Fitbit's finest

Fitbit Charge 3

Full-blown smartwatch

Apple Watch Series 4

The Fitbit Charge 3 is an excellent fitness tracker, and possibly the best Fitbit has to offer before stepping up to a smartwatch. Fitbit's proprietary chargers annoy things a bit, but they're not a deal-breaker.

$130+ at Fitbit

Pros

  • Great heart rate monitor
  • Swimproof
  • Great display (albeit monochrome)
  • Automatic multi-sport tracking

Cons

  • No onboard GPS
  • Fitbit's charger

The Apple Watch Series 4 is arguably the best smartwatch money can buy thanks to Apple's excellent activity tracking built right in and its full integration with the Apple ecosystem. However, if you're not an Apple fan or just want a tracker, it's not for you.

$399+ at Apple

Pros

  • The best smartwatch on the market
  • Full smartwatch features, including fitness tracking
  • Swimproof
  • Endless band options

Cons

  • Expensive
  • You must use an iPhone
  • Overkill if you just want fitness tracking

How much do you want out of your fitness tracker? Do you just want fitness tracking, or do you want access to apps and other features that you'd get from a smartwatch? That's going to make the difference between if you decide to get the Fitbit Charge 3 or the Apple Watch Series 4.

Apples and oranges… Kinda

When comparing both of these devices, it really isn't an even playing field. On the one hand, you have the Fitbit Charge 3, which is a fitness tracker first with some smartwatch-like features. On the other, you have the Apple Watch, which is a smartwatch first with fitness tracking built into it, along with thousands of other apps and services (if you want).

Fitbit Charge 3 Apple Watch Series 4
Heart rate monitor Yes Yes
Step counter Yes Yes
Multi-sport tracking Yes Yes
Display Monochrome OLED Full-color OLED
GPS Connected via phone Built-in
Battery life 7 days 18 hours
Water resistance 50 meters 50 meters
Smart notifications Yes, with quick replies Full-featured apps
Capacity N/A 16GB
Mobile payments Fitbit Pay (special edition only) Apple Pay

First and foremost, let's talk about battery life. In the table above, you might look and see that the Charge 3 absolutely blows the Apple Watch Series 4 out of the water when it comes to battery life — 7 days compared to 18 hours is incredible. It's important to remember that the Apple Watch is a full-fledged smartwatch, which can connect to Wi-Fi (and LTE if you have that model), run full apps, let you talk to Siri, make and take phone calls, and tons more.

It only makes sense that something so small, with a battery that also needs to remain small, would only last 18 hours on a single charge — it's basically a smartphone on your wrist. Does your phone last a week on a single charge? Nope.

Which brings me to my next point: Your deciding factor when choosing between the Charge 3 and Apple Watch should be whether you want a fitness tracker or a smartwatch (also, if you use Android, then it's a no-brainer — go with Fitbit). That's really all you need in order to choose. Do you want something that you can text, play games, make calls, respond to texts, control music, track fitness, and access Siri? Or do you want a fitness tracker that can do some of those things in a limited capacity but is mostly there to help keep track of your fitness routine?

Do you want a fitness tracker or a smartwatch? That should be your deciding factor.

Another, perhaps more prominent, deciding factor is the price. Do you want to shell out $400 or more for something you really only want to track your exercise or do you want to spend $130? Then there's the apps: The Apple Watch is fully integrated with Apple Health, which then integrates with many other apps you might use. The Charge 3 connects to Fitbit's ecosystem, which consists of other trackers and smart scales. The scope is more limited for the Charge 3, but if you're already tied into the Fitbit ecosystem, then it's not a factor.

So to tie it all together, do you want a smartwatch with a wide range of apps and services, a deep tie to a full ecosystem, and a high price tag, or do you want a fitness tracker with some smart convenience features, that's focused solely on your fitness? If you're not sold on a computer on your wrist, then buy the Fitbit Charge 3. It's as great an entry-level fitness tracker as it is a top-of-the-line model. However, if you want more, then get the latest Apple Watch.

Fitness-focused

Fitbit Charge 3

The best for most people

Fitbit's best fitness tracker is arguably the best tracker for most people looking to track their exercise and a little more. It has a great display, convenient smart features that don't take you out of your workout mindset, and Fitbit's fitness tracking and heart rate monitoring are some of the best in the game.

The best smartwatch, period

Apple Watch Series 4

Like an iPhone on your wrist

The Apple Watch Series 4 is the best smartwatch money can buy, and its feature set is unmatched. It might even be one of the best fitness trackers money can buy, though that's not its singular focus. If you're ready to branch out into Apple's ecosystem, the Apple Watch is the next logical step.

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