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Apple Watch Series 6 vs WHOOP (2021): Comparing Wearable Tech For Fitness and Health

Today’s wearables are putting great emphasis on health and fitness monitoring features. The Apple Watch Series 6, for instance, now comes with blood oxygen monitoring and a native sleep tracking up. This is on top of the ECG monitoring that Apple pioneered for a consumer device. Meanwhile, the WHOOP Strap 3.0 continues to build on its impressive data collection and accuracy. The fitness tracker is already a staple on the wrists of fitness enthusiasts and professional athletes. But given their different approach to design and activity tracking, which device should you buy? Read our comparison below to find out.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs WHOOP Comparison Chart

ModelApple Watch Series 6 WHOOP Strap 3.0
 
PriceCheck Price at AmazonCheck Price at WHOOP
DisplayAlways-on retina displayNo
Sizes40mm, 44mmOne size only
Water ResistanceUp to 50 metersUp to 30.5 meters
Heart Rate VariabilityYesYes
Sleep TrackingYesYes
Blood Oxygen LevelYesNo
Swim TrackingYesYes
Menstrual Cycle TrackingYesNo
Automatic Workout TrackingYesYes
ECG MonitorYesNo
AltimeterYesNo
GPSBuilt-inVia connect smartphone
CompatibilityiOSiOS, Android
Compatible Fitness ServiceApple Fitness+WHOOP
Battery LifeUp to 18 hoursUp to 5 days

Design

The Apple Watch Series 6 is a premium-looking smartwatch, while the WHOOP 3.0 is a discreet but screenless fitness tracker.

The black on black options of both wearables look sleek.

The Apple Watch Series 6 boasts a large, touchscreen Retina display encased in either aluminum, titanium, and stainless steel. Those who want to customize their Apple Watch can then choose from several color finishes and watch bands. Customers can also purchase a co-branded Apple Watch Nike or an Apple Watch Hermès. Like previous iterations, the Apple Watch Series 6 is available in two sizes — 40mm and 44mm.

Meanwhile, the WHOOP takes an unconventional approach to design. Unlike other fitness trackers, the WHOOP Strap 3.0 is screenless β€” there is no display to touch or look at. Instead, you get a stretchy band with a black pod that contains the device’s sensors. There are no dedicated buttons, too. When it comes to engagement, the most you can do is tap the pod for pairing or double-tap it to illuminate the LED lights that indicate the device’s battery level.

Just like the Apple Watch Series 6, the WHOOP strap is water-resistant. The fitness tracker is also compatible with an array of wrist bands in every imaginable color and design. Most of WHOOP‘s bands are made of breathable filaments and incorporate a rubber film for grip.

Apple’s standard silicone bands are sweat- and swim-proof, too, but not as breathable. If you need a durable band for workouts, the Nike bands are much better. However, the WHOOP Strap 3.0 is more versatile. The discreet-looking tracker can be worn on one’s upper arm using a dedicated arm sleeve or bicep band.

Fitness and Activity Tracking

The WHOOP Strap 3.0 works with a more intuitive app compared to the Apple Watch Series 6.

Here’s a look at the fitness metrics tracked by the Apple Watch and WHOOP Strap

Apple’s smartwatch lineup, including the Apple Watch Series 6, is largely anchored on the Activity app. This feature visualizes activities as rings and displays fitness metrics and trends. Some of the data you can monitor and record include calories burned, flights climbed, and steps walked. With the rings, you also get a summary of your progress vis-Γ -vis the fitness goals you set.

Similar to previous models, the Apple Watch Series 6 comes pre-loaded with workouts you can monitor. If you forget to start tracking a workout, you will be alerted by the watch’s auto-detect feature. The Watch 6 can also track four new activities: Functional Strength Training, Dance, Core Training, and Cool Down. These new features come along with the watchOS 7.

Where the WHOOP Strap 3.0 challenges Apple, however, is in how it presents a user’s data. WHOOP‘s accompanying app is an intuitive and well-organized program that makes it easy to monitor your progress. You essentially get four sections β€” Overview, Strain, Recovery, and Sleep β€” that you swipe across to navigate between metrics.

WHOOP‘s Overview is similar to Apple’s Activity app, where you get an overview of your daily metrics. Tracked activities, sleep, heart rate variability, and calories burned are just some of the info you’ll see in this section. Strain and Recovery, on the other hand, are unique to the WHOOP experience.

Strain measures how much time you’ve spent in a heart rate zone. This can be based on your workouts or daily activities. Meanwhile, Recovery measures how much Strain you can take in the day. The target Strain value is based on your sleep and heart rate variability, as well as data of your past activities.

Health Features

Apple’s smartwatch has more advanced health monitoring tools compared to WHOOP‘s fitness band.

On the left, the Apple Watch measuring blood oxygen levels. On the right, a look at the WHOOP‘s components.

Monitoring one’s heart rate is a key component of today’s wearable tech. It comes as no surprise then that the Apple Watch Series 6 and WHOOP Strap 3.0 has poured considerable attention on this feature. Apple’s smartwatch, for instance, uses a third-generation optical heart sensor to monitor this important metric. The same tool tracks your resting, walking, breathing, and recovery rates.

WHOOP‘s wearable also employs an optical heart sensor. The company shares that the Strap 3.0’s sensor uses two green LEDs and a 3-axis accelerometer for more accurate readings. Since it’s the only sensor on the fitness tracker, it has to be reliable. Based on reviews, however, WHOOP is only relatively accurate. Users share the device can be a few beats per minute off.

The same can be said with the Apple Watch Series 6. Consistent heart rate readings still depend on several factors. This means the accuracy level can vary from one person to another. Even the way your wear the watch will impact how well your heart rate is monitored.

Where Apple’s smartwatch does have an edge is outside of heart rate monitoring. The Apple Watch Series 6, for example, boasts a sensor for blood oxygen monitoring. There is also an electric heart sensor β€” introduced back with the Series 4 β€” for the ECG app. Apple’s newest wearable also features the lineup’s first native sleep tracking app. This extends the device’s list of capabilities, which already includes fall detection, noise monitoring, and menstrual cycle tracking.

Smart Features and Battery Life

The Apple Watch Series 6 is a more complete device but doesn’t have the simplicity and battery life of the WHOOP Strap 3.0.

Users can respond to messages on the Apple Watch Series 6, which is impossible on the screenless WHOOP Strap 3.0.

There’s no doubt that Apple Watch Series 6 has an advantage when it comes to smart features. It is a smartwatch after all. Some of the things you can do with Apple’s wearable include reading smartphone notifications from the watch itself. You can respond to text messages and, if you get the cellular model, even answer calls. Of course, the Apple Watch Series 6 also supports contactless payments, courtesy of Apple Pay. The watch also comes with a built-in GPS.

When you have a large display like on the Apple Watch, it would be a mistake not to make the most of it. Through the watchOS 7, users enjoy a range of customization features, including countless watch faces and complications. Apple’s latest OS also gives access to an unmatched number of apps for a wearable.

Now the WHOOP Strap 3.0 cares little for these smart features. Instead of boasting a host of applications, the display-less fitness band keeps things simple β€” monitoring your heart. It’s this simplicity that helps cut-off what others see as unnecessary features. This gives WHOOP room to focus on developing a more intuitive app while delivering on other performance aspects. The WHOOP Strap 3.0, for instance, boasts a 5-day battery life, a promise still unforeseeable with the battery-intensive requirements of an Apple Watch.

Click here to read our Fitbit vs WHOOP comparison.

Subscription and Compatibility

The Apple Watch Series 6 is a one-time purchase, whereas the WHOOP Strap 3.0 follows a subscription model.

You can use the Apple Watch to control your music unlike the WHOOP Strap.

Getting an Apple Watch is pretty simple. You can purchase it as a standalone device or bundled with an iPhone, courtesy of network providers. WHOOP, on the other hand, approaches things differently. Instead of paying for a device, WHOOP Strap 3.0 users purchase a membership to access the app. The fitness band itself comes free with the subscription.

This subscription model might turn off potential customers who aren’t too keen on spending monthly on a screenless device. However, if you want to try it out first, you can opt for a six-month commitment instead of an annual plan. This half-year subscription will cost you $30 per month.

Meanwhile, the Apple Watch Series 6’s downside is that it’s only compatible with iOS. It’s all part of Apple’s seamless ecosystem. For iPhone users, it’s well and great. Those who own an Android phone, however, will have to look somewhere else. Luckily, the WHOOP Strap 3.0 is compatible with both iOS and Android. If you’re not sold on the WHOOP, you can always consider other devices. To give you an idea of what’s available for Android, check out our Fitbit comparisons and Garmin reviews.

Verdict

The Apple Watch Series 6 is an all-in-one device specially made for iOS users. Meanwhile, the WHOOP Strap 3.0 is more of a fitness accessory for pro athletes.

Apple Watch Series 6

Best all-in-one smartwatch

WHOOP Strap 3.0

Best for fitness enthusiasts and athletes

Choosing between the Apple Watch Series 6 and the WHOOP Strap 3.0 will largely depend on your preferences. If you’re on iPhone and need an all-in-one wearable, then get Apple’s latest smartwatch. The device comes with all the bells and whistles we’ve come to associate with the lineup. This does mean, however, that the fitness features have to share space with the rest of the watch’s tools. The Activity app is still a strong suit of the Apple Watch Series 6 but may not be as data-rich as what you’ll get from a dedicated fitness tracker.

This is where the WHOOP Strap 3.0 finds its place. Fitness enthusiasts and pro athletes will benefit from this device the most. WHOOP‘s lightweight band is screenless, making it a distraction-free addition to your training or exercise gear. With its intuitive app, you also get clear, rich, and insightful fitness metrics. Best of all, it works with both Android and iOS. Unfortunately, you might have to shell a bit more for this device in the long run. You can only get the WHOOP Strap 3.0 via a WHOOP subscription and not as a standalone device.

FAQs

πŸ“Œ What is the difference between the Apple Watch Series 6 and the WHOOP Strap 3.0?

The Apple Watch Series 6 is a feature-packed smartwatch, while the WHOOP Strap 3.0 is a screenless fitness band that monitors your heart rate.

πŸ“Œ Is the WHOOP Strap 3.0 compatible with other mobile applications?

WHOOP‘s fitness band is only compatible with the WHOOP app itself. While both Android and iOS users can download the app, the fitness band doesn’t integrate with Google Fit or Apple Health.

πŸ“Œ Is the Apple Watch’s ECG app approved by the FDA?

The ECG app of the Apple Watch has been given clearance by the FDA. An FDA clearance, however, is not the same as an approval.

πŸ“Œ Does the WHOOP Strap 3.0 come in different sizes?

The WHOOP Strap 3.0 is only available in one size. Its main pod is about an inch wide, which can be bulky for those with smaller wrists. The straps, however, come in adjustable lengths.

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.