Does the iPhone Track Steps Accurately? It’s Close, But Probably Not

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The Apple Health App is a built-in app for iPhones meant to track and organize a variety of health information. When it comes to the actual technological capabilities of the iPhone, exactly how accurate is the step counting feature? 

The iPhone is fairly accurate when counting steps, as long as you have it with you. However, the mechanics the iPhone uses to count steps can be confused by other motions, which leads to more inaccurate step counts.

Keep reading to learn more about how the iPhone tracks your steps, and what other options there are to get an accurate count of your daily steps.

How Does the iPhone Track Your Steps?

Your iPhone comes built in with an accelerometer. An accelerometer is different from a pedometer. A pedometer tracks steps and is typically worn on the waist for accuracy.

In addition to tracking steps like a pedometer, an accelerometer also tracks distance and speed. The accelerometer in your phone can also mark which way the phone is facing.

The accelerometer in your iPhone uses multiple features to track your steps. 

It tracks steps by detecting the movement of the phone. It also uses the phone’s GPS to track the distance the phone has traveled. This helps to create a more accurate step count. 

Now that you know how the iPhone tracks your steps, you may want to learn how accurate their step tracking is.

How Accurate Is the iPhone at Counting Steps?

The iPhone accelerometer is pretty accurate at counting steps, though it isn’t as accurate as a device specifically built for tracking these health metrics.

One study conducted at the University of British Columbia found that the iPhone underestimated steps by about 20%.

However, some of this inaccuracy was due to the subjects of the study not carrying their phones every time they walked. In lab conditions, the iPhone was a lot more accurate.

Other users have reported the iPhone overestimating steps because it was confused by other movements, like the movement of a riding mower.

How Do I Find My Step Count?

If you had no idea that your iPhone could track your steps, all it takes is a few steps.

They are as follows:

  1. Find the built in Health app on your iPhone.
  2. The “Browse” section will offer you a variety of “Health Categories” to choose from. Select “Activity” from this list.
  3. You should see an option for “Steps.” Selecting this will show you all the data and trends from your daily activity.

Once you’ve found your step count, you can find all of your data represented with graphics, including trends over time. 

Keep in mind that your iPhone can only track your steps when you carry it with you, so if you leave it at home and take a walk, that information won’t show up in the Health app.

How Does the Apple Watch Compare to the iPhone at Counting Steps?

If you want a more accurate step count, pairing an Apple Watch to your iPhone might be a good option. 

The Apple Watch is better designed for tracking fitness and is generally more accurate.

The Apple Watch allows you to calibrate it when you first set it up. This is what lets it be more accurate than a phone with an accelerometer. 

However, the Apple Health app also has options for calibration to increase accuracy. If you do not want to use an Apple Watch, there are ways to increase your iPhone’s accuracy. 

Keep reading to learn about other options for more accurate step tracking.

Other Apps and Options for Step Tracking

To get a more accurate number for your daily step count, here are a few options.

Calibrate the Apple Health app

When you first open the Health app, it should ask you to set up a health profile. Filling this out allows the app to make more accurate calculations for all of your health metrics.

Wear Your Phone on Your Arm

This is a popular option among runners. Wearing your phone on your arm with an arm band keeps it out of the way while you run, and easily enables you to use wired earbuds as well.

It’s not clear whether wearing your phone on your arm provides a more accurate step count, but since activity trackers are usually worn on the arm, it’s possible that it will help.

Try an Activity Tracker or Smart Watch

There are a variety of options for activity trackers. Beyond the Apple Watch, Fitbit is one of the most popular options. But there are many options that may work for your needs.


Your iPhone might not be the most accurate at tracking your steps. However, to say that it’s completely inaccurate would be false. It’s certainly a reliable option.

The important thing with staying fit is not to get too hung up on the numbers. As long as you are moving around every day, that’s what matters to a healthy lifestyle. Happy walking!

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