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Six sports smartwatches in comparison: Huawei vs Garmin vs Fitbit

Six sports watches in comparison: Garmin, Fitbit & Co

Sports watches measure pulse and movement, monitoring sleep and help with training. We are testing six current devices that also look chic.Huawei vs Garmin vs Fitbit

If you are looking for a smart health watch for athletes instead of a fitness tracker, you are spoiled for choice. In addition to classic smartwatches (overview), there are sports watches that support athletes during training and in everyday life. In this comparison Review we compare the following devices:

Compared to the “real” smartwatches, the sports watches differ in several points. On the one hand, they rely on proprietary operating systems, there is no Android WearOS here. The best known is the Tizen operating system of the Samsung Gear Sport. On the other hand, the focus is clearly on sport. All watches have a heart rate monitoring, monitoring steps and sleep. For this purpose, they offer a training mode that brings templates for different sports. One advantage of these watches is the battery life: while smartwatches have to be recharged after a day or two, the sports watches last much longer.

product Fit 3 fitness Versa Vivoactive 3 Music Amazfit Stratos Gear Sport
Manufacturer Huawei Suunto Fitbit Garmin Huami Samsung
GPS / WLAN – / – – / – – / ✔ ✔ / ✔ ✔ / ✔ ✔ / ✔
Display monochrome coloured coloured coloured coloured coloured
Chest strap compatibility Bluetooth Bluetooth, Ant + Bluetooth
Sleep monitoring ++ ++ ++ ++ + ++
Local music / streaming ✔ / ✔ ✔ / ✔ ✔ / – ✔ / ✔
Works without an app No Yes No No No No
App needs an account Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Pedometer ++ ++ ++ ++ + ++
Floor counter ++ ++ ++ ++ ++ ++
Bracelet changeable yes, 18 mm yes, 20 mm yes, proprietary yes, 20 mm yes, 22 mm yes, 18 mm

The size and appearance of the sports watches differ only minimally. Except for the Fitbit Versa, all manufacturers choose a round design. This means that the devices look much more like “real” watches than heart rate monitors or fitness wristbands. The Samsung Gear Sport is the only Review device with a rotating bezel, all other products are operated via the touch display and one to three buttons on the side. The exception is the Suunto watch: its screen is not touch-intensive, the control is carried out via a total of five buttons on the side.

All sports watches come with silicone wristbands. This is fine for sports, in everyday life the tapes look a little cheap. However, since the manufacturers rely on a quick release, the straps can be easily replaced. The sizes vary from 18 to 22 mm. Fitbit does not adhere to the fastener standard, but does supply numerous of its own bracelets made of different materials.

When it came to processing, all the watches convinced us, nothing creaked or stood out. The devices are so bright that the displays can be read well in normal light. All sports watches are protected against water. Swimming in the lake, sea or pool is not a problem, nor is showering. Scuba diving or faster water sports should be done without the clocks. In these sports, a significantly higher pressure acts on the seals, so that even waterproof devices actually reach their limit.

When it comes to software, there are clear differences both on the clocks and in the associated apps. On the one hand, this is due to the design philosophy of the manufacturers, on the other hand, simply due to a feature sprawl. The Fitbit Versa is simple yet clear. There is a clean menu structure on the watch, which is continued in the associated app. All data relevant to everyday life is neatly prepared and clearly structured.

A lot of know-how has gone into the apps for Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music and Suunto 3 Fitness. You can see the sporty background of the manufacturers both on the watch and in the accompanying app. The Huawei Fit and Samsung Gear Sport are similarly good, if not quite on the same level. Both have mature applications for smartphones, it looks as if Huawei has been heavily inspired by Samsung. The Huami Amazfit Stratos is a bit out of line. The app is minimalistic, but not as tidy and informative as Fitbit’s. The watch itself is almost overloaded with functions. There is a lot to do, for example she can import and export training courses in GPX format. But many features are just too well hidden or in strange places.

With the exception of the Suunto 3 Fitness, all sports watch apps require a smartphone. The Samsung app can be used without a user account; for all other devices, registration with the manufacturer is necessary. The data is also synchronized with the manufacturer’s cloud system. If you don’t want that, you should take a closer look at the Suunto watch.

All watches integrate with the notifications of the smartphones and show incoming messages on the display. We particularly liked the Amazfit Stratos in the Review. The creators use the available space very well, chats and emails can be followed properly.

The highlight of the watches is the training function. From running to walking, cycling or swimming, the apps and watches come with numerous templates for sports. There are also simple plans so that long-term training can be set up and implemented. The watches differ minimally in practical training. In a running unit with the Samsung app on the smartphone, the Amazfit Stratos and the Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music, there are deviations between the different systems. However, they are not so blatant that a system can be seen as a complete failure. An important finding is that you should choose a system and stay with it.

One running unit, three pulse measurements in comparison: on the far left the data comes from a Bluetooth heart rate belt, in the middle is the Stratos Amazfit, on the right the Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music. The differences are recognizable, but not extreme.

An interesting point is how the different systems deal with GPS coordinates. Watches that receive their GPS signal from their smartphone usually record the route immediately. The Amazfit Stratos took almost three minutes to get a signal. Nevertheless, the watch seems to read the data from the smartphone, since the actual measurement of the distance covered is comparable to the cell phone. The Garmin watch takes a little longer to get the GPS fix and only relies on the data of the watch.

GPS comparison: Although the training started at the same location, the GPS data differ slightly. Left is the smartphone, in the middle the Amazfit Stratos, on the right the Garmin sports watch.

If you just want to go running, you can easily use any of the watches. We would recommend the Garmin to all those who want to integrate different components into their training. It is the only watch that can send pulse data to other devices. This is interesting, for example, if you wear the watch while cycling and want to display the pulse data on the bike computer. The Huami, Suunto and Garmin devices can receive pulse data from a Bluetooth chest strap if required, Garmin even supports transmission via ANT +. The other watches measure the pulse on the wrist, and this information can also be used in a direct comparison.

If you want to leave your smartphone completely at health home, you should use the Huami Amazfit Stratos, Samsung Gear Sport or Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music. These have their own GPS module and can record all the necessary data directly on the watch. All other watches tested also record route data, but this requires the GPS function of a smart health connected smartphone.

In addition to the targeted training sessions, all watches monitoring the owner’s daily activity. This includes movement, the steps taken and, if desired, nighttime sleep. All sports watches perform this task very well. They provide a good overview of the steps taken. Garmin is particularly noticeable here, because the software adjusts the daily step goal if desired: If you move more, your daily goal automatically goes up, which motivates.

Although all watches record the sleep phases, they prepare them differently: on the left is the Huawei app, in the middle the Amazfit view, on the right the data of the Fitbit.

When monitoring sleep, all devices use motion detection and the pulse rate to determine the different sleeping zones. The data is then processed in the app and provides a good starting point for assessing your own sleep. The Huami app is noticed negatively. The different phases are confusing in the app, which makes Garmin, Samsung, Fitbit, Suunto or Huawei much better.

Fitbit also offers women a function that can be used to track the cycle and ovulation. In the Review field, the Fitbit is the only manufacturer that has such a function in the program.

You can make contactless payments with the watches from Garmin and Fitbit. This is a clever feature, but it requires a lot of setup on both systems. Both cards basically create virtual credit cards that can be charged like a prepaid solution. However, you must first be a customer of certain institutes or install an app such as Boon (Garmin, Fitbit) or VimPay (Garmin). When all the hurdles have been overcome, contactless payment is a pretty cool thing. The only annoying thing is that banks and savings banks do not yet have a uniform approach on how to deal with these new payment methods.

Fitbit, Garmin, Samsung and Huami devices can be filled with music and smart health connected to headphones via Bluetooth. So you can also listen to music during sports. Fitbit and Garmin also support the Deezer streaming service, but in the Review we didn’t get it to work at Garmin. Fitbit support worked well. However, we were unable to change the playlists during an active training session. Overall, the use of a streaming service is unsatisfactory, too many hurdles are faced with a decent listening experience. The Spotfiy integration on the Samsung Gear Sport is better. There you can select playlists on the watch, transfer the songs via WiFi and listen offline. That’s the way it has to be. Garmin is currently working on bringing Spotify to Vivoactive 3 Music. At the time of testing, the service is only available for the more expensive Fenix ​​series.

In practice, all tested watches last between three and five days. We carried the devices both during the day and at night and, in addition to the movement, also had sleep monitored. If you do a lot of sport, your sport watches need to be plugged in more. Above all, functions such as GPS, Bluetooth or WLAN eat up the battery empty.

Running time in everyday life
Huawei Fit: Up to three days
Samsung Sport: Up to four days
Suunto 3 Fitness: Up to five days
Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music: Up to five days
Huami Amazfit Stratos: Up to five days
Fitbit Versa: Up to five days

All Review devices need between 90 minutes and 120 minutes to be fully charged again. Unfortunately, each manufacturer cooks its own soup with the charger, you won’t find a standard like USB-C.

For the most part, the prices of the watches are not far apart. The only exception is the Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music, it is the most expensive sports watch. If you can do without the music function, you should take a look at the normal Vivoactive 3. This model does not have the music function, but is otherwise identical.

The choice is not easy. There is no clear winner in comparison – there is no clear loser either. If you are simply looking for a watch as a companion, you can use any of the devices, depending on your preference. In everyday life, we particularly liked the Fitbit Versa (Review report), which is easy to set up and use thanks to its minimalist surface and sensible app.

Those who are more interested in the topic of sport should either use the Suunto 3 Fitness, the Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music  or the bargain Huami Amazfit Stratos . We liked the apps from Suunto and Garmin in the Review, Huami still has some catching up to do. The Samsung Gear Sport or the Huawei Fit  also cover many areas properly. Here it is the personal preference of the user, although the style of the Gear Sport looks a bit more modern.

If the watches are too big for you or if you are looking for a fitness tracker in addition to your real watch, we recommend our comparison Review: Six fitness trackers with pulse measurement.

The best price of Huawei Fit

The best price of Samsung Gear Sport R600

The best price of Garmin vivoactive 3

The best price of Suunto 3

The best price of Fitbit Versa

The best price of Huami Amazfit

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