If you’re on the lookout for a mid-range to a high-end smartwatch, you’ve no doubt heard of either Fitbit, Garmin, or both. After all, they are two of the most popular names as far as smartwatches and fitness bands are concerned. The question is when you put Fitbit VS Garmin, which one is the best? Or, rather, what’s the one that personally fits you best?
Both have their own advantage and disadvantages in various aspects. Finding them is no easy task, though, and that’s why we decided to do it for you!
So, without any further ado, let’s get right into it!
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- 1 1: Fitbit VS Garmin: operating system & software
- 2 2: Fitbit VS Garmin: options and hardware
- 3 3: Fitbit VS Garmin: reliability
- 4 4: Fitbit VS Garmin UI (user interface)
- 5 5: Fitbit VS Garmin health tracking
- 6 Fitbit VS Garmin smartwatches
- 7 Fitbit VS Garmin Fitness Bands
- 8 Fitbit VS Garmin: Head to Head Comparison
- 9 1: Fitbit Inspire 2 VS Garmin Vivosmart 4
- 10 2: Fitbit Versa 2 VS Garmin Forerunner 45
- 11 3: Garmin Instinct Solar Surf
- 12 Fitbit VS Garmin: wrapping up
1: Fitbit VS Garmin: operating system & software
Most people focus on comparing the smartwatches between them – which is the logical thing to do. However, don’t forget that at times, the software can be just as important as hardware and Apple is a great example of that.
Each app has its own, unique UI. And, arguably, there is no superior choice as far as looks are concerned. It all comes down to personal preferences.
One aspect that can be better or worse, however, is the features that each option has to offer. And some features are exclusive to one brand.
Fitbit, for example, offers Fitbit premium which, as the name implies, is exclusive to Fitbit devices.
Fitbit Premium costs an annual fee of almost $80, but it also brings heavy personalization and improvement tips to the table. Based on your lifestyle, it can give you recommendations on how to improve your health with things such as food intake, sleep quality, workouts, and anything else like that.
While we are at it, let us not forget to mention that certain Fitbit watches such as Fitbit Inspire 2 can also give you a free year of Fitbit premium.
Garmin Connect, on the other hand, doesn’t have much to offer in terms of exclusive software features. But it is more detailed when it comes to tracking workouts and generally more stable.
At the end of the day, it depends on what you want.
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2: Fitbit VS Garmin: options and hardware
A great thing about Garmin is that they offer plenty of options to choose from. There are more than 30 Garmin variations of different watches. Fitbit, on the other hand, only has a handful of bands and watches to choose from.
Not to mention that there are also plenty of very, very premium offerings in the side of Garmin. So, as far as sheer options are concerned, you are more likely to find what you are after in a Garmin smartwatch – at least as long as you are willing to spend a premium. On that aspect, we’d say that Garmin is the victor.
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As far as hardware is concerned, your options can obviously greatly vary depending on how much you are willing to spend. More expensive watches tend to offer more sensors and features that are impossible to find in the lower tier picks. Things such as connectivity, built-in GPS, SpO2 monitoring, extra features, local storage, and more.
Ultimately, though, both brands offer some great options and as long as you’re willing to increase your budget, you can get whatever you want – be it with Garmin or Fitbit.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that premium Fitbit watches, such as the Fitbit Ionic, tend to present hardware issues more often than Garmin’s offering. And that’s something that you can easily see in user reviews. So, unfortunately, that’s minus one point for Fitbit.
At the end of the day, as far as hardware and options are concerned, Garmin seems to have the upper hand.
3: Fitbit VS Garmin: reliability
Reliability is a big hit or miss here cause it can largely differ from watch to watch. But, if you look at user reviews, Fitbit watches tend to come out as faulty more often than the Garmin variants. And that’s something we also mentioned in the “hardware” section.
On the other hand, most Fitbit bands tend to come with removable/replaceable bands while Garmin’s offerings do not. Imagine losing the functionality of a fully working watch because its laughably cheap band is non-replaceable.
Overall, Garmin seems to be more reliable in terms of quality control as far as smartwatches are concerned. But it also seems to be inferior in fitness bands if only due to the fact that most of their offerings don’t have a replaceable band. That’s a tie as far as we can tell, but, it also depends on what you are after.
Of course, there is also the matter of how well each company handles warranty cases. But that’s not something that we can judge with our limited data.
If you have any experience with warranty claims from either Garmin or Fitbit, feel free to let us know about it in the comments section down below!
4: Fitbit VS Garmin UI (user interface)
The UI is no doubt an important part of a smartwatch and a fitness band alike. After all, it’s something that we are forced to interact with on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, this can also be a matter of personal preference. We personally find it easier to navigate through Fitbit’s latest offerings – not to mention anything about the smoothness of animations, colors, and other visual aspects that can make a difference.
One thing that’s not a matter of personal preference, though, is customization options. On that aspect, Garmin offers thousands of watch faces and widgets to choose from. So, barely anyone can compete with them as far as that is concerned.
So, to conclude:
- Navigation and animations: Fitbit
- Customization options like widgets and watch faces: Garmin
5: Fitbit VS Garmin health tracking
Smartwatches are more than just watches. They are tools that we can use to track our fitness and overall health as well.
Some of the most important features that you’ll want to look out for as far as health tracking is concerned are:
- Heart rate tracking (Both at rest and while performing intense activities/workouts)
- Activity tracking
- Spo2 monitoring
- Built-in GPS so that you won’t have to carry your phone with you
And the truth is that both Fitbit and Garmin offer some great, premium options that offer all that, and, at times, even more.
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However, as we mentioned above in the “options and hardware” section, Garmin offers quite a lot more watches to choose from. And that’s especially true in the premium sector.
So, we’ll have to give this one to Garmin if only thanks to the sheer volume of extra options that you get – and also thanks to the more detailed workout tracking. Though, it is worth noting that Fitbit watches are generally better for tracking heart rate at rest.
Fitbit VS Garmin smartwatches
So far, our comparisons have been very generalized. That’s why as we move forward, the comparisons are going to be more and more specific. For now, let us focus on smartwatches.
When it comes to budget and mid-range picks, both Fitbit and Garmin are more or less on equal footing. However, as you start moving towards premium/flagship offerings, Garmin takes the upper hand.
Those of you who are willing to pay a premium for a Garmin watch can look forward to better performance, built-in GPS, great build quality, built-in storage, wireless connectivity, and more features.
And though some of the most expensive Fitbit offerings also come with most of these features, don’t forget that as we mentioned before, Garmin has more premium watches to choose from.
Not to mention that Garmin, on average, seems to offer better quality control. That’s something that you can easily tell by looking at Amazon reviews. At the moment of writing this article, you are more likely to come across complaints about DOA (Dead on Arrival) Fitbit watches rather than the Garmin alternatives.
Conclusion: Garmin offers more premium variants, and, on average, also better quality control with more features. But, as far as budget to mid-range options is concerned, both are more or less on equal footing.
Fitbit VS Garmin Fitness Bands
Garmin may have the upper hand as far as premium watches are concerned—but when it comes to Fitness Bands—they can hardly compete with Fitbit.
Fitbit’s bands don’t offer any more features. In fact, some of Garmin’s latest offerings come with Spo2 monitoring – something that’s still not present on Fitbit’s latest offering, the Inspire 2.
Still, we’d say that Fitbit has the upper hand as far as Fitness Bands are concerned for 3 reasons:
- Removable bands
- More customization options
- Better looks
We understand that none of that sounds like a big deal. But when everything else is more or less the same, that’s enough to make a difference. In fact, a removable/replaceable band can make quite a bit of difference. Imagine losing a fully-functional watch because your band broke and it’s non-replaceable.
That aside, you also get to choose whatever band you think looks and feels best.
Not to mention that Fitbit’s offerings also look a little bit better as they are – or at least that’s to our eyes. That can be a matter of personal preference.
At the end of the day, the presence of a removable/replaceable band is enough to give Fitbit the winning crowd. Unless you value the presence of SpO2 monitoring over everything else.
Fitbit VS Garmin: Head to Head Comparison
That’s about it as far as generalized comparisons are concerned. We probably already mentioned all that there is to say about the brands in general.
At this point, the only way to get a better understanding of what’s better for you is to compare similarly-priced watches from both Fitbit and Garmin. So, without any further ado, let the fight commence!
Looking for a mid to high-end fitness band? The Fitbit Inspire 2 is Fitbit’s latest offering that’s set to come out on September 25. But keep in mind that you can already pre-order if you want to.
The closest competitor to it in terms of pricing is the Vivosmart 4. So, we’d say this is a fair comparison.
In fact, we’ve already made an in-depth comparison of them which you can check out on this page. If you want the short version of it, just keep reading.
As far as features are concerned, the Vivosmart 4 brings two extra utilities to the table that Fitbit’s offering doesn’t have:
- SpO2 monitoring
- VO2 Max
SpO2 monitors your blood oxygen levels while VO2 can give you a good understanding of where you stand in terms of fitness.
But, then again, the Fitbit Inspire 2 comes with a yearly Fitbit premium subscription while also offering a removable/replaceable band.
As we mentioned before, a removable band can make a huge difference in terms of lifespan. Cause if your band breaks and you have the option of replacing it, that can cost as little a few bucks. But if it’s not removable, you are losing a whole smartwatch for a $12 damage that could have easily been fixed.
And that’s without even mentioning the possibilities of choosing any band you want so that you’ll be able to stylize it to your personal preference.
- Fitbit for longevity and customization
- Garmin for SpO2 and VO2 monitoring
Battery Life and Display
Battery life can greatly differ depending on what features you are using. For example, sleep tracking and continuous heart rate tracking are known for being massive battery killers.
But, on average, the Fitbit Inspire 2 promises about 10 days of battery life while the Garmin Vivosmart 4 only comes down to about a week without a charge. So, that’s a clear win for Fitbit here.
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Both displays are monochrome – which is quite a shame by 2020 standards. But, at least the Inspire 2’s display is a little bit larger.
So, no matter how you look at it, the Fitbit Inspire comes on top in both battery life and display quality. The Vivosmart’s design may be better in terms of screen protection. But, then again, how many of us drop our fitness bands? They are not smartphones to slip from our hands.
Winner: Fitbit Inspire 2
Both the Fitbit app and Garmin Connect have their own pros and cons.
One of the biggest advantages of Garmin Connect is that it offers tons of widgets and watch faces to choose from. However, that’s not applicable in the Vivosmart 4 since it doesn’t give you the option to change watch faces.
Fitbit, on the other hand, offers Fitbit premium. A sort of service to fully personalize tips and recommendations for your fitness and overall health.
The only downside of the Fitbit app is that it’s generally more unstable and buggy compared to Garmin Connect. And that’s especially true on Android devices.
- Fitbit Inspire 2: Comes with a bigger display, Fitbit Premium, and more customization options with a removable band but no SpO2 monitoring
- Garmin Vivosmart 4: Offers SpO2 and VO2 max but the non-removable band can prove troublesome in case yours breaks
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The Inspire 2 and the Vivosmart 4 are two of the best fitness bands that Fitbit and Garmin have to offer. But smartwatches are a different breed.
And as far as smartwatches are concerned, the Versa 2 is currently one of the best that Fitbit has to offer with the Versa 3 being on the way. For now, you can only get the Versa 2 with the Garmin Forerunner 45 being the closest competitor in terms of pricing.
So, without any further ado, let’s see which brand offers the best smartwatch!
As far as hardware features are concerned, Garmin has the upper hand here if only thanks to the built-in GPS. If you don’t need to take or make a call while jogging, this will allow you to leave the phone behind and go for a run without it – at least as long as you don’t need music.
Then there’s also Garmin Coach, which is similar to Fitbit Premium, VO2 Max, SOS alerts in case something goes wrong, multiple workout modes, and all that good stuff.
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Fitbit’s offering, on the other hand, comes with Amazon’s Alexa built-in. This allows you to perform certain actions with your voice such as setting alarms or even controlling smart home devices at your place.
There’s also music control built-in – but, unfortunately, it asks for a recurring subscription. Add Fitbit Premium to the table and the Versa 2 quickly gets rather expensive without providing a lot more than the competition.
Fitbit’s sleep tracking is arguably better. But, that’s as far as its pros go. To conclude, if you absolutely need Alexa, go with the Versa 2. Otherwise, Garmin’s offering is hands down a better pick as far as features and hardware are concerned.
Battery Life and Display
The Fitbit Versa 2 can survive up to 6 days away from its charger while the Garmin Forerunner 45 can barely take it one step further at 7 days. However, one thing to keep in mind here is that Garmin’s battery life can be greatly reduced if you are using the built-in GPS. It’s one of the most power-hungry components that the Fitbit Versa 2 doesn’t have at all.
Still, at the end of the day, that’s somewhat a win for Garmin’s offering.
Both watches come with a colored display and an Always On option. However, the Fitbit Versa is noticeably larger at about 1.4 inches compared to the Forerunner 45’s 1.04 inches. Not to mention the superior resolution of 300×300 against Garmin’s 208 x 208.
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To conclude, Garmin’s offering comes with a slightly better battery life (Worse if you include the built-in GPS) but the Fitbit Versa 2 clearly has a superior display in both size and resolution.
The apps here are pretty much the same you get on the fitness bands but with a few different features to match the hardware of the smartwatches.
But it is worth noting that Garmin Connect offers significantly more watch faces to choose from. Not to mention the companion app that you can use to track everything that’s going on not only on your smartphone but on the desktop as well. And as we mentioned above, Garmin’s offering also comes with SpO2 tracking which can prove to be useful in certain scenarios.
So, that’s probably a win for Garmin – unless you value Fitbit Premium above everything that we’ve already mentioned.
It’s not that we forgot to include a competitor. It’s that there is not one to begin with. Remember how we mentioned that Garmin offers certain premium offerings that you can’t find on Fitbit’s side? Well, this is one of them.
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At $449, it’s more than twice as expensive than both the Fitbit Versa 2 and the upcoming 3. But, in exchange, it offers a few features that you won’t find anywhere else.
As the name implies, apart from personal coaching, built-in GPS, Glonass, Galileo, waterproofing up to 100 meters, Pulse Ox monitoring, and all that good stuff, you also get wave tide tracking, surf activity, and solar charging!
Solar charging can extend the battery life up to 54 days in smartwatch mode. And, if you are willing to use the Garmin Instinct Solar like a “normal” fitness band from time to time, you may never run out of battery at all. Especially if there’s plenty of strong sunlight.
That’s something unique that you currently can’t find on Fitbit’s side. So, this is the one and only case where we have a clear winner, no questions asked.
No doubt it’s only targeted towards a very specific crowd. But, as long as there is demand, there will be supply.
Fitbit VS Garmin: wrapping up
When everything is said and done, you can see that there is no clear winner. Each side has its own pros and cons.
But, on average, Fitbit seems to make better overall fitness bands while Garmin generally offers a few more features and better quality control as far as Smartwatches are concerned. That said, your mileage can obviously vary from watch to watch.
The only category where there is a clear winner is the upper premium range. If you are willing to spend a lot for a very specific niche such as swimming with extreme waterproofing and unlimited battery, Garmin is still a one-way road.
That’s all for now. If you liked this article, feel free to follow us on social media for more smartwatches, fitness bands, tech tips, how-to guides, and more. Also, if you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to let us and everyone else know about them in the comments section down below!
Last update on 2021-09-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API