1. Fitbit devices 
  2. Garmin devices
  3. Apps and ecosystems
  4. Fitness and wellness tracking
  5. Heart health
  6. Sleep tracking
  7. Stress and recovery
  8. Female health tracking
  9. Sports tracking compared
  10. Heart rate in workouts
  11. Fitbit app 
  12. Garmin app
  13. Verdict: Which is best?

Garmin vs Fitbit: Compare devices, features and discover which is best for you

We compare which ecosystem has the edge
Wareable Garmin v Fitbit
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Choosing between Garmin or Fitbit is a big decision for many trying to choose a fitness wearable – and while they may seem similar there are huge differences between the two.

It's all about the type of data you want – and once you work that out the choice between the two brands becomes much more straightforward.

For people who live and breathe sports Garmin is a natural choice.

And while Fitbit has moved way beyond step tracking, it's still the right choice for those interested in their overall health and well-being, with perhaps less interest in hardcore fitness features.

But that's not the end of the story.

Garmin has a much wider range of features and devices – which come in different form factors and price points.

What's more, if you're starting a fitness journey then you might want to choose a device that grows with you.

We know there's a whole lot to cover, so we've broken down some of the key areas from hardware, features, apps, and of course fitness tracking to see how the two compare.

And we've tried to offer a glimpse into what owning a device from each company is really like.

Fitbit devices 

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Fitbit has six main wearables – all with clear remits:

Versa and Sense smartwatches

There's the Versa 4 smartwatch and the new Fitbit Sense 2 health watch. Both of these were released back in 2022, and there doesn't seem too much sign of them being updated. Think of them as  Fitbit trackers in a watch form factor rather than top smartwatches in their own right.

They don't compete with the features of an Apple Watch or Pixel Watch 2.

While they look identical, the Fitbit Sense 2 adds serious health sensors such as ECG, skin temperature, and a specific EDA sensor that tracks stress.

The Versa 4 still has SpO2, GPS, and heart rate monitoring – but keeps things simpler and cheaper. 

It should also be noted that all Fitbit devices will now scan for heart rate rhythm irregularities using the optical heart rate monitor, which means there's less emphasis on ECG.

Google Pixel Watch 2 – the unofficial Fitbit

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Google has incorporated Fitbit's tracking into the new Pixel Watch 2. This is a full-fat smartwatch, with an AMOLED display and a full app store, that takes advantage of Google's services. It packs in all the sensors and analysis of the Sense 2 and is now the true Fitbit smartwatch option.

The downside? It only has a day of battery life.

Charge, Luxe & Inspire trackers

Then it's onto Fitbit's classic wristband style fitness tracker devices it's best known for.

The Fitbit Inspire 3 is its entry-level tracker, which is brimming with features, including heart rate, SpO2, temperature sensor, and a color screen. It offers plenty of bang, for a sub-$100/£100 buck.

The most advanced is the Charge 6, the flagship fitness tracker. It brings all the features from the Sense 2 (GPS, ECG, stress tracking, skin temperature), and puts it in a wristband form factor, and adds integrated Google services (Pay/Maps) over its predecessor.

Below that is the aging Fitbit Luxe, a fitness tracker that's a bit of a throwback to the Fitbit Alta with its slim, fashion-focused design and is the only Fitbit fitness tracker to include a color touchscreen display. It also features core fitness tracking features, a heart rate monitor, and a SpO2 sensor.

Garmin devices

Garmin has nearly 30 different sports watches, and the differences can be quite obscure. As you move up in price, you essentially get more sensors, and more complex data and analysis. Its watches cover options designed for runners, swimmers, triathletes, and even outdoor adventurers.

Garmin Forerunner: Garmin's running and triathlon watches range starts from $100/£100 up to around $800/£800. As the prices rise you get more features, insights into your sports, and longer battery life.

The entry-level Forerunner 55 is still a powerful running watch, and the new Forerunner 265 (below) and Forerunner 965 are AMOLED screen-packing watches aimed at intermediate and advanced runners, interested in really granular sports science and recovery data.

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Garmin Fenix 7/Epix Gen 2 - The Fenix family is its all-action sports and outdoor watches, that have all the features and metrics imaginable – but cost top dollar. The Fenix 7 (47mm) comes in standard and Pro versions. The Fenix 7S is 42mm and more unisex. The Fenix 7X (51mm) offers more battery life and solar power options.

There's now a Fenix 7 Pro version, with an improved HR sensor and solar/flashlight features across every model.

The all-new Epix (Gen 2) also offers all of the features of a Fenix, but with a color AMOLED screen, for an experience more akin to an Apple Watch Ultra. The Epix Pro also adds three sizes with 42/47/51mm available.


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Garmin Venu 3: is the company's premium smartwatch. The Garmin Venu 3 (above) is a fantastic addition, with a sleek design, awesome screen, and great tracking accuracy and wellness insights. 

Garmin Vivoactive 5: A pared-back Venu, with tonnes of trackable sports and smartwatch features, and good battery life but tracking lacks the detail of Fenix. The design, screen, and heart rate tech aren't as good as Venu 3, but the features are mostly the same.

Garmin Vivofit/Vivomove: Vivofit is the company's fitness band – while Vivomove is a hybrid smartwatch with analog hands but fitness tracking in the background. Also Garmin Lily 2 is the company's 34mm fitness watch aimed at women.

Garmin Vivosmart 5 – is the company's latest fitness tracking, just as we thought it had left the activity band design behind. The new Vivosmart 5 adds a slightly larger screen and boasts all of the main Garmin health and wellness metrics, with sleep, stress, blood oxygen, and energy levels monitoring. There's no GPS built-in, however.

Then there's a myriad of others: Approach golf watches, Instinct outdoors watches, and many others.

Read our guide to choosing the best Garmin watch for your needs.

Apps and ecosystems

While the hardware options will undoubtedly play a factor in your decision to lean towards one or the other here, the companion apps and wider ecosystems are even more important.

Those are the bits that keep you coming back to the device rather than just throwing it in the drawer.

With this area encompassing so many different devices, it's hard to crown one company the winner when it comes to basic tracking. We take a look through different aspects of Garmin and Fitbit to see who does it best.

Fitness and wellness tracking

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Garmin's fitness tracking is excellent, with steps, sleep, and activity minutes all logged by its devices. But in the last year, its wellness tracking has soared too.

It has brought Body Battery energy tracking across its range, with newer devices (Venu 3/Vivoactive 5/Forerunner 965/265) all getting a vastly improved version of Body Battery. It will also keep tabs on your heart rate 24/7 - just like Fitbit.

And HRV is also a new focus, with the slightly opaque HRV Status rolling out across its range. Training Readiness is a top feature, which tells you how well-prepped your body is to train, but it's only available on Fenix/Epix/965.

Of course, fitness tracking is Fitbit's bread and butter – and it's pulled out in front.

Updates such as the new Health Metrics dashboard, which is now open to non-premium users, make the Fitbit ecosystem way more interesting regardless of your fitness. The dashboard shows your resting heart rate, body temperature, SpO2, and HRV, and how it compares to your baseline during the previous night's sleep. It's a great touchpoint for your wellness, and a true indicator if you're sick, overtired, or ready to perform. Garmin doesn't have anything nearly as useful.

Overall, Fitbit is still the best device to keep tabs on your overall activity levels, but the gap is narrower than ever.

Winner: Fitbit

Heart health

In terms of general wellness, we think Fitbit has the edge here thanks to the simplicity of the data and the way resting heart rate is presented – although you won't be missing out on any data if you choose Garmin.

The Fitbit Sense 2 and Charge 6 now have an ECG sensor that offers medical-grade reading. It also packs a temperature sensor and offers additional insights to make it a potentially really valuable health monitoring device.

And Fitbit has added a new continuous Afib detection feature, that will scan your heart rate for signs of atrial fibrillation, and alert you if you need to get checked out without the new to-spot check. That's going to most devices across its range, even the entry-level Inspire 3.

The new Venu 3 has ECG, but it's not as well integrated as Fitbit.

However, Garmin has the upper hand in terms of heart rate during exercise. There's more emphasis placed on heart rate zones and VO2 Max – and more advanced data spins of this in terms of training effect, load, stress, and recovery.

Winner: Fitbit (for general wellness)

Sleep tracking

Fitbit certainly has the edge when it comes to nightly tracking. Fitbit's sleep tracking accuracy is one of the most reliable around and is much more than just a record of how well/badly you slept.

What's more, Premium users can see oxygen variation (which could reveal sleep apnea symptoms), and the excellent Health Metrics dashboard is populated by nighttime biometrics.

Garmin used to lag badly in terms of sleep, but it has caught up. It will show light, deep and REM sleep, and factors in respiration rate – and most devices will let you opt-in to track blood oxygen at night. It's also added nap tracking in recent iterations.

Our testing has found Garmin's tracking to be slightly generous in terms of calculating sleep duration, and less sensitive to wakeups. We'd say Fitbit has the edge when it comes to sleep.

Winner: Fitbit

Stress and recovery

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What's also interesting to note is the two companies' approach to stress tracking.

Fitbit uses Relax, which takes advantage of the onboard heart rate monitor, plus HRV monitoring to detect changes in heart rate and offer personalized breathing options.

There's also the Stress Management score across its devices, which offers a single score generated from resting heart rate, sleep, and activity logged.

Fitbit's Sense 2 and Charge 6, and the Google Pixel Watch 2 (above), up the ante with an EDA sensor and scan app that can detect electrodermal activity, which may indicate your body's response to stress. It will also flag any instances of high stress, that you can tag - and long-term use may reveal trends about stressful triggers. However, we do question how useful and user-friendly this is.

Garmin's stress tracking is found on pretty much every current smartwatch and tracker. It's less intrusive and simply offers a stress score in any given moment and shows physiological stress across the day. However, the data isn't meaningfully presented, and just becomes another score out of 100 – and we found the data rather meaningless.

Fitbit has jumped ahead again with the Daily Readiness Score (Premium only), which melds workouts, daily activity, sleep, and heart rate data together, to tell you how rested you are and ready for another workout. And it will even take it further and suggest workouts suited to your physiological state.

Garmin has also aped this with Training Readiness – which does much the same thing. This score is only presented on its top-tier watches, such as Fenix/Epix/Forerunner 965. Lower watches have HRV Status, which looks to see if your heart rate variability is affected by overtraining. This does require some serious user knowledge to interpret, however. 

Winner: Fitbit 

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Female health tracking

Both Garmin and Fitbit offer female health tracking features, which allow users to log cramps and headaches. Fitbit uses that data to analyze where you are in your menstrual cycle and will be able to predict when the next one will come around.

Garmin lets users track their cycle, log symptoms, receive cycle predictions and fertile windows, and get educational insights from their Garmin Connect app. It will also track daily physical and emotional symptoms to pay closer attention to fluctuations in things like sleep, mood, appetite, and athletic performance.

And Garmin has now launched a pregnancy mode, which adds context to the physiological changes your wearable will be recording.

Winner: Garmin

Sports tracking compared

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As you may have already gathered, those with ambitions to track a wider range of activities and receive deeper insights should knock on Garmin's door.

But just how big is the gap between the two groups when it comes to tracking various sports?

GPS tracked workouts

Garmin has always been the king of GPS, but the feature is no longer exclusive to its devices.

The Fitbit's Versa 3, Sense, and Charge 5 fitness band all have GPS – and Fitbit has been busy adding the feature over the past few years. However, we have found accuracy issues with the Fitbit Charge 5 and Charge 6. The post-workout feedback aid is more basic and the Fitbit app isn't the best place to absorb your performance. It will connect to Strava, however, so you can view activities there.

When it comes to Garmin pretty much every device has GPS – except lifestyle devices such as the Vivomove 3, Vivosmart 5, and Garmin Lily 2.

In addition, you'll find GPS-based sports profiles such as hiking, trail running, open water swimming, ultrarunning, and triathlon on some of its devices.

And if you push into the upper echelons of Garmin's range, you can adjust the accuracy and frequency of GPS activities to get up to 70 hours of tracking. And Garmin Connect is geared toward evaluating your workouts – and this is its strongest feature.

Winner: Garmin


Fitbit Charge 6, Inspire 3, Luxe, and Versa are all set for the pool – and devices can be calibrated for the pool. However, data is more basic and there are no open water options.

Garmin's entire range is water resistant and even basic running watches have a pool swimming mode.

If you're into pool sessions, Garmin tends to be more reliable accuracy-wise for longer sessions, more metrics, and swimming-focused features.

Winner: Garmin

Heart rate in workouts

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Heart rate is a staple of both sets of devices, but when it comes to sports there's no arguing with Garmin.

Both Fitbit and Garmin track your heart rate through sessions and offer information on the heart rate zone you're in and improvements over resting heart rate - which is an indicator of improving fitness. Score draw here.

Fitbit and Garmin devices will also track VO2 max, which is called Cardio Fitness Score in Fitbit devices – although our testing found it to be a little high. Advantage Garmin.

However, if you buy into the Garmin mid-range Forerunners you will get even more data.

That VO2 Max score will feed into things like Training Effect and race predictors, which is a step above for those training for half and full marathons.

Pretty much all Garmin watches let you hook up a chest strap, which is not an option on Fitbit trackers. That lends to more accurate data, especially during HIIT sessions.

What's more, top-end Garmin's can adapt your heart rate zones by using your Lactate Threshold scores determined from fitness tests with a chest strap – that's a level of detail way beyond most users' needs, but also beyond Fitbit's skill set.

Winner: Garmin

Fitbit app 

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Fitbit still manages to offer one of the more rounded and easy-to-use fitness platforms.

This is particularly the case for beginners, who can dive into trends, dedicated workouts, sleep tracking, and social aspects, such as linking with friends and challenges.

The app is much more pleasing and easy to digest your stats and has recently been given a redesign

Many of the big features are behind the Fitbit Premium paywall, such as the wealth of fitness workouts and guided breathing content. That's something that Garmin can't match.

As mentioned, Health Metrics is a new feature that shows deeper health stats such as heart rate variability, blood oxygen, temperature, resting heart rate, and breathing rate in one place. This data can show you if you're getting sick or under the weather.

Many third-party apps will shake hands with Fitbit, allowing you to pass data for workouts, calories, and other information between them. Strava is a good example of this, letting you feed your runs into your daily Fitbit stats, while any Fitbit activities will also show up in the Strava app.

However, under Google's ownership, the company has been busy stripping Fitbit smartwatches of their smartest features, including music playback and app integrations. It seems Google sees that as a threat to its Pixel Watch, which features Fitbit tracking built in.

Garmin app

WareableFitbit workout modes

Garmin Connect is the home for your data. It's rich with graphs and stats, but not quite as easy to digest. It's certainly one for athletes and purists. That said, Garmin has given Connect a lick of paint, which at the time of writing is still in beta (see above).

Garmin has a Coach feature, which will offer workout suggestions for various goals – and you can follow these live on pretty much all of its sports watches. The workouts will adapt to your training load and fitness, or be turned off if you don't want them.

Then there's the Connect IQ, the store for you to pick up (very basic) apps, new watch faces, and new data fields for sports tracking. As with Fitbit, we have a comprehensive look at how to run better with Garmin Connect and a Garmin Connect IQ app store guide.

The companion app, which is compatible with all Garmin devices and also available on desktop, offers you a place to plan, track, and review your workouts.

It's not such a good place to visualize wellness data, but Garmin Connect is far better for workout analysis, as you might expect.

Verdict: Which is best?

Why choose Fitbit?

In terms of hardware, Fitbit's Versa 4 and Sense 2 are weak compared to Garmin. That means it's the Inspire 3, Charge 6, or Pixel Watch 2 that should be in your consideration.

For classic-style activity bands, Fitbit rules the roost. The Pixel Watch 2 is a proper full-fat smartwatch with apps and payments – but a day of battery life is all you get. If you want more, you'll have to look at Garmin.

With Fitbit, you're receiving a more 24/7, lifestyle option that can weave between the different aspects of your daily life. Chances are, if you're looking to dip into this area, you're more focused on health and wellness than personal bests.

The Health Metrics Dashboard is a great daily wellness companion, and the company's excellent sleep tracking, as well as sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation detection, makes for a really solid experience.

While Fitbit is diminishing as a hardware brand under Google's ownership, but still offers excellent health and wellness features. But Garmin has hugely closed the gap. 

Why choose Garmin?

If you're looking for a smartwatch for fitness and workout tracking, Garmin now seems the best choice. 

When it comes to working out, Garmin is still lightyears ahead. But improved sleep tracking and features such as Body Battery means that fitness tracking is closer to Fitbit's offering than ever before.

But there's so much choice, and if you like to get sweaty then we guarantee you'll dig the post-workout analysis here much more than on a Fitbit. 

Garmin has more charts and more numbers – but the app is far less user-friendly. What you do get is more analysis and credit for clocking up workouts.

How we test

Conor Allison


Conor moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR. He made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large. Conor has become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to-based guides. 

He has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 

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