Choosing a fitness tracker can be daunting. So many of them have similar features and it is hard to tell which ones you will use. But when comparing across different methods it is important to understand the accuracy of how they measure different functions. Especially for something like sleep tracking, not all measurements are created equally. Some devices, for example just an iPhone, will approximate your sleep time based on when you put the device down. Others will, including both the Apple Watch and Amazon Halo bracelet, will take into consideration your heart rate and movement.
Comparing Apple Watch and Amazon Halo for a Single Night of Sleep
We are lucky enough to have both the Apple Watch and Amazon Halo, and decided to use them both at the same time and see how they compare.
Over the course of a single night, both devices did a good job of tracking the time in bed, but had minor differences. The Apple Watch tracked a total time of 7 hrs 1 min for time asleep. It did not a “time to get to sleep measurement” but and the sleep time started almost immediately after climbing into bed.
Amazon Halo on the other hand (literally, it was worn on the other hand) tracked 33 minutes of rolling around before it started measuring a sleep stage. Both devices tracked the beginning of sleep at the same time so about 33 minutes of “Time to fall asleep” eats into the total sleep time that Amazon Halo reported, which was 6 h 26 min (again compared to 7h 1 min for Apple Watch).
In the morning there was also a discrepancy in the readings. Amazon Halo though I stayed asleep much longer, by about 20 minutes. Apple Watch seemed to end when I first started moving and went to grab my phone. Unlocking and browsing on the phone looks to have overridden whatever the watch was measuring.
The Halo device did also note several instances throughout the night of “awake” time. Though each was less than a minute and appears to be just simple rolling around. I have no recollection of being awake in the night at all. The premium version of Halo, which requires a monthly membership that costs $3.99/month, also tries to approximate when you are in REM sleep vs. deep sleep.
Apple Watch vs. Amazon Halo as a Daily Sleep Tracker
If you are going to monitor sleep over an extended period of time, weeks or months, then there are a few more considerations on which device to choose. Above talks mostly about the sleep tracking accuracy, but the values are not everything. Here are some thoughts on each, based on how they preform for sleep.
Wearing a tracking device all night can present some annoyances. You do not want to have anything that is too clunky or restrictive. Apple Watch is great for this, so long as you are using a sport band or soft sided watch strap. Fancier watch straps might be an issue, and changing the strap at night isn’t a practical solution, so if you wear a metal strap daily than this might be a concern.
The Amazon Halo band is soft sided with a soft velcro attachment. It is more minimal than the Apple Watch, but ultimately neither get in the way. The velcro strap does offer a bit more ability to customize the ideal strap length, which keeps the tracker in the proper place to get a reading. Without considering anything else the Halo is a more comfortable device to wear at night than Apple Watch.
Battery Life & Battery Charge
The other major concern when using a tracking device daily is when to charge it. Especially for sleep trackers, when you normally would just charge a device when you are sleeping. The Apple Watch battery life (18 hours) is significantly lower than the Amazon Halo Band (2-7 days, depending if you have tone microphones enabled).
The watch must be charged every day, and will alert you if you are under 25% and it is close to bedtime. This can be annoying as you wind up having to take 15-20 minutes just to get a charge and can create charge anxiety right before bed (which is never good). Alternately you can charge during the day, but if you use the watch as a daily device then this leaves no obvious time for charging. Ultimately you need to find a routine that allows for ~2 hours of charging every day and for anyone trying to get steps or close a stand ring, this can be an annoying two hours to find.
Apple will approximate sleep if you have it setup and forget to charge a watch. Instead it will approximate sleep times based on when you put your phone on a charger. This is incomplete, especially if you have good device habits and leave a phone out of the bedroom or don’t use it first thing in the morning. A difference in how Sleep was tracked will show up by color in the weekly summary, this can be seen in the above image.
Halo can last for a whole week without a charge. Even when it is depleted, a full charge can be done in 90 minutes, so even 10 minutes of a quick charge is enough to get you through the night.
On nearly every other function, the Apple Watch outperforms the Amazon Halo. This is an unfair comparison as one is designed as an extension of a phone, with its own screen and ability to pair to headphones, etc. There are numerous apps that also turn Apple Watch into a great fitness tracker, elevation guide, music companion, and more.
Both devices measure heart rate, and each counts steps. We have previously written about the accuracy of Amazon Halo vs. Apple Watch for step tracking. Amazon Halo also has some additional features that are a part of their monthly membership. It is obnoxious that there is a $4/month charge for a handful of lesser used features, but it is understandable since the software updates and many of the benefits have nothing to do with the device itself and more with the overall mobile app experience.
When it comes to additional features, beyond just sleep tracking, the Apple Watch is the clear winner. But for just Sleep tracking, the Amazon Halo provides more nuanced data, an easier charging experience, and a comparable design for sleeping through the night.