Polar Vs. Fitbit Vs. Garmin: Buying The Best Fitness Tracker

Fitness trackers have become an indispensable tool for athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and anyone looking to improve their health. With so many options on the market, it can be tough to decide which brand and model is right for you.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll compare the top contenders – Polar, Fitbit, and Garmin – looking at key features, pros and cons, and overall value to help you make the best choice.

A Brief Comparison Table

Heart Rate TrackingMost accurate even during high intensity exerciseCan be inaccurate during exerciseSolid accuracy with wrist or chest strap
GPSBuilt-in GPS on most modelsConnected GPS only on some modelsBuilt-in GPS on all but most basic models
Smartwatch FeaturesLimited to basic notificationsFull smartwatch capabilities like apps, payments, musicGood smartwatch functions on mid-range and up
Training AnalysisIn-depth analysis and feedbackBasic tracking, general recommendationsDetailed metrics and training load analysis
Battery LifeUp to 7 days in smartwatch modeTypically 3-5 daysUp to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode
Water ResistanceSwim-proofSplash-proof and water resistant, not optimized for swimmingSwim-proof
AccessoriesLimited bands and accessory optionsTons of stylish accessoriesMore sporty, less stylish accessory options
Price Range$230 – $500+$100 – $300$150 – $1,000+

Polar Fitness Trackers

Founded in 1977, Polar is a pioneer in heart rate monitoring technology. While they are less known compared to Fitbit and Garmin in the mainstream fitness tracker market, Polar devices are widely used by serious athletes and sports training facilities.

Key Features

Polar Fitness Trackers
Polar Fitness Trackers
  • Advanced heart rate tracking with Polar Precision Prime sensor
  • Training load and recovery analysis
  • Built-in GPS for pace, speed, distance tracking
  • Waterproof design for swimming and outdoor activities
  • Compatible with Polar Flow app and web dashboard


  • Extremely accurate heart rate monitoring even during high intensity activities
  • In-depth training analysis and feedback for elite athletes
  • Rugged, swim-proof design perfect for triathletes
  • Great for outdoor sports like running, cycling, hiking


  • Lack of smartwatch features like notifications or contactless payments
  • High price point puts it out of range for casual users
  • Polar Flow app is not as user friendly as Fitbit or Garmin

Best Suited For

Serious athletes, from runners to cyclists to triathletes. The accurate heart rate tracking and in-depth training analysis make Polar the choice for performance-focused users.

Fitbit Fitness Trackers

Founded in 2007, Fitbit pioneered the consumer wearable market and is now the most recognized name in fitness trackers. With a wide range of affordable options, Fitbit caters to the everyday health and wellness user.

Fitbit Fitness Tracker
Fitbit Fitness Tracker

Key Features

  • All-day activity, sleep and heart rate tracking
  • Auto-exercise recognition for runs, bikes, swims
  • Smartwatch notifications, contactless payments (on some models)
  • Thriving social community on Fitbit app
  • Interchangeable bands and accessories


  • Intuitive app and dashboard with graphics and trends
  • Engaging social experience with challenges, badges, leaderboards
  • Fashionable, slim designs with stylish accessory options
  • Affordable price points for most budgets
  • User friendly and easy to understand metrics


  • Less suited for serious athletes
  • Shorter battery life on many models
  • Not as waterproof as Polar and Garmin watches
  • Accuracy issues with heart rate tracking during exercise

Best Suited For

Casual users, beginners, and anyone looking for an accessible wellness tracker with smartwatch capabilities. The seamless app experience and motivating social features make Fitbit a favorite for lifestyle users.

Garmin Fitness Trackers

Originally founded in 1989 as a GPS technology company, Garmin has evolved into a leader in the fitness tracking space. Garmin offers everything from basic activity bands to advanced multisport watches.

Key Features

Garmin Fitness Tracker
Garmin Fitness Tracker
  • Built-in GPS, GLONASS and topographic mapping
  • Pulse Ox sensor tracks blood oxygen saturation
  • Advanced running dynamics and performance monitoring
  • Garmin Coach adaptive training plans
  • Pool swimming metrics and open water modes


  • The most accurate and detailed fitness metrics
  • Long battery life up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode
  • Rugged, outdoor-focused design
  • Excellent connectivity with other Garmin devices
  • Customizable data fields and apps


  • More complex interface and metrics than Fitbit
  • Expensive price point for high-end models
  • Larger watch case sizes not ideal for small wrists
  • Limited stylish accessory options

Best Suited For

Outdoor athletes and sports enthusiasts. The rich data, mapping, and multisport features make Garmin the perfect GPS sports watch for runners, cyclists, triathletes, hikers, and more.

Also Read: Choose Between Garmin Lily And Venu.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is Polar better than Garmin?

Polar and Garmin both make excellent fitness trackers. Polar has the edge for serious athletes who want the most accurate heart rate tracking and in-depth performance analysis. Garmin is better for outdoor activities thanks to GPS, mapping, and multisport modes. For everyday users, it’s a toss up – choose based on your specific needs.

Is Polar better than Fitbit?

Polar fitness trackers outperform Fitbit models when it comes to tracking intensity and analyzing training data. However, Fitbit’s simpler app, smartwatch functions, and accessory options make them more appealing for casual users looking for an everyday activity tracker.

Is there a better watch than Garmin?

For multisport GPS watches, Garmin is the leader in the market and the top choice of many athletes and outdoor enthusiasts. Polar and Suunto also make excellent multi-function sports watches for serious training. For smartwatches, Apple and Samsung lead the field in terms of popularity, apps, and advanced connected features.

What is the Garmin equivalent to the Fitbit?

The Garmin Vivosmart 4 is an excellent equivalent to the Fitbit Charge series, with similar activity tracking, heart rate monitoring, and smart notifications in a slim, band-style design. The Garmin Vivoactive series compares to the full-featured Fitbit Versa and Sense smartwatches. Garmin’s basic fitness bands like the Garmin Vivofit are an alternative to the very affordable Fitbit Inspire.

Final Verdict

So how do you decide between these top three brands? Consider these key factors:

  • Fitness Goals: Casual user focused on step counts? Go with Fitbit. Serious athlete training for a marathon? Choose Garmin or Polar.
  • Features: Need onboard music or contactless payments? Fitbit’s got you covered. Want the most detailed performance metrics? Garmin all the way.
  • Style: If you want a fashionable accessory to match your looks, Fitbit offers the most stylish options. Polar and Garmin focus more on sporty, rugged designs.
  • Budget: With prices ranging from $100 to $500+, think about how much you want to spend. Fitbit and Garmin have basic models for under $150. Polar starts around $230.

Ultimately there’s no definitively “best” fitness tracker brand – it depends on your specific needs and preferences. Hopefully this overview gives you a better sense of the strengths of Polar, Fitbit and Garmin to narrow down your choice.

Try some models on in store, read lots of reviews, and think about what features would improve your health and fitness routine the most. With quality options across the spectrum, you really can’t go wrong with these top fitness tracker brands.

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