Maybe I need to check my priorities, or maybe I just really love fitness trackers. This week, with the Apple Watch available for pre-order, I spent an inordinate amount of time wondering if it’ll be an adequate replacement for my beloved Fitbit, and whether I should order one (even though it won’t ship to me until June — yeah … indecision has consequences).
I’m admittedly a bit of a sucker for new tech, but I especially love gadgets that give me fitness/wellness data. In addition to my Fitbit, I also have a Zepp, which attaches to my tennis racquets and analyzes the quality of my ground strokes and serves. And I’ve been tracking my sleep on and off for years, starting with a now-defunct wristband called a WakeMate (now I just use my Fitbit).
I like the idea of having a souped-up watch that enables me to leave my phone in my bag, but if I’m going to wear my Fitbit as well, then I don’t see the point. And, the Apple Watch is not primarily touted as a fitness tracker.
As the Apple Watch reviews roll in, I’ve focused on the early word on the fitness/wellness capabilities. Here are some good examples:
- Road Tested: The Apple Watch (Self.com)
- Apple Watch Sport vs Fitbit Surge: Fitness tracking face-off (TrustedReviews.com)
- The 8 Big Takeaways from the First Apple Watch Reviews (Vox.com)
- Apple Watch Review – a Day in the Life (TheVerge.com … note: this is an EXTENSIVE review, but there’s an entire section dedicated to the watch’s fitness tracking capabilities)
The Pros: Many reviewers seem to agree that the Apple Watch can be a “reasonable replacement” for a dedicated fitness tracker like a Fitbit or Jawbone UP (particularly the simpler models like the Fitbit Flex, which is what I have). Although as you look at more robust fitness trackers like the Fitbit Surge or Basis Peak watch, the differences are fewer, and the Apple Watch starts to quickly fall behind.
The Cons: I agree with the industry pundits who are saying that this is early technology and the best is still yet to come. Some critics will go so far as to say wait until next year to consider buying the Apple Watch; that the existing technology doesn’t yet justify the price.
Personally, I’m looking for a certain trifecta, but it doesn’t appear we’re quite there yet with the Apple Watch:
- Robust and truly useful features (both general tech and fitness)
- Beautiful design (we’re not there yet, although I think the Apple Watch is better than any other fitness tracker)
- Lots of third-party fitness apps (wouldn’t it be cool if I could view my FitStar sessions on my watch?)
My verdict? If I were to make a decision based purely on reviews, I think I would pass on the Apple Watch right now. But out of sheer curiosity and FOMO, I think I’m going to buy the cheapest $349 “sport” version, and bank on the fact that if I don’t like it, I should be able to sell it at a small loss to someone who’s looking for a deal. I toyed with the idea of instead upgrading to a Fitbit Surge or a Basis Peak, which appear to be superior fitness tracking choices. But I can’t get over how ugly (Fitbit) and un-wearably enormous (Basis) they are. So, Apple Watch it is. I’m hoping that future software releases and developer work on third-party apps will add further fitness value to the Apple Watch this year. Only experience will tell whether this is a smart 350 bucks to spend, or if I’ll be back to my Fitbit in short order. I’ll be sure to post an update in June!