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Apple Watch Series 2 vs. Fitbit Flex 2

September 16, 2016
Product Comparisons, Shopping
Apple Watch Series 2 vs. Fitbit Flex 2
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The Apple Watch Series 2 and the Fitbit Flex 2 are both second-generation, waterproof fitness wearables, but that’s about where their similarities end. The Apple Watch comes with considerably more features, but it’s much more expensive and requires you to have an iPhone. The Fitbit Flex 2 provides simple activity-based tracking at a lower cost.

So how do you choose between the two? We put the Apple Watch Series 2 head-to-head with the Fitbit Flex 2 to help you decide.

At a glance

The Apple Watch Series 2 has activity-tracking features that rival the Fitbit’s. It’s also an advanced smartwatch with an iPhone-esque operating system. The Flex 2, on the other hand, is strictly an activity tracker, but it’s much more affordably priced.

 Apple Watch Series 2Fibit Flex 2
PriceStarts at $369Starts at $99.95
Activity trackingYesYes
Heart rate sensorYesNo
Built-in GPSYesNo
Swim-proofYesYes
Text notificationsYesYes
Interchangeable accessoriesYesYes
BatteryUp to 18 hoursUp to 5 days

Designapple-watch-series-2

The differences begin with appearance. The Apple Watch Series 2 looks similar to the original Apple Watch. It features an OLED Retina display that’s responsive to touch and connectable to a variety of replacement bands. Consumers can choose among watch cases made of aluminum, stainless steel and ceramic.

The Fitbit Flex 2 has a slim band with a removable tracker that can be placed into interchangeable accessories like necklaces and bracelets. The standard band measures just 0.44 inch thick and lacks a screen display. Instead, it contains LED lights that illuminate when wearers receive a text or accomplish a fitness goal.

Perhaps the most coveted feature they share: They each boast a swim-proof design, so they continue working as you move from the street into the pool. Both are water-resistant up to 50 meters deep, or about 160 feet.

» MORE: Apple Watch Series 1 vs. Apple Watch Series 2

Featuresfitbitflex2

Apple Watches aren’t strictly for athletes, but what the Apple Watch Series 2 and the Fitbit Flex 2 have in common is their workout-oriented features. Here’s what you’ll enjoy with either device:

  • Activity tracking. Each device keeps track of the steps you take and the calories you burn throughout your daily activity.
  • Reminders to move. If you’ve been sitting for too long, the wearables can remind you to stand.
  • Notifications. You can get a notification when you receive a call or text. Apple Watch Series 2 users can respond to texts and answer calls from the watch when their phone is within distance. Fitbit Flex 2 owners will feel a vibration to alert them to incoming messages when their phone is nearby.
  • Interchangeable accessories. You don’t have to stick with one color or style. The Flex 2 tracker can be placed into a variety of bangle or pendant accessories. Apple sells a whole line of wristbands, including nylon woven bands and sport bands. You can also get third-party watch bands from other sellers.

Apple ups the ante with more sophisticated features, including:

  • Built-in GPS. Go for a run or swim and track your route without having to carry your iPhone with you, thanks to the watch’s built-in GPS.
  • Heart rate monitoring. Unlike the Fitbit Flex 2, the Apple Watch Series 2 is equipped with a heart rate sensor so you can monitor your heart rate while you exercise.
  • Apps. Apple Watch Series 2 users can download many of the same apps on their watch that they have on their iPhone, including workout programs and social media apps. There’s also access to Apple Pay and Siri, too.

Battery

The Fitbit Flex 2 is the clear winner in at least one important area: battery life. The tracker can function for up to five days between charges, depending on usage. Fitbit recommends charging your device, which takes one to two hours, every few days.

The Apple Watch Series 2 has a battery life of up to 18 hours after an overnight charge, depending on usage. This accounts for 90 time checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of app use and a 30‐minute workout with music playback from Apple Watch via Bluetooth.

» MORE: Fitbit comparison

Compatibility

The Apple Watch 2 requires an iPhone 5 or later in order to function. The Fitbit Flex 2 can sync with over 200 leading iOS, Android and Windows devices.

Pricefitbit-flex-2-bangle

So how much will these set you back? The Apple Watch Series 2 starts at $369; the Fitbit Flex 2 starts at $99.95.

You may also want to factor in upkeep. Replacement bands for the Apple Watch start at $49 each, while they start at $14.95 for the Fitbit. Some replacement bands for the Flex 2 won’t be available until 2017.

Time to decide

For the latest and greatest in wearable technology, go for the Apple Watch Series 2. You’ll get much more than the Fitbit Flex 2 offers, and if you’ll be using your watch daily, you’ll likely find that the benefits and convenience justify the cost. Just keep in mind that you need to have an iPhone nearby.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a straightforward tracker — or you’re an Android user — we recommend the Fitbit. It gives you the activity-tracking essentials you want for less than $100.

Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: courtney@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @courtneynerd.