Updated: Aug 26
For those who keep an eye on wearable tech, interested in sport or for those following AMRAP Antics and are interested in CrossFit, you will have heard the great debate between the Apple Watch vs Whoop Band for fitness tracking, recovery tracking and sleep monitoring among the many other benefits that both pieces provide.
This comparison looks at many different elements that make up a workout tracker but also how both pieces of wearable tech can affect your day-to-day life and which can make the biggest impact in your healthy lifestyle, in and out of the CrossFit box.
We will dive in to different elements and benefits that both tech include but also what sets one apart from the other.
Apple Watch For Fitness Overview
To start with let's cover what each piece is, how it functions and what are the overall benefits.
The Apple Watch is first and foremost a smart watch with a tonne of potential capabilities outside of fitness or workout tracking. As a smart watch linked with other Apple products (Iphone, Macbooks, Ipad etc) you have capabilities to a wide range of what your other devices can do.
Simply put an Apple Watch is:
For Timekeeping - obviously, its still a watch!
For Communication - you can send and receive phone calls and messages from your wrist
For Notifications - Almost all your notifications can come through your Apple Watch
For Remote Control - Set timers, turn off the lights, take pictures and more all remotely through your watch
For Apple Pay - Forgot your wallet, no worries, you can now pay with your watch
For Health Indicators - Link with Apple Health to track your overall health
For Fitness Tracking - One that you're here for, the in depth fitness tracking and feedback
Okay so you've got the point, an Apple Watch can do a lot, but for fitness tracking does it compare with the Whoop Band.
Whoop Band Overview
The Whoop Band is not new to the CrossFit scene, those who were around in the early naughties when CrossFit was emerging into the fitness industry, Whoop was there too.
With a slightly different pricing structure (pay once and thats it), Whoop quickly made a name for itself for its simple but effective process for more effective fitness and health markers.
Whoop essentially takes different health markers and aggregates them to give the user a strain score and recovery score for their day, to indicate how hard they have worked and how well they recovered.
The main indicators they use are heart rate variability, heart rate, Sleep timings and movement. Whoop then uses these to aggregate the recovery and strain scores.
Along with this, they also ask for manual input questions that, at the end of every week are used to produce a score that compares with last week. For example if you were looking at the effectiveness of supplements like magnesium or CBD on your sleep and recovery, you can input whether you had CBD on each day and monitor your recovery on days where you have or don't have CBD to see the difference it makes.
Many CrossFit athletes and endurance athletes can really benefit from data like this to really optimise their recovery and performance.
Who can use the Whoop Band?
Whoop bands were originally targeted at endurance athletes but now they have emerged into many different sports:
Football or Soccer athletes
Functional Fitness Athletes
Where To Buy Whoop Band?
The only way to purchase your Whoop Band is to visit the Whoop website and sign up for their subscription, which comes with a Free Band and charger, but you can purchase extra bands and chargers when you have your subscription.
Apple Watch Vs Whoop Band Overview
In this section we will break down the main elements that both wearables have and which one comes out on top in each section.
Apple Watch Vs Whoop Band Price Comparison
The price comparison with the Apple Watch Vs Whoop Strap is what set both apart. Simply put the Apple Watch you can just buy outright whereas the Whoop strap you have to pay a monthly subscription.
With the Apple Watch the prices can range from $150-$400 depending on the model and come with a range of straps, protectors, chargers that are not necessarily from Apple (so will save you $$$).
Always-on Retina display has nearly 20% more screen area than Series 6, making everything easier to see and use
The most crack-resistant front crystal yet on an Apple Watch, IP6X dust resistance, and swim proof design
Measure your blood oxygen with a powerful sensor and app
Take an ECG anytime, anywhere
Get high and low heart rate, and irregular heart rhythm notifications
Stay in the moment with the new Mindfulness app, and reach your sleep goals with the Sleep app
Track new tai chi and pilates workouts, in addition to favourites like running, yoga, swimming, and dance
The Whoop pricing model means that you can sometimes pay around $50 for the strap itself as well as charger and carry case then around $30 a month with at least a 6 month contract so before you have the option to opt out you can spend somewhere in the region of $230. This is also without any of the coloured straps (you get a choice of 4 for your initial $50 but if you want a specific colour thats extra!).
WHOOP 4.0 is IP68 dust proof and water-resistant up to 10 meters for 2 hours. WHOOP 4.0 Battery Pack is IP68 dust proof and water-resistant up to 1 meter for 2 hours.
However, there are a few promotional offers that give away the initial strap and charger for free and reduced memberships for a certain number of months.
Apple Watch vs Whoop Strap Price Verdict
The Apple Watch comes out on top for this aspect, absolutely no question. I believe Whoop have really let the ball down with this factor and are really missing a large portion of the market who they could tap into. Paying that much for a piece of wearable tech that doesn't have a screen or interactivity is not good in my books.
Apple Watch Vs Whoop Strap Functionality Comparison
In some previous reviews of the Apple Watch vs Whoop Strap i've read in the past have disregarded the fact that Apple Watch is a smart watch and have purely focussed on the fitness tracking of both but I believe you can't compare the two and not talk about the comparison of what is essentially a material band on your wrist compared to a smart watch.
As mentioned before there is an endless list of functionality with the Apple Watch and comparing to the Whoop Band you don't need your phone to work or interact with an Apple Watch. Your phone broken, switched off or in another country and you could still use your Apple Watch for fitness tracking, communicating or any of the other functionalities we've spoken about before.
The Whoop band requires a phone connection to show its fitness tracking metrics and markers.
The one functionality I really like on the Whoop Band in comparison with the Apple Watch is the charging. Whoop have developed a charger that you don't have to take off your Whoop to charge. This means the Whoop can truly track your health and fitness markers 24/7 and provide the most accurate date for the user.
This unique charger is something that I think the Apple Watch should look to adopt but Whoop has one up in this regard.
As for the other functionalities you'd expect, both tech is fully waterproof and is durable, and with the Apple Watch various screen protectors and straps are available.
Apple Watch Vs Whoop Band Functionality Verdict
With some really cool functionalities on the Whoop Strap I think it comes well short as on the wrist it is literally just a heart rate tracker on your wrist. The charging is a good functionality and the range of straps are stylish but you cannot ignore the fact that the Apple watch is a smart watch, with a screen...
Apple Watch Vs Whoop Band Fitness Tracking Comparison
So this is what the Whoop Band was built to do and excels in a range of factors but there is some areas that I think the Apple Watch is competitive too. These are split into different elements:
The tracking of heart rate throughout the day is one of the best ways to measure activity, calories burnt, fitness measurement and more.
The Whoop band uses heart rate to monitor activity and give a score to each workout and the day that the user can interpret and optimise recovery on given days through the mobile app.
The Apple Watch also monitors heart rate and the user can track their heart rate in real time with the screen, so in workouts you can take this information on board and scale up or down your intensity to match your pace.
Heart Rate Variability
This is the main metric that Whoop uses to monitor recovery and is something they talk about a lot. It is something that Whoop seem to have monopolised as a unique tracking factor that they can interpret.
However, both the Apple Watch and Whoop Band display heart rate variability.
The main difference being that the Whoop Band monitors heart rate variability through the sleep you've had the previously and displays it as an indicator of recovery for the next day. Whereas the Apple Watch gives a heart rate variability where you are now.
Both the Apple Watch and Whoop Bands have in depth sleep tracking built in. Giving data for each different stages of sleep, as well as time in each stage and comparison of each night you sleep.
You are able to sync with your phone alarm, and manage your notifications on your phone with an Apple Watch as well as alerts for charging levels of your watch before bed too.
The Whoop App will aggregate sleep, heart rate variability and heart rate markers and give users a score for each day to indicate how well recovered they are. This is a great way to monitor the changes in how your body feels day to day and can help optimise training for elite athletes and even the beginners in the gym too.
The Apple Watch has a the same functionality for tracking sleep, HRV and HR but does not have the display and score that the Whoop does. A point to Whoop.
Another one for Whoop. Whoop uses the activity and heart rate data to give users a score out of 21 for the day to show how hard they have strained their body throughout the day or in a particular workout.
Apple uses its Health app and it's Activity Summary to show three activity indicators; Move - how many calories one has burnt in the day, Exercise - How many minutes one has logged workouts in the day, and Stand - For how many hours has the user logged standing up and moving around in each hour.
The user can then set targets for each of these indicators where the watch will push notifications if the user needs to burn more calories, do more exercise or stand up in the hour.
In Workout Feedback
With the Whoop App you can film yourself during a workout which will give active feedback on your phone whilst you're working out, but you need to be near your phone and be in view of your phone.
The Apple Watch has a range of exercises you can track where you get active feedback on a range of different indicators, like heart rate, time in workout, pace (if your running, biking, rowing etc) as well as notifications for if calories burnt or distance run etc.
Whoop has an in depth weekly and monthly reporting structure that is really helpful to monitor changes the user has made and how it has effected performance and recovery too. These reports give great data into how you've increased or decreased the main indicators too.
Whoop also have a range of leaderboards and social interactivity you can share with groups you can join.
Apple also has reporting features in the Activity app in the Trends section where you can see your Move, Exercise and Stand indicators as well as distanced walked, minutes standing, Cardio Fitness (measured in VO2 Max) and walking and running paces among others.
Overall Fitness Tracking
The Whoop band wins on data visualisation and output. Hands down if you want to have a quick easy indicator on your phone of how you performed in workouts on that day, how you have recovered and how differences you make in your lifestyle make a difference to your performance and recover then buy a whoop band now.
However, if you want to see all the same indicators of performance and recovery, not in as nice of a display and not as convenient but also want to have a smart watch with all the added functionality you have during a workout like distance ran, heart rate, time in workout, pace and performance then opt for an Apple Watch. No brainer.
Apple Watch Vs Whoop Band Overall Verdict
Whoop does win on a few factors here including data visualisation, battery life, inclusivity and one thing that I've not really touched on, their marketing is incredible and they have sponsored range of influencers that give CrossFit fans massive FOMO (Fear of missing out) so that if you don't have a Whoop Band do you even CrossFit?
I am not convinced, after trying Whoop for over a year in 2020 and 2021, I found the pricing model stinks for essentially a heart rate monitor, the few data indicators it does have work well but for me there is not enough for minimum $180 for 6 months.
However I do see the benefit of all of the data and recording methods as well as the visualisation of said data is great to be able to see how your body reacts to different stimuli.
The Apple Watch not only has the functionality of a smart watch, is becoming cheaper (for a life time and not for a few months too) with the releases of new models. It is my choice moving forward. If someone could create an app that displayed the indicators that are monitored on the Apple Watch in the way Whoop does and doesn't charge a fortune then that would be ideal.