Fitbit vs Garmin – Which One is Best?

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Fitbit and Garmin are two of the leading fitness tracker brands on the market. They both offer an affordable alternative to Samsung or Apple without sacrificing any of the key features associated with those brands.

Breaking it Down

The two watches are going to be judged on several categories based on features and functionality. At the end of each section, they are compared, and a winner is chosen.

Tracking Functionality

This is the primary reason customers go for fitness trackers over smartwatches. As such, it is vitally important to the overall performance of each watch.

It is typical for a tracker to monitor your step count, heart rate, and sleep patterns. However, many models offer far greater functionality than just the basics.


All Fitbit devices monitor your total active minutes and total steps. Other stats vary based on model to model, but for argument’s sake, let’s compare the best Fitbit model to the best Garmin model. In this case, the Fitbit Ionic.

Want to know about the different types of Fitbit? Learn more.

This High-End Fitbit Model Can Monitor:

  • Heart rate
  • Hourly activity
  • Distance
  • Calories
  • Floors
  • Sleep
  • Menstruation
  • Fitness level/age

That’s a relatively comprehensive list of all the essential physical stats users want to track. In tandem with another product, Fitbit devices can also allow you to monitor your glucose levels, making Fitbit a strong pick for tracking functionality.


The top of the Garmin mountain is the Venu model. This fitness watch is state of the art and has a myriad of features, so buckle in.

The Garmin Venu Can Monitor:

  • Steps
  • Sleep
  • Floors
  • Calories burned
  • Distance
  • Intensity minutes
  • Fitness age
  • Stress
  • Body energy
  • How well your blood is absorbing oxygen (really)
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Hydration
  • Breathing

Yeah, that’s a lot of features.

Winner: Needless to say, Garmin definitely wins that round.

Activity Features

This category is all about just how many sports each watch is built for. Running, swimming, and cycling are three common ones almost every fitness tracker can accommodate, but what about things like golf or basketball?


The Fitbit Ionic makes use of a patented technology called SmartTrack. This feature allows the watch to automatically recognize what kind of activity you are doing and record data for it.

It has a wide range of sports that it recognizes. However, the Ionic also lets you track specific workout manually, so you don’t have to rely on the automatic functions.

The List of Stats the Ionic Tracks is as Follows:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Aerobic workout, this includes things like dancing, kickboxing, and more
  • Elliptical
  • Outdoor bike
  • Swimming
  • Sports, this includes continuous movement activities like soccer, tennis, basketball, and more

The list is fairly comprehensive, with the aerobic and sports category monitoring the majority of sports in themselves.

If you have a fitness coach premium account, you can also get custom-tailored workouts on your watch. As this is an extra paid service, however, it won’t be taken into account for the final score.

The Ionic also features regular reminders to move, automatic calculation of your cardio fitness level, and breathing exercises.


The Garmin Venu has over 20 pre-installed sports tracking apps.

These Include:

  • Yoga
  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Golf
  • Weightlifting
  • Skiing
  • Many, many more

The Venu also comes equipped with a variety of animated workouts for you to use, a feature that the Fitbit is lacking. The coaching app for the watch is also free, as compared to the cost of the Fitbit one, but as this is a third party feature, once again, it isn’t being included.

Winner: The watches draw in this category. The Venu has some excellent exclusive features, but the Fitbit also has that handy SmartTrack tech, leaving the two to match up evenly against one another.

Smartwatch Features

Of course, these aren’t smartwatches. Well, the Fitbit isn’t, the Garmin is sort of a hybrid. Either way, consumers still expect their fitness trackers to be able to do more than just fitness related things.

It is commonplace for these trackers to have an array of smartwatch related features built into them, giving them greater functionality, and allowing users to get the best of both worlds, without having to sacrifice.

That being said, let’s take a look at what smartwatch features both the Fitbit Ionic, and the Garmin Venu come installed with.


Fitbit is well known for having usability far beyond a simple fitness tracker. The watches come with an accompanying phone app that gives users access to everything they could possibly want with regards to the device.

Of course, not all Fitbits are created equal, and the Ionic has some features exclusive to the upper-end models:

  • You can store, play, and control music from the watch itself
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Phone notifications
  • Plenty of partner apps
  • Smart tap payments
  • Built-in GPS

The watch has a few other features, but these are the most notable.


The Venu has pretty much the same features as the Fitbit Ionic, in this regard. There is a significant price difference between the two, so this is a little disappointing to see.

The Features the Watch Has:

  • The same audio storage and controls as the Fitbit
  • Phone notifications
  • Bluetooth headphone connectivity
  • GPS and GPS safety tracking features
  • Smart contactless payments

Winner: It’s a draw! The two have near-identical features, so it wouldn’t be fair to give advantage to one over the other.


Last but not least, price. Often the deciding factor for consumers when it comes to techy gadgets, the price also tends to be the most significant discrepancy between mediocre and great products.


The Fitbit Ionic, as of writing this, can go from $150 to $200 dollars, on average. For the functionality you are getting, that is really good, and a price that the Garmin can’t compare to.


The Venu can retail for over $300 dollars. It’s a price that is definitely worth it due to just how well designed and how much functionality you can get with the watch, but it is on the higher end of pricing models.

Winner: It has to go to the Fitbit. While both are worth it, the Fitbit gives you more bang for your buck.

Final Recount

Fitbit: 3/5

Garmin: 3/5

Pros and Cons



  • Great bang for your buck
  • Lots of features
  • Plenty of trackers


  • Not the best-looking device
  • Is lacking in certain functionality areas
  • Relies on third-party apps



  • Gorgeous looking watch
  • Has everything you could ever need
  • Serves as both a fitness tracker and a smartwatch


  • Expensive price tag
  • Not much customizability
  • There are cheaper watches that do almost, if not just, as much

Final Verdict

So, which is better? Fitbit or Garmin? It’s a tie. Really, it all comes down to the budget you have. Both watches are worth the money. The Garmin has that extra bit of functionality for the higher price, but the Fitbit has plenty of features that do you just fine at its price level.

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