Buying Guides

Fitbit vs. Garmin: Fitness Watches Compared

Emma Roth Updated 06-02-2020

Fitbit and Garmin are the two biggest names in the fitness tracker industry. That said, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish the differences between each company’s trackers. Both have a solid lineup of devices that serve specific purposes at varying price points.


If you’re looking for a Fitbit and Garmin watch comparison, you’re in the right place. We’ll provide you with a crucial overview of the Fitbit vs. Garmin debate that can solve all of your shopping woes.

Fitbit vs. Garmin: Budget Fitness Trackers

Budget fitness trackers are typically the most basic of the trackers, but that doesn’t mean they’re not as helpful as pricier models. Fitness trackers on the cheaper side are under $100 and have only the most essential features to keep you aware of your activity level. These sleek, affordable fitness trackers will still get the job done.

Fitbit Inspire

Fitbit Inspire Fitbit Inspire Buy Now On Amazon $49.00

For a budget fitness tracker, the Fitbit Inspire is quite impressive. It’ll keep track of your daily fitness stats, such as your total steps, distance traveled, your active time, and how many calories you burned. Not to mention that it automatically keeps a record of bike activity, runs, and swimming sessions.

The battery lasts five days before you have to charge it. You can also monitor your sleep and set alarms that wake you up with a gentle vibration on your wrist.


Garmin Vivofit 4

Garmin Vivofit 4 Garmin Vivofit 4 Buy Now On Amazon $49.98

The Garmin Vivofit 4 provides basic fitness tracking—it records your steps, burned calories, sleep patterns, and distance moved. With MoveIQ, the Garmin Vivofit 4 recognizes and tracks when you’re running, biking, swimming, or using gym equipment.

As you use the Garmin Vivofit 4, it’ll get to know your activity levels. This helps it provide daily step goals tailored to you. Unlike the Fitbit Inspire, you don’t even need to charge the Garmin Vivofit 4. This tracker’s battery lasts over a full year before it needs a replacement.

Fitbit vs. Garmin: Mid-Range Fitness Trackers

Mid-range fitness trackers have a slightly higher price tag than the budget trackers, but they come with some extra features. If you’re serious about tracking your fitness (but don’t want to pay the price of higher-end models), you should consider buying a mid-range tracker. Here’s a quick rundown of reasonably-priced Garmin running watches vs. Fitbit trackers.


Fitbit Charge 3

Fitbit Charge 3 Fitbit Charge 3 Buy Now On Amazon $96.95

The Fitbit Charge 3 offers a more detailed approach to your activity level. This fitness tracker keeps track of your heart rate, a feature that cheaper trackers lack. In addition to providing you with total calories burned, the Fitbit Charge 3 records your exercise with 15 different types of activities, and even allows you to practice deep-breathing exercises.

The device’s screen displays any calls or texts that you receive on your phone. It also offers more in-depth sleep tracking—the Fitbit Charge 3 informs you of your time spent in different stages of sleep. It lasts seven days without charging, so you’ll spend less time charging and more time active.

Garmin Vivosmart 4

Garmin Vivosmart 4 Garmin Vivosmart 4 Buy Now On Amazon $97.27


In terms of this Garmin watch vs. the Fitbit Charge 3, the Garmin Vivosmart 4 is slightly more expensive. It comes equipped with a Pulse Ox sensor, along with a sleep monitoring tool that can detect REM sleep.

You can also expect this tracker to monitor your stress levels, measure your VO2 Max level, find your heart rate, and even calculate your body’s energy level. If you’re feeling stressed, make sure to use the device’s deep breathing timer.

In addition to all of these great features, it has basic fitness tracking features such as step and workout tracking. Like the Fitbit Charge 3, the Vivosmart displays any notifications from your mobile device and lasts seven days on a full charge.

Fitbit vs. Garmin: High-End Fitness Trackers

When you take a step up from mid-range fitness trackers to high-end, they start to look more like smartwatches. Wondering whether to go with a Garmin GPS watch vs. a Fitbit? Both brand’s high-end models may seem very similar, but they each have some distinct features.


Fitbit Versa 2

Fitbit Versa 2 Fitbit Versa 2 Buy Now On Amazon $199.93

When you strap on the Fitbit Versa 2, it’ll start tracking your heart rate, distance traveled, flights of stairs climbed, and active minutes. However, that’s only a few of its features. The Fitbit Versa 2 even integrates with Amazon Alexa so you can adjust your smart home devices with your voice. You can also listen to Spotify on your Fitbit How to Listen to Spotify on Your Fitbit Do you want to listen to Spotify on your Fitbit? Here's how to set up the Spotify app for the Fitbit Ionic and Fitbit Versa. Read More  and play your favorite songs while working out. The device also works with Pandora and Deezer.

Since the Versa 2 connects to your phone, you can expect to receive alerts for texts, calendar events, and calls. The Versa 2 also gives you a better idea of your sleep quality by analyzing your REM sleep, time asleep, and restlessness. Given the feature list, this fitness watch runs out of power faster than the other trackers on this list—it can last up to six days without charging.

Garmin Forerunner 45

Garmin Forerunner 45 Garmin Forerunner 45 Buy Now On Amazon $130.00

Like most fitness trackers, the Garmin Forerunner 45 keeps track of your daily steps, activity level, and burned calories. It also allows you to stay updated on any notifications you receive on your phone, whether it’s a text or call. You can use the Forerunner 45 to play music as well. Plus, if you ever experience an emergency while wearing the watch, the Forerunner 45 automatically detects it and notifies your emergency contact of your location.

Something that makes the Forerunner 45 stand out is its compatibility with the Garmin Coach training plan. You’ll have to pay for this feature, but it can provide you with some guidance for your exercise routine. When the Forerunner 45 is in GPS mode, its charge lasts only 14 hours; without GPS mode, it’ll last up to seven days.

Which Is Better: Fitbit or Garmin?

Depending on your needs, you may feel that the Fitbit versus Garmin debate is settled. If you don’t mind spending a little more money on a tracker with extra features, you’ll want to check out Garmin fitness trackers.

Otherwise, Fitbit makes a reliable choice for a slightly more affordable price. All in all, you want a fitness tracker that can cover all the basics—the more expensive models will likely have features that you don’t always need.

Still unsure on which fitness watch to buy? Maybe our detailed review of the Fitbit Charge 3 Fitbit Charge 3: Why Would You Want Any Other Wearable? Fitbit is back with the Charge 3, which promises to bring smartwatch-like features to their most popular basic fitness tracker. Read More can help you make your decision.

Related topics: Buying Tips, Fitbit, Fitness, Product Comparison, Smartwatch, Wearable Technology.

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  1. lia
    February 13, 2019 at 10:34 pm

    Please consider updating this reporting. I researched thoroughly at the end of 2018, and requested and received a FitBit Charge3 for Christmas that year. Since then I've struggled mightily to get the darned thing to reliably sync, "auto recognize" any exercise at all, or allow easy customization of HR zones or length of activity to register. I'm far from an 'athlete.' But I think probably a Garmin should have won my inner debate. I can't TELL, since it's pretty hard to see inside the individual device's online communities. Perhaps the Garmin has similar issues to the Charge3. Reviews that address things like connectivity in depth would, I think, help a LOT of people trying to get or stay healthy and fit.

  2. Ed
    April 11, 2018 at 3:56 pm

    You are correct that Fitbit is a more casual fitness tracker and Garmin is for more athletic people. One thing is that you compared Fitbits with the Garmin FR series. That's a different line. The several Vivo series would have been the adequate comparison.

  3. Ted
    January 6, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    I am 69 years old. I completed an Iron Man in 1989 but my running days are over. I workout at the YMCA on either an elliptical or exercise bike so I know my calories burned. Then I do circuit training for anywhere from 1/2 hour to an hour and my under armor my fitness website tells me calories burned. I’m still struggling to see the benefit of a fitness watch.