Apple Watch vs. FitBit Blaze

In the Battle of Smartwatches, Who Comes out on Top?

Latest Consumer Technology Products On Display At CES 2016
Fitbit Blaze watches. Ethan Miller / Getty Images

If you saw someone on the street wearing Fitbit’s Blaze, you’d be forgiven for thinking they had an Apple Watch strapped to their wrist instead. The Blaze and Apple Watch look strikingly similar from far away, and when you get up close and personal with both, the two have some striking similarities.

The Blaze represents Fitbit’s foray into the smartwatch space, and the Apple Watch, now in its second edition, is still in its early days as well. While both devices look similar, they’re actually quite different when it comes to functionality. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the key similarities and differences between the Fitbit Blaze and the Apple Watch.

Design

For the design, Fitbit went with a hexagonal shape that while not quite the square that the Apple Watch is, is reminiscent of the Apple Watch’s iconic look. In fact, if you happen to be looking at the device from far away, you might be forgiven for thinking it’s an Apple Watch rather than a Fitbit device.

Unlike the Apple Watch, Fitbit opted to make its fitness tracker a removable portion of the watch, while including the frame with the watch band. That means that if you want to switch watch bands on the Fitbit Blaze, you’ll just pop out the center portion, and pop it back into another. It’s a simple process that should make swapping bands a little easier on the Blaze than it is on the Apple Watch. That said, it’s also a bit limiting. Since the Blaze’s band also includes the frame for the watch, we might not see as many third-party options as we have with the Apple Watch. So, you might not have as significant a selection, which may or may not be something important to you.

Screen-wise, you’re also looking at a higher-resolution option with the Apple Watch. Apple’s 38mm version has a 340x272 resolution, while the 42mm has a 390 x 312 resolution. Compare that to the 280 x 180 resolution of the Fitbit Blaze, and you’ll be coming out on top with the Apple Watch no matter which version you opt to purchase.

Activity Tracking

Activity tracking is where the Fitbit Blaze has a bit of an advantage over the Apple Watch. Both devices are capable of tracking your steps throughout the day, as well as individual exercises and your heart rate. 

With the Apple Watch, that heart rate and exercise information are typically only recorded when you ask it to. Your heart rate is monitored periodically, but not continuously unless you’re engaging in “exercise.” Likewise, the only way the Apple Watch knows you’re exercising is when you select a particular activity from the Activity app on the Watch.

The Fitbit Blaze, on the other hand, is able to detect when you start a particular exercise, say running, and automatically being that activity on the watch, with no need for you to input anything. Even better, the tracker offers on-screen workouts powered by FitStar, so you can explore difference exercises, and get some of the benefits of having a personal trainer on your wrist.

Smartwatch Capabilities

The extras are where the Apple Watch is going to shine. The Fitbit Blaze will display notifications but doesn’t offer you an opportunity to interact with them. With the Apple Watch, you’re able to download and run different apps with capabilities ranging from ordering a car to reserving a table for dinner. You're able to interact with not only your messages (and send replies) but also perform a number of other tasks, including answering phone calls, with the watch; all capabilities not available with the Fitbit Blaze.

Battery life is also a consideration for the devices. Since the Apple Watch does all that stuff, it also uses a lot more battery power. An Apple Watch will typically only last a single day on a charge, whereas the Fitbit Blaze claims to be able to run for 5 days on a charge. That could be huge for some people who forget to charge their devices at night, or that travel on outdoor adventures where they might not have access to power to charge up.

Pricing

The Fitbit Blaze does beat the Apple Watch when it comes to pricing. The Blaze is priced competitively below $200, where the Apple Watch starts significantly higher. If you plan on just using the device as a way to track your workouts, then that price difference is one that could make the Blaze a superior choice. On the flip side, if you're interested in some of the Apple Watch's more high-tech features, then the extra money might be worth it to get a full-powered smartwatch and a fitness tracker in the same package.