Which smart phone is best for fitness apps?

The smart phone market is dominated by Samsung and Apple. Which has fitness right?

In this guest post by Sarah Upton, she compares the two big dogs of the smart phone market, Samsung and Apple and asks which did a better job with the emerging market for fitness apps.

Sara is a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota, a health and fitness blogger with a growing interest in how those topics relate to technology. When she’s not doing research for her next article, Sara is usually training for an upcoming race. Being from a cold climate makes her more motivated to find ways to enjoy her time outdoors when the weather is nice. And speaking of “big dogs”, check out this article she penned about running with your dog.

S-Health is the latest fitness app from SamsungThere’s already a fierce debate raging among tech consumers and reviewers over whether or not the iPhone 6 (and iPhone 6 Plus) release has given Apple a definitively superior phone to the Samsung Galaxy S5. There are arguments to be made either way, but the truth is, for many consumers, we’ve probably reached the point at which personal preferences aren’t going to change. Apple and Samsung have both reached an incredible height of quality with their devices. Until someone totally changes the game somehow, it’s unlikely that we’ll see a significant migration of consumers from one company to the other. As a result, debating the phones’ overall specs and quality is, to some degree, unnecessary.

But for those who are interested in using their smartphones as health accessories, it’s actually well worth taking a close look at the iPhone 6 vs. Galaxy 5S debate. One of the main selling points when the Galaxy 5S hit the market was the phone’s built-in focus on health and fitness tracking. Of course, now Apple has followed suit by working a number of health-related features into the iPhone 6. Which phone is superior for health monitoring and fitness improvement? Here’s a look at both options.

The Samsung Galaxy S5

One of the early reviews to come out comparing these two phones was from B2C online and when it came to health features, it failed to differentiate between the two phones. The review essentially indicated that the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 6 have similar capabilities and are therefore more or less interchangeable for those focusing on health. However, while in terms of raw capability this may be accurate—neither phone boasts a feature the other simply couldn’t manage—there’s more to be said about the focal points of each phone from a health perspective.

For the Galaxy S5, Verizon Wireless’ specs and features post offers a nice overview of the specific attributes that Samsung highlighted for health-conscious consumers, back when the phone was released. The greatest emphasis was put on the device’s built-in heart rate monitor, which works via a sensor on the back of the phone that picks up on a user’s pulse through touch. However, S Health was actually the most comprehensive health feature included in the Galaxy S5, It essentially offers the phone’s own version of fitness tracking apps, complete with step counting, social challenges, achievements, and even nutritional advice.


The Apple iPhone 6

The dashboard from the fitness app Apple Health

Much has been made of the iPhone 6 more or less playing catch-up to other top smartphones on the market. And just as Apple has recognized the need to enlarge its screen, sharpen its display, and improve its camera to take on (or outstrip) its competitors, the company clearly understood the need for some health-specific features. Instead of building them into the phone and advertising a heart rate monitor or something of that nature, Apple took the approach of making a highly capable health app that builds on the performance of existing fitness and nutrition apps.

One of several apps specific to iOS 8—the new mobile operating system announced alongside the new iPhones—the Health app and included HealthKit feature are basically working to compile all of your health information in one location tailored to your preferences. You decide what information to focus on, be it calorie counts, heart rate, cholesterol levels, daily activity, weight fluctuation. From there, HealthKit will gather information, effectively streamlining the functionality of a genre’s worth of apps.

The Verdict

The truth is that for now, mobile health tracking still depends largely on apps. Neither device holds a distinct advantage in helping their respective users to monitor and improve fitness and nutrition. It’s more a matter of what any individual consumer is willing to do (in terms of downloading and making use of apps, purchasing fitness tracking devices to link up with their phones, etc.). So when comparing just the two phones, it’s basically a draw (though for the particularly diligent user, it’s easier to see HealthKit going a little further than S Health in terms of comprehensive health monitoring).

But where Apple may have scored an advantage was actually in the announcement of the forthcoming Apple Watch. Yes, Samsung beat Apple to the wearable tech market. However, Samsung’s watch was pretty much universally panned while Apple’s looks both more capable and stylistically more appealing. This gives Apple an early lead in this department. Also, the Apple Watch can integrate fully with an iPhone and its health features. As Mashable notes, this could all but eliminate other wearable fitness trackers and give Apple the advantage, even if the actual phones are pretty evenly matched.

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