So, after over two years it was time to upgrade my Samsung Note 2. I decided to get the Note 5. As I discovered soon afterward, this phone comes with something called “S Health” was is supposed to track various things like oxygen saturation and heart rate. It also tracks steps and even cycling distances too. I already have a FitBit so I wondered how they would compare to each other. Keep reading and learn what I discovered. Also, see the Fitbit vs. iPhone Health App Review.
Samsung S Health
The S Health app is an interesting add-on to Samsung Galaxy phones. When I activated it and put it in my pocket – which is where my Fitbit was too – I noticed at the end of the day, it didn't quite line up with the distance that the Fitbit was telling me I walked during the day. S Health seemed to underestimate my distance.
I did like how my Note 5 vibrated when I reached my walking goal for the day, however, the Fitbit consistently told me I walked more – sometimes 2,000 steps more during the day.
Here is a side-by-side comparison of how my Fitbit One and S Health compared to each other after using them both all day:
As you can see from the pictures above, the FitBit said I walked 511 steps more than Samsung S Health did. Who is right? I'm tempted to think the FitBit might be more accurate. I feel this way because making pedometers is what Fitbit has been doing. Also, when Consumer Reports rated health trackers, FitBit was rated excellent in counting steps.
Samsung S Health Cycling App
The Samsung S Health program also has a cycling app that I activated just before I biked to the gym. To use the app, you have to press the cycling icon in the S Health program. Unless you turn it on, the cycling app won't track your cycling distance.
Interestingly the cycling app worked even when I was walking. In other words, it wasn't just tracking the time when I was on my bike.
So, I wondered what is the difference between S Health tracking my steps and the cycling app? Sure the cycling app tells me my distance and even shows me a map of where I biked to, but because it also worked when I was walking, I just wondered how accurate it was?
I did like how the S health had a music icon that can be easily accessed from the app. I played one song that came preinstalled with S Health, called “Over the Horizon,” which I enjoyed. I don't keep my music on my phone (I still use an iPod nano) but I'm sure you can listen to whatever you stored on the phone.
The Fit Bit
I like my fit bit and I have to admit It's a pretty durable device. My FitBit has not only survived my accidentally putting it in the washer and dryer it's also come out unscathed when it fell out of my pocket, outside of the gym – and stayed in the elements for 2 days!
I was shocked nobody picked it up and equally surprised I was able to find it 2 days later!
There are many types of FitBits out there. Mine is by far, not the most expensive. For example, does not track how far I biked and it has no GPS. It just tracks steps taken, stairs climbed, and how long I sleep (I'm not sure I buy the sleep tracker though).
I just use it to track my steps. When it's in my pocket, it also records my leg movements when I'm biking too. Yes, some of those leg movements I'm sure are lumped into “stairs climbed” too, but I don't care too much about that. The FitBit works and that's all I need. Also, see my review of how many steps per day we should take for more insights.
Fitbit vs. Apple Health App
If you have an iPhone, you also have a built-in activity app. Its a basic app that will record steps taken, flights of stairs climbed, and even distance you cycle. In addition, you can add info on your nutrition, sleep, and “mindfulness” too.
I found the iPhone health app a little less advanced than either the Samsung Health app or Fit bit. Oh, it will get the job done; but I just felt the Samsung app was a bit more advanced with its features. This is a personal opinion.
I compared the Fitbit One to the IOS Health app on the I-phone. After a single day of use, Fitbit said I had taken 10,264 steps. The I phone Health app had me taking 10,810 steps. So, either the Fit-bit One missed 546 steps or the IOS health app overestimated me by 546 steps.
Who is right? I don't know. I'll leave it to you to decide if 500 or so steps are significant for you.
One drawback to all fitness trackers and apps is that they are so sensitive when you are driving, they will all add some of your distance traveled to the steps you take per day.
On the other hand, an advantage to the Samsung and IOS apps is you don't have to specifically charge them as they run off your phone's battery. For busy people, this is a plus as its one less thing you have to think about.
So What's Better?
If you have S Health built into your Galaxy phone, I would encourage you to use it because it can provide good feedback on how far you are walking. A lack of physical activity is linked to many diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease to name just one.
Knowledge of your activity can spur you on to do more. The result is a healthier you. That said, I prefer the FitBit. It's simple to use, lightweight, and a charge lasts over a week. I even get an email when the Fit Bit battery is running low too.
I have a Fitbit surge and know that Everytime I move my arm it counts it as a step so if I just sit there waving at someone it will say I got more steps. I am wondering if the Samsung fit watches are just as bad as that. I am looking for something more accurate, but I like the Fitbit app.
Angie, If the Fit bit has a GPS like these watches – then it will be more accurate. I also have the Fitbit charge 2. By the end of a lecture I recently gave, it said I had taken 7000 steps. It was picking up all my arm movements (I guess I had a lot!).
So which is best? I see your paragraph title, but you don’t actually say.
Joe Cannon says
Hi Brian, for me its the Fit Bit. I dont even think you have to get the expensive Fit Bit either. I use the Fit Bit One and I really like it.
which do you like best?
I’m a commercial driver I wear my fit bit flex on my right hand cause on my left I wear a watch I just started using samsung health and by my experience the fit bit is not accurate I’ll achieve goals on fitbit just by driving stick shift and vibrations on steering it will also achieve goals when I padded my newborn to burp him after feeding maybe a pocket fit bit would work better for me but so far I’m happy with the samsung health
Joe Cannon says
Hi Mario, that is good advice, thanks for sharing. Id imagine driving stick shift would cause the fitbit flex to count those action as ‘steps” when in reality they werent. I sounds like it really does come down to an individual thing. Congratulations on your newborn baby too 🙂
Jackie Thomas says
That’s funny. My Fitbit Alta way under estimates my steps. It’ll say I’ve walked 200 when I’ve walked 700 S Heath seems to be more accurate and I like how I can watch it with each step. I’m gonna try my Fitbit a little longer but so far I greatly dislike it.
Joe Cannon says
Hi Jackie, thanks for the feedback. That is quite a difference! I have the Fitbit one. I stick it in my pocket. Im going to hop on a treadmill this week and compare the two and see how they stack up.
Dawne Hale says
My fitbit read 4300 steps today my s health read 7988 from my shift at the hospital today, i am more likely to believe the s health. One on my wrist and one in my pocket…hmmmm
YES I’m noticing the same my fibit is about 2000 steps less than my s health???
I’m noticing the same – this morning after an active kitchen work shift I find my fitbit at 4,700 something and my Samsung Health (also Note 5) at 6,600. But I wonder about the model of the fit bit? Yours being a 1, mine is a 2.
I wonder if they redid the algorithm or sumpin’? Heh. Oh, and one other rather obvious question I have has to do with how each measures. If – like me – my hands are being used to carry things a lot, does the fit bit measure my steps w/o an arm swing?
The Samsung app is far more likely to be reacting to the hip swing in my pants pocket. Though just how either of them measure steps may have nothing to do with anything I’ve mentioned. Thanks for your post!
Hi Jon, you bring up a good question about the hip swing. Its one of the reasons I stick with the Fit Bit One and don’t get a version I use on my wrist. Ive always wondered if the wrist versions would count arm motions as “steps.” I’m sure the fit bit 2 is an improvement over the fit bit 1 which I use. Ive not seen any comparisons between them.
Ive also noticed differences with the iPhone health app too which I usually dont use too much. I guess as long as they spur us to do more activity that is the most important thing.
Thanks for your review. After reading an Amazon review of the Fitbit vs Jawbone up, I’m leaning toward the Jawbone, but need to research.
Joe Cannon says
Judy, you are welcome. Ive heard good things about the Jawbone but have not used it. For that I use my fib bit for -counting steps mostly – it suits me just fine. If you get the Jawbone, let me know what you think of it.