Top sports watches to buy
(Pocket-lint) – Sports watches are smartwatches, but they do have some specialties – most notably, they tend to have GPS so you can track physical activity as you go.
Familiar names persist: Garmin and Polar offer some of the best sports watches, adding connectivity to give you more from your smartphone, more analysis of your data, and better presentation.
There are decisions to be made – do you want the precision of a heart rate chest strap or the convenience of HR on the wrist? Do you have a preference for which platform the data will be synced to? Are you interested in a larger ecosystem?
Buying a running watch is a very personal thing, so here’s a look at the best watches on the market starting with our most popular running watch.
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
The Garmin Fenix 6 Pro is an exceptional sports device, with enough intelligence to compete in the smartwatch category as well. It offers substantial build, a range of sporty measures and a true two-week battery life.
It’s not cheap and you’ll find some of its features on other Garmin sports watches for less, but whether you’re training for a 5k, about to complete your third Ironman, or you’re take part in a multi-day adventure race, the Fenix has something for you in terms of functions.
It’s impossible not to applaud such an impressive device as the Fenix 6. As sports-oriented multifunctional smartwatches, there is no equal.
Garmin Forerunner 945
The Garmin Forerunner 945 is Garmin’s best multisport watch. The features it offers correspond a lot to what you get on the Fenix 6 – so it does everything – but it’s priced a bit cheaper than the Fenix because it doesn’t have quite the same build. and the same protection. If you don’t plan on abusing it outdoors, you might find that this is the best choice for you.
The 945 offers mapping – which the 935 doesn’t – as well as offline music and Garmin Pay, so it’s really the complete package. Not only that, but it’s precise, has a long battery life, is slim and comfortable to wear, and gives you one of the most comprehensive data sets you’ll find on a sports watch. It’s also smart, giving you notifications, and if you’re an Android user, smart replies to messages as well.
Garmin Forerunner music 245
The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music is a wonderful running watch. It doesn’t offer all of the metrics you get with the Forerunner 945 or Fenix 6 Pro – but it does support offline music, including Spotify, while also offering smartphone notifications and other tweaks. .
This sports watch has a nice, compact design that is comfortable to wear, excellent sports and activity tracking, and it sits on a platform that not only tracks that activity, but also excels in providing of your statistics.
It’s a great way to get Garmin’s excellent tracking without spending that much.
Polar Vantage V
The Polar Vantage V is a flagship device that will track and monitor your daily activity, sleep, sport specific training and give you feedback. There are great metrics out there for runners in particular, as well as great running training programs, and you’ll find plenty of support for other sports as well.
The wrist-based heart rate monitor isn’t the best on the market – sometimes offering slightly questionable results – and most great data requires Polar’s website, but the Vantage V is comfortable, and the Polar Flow system has some great stuff in it. .
Garmin Forerunner 935
The Garmin Forerunner 935 has been updated with the 945, but it is still very complete.
The data that the Forerunner 935 gathers is comprehensive, not only by taking such basic running measurements like your heart rate and GPS location – both incredibly accurate, but also elevation data, workout status. , your stress levels, and estimates for things like VO2 Max and your power to weight ratio.
Beyond that, it’s a beautiful watch to wear, offers a battery that will get you through a full week with ease, as well as 24-hour event tracking and support for a full range of sports and activities. .
Garmin Vivoactive 4
The Garmin Vivoactive 4 offers great multisport tracking at a reasonable price. It’s a versatile smart fitness watch that offers long battery life, a lightweight design, and tracks multiple activities, not just running, so it’s a great option if you like to mix it up every now and then. .
Its display isn’t as impressive as the Apple Watch or Fitbit Ionic’s, but the Garmin Vivoactive 3 still offers great GPS and heart rate tracking and provides plenty of detail through the Garmin Connect app. You also get a few extra features on this device like Garmin Pay and offline music, so this is a complete package.
Polar Vantage M
The Polar Vantage M has a lot to admire if you are looking for a sports-focused smartwatch. It is comfortable to wear, there is a lot of support for the sport, and there are some great training programs available as well.
There is no onboard music storage or payments and the heart rate sensor can be a bit hit and miss, but the Polar Flow environment is great and the Polar Vantage M will do whatever most users want, although it is not as successful as the Vantage V.
Fitbit Charge 4
The Fitbit Charge 4 offers all of the normal lifestyle tracking Fitbit is known for – steps, sleep – but in the Charge 4 it adds GPS, which means it’s much more capable as a device for those who also want to run occasionally. .
We say casual, because the screen size means you can’t see a huge amount of information and since it’s a compact device, the battery won’t last as long as the others on this list – especially if you are using GPS to track many events. But, it’s affordable, it’s unobtrusive, and it’s pretty accurate, it just won’t give you as comprehensive a set of metrics as some of the more advanced devices here.
The Fitbit Ionic is the brand’s attempt to create a smartwatch that’s as fitness-savvy as it is connectivity. This is a no-brainer for those looking for a more advanced device who are already part of the Fitbit ecosystem, a great upgrade for someone who finds that an older device just doesn’t give them enough information. .
Above all, the Ionic covers the main sports quite well – running, cycling, swimming – with built-in GPS and heart rate tracking. But it’s all wrapped up in a lightweight, compact design that’s less bulky than most of the watches on this list. From a runner’s perspective, the presentation of information isn’t as customizable as what you’ll get from Garmin and the Fitbit app is more focused on lifestyle tracking than running performance, but for runners. casual, maybe that’s what you need.
The screen is charming, vibrant, and far from boring, but the cost is that it really only offers four days of battery life.
Apple Watch Nike
If you are an Apple iPhone user, the Apple Watch offers a first class smart watch experience. The Nike version of the watch was designed for runners, although the only real unique options are the strap and watch faces of the Nike Running app. Otherwise, the Apple Watch gives you heart rate tracking and wrist GPS, giving you precise results.
Running metrics aren’t as comprehensive as what you’ll get from other devices on this list, but if that’s just the basic run tracking you’re looking for, the Apple Watch will do that for you. , while giving you the benefit of a full smartwatch experience. There are Nike versions of many recent models, including the new Apple Watch SE. The downside is that you only get one day of battery life.
The Garmin Venu is Garmin’s answer to devices like the Apple Watch, offering an OLED display to enhance visuals on all of the other devices it offers. That means this watch is nicer to the eye than anything the company does – but it takes a big hit on battery life.
To back up its credentials, it offers a full range of features, essentially the same as the Garmin Vivoactive 4, i.e. offline music, Garmin Pay, and all the sports features you would expect from Garmin. If you want a watch with a great display, this model might be the one for you, if you are happy to accept the battery life.
Written by Chris Hall.