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Fitness Smartwatch Standoff: Fitbit Surge vs. Apple Watch Sport

Aug. 19, 2015
Product Comparisons, Shopping
Fitness Smartwatch Standoff: Fitbit Surge vs. Apple Watch Sport
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In the world of personal technology products, smartwatches and activity trackers have taken center stage. But with several players in the space, it can be tough to pick the right model (and costly to buy the wrong one).

To help you strap on the right device, we compared the Fitbit Surge with the Apple Watch to help you decide which fitness smartwatch is right for you.

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The watches: At a glance

There are several Fitbit and Apple Watch models to choose from, but for the purpose of this comparison, we narrowed our focus to two of the most similar devices from the competing brands: the Fitbit Surge and the Apple Watch Sport.

The Surge is a $249.95 self-described “ultimate fitness super watch.” Designed for all types of athletes, the watch boasts GPS tracking, a heart rate sensor, activity tracking, sleep monitoring and call/text notifications.

The Apple Watch Sport — the first venture from technology giant Apple into the smartwatch space — is an advanced athletic watch that starts at $299. It provides users with access to call/text notifications, activity tracking, heart rate monitoring, Siri and Apple Pay, among other features, all from the convenience of their wrist.

 Fitbit SurgeApple Watch Sport
Price$249.95 from Fitbit$299 from Apple
ColorBlack, blue, tangerineWhite, blue, green, pink, black
DisplayMonochrome LCD touch screenIon-X glass Retina Display with Force Touch
Bluetooth 4.0YesYes
Heart rate sensorYesYes
Water resistantYesYes
Text notificationsYesYes
Call-making capabilityNoYes
Battery lifeUp to seven daysUp to 18 hours
CompatibilitySyncs wirelessly to tablets, computers and over 150 iOS, Android and Windows smartphonesRequires iPhone 5, 5C, 5S, 6 or 6 Plus and iOS 8.2 or later
Buy on Amazon
Buy Fitbit Surge
Buy Apple Watch

Fitness Smartwatch Standoff: Fitbit Surge vs. Apple Watch SportThe watches: Up-close and personal

Fibit Surge

NerdWallet takes you shopping: The Surge is a sleek, activity-focused watch with plenty of extras. Its functional components include: GPS tracking, PurePulse heart rate readings, distance tracking, calories burned calculations, exercise summaries, sleep monitoring, silent (vibrating) alarms, call/text notifications and wireless syncing via Bluetooth 4.0.

The Surge comes in small, large or extra-large, and includes a charging cable and wireless sync dongle. Its lithium polymer battery can last up to seven days and takes just 1 to 2 hours to recharge. The Surge is also water-resistant (but not waterproof, so no swimming).

It syncs wirelessly to tablets, computers and over 150 iOS, Android and Windows smartphones, so check to see if your tech products are compatible before you purchase this device.

Good fit for: For dedicated athletes, the Fitbit Surge provides total body monitoring (activity, sleep, heart rate and more). The watch’s water-resistant design, long battery life, broad range of compatible devices and bonus features, like GPS and text alerts, make it a great fit for first-time smartwatch purchasers. And it costs $100 less than the Apple Watch.

Is a different Fitbit model right for you? Compare the Fitbit Charge and the Fitbit Surge.

Fitness Smartwatch Standoff: Fitbit Surge vs. Apple Watch SportApple Watch Sport

NerdWallet takes you shopping: The Apple Watch Sport boasts a colorful water-resistant band that’s available in five different colors: white, blue, green, pink and black. The Watch has either a silver or space gray anodized aluminum case, Ion-X glass and a Retina Display with Force Touch. Force Touch means it’s pressure sensitive, like an iPhone, but also provides haptic feedback. That’s a nice feature to have in a touch-screen device this small.

The Sport offers weather updates, call/text notifications, calendar notifications, a heart rate sensor, an accelerometer, Siri functionality for voice-to-text, and health/activity tracking. There are a plenty of Watch-specific apps, too, but keep in mind that you’ll need to have your iPhone nearby to take advantage of many of the watch’s data-related functions. It’s also water resistant.

Another huge benefit of the Apple Watch is its built-in speaker and microphone (for hands-free calls). The Fitbit lacks these entertainment-geared features.

Unlike the Fitbit, though, the Apple Watch doesn’t have a built-in GPS; the Watch needs to be paired with an iPhone to take advantage of location services.

The Apple Watch comes with a magnetic charging cable and USB power adapter. It can last up to 18 hours, depending on usage.

Good fit for: If you’re in the Apple ecosystem and already own an iPhone, the Apple Watch is worth shelling out the extra money. The smartwatch’s bright bands, easy-to-read display, health and fitness tracking components, and broad selection of compatible apps make it the ultimate accessory for techies and a useful tool to keep your exercise routine on track.

The Fitbit Surge and Apple Watch Sport aren’t the only players in the smartwatch game. Take a look at our Watch Buying Guide.

And for activity tracker buying advice, check out:

Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @courtneynerd.

Top image via iStock.