When Apple released their Apple Watch heart rate monitor in Apr 2015 and Apple Watch series 2 in Sep 2016, it was a big news not only for Apple fans but for those who care about fitness tracking and health-oriented capabilities.
apple watch heart rate monitor running
There are still many questions asking about heart rate monitor on Apple Watch. It’s easy to understand because the heart rate monitor is a very important function for a so-called fitness devices, since it enables you to exercise in your targeted heart rate zone as advised. In this review, I will try to give you all the information you need to know about this iWatch.
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Does the Apple Watch have a heart rate monitor?

apple watch heart rate sensor
Yes, it does. Apple Watch is a smart watch with so many functions that some may not know that it does measure your heart rate. You can find its built-in heart rate sensor on the back of the watch. Along with other data, it helps the Apple Watch estimate how many calories you’ve burned. As long as you’re wearing your Apple Watch, it will check and log your heart rate automatically every ten minutes. You can find the information right on Apple website.

Where is the heart rate monitor on the Apple Watch?

It’s surprising that many people don’t know there are 3 ways they can get the data from Apple Watch heart rate monitor.

First: You can check your heart rate manually using the Heart Rate Glance. Here’s the steps:

  • From the clock face, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access Glances.
  • Swipe left and right until you find Heart Rate glance.
  • Apple Watch will measure your heart rate and then display it after a few seconds.

Apple Watch heart rate monitor accuracy
With this feature, Apple Watch works like a touch-type heart rate monitor when you need to touch the screen to get a reading. Many people mistakenlying believe that Apple Watch can’t provide continuous heart rate data when it actually does, but in order for it to work, you need to be in a Workout mode.

Once you select a Workout mode such as Outdoor Run or Cycling, you can see your heart rate change reflected right in the clock face. With this function, Apple Watch can be compared with any other continuous-reading heart rate monitors. Actually, Apple Watch measures your heart rate throughout the day for every 10 minutes. Just open the Health app to see these background heart rate measurements.

Is Apple Watch heart rate monitor accurate?

Apple claims that its Apple Watch is the most accurate wrist-based heart rate monitor on the market to date. What’s the truth about Apple Watch heart rate monitor accuracy?

Apple says that its device tracks user’s heart rate using a method called photoplethysmography. It might sound difficult to understand but basically it uses an Optical sensor. Apple Watch uses green LED lights to calculate the number of times the heart beats each minute but the green LEDs kick on only when they’re needed. The heart rate sensor uses infrared light for the rest of the work to measure your heart rate in the background (data you see in the Health app).

The Optical sensor has some disadvantages in accuracy when compared with ECG sensor. So theoretically, Apple Watch cannot be as perfectly accurate as the chest strap heart rate monitors that use ECG sensor such as Polar H7 or Garmin Premium.

However, there were a lot of experiments carried out by Apple Watch users comparing it with other heart rate monitors such as Mio Alpha and Chest strap heart rate monitor. The results showed that they all returned very similar data and reported that the Apple Watch is indeed incredibly accurate.
Apple Watch heart rate monitor
Nevertheless, some complained that the Apple Watch registered inaccurate readings during some specific kinds of exercises: weightlifting and crossfit. One claimed that, “when I exercise with free weights or strength train, it grossly underestimates, and consistently does this – possibly by exactly half? Not sure. Have tried tightening strap, adjusting strap. No improvement.”

After further evaluating, Apple admitted that for rhythmic movements, such as running or cycling, the heart rate monitor gives better results when compared to irregular movements, like tennis or boxing. But I think for a smartwatch, the heart rate monitor’s accuracy is within acceptable parameters. In case you still crave more exact data, whenever exercise, you can use an external chest strap and connect it with your Apple Watch via Bluetooth to take the readings.

Is is safe to wear Apple Watch heart rate monitor?

This question has been raised by a variety of users, especially those who are expecting as Moms-to-be. They want to make certain it’s ok to be shot every 10 minutes by infrared LEDs into their skin all day. The answer to this question is that everyone is already exposed to simple sunlight which has far more infrared radiation, and of much broader frequency ranges, and often get the same exposure indoors in many cases.

Those who are patients in intensive care use these types of monitors for days or weeks on end and over long periods of time. So feel free to use Apple Watch safely all day– even when you sleep.

Apple Watch heart rate app

Apple Watch heart rate app
If you have used Apple products, then you will not be surprised to know you can track your heart rate data using Apple apps. Third party apps can’t access HealthKit data when your iPhone is locked, which ultimately means features like heart rate tracking is off limits.

This maybe one of the reasons many people still prefer other heart rate monitors and don’t want to switch to Apple Watch heart rate monitor. They wish to continue to choose their preferred apps and their past data has  already been stored in those apps. However, you can still look for apps that help analyze your heart rate as measured by the Apple Watch, such as the Cardiogram app, which helps you understand what your heart is telling you.

Apple Watch Heart Rate Monitor vs Fitbit Heart Rate Monitor

Apple watch vs Fitbit Blaze
Apple Watch is often compared with Fitbit trackers, especially Fitbit Blaze. This is my review comparing Apple Watch with Fitbit Blaze that you might want to check out.

These two smartwatches use photoplethysmography to measure your heart rate meaning they are both using an optical sensor. And there’s no winner in this accuracy battle because some people will say Apple Watch is more accurate, while others choose Fitbit. They both have some problems during high intensity training. When you up the intensity, the data display is little bit laggy and seems not to be as accurate as the chest straps.

Both are able to measure your heart rate 24/7. The difference is the Fitbit Charge HR, Fitbit Charge 2, Surge and Blaze all store heart rate data at 1-second intervals during exercise tracking and at 5-second intervals during all other times. On the other hand, the Apple Watch logs your heart rate only every ten minutes during the day and only records your heart rate continuously when the Workout app is selected and turned on so you only get constant feedback during your particular training sessions. As an extra, the Apple smart watch built-in heart rate monitor also supports external heart-rate monitors too.

You can check current price of these models in Amazon:

Apple Watch Activity Tracking Feature

This smartwatch helps you track steps, calories, floors climbed and active time. It has 3-axis accelerometer, gyro sensor and an altimeter to track elevation. There’s no built-in GPS, so you’ll need to piggy back your iPhone to track runs and hikes. This is problematic for the serious runner or cyclist, but for beginners, activity tracking features of Apple Watch is good enough to motivate you to exercise more. Apple promotes this watch specifically as an activity device and is clear it does not have an internal GPS capacity.

The Fitbits offer much better battery life and so they don’t have to be charged every night while you sleep. Currently Apple Watch hasn’t supported to monitor your sleep. The shorter battery life means the Apple Watch is expected to be charged nightly. This function is predicted to be added soon in the next version.

Apple Watch Notification Feature

With the Apple Watch, you get all the notifications you could want including third party apps, plus you get the bite-sized bits of real time information from your favorite apps – and perhaps even more importantly, you can control which notifications you see.
Apple watch heart rate monitor smart notificatin
To complete a barnstorming smartwatch performance there’s music playback control, and storage onboard to download music from iTunes/Apple Music for offline playback. You can also answer calls from Apple’s smartwatch and use Siri to add appointments to your calendar. All of this comes at the price as the battery life is much shorter than the Fitbit.


Apple Watch is a smartwatch but provides almost all the functions of a Fitbit fitness tracker that makes it ideal for workout beginners who wish to improve their health. Though it doesn’t offer sleep tracking, its beautiful design together with smart the notification feature balance out. If you’re a fan of Apple and want to get healthier, don’t hesitate to equip yourself with this smartwatch soon.

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