Fitbit vs. Garmin: Fitness or Features?

Last Updated on October 28, 2020 by James Matthews

If you think about wearable fitness devices, the first brands that may pop into your mind are Fitbit and Garmin. However, these two wearables are at the different end of the spectrum when it comes to price point.

The question now becomes, which one is better? Is it a good deal to spend some more for the higher-priced Garmin, or are you already getting a good deal on the affordable Fitbit? If you are wondering what the answers to these questions are, you are on the right page. We have done the legwork for you and made a comprehensive comparison of these two popular wearable fitness brands.


Fitbit is an American brand that creates wearable fitness devices that measure data such as heart rate, quality of sleep, number of steps taken, and many more. Before being known as Fitbit, its name was Healthy Metric Research inc.

Today, Fitbit is currently the fifth-largest wearable fitness tracker company globally, with over 28 million users around the globe. They have several wearable fitness trackers. Here are their current wearable trackers’ product list and prices:

Aside from wearable fitness trackers, Fitbit has a long list of smartwatches such as the Fitbit Ionic, Fitbit Versa, Fitbit Versa 2, Fitbit Versa 3, and Fitbit Sense. They also have a smart scale called Fitbit Aria 2 and a wireless headphone named Fitbit Flyer.

Fitbit Hardware

On the outside, it is easy to recognize Fitbit wearable because of their sleek and seamless rectangular shape that is as wide as their bands. Depending on the model you have, you can either have a full display screen or a simpler version that only shows certain data.

When it comes to accommodating an individual’s style, Fitbit is considered to be versatile. There are plenty of colorful Fitbit replacement bands that you can easily mix and match to fit your sense of style. These bands are also available in different materials such as nylon, silicone, and even fabric.

Fitbit Key Features

Steps counting

  • Heart rate tracking (on selected devices)
  • Sleep tracking (on selected devices)
  • Sleep stage tracking (on selected devices)
  • GPS (on selected devices)
  • Fitbit OS (on selected devices)
  • 50 m Waterproof (on selected devices)
  • 4 to 10 days of battery life depending on the model and type of usage

Fitbit Membership

To fully optimize your Fitbit device, you can avail of the Fitbit premium membership. It will enable you to access other fitness and wellness information, guidance, and workout routines on top of what you will already get from your Fitbit device.

The monthly subscription for Fitbit Premium is $9.99 a month. However, you will be saving almost 20% off the membership if you avail of the yearly subscription, which costs $79.99. All of the Fitbit devices are compatible with Fitbit Premium since it is connected with the Fitbit app.

Fitbit Benefits

Here are some of the benefits you will get when you choose Fitbit:

Affordable Device Selection

The greatest edge of Fitbit against Garmin is their more affordable prices. With most devices costing only around $99.99, they certainly one of the lowest fitness wearable devices in the market. Despite the lower price, you will still get the fitness device capabilities that you would expect, such as calorie burn tracking, steps taking, and sleep tracking. As the model becomes more expensive, you will get a broader range of capabilities as well.

Plus, when you are a Fitbit Premium member, you get more comprehensive data, especially when it comes to your sleeping pattern. You also get access to suggestions on how you can achieve your sleep and other fitness goals, which is what a fitness tracker must do in the first place.

GPS connectivity

For years, Fitbit users have been clamoring for GPS connectivity, and they have finally delivered with the Fitbit Charge 4. The built-in GPS sensor on this model can track your distance, route, and pace among other states.

However, the GPS can significantly affect battery life, plus since it is still in its early stage, it still needs a few improvements. It is only $149.95, which makes it a lot more affordable than what Garmin has to offer.

Accurate Sleep Tracking

The most notable benefit that you will get in Fitbit devices is accurate sleep tracking capabilities. The tracking is even more precise in newer models because it factors in data heart rate and moves data.

Furthermore, the Fitbit App presents the data in an understandable manner. The breakdown of sleep stages is easy to understand. The App also has features that can help improve sleep, such as encouragement notification to stay active and reminders to stick to a sleep routine.

Fitbit Pro’s
  • Affordable
  • Plenty of band options
  • Long battery life
  • Excellent data collection
  • Seamless design
  • Wide range of device selection
Fitbit Con’s
  • The display is not the best
  • Monochrome display
  • Lack of GPS feature of some models
  • Lack of sensors

It is undeniable that Fitbit is a reliable wearable fitness device at an affordable price. However, if you want more advanced features or intent to use it on more rugged activities, it might fall short to your expectations.


Garmin is also an American technology company previously known as ProNav. Before entering the wearable fitness tracker niche, they dominated in the GPS industry for marine application. Today, they are among the top competitors in the wearable fitness market and Apple and Fitbit.

They have a wide selection of wearable fitness trackers. Their main activity trackers models are the Vivosmart and Vivofit lines. The Vivo smart line starts at $129.99, while the Vivofit starts at $79.99. Garmin also has a product series specially designed for runners called the Forerunner. The price range on the Forerunner series model is between $199 to $500.

Garmin Hardware

Garmin has over 30 fitness wearables in its product line, and each is very different from one another. As the product’s price increases, you will be getting more complex data and features thanks to more sensors. The same thing also applies to the hardware.

However, most Garmin wearables have the iconic square screen in gray, black, and silver colors. They have an extensive list of band options that you can swap with another band to suit your preference and style.

Furthermore, some of Garmin’s wearable have hardware designed especially for outdoor adventures, swimming, and running. This means that they have a high level of waterproofing and impact resistance to keep up with the demands of the user’s lifestyle.

Garmin Key Features

  • VO2 analytics (on selected devices)
  • 13 hours to 7 days
  • Music capability (on selected devices)
  • Water-resistant
  • AMOLED Screen (on selected devices)

Garmin Membership

If Fitbit has the Fitbit App and the Fitbit Premium as their smartphone and web platform, Garmin has the Garmin Connect. The nice thing about it is that it is free and can be downloaded on both the Play Store and App Store.

Over the past two years, Garmin Connect has made significant and useful upgrades that put them at the top of the best wearable fitness device platform. The notable features on the Garmin Connect include their excellent choices of training plans and customization tools that allow users to find new workout routines and connect with other fitness enthusiasts.

Garmin Benefit

Here are some of the notable benefits you will get when you choose Garmin:

Wide Range of Device Selection

First and foremost, the range of capabilities that Garmin devices have is commendable. Let’s start with the most versatile model, which is the Forerunner 45. It has an impressive size that offers excellent comfort. It is perfect for those who do not want heavy and bothersome accessories while doing outdoor or sports activities. It is also among the most affordable models in Garmin’s Forerunner series.

Another notable model on Garmin’s product line is the Fenix 6 Multisports watch series. It has almost all of the beautiful features that Garmin has to offer, such as a 1.2-inch display, 6 data fields, 25 hrs of GPS, pulse Oximeter, compass, barometer, altimeter, heart rate tracking, and VO2 Max. However, this series can be quite expensive since its entry-level model costs $599 while the higher end is around $1149.

Reliable GPS Track

Several Garmin fitness trackers have built-in GPS that is both accurate and reliable. One example is the Forerunner 245. It has a battery life of over 6 hours when you are using GPS and over 7 days if in regular smartwatch mode.

The accuracy of GPS tracking is within 3 meters when the Satellite signal is strong. In areas with weaker signals, accuracy can naturally be affected. However, there are several ways for you to improve and make your tracker’s setting more accurate.

Impressive Fitness Tracking Capabilities

Since Garmin is more expensive, it is only natural for you to expect more product line capabilities. In some ways, they certainly deliver. The newer Garmin models, such as the Vivosmart 4, Vivoactive 4, and the Venu, have built-in pulse oximeter trackers. This capability will allow you to monitor your blood-oxygen levels day and night. The Ionic and Versa line also have blood-oxygen sensors, but the data collected is integrated into the sleep score.

Another notable fitness tracking capabilities found on Garmin is the respiration rate. This feature is available on Vivoactive 4 and Venu.

Garmin’s sleep tracking is also worth mentioning. In the last 2 years, they have successfully introduced an advanced sleep monitoring feature. It provides you data with regards to your stages of sleep. Furthermore, they also use heart rate variability data to ensure that your sleep reports are more accurate.

Unlike Fitbit, where you will need to subscribe to a membership, you will get the advanced fitness tracking features above on the Garmin Connect app, which is free.

Gramin Pro’s
  • Powerful sensors
  • Excellent GPS
  • Reliable data
  • Easy to use
  • Durable hardware
Garmin Con’s
  • Expensive pricing
  • Battery life could be better

Garmin is a reliable and trustworthy brand. However, they are really quite expensive to the point where the prices are not any more reasonable. Somehow, Garmin is more expensive than other brands. After all, their popularity is not entirely because they have more capabilities and features. It can be because they are like the “luxury” brand of fitness wearables as a result of their rigorous marketing campaign through mainstream media.

Final Verdict: When should you Pick Fitbit or Garmin?

fitbit vs. garmin

Fitbit is a great choice if you are looking for a fitness tracker that will monitor your general fitness and wellness. It has an accurate sleep and steps tracking capabilities among all of its models. Higher-end models also have features such as music and GPS.

In terms of style, Fitbit is also very versatile. Some models have replaceable bands that you can customize according to your preferred style. The bands are also very affordable, making it easy to purchase multiple colors or design if you prefer.

The smartphone and web platform of Fitbit is also very helpful. Aside from providing data in an easy to understand manner, it also provides you with suggestions on leading a better and healthier lifestyle. You will also get more of these when you avail of the Fitbit Premium membership.

On the other hand, Garmin is ideal for people looking for a fitness device that will keep up with their high-intensity lifestyle. Compared to Fitbit, Garmin provides more range of data such as blood oxygen levels. This can be significantly useful when you are training for a sports competition or an athlete.

Aside from providing a wide range of fitness data, Garmin has more advanced features such as GPS. You will find this very useful if you are a cyclist or hiker. They also have models that are specifically designed for particular activities and sports.

When choosing between Fitbit vs. Garmin, the easiest determining factor is usage. Fitbit is great for moderate fitness tracking, while Garmin is better suited for those who need a more comprehensive range of data and capabilities.