Apple Watch heart rate monitor is a beat ahead of the competition

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Apple Watch blasts your wrist with green light to read your pulse.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Fitness fanatics that want a good heart rate reading from their wrist better get an Apple Watch.

A new study of the four most popular wearables on the market found Apple Watch to be the most accurate smart watch for tracking heart rate. And it wasn’t even close.


The Cleveland Clinic ran a study on 50 healthy adults to see how well the wearables compare to each other. Participants were hooked up to an EKG, which is the best way to measure heart activity. Measurements were then compared to the Apple Watch, Mio Alpha, Fitbit Charge HR and Basis Peak. They also used a chest strap and measured everyone at rest, walking and then jogging on a treadmill.

Apple Watch was about 90% accurate. The other wrist wearables “dropped off into the low 80s for their accuracy,” said Dr. Gordon Blackburn, director of cardiac rehabilitation at Cleveland Clinic.

The chest strap monitor was the best of all, matching the EKG 99% of the time.

Wrist-based measurements face some serious hurdles in order to be as accurate as the chest strap. All of the watches measure heart rate by looking at blood flow. That requires the device to have good contact with the skin, but when wearers exercise some of that contact is lost due to bouncing.

For people that just want an overview of their health, using an Apple Watch way to go. But if you have health problems that ca be aggravated by an elevated heart rate, you should use an actual medical device.