Until the Fitbit smartwatch turns up, the Fitbit Blaze is the closest we've got to an actual smartwatch from the wearable giant. Inevitably comparisons were always going to be made with the Apple Watch and the Apple Watch Series 2.
Whichever way you slice it, the Blaze is Fitbit's first smartwatch, even if the company flat-out refuses to call it such. It's a fitness watch, got it? And regardless of how much the company wants to avoid comparison to the Apple Watch, the truth is that people only have one wrist for tech – and for many, it will be a choice of whether to buy the Watch Series 2 or the Blaze.
That's why we've compared specs and features in detail to see if the Blaze can out-muscle Apple's second generation smartwatch.
Fitbit Blaze v Apple Watch Series 2: Design
The Blaze is Fitbit's best designed device by some distance – but up close it's still not that much of a looker. The rugged elastomer plastic band has not entirely disappeared though, but there's now a selection of different straps to give it a more smartwatch feel – if you fancy forking out.
Essential reading: Best Fitbit Blaze accessories
There's now a host of different finishes you can pick from including a gun-metal version of the casing which, holds the Fitbit Blaze element a certainly ups the style stakes slightly. There's now matching metal straps and even leather bands to give it a sleeker appearance.
Fitbit's clearly taking an Apple-like approach to design with the option of more luxurious bands, enabling you to customise for different looks.
If you want variety there's only one winner here and that's Apple. You still get two pick from two sizes (38mm and 42mm) and there's a range of different models to choose from. You can take your pick of silver, gold, rose gold and space grey aluminium finishes and there's also stainless steel case options and the new white ceramic model. But that's not just it. Apple teamed up with Hermès for more a fashion-friendly model and it there's also the Apple Watch Nike+ edition too.
Both watches have colour touchscreen displays, though they use different screen technologies. Apple employs OLED screen technology in two different sizes with a Sapphire crystal glass protection for the ceramic model and ION-X strengthened glass for the standard model. It's also brighter than the original Watch display. Fitbit opts for an 1.6-inch LCD screen with 240 x 180 resolution and Gorilla Glass 3 coating to give it an extra layer of durability. By any metric, Apple's tech is far superior.
In terms of navigation, the Blaze follows in the footsteps of the Surge, using two physical buttons on the right and one on the left. There is of course the touchscreen display as well, letting you swipe to view notifications or hit the buttons to view progress.
Apple keeps navigation minimal and discreet with its digital crown that's not not like a crown on a traditional watch. You can use it to open the app launcher, but a twist will let you zoom into apps which is handy for maps. There's also the Force Touch-enabled screen, which means you can press a little harder to unlock more information from your apps.
If you care about having a waterproof smartwatch, the Series 2 is your one. It's safe to take it for a dip at up to 50 metres depth offering the same waterproofing as the Fitbit Flex 2. The Blaze will at least hold up if you get caught out in the rain.
Fitbit Blaze v Apple Watch Series 2: Activity tracking
Fitness tracking is unsurprisingly the Blaze's big play here, and its list of features is a kind of refinement of the company's products to date. It'll track steps, sleep, calories, floors climbed, active time and there's an optical heart rate sensor to deliver resting HR and active time.
Essential reading: The best fitness trackers to buy in 2017
In terms of sensors, theres a 3-axis accelerometer, gyro sensor and an altimeter to track elevation. There's no on board GPS, so you'll have to rely on your phone's GPS to track runs and hikes via a feature called ConnectedGPS (a renamed version of the old MobileRun). You do get sleep tracking though and it's done automatically using the accelerometer to detect movement.
The Blaze can also track a whole host of exercises and uses the recently introduced SmartTrack feature to automatically recognise what activities you're doing. This means you'll always get credit for exercise, whether it's that morning walk to the office or gym workout. It recently inherited some features from the Fitbit Charge 2 adding Cardio Fitness Levels to see your cardio fitness improving over time and compared to people the same age/gender.
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You get on-screen workouts as well powered by Fitstar taking you through sessions one exercise at a time. However, it doesn't count reps or feature any difficulty progression – so it's hardly a game-changing feature. Look to Moov Now for the best offering of guided workouts.
There's still an abundance of third party app support here as well, so you can feed data from the likes of Strava, Endomondo and Weight Watchers into the Fitbit companion app if you don't want to give up data from your existing health and fitness apps.
For the Apple Watch, activity tracking is certainly an area that needed addressing and while there's no revolutionary changes on the Series 2, things have got a little better. Notably the ability to share your activity with other Watch owners for the extra level of competitiveness to put in a few more steps or running miles.
Much like the Blaze, it has an accelerometer, gyro sensor and a heart rate monitor that uses flashing green LED lights to detect changes in blood volume. It's a very similar to the way Fitbit's monitor works. Unlike the Blaze, you do get built-in GPS, so you can run or cycle without your phone. Now that it's waterproof as well, you can go swimming with it and it'll record a host of useful swim metrics.
Apple's Activity app is the focal point for activity tracking giving a snapshot of your day and giving you a nudge when you're lagging behind the trio of targets for calories, active minutes and standing time. A step count is available on the wrist, but the rest are worked out automatically, and will be downgraded if you repeatedly fail to hit your target. At the moment, there's no sleep tracking but here's hoping it gets added in a software update soon.
The latest version of the Apple Watch software, watchOS 3 introduces the Breathe app. Apple's first stab at mindfulness, it prompts you to take timeout for some guided breathing activities. Superb, if you like that sort of thing. And when it comes to mindfulness, Apple Watch does have the edge on Fitbit with third part support, despite the Blaze inheriting a similar feature from the Charge 2.
There's a pretty comprehensive collection of fitness apps that are optimised for the Apple Watch, which means if you already use Strava, Nike, RunKeeper or the like, you'll be able to continue on the Apple Watch. However, while there are plenty of apps, none bring much new to the table.
Clearly, the Fitbit ecosystem is better geared towards fitness tracking. While Apple's app is decent, the lack of comparison, insights into health trends, resting heart rate data and proper workout recording means it still can't hold a candle to the Fitbit. The Series 2 does have that GPS on board an the swim tracking skills in its favour, which should appeal to users who want a bit more from their fitness-focused wearable.
Fitbit Blaze v Apple Watch Series 2: Notifications
Smartwatches are billed as smartphone companions and that basically means reducing the need to dip into your pocket for your phone to check a text, see an email or you know, take a call.
Read this: A guide to the Apple Watch for women
Apple certainly does a better job of this than Fitbit does currently. With the Blaze, you'll be able to do things like reject or accept calls, receive notifications from emails and control music playback. A recent update to the companion app has brought third party notification support to the party, so things are improving on this front.
With the Apple Watch, you get all the notifications you could want including third party apps, plus you get the bite-sized bits of real time information from your favourite apps – and perhaps even more importantly, you can control which notifications you see. To complete a barnstorming smartwatch performance there's music playback control, and storage onboard to download music from iTunes/Apple Music for offline playback.
You can also answer calls from Apple's smartwatch and use Siri too add appointments to your calendar, set an egg timer or finding out whether Sean Astin was definitely in the Goonies. (Yes, he was).
Fitbit Blaze v Apple Watch Series 2: Battery
This is one of the biggest debates surrounding smartwatches right now. How much battery life is enough?
If you want lots of staying power, there's only one winner here and that's the Fitbit Blaze. The Apple Watch Series 2 can now deliver two days whether you go for the 38mm or the 44mm model. The latter has a bigger battery, but don't expect to get much more play time than the smaller Series 2. The Blaze promises five, and that was reflected in our testing, which included a number of workout sessions.
That will of course depend on which features you use on a regular basis and whether you decide to crank up the screen brightness to the max. Without power-sapping features like GPS onboard, the Blaze's stamina is not too shabby.
Fitbit Blaze v Apple Watch Series 2: Price
The Fitbit Blaze comes in at $199.95.
If you want the Watch Series 2, you'll need to part with at the very least $369 but that can sky rocket up to anywhere near to $1,499 when you start considering the Ceramic or Hermès editions of the Apple smartwatch.
That's a pretty clear difference in terms of price.
Fitbit Blaze v Apple Watch Series 2: Verdict
Fitbit's new design is a welcome change, and for fitness fans who desire a watch-style design, its many ways a winner. It brings together a decent array of fitness metrics (thanks to the recent update) and is Fitbit's best looking device.
But speaking of diversity, the richness of the Apple Watch Series 2's features is hard to beat. Third third party app support, the array of cheap strap customisations, and penchant for notifications makes it more than just a fitness device and that's something you really need to think about when choosing between the two.
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