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Garmin vs Fitbit: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • More than 100 million activity trackers have been sold in 2022 so far.
  • Experts predict global activity tracker sales to exceed 250 million annually by 2025.
  • Apple Watch, Garmin and Fitbit’s competitor, has an overall market share of 30.1% in the activity tracker market.
  • As of 2022, more than $17 billion in activity trackers have been sold.
  • As of 2021, there are more than 110 million registered Fitbit users.

Wearable technology is all the rage right now. From the Apple Watch to VR headsets, consumers continue to flock to the most cutting-edge tech. Obviously, this includes activity trackers. There are countless brands in competition with each other in this industry.

However, two brand names seem to come up far more than all the others. Namely, Garmin and Fitbit. But how do they stack up against one another? In a showdown between Garmin vs Fitbit, which activity tracker brand comes out on top? It’s a closer call than you might think. Both brands have their own set of pros and cons.

Likewise, each one has its own advantages over the other. To come up with an answer, we’ll need to place the two side-by-side. We’ll shine a light on what makes each brand unique, where each activity tracker could benefit from some improvements, and where Garmin vs Fitbit might have some overlap. Finally, we’ll have a better idea about how the two compare and which brand is ultimately the best. Let’s begin.

Garmin vs Fitbit: Side-by-Side Comparison

GarminFitbit
Founded19892007
FoundersGary Burrell
Min Kao
James Park
Eric Friedman
Key PeopleCliff Pemble (President & CEO)
Doug Boessen (CFO)
James Park (CEO)
Eric Friedman (CTO)
HeadquartersOlathe, KansasSan Francisco, California
Revenue$4.98 billion (2021)$1.21 billion (2021)
ProductsGPS, activity trackersActivity trackers

Garmin vs Fitbit: What’s the Difference?

When comparing and contrasting Garmin vs Fitbit, it’s important to highlight the key differences between the two activity trackers. For these brands, it comes down to three key things: the brand’s product offerings, the quality of the tracker’s tech, and the number of features the activity tracker can offer. Let’s take a look below.

Brand Offerings

Despite their shared space in the activity tracker market, Garmin and Fitbit are two completely separate brands. Since its inception in the late 1980s, Garmin has been primarily known as a GPS brand. From deep sea diving equipment to hiking tools and in-flight navigation technology, Garmin’s GPS offerings far exceed the number of their activity trackers.

Fitbit, on the other hand, has always been known as an activity tracker brand. The only time they ever strayed from this was during the Covid-19 pandemic when respirators were in high demand. Consequently, Fitbit designed and manufactured its own respirators to help with the demand. Apart from this, Fitbit was, is, and always will be an activity tracker brand above all. It’s undoubtedly their top priority.

Technology

Garmin vívofit 4 activity tracker with 1+ year battery life and color display. Small/Medium, Black. 010-01847-00, 0.61 inches
  • Features always on customizable color display and 1 plus year battery life; no charging necessary. Safe for swimming and showering
  • Tracks steps, distance and calories burned, monitors sleep and provides a personalized daily step goal (heart rate monitoring not available on this product)
  • Periodically syncs to Garmin Connect, where you can save, plan and share your activities, get involved in social challenges and more
  • Garmin Move IQ feature automatically detects activity and classifies activity type on Garmin Connect. Smartphone compatibility is iphone and android
  • Width is 0.75 inch and thickness is 0.37 inch. Circumference for large is 5.83 to 8.46 inch and Circumference for regular is 4.80 to 7.40 inch. Display size is 0.43 x 0.43 in inches and Display resolution is 88 x 88 pixels

Garmin is an extremely high-end brand, and the technology contained within its activity trackers proves this. From tracking your run to pinpointing your workouts and everything in between, Garmin’s activity tracker tech is just as remarkable as the GPS products they’re known for. In a showdown between Garmin vs Fitbit, Garmin makes the more advanced, more accurate activity tracker.

Fitbit’s technology is nevertheless exceptional. However, there’s no arguing that it comes second to Garmin’s. After all, Fitbit helped pave the way for the activity tracker boom. It also has the internal tech to actively compete against its closest rivals in the market. Alas, Garmin edges ahead of Fitbit in this specific regard simply because of the quality of its GPS tech. Fitbit might not be as accurate or as advanced as Garmin, but its activity trackers are still worthy of note.

Features

Garmin’s activity trackers have extensive and comprehensive mapping tech to help you with your workouts. Regardless if you want to track your run or navigate yourself back home without your phone, Garmin’s GPS tech makes all their activity tracker’s features that much more impressive.

And yet, Fitbit does have one key advantage. Its activity trackers also double as health monitors. This is something Garmin activity trackers cannot claim. From heart monitors to stress indicators, Fitbit watches have more impressive, more advanced features than Garmin activity trackers.

History of Garmin

Before Garmin ever entered the wearable tech industry, it was best known for its GPS technology. Gary Burrell and Min Kao founded the company in October 1989. Consequently, the two electrical engineers developed a GPS unit they dubbed ProNav. They named their newly founded company Garmin, which is a portmanteau of their first names.

Their first customer? None other than the United States Army. Unsurprisingly, the young company was soon bringing in more than $100 million annually. After only a decade, they were bringing in close to a quarter of a billion dollars a year.

Acquisitions

By 2000, Garmin had over three million cumulative sales across 50 different GPS products. From handheld devices and car navigation to hunting and fishing tools, Garmin had effectively dominated the GPS industry the world over. With that, they began making acquisitions. They purchased a GPS/NAV/COMM unit manufacturer in 2003, a satellite navigation company in 2011, and, in a move that would prove incredibly lucrative, a personal monitoring technology company named Dynastream Innovations.

Dynastream

This Dynastream purchase effectively allowed Garmin to enter the activity tracker industry. Equipped with Dynastream’s low-power, low-cost foot pods and heart rate monitors, they could now begin to make the activity trackers they’re known for today. The Vivofit and Vivosmart are two of their most popular all-around models.

Interestingly, the Forerunner series is preferred by runners. Conversely, the Fenix series is ideal for more rugged sports and activities. And the Vivomove is designed to combine the best of an activity tracker with the look and feel of a watch.

The Rise of Fitbit

Sale
Fitbit Inspire 2 Health & Fitness Tracker with a Free 1-Year Fitbit Premium Trial, 24/7 Heart Rate, Black/Black, One Size (S & L Bands Included)
  • Earn Active Zone Minutes as you progress toward your weekly 150 minutes of heart-pumping activity and use 20 plus exercise modes to track goals like distance, calories burned and more.Operating temperature: 14° to 113°F.Water resistance depth:50 meters
  • Track all-day activity: your steps, distance, hourly activity and calories burned.Maximum operating altitude: 28,000 ft
  • Use 24x7 heart rate to track resting heart rate & better measure calorie burn
  • Enjoy 10 days of battery life for daily progress without constant charging. Varies with use and other factors. Track your time in light, deep and REM sleep, then get a Sleep Score to better understand your sleep quality each night.Stay inspired from the shower to the pool with this swimproof tracker (water resistant to 50 meters) and motivated by connecting with friends, competing in challenges, earning badges and celebrating goal milestones.

Contrarily, Fitbit has only ever been in the activity tracker market. They were founded in 2007 under the short-lived name Healthy Metrics Research, Inc. After seeing the potential for success that their technology possessed, they soon changed to the much more catchy name Fitbit.

Their first product arrived in 2009 under the name Fitbit Tracker. It earned them both the Innovation Honoree award and the “Best in Health & Wellness” award at that year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Clearly, Fitbit really had something special on its hands.

Growth

In the following years, it was onward and upward for Fitbit. Subsequently, things really took off for the company once they began integrating their tech with smartphones. This, it seems, is the point where Fitbit went from good to great. Now offering both a website and a mobile app for their fitness trackers, Fitbit was able to tap into the growing popularity of activity monitoring.

The company did so by combining it with the social aspect of tracking friends’ activity through the app. Plus, by giving wearers the ability to log meals, workouts, weight loss journeys, and personal goals, they were able to make a great thing even better.

Today, Fitbit’s product line includes smartwatches, fitness trackers, wearable payment technology, and more. With Google’s parent company Alphabet acquiring the company in January of 2021, there’s little doubt that Fitbit’s product line will continue to change and adapt to the times. While some are obviously concerned about Google owning and having access to so much raw user data, others see its ownership as a way for Fitbit to embrace and implement even more advanced, cutting-edge tech into its vast line of products.

Garmin vs Fitbit: Pros and Cons

Pros of GarminCons of Garmin
Tracking technology is second-to-noneLess health monitoring features than Fitbit
Always on displayMarginally more expensive
Makes good use of its other brands (such as GLONASS and ANT)Garmin’s top priority is GPS tech, not fitness
Not all models boast Bluetooth connectivity
Pros of FitbitCons of Fitbit
Many affordable models for all price rangesTracking features pale in comparison to Garmin
The social aspect serves as a great motivatorSome models can be quite bulky
Superior health monitoringMust be connected to a phone or computer
Subtle, sleek, and comfortable designNew Google ownership raises questions

Garmin vs Fitbit: Which Is Better?

As you can see, there’s plenty to love about both Garmin and Fitbit. Both have exceptional, state-of-the-art activity monitoring. The two brands are equally high-end in this regard. Additionally, both brands come in at around the same price (albeit Garmin is slightly higher in price than Fitbit). Not to mention, both Garmin and Fitbit have plenty of features that make their respective activity monitors worth purchasing. Ultimately, which activity tracker deserves to come out on top?

It’s a close call. Nevertheless, Fitbit wins. Not only does it have superior health monitoring, it also has slightly more affordable pricing. While Garmin’s GPS tracking is second to none, it’s not enough to make up for its lack of Bluetooth connectivity and comparable health monitoring features. Garmin makes excellent activity trackers, but Fitbit makes a slightly superior product.

Up Next…

Interested in similar articles? Click on the links below:

  • Apple Watch vs Samsung Watch: Which Is Superior? They are both the latest smartwatch incarnations of their respective brands. Yet one has a battery which is far more powerful than the other, while one can work with either Android or iOS. Find out which ones they are and which smartphone outpaces the other.
  • Fitbit Versa vs. Apple Watch: Which is Better? They both come with excellent customizable options. However, one is far more versatile in terms of functionality while the other has an impressively long-lasting battery. Discover which device is which and the better choice between the two.
  • Fitbit Sense vs. Apple Watch 7: How Do They Compare? Which comes with more connectivity options? More sensors? A longer battery life? The answers to these questions and more can be seen right here.

Last update on 2023-01-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Garmin vs Fitbit: How Do They Compare? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Who owns Fitbit?

As of January 2021, Fitbit is owned by Google.

Who owns Garmin?

Garmin is not owned by any company. In fact, they own several subsidiaries themselves.

When was the first Fitbit released?

The first Fitbit — the Fitbit Tracker — was released in 2009.

Who sells the most activity trackers?

If the Apple Watch counts as an activity tracker, then Apple has the greatest market share at over 30%.

What do activity trackers do with your data?

Fitbit sells activity tracker info to third parties, while Garmin does not.

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