I walked 5,000 steps with Apple Watch 9 and Fitbit Charge 6 — and this was more accurate

A photo of the Apple Watch 9 and the Fitbit Charge 6
(Image credit: Future)

Ever wondered whether Apple or Fitbit is more accurate when it comes to tracking your steps? So did we. So to find out more, I strapped the brand new Apple Watch Series 9 and newly released Fitbit Charge 6 onto my wrist and got walking. When I got home, I downloaded the data and compared which tracker was more accurate — read on to find out which won. 

Before drilling into the results, it’s important to start by taking a look at how the Apple Watch 9 and the Fitbit Charge 6 count your steps. Both do so in a similar way — using an internal accelerometer, which measures the swing of your arm. Each swing counts for two steps. It doesn’t matter whether you wear your watch on your dominant or non-dominant hand, or whether you’re walking with your hands in your pockets, or holding something, the accelerometer should still measure your body’s movement. 

Fans of the Tom’s Guide fitness pages will know this isn’t my first step-counting test. I’ve also completed the same experiment with the Apple Watch 9 and the Fitbit Inspire 4. The Apple Watch 9 and Fitbit Charge 6 are both new watches, but you can check out our Apple Watch 8 vs Apple Watch 9 face-off here, as well as our Fitbit Charge 5 vs Fitbit Charge 6 face-off

I walked 5,000 steps with Apple Watch 9 and Fitbit Charge 6 — and one was more accurate 

In order to test the accuracy of the two watches, I wore both watches on one wrist, and in my other hand, I held a $6.99 tally counter tool from Amazon and clicked each time I took a step. 5,000 steps later, I finished walking, and compared the data from my Apple Watch 9 and Fitbit Charge 6. 

In order to compare steps, I uploaded both walks onto my phone and used Fitbit’s app to look at my overall steps and Active Zone Minutes. I’ve learned in the past that Apple makes it nearly impossible to view your exact amount of steps per workout. Sure, you can see your daily total in the Fitness app, and you can find hourly step data in the Health app, but to make things a little less confusing, I downloaded the StepsApp Pedometer app on my Apple Watch. 

But what did the watches record? According to my Apple Watch 9 I walked 2.4 miles in 40 minutes and 22 seconds. My Fitbit Charge 6, on the other hand, recorded a walk of 2.29 miles. Both had the same average heart rate reading of 120 bpm. 

The results

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Steps taken
Manual recording 5,000
Apple Watch 94,942
Fitbit Charge 64,907

From these results, you could conclude that the Apple Watch 9 is slightly more accurate, only being 58 steps away from the manual counter. On the other hand, the Fitbit Charge 6 missed 93 of my steps.

It’s worth noting that no fitness tracker will be 100% accurate at counting every single step — I’m five foot two and have quite a short stride. When I’m running, I often find I have a high cadence because of this. What’s more, fitness trackers do a lot more than just tracking your steps, and counting steps alone isn’t the best metric when it comes to getting fitter and losing weight. That said, it’s a good place to start. 

Walking 10,000 steps per day started as a marketing campaign, but experts have found that it’s a reasonable target for most adults. 10,000 steps is the equivalent of walking around 5 miles per day, which might sound like a lot, but might mean taking the stairs, not the elevator, getting off the subway a couple of stops early, or meeting a friend for a walk at lunch, not sitting in a coffee shop. There are a number of benefits of walking more, including losing weight, building muscle, and feeling less stressed. Here’s what 30-minutes of walking each day can do for your body

Of course, the Apple Watch 9 and Fitbit Charge 6 are very different trackers. While the Fitbit Charge 6 is one of the best fitness trackers on the market for most people, and has Google Maps and Google Wallet for the first time, it’s nowhere near as comprehensive as the Apple Watch 9, which is like wearing an iPhone on your wrist. The Fitbit Charge 6 costs $159.95, whereas the Apple Watch 9 is over double this, costing $399. You can read our Apple Watch 9 review, and our Fitbit Charge 6 review for more info. 

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Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.