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How Accurate is the iPhone Step Counter?

My wife and I have been trying harder to take better care of ourselves. We've been eating better (mostly...), minding our portions, and been getting out to walk almost 4 miles just about every day. We've both lost 10+ pounds each but that's not the subject of this post.

She has a FitBit and we both have iPhones, but I've been tracking my steps on just my iPhone; she on her FitBit. At the end of the day I almost always have more steps than her - sometimes by A LOT. That leads to us arguing... she says almost nighty - "No Way!" So here's the questions... Is the step counter on the Apple iPhone accurate?

Is the step counter on the Apple iPhone accurate?

I first turned to the internet and found various articles that were of varying levels of help. Some people compared their iPhone to their FitBit (done!), others compare to an old fashion pedometer, etc. and I unscientifically food that most agreed that its mostly accurate; at least "accurate enough".

I did something similar. I hiked one of our local trails that is posted at 4.2 miles. I checked my step count and distance before the hike and again after and found that my iPhone was accurate.

So far, so good - right? It was. I had won our argument and was satisfied that I can rely on this thing. That was until I mowed the lawn... It was last Saturday and I got an unusual bug up my you-know-what and proceeded to spend 5 hours mowing the lawn. We're on a 5 acre lot and there's more weeds than lawn, but regardless it needed mowed and no, unfortunately I didn't finish it. You might be thinking that walking around behind a push mower should count towards steps, etc... You'd be right. But, I did this 5 hours on my riding mower. After 5 hours of sitting on my tush with a couple small exceptions my iPhone had clocked a total of 28,628 steps for the day; the equivalent of 9 miles. And no, we didn't get out for our walk that day either.

I was deflated - turns out I lost the argument. Bottom line, the iPhone seems to be "close enough" accurate on a normal day doing normal things. But apparently there are some motions it can't process and will throw it off.

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