The Whoop 3.0 and Apple Watch Series 6 are both popular fitness wearables on the market today. The main difference is that the Apple Watch is more of an all-around wristwatch device with lots of apps and features, whereas the Whoop is a dedicated fitness device.
Wearables work for fitness because they effortlessly track your workouts and other physical activities, especially those outside the gym that are spread throughout the day. They can improve your overall performance by giving you a way to monitor your activities, saving you the headache of keeping it all in your own head. They also provide useful data and long-term stats to help you achieve your fitness goals.
We’ll look at the similarities and differences between each of the Whoop and the Apple Watch to figure out which is the best one to pick up today.
Whoop vs. Apple Watch
Activity and Workout Tracking
Both the Whoop and the Apple Watch have workout tracking that automatically recognizes some different types of fitness activity. The key to this functionality is heart rate, and so the activity has to raise your heart rate above a certain level in order to register.
For Whoop, your heart rate must be elevated from resting for at least 15 minutes and achieve a “metabolic strain score” of at least 8 (we’ll discuss what that means later).
The Apple Watch can automatically detect different workouts with different measures but only tracks 16 different types compared to Whoop’s 87.
The special thing about Whoop is that when it can’t detect what kind of workout is happening, it logs it as ‘other.’ If you later type in what workout it was, it learns what physical signals it has for you and will log it in the future. Overall, this gives the Whoop the leg-up in the long term.
The Apple Watch’s workout scoring is fairly simple. It tracks activity minutes and compares this to your chosen exercise and goals. Activity minutes are each full minute of elevated heart rate. This works well enough for most people but isn’t a particularly sophisticated or deep look into one’s workout.
Whoop’s approach to workout scoring is much more rigorous. Whoop’s “strain score” is based on a formula that compares your resting heart rate to your max heart rate to provide a sense of how much strain a particular exercise exerts on your body.
Essentially, these measures allow the device to calculate an activity detection threshold and to measure out how much strain the activity is having on your body at any given time. If your heart rate goes above the threshold, you’ll be in exercise mode with low strain. Then, the closer it gets to maximum heart rate, the higher your strain score will become. It’s fairly simple once you get the hang of it, but also very useful. You’ll be glad you have it.
Both scores work well for what they are, but the Apple Watch is much more simplistic overall. It really doesn’t provide enough insight into one’s actual fitness needs. The Whoop is more nuanced and better for fitness enthusiasts.
The calorie tracking on both the Whoop and the Apple Watch doesn’t consider basal metabolic rate (BMR), making them estimates based on the average BMR for your age and gender.
It’s helpful as a general measure of how many calories you are burning in a day, but for real accuracy, both companies need to allow BMR data to give more accurate estimates. At the moment, neither is particularly useful as is.
Chest Straps and Heart Rate Broadcasting
The Apple Watch supports the use of external heart rate chest straps, which better monitor one’s heart rate during intense physical activity.
The Whoop does not support any kind of chest strap. However, it supports heart rate broadcasting through Bluetooth. This allows you to use a different app to collect data from your workouts and activities.
These facts can teach you one way or the other. If you like the built-in apps, then the additional accuracy of an external heart rate chest strap is nice with the Apple Watch. But, the broadcasting is great if you aren’t a fan of the app.
Both fitness wearables provide workout recommendations based on your fitness goals. Whoop uses its Strain Coach to track your recovery, previous strain, and sleep to recommend the best amount of activity for the day, depending on whether it’s a day for recovery or fitness gains.
The Strain Coach is useful to help you get into the right mindset each day. It’s also nice to have the app providing solid fitness recommendations based on your previous activities. It has a robust algorithm that combines your history of activity and sleep data with lifestyle questions it periodically asks in order to give you the best possible recommendations.
Unfortunately, the Apple Watch’s usefulness in this regard is much worse. It only tracks how many minutes of exercise you’ve had from previous days and gives minor recommendations to stand up and take deep breaths from time to time.
The Apple Watch provides a whole suite of standard post-workout analysis stats through the iPhone’s Fitness app. You’ll find metrics such as workout time, active calories, average heart rate (and graph), and a heart rate recovery graph in each logged workout.
These are solid metrics that can be helpful to know overall but do require some interpretation.
The Whoop, on the other hand, provides clear guidance on what to do with the stars that are being provided. It not only provides information on things like how much you are building endurance over time with a given workout but offers recommendations for how much time to spend at a given heart rate for best results.
It also asks about how hard a given exercise was and whether I had to give up on intended goals. It then uses this information to improve its recommendations for future workouts.
All in all, the overall experience of the Whoop is just way easier to interpret into a meaningful change in one’s exercise routine.
Sleep Coaching and Tracking
The quality of one’s sleep plays a significant role in one’s ability to work out during the day and affects the ability of muscles to build during the night. That’s why recovery days are so important as well.
What’s valuable about a sleep tracker is the ability to detect the different sleep stages, especially REM vs. slow-wave sleep. Unfortunately, most trackers aren’t entirely accurate on this front, but they can give you a good approximation.
The Apple Watch is not particularly accurate when it comes to tracking sleep. However, it does have a few features, including total sleep time, sleep consistency, and silent alarms.
Whoop, on the other hand, has a fantastic sleep tracking system. Its advanced sensors allow it to accurately track sleep, including the differences between deep and REM sleep.
The battery life is a lot longer on the Whoop, allowing you to keep it on at night without having to charge it. However, the Apple Watch doesn’t last a whole 24 hours, and therefore you have to be strategic with the timing if you want to use it at night.
Whoop also provides recommendations based on your sleep quality for how you should approach upcoming sleep.
Your recovery score refers to how close to baseline your biometrics are. One way to measure this is by tracking heart rate variability (HRV), which should be higher than your baseline heart rate to indicate that your nervous system can currently handle stress.
The combination of HRV, resting heart rate, and your sleep data can give you a good idea of how ready your body is for exercise on a given day, a handy measure!
HPV is best measured during deep sleep to avoid any other factors influencing it. Therefore, the Whoop measures it during this time.
Whoop also checks in with a series of questions of your choice to help correlate lifestyle changes with recovery score. You then get a personalized assessment of what is having an effect on your performance each month to help improve your recovery score.
As one could probably guess, the Apple Watch doesn’t provide this kind of information.
Hardware and Sensors
- 3D Accelerometer and gyroscope
- Optical Heart Rate Sensor (with green, red, and infrared LEDs)
- 100x per second sample rate while working out
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Interchangeable straps
- 3D Accelerometer and gyroscope
- Optical Heart Rate Sensor (green LEDs)
- NTC (negative thermal coefficient) body temperature sensor
- Electrodermal activity (skin conductance) sensor
- 100x per second sample rate
- Interchangeable straps
The LEDs let the monitor check the heart rate. Green LEDs work more accurately when moving (such as during a workout), whereas red and infrared are more accurate when stationary. It’s hard to say whether the Apple Watch’s addition of red and infrared LEDs add much to the overall accuracy. One difference is the sample rate, because while both sample 100x a second during workouts, the Apple Watch only samples once every few minutes otherwise.
For relatively ‘stable’ exercises such as running, the LED monitors work well. A chest strap is the best way to measure heart rate for more intense and variable exercises accurately. Only the Apple Watch allows you to use a chest strap if you want it.
Otherwise, the two use different additional biometric measures. The Apple Watch has an ECG, where the Whoop has an NTC body temperature sensor and an electrodermal activity sensor. It’s hard to tell which are the most important for measuring fitness goals.
Finally, both the Apple Watch and the Whoop have lots of different strap options, as both allow you to change up the strap with third-party straps if desired. It’s important to get the right fit.
For the Apple Watch, there are two different apps, the app on your watch and the fitness app for the iPhone. Currently, at watchOS 7, the fitness app is still relatively basic, focusing on minutes of activity. It also provides info on your current goals, a list of recent workouts and activity trends, and recent awards.
The Fitness+ paid app provides lots of guided workouts, such as yoga and dance. These are very helpful for beginners and enthusiasts alike.
The big difference between Apple and Whoop here is that the already fairly basic stats are not made into meaningful analytic information or recommendations for you.
With the Whoop, the combination of strain, sleep, and weekly assessments are put together to provide solid recommendations of what you should do for exercise.
The recovery score especially is a huge boost of information, as it helps you to understand your body’s overall strain.
The Whoop app also offers different coaching features to help manage your strain based on the previous recommendations.
Apple provides fun awards for achieving your fitness goals. But, unfortunately, once you’ve got a few of them, they lose their appeal. There isn’t enough difference between them or special qualities to them to keep their value up after the novelty has gone away.
The other big community factor is the ability to share and compete with friends and family on calories burned, exercise minutes, etc. This can be really fun in small groups to get people to motivate one another, and for those who love connecting through social media. Unfortunately, there’s also a dark side to such competition, as some people find it demotivating when others are doing well and showing off.
Whereas Whoop has ‘teams’ that share some metrics with each other. The interesting thing with teams is they are autonomous in themselves, where each team can invite new members, allowing you to join public teams all around the world.
Connecting to your fitness classes in this way is one fantastic way to use this feature.
Both styles are exciting and work well, but Whoop’s may just be the way of the future due to its ease and flexibility. I like the ability to join and leave teams without too much guilt, and to seek them out all around my area.
Be careful that a bit of friendly competition doesn’t turn into resentment or disappointment in one’s results. Remember, each journey is our own.
Battery Life and Charging
The Apple Watch tends to get about 16-20 hours of use depending on how much you do with it in a day.
One of the big functionalities of the Apple Watch compared with the Whoop is that it has a lot more uses than just a fitness device. For example, you can input calendar events, see the weather and temperature, and other quick and important information.
Whoop’s battery lasts up to 5 days. Usually, the Apple Watch’s battery life is not a problem, but it is something to keep in mind.
Apple has the app HealthKit, which stores heath and fitness info into a database. This is compatible with chest strap heart monitors, and therefore can be used for a more robust fitness tracking experience overall.
Whoop is more of a closed system. It doesn’t really have anything to integrate with, not even a chest strap of their own design.This is a big problem going into the future as Apple has a lot more options already and will only gain more as time goes on.
The two use different pricing models, so it can be a little hard to compare.
The Apple Watch costs $399+, depending on your configuration. Some decked-out Apple Watches can cost quite a bit, and it’ll also depend on how often you expect to get a replacement.
Apple’s software tends to update much more slowly than Whoops, meaning you get more new features and updates with Whoop than you do with the Apple Watch.
The Whoop is a monthly plan, from $18 a month if you commit to a three-year plan or $30 a month without one. That is very expensive at $300 / year if you plan on using it for years at a time.
The benefit of these different options will clearly depend on how often you replace your Apple Watch. It can be quite a bit cheaper to go with the Apple Watch if you plan on using it for over three years.
The Apple Watch can be less expensive, has more non-fitness features, and is compatible with more third-party accessories and software. However, its fitness apps and features are much more basic than Whoop’s. We saw that it’s really lacking in biometrics it tracks, and it doesn’t give the kinds of recommendations the Whoop does.
The Whoop 3.0 is a powerful fitness device that tracks many biometrics and provides useful recommendations using the data it collects. Overall, its whole ecosystem is more useful for tracking sleep, lifestyle, and workouts accurately and providing advice using that data. Unfortunately, the monthly plan can get expensive over time, and it doesn’t have any additional uses outside fitness.
Is Whoop the same as Apple Watch?
They perform similar functions, but they are different in many details. The Whoop is a better fitness device, providing lots of helpful metrics and recommendations for workout activities. The Apple Watch has greater all-around functionality but is much simpler when it comes to tracking fitness.
Is Whoop worth the money?
It can be. The Whoop is great for those looking to step up their fitness game. It gives excellent, customized recommendations for pursuing one’s fitness goals using the vast array of metrics it tracks. Overall, it is in a similar price range as an Apple Watch, and so if you are considering one, you can consider the other.
Can I wear an Apple Watch and a Whoop?
Yes, you can wear both at the same time for more data and features overall. It’s certainly cumbersome at that point, but nothing is stopping you if you do have both and want the functionality of each one.
Both the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Whoop 3.0 are great fitness tracking wearables. The question comes down to the level of detail and data each provides that can be used to make actionable goals and changes to one’s fitness routine.
Hands-down, the Whoop wins in that regard. It tracks fitness, sleep, and lifestyle in a much more valuable and robust way, with useful metrics like the strain score and recovery score to help you make decisions about your fitness journey.
However, it’s not that simple because the Apple Watch does have a few features up on its competition. First, it is compatible with a chest strap for measuring heart rate. Second, it has an array of other features by being connected to the apple store – most of which aren’t related to fitness but are nonetheless helpful. Then again, some are related to fitness, like the HealthKit app.
Finally, in the long run, the Apple Watch will usually be quite a bit less expensive than the Whoop. For all these reasons, no clear winner can be chosen between the two. The Whoop will serve you better when it comes to fitness, but the Apple Watch might still be worth it for some.