Microsoft just unveiled an updated version of their Microsoft Band fitness tracker. The new Band will go on sale October 30. The newly updated Band has some major improvements over the original model, both in terms of specs and in terms of design. But how does it stack up against the Fitbit line of trackers? Fitbit is one of the best-selling fitness tracker brands out there, and many consumers would rather reach for a Fitbit than a Microsoft Band. That reluctance to try the Band isn’t so surprising, especially given the somewhat baffling move Microsoft made in 2014 when they let AT&T bundle the Lumia 830 with a free Fitbit, rather than a Microsoft Band. This move occurred less than a week after the Band debuted, and seemed to suggest a lack of confidence in the original Band, at least to some tech insiders.
If you’re in the market for a fitness tracker, read on to see how the new Microsoft Band compares to the entire Fitbit line. Whether you’re looking for your very first fitness tracker, or a replacement for your current tracker, our guide can help you find the right tracker for your unique needs.
UPDATE: As of Fall 2016, Microsoft has cancelled the Band line. The trackers are still on sale, but the company does not have plans to release future Band devices, so keep that in mind while comparing these two fitness trackers.
Still researching the best fitness tracker for your needs? Check out our guide to the best Fitbit competitors, or peruse our Fitbit comparison post to find the best Fitbit for your unique fitness goals.
1. Fitbit vs. Microsoft Band 2: Fitness Tracker Price Comparison
For many people, price is a major factor in selecting a fitness tracker. The new Microsoft Band 2 retails for $249, which puts it near the top of the market. The closest Fitbit model in price to the Band 2 is the Fitbit Surge, which retails for $249.95. For the purposes of this post, we’ll be comparing the Surge and the new Band, since they are so close in price, and have many of the same features. If both of these trackers are too rich for your blood, there are lots of other Fitbit models that cost less.
Fitbit’s 2015 line of activity monitors includes six trackers: two clip-on wearables, and four wristband activity monitors. Fitbit’s “Everyday Fitness” trackers are their entry-level products. That category includes the Zip ($59.95), the One ($99.95), the Flex ($99.95, often available online for around $80), and the Charge ($129.95). If you are a bit more athletic and need a heart rate monitor, the Charge HR ($149.95) is probably going to be your best fit. The Fitbit Surge ($249.95) is the most premium offering, and includes advanced features like GPS and HR monitoring. There’s also the new-for-2016 Fitbit Blaze, a wearable with a full touchscreen experience, and the ability to use GPS when paired with your smartphone. The Blaze should last up to 5 days with continuous heart rate monitoring and activity tracking before needing a recharge.
In addition to the new Microsoft Band, you might be interested in the original Band. What it lacks in bells and whistles, it may make up for in price. As of this writing, the original Band is on sale for between $123.99 and $130, depending on size selected.
2. Fitbit vs. Microsoft Band 2: Waterproofing
Depending on the kind of exercise you engage in, it may be important for you to get a wearable that’s waterproof. A waterproof fitness tracker is great for swimming or triathlon training, but it’s also a nice safeguard against everyday sweat damage. The Fitbit Surge is water resistant to 5 ATM, or 50 meters, but shouldn’t be worn while swimming. The Surge can be submerged and will still work when removed from the water. However, you should not wear any Fitbit trackers while actively swimming, since the force of a swimming stroke will be too much for the device.
In contrast, Microsoft recommends that you do not submerge the new Band in water. Light rain, sweat, or hand washing will be fine, but the band should not be worn while swimming or showering. You can read the full guidelines here. If you want a fitness tracker that can be submerged, the Fitbit is the better choice. If you want a fitness tracker that’s designed specifically for swimming, we recommend the Misfit Shine or Moov.
3. Fitbit vs. Microsoft Band 2: Compatible Devices
Fitbit devices are compatible with Windows Phone, iOS, and Android devices. You can get a full list of supported devices on the Fitbit website. The Microsoft Band will also play nice with Windows Phone, iOS, and Android devices. The companion app that is used with the Band is called Microsoft Health, and it works across the majority of newer Android, iOS, and Windows devices. Microsoft Health works with Windows Phone 8.1 update or later, iPhone 5 or later running iOS 8.1.2 or later, and Android 4.4 or later phones, with Bluetooth.
4. Fitbit vs. Microsoft Band 2: Battery Life
The Surge’s battery life varies greatly, depending on whether you are using GPS or not. If you aren’t tracking runs or exercises that use GPS, a Surge lasts for about a week between charges. A fully charged Surge used to track just five hours of GPS activities, but a recent update actually lets you record a full 10 hours now.
Since the new Microsoft Band isn’t in the hands of consumers yet, it’s a little hard to get a totally accurate picture of battery life. That being said, Microsoft states that the new Band 2 will last 48 hours before needing to be recharged. However, GPS usage will dramatically decrease that battery life. The exact amount of battery life while using GPS is not yet confirmed.
5. Fitbit vs. Microsoft Band 2: Conclusion & Final Recommendations
The Surge and the new Band are very similar. Both cost around the same amount of money, and both devices have very similar features. Both wearables offer continuous optical heart rate monitor, activity and sleep monitoring, and both offer a fairly similar form factor. The display is more square on the Surge, and more rectangular on the Band.
Every Fitbit model on the market today has the following features: tracking for active minutes during the day, tracking for steps, tracking for calories, and tracking for distance. Most, but not all, will track your sleep. Many of the Fitbit devices will track floors climbed or offer you a silent alarm to wake you without waking your partner. Nearly all Fitbit trackers have a display for the time. The Surge stands out as the only Fitbit model with GPS, as well as being the only model that offers text notifications and music control.
But the new Band has plenty of features to recommend it as well. Cortana integration means you have the option to talk or type when setting reminders, responding to text messages, or sending email. Another cool feature is the ability to track VO2 max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can take in at one time during exercise. This is a really important metric for serious athletes in training.
If you’re looking for a fitness tracker that you can talk to, we recommend the new Microsoft Band. It’s also the right choice for people who need to track VO2 max. However, if you need a tracker with better battery life and slightly better water-resistance, the Fitbit Surge or other Fitbit wearable is probably the better choice for your needs.
As a final reminder, neither of these wearables are ideal for those who need a truly waterproof fitness tracker. If you want recommendations for wearables that excel for swim tracking, check out our posts on Fitbit vs. Garmin, Fitbit vs. Misfit, or the best fitness watches.