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Tom’s Guide
Tom’s Guide
Dan Bracaglia

I walked 5,000 steps with Apple Watch SE vs Fitbit Charge 6 — here's the winner

Apple Watch SE and Fitbit Charge 6 on the same wrist.

Ever eager to compare the accuracy of our favorite fitness tech, I pitted two of the most popular smartwatches against one another in a test of step count precision. 

The Fitbit Charge 6 is the best overall fitness tracker in 2024 and the Apple Watch SE (2022) is the best smartwatch for the money. But, which is better for tracking walks, hikes, runs and other common outdoor cardio workouts?

Both devices sport onboard GPS but only the Apple Watch has a barometric altimeter to measure elevation. On the other hand, the Charge 6 sports an onboard SpO2 sensor for blood oxygen monitoring. The SE doesn't.  

These differences aside, both provide useful post-exercise metrics including distance traveled, total step count, calories burned, average pace, average and maximum heart rate and more.

Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Charge 6 — step accuracy test

Fully caffeinated and ready to take on a cold, rainy afternoon, I strapped the Fitbit Charge 6 to my right wrist and the Apple Watch SE to my left, before firing up Strava on my phone for an additional set of data. 

With my old-school tally counter set back to zero, I split for Seattle's luscious Volunteer Park somewhat underdressed for the on-and-off downpours I would encounter. 

While Strava has proven accurate at tracking my walks in the past, manually counting every step is the only fair way to ensure that exactly 5,000 are taken. To keep track I click the tally counter once every hundred steps. 

So, which device came closest to nailing the 5,000-step mark? Read on. 

Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Charge 6 – the results

Both devices were within fifty steps of the total actual count, which is really quite commendable. However, while Fitbit conveniently provides step counts for individual exercises tracked, the Apple Watch does not; you only get a total step count for the day. 

Fortunately, I only walked an additional ~half a mile home post-test and was able to calculate my step count for just the head-to-head by dividing my total steps for the day, 5,990, by the total distance I walked: 3 miles. This gave me my average number of steps per mile, 1,997, which I simply multiplied by 2.52 miles to get 5,032 steps. 

There are other small discrepancies, but by and large, both devices seemed to agree with one another's metrics and the data pulled from Strava. Is this surprising? Not really. After all, we're talking about two widely popular Apple and Google products.

The absence of an elevation gain figure from the Fitbit Charge 6 is notable, though. A 2.5-mile walk with no ascent is quite a different workout than that same distance with ~250 feet of elevation gain. 

Conclusion — Apple Watch SE wins

Ultimately, the Apple Watch SE wins our step count challenge against the Fitbit Charge 6 by the skin of its teeth or a mere eight steps. And, while we could call this one a tie, given how close it is, Apple gets the nod for also providing more data than Fitbit, specifically, an ascent measurement. 

This means that as an avid hiker and enjoyer of the mountains, I'll definitely be reaching for the Apple Watch SE over the Fitbit Charge 6 before my next adventure. Not only will I get more valuable data, but more useful hiking and safety tools too. 

What fitness trackers should we test against one another next? Let us know in the comments below. 

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