Most fitness app subscriptions aren’t worth the cost

People expect fitness smartwatches and trackers to cost much less than an Apple or Samsung lifestyle watch because they “only” track your health and fitness data. They’re tools, not accessories. But believe it or not, squeezing tons of health sensors and GPS into a band that weighs an ounce or two, lasts a week or more per charge, and extrapolates your fitness level and healthiness from the data isn’t a cheap affair.

These days, you can get a cheap fitness tracker with heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring for $50, and even if better models produce more accurate data, most people won’t notice the difference. So fitness brands above the bargain-bin level have two options: sell premium watches that target athletes and the wealthy, or sell hardware at or below cost and subsidize the consumer-friendly pricing with subscriptions.

Fitness brands like Fitbit, Amazon Halo, Whoop, and Oura fall into the latter category. They sell reasonably affordable devices — or give them away, in Whoop’s case — by locking vital features behind a monthly subscription fee. And while I’m in no way criticizing this business model or people who buy them, I always lean towards brands that don’t hold your data hostage.

Fitbit Sense

The Fitbit Sense scanning for health and stress data (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

Take Fitbit Premium. Whichever Fitbit device you buy, you’ll get 3-12 months’ free access to Guided Programs for fitness and dieting, various workouts, personalized “Insights” into your current health, a Wellness Report with your health trends over the last 30 days, and Snore Detection for sleep tracking.