I’ve been a happy Fitbit Flex user for some 18 months now but when Pebble released an update that allowed activity tracking I thought that I would give it a go to see how the two compared.
The first thing to point out is that I am only interested in two things: accuracy and battery life. The second thing is that while I am happy with both the watch and fitness band on my (non-dominant) wrist I would prefer it all in one package.
I chose to run the test over a couple of weeks. The first when I would be at home and doing little walking (I work from home so the number of steps from the bedroom to the office is about 10) and the second when I was on holiday when I would be doing a lot of walking. This would allow me to do a comparison between low and high usage.
Of the two criteria this was the most important for me. I know that neither will be 100% accurate but I do want them to be close. In order to baseline the tests I ran a small test where I recorded the step count on both devices before taking 130 steps and the recording the counts again. As you can see from below in this very unscientific test the Fitbit was spot on and the Pebble out by a factor of 35%.
The graph below shows the number of steps recorded by each device over a two week period.
What is pretty clear is that the more steps you take the greater the divergence between the Fitbit and the Pebble. At the high end this difference was about 25% meaning that you had to do many more steps in order to reach your goal, which in both cases was 10,000 steps. I found this a bit dispiriting and meant that I hardly ever saw this:
The first thing to note here was that battery life on the Pebble could vary enormously. One one occasion I got only 24 hours of usage from a single charge but this was exceptional and I don’t think that this had anything to do with the step tracking, for me Pebble battery usage varies wildly for no apparent reason.
I was surprised to find that the battery life from both the Fitbit and the Pebble was almost identical coming in at an average of four days usage between charges. This is certainly less than Pebble quotes as expected life between charges but is still better than both my phone and the forthcoming Apple Watch.
The graph below shows the battery usage on the Pebble as it wasn’t possible to get an accurate battery level from the Fitbit.
Given that both devices are pretty small and therefore have a correspondingly small battery I don’t think that four days between charges is too bad (providing it is consistent, which it wasn’t on the Pebble). It is, however, considerably easier to charge the Pebble but in both cases it won’t be logging while being charged. This may be more of an issue if you use either device to monitor sleep and usually charge overnight.
As I have already said I am very happy with my Fitbit but as I already wear the Pebble if it too could carry out the same functions then that would be a win for me. Unfortunately I just didn’t get the sense that the accuracy of the Pebble step tracker was as accurate as the Fitbit and that knocked it on the head for me. Also at the time of writing it isn’t possible to synchronise your stats from the watch to your Misfit account meaning that I cannot keep a history which is something I also wanted to do.
Of course it is possible that these are software issues and that the accuracy can be improved with future revisions of the Pebble firmware. If that is the case I will happily come back and revist.