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Which fitness tracker is the better workout companion?

Mashable 12 Jun 2020 01:00
Fitbit and Garmin battle it out for the title of the best fitness tracker.
Fitbit and Garmin battle it out for the title of the best fitness tracker.
Image: MASHABLE COMPOSITE; FITBIT, GARMIN

Whether you're just starting out on your new fitness journey or have upped the intensity of your workout while in quarantine, a fitness tracker is essential to tracking your stats. Not only does it help you keep an eye on your metrics while exercising, but it also paints a picture of your progress over time.

But when you see the words "fitness tracker," it's highly likely your mind automatically thinks of one brand and one brand only: Fitbit. It also just so happens that the Google-owned company recently launched its best fitness tracker yet, the Charge 4 ($150). 

In addition to a heart-rate monitor, it also packs built-in GPS, a large touchscreen display, and interchangeable straps. Having reviewed it myself, I can confidently say it's an excellent fitness tracker that offers plenty for its price. 

However, that's not to say that it's the only excellent tracker on the market. In fact, the Garmin vivosmart 4 is just as capable. Like the Charge 4, it features a touchscreen display, heart-rate monitor, and tracks all the same activity metrics. And at $130, it's less expensive than the Charge 4, too. 

The Charge 4 features a 1-inch greyscale OLED touchscreen display with thick bezels on the top and bottom. On the left side of the tracker is an inductive button for navigation, which dips into the side of the case and vibrates when triggered. The case is also water-resistant up to 50 meters, which means you can use it to track laps in the pool and wear it while in the shower. 

Of course, style always comes down to one's personal taste. But the Garmin vivosmart 4 looks a lot more high-end, in my opinion. The metal accents give it a more appealing aesthetic that doesn't blatantly scream, "I'm tracking my steps right now." 

But one thing to consider is the variety of workouts you'll be tracking. The vivosmart 4 has only nine exercise modes (strength training, cardio training, elliptical training, stair stepping, yoga, running, walking, cycling, pool swimming), while the Charge 4 can track over 20, including the ones listed covered by the vivosmart 4.

However, the Charge 4 stands out thanks to one feature: built-in GPS. The vivosmart 4, on the other hand, has connected GPS. So what's the difference? Well, with built-in GPS, you can leave your phone at home to track distances on your walks, runs, and biking sessions. Whereas with connected GPS, you're tethered to your phone. Having the sensor built into the tracker means your metrics will be a lot more accurate.

Meanwhile, Garmin offers its own "Garmin Coach" for free, but it's focused more on helping you train for marathons. Depending on your specific goals, it'll pair you with one of its coaches to create an automated training plan that adjusts based on your progress.

But I'd also only go on runs for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time. If you're taking the Charge 4 to track longer sessions like hikes or bike rides, then you'll only get about five hours of battery with continuous use.  

If you're looking for a fitness tracker, you can't go wrong with the Fitbit Charge 4. At $150, it offers a variety of different features that not only help to track your workouts, but also help you to improve over time. Let's also not forget that you can squeeze at least five days worth of battery life out of it, even with built-in GPS. 

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GarminFitbit
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