When choosing a running watch, it usually comes down to not only the amount of details you want, but also personal choice. Apart from the usual tracking data, the latest running watches will give detailed information of your particular running style, among many others. You need to put various factors into consideration.
Some factors to consider include:
– Design: What type of design appeals to you?
– Features: Do you want Bluetooth, do you want a swim friendly, waterproof smartwatch?
– Battery life: How long does the battery last?
– Apps: Type of apps it runs and what ecosystems is it compatible with?
In the following article we have reviewed the best running watches out there.
Best Running Watches 2018
|#2||Garmin Vivoactive HR|
|#4||Sony Smartwatch 3|
|#6||Moto 360 Sport|
|#7||Garmin Forerunner 225|
|#8||Garmin Forerunner 630|
|#9||Garmin Forerunner 15|
|#10||TomTom Multi Sports Cardio|
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The FitBit Surge has a fairly large backlit black and white LCD display, which helps you to cycle through various fitness stats quickly. The 1.25″ touch screen makes it easy for you to monitor your active minutes, your total number of steps, and your heart rate while running or walking. Apart from the touchscreen, the Surge offers three physical buttons for better control. The buttons serve as music controls and allow you to set GPS tracking and timers for your running session.
The Fitbit Surge now provides 8 different sensors in its frame, which is why it is bigger than previous FitBit smart watches. It has an altimeter that tracks the number of floors you have climbed in a single day – this feature is unique to the Surge. FitBit’s newly added GPS sensor maps your runs using Google Maps and when connected to the companion smartphone app, it can provide graphs for your pace, elevation and calories burned.
One of the greatest benefits of the GPS tracking on the Fitbit Surge is that it can work without your phone. So you can do your workouts and training while your phone is at home or in your car. The Surge’s GPS tracking still needs some fine tuning as far as accuracy is concerned but it provides a tremendously helpful way of motivating you to improve your performance. It shows you the landmarks where you need to run faster. Interestingly, the GPS system works much better when you are jogging at a slower pace or when you are walking.
FitBit offers apps for iOS, Android and Windows (including an optimized version for Windows 10). So you can easily sync data to apps on your smartphone and laptop. The apps are similar across all platforms and there’s a web app for use in a browser. The software is quite easy to use even with the ever increasing volume of data that you can store.
On the main dashboard, you can see various data categories including regular activity tracking, heart rate, and the runs you have logged. By tapping on each category, you can see more data, analysis and stats. For instance, in the heart rate section, you will see a graph showing a 30-day plot of your resting heart rate. Also, the logged runs section offers you an opportunity to click on a date on a calendar and see your runs for the day. By tapping or clicking on an individual run, you will see a map for the entire journey.
FitBit claims that the battery in the Surge will last up to 7 days when the activity tracker and monitor are enabled. To increase battery life, the manufacturer advices you to turn off music controls and GPS tracking. You may need to tweak some settings like the continuous monitoring to get the longest battery life. On the average, for active runners who will use this watch to monitor their activity daily for about an hour, the watch should be able to deliver 4 to 5 days of battery life. It takes about 90 minutes for the flat battery to be fully charged. Considering the short battery life offered by many other smart watches, the Surge’s performance is adequate.
The Fitbit Surge has a 5ATM water resistance rating. This means it is alright to wear it in the shower but it is not suitable for swimming. However, you should note that the FitBit app states that you should not use it for swimming or showering, although they say it is rain, sweat and splash proof. If you wear it in the shower, you will discover that the elastomer strap feels sticky afterwards. No real risk is involved in using it in the shower but you should do it sparingly.
Garmin Vivoactive HR
The design of the Garmin Vivoactive is not as impressive as those of other competing brands but this is because it is a stripped down version high-end sports tracking wrist watches. It has a square face design and a thin smart-watch module that is just about 8 mm. Although the design does not look very attractive it is nonetheless durable. The strap has ventilation holes to improve air flow to the wrist and make it more comfortable to use while running.
The LCD touchscreen has a low resolution of about 205 x 148 with very low brightness that makes it suitable for outdoor sports. However, the left hand button can turn on the backlight for a few seconds. The primary reason for the low resolution screen is to conserve battery life since the screen is the principal consumer of battery power.
The Vivoactive connects to the Connect app on your smartphone to give you accurate GPS tracking information. You can also see live pace information and the distance you have covered. The same applies to three other sports: walking, swimming, and cycling. It works out your steps per minute (or cadence) from the movement of your wrist. In order to have more information about your fitness, you can pair the smartwatch with a compatible chest strap.
The watch works with the Connect app, which is a famous app with a massive fitness monitoring system that allows you to share your activities with other users, map out your runs, and earn special recognition. After the Garmin Vivoactive syncs with the app, you will be able to obtain accurate tracking information and check a log of your activities, look at data maps, view the number of steps you have walked, and look up information about your sleeping patterns. Within a few seconds after you load the app on your smartphone, it will sync with your watch. This process is fast and it works flawlessly.
One of the hallmarks of the Garmin Vivoactive is its extended battery life. It sacrificed beauty and a more colorful design just to ensure that the battery lasts for up to three weeks or for 10 full hours of cumulative GPS tracking on a single charge. This is very impressive and it shows that you can enjoy very long GPS tracking on a trail run without bothering about battery life. However, the volume of notifications will also determine how long it takes for the battery to get flat.
The Garmin Vivoactive gives you the opportunity to see so many notifications about phone calls, text messages, tweets, WhatsApp, Facebook, Uber alerts and many more. However, to keep your watch from been cluttered with notifications, they disappear from the main screen after about 10 seconds, and you can check them later in the notifications menu.
As you already know, running watches record your training process. They measure the pace, burned calories, running distance and etc. However, the Polar V800 is a bit better. It will allow you to see how a particular training has benefits to your body so you can see the details of any training and adjust it accordingly. This is a unique feature that is more than welcomed. At the same time, it allows you to eliminate the possible drawbacks of the training and make it a lot better.
All running watches measure the amount of calories you have burned during your workout. However, the V800 goes one step further, and it offers more precise feature. In fact, this feature combines the data based on your weight, size, height and several other parameters. As the main goal, you get a more precise amount of burned calories, so your training will be more effective. In addition, this feature also allows you to improve the training and make it better.
This isn’t some advanced feature, but it can make any training 50% more productive. You should know that resting time, between exercising is equally important as the training itself. If you don’t make rest at a specific time, the training will be less productive, which is a serious mistake made by a lot of people. This watch will analyze the training you have done and recommend your resting time. Thanks to it, you will be able to speed up the progress and reduce the risk of injuries.
The most important organ in your body is the heart. This means that it must be treated with a lot of care. The Polar V800 allows you to analyze the condition of the heart and determine what it can withstand. The factors that affect on this are stress and illness, and they reduce the success of your training. Thanks to this addition, you can optimize trainings and make them less stressful to your heart but better in any other way. At the same time, this feature allows to you to have a recovery of your heart and to make it stronger. This edition is welcomed by the doctors and personal trainers and it is one of the best, but rare features found in running watches.
Sony Smartwatch 3
The Smartwatch 3 was designed with runners and athletes in mind. That is why it has more sporty features than aesthetics for casual wear. However, this special watch is comfortable and lightweight and it will blend beautifully with your pair of trainers and joggers. In addition to the new stainless steel version, Sony also provides alternative black and yellow rubber straps.
This means that you can easily remove and replace the module into different straps. The stainless steel version is ideal for people who like the extra weight that makes you feel as if you are wearing a luxury wristwatch. The conventional link system on the metal strap allows you to get a perfect fit by reducing the number of links on the strap.
The Smartwatch 3 has a 1.6-inch LCD display with a 320 x 320 pixel resolution. The display is clear and adequate but it will be better if it offered more viewing angles. The next line will be expected to utilize the vibrant display used in the Xperia smartphone series.
The built-in GPS connectivity is the main selling point of the Smartwatch 3. It offers a major advantage for runners who want to track their runs easily without carrying their smartphone in their pocket. Sony has taken full advantage of the GPS support added to the Android Wear OS by Google. The SmartWatch 3 has two applications: the RunKeeper app and Google’s MyTracks app included for smartphone-free GPS. Whether you use the basic MyTracks app or the RunKeeper app, you will discover that it provides an accurate tracking service, even when you run for several miles at a stretch.
The Smartwatch 3 has a powerful 1.2 GHz quad-core ARM A7 processor and it comes with 4 GB storage space. In addition to GPS functionality, it has Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity built into it. It is actually future proof given that Android Wear has not yet included features like printing or Google Wallet that can make use of NFC features. Currently, there is no app that makes it to freeze or stutter, thanks to the powerful processor.
The Smartwatch 3 has an impressive 420 mAh lithium ion battery, which is one of the largest on any Android wear device. So you will be able to use it for at least 48 hours on a single charge. It has a micro USB port for charging, which saves you the extra burden of carrying a separate charging accessory.
The Sony SmartWatch 3 provides one of the best waterproofing features among all existing Android Wear devices. With a rating of IP68, it beats the IP67 rating offered by majority of the other smartwatches. This means that instead of it to stay under water for 30 mins at a 1m depth, it can stay for twice as long at the same depth.
The main component is the display of the Polar M400 with shows all important parameters. It is the biggest and the most important part, so it has to be great. It offers impressive visibility, in all conditions, so you won’t have a problem seeing your heart rate, distance, etc. Even better, the display shows ordinary functions, such as time and date, so this device can be used as a regular watch. Thanks to it’s size, the watch looks great.
The built in accelerometer is another important component of the M400. It tracks the pace, distance and sleep, and sends the values to the display. At the same time it makes this watch great and precise, so there won’t be variations in your training or sleep time.
The battery is one of the most important parts of any electronic device. With the M400 it is even more important, due to the fact the battery must be small, but also efficient. With this watch the battery life will not be an issue. The battery can last up to 8 hours, when you are using GPS and can last up to 3 weeks, if you are using it as an ordinary watch. In addition, charging the battery is quick and simple.
Running watches are a great addition to everyone due to the fact they promote your training and your exercises by alerting you when you are inactive for a longer period of time. The situation with the Polar M400 is nothing different. The watch will monitor your movement and your activity and in a case you are inactive, it will alert you and suggest you that you should go running.
Moto 360 Sport
In the Moto 360 Sport, the module and strap are fused together. You need to choose your colors carefully because there is no swappable strap. Motorola has provided three distinct colors: white, black and orange. However, regardless of the color you choose, your strap will have a special ultra-violet (UV) coating that will help you to reduce the amount of sweat on your wrist. The strap also has air vents that increase air flow around the Moto 360 Sport and keep your hands cool while you run. However, if your strap picks up a lot of dirt and grime, you can clean it off with water since the watch has an IP67 water resistant rating.
Like any top watch, it has a comfortable snug fit on the wrist. It weighs 54g with a 45mm diameter on the module. In the latest design, the main dial button, which you should use to initiate an action or put the watch in stand by mode has been repositioned for easier access.
Motorola has added a unique hybrid tech display called Anylight to this running smartwatch. The 1.37-inch display is a truly adaptable LCD screen. In low light situations, it offers you a nice backlit interface like a standard Android Wear smartwatch. But when you are out in the mid-day sun, it adapts to the natural lighting and gives you a display that is very easy to read without shielding it from the sunlight. What actually happens is that the Moto 360 Sport uses the black and white mode in Android Wear and switches to it automatically when it detects very bright light.
The LCD screen is protected with Gorilla Glass 3 from Corning, so it will withstand scratches and the effects of falling without getting shattered. But there is a little distortion of images at the edges due to the curve and indentation at the edges. The screen resolution is 360 x 325 with a 263 pixel per inch (ppi) count. Although the flat tyre design enables ambient light sensors to work effectively, it can have a negative effect when you are using apps that are supposed to use a watch with a full circle.
With the built in GPS connectivity, you can use popular running apps like RunKeeper, Ghost Racer and Endomondo without using a smartphone. You may also use the built-in Moto Body software. This app will enable you to track the number of calories you burn and the steps you walk. The interface is quite easy to use. While you are running, you can easily swipe the screen to see your speed, distance covered and heart rate. In addition, the GPS tracking is very accurate and it provides good readings even when you run for thousands of meters. However, like all other Android Wear smartwatches, the readings are not yet accurate.
The Moto 360 Sport has a 300mAh battery that should be sufficient for a full day’s use, on and off the running track. However, the longer the time spent using GPS tracking, the faster the battery will drain out. A rough estimate obtained from a few reports from users show that an hour of GPS tracking will drain the battery by about 25%. However, when the battery is running low, and GPS tracking is on, the watch automatically switches into a power-saving mode that keeps the display off most of the time.
Garmin Forerunner 225
This is the most advanced and important feature the Forerunner 225 has to offer. Basically, it means that you can measure your heart rate with the running watch itself, without a separate strap. This addition makes it far more practical and a wiser choice. On the other side, it increases the price, but in a reasonable range. As aforementioned, this is the first Garmin running watch with this feature. It is based on the 220 model, so there are some similarities.
The display is something that makes the Forerunner 225 a great watch. The runnig watch is based on the latest technology, so it has the most advanced features and it looks amazing. It will show the zone and has nice graphics, so it will look even better. On the other side, the display offers an impressive visibility and it is easy to use. Using it at a daylight won’t be an issue, so this watch is more practical than similar models from the competition. Sadly, this is another feature that increases the price of this device.
All your records can be automatically uploaded to the aforementioned service. Thanks to this feature, you can save your data and analyze it when you have time. This improves the workout simply due to the fact you are able to determine the drawbacks you have made. At the same time, you can correct them, so your training will be more productive. This addition also means that you are better connected to your social media account, so all the latest news will be closer to you.
The main goal of the Garmin Forerunner 225 is to monitor your pace, heart rate, running distance a several other parameters. All of this is important due to the fact you will get an idea, how important your workout is. According to a survey, conducted in the United States, running watches can add more motivation and people are ready to exercise longer. They monitor the amount of burned calories, so it can help you with losing the weight. In essence, this means that you can adjust the workout so it is more focused towards your goal.
Garmin Forerunner 630
The mandatory feature with the Garmin Forerunner 630 is the touchscreen. Beside it makes the watch more practical and easier to use, it makes it better in any other way. You get an amazing touchscreen, with great resolution and even better visibility. You won’t have any problems during day time, but using it during the night is far more interesting. The resolution of the display is one of the highest levels. The navigation is simple and it isn’t time-consuming.
The Connect IQ allows you to connect with the Forerunner 630 to this service in a matter of seconds an download everything you want. This includes widgets, watch faces and a lot more. Using this feature is incredibly simple and isn’t time-consuming. It has been designed with the specific goal of getting what you want as fast as possible. Widgets and other additions make this watch far more practical than any other.
Competition has been proved as a great way to improve your training and makes it far more effective. With the Forerunner 630 you get a Virtual Partner feature. In essence, it allows you to train against a virtual person, which will try to have a better score than you. The manufacturer claims that this feature has a positive effect to the training time and improves the achievements and the training in general. It is a unique feature that not many running watches have. This feature is simple and you don’t have to read the manual or the instructions to understand it.
During exercises the Garmin Forerunner 630 will measure a lot of different parameters. It will be focused on the amount of burned calories, pace, distance and heart rate. At the same time, the device will help you maximize the training by making proper resting intervals. Keep in mind that resting is equally important as the actual training. The watch will alert you when you reach your goal, so you can make sure you have a proper training. All of this means that this device is designed for professionals.
Garmin Forerunner 15
The main purpose of the Garmin Forerunner 15, like any other running watch, is to measure your movement and your activity. With this watch, you get a watch that measures your pace, steps, calories and your running distances. Thanks to that, you can improve or change your training and make it better. Due to the fact it alerts you, when you are sitting for a longer period of time, your activity will be improved.
The Mile Motivation is one of the most interesting features in the Forerunner 15. It will alert you when you complete each mile, so you can customize your training better. At the same time, when you have completed your running, you will be able to see your progress and the amount of burned calories. This feature has a motivational effect on you, due to the fact you will see how many calories you have burned in a single training. Thanks to it, you will want to run longer and burn more calories.
A great addition in the Forerunner 15 is the ability to use it indoors and while you are outdoors. Keep in mind that when you are using it outside, the watch will use GPS to track your movement and measure all the parameters. On the other side, when you are using it indoors, you are going to need a foot pod, in order to allow it to measure your movement.
The Garmin Forerunner 15 is a great GPS watch simple due to the fact it allows you to transfer your training online. You can connect it with any PC or Mac computer and use Garmin Connect. This app allows you to see the running distance, where you have run and additional parameters. All of this is mandatory due to the fact it helps you determine the possible drawbacks of your training and also gives you the ability to improve. In addition, connecting process and using this feature is very simple, and you don’t need any instructions or additional help.
TomTom Multisports Cardio
With the TomTom Multi Sports Cardio, you get several modes that make it more effective. It offers run, cycle, swim and treadmill mode, so it can be used for different purposes. Keep in mind that a correct mode should be chosen in order to get the maximum level of accuracy. In addition, using this watch and changing modes is simple and it can be done in a couple of seconds. The treadmill mode required foot pod in order to provide you needed information about your training.
Most people like watches that look different than the competition. If you are one of them, you are going to like the TomTom Multi Sports Cardio. It is chunky and bigger than most watches, so it looks amazing while you are running. On the other side, it is especially designed for training purposes, so it isn’t a right choice if you want an ordinary watch. At the same time, this is a lightweight device, so wearing it the whole day won’t cause any fatigue. The materials used in the manufacturing process have been carefully selected, so this watch offers high-quality and it is resistant to light damages and scratches. On the other side, they don’t add the weight to the device.
An interesting feature of the TomTom Multi Sports Cardio is the pad that is used for navigation. It is located at the base of the device and it makes this watch 100% original, due to the fact most GPS running watches have a touchscreen or buttons. However, this feature makes the it resistant to stains, while you are using it. On the other side, using it is very simple and you don’t have to read the instructions. Keep in mind that the interface is a bit different, so you will need some time to get used to it.
In order to determine your location and the level of training, the TomTom Multi Sports Cardio uses GPS. A useful addition is the accuracy of this feature. In essence, it is far more accurate than similar models have to offer, so if you are a perfectionist, you are going to like this feature. In addition, GPS module is based on the latest technology, so it is energy efficient. That’s why, this device has up to 10 hours of running time. Similar products have shorter running time, so this is a useful addition, if you like being outside the entire day. All details and information, GPS records will be shown on the display. It is simple, but it offers high visibility, in all conditions.
Although it is possible to find a good number of GPS running watches on the market, they are going to vary in cost considerably. Nevertheless, the priciest gadgets might not be according to your preference. In this article, we have mentioned some aspects to consider which will help you to select your ideal gadget.
GPS Running Watches vs. Fitness Trackers
Using a GPS running watch, it will be possible to observe precisely at exactly how far you have actually gone and also how quickly you’re moving while jogging. You’ll also be informed by the watch regarding whether it has lost the GPS connection. Moreover, due to its simplicity, anyone can use the interface of a GPS running watch whilst running. Most of them allocate buttons to widely used functions, and whilst you’re perspiring, those are usually less difficult to use as opposed to a touchscreen.
By using these running watches you will be able to display as many as 4 total stats simultaneously for speedy feedback on other essential measurements like split time (for every mile or any other measure), pulse rate (if combined with a chest strap or optical sensor), as well as total time elapsed. Apart from this, more high-level metrics are provided by these GPS watches, such as VO2 max score or step cadence, which might not be of that importance to the majority of the individuals but can be helpful to monitor if you’re practicing for a marathon or any other competition.
Furthermore, a GPS running watch will prove to be useful for other sports activities such as distance swimming, trekking, biking, or cross-country skiing where distance monitoring matters most. Also due to the presence of the innovative pre-installed ANT+ receivers, it is possible to add things like cycling sensors for showcasing cadence as well as speed or a committed heart-rate monitor strap.
A fitness tracker will be able to estimate running distances utilizing your steps plus an accelerometer, and for that, you must indicate to it that you are about to start a workout. However, this estimate is not easy. In spite of their reduced size, some more recent fitness trackers include GPS circuitry. Nevertheless, the already recognized and dependable (as well as larger) hardware within a GPS running watch will deliver much better results as compared to the small chipsets crammed into these trackers.
Heart Rate Monitor
Despite the fact that they can be more expensive, some GPS running watches feature integrated optical heart rate monitors which provide you with much more information as well as comfort. As a matter of fact, both the Fitbit Surge as well as the TomTom Runner Cardio feature pre-installed heart rate trackers. Although many cheaper watches do not have any integrated heart rate monitor, it is possible to combine them with a chest band.
It is essential for a typical GPS running watch to stand up to the elements. Many, if not all, are at the very least splash-proof, but even a few of the most affordable devices provide more protection. For instance, it is possible to immerse the incredible Garmin Forerunner 10 under 166 feet of water. On the other hand, you can submerge the more recent Garmin Fenix 3 in as much as 332 feet of water. However, protection isn’t the only purpose of water resistant watches.
More precision is going to be provided by a pre-installed barometric altimeter in order to attain fresh heights. It’s a sensor which calculates adjustments in elevation by calculating barometric pressure, working along with elevation tracker of the device. In case you happen to be a regular hiker or you do lots of biking plus off-road running, this will calculate the height of your ascend during every single workout. It is quite natural that devices featuring altimeters will be more expensive.
Since GPS technology is already integrated into the smartphones while exercising you won’t need both a GPS running watch along with a smartphone. Nevertheless, you might need a smartphone for listening to songs while sprinting and regrettably, music controls are not offered by the majority of the GPS watches. This is actually a common feature of a smartwatch, found in all-purpose gadgets such as the Fitbit Surge. The impending Garmin Vívoactive, which includes GPS, will also function as an effective music controller.
You will usually come across a couple of battery life ratings when it comes to GPS running watches – one during active and the other during standby GPS monitoring. Interestingly, some gadgets, like the Garmin Forerunner 15 will be able to last as straight watches for several months. Nevertheless, it is undoubtedly a challenging task interacting with satellites which significantly minimizes the battery life when the feature is utilized constantly. In the GPS mode, it will be possible for the Forerunner 10 to survive as much as 5 hours on just one charge.
In case of the multipurpose gadgets, power is utilized to support features like heart rate tracking, activity monitoring, and smartphone notifications and, consequently, they tend to have even shorter longevity. Although the Microsoft Band commences with just 2 days of battery life, in case you are using GPS continuously that period is diminished to only a few hours.
Gadgets like the TomTom Runner GPS as well as Garmin Forerunner 15 watch are perfect for runs, day hikes, as well as bike rides since they are able to get a minimum of 5 to 9 hours in the GPS setting.
The breathtaking Garmin fēnix 3 and other similar timepieces which are actually intended for more severe outdoor activities can last as much as 20 hours in the GPS setting.
Truth be told, Bluetooth isn’t very common when it comes to GPS running watches. Wifi syncing is not supported by low-end gadgets like the Garmin Forerunner 10 and it is required to link up this timepiece to your computer if you would like to transmit activity information to a Garmin account. Bluetooth is not common even for the more expensive watches. The Garmin Forerunner 15 will only sync wirelessly to add-ons like chest straps and foot pods, and not your smartphone for data syncing. Units such as the Fitbit Surge will offer you much more flexibility by allowing you to sync data wirelessly.
GPS running watches could be quite expensive and, consequently, it is essential that you comprehend your goals prior to purchasing. In case you want to use a basic one only while running, a cheap gadget within the $100 to $200 range should be appropriate for you. Nevertheless, purchasing a top notch gadget will be worthwhile if you like to perform other pursuits and sports while monitoring your progress.