The Apple Watch is the most popular smartwatch on the market, despite the fact that its heart sensor technology may have been stolen from a heart sensor company out of North Carolina. The heart sensor technology, though, no matter its origin, is quite accurate on the device -- and a new study shows that to be the case.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association of Cardiology (JAMA Cardiology for short) says that the Apple Watch has the most accurate heart rate monitor of popular wrist wearables on the market. The study consisted of not only the Apple Watch but also Intel's Basis Peak (the same one that has been recalled and taken off the market), the Fitbit Charge HR, and the Mio Alpha, with 50 adults being connected to an EKG and having their exercise and rest conditions measured.
The results show that the chest strap monitor had a 99% accuracy, as compared to the Apple Watch that had 90% accuracy. The Apple Watch was the most accurate out of the 4 wearables tested, with the Intel Basis Peak, Fitbit Charge HR, and the Mio Alpha measuring in the 80s in terms of heart rate monitoring accuracy.
Fitbit responded by saying that "unlike chest straps, wrist-based trackers fit comfortably into everyday life, providing continuous heart rate for up to several days without recharging" (referring to why the Fitbit Charge HR didn't perform well), but it shows that wrist wearables haven't yet matched the chest strap in terms of accuracy. Fitbit's own Charge HR has been at the heart of a lawsuit, with consumers claiming that the Charge HR is rather inaccurate in heart rate measurement (so the results here may be on par with those claims).
Wrist-based fitness bands and smartwatches come with measuring accuracy risks but are better at being used in everyday life. With many becoming fashionable with designs and colors that help consumers mix and match them with their apparel for the day, consumers will continue to pick up the Apple Watch and other wrist wearables -- 99% accuracy be damned.