Watch Shootout: Apple IWatch vs FitBit Surge
Among the smart watch chatter, two front runners emerge to stake their claim, Apple’s Watch and Fitbit’s flagship model, the Surge. While these two offerings seem reasonably similar, the gadgets are entirely different beasts, each offering it’s own set of specialties while suffering from its own caveats.
The first comparison is a quick look at the aesthetic design of both products. In typical Apple fashion, its Watch boasts a clean and thoughtful design, reminiscent of the latter iPod shuffles; when removed from the Watch band, it is a small rectangle much like a doll-sized version of your iPhone. The Apple Watch can be purchased with a variety of different watch bands varying in flavor from silicon sport models to more fashionable link-style or classic leather bands. It’s also worth noting that the Apple Watch offers customized faces, which will let you change the look of your Watch significantly.
The Surge takes a much more utilitarian approach, it features a somewhat bulkier design, and comes fixed with a rubber strap which cannot be changed or removed. For active consumers used to older GPS watches such as the Garmin Foreruner, the Surge is a welcomed change of pace, and is much lighter and more attractive than most purely fitness-based watches. The Surge features an always on display, which is incredibly useful when working out, to have the option to simply give a quick look at the watch and see your current pace, an activity tracker for the day, your heart rate, and of course, the time. The display is bright and easy to read, and features a backlight for those who are active at night.
The Surge has many presets for workouts including everything from speed walking to kickboxing, so most activities will be covered. This is where the Fitbit shines, it’s a device solely designed for activity, it’s not as multifaceted or app heavy as Apple’s Watch; this simplicity however, allows it to do one thing incredibly well. The Surge offers more options for fitness tracking goals than Apple’s proprietary fitness app, this could be improved however, with the addition of third party apps to improve functionality. Users looking to track workouts other than specifically running or walking, will not find as much functionality with the Apple watch as it ships; some user’s have reported that the accuracy of the hardware’s heart rate monitor is affected by sweat, which could prose a problem if you plan to get into some serious activity, this could be fixed later down the line with a further Watch OS update.
The mention of OS updates brings up a crucial discussion when considering either watch, while the Surge is the most feature-ladden output from Fitbit, its functionality outside of an activity tracker pales in comparison to the extracurricular activities of the Apple Watch. Current notifications on the Surge are limited to text messages and missed calls. The Apple Watch features not only full integration with iOS, including Apple Pay functionality, access to personal assistant SIRI, messaging support, the aforementioned activity function, as well as the ability to store music playlists.
It is worth noting, that these features currently do come with a couple of caveats, the first one being the Watch’s loss of functionality outside of the iPhone universe. Most of the apps will not work in the absence of an iPhone, and you must have an iPhone 5 or later. This functionality also comes with a pretty heavy battery penalty, Apple Watch will need to be charged on a daily basis. Meanwhile the Surge, is capable of storing all activity data for upwards of a week if you don’t have time to sync it to any smart phone or your computer, its battery is cited as lasting 7-10 days on a single charge.
The final decision for most consumers is going to come down to price, the Surge retails for $249.99, however deals can occasionally be found. At this price, the Surge favors comparably to other activity tackers in this price range. Apple Watch starts at $349.99 for the sport model, but different bands and bezel options bring the price of some Apple Watch configurations to around the price of a laptop, $1000+. If you’re looking for an all in one device, you may not balk at this price. The decision for consumers will ultimately boil down to what functionality you consider to be necessary in your wrist wear, and what activities you need to perform with your activity tracker.