stats and are better suited for a more general use. 

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