A few weeks ago I had shared a photo or two on Instagram about my Samsung Gear Fit and my Fitbit Flex, and found that a lot of people were really curious about which I liked best, how they compared and what my thoughts were on the two. Today I’m sharing my thoughts on both, and what I like and don’t like about them. I know, it’s not a post about cake, but given how much cake I bake, fitness trackers really are kind of a related topic. While I love my tech, I’m not exactly the person who is going to give you a CNET type tech review, just a real world look at my experience. So here we go!
I really meant to share this post in early January, when I know many readers were debating buying a fitness tracker, but, the flu hit, and three weeks, poof, gone! So better later than never.
A bit of a disclaimer, as a member of Verizon’s #VZWBuzz I get to try out some fun tech products. Verizon provided me with the Samsung Galaxy S5 Phone I use (which I love, I previously had purchased a Galaxy S2 and then S4). I personally purchased my Fitbit Flex and my husband won the Samsung Gear Fit.
I used the Fitbit for quite a while last year. I love a lot about it, except that it doesn’t tell time, and when I wear something on my left hand, by habit I look at it to tell time. About 3,208 times per day. And that gets a little frustrating. Now, the good news is that Fitbit now has the Fitbit Charge and the Fitbit Charge HR, which do have clocks built in.
Things I like about the Fitbit Flex. The first thing I think of when I think of the positives to the Fitbit Flex are how it works with SO many apps. Any app that I’ve thought of using, it works with, which is AWESOME. It’s also incredibly flexible on working with different phones and tablets. I’ve used it with my Samsung phones, our Sony Xperia Z3V and our iPad. Anything I’ve wanted to use it on, or with, it’s worked. It works with My Fitness Pal, the Weight Watchers app and a long list of others. The compatibility of the Fitbit is fantastic. I love that if I’m tracking using My Fitness Pal or Weight Watchers, it is automatically getting my exercise counted in there for me. I like the actual Fitbit app itself quite a lot, and how you can find your friends who are on it.
I like that it’s lightweight and comfortable to wear. And I won’t lie, I like that you can switch out the bands and find so many different ones. I have a few actual Fitbit bands, and I also have a few knock off ones (like the polka dot band) that I’ve purchased, and the quality seems the same on all of them. I feel that it’s pretty accurate, and it seems to have no problems counting my steps if I’m not swinging my arms, and if you have young kids, a lot of your walks could include a stroller (or a Target shopping cart). I assumed any fitness tracker would be able to do this, but as I’ll share in a moment, that’s not the case.
I find the battery life on the Fitbit Flex to be great, and I don’t mind popping the tracker out to charge it. Unfortunately the wireless dongle (seriously, what is that name – dongle?) that you put in your computer to link the Fitbit with your computer, was knocked out of my laptop one day and now resides deep somewhere under our stove. Since I typically just use my Fitbit with my phone, it’s not been a big deal, though I’d prefer it in my computer and not under my oven. Oh, and I love the silent alarm on the Fitbit. I get up about 4:20am to workout (yeah, that sucks, but finding child-free time ain’t easy) and I don’t want to wake my husband, so I love that silent alarm just buzzing on my wrist. I will also use it to set reminders for things like “don’t forget to go pick your kid up from school on a half day”. Overall the Fitbit Flex is a great fitness tracker.
So now let’s talk about the Samsung Gear Fit. I guess the first downside to this is if you don’t have a Samsung phone, it’s not even an option. Well, C-Net shares a work around to pair the Gear Fit with recent Android, non-Samsung devices, but I can’t speak for that. However if you do have a Samsung phone, then the Gear Fit is an option. And speaking of Samsung phones, I just have to rave about mine. I was so scared to switch from the iPhone a few years ago, but I used my husband’s for one day and was absolutely sold. It has a gorgeous screen, a back button (Android users will get that reference), and I can carry a spare battery and switch batteries in a matter of seconds, which is basically the greatest thing ever when traveling. We’ve had three Samsung Galaxys and two Notes in our house, and I never miss my once much loved iPhone at all. I actually kind of don’t love using an iPad now, because the things that are so intuitive about the Samsung (or, really, Android) aren’t on Apple. Okay, Samsung/Android love-fest over. Let’s talk about the Samsung Gear Fit.
Oh Gear Fit. I WANT to love you. I try to love you. I really do love some things about you. You are so close to being the total package, but just aren’t there yet. So the good… the screen, it’s crazy gorgeous. Like stunning. And the smart watch features which at first I thought were lame (why do I need to read a text on my watch, my phone is usually within reach?), oh how I’ve fell in love with them. At home I often leave my phone in my purse, and miss a of calls and texts. But the Gear Fit buzzes when I have a call and shows who is calling, and I can accept or reject the call. My text messages show on it. I can set it up for my emails to even show (which I don’t, because, well, I’m on every spam email list ever). After about one day wearing it, I was in LOVE with those features.
Aside from being awesome when my phone is hiding in my purse, it’s also great when I’m sitting in a therapy appointment with my little one or on that rare movie date with my husband, when I want my phone on silent and don’t want to look at it, but as a mom I always want to be immediately reachable if a sitter or school needs to reach me. So I LOVE just discreetly looking at my wrist when a text or call comes in, and knowing that it’s not urgent (or that it is).
When you put it in sleep mode, it will track your sleep, and also block incoming notifications, except for alarms you set. If you were to use all of the different notifications the Gear Fit has on it, which include Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and so on, being able to turn those off at night is a must, so that’s a great part of the sleep mode. It also has a cool “Emergency” function where you pick a number, and if you are in an emergency, you can press the button on top of the Gear Fit rapidly three times, and it will send a message to the emergency number you have assigned.
An unexpected benefit of the Gear Fit… twice I’ve walked out of the house, not realizing my phone wasn’t in my purse. When you get far enough away from your phone, you lose the Bluetooth connection between the phone and the Gear Fit, and it buzzes and let’s you know that you are now disconnected. By the time I was at the end of my driveway, that little buzz went off, and I realized I forgot my phone, and was able to run back in and grab it. Not a huge deal, but for a forgetful ADD person like myself, it’s certainly a nice little plus.
The Gear Fit has a heart-rate monitor built in (as does the Galaxy S5). When I work out, if I set it to a workout mode (which honestly, I forget to do most of the time), it will take my heart rate multiple times, and then give me an average of my heart rate measurements. Speaking of different workout modes, let’s go ahead and start talking about the things I don’t love. 🙁 It has four modes, walking, running, biking and hiking. But that’s it. And I have no idea where my circuit training workouts fit in. I’ve searched to see if there are others I can add, a setting I can change, and if there is, I haven’t been able to find it.
Next up, is the little issue that could be a deal breaker for moms with little ones. Take a look at the screen below, look at how long I walked, and then look at the mileage and calories burned.
I was pushing a stroller. Basically it acted like a stop watch. I thought maybe this was a fluke, so I checked it after two more stroller walks and a long Target shopping trip with a cart. Each time, the same things. If my arms aren’t swinging, it’s not counting. I was kind of shocked at this. And pretty disappointed. A lot of moms get their exercise walking or running with strollers. Now I don’t know what would have happened if I switched it to “cycling” mode (I mean, those hands aren’t swinging, right?), but I really think that walking mode should be able to handle this. 🙁
Now let’s talk apps. You can use the Gear Fit with Samsung’s S Health app and the Gear Fit Manager. And not a whole lot else, though there are a few, none of which I had any real use for. This is super disappointing (reminder, we won ours, so I didn’t do any research on it before owning it). I hold out hope that this can change, as it’s a software thing, but this could really be a deal breaker, especially if you are using apps like Weight Watchers or My Fitness Pal. There is so much great data collected by the Gear Fit, but so little ability to link it up to other apps. You can track your food intake in S-Health, and if they were to add a barcode scanner, that might be a more realistic option. I *LOVE* the scanner on other apps, especially if you are making a recipe with a lot of ingredients, so great to just scan them in.
A few other random things that have been disappointing. For no reason that I can tell, I’ve had the “history” it stores just completely disappear. Poof, gone, twice. You can change bands, but there aren’t many options, and they are a bit pricy. And speaking of bands and things disappearing, my original factory made band (the only one I have) fell off while I was walking out of my daughter’s school the other day. Thankfully I realized it before I got to my car, walked back in the school to look for it, and a good kiddo found it and turned it into the office. I had been wearing it all day, and it just undid itself and fell off. Had I not realized it within seconds, it would have no doubt been gone for good. There’s no reason that should happen.
It has an odd charger, an extra piece that you have to plug into the tracker, then you plug your USB cable into that extra piece while it’s attached to the tracker. It’s not a big deal, it’s just a bit awkward. I will say though that the battery life was surprisingly decent given how bright that screen is. I usually get three or four days between charges.
When you add it all up, the things I love about the Samsung Gear Fit are all unrelated to it as a fitness tracker, and where it falls short, for the most part, is the fitness tracking duties. It’s like it works better as a smart watch, but from what my smart watch wearing, tech loving husband tells me, it really isn’t as robust as the average smart watch. So it’s not a great smart watch, and it’s not a great fitness tracker. So, yeah. I do love the (not so) smart watch features, and it does track my steps (well, most of them) so I still wear it daily, but for a fitness tracker, it just falls short. The new Fitbit Charge looks like a great option, but I LOVE the smart watch features on the Gear Fit too much to give them up. Maybe with some updates, some of that might change. Maybe one of the other Samsung Gear products would be a better fit. So some days, my fancy solution is…
Yep, both. Really, this is pretty lame. If the two could just get married, they’d be so great. I feel like if the Gear Fit could work with more popular apps and manage to count steps when your arms are stationary, it would be absolutely amazing, and the few other little things that I’m not crazy about would be no big deal at all.
So there you have it, my very non-techie, average busy mom (who sometimes takes a walk WITH a stroller), review of the Fitbit Flex and Samsung Gear Fit.
Oh, and in case you wanted to know what my phone case is, it’s the Caseology. I LOVE it. I have a few, and we have one on my daughter’s phone. So easy to swap, nice protection and reasonably priced (around $10), at least on Amazon.
So there you have it, my non-techie, average mom (sometimes pushing a stroller) thoughts on both the Samsung Gear Fit and the Fitbit Flex. Do you have a fitness tracker? Do you love it? Does the perfect one exist?
Disclaimer: As a member of VZWBuzz, I received my Galaxy S5 for free to review. All opinions are however mine and mine alone. This post contains affiliate links.