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How to track steps on your iPhone

The iPhone Health app can help you monitor your physical activity and count your steps. Here’s how track your steps on it.
By
December 11, 2023

The iPhone has some nifty features up its sleeve that might not be too apparent at first glance. The pre-installed Health app, for example, has a wealth of functionality for fitness enthusiasts. One thing that the Health app can do is track your steps when you go for a walk.

While many people think that an Apple Watch is required for you to do that, that is not the case. iPhone has a built-in pedometer that counts your steps as you go. This article will show you how to track steps on your iPhone.

QUICK ANSWER

The iPhone has an inbuilt pedometer that tracks your steps, and that data can be viewed in the pre-installed Health app on your device. All you need to do is set up your profile on the app and add Steps to your Favorites in the Summary tab.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

How to track steps on your iPhone

The iPhone can track the up and down movements generally associated with walking. This helps it to count the steps you take while walking, jogging, or running. Unlike Android, which requires installing pedometer apps, the iPhone stores all the data in the Health app. To set up the Health app and view your steps, follow the instructions below:

  1. Open the Health app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Summary on the bottom left of the screen, then tap on the Profile icon on the top right.
  3. Tap Health Details, then tap Edit on the top right of the screen.
  4. Type the information in the required fields, such as name, date of birth, and sex. Tap Done when you are finished.
  5. On the Summary page, tap Edit beside Favorites.
  6. Select Steps under Activity by tapping the star next to it. You can also add other metrics to track like Active Energy and Walking + Running Distance.
  7. Tap Done when you are finished.

This will configure the app to display your steps on the Summary page. You can tap on the Steps box for further information, like charts to show your weekly, monthly, or yearly steps. You can also consult the Highlights section for an average step count over the past week.

How accurate is the iPhone step counter

The iPhone’s in-built pedometer tracks and records when a step has been taken. It also takes into account the altimeter and GPS readings to track other interesting metrics like step length, walking steadiness, and flight climbed, among others. After that, collecting and displaying those statistics in the form of charts on the Health app’s Summary page is relatively straightforward.

As far as the accuracy of the iPhone’s tracking capabilities go, several studies have been conducted on the topic. They all seem to share the same results, that the iPhone underestimates the steps by a margin of 12-21 percent on average when tested against pedometers/accelerometers worn on the waist.

These were real-world results, and the discrepancy was largely attributed to the iPhone not being with the person for large periods when they were walking. In lab conditions, it was found that the iPhone still underestimated results, but the margin was not as big as the real-world scenario.

Apple Watch SE 2 MyFitnessPal
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The studies concluded that the iPhone does a good job at tracking your steps accurately, given the user makes sure to keep it on their person for the duration of walking time they want their steps to be tracked. Specialized third-party apps and dedicated fitness watches may be more accurate, but the iPhone is also a decent option, given that the Health app is free. All you need to do is keep it in your pocket or hold it in your hand when you go for a stroll.

FAQs

No, the Apple Watch and iPhone do not double count your steps. All the tracking data from both devices is collected by the Health app, which makes adjustments to the data to avoid such issues.

Yes, cycling does count as steps on iPhone if it is kept in your pocket. The iPhone’s sensors track up and down movements, and since cycling involves pedaling with your legs, the iPhone will count these as steps.

Yes, even when the iPhone’s battery is depleted, the motion processor keeps on collecting data. This data is then uploaded to the Health app when the device is powered on again. So the iPhone will count steps even when it’s powered off.