Traditional smartwatch players such as Garmin, Fitbit and Apple now have to compete with new entrants such as Whoop and Amazon’s Halo who bring a unique value proposition to the table. In this article, we examine Fitbit Sense, Whoop and Amazon Halo and provide you with our unique perspective.
There are five key areas using which we will compare these fitness bands. These are Specs, Design, Features, Pricing and Final Verdict.
So lets get started..
When it comes to understanding the specs of a smartwatch or a fitness band, most users like to understand the elements of display quality, styling, processor & storage, battery life, IP Rating and Software. In this case, the comparison is unique, since neither Whoop not Amazon Halo offer a display on their bands.
Unlike wearOS watches, where we are comparing if a smartwatch has 3100 Snapdragon processor or the latest 4100 series, the fitness bands and Smartwatches from Fitbit, Whoop and Amazon use their own proprietary operating system and underlying hardware.
Likewise, storage specifications doesn’t add any value in this comparison, since neither the Whoop nor the Amazon Halo Band are decked upto hold your music or podcasts. The bands from Whoop and Amazon are designed exclusively for “health and fitness”.
Now let’s compare the relevant specifications in greater detail.
Specification Comparison Table
|Fitbit||Amazon Halo||Whoop 3.0|
|Display||No Display on the band||No Display on the Whoop 3.0 band|
|Battery Usage||Battery lasts upto 5 days on the Whoop 3.0.|
No need to take off your WHOOP Strap–battery pack slides on for on-the-go charge.
|Water Resistance||Swim proof. Water resistance up to 50 meters||Swim proof. You can use the Whoop for pool workouts or open water ocean swims. |
Entire pod is water resistant up to IP68 / 3ATM.
|Dimensions and Weight||Fitbit Charge (1.4in l x 0.9in w x 0.5in h)||The capsule weighs 18 gas and the band weighs another 5 – 6 gms.||The WHOOP Strap weighs 0.64 ounces. With the battery pack charging the Strap it weighs 1.16 ounces.|
|Band / Sensor Colors||The woven band made from polyester and the classic band is made of typical plastic materials seen on other smartwatches.||Black/Onyx, Winter/Silver, and Blush/Rose Gold||The ProKnit band quality on the Whoop 3.0 looks and feels better than the Halo|
Main Feature Differences between the devices
Now that we covered the initial specs around these devices, let’s look at some of the main features and the key service offerings that you can get from these devices.
Fitbit Sense / Fitbit Versa 3
If you are a former Fitbit user and have always made an effort to put in your ‘daily steps’ religiously, you are going to love the Fitbit Sense. The new PPG sensor on the Fitbit Sense has been greatly improved from prior Fitbit models.
Not only has the heart rate monitoring feature on the Fitbit Sense and Versa 3 been improved in terms of accuracy, but the new Sense also features blood oxygen level saturation monitoring as well as an option that measures your skin temperature. The Versa 3 and other Fitbit models do not have the option to measure skin temperature.
The Fitbit Sense also provides you the latest ECG app and uses the heart rate metrics and other variables to provide a detailed Stress management platform.
- Complete Guide to Fitbit Sense Stress Management features
- Fitbit unveils new Fitbit Sense with stress-tracking feature, improved heart monitoring and more
Fitbit has also dramatically improved its sleep monitoring platform in its new offerings.
The Fitbit app is easy to follow if you are a new Fitbit user. You can see all your stats, trends and follow your progress from one place. Fitbit is also offering a free trial to their Premium platform that offers many features and is definitely worth a try. There are 20+ Goal based exercises that you can take use to charter your fitness path.
In terms of other options that improve productivity via Smartwatch, the Fitbit doesn’t disappoint. You can use the embedded NFC sensor to pay using Fitbit Pay. Take your phone calls on your wrist and respond to text messages easily from the watch. This is one of the few smartwatches that provides support for both Google Assistant as well as Amazon Alexa. You can download other apps onto your Fitbit to track your flights or play music with Spotify and more. The new Always-on-Display feature on the Fitbits can be used with numerous watch faces that are available. You are able to store up to 5 different watch faces on your device.
- EDA Scan app detects electrodermal activity which may indicate your body's response to stress and a...
- Assess your heart for atrial fibrillation –a heart rhythm irregularity- and easily share results...
Amazon Halo Features
The super-affordable fitness band from Amazon is very different from Fitbit smartwatches and fitness trackers. This is meant for users who don’t want to see a display on their wrist but still make sure that their fitness metrics are being tracked consistently.
The no-frill fitness band has plenty to offer for the casual fitness user.
- Amazon Halo fitness band–how to set up and use its many features
- How to check weekly and monthly averages and totals on Amazon Halo
Amazon Halo provides 24-hour heart rate monitoring. Open the app on your phone and with one click you are able to see your heart rate scores. This is good for users who want to track their HR basics but the device and the app does not yet show the advanced Heart Rate metrics. Unlike the Fitbit or the Whoop or even the Apple Watch, you are not going to see a score for Resting heart rate or Heart rate variability.
The Amazon Halo does not offer ECG capabilities.
If you were looking for a fitness tracker that could provide you details around your blood oxygen level tracking (SpO2), you will be disappointed with the Amazon Halo.
When it comes to Sleep monitoring, the Amazon Halo has a lot going for it and is definitely one of the more impressive features. Not only does the app provide you with an overall Sleep score but it actually provides the details around the sleep stages and other essential metrics. The Sleep Lab sessions also offer a rich set of curated options that you can take advantage of to optimize your sleep schedule, fall asleep faster by listening to soothing sounds, improve your sleep with meditation techniques and use a session to reduce anxiety.
Activity Monitoring and Fitness Sessions
The Activity monitoring that is offered with the Amazon Halo is also unique. The band automatically captures your activity and categorizes it into:
- Intense Activity
- Moderate Activity and
- Light Activity
along with the heart rate for the duration of the activity. What we love about this is you don’t have to switch-on anything. Just wear the band continuously and let Halo do the heavy lifting. It automatically tracks your steps, calories burned, activity duration and associates the heart rate with the activities.
The simplicity of the Halo app design is truly amazing. All you need to worry about while sporting the Halo band is if you are able to complete the weekly quota of the activities. This is similar to closing your rings on Apple Watch or making sure you have completed the necessary steps on your fitbit.
The Amazon Halo labs offer different guided exercise programs that can be launched from the app. There are many workouts available from Cardio, Yoga, Pilates, Barre, Strength to HIIT that you can take advantage of. This is similar to the Apple Fitness+ offering where you can use a recorded trainer session to follow along and complete a class.
With the Apple Fitness+, you can see your workout metrics on the screen as you workout. With Amazon Halo and other fitness trackers, you do not see the metrics on the screen but can go back and check after you have completed the session.
The other thing that is great about the Halo is that all the classes or Labs, as Amazon calls it are free and included in your monthly subscription.
Tone Analysis and Body Fat analysis
These are very unique features of the Amazon Halo. No other Fitness tracker is providing these at the moment of writing. These two features also seem to be the most debated and controversial features of the band. We have tried out the Tone analysis and honestly think that it works like a charm.
- Amazon Halo Tone Analysis : A Beginner’s User Guide and review
- The Science behind Amazon Halo’s Voice Tone analysis and plans for Blood Glucose and Blood Pressure monitoring
Basically, by recording your voice, and analyzing your tone, it can detect the emotional state and offer tools for better managing your stress and emotions.
- Membership includes body composition, tone of voice analysis, sleep & activity tracking, and more...
- Activity - Track the intensity & duration of your movement plus sedentary time.
Privacy Issues with Amazon Halo
Recently, we have seen a lot of reports from the likes of Washington post and Nytimes where the issue of privacy has been raised. We think that these concerns are overblown and here’s why.
- First and foremost, as an iPhone user, you can control which apps on your phone have access to your microphone or camera. Simply disable the Microphone access for Halo app and you are done. This is if you do not trust Amazon.
- The Halo app offers numerous controls around maintaining your privacy.Using the Settings in the app, you can delete all your Body data, Tone data and health data.
- Data is always encrypted in transit if you use the Body fat composition process. The tone data on the other hand is processed right on your device and is not moved to Amazon servers. Furthermore, the tone analysis only captures your voice and not other people’s voices when you are using the feature.
- The Body uses your smartphone’s camera to analyze your body fat percentage. The scanned images are processed in the cloud and automatically deleted.
- Other fitness bands such as the Sense or Versa also include a microphone but we dont think about privacy.
The challenge is Amazon’s history with privacy and the company will have to more bold steps to win trust from its customers.
In our tests, we did not use the body scan feature but ended up using all the other features of the Halo band and were pleased with the offerings.
The charging mechanism for the fitness band could be improved for sure by Amazon but the battery holds up pretty well.
For the price point and value offerings, we found the Halo to be a very useful device if you can ignore the creepy side of things.
There is no feature related to productivity improvements with the Halo app. Since the app does not integrate with third-party apps or does not provide a mechanism to get text notifications from your phone, you cannot do much with it. The Amazon Halo is purely a fitness band aimed at casual users who want to monitor the basics and stay fit.
Whoop Fitness Band
The Whoop 3.0 Fitness band is a serious gadget for both aspiring athletes and casual fitness enthusiasts.
If you like metrics-driven wellness and believe in the philosophy of “You can manage only what you can measure”, this is the fitness band to go for.
Whoop does not have a display much like the Amazon Halo band, which means no notifications and no phone calls on your wrist. That being said, its also on the expensive side of the spectrum given its monthly subscription fees.
When it comes to wellness offerings, Whoop takes a no-nonsense approach to your fitness. It tracks your strain score ( Intensity of your workouts), your recovery score ( a detailed set of metrics based on HRV, Sleep scores and Heart rate) and nudges you to approach your training regimen with the vigor of science.
If you believe in HRV (Heart Rate Variability) based approach to fitness, this is the band to have.
The Whoop can also tell you if you are going to fall sick by simply keeping track of your resting heart rate spikes.
The Fitness band does not have SpO2 monitoring or a skin temperature sensor.
Most Whoop users are always trying to balance their Strain scores with their Recovery scores. The band tells you when your body is ready for the next 5k and when you should rest up more before putting your body into strain.
Recovery science is the area where Whoop beats out any competitor. Assume that you did a massive workout via uphill run over the weekend. As you rest and recover, the device can look at various heart rate metrics and draw conclusions if the inflammation levels in your body are totally gone or if you still need to rest up with a good night’s sleep before indulging in another strenuous activity.
Many users who use Whoop use it solely for managing their fitness and recovery. They tend to use a Fitbit / Samsung watch or Apple Watch on the other wrist to monitor their notifications and more.
Whoop platform also offers a monthly performance report that is a detailed report outlining your progress and offers recommendations. You are also able to take advantage of an online journal section in the platform to keep track of your eating habits, anxiety or stress ful events and more.
In terms of fitness classes, there are some offerings from the Whoop community. You can sign up for Whoop Live and follow along with trainers.
The pricing on the three devices are very different. Whoop currently has a promotion in place where you can get the device for free and will need to pay $30 / month for a six-month subscription.
The Amazon Halo band is substantially cheaper at $99 and comes with a free six-month subscription following which it auto-renews at $3.99 per month.
The Fitbit Sense is available for $279.95 and the FitBit Versa 3 is available for $199.95. When you purchase a new Fitbit, you get 6 months of free subscription to Fitbit Premier platform after which you are charged $9.99/month to continue using the premier platform or you can cancel the subscription and still continue using the Fitbit.
Annualizing the First-Year Costs
If you were to annualize the costs, you will be paying $360 for a year of Whoop, $125 dollars for a year of Amazon Halo and $340 for a year of Fitbit Sense with premium subscription.
Just one quick note.
Once you calculate the second year costs of your Whoop or Fitbit Sense, you may find that the Apple Watch is not a bad deal if you are looking for a device with great privacy features, proven heart rate monitoring with ECG, and more.
- GPS model lets you take calls and reply to texts from your wrist
- Measure your blood oxygen with an all-new sensor and app
Which Fitness Band / SmartWatch should I get?
This decision depends purely on your personal preferences. Based on our testing, we find that casual fitness owners will find the Fitbit and the Amazon Halo platform more appealing.
That being said, if you are looking for a full portfolio of health monitoring along with essential smartwatch features such as support for notifications, ability to take calls from your wrist, you will find the Fitbit Sense or the Fitbit Versa 3 more appealing to you.
If you are metrics-driven and are currently looking for a no-nonsense fitness band that is being used by world-class elite athletes such as Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City Chiefs, Whoop is the best choice.
Privacy is an area that Whoop values deeply. If you are concerned about microphone access, GPS tracking et al, Whoop is the way forward for you.
The Amazon Halo provides a cost-effective platform for the casual fitness enthusiast who is not overly concerned about metrics but wants to make sure that he or she is taking ample steps to manage their fitness. The Halo labs also provide a solid ‘nudge factor’ in terms of video-based classes to keep your motivation humming.
Buying Fitness Tracker as a Gift
If you are buying a health/fitness tracker for someone in the household who is not very tech-savvy, the Amazon Halo is a good offer.
For a fashion-conscious, always on the move person, staying connected is very important. In this case, the Fitbit Sense, Fitbit Versa or the Apple Watch makes the most sense.
Lastly, if the gift is for an aspiring sportsperson in your household or if you are looking to to amp up your cycling miles with metrics, Whoop may be worth trying out.
We hope that you found this overview helpful. Our comprehensive product feature guides walkthrough in detail over some of the features of these bands. We have provided them as links throughout the article and encourage you to take time to review some of them in order to make the most educated purchasing decision.
As always, please free to shoot us your comments, your concerns, and any other questions that you may have. Finally, we would love to know which of these fitness products did you choose and why.
Last update on 2021-01-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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