Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Charge 5: Which should you buy?

Apple Watch SE Strip Watch Face
Apple Watch SE Strip Watch Face (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

Apple Watch SE and Fitbit Charge 5 are two of the best fitness trackers available on the market today. They both do a great job when it comes to all-day activity and sleep tracking, and both host some unique features that set them apart. Deciding which is for you comes down to budget, operating system, and the features you prioritize.

Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Charge 5: Features and specs

Apple Watch SE is more expensive than Fitbit Charge 5, but it's the only one of the two that hosts smart technology. On the other hand, if you're looking for a fitness tracker that's a great value, Fitbit Charge 5 is tough to beat. It offers a lot when it comes to comprehensive health and fitness monitoring, especially when considering the price point. Let's break down the specs to see how these two best fitness trackers match up.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Apple Watch SEFitbit Charge 5
Display size1.78 inches (44mm), 1.65 inches (40mm)1.04 inches
Internal storage32GBNo
Media play, stream, and storageYesNo
Built-in cellularYes (optional)No
Phone notificationsYesYes
Water-resistant (5ATM)YesYes
Swim trackingYesYes
Activity trackingYesYes
Sleep trackingYesYes
Heart rate monitoringYesYes
Stress monitoringYesYes
Sp02 monitoringNoYes
ECG trackingNoYes
Safety trackingYesNo
Voice command + smart assistantSiriNo
SensorsAccelerometer, barometer/altimeter, heart rate monitor, compass, gyroscope, ambient light, thermometer3-axis accelerometer, pulse oximeter, thermometer, ambient light, multipurpose electrical sensors
Battery life18 hoursUp to 7 days
CompatibilityiOSiOS and Android
Payment systemApple PayFitbit Pay
Companion appApple WatchFitbit
Customizable watch faceYesYes
Interchangeable bandsYesYes

Both fitness wearables have you covered when it comes to all-day activity and sleep tracking. However, you're only going to get smart features like Siri, internal storage, music, customizable apps, advanced navigation, and safety tracking with Apple Watch SE.

If you're an Android user, Fitbit Charge 5 is your obvious choice because of its compatibility. Plus, it hosts a variety of advanced features like EDA, ECG, Readiness Scores, and an always-on watch face. The fact that it's significantly less expensive than Apple Watch SE, with high-tech features and impressive battery life, makes it an excellent value. But let's break things down even further.

Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Charge 5: Perks of a smartwatch

Apple Watch SE Workout

Apple Watch SE Workout (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

There are obvious perks to owning a smartwatch. For starters, Apple Watch SE gives you the option of a built-in cellular system. That means you'll stay connected anytime, anywhere with just your watch; no phone required. You can make calls, answer emails, and send texts on top of a mountain, or while you're surfing the waves.

Apple Watch SE offers an advanced navigation system that can pinpoint your location worldwide. It features a built-in compass, always-on altimeter, and A-GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO/QZSS. You'll have Maps right on your wrist to give turn-by-turn directions with a gentle buzz. The always-on altimeter lets you see your elevation changes in real-time as you climb up or down.

If you love the outdoors, you'll benefit from Apple Watch SE's advanced navigation, safety tracking, and built-in cellular.

Are you someone who loves adventuring? Apple Watch SE features safety tracking and fall detection. With its built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, this smartwatch can detect if you've taken a hard fall and connect you with local emergency services if you're immobile. You can also get immediate help in an emergency, even while traveling internationally, by pressing and holding the side button.

Unlike Fitbit Charge 5, you can download, stream, and play your favorite tunes, audiobooks, and podcasts with Apple Watch SE. Connect via Bluetooth with some of the best true wireless earbuds to fuel your workouts and motivate your day. Apple Watch SE also hosts convenient voice commands via Siri — your smart assistant. Ask Siri about the weather, news, to schedule calendar events, and even set alarms.

Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Charge 5: Fitbit Charge 5 is supercharged

Fitbit Charge 5 Lifestyle

Fitbit Charge 5 Lifestyle (Image credit: Fitbit)

Fitbit Charge 5 boasts the most advanced features of any Fitbit tracker yet. It offers EDA scans to help with detecting and managing stress. EDA scans detect electrodermal activity or tiny changes in your skin's sweat level, which depicts how your body physically responds to stress. It delivers a daily stress management score so you can see how your workouts, activity, sleep, and mindfulness affect stress over time.

A key difference between Apple Watch SE and Fitbit Charge 5 is ECG monitoring. This is a major upgrade from Charge 5's predecessor, Fitbit Charge 4. This feature lets you keep track of your heart health with a compatible ECG app that assesses your heart for any rhythm irregularities. It will alert you if it finds any so you can share the results with your doctor.

Charge 5 offers advanced features for more comprehensive health and fitness monitoring.

Unlike Apple Watch SE, Fitbit Charge 5 offers Sp02 monitoring. You can track the oxygen level in your blood to help you learn when there may be an indication of important changes in your overall wellness.

Your Daily Readiness Score is another noteworthy feature on Fitbit Charge 5. This score shows whether you're ready for a strenuous workout, need to take it easy, or when it's time for recovery. It's a personalized score based on your exercise, sleep, and heart rate variability. This feature does require a Fitbit premium membership, but your Charge 5 purchase comes with six months of Premium, so you can test it out.

Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Charge 5: Customization, battery, compatibility

Fitbit Charge 5 Lifestyle

Fitbit Charge 5 Lifestyle (Image credit: Fitbit)

A huge factor in choosing between these two is compatibility. Fitbit Charge 5 is the only choice for Android as it's compatible with both iOS and Android. Apple Watch SE is only compatible with iOS. When it comes to battery, Fitbit Charge 5 beats Apple Watch SE by a long shot, delivering up to seven days of battery life compared to SE's 18 hours. Keep in mind that battery life is dependent on how you use your wearable. If you operate yours in GPS mode, Wi-Fi, or music mode a lot, you'll drain the battery much quicker than you would in basic watch mode.

When it comes to customization, Apple Watch SE reigns supreme. There are tons of colors, bands, and casing options, so you can really make it your own. You can customize the watch faces of both, and both also offer interchangeable bands. However, you'll only get customizable apps with Apple Watch SE, as it's the only one that hosts smart tech aside from smart pay.

Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Charge 5: Which should you buy?

This is a tough one. Both fitness wearables host features unique to the device. Apple Watch SE is your best bet if you need smart capabilities like music, built-in cellular, advanced navigation, safety tracking, and Siri. It's more expensive than Fitbit Charge 5 but comes in at a competitive price for an Apple smartwatch. Plus, it hosts many of the features we've come to know and love via Apple.

If you want a high-tech fitness tracker, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better value than Fitbit Charge 5. It's loaded with features like ECG, EDA, Daily Readiness Scores, and Sp02 monitoring on top of additional perks like Active Zone Minutes, workout intensity maps, and built-in GPS. It's less expensive, works with both iOS and Android, and offers a much longer battery life.

Bottom line: These are two of the best fitness wearables available. The choice boils down to your budget, operating system, and the features you want most.

Nicolette Roux

Nicolette is a freelance writer for iMore. She's been hooked on Apple products since she got the very first iPhone in 2007 and made the switch from PC to Mac in 2008 after inadvertently dousing her laptop with a hefty dose of water. A dedicated creative, Nicolette has had the pleasure of working with some of the top websites, studios, and brands in the industry throughout her career, and enjoys writing about all things: Apple, health, fitness, audio, and home. With over a decade of high-level experience as a health and fitness professional, Nicolette specializes in tech pertaining to the field. If she’s not working, you can find her sipping a glass of wine, enjoying a concert, or hanging with her family.