Consumer Reports reviewed over 20 fitness trackers in their August 2017 magazine. [view]
Surprisingly, the Apple Watch is not included in their comparison chart. It’s only given an honorable mention under a heading “Is a Smartphone or Smartwatch a Good Enough Tracker?”
In fact, were the Apple Watch included in the comparison, based on the feature categories, the Apple Watch would have easily come in first place. No other device reviewed provided all features that the Apple Watch includes.
Apple Watch Fitness Tracking Features
It’s surprising that Consumer Reports chose to exclude the Apple Watch from their review. I’ve used and tested a variety of fitness trackers. Now I’m using an Apple Watch and find it to be much better in many ways.
- Cordless Charging. The Apple Watch uses cordless charging. Something not available with most fitness trackers. This makes charging easy, and also ensures that the device is securely sealed to keep out dust and moisture.
- Ease of Use. The Apple Watch is extremely easy to use due to the elegant user interface and touch screen. One need not navigate a lot of menus to start a workout. With just two taps you can begin tracking your activity.
- Food Tracking. Most fitness trackers try to lock you into their own poor quality food tracking and nutrition software. With Apple, you can choose from dozens of food tracking programs. The one I like best doesn’t come from any of the activity tracker companies listed in the Consumer Reports study. I use Lose It! which I like because it can receive data from third-party devices, including the Apple watch, for adjusting your daily calorie burn. Lose It! also has a really handy barcode reader so I can quickly scan food when I eat, saving me from manually searching for it and entering it in.
- GPS. The Apple Watch has GPS built-in. Less than half the fitness trackers reviewed by Consumer Reports had GPS capabilities. Having GPS is essential for accurate tracking of walking, running, and with activities like biking it’s essential.
- Heart Rate Tracking. The Apple Watch includes a heart rate monitor – something not included in 7 of the 20 fitness trackers reviewed by Consumer Reports. Five of the units reviewed require an additional chest strap for monitoring heart rate.
- Maps. After a walk, run, hike, bike ride, or similar activity, you go back and view a map of where you went. The map includes color coding using red, yellow, and green to convey how fast you were moving.
- Sleep Tracking. Because the Apple Watch is open to developers, you’re not locked into just one solution for tracking an activity. With sleep tracking for example you can use any of several great apps that track your sleep and use fancy charts to display sleep quality. I use one that works automatically to determine when I go to sleep and when I wake up. Most other sleep trackers require some manual control.
- Swimming. The Apple Watch has advanced movement and motion analysis built in which allows it to better track activities like swimming.
Consumer Reports Fitness Tracker Study
Below is the study as printed in the August 2017 Consumer Reports newsletter.