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Fitbit Charge 4 vs Apple Watch 3 (2021): Which Fitness Smartwatch Should You Get?

With the Fitbit Charge 4 entering the market, going for previous models of popular wearables becomes a more questionable plan. Fitbit adds several key features that seriously upgrades the Charge series, making it a very attractive budget option. However, some smartwatches, such as the Apple Watch Series 3, remain a fantastic choice simply because of how great they are. How do you choose between the two? Check our comparison and recommendations below.

Fitbit Charge 4 vs Apple Watch 3 Fitness Smartwatch Comparison Chart

ModelFitbit Charge 4Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular)
 Apple Watch Series 3
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DisplayLEDRetina
Always-onNoNo
Screen Size1.36″1.78″
Dimensions1.4″ x 0.9″ x 0.5″1.73″ x 1.5″ x 0.42″
Weight0.7 oz1.01 oz
Colors42
Call & Text AlertsYesYes
Water ResistanceUp to 50 metersUp to 50 meters
Heart Rate MonitorYesYes
PedometerYesYes
AltimeterYesYes
Calorie Burn TrackerYesYes
Sleep TrackingYesNo
Swim TrackingYesYes
Female Health TrackingYesNo
CompassNoNo
GPSBuilt-inBuilt-in
CellularNoYes
Wi-FiNoYes
BluetoothYesYes
NFCYesYes
StorageNoYes
CompatibilityiOS, Android, WindowsiOS
Battery Life7 days18 hours

Design

The Fitbit Charge 4 looks practical while the Apple Watch 3 looks sleek and modern.

Fitbit Charge 4 vs Apple Watch 3 Fitness Tracker Design
If the Fitbit Charge 4 (left) and Apple Watch Series 3 (right) look familiar, it’s because their designs haven’t changed much from the originals.

You can’t fault either Fitbit or Apple for not straying too far from the success of their original fitness smartwatch designs. Both the Fitbit Charge 4 and Apple Watch Series 3 appear to be made from the same mold as their previous iterations, but they’re too well-suited for their intended purposes. But that’s key to the comparison of course.

Where the Charge 4 is slim and narrow and looks like it’s a single band wrapping around your wrist, the Apple Watch 3 has a more traditional watch-like form, except that it has a rounded square display. Fitbit designed the Charge fitness tracker to minimize its impact on your movement, so it’s lightweight and unassuming. Meanwhile, Apple wanted their smartwatch to wow onlookers with its gorgeous display and striking form.

If you like full color, high resolution screens, you’ll love the Apple Watch Series 3‘s larger, brighter display. It comes in two sizes, 38mm and 42mm, and they both make apps look great. In contrast, the Fitbit Charge 4‘s LED remains grayscale, so app interfaces are quite simpler and minimalist to make them easier to navigate and digest.

In short, the Apple Watch 3 clearly has the upper hand in terms of overall looks, but the Charge 3 gets plus points for ease of use and ergonomics.

Activity Tracking

The Fitbit Charge 4 offers built-in sleep quality and female health tracking features while the Apple Watch 3 do so via apps.

Fitbit Charge 4 vs Apple Watch 3 Fitness Tracker Activity Tracking
Fitbit added dedicated sleep quality tracking with the Charge 4, while the Apple Watch 3 introduced Activity Rings to motivate users to work out.

As the much newer device, the Fitbit Charge 4 has a wider variety of activity tracking features as well as health focused ones. It’s equipped with a heart rate monitor, pedometer, altimeter, and accelerometer, which are all typical in fitness trackers these days. Some few relatively new functionalities include automatic workout recognition and Active Zone Minutes, which helps you stay more active throughout the day outside of actually working out.

While the Apple Watch Series 3 sports much the same activity tracking you’d expect, it doesn’t have a dedicated sleep tracking feature which the Charge 4 has. This allows the wearable to record your heart rate while sleeping to offer insights on your sleep quality and how to improve them (available in Fitbit Premium). The Charge 4 also has a better developed female health tracking feature than the Apple Watch 3, so you’re able to follow your cycles and record symptoms.

Deal Finder
Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular)

Equipped with extensive fitness tracking features, the Apple Watch 3 remains an excellent smartwatch option today.

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One previous advantage of the Apple Watch over the Charge devices is that it came with built-in GPS so you can check your real time pace, distance traveled and route taken. That’s not the case anymore with the Charge 4, which now has GPS integrated into the tracker so you can leave your phone while on a run. You’ll still need to use your phone to see a map of the path you took though.

Both are waterproof up to 50 meters, allowing you to wear them during swimming workouts.

Smart Features

The Apple Watch 3 has a deeper app library and better connectivity options than the Fitbit Charge 4.

Fitbit Charge 4 vs Apple Watch 3 Fitness Tracker Smart Features
You get access to a much more extensive App Store with the Apple Watch Series 3, along with Siri and Apple Pay functionalities.

The larger and full color display of the Apple Watch Series 3 lends well to feature-rich apps with enhanced UIs and diverse capabilities. Furthermore, the number of apps in the App Store that are compatible with the Apple Watch 3 simply dwarf that of the Fitbit Charge 4. With a grayscale screen and limited touchscreen controls, the Charge 4 isn’t really built for interactive and pretty apps.

You can download apps directly onto the Apple Watch 3 via Wi-Fi and even store songs in it. Even better, the GPS+Cellular variant featured in this comparison is capable of LTE connections. You can leave your iPhone at home and enjoy the same connectivity as if you had it with you. It also has a mic and speaker that lets you speak with Siri, as well as NFC to enable contactless payments with Apple Pay.

Meanwhile, the Fitbit Charge 4 is limited to Bluetooth and NFC, which at least lets you use Fitbit Pay with a non-Special Edition. While you can use GPS without bringing your phone, you’ll still have to sync with it when you get back so all of your fitness metrics get saved into the Fitbit app. You do get to control Spotify, Pandora and Deezer with it, so you won’t have to pull out your phone, but you can’t store any songs on the tracker itself.

Battery Life and Other Features

The Fitbit Charge 4 lasts much longer on a single charge than the Apple Watch 3.

Fitbit Charge 4 vs Apple Watch 3 Fitness Tracker Battery Life
You’ll be able to wear the Fitbit Charge 4 for almost a week without needing to recharge it.

With its high-end display and CPU-intensive apps, the Apple Watch Series 3 eats up battery charge a lot quicker. A single full charge only lasts up to 18 hours, which gets reduced even more if you turn on GPS and other features. You’re likely going to need to charge it every night, but it’s at least easy with the included magnetic charging cable. This is likely the reason Apple chose not to include sleep tracking in its list of promoted features.

Now, if you want a wearable you won’t need to take off except on occasion, the Fitbit Charge 4 won’t disappoint. Its battery life is measured in days, not hours, so you can wear it all day and night to track both your exercises and sleep. The 7-day battery life of the Charge 4 will get slashed down to 5 hours if you keep GPS turned on though, so you’ll want to be prepared when relying on it for outdoor excursions.

In terms of controls, you’ll find the Apple Watch Series 3 to be better to navigate thanks to its Digital Crown, a small knob at the side of the device. This lets you scroll through the screen and clickable items without blocking the screen with your finger. In comparison, the Fitbit Charge 4 has a single button to turn the display on and you’re limited to simple swipes and taps.

Verdict

The Apple Watch 3 is a more flexible smartwatch while the Fitbit Charge 4 is a highly focused fitness tracker.

With extensive smartwatch and activity tracking features, it’s easier to recommend the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS+Cellular) to the majority of users who want a versatile wearable. With it, you can both track your exercises and calorie burn, and utilize its bevy of apps to enrich your non-fitness related activities. It has all of the connectivity options you could ask for and you’re likely going to enjoy its crisp, bright display so much that you’re going to check the time on it much more than on your phone.

Now if you’re really after a device that can help push you to reach your fitness goals, the highly focused design of the Fitbit Charge 4 will be much, much better. It’s got an immense reserve of battery life to draw from so you’d barely need to take it off your wrist, which means you can track health and workout metrics all the time. You can take advantage of its built-in GPS and NFC now, and you also get a free 3-month trial for Fitbit Premium to get you started on the right foot.

FAQs

📌 Which is more accurate, Fitbit or the Apple Watch?

While their accuracy is comparable, Apple Watches are typically more accurate than Fitbit fitness trackers and smartwatches.

📌 Does an Apple Watch count steps like Fitbit trackers do?

Yes, an Apple Watch can track your steps, heart rate, and calorie burn, among many other metrics.

📌 Is Fitbit owned by Apple?

No, Fitbit was recently acquired by Google.

📌 Which has a better battery life, the Fitbit Charge 4 or the Apple Watch 3?

The Fitbit Charge 4 has a battery life of up to 7 days while the Apple Watch 3’s battery life is only 18 hours.

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Derick Bondoc

Managing Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, gaming and snacks.