Samsung Health has an on-board feature that allows users to check how many steps they’ve taken throughout the day at any point. The feature in itself seems to be quite accurate and is quite useful. This begs the question, how does Samsung Health measure steps?
Samsung Health uses a series of accelerometers present inside your phone, GPS to figure out how much distance you’ve taken and a set of nifty algorithms to calculate the steps you’ve taken throughout the day.
In this article, we’re going to go into the details of how Samsung Health measures steps, how accurate it is, and whether using a smartwatch, GPS or any other medium impacts our step count in a meaningful manner.
Plus, we’ve also conducted a little experiment to check for accuracy. So, stay tuned!
Samsung Health Step Measurement: Explained
Samsung Health uses a combination of your phone’s accelerometer and GPS to accurately predict the number of steps you’ve taken over a certain distance. Contrary to popular belief, no mechanical parts are involved in trying to decipher how many steps you’ve taken.
In fact, a completely electronic system, which uses a system of accelerometers in either your phone or a combination of your smartwatch and phone is used to find out your stride length and identify whether an entire step has been taken. While your phone / accelerometers are able to get an idea of how many steps you’ve taken, GPS is also used to enhance accuracy.
In essence, since your phone has the ability to constantly track you when you start a workout (or allow your phone to see your location), it is then able to find out exactly how much distance you’ve traveled over a particular period of time.
Since your phone also knows your stride length, it can then use this simple formula to calculate the number of steps you’ve taken:
Total Steps Taken = Distance / Stride Length
How Accurate Is Samsung Health Step Measurement?
Samsung Health step measurement retains an accuracy of about ~10% in most scenarios. However, that number can greatly vary depending on various factors. Firstly, if you are just using your phone, then, there’s a chance of error.
For instance, your phone may falsely detect a jolt in a rollercoaster ride as a few steps or some sudden movement as an indication of you moving a few feet. However, this issue is alleviated when you bring in GPS tracking into the mix. In most cases, even if your phone thinks that a few steps have been taken, GPS data is also brought in to double-check if there actually is a change in distance.
But, GPS works only for longer distances, it can’t detect a foot or two of change. But, if you use a smartwatch alongside your phone, your step count accuracy increases dramatically. This is because electronic pedometers (the ones present in your phone and watch) work best when attached to your wrist.
Why? Well, a pedometer needs to be able to detect the sideways tilt of your body in order to ensure accurate step counts have been taken.
So, if you were to hold your phone in your hand instead of placing it in your pocket, you’ll notice more accurate results. Plus, there will be some inconsistency if you start running or jogging all of a sudden when it comes to step counting. This is because your stride length won’t remain the same when performing different tasks – so, Samsung Health might need a few minutes to adjust before it can accurately start counting your steps again.
I’ve always been keen on finding out exactly how much difference Samsung Health step detection has compared to how many steps I’ve taken. Therefore, on a bright afternoon, I set out for an experiment. I took exactly 1000 steps (yes, I counted them) and tried to check how accurate Samsung Health is. Here are my results:
|Actual Steps Taken
|Margin Of Error
|Samsung Health (Phone Only)
|Samsung Health (Phone + Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2)
This result lines up quite well with research conducted by various institutes. In essence, pedometers or fitness bands usually have an inaccuracy of about 5-10% depending on one’s walking speed and day-to-day activities.
So, they aren’t extremely accurate and can’t really be used for medical-grade research. But, for the average user who wants to set up some goals and wishes to cover a certain distance per day, a few hundred steps of inaccuracy won’t really significantly impact anyone.
Samsung Health is a great way to set up fitness goals for yourself and get an estimate of how many steps you’ve taken and the distance you’ve covered throughout the day. Thankfully, with no extra parts needed, you can easily start counting your steps by using Samsung Health and walk away!
I bought my first smartwatch in 2018 and have been wearing one ever since. It might get frustrating at times to receive 100 notifications a day. That's why we need to know how to make the best of them and how to use them to improve our daily lives, not the other way around. I write about the newest smartwatches, I create top picks, and I write helpful guides and simply explain complicated things.