Smartwatches vs Fitness Bands: There is a Difference

Smartwatches vs fitness bands, which is better for you?

As the wearable tech market expands, we’ll start to see a lot of variation in the field. There are already tons of different devices available.

There’s the Autographer which allows you to snap photos from a necklace style device. Then there’s the infamous Google Glass, a pair of high-tech augmented reality glasses. Finally, there are smartwatches, and fitness trackers.

One problem that’s going to become more prevalent is the smartwatch as we know it will no longer exist. They will become meshed with other devices, like fitness bands, cameras and more.

To be blunt, smartwatches already have a lot of features incorporated which allow them to act as more than a watch. But even with fitness apps and advanced features a smartwatch is not the same as a dedicated fitness device. They are totally different.

Believe it or not, a fitness tracker or fitness related band is not the same thing as a smartwatch. That may come as a shock, but it’s the truth.

Several manufacturers have blurred the lines between a smartwatch and dedicated fitness band. The upcoming Razer Nabu is a perfect example of that.

smartwatches vs fitness bands Razer Nabu

Smartwatches vs Fitness Bands: How Are Fitness Bands Different?

A smartwatch, like a smartphone, can do a bunch of things. A fitness band, on the other hand does one thing: fitness tracking.

Sure, some fitness bands display the time, and others will pair with a phone to show notifications. But most of them do one thing good.

Is there something wrong with that? No.

The point is just that fitness bands are different.

Now, there are always exceptions to a rule and that is definitely true in the world of smartwatches. Devices like the Pebble include fitness tracking support along with smartwatch features.

Do All Fitness Bands Lack Smartwatch Features?

No. Not all do.

Just like there are many kinds of smartwatches, there are also different fitness trackers.

Razer’s Nabu, recently unveiled, is a fitness band that also includes basic smartwatch features. Some devices like the Fitbit, can only handle one thing, like tracking fitness stats.

What Features are Missing?

Generally, smartwatches include a touchscreen display like a smartphone. Most fitness bands do not have a touchscreen, in fact most of the time they have physical buttons.

Fitness devices do usually include a display to relay information like miles jogged or calories burned. There are some fitness that do have a touchscreen so you can track one down if you really want it.

Archos Smartwatch vs fitness bands

Most fitness bands do not include the same internal hardware as a smartwatch.

Since smartwatches are like dumbed down smartphones they have a processor and memory to handle advanced apps. Fitness bands don’t have that kind of power.

Fitness bands don’t offer a lot of internal storage space either if they have any at all. There are devices with media player capabilities that have limited storage, but it’s fairly uncommon.

Plus, fitness related devices often do not have native app support. To clarify, they may pair with a smartphone and sync data but you cannot install apps on the device.

While not all smartwatches support native apps, it is one of the main benefits of choosing a smartwatch over a fitness tracker.

A device like the Pebble has hundreds – if not thousands – of uses thanks to mobile app support.

Smartwatches vs Fitness Bands: Why Are Fitness Devices Often Cheaper?

Because fitness bands don’t have the same features smartwatches do, they are usually cheaper. You’ll find a lot of plastic and rubber fitness bands, proof that fitness devices are made with different materials. Smartwatches are generally made of more durable steel or metal.

There are smartwatches made of plastic so please don’t think we’re saying fitness bands are always made of cheaper materials.

For lack of a better description, fitness bands are… well, generally bands while smartwatches have a watchface and band.

This is why bands are cheaper. Like the Fitbit Flex, which sells for less than $100 on Amazon.

Additionally, not all dedicated fitness devices are of the wrist worn variety. Some can be clipped to your belt or clothing so they have a different design altogether.

EmoPulse Smile standalone image

Smartwatches vs Fitness Bands: Which Is Better?

As with most things you may be looking to buy, the best option for you depends on the features you want.

For example, if you want something to track your activity then a fitness band will do just fine. But if you want to run apps and do more – along with tracking activity – you would be better off with a smartwatch.

Your lifestyle makes a difference too.

If you’re not active you won’t enjoy a dedicated fitness device. There’s no point investing in one, unless it includes the type of features you’re looking for.

If you are active a fitness device is better, especially if you don’t want real-time notifications.

Should You Avoid Fitness Bands?

No, definitely not. Fitness bands can be just as useful as smartwatches – if not more so. Again, it depends on the brand and model in question.

It also depends on what you’re looking for in a wearable.

If you want to sync with a smartphone and receive notifications, then a fitness band is not the ideal choice. Unless you buy a fitness band that can handle notifications – and some do.

If you’re in the market for a smartwatch, it might be a good idea to check out some of the popular fitness bands. Just be aware that these two types of devices have their differences.

What Are Some Examples of Fitness Bands?

All this talk about smartwatches vs fitness bands will do no good if you don’t know how to tell the difference. Here are some of the more popular fitness bands out there.

  • Basis B1
  • Fitbit Force
  • Fitbit Flex
  • Withings Pulse
  • Fitbug orb
  • Jawbone Up
  • Nike Fuelband
  • Bowflex Boost
  • Garmin Vivofit
  • The Polar Loop
  • LG Lifeband Touch
  • Atlas Fitness Band
  • Razer Nabu

Smartwatches vs Fitness Bands: What Do You Think?

Do you own a dedicated fitness device or a smartwatch? Do you have something to add to the discussion?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments! It’s always great to hear first hand experiences from the community.

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About The Author

Briley Kenney

Briley Kenney is an experienced tech enthusiast who enjoys all things electronic and gadget related. Currently, Briley writes for a plethora of professional websites including Digital Trends, Lifewire, Ideaing, SmartWatches, and several prominent, but confidential, SEO companies. He has also written in-game content for the indie gem Tales of Illyria and it's two sequels Beyond the Iron Wall, and Destinies.


  1. vijay sharma

    Does smart watch pair with mobile devices

    • B L A

      Smartwatches can pair with mobile devices to view smart notifications and other applications. However, they will keep you away from your smartphone. However, there are standalone smartwatches with cell phone functionality that can work without a smartphone. You just need to link it your smartphone once though.