Fitbit Charge 5 vs. Apple Watch Series 3: Which should you buy?

Fitbit Charge 5 Lifestyle
Fitbit Charge 5 Lifestyle (Image credit: Fitbit)

Fitbit Charge 5 launched at the end of September 2021 and hosts Fitbit's most advanced tracking features to date. New sensors and technology offer more comprehensive health and fitness monitoring. Apple Watch Series 3 is beginning to show its age but is outfitted with smart features that you're not going to get with the Charge 5. So, which one is a better fit for you?

Fitbit Charge 5 vs. Apple Watch Series 3: Features and specs

When it comes down to it, your final choice depends on the operating system and features you prioritize. Fitbit Charge 5 offers more advanced health and fitness monitoring, whereas Apple Watch Series 3 offers media, customizable apps, and Siri. Let's break down the specs to see how these two compare.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Fitbit Charge 5Apple Watch Series 3
Display size1.04-inches1.65-inches
Internal storageNo8GB
Smart assistantNoYes
Media play, stream, and storageNoYes
Customizable appNoYes
Preloaded mapsNoYes
Safety trackingNoYes
Water-resistant (5ATM)YesYes
All-day activity trackingYesYes
Sleep trackingYesYes
Stress monitoringYesYes
Sensors3-axis accelerometer, pulse oximeter, thermometer, ambient light, multipurpose electrical sensorsAccelerometer, altimeter, heart rate monitor, gyroscope, ambient light, thermometer (app)
Battery lifeUp to 7 days18 hours
CompatibilityiOS and AndroidiOS
Payment systemFitbit PayApple Pay
Companion appApple WatchFitbit
Customizable watch faceYesYes
Interchangeable bandsYesYes

Both wearables are in a similar price range, but Apple Watch Series 3 is a bit more expensive. Fitbit Charge 5 is newer and offers Sp02, ECG, and EDA scans that you're not going to get with the Series 3. However, if you need media and smart technology, Apple Watch Series 3 is the way to go. Let's get granular and break things down even further.

Fitbit Charge 5 vs. Apple Watch Series 3: Take Charge of your health

Fitbit Charge 5 is one of the best fitness trackers available. It's outfitted with the latest, most advanced tech via Fitbit. It hosts exciting new features like EDA, ECG, and Daily Readiness Scores on top of the things we loved about its predecessor Fitbit Charge 4, like built-in GPS, Active Zone Minutes, and workout intensity maps.

Charge 5 enables on-wrist EDA scans to detect electrodermal activity — tiny changes in your skin's sweat level, which indicate your body's response to stress. It delivers a daily stress management score based on these scans to show how your exercise routine, mindfulness, and sleep help to manage your stress levels.

Fitbit Charge 5 hosts new features and sensors for more comprehensive health and fitness monitoring.

ECG is a brand-new feature to the Charge device family. You can keep tabs on your heart health with a compatible ECG app that assesses your heart for atrial fibrillation — heart rhythm irregularities. It will monitor and store these readings so you can share them with your doctor if anything falls out of whack.

Charge 5 is outfitted with a built-in GPS. Active Zone Minutes give your wrist a buzz when you reach your target heart rate zones to ensure you're getting the most out of every sweat session. You can then view how your heart rate fluctuated along your workout routes in your workout intensity maps in the Fitbit app.

Unlike Apple Watch Series 3, Fitbit Charge 5 is capable of Sp02 monitoring. Track the oxygen level in your blood so you can be alerted if there's an indication of essential changes in your overall wellness. Regarding more comprehensive health and fitness monitoring, Fitbit Charge 5 comes out ahead of Apple Watch Series 3.

Fitbit Charge 5 vs. Apple Watch Series 3: Apple Watch Series 3 has got smarts

iPhone and Apple Watch

iPhone and Apple Watch (Image credit: iMore)

Apple Watch Series 3 is a smartwatch, while Fitbit Charge 5 is a tracker, so you're only going to get smart features like media play, stream, and storage, a smart assistant, and internal storage with Apple Watch Series 3. It features a more advanced navigation system and comes preloaded with Maps, so you can get turn-by-turn directions right on your wrist.

Apple Watch Series 3 offers smart features like media, customizable apps, and emergency SOS.

It features 8GB of internal storage, so you can download and listen to your favorite tunes via Apple Music and customize it with some of your favorite apps. Take note that you have to completely restore Series 3 to update it, and the latest operating system takes up a lot of that storage space. This process indicates this smartwatch is starting to show its age.

Apple Watch Series 3 does have Siri, your friendly smart assistant, so you can do things like set reminders and alarms, check the weather, or catch up on the news. It also supports a more advanced navigation system. A-GPS, Glonass, Galileo, and QZSS can pinpoint your location worldwide. Emergency SOS enables you to call for help if your iPhone isn't in reach or even around. However, it does not have fall detection or international SOS calling like the newer series.

Fitbit Charge 5 vs. Apple Watch Series 3: Battery, customization, compatibility

Best cheap Apple Watch

Best cheap Apple Watch (Image credit: iMore)

Fitbit Charge 5 offers up to seven days of battery life depending on your usage, while Apple Watch Series 3 delivers up to 18 hours. Many say 18 hours is a conservative number for Series 3 and that they can get up to two to three days of use while operating in basic watch mode. Still, Charge 5 comes out way ahead. Keep in mind that if you use either wearable in GPS, Wi-Fi, or music mode a lot, the battery will drain much quicker.

These wearables feature customizable watch faces and interchangeable bands, but Apple Watch Series 3 has more options. You have a lot more band material and colors to choose from. Fitbit Charge 5 comes in three different color combinations.

If you're an Android user, your obvious choice is Fitbit Charge 5, as it supports iOS and Android. Apple Watch Series 3 is only compatible with iOS.

Fitbit Charge 5 vs. Apple Watch Series 3: Which should you buy?

Fitbit Charge 5 Lifestyle

Fitbit Charge 5 Lifestyle (Image credit: Fitbit)

Fitbit Charge 5 is a better value and offers more comprehensive health and fitness monitoring unless you need the smart features. It's much newer, so it's outfitted with the latest technology and hosts new sensors to help you stay on top of your health and track every part of your day.

Apple Watch Series 3 does offer media play, stream, and storage, as well as Siri and emergency SOS. However, it's dated, more expensive, and new updates eat up a lot of your internal storage space. Plus, it's only compatible with iOS, whereas Fitbit Charge 5 works with both iOS and Android.

The truth is, both of these wearables are capable of health and fitness tracking, but Fitbit Charge 5 features Fitbit's latest tech and advanced sensors for more comprehensive health and fitness monitoring. Fitbit Charge 5 is the right move.

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.