I walked 3,300 steps with the Fitbit Charge 6 and Garmin Forerunner 165 – this one was more accurate

Fitbit Charge 6 and Garmin Forerunner 165 worn on the same wrist.
(Image credit: Dan Bracaglia/Future)

We're all about pitting the latest tech against each other here at TG. So, when we got our hands on the new Garmin Forerunner 165, announced last week, we immediately decided to test it against the Fitbit Charge 6, the best fitness tracker for most people right now.

While these devices are aimed at slightly different users — the pricier Forerunner is more geared toward marathon-loving runners, and the Charge is for casual fitness-focused users — they both boast onboard GPS, heart rate tracking and basic smart features. 

Fitbit Charge 6 vs. Garmin Forerunner 165 — step accuracy test

To get a sense of which device is more accurate, I walked 3,300 steps with each tracker strapped to a wrist. I also ran Strava on my iPhone 12 Mini as an additional data point. As a control, I manually counted every step, clicking an old-school tally counter for every hundred. 

The test took place on a rare and gorgeous cloud-free February Seattle afternoon. Clear views of the sky allowed each device to successfully make a GPS connection before I headed off into a densely wooded park (looking like a nerd with too many smartwatches on). 

Read on to see how each performed. 

Fitbit Charge 6 vs. Garmin Forerunner 165 – the results

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Fitbit Charge 6Garmin Forerunner 165Strava + iPhone
Steps3,310 steps3,255 steps3,300 steps
Distance1.51 miles1.7 miles1.8 miles
Elevation gainn/a69 feet70 feet
Pace22 minutes, 58 seconds20 minutes, 29 seconds17 minutes, 58 seconds
Calories burned267 calories 209 caloriesn/a
Average heart rate120 bps120 bpmn/a
Maximum heart rate166 bpm159 bpmn/a

The Fitbit Charge 6 was within ten steps of my actual 3,300-step total, which is impressive. Even more impressive is the fact that Strava nailed it exactly. Meanwhile, the Garmin Forerunner wasn't too far off.

There is a caveat to the Forerunner 165's number, though. Because Garmin does not provide step counts for individually tracked activities, only end-of-day totals — something I've complained about before — I had to get a little creative with my calculations. 

Fortunately, the Forerunner did report my average cadence for the walk, which was 93 steps per mile. I simply multiplied that by the 1.7 miles recorded by the device to get 3,255 total steps. 

Speaking of miles, the Fitbit captured a slightly shorter walk than Strava or the Garmin. The Charge doesn't provide elevation stats, but the other two devices were essentially a match in that department.

The average and maximum heart rates recorded by the two trackers were also almost identical. All in all, it's refreshing to see such similarities across the board. 

Conclusion — Fitbit Charge 6 wins

Ultimately, the Fitbit Charge 6 wins this step count showdown with the Garmin Forerunner 165, but not by a whole lot. Both devices spit out very similar — and seemingly accurate — stats, which makes a lot of sense, given these are two of the most popular and well-trusted brands in fitness tracking biz. 

That's a wrap on this head-to-head challenge. Let us know which wearables you want to see us test next in the comments below. Until then, get those steps in. 

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Dan Bracaglia
Senior Writer, Fitness & Wearables

Dan Bracaglia covers fitness and consumer technology with an emphasis on wearables for Tom's Guide. Based in the US Pacific Northwest, Dan is an avid outdoor adventurer who dabbles in everything from kayaking to snowboarding, but he most enjoys exploring the cities and mountains with his small pup, Belvedere. Dan is currently training to climb some of Washington State's tallest peaks. He's also a big photography nerd.