Are smartwatches accurate for measuring heart rate?

When it comes to keeping an eye on heart health, what leading brand does it best?

A young woman checking her smartwatch heart monitor - smartwatches

by Ryan Houghton |
Updated on

Throughout your daily routine, your intense cardio session, or while you're sleeping, using a great smartwatch to keep an eye on your heart rate can be an incredibly important and useful tool for fitness development.

Smartwatches are especially useful for identifying early signs of potential health issues such as an irregular heart rhythm which is worth keeping an eye on. But just how accurate is heart rate tracking in the modern smartwatch?

We're going to take a deeper look into just how some leading smartwatch brands such as Apple, Samsung, and Garmin track your heart rate, just to see how accurate they really are.

Which smartwatch brand has the most accurate heart rate monitor?

How do Apple smartwatches track heart rate?

According to Apple Support - "the Apple Watch uses green LED lights paired with light-sensitive photodiodes to detect the amount of blood flowing through your wrist at any given moment". Apple goes on to explain that when there's blood flow in your wrist, light absorption is greater, and in-between beats - it's less.

The accuracy of Apple Watch is, therefore, very accurate - and its variety of heart monitoring apps offer a good variety of insights into your own heart health.

How accurate is Samsung's smartwatch heart rate monitor?

Much like Apple, Samsung's smartwatch utilises "an optical LED light source and an LED light sensor" to monitor "the amount of light that reflects back" - as suggested by Samsung's information page.

This suggests that Apple and Samsung's heart rate monitoring are pretty much on par with each other, with some minor differences in how your heart health information is presented to you - with Apple's version being seemingly more simplified compared to the sheer amount of data provided by Samsung's Health app.

How do Garmin watches track heart rate?

Garmin unsurprisingly utilises a heart rate sensor technology, not unlike Apple and Samsung - it calculates your heart rate by shining a green light through your skin to measure the time between heart contractions - simple enough.

In terms of whether or not Garmin is more or less accurate than Samsung or Apple - there's really not a huge difference between them at all, so you're better off looking at the rest of the great features offered by these cutting-edge smartwatches.

Ryan is a tech writer and reviewer for What's The Best, specialising in PCs and gaming. He is a keen PC gamer and an avid reader.

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