If you're deciding which of the the latest and greatest fitness trackers is best for you, your eye might well have been caught by the Fitbit Charge HR and the Microsoft Band. Both Fitbit's big update and Microsoft's long-awaited entry look extremely strong.
Essential reading: Fitbit Charge HR review
There has been a wealth of new fitness trackers announced at the end of 2014, as the likes of Jawbone and Fitbit update their hugely successful lines and Microsoft hit the market with a surprise entrant.
Microsoft and Fitbit's new bands offer 24/7 heart rate tracking and a whole lot more, so we put them head-to-head to see which is best. And check back for full reviews soon.
Fitbit Charge HR v Microsoft Band: Heart rate
Unlike the new Jawbone UP3 that uses a biomimpedance sensor setup for measuring resting heart rate, the Fitbit and Microsoft rivals both make use of optical sensors for their 24 hour bpm recordings.
On the Fitbit Charge HR, there is 24/7 monitoring based on the company’s new PurePulse technology. It’s the same sensor you’ll find packed into the Fitbit Surge ‘super watch’.
Fitbit claims this means more accurate calorie burn tracking and that you can train in intensity zones using heart rate peak zones.
Wareable verdict: Microsoft Band review
For the Microsoft Band, there’s no brand name for the optical heart rate sensor but the Redmond company states its readings will give you a better understanding of your calorie burn and sleep patterns, combining your peak and resting heart rate in order to help you always train at your best.
Without thorough testing, it looks like a dead heat here.
Fitbit Charge HR v Microsoft Band: Design
The Microsoft Band is constructed from a thermal plastic elastomer and features an adjustable fit clasp.
It's available in three different sizes that equate to wrist height guideline measurements of 39mm, 41mm and 49mm. It weighs in at 60g and measures 19mm x 8.7mm. There’s only the one colour on offer – Henry Ford's favourite: plain old black.
Essential reading: Fitbit Surge specs, release date, price
The Fitbit Charge HR is made from a flexible, durable elastomer and boasts a surgical-grade stainless steel buckle. It comes in three different sizes with wrist sizes from 5.5 inches up to 9.1 inches catered for. The Charge HR is 34mm wide, so a bit fatter than Microsoft’s effort.
The Fitbit Charge HR is available in a range of colours; black, plumb, blue and tangerine, and despite its size offers a far more exciting and modern design.
Fitbit Charge HR v Microsoft Band: Display
Like the discontinued Fitbit Force, the new Charge trackers have a small OLED display to show the time, stats and incoming caller IDs. There are no other smartphone notifications, you’ll need to upgrade to the Fitbit Surge to get those.
On the Microsoft’s display, which is a 1.4-inch TFT colour touchscreen one, you’ll get a whole host of notifications including emails and calendar reminders, as well as call, text, social media, weather and finance information. What's more, it doesn't just work with Microsoft devices (thankfully) so iOS and Android users can get in on the act, too.
Fitbit Charge HR v Microsoft Band: GPS
The big win for Microsoft is that its Band packs in GPS connectivity. This isn’t a feature of the Fitbit Charge HR. The Surge is the Fitbit device you’ll need for accurate GPS tracking.
Guide: Best fitness trackers to buy
On the Microsoft Band the GPS inclusion means that you’ll be able to track your runs in detail, without the need of carrying around your smartphone with you.
Fitbit Charge HR v Microsoft Band: Tracking
The Microsoft Band packs in step counting, calorie burn recording, and sleep quality analysis. You can look at your daily or weekly stats, set goals, and receive a virtual high-five when you hit them through the app – which works on Android, iOS and Windows Phone.
The Fitbit Charge HR also works across these mobile platforms and offers similar tracking statistics. Where the Charge HR wins out though is that it ties in the existing Fitbit ecosystem, so you can compare and compete with your pals who are using Ones, Flexes or Zips, as well as marrying up data from additional Fitbit devices such as its smart scales.
Our verdict: Fitbit Charge review
However, a trump card for Microsoft’s Band is its guided workouts, offering programs from Gold's Gym, Shape and Men's Fitness.
Fitbit Charge HR v Microsoft Band: Price
The Microsoft Band is US only for now and retails at $199 – if you can find anywhere with them in stock that is.
The Fitbit Charge HR is £119.99 in the UK, $149.95 Stateside, so a $50 saving to forgo GPS connectivity and smartwatch notifications.
Budget picks: Best fitness wearables under £50
Battery life is another win for the Charge HR though; with five days compared to just two for Microsoft’s tracker.
Fitbit Charge HR v Microsoft Band: Verdict
It’s a difficult one to call because Fitbit has the cheaper, but still feature packed, option with the Charge HR but Microsoft has the edge when it comes to functionality – albeit with a costlier price-tag.
In terms of design, the Charge definitely feels and looks more natural, striking us as very much a product from a company with a heritage in the fitness tracker area.
The Microsoft Band on the other hand is clunky and a tad ugly but does, of course, boast a far better display than its Fitbit rival.
Check out our definitive guides on the two new trackers to help you make up your mind: