Millions of people are now slowly making the time to become healthier by engaging in various activities such as going to the gym, yoga, running etc. On one hand, it is difficult to spare time for exercises or even find the energy to do so in today’s times where competition at the workplace is so high. With great strides in technology, it is possible for an individual to keep track of their diet, movement, heart rate and more while exercising. Here is where running watches come in. These are different from the hundreds of different wearables available in the market due to their stronger performance and smarter designs. Running watches with GPS can track every step you take and provide fitness analysis such as your heart rate, rest times and many more. Here is a diverse list of some of the best running watches available in the marketplace today.
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Best Running Watches
One of the Best Running Watches for Ultra-runners
Garmin Forerunner 935
The Garmin Forerunner 935 is a premium running watch that comes with a heart rate monitor, barometer, altimeter, electronic compass, music control and access to Garmin Connect. The Forerunner 935 follows the established design of the Garmin series with a simplistic yet refined look and feel. The 1.2-inch display utilizes ‘transflective’ technology which basically takes in the ambient light and reflects it back so that you see everything more clearly even in broad daylight.
What really makes the Forerunner 935 shine are the sheer number of amazing features it provides. You can get an amazing amount of data pertaining to your fitness activities to not only keep track of your efforts but also to plan better ahead. The training status tool is one such feature that automatically evaluates your exercise history and performance indicators to let you know whether your efforts are going well or not. Combine this with the incredibly accurate heart rate monitor and you get an amazing pool of data from which you can refine your fitness regimen.
Another cool feature is the ability to switch between different routines, such as biking, running, triathlon, swimming, etc. with the press of a single button. Connectivity is also a large part of what makes this watch so good. By pairing it with your smartphone you can get access to several cool additional features such as Garmin connect, audio prompts, music controls, etc. You can even have your friends and loved ones follow your runs in real time using LiveTrack. Garmin Connect is also a great tool to have as it’s an online fitness community where you can both share and get reviews of your progress. You also get up to 24 hours of battery life in GPS mode and up to 2 weeks in watch mode which is incredible. All in all, the Garmin Forerunner 935 is easily one of the best running watches you can buy if you are serious about running.
Who should buy this?
- It’s perfect for those who are looking for a running watch with extra-long battery life.
- It’s ideal for ultra-runners and triathletes due to the many features it provides for tracking fitness.
- It’s a great choice for those looking for a running watch that has numerous add-ons for monitoring specific activities and fitness analyzes.
One of the iOS Running Watches
Apple Watch 4
The Apple Watch 4 comes with a 30 percent larger display, electrical and optical heart sensors, digital crown with haptic feedback, good quality speakers, accelerometer and gyroscope for fall detection, water-resistant body and an aluminum/stainless steel case. It is also available in two sizes; 40 mm and 44 mm which are great options to have. You can choose from a diverse selection of 12 colors to get the one that best matches your personality. Design-wise, it looks very different from the other running watches due to its classic rounded rectangular face and a 30 percent larger screen. Another great aspect of the design is that old watch straps from previous models can be used in the newer ones.
You will find a ton of cool features in this watch as is expected from the Apple brand. The alerts are a great way to remind you to get up and move. The Apple Watch 4 can actually learn your patterns and recognize when you are most active during the day and when you are not. No longer will you get an alert around midnight asking you to start moving. In terms of tracking, you get the very useful automatic exercise detection feature which will recognize if you are walking briskly or running and automatically ask you if you want to track your progress or not.
The battery life of the Apple Watch 4 is about 20-24 hours approximately. If you don’t utilize its various features, it can last up to a few days. While it isn’t as much as some of its competitors, it’s decent enough, especially considering all the technology it features in its small body. With 16 GB of onboard storage, you can save plenty of your favorite workout or running songs in the watch. You can also send short voice messages to others and perform voice commands which are incredibly convenient features to have and pretty cool to boot. All in all, the Apple Watch 4 as expected bring lots of cool features, an attractive design and great technology making it an ideal purchase for runners who like to run smart.
Who should buy this?
- It’s perfect for those who are looking for a running watch with a large display.
- It’s ideal for runners who need a lightweight but feature-heavy watch.
- It’s a great choice for those who hate carrying their phones while running as the watch comes with the ability to send short voice messages to other users.
One of the Best Running Watches for Music Lovers
Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music
The Garmin Vivoactive 3 comes with customizable watch faces, 15 plus preloaded fitness apps, smart notifications, Garmin Connect access and LiveTrack feature. Design-wise, the Garmin Vivoactive 3 looks stunning with its circular dial and traditional look and feel. It really has a nice premium feel to it when you wear it. One interesting aspect of the watch is that it has the option to turn the backlight on only when you flip your wrists. This not only makes it convenient for you to read data, but it also saves power as the display is automatically dim when you rest your hands.
The Garmin Vivoactive 3 watch was made not only for fitness tracking but also to satisfy music lovers. You can download up to 500 songs on the device and listen to it while you are running or working out. Using the Garmin Express software, you can seamlessly transfer songs from your computer or access music streaming apps via the Connect IQ store. Some of these apps may, however, require you to have a premium subscription though. It also comes with more than 15 preloaded sports apps ranging from snowboarding, swimming, biking, running and more.
Another cool feature is Garmin Pay which lets you make purchases directly from your phone. You can also download numerous watch faces, widgets and apps from the Connect IQ store to customize the look and feel of the watch. You get to see a full GPS map of the route you took and it displays your pace, cadence and heart fluctuations. Battery-wise, you get 7 days for normal use and 13 hours with GPS on. The Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music is an amazing running watch packed with loads of features and music capability to please both beginners and serious runners alike.
Who should buy this?
- It’s perfect for those who are looking for a stylish traditional looking, circular running watch.
- It’s ideal for runners who need a smartwatch with great GPS and heart monitor.
- It’s a great choice for those looking for a running watch that comes with numerous apps for fitness tracking.
One of the Best Affordable Running Watches
Fitbit Versa Lite
The Fitbit Versa Lite comes with 15 plus exercise modes, smart notifications, various fitness tracking features, water resistance up to 50 meters and a heart rate monitor. The Lite edition comes in a variety of different colors too ranging from white, lilac to marina and mulberry. If bands are what you like then you can use them too. The design is pretty similar to the Fitbit Versa with no major differences. You have thick bezels around the display although it doesn’t look so obvious when you use a dark colored watch face.
As far as fitness features go, the Versa Lite opts for connected GPS and so you will have to take your phone with you when you go running, especially if you want to track your movements. The PurePulse 24/7 heart rate monitor is very accurate and tracks your heart rate throughout the day at various intervals. The watch can also track your workouts. Hence, if you ever stop in between your run, the watch will recognize that you stopped and will pause itself until you start again.
Performance is pretty smooth with the Versa Lite for its price point. As far as battery life goes, you get between four to five days from a full charge which is great. This is of course only applicable if you don’t use its features that much. With constant utilization of the features, you will get only about three to four days which is still pretty excellent. It may not be the best of the best but when it comes to affordable running watches, the Fitbit Versa Lite is very hard to beat.
Who should buy this?
- It’s perfect for beginner runners who want to get accustomed to fitness watches.
- It’s ideal for runners who are looking for an affordable running watch.
- It’s a great choice for those seeking a basic running watch with great battery life.
One of the Best Budget Running Watches for Serious Runners
Garmin Forerunner 235
The Garmin Forerunner 235 is another spectacular running watch that comes with a ‘transflective’ memory-in-pixel display, wrist-based heart rate monitor, smartwatch mode and GPS mode (presets for battery life). The Garmin Forerunner 235 is one of the better-looking running watches out there today. The traditional circular 1.23-inch diameter dial design with ample display real estate makes it not only stylish but very practical too in terms of visibility. However, you don’t get touch screen functionality with this one. Instead, you have 5 buttons on the sides for navigating the interface.
Feature-wise, the heart rate tracking is top notch and very accurate. Though it tracks your heart rate through the wrist you do have the option to pair it with ANT and chest straps for better accuracy. With the press of a single button, you can get your current heart rate, highs, lows and a display showcasing data pertaining to the last 4 hours. The GPS in this device locks quickly, which is great, as nothing can be more frustrating than long locking times. You also get four different sport modes, such as run, run indoor, cycle and other, for more efficient tracking and convenience. One of the best aspects of this watch is that you can store up to 200 hours of data which would be perfect for those who really love to dig deep into their fitness tracking metrics.
Another cool feature is how the Garmin Forerunner 235 actually recognizes your daily patterns and sets up goals accordingly. You can also use Garmin Connect and join leaderboards to keep yourself competitive in your fitness goals. Once you have finished an activity such as running, you will get heart rate-based data on the impact it had. It is scored on a scale of one to five which you can use to understand if your training is helping or staying stagnant. Battery-wise, you can get up to 11 hours in GPS mode and 9 days in normal watch mode. The Garmin Forerunner 235 is an incredible and affordable running watch tailor-made to please serious runners on a budget and no competitor comes close in this regard.
Who should buy this?
- It’s perfect for hardcore runners who are looking for an affordable fitness watch.
- It’s ideal for those who are looking for an attractive, lightweight running watch.
- It’s a great choice for those seeking an advanced running watch with great value.
See also: Best fitness trackers
One of the Best Feature Packed Premium Running Watches
Garmin Fenix 5X Plus
The Garmin Fenix 5x Plus comes with a wrist-based heart rate monitor, color TOPO maps, 500 songs storage capacity, built-in navigation sensors such as a three-axis compass, gyroscope, barometric altimeter and multiple satellite systems and a high-quality build with stainless steel and titanium bezel. This watch was made to blow people’s minds with the sheer number of features it has and its amazing versatility. The watch may look a bit chunky, but it looks quite stylish when you put it on. Everything about it screams premium from the way it sits on your wrist to how it feels on your skin. The build is very impressive as it’s very durable and feels great once you put it on.
You get all the great sensors that came with Fenix 5 such as GPS, GLONASS, optical heart rate, barometric altimeter, accelerometer and thermometer along with a brand-new pulse oximeter for measuring oxygen levels in your blood. The GPS is incredibly fast and accurate as it should be for such a premium running watch. It utilizes the Galileo system for optimum accuracy and lightning-quick locking in speeds. The accuracy is so great that you can even see all the minor deviations you took while running on the map. Maps too are one of the key features of this watch. You will also get suggested routes based on your running history to figure out the ideal routes.
If you enjoy looking at lots of data pertaining to your fitness, then you can set up layouts at your convenience for easier visibility. You get lots of amazing data such as physiological metrics, running dynamics and others to go into the minutest of details. You can also go to the Connect IQ store and get the Running Power app to tap into various cool metrics such as vertical oscillation, grade and even wind conditions. Battery-wise, it can run for a mind-blowing 18 hours in GPS mode with music and 12 days in smartwatch mode. The Garmin Fenix 5x Plus is an incredible running watch with tons of useful features, music storage and a brilliant battery life that is worth the premium price.
Who should buy this?
- It’s perfect for serious runners and athletes in training looking for a state of the art, premium running watch.
- It’s ideal for those who are looking for an attractive running watch packed with amazing features.
- It’s a great choice for those who are active in multiple sports thanks to the insane versatility of this watch.
One of the Best Value Cheap Running Watches
AmazfitBip Smart Watch
The AmazfitBip Smartwatch comes with a ‘transflective’ 1.28-inch display, optical heart rate monitoring, four different sports modes, GPS +GLONASS and an IP68 dust and water-resistant body. Although the Bip smartwatch may look quite similar to an Apple Watch, it is no way a cheap knockoff to the latter. The dial comes with a plastic chassis (matte texture) with curved Corning Gorilla Glass on top. One important thing to remember is that even though it has a touch screen display, you need to turn it on by pressing the side button.
You can also set up a specific task to launch when you hold and press the button which is quite helpful. The interface is pretty easy to navigate through as swiping up, down and left launches different features. While you do have smart notifications, they only serve to remind you that you got them. You will need to take out your phone to reply back to messages, tweets, etc. To really make use of this watch you have the Mi Fit app which works amazingly well with the watch. Through the app, you can get a more comprehensive look on all your fitness data.
Amazingly the AmazfitBip smart watch excels at a wide variety of fitness tracking activities. The only thing it falls short on is swimming. Where this watch really shines is its battery life. You get a mind-boggling 30-day battery life with normal use and nearly 20 plus days with GPS use. If you look at all the features you get, the attractive design and the insane battery life, it is no big surprise that it offers great value at a very affordable price.
Who should buy this?
- It’s perfect for beginner runners who are looking for a cheap but high-quality running watch.
- It’s ideal for those who are looking for an attractive, high value running watch.
- It’s a great choice for those who need a basic running watch with excellent battery life.
One of the Best Samsung Running Watches
Samsung Galaxy Watch
The Samsung Galaxy Watch comes with a military grade water-resistant body, accelerometer, gyro sensor, HR sensor, light sensor and a 1.3 inch AMOLED display. You get to pick from different sizes (42 mm and 46 mm) and 3 colors. Design-wise, it looks beautiful with a large circular dial and a bright color display. The rotating and ornate bezel makes the watch look very durable and also adds to the visual appeal. You can also choose from a collection of interchangeable bands allowing you to customize it as you see fit.
It can automatically track select workouts and detect when you switch activities. For instance, it will automatically trigger the exercise tracker if you start walking without activating it. Up to 40 workouts can also be tracked manually which is very impressive. The tracking is also very accurate when it comes to steps taken. Through the “Together” tab of Samsung health, you can run with your friend and compete against one another. Its partnership with Spotify allows you to play your favorite music offline without loading any songs on your watch.
As for battery life, the 46 mm has a larger battery that gives 4 days and the 42 mm provides 3 days which is pretty good. You also have a low power mode that can help you to maximize the battery life allowing you to use it more when you need it. The wireless charger is also very convenient to have as it increases your mobility. It is important to note that the Samsung Galaxy Watch works best with a Samsung or Android phone as it doesn’t support calls, messaging and email on iPhones. All in all, this is a great premium running watch to have if you value battery life and looks.
Who should buy this?
- It’s perfect for beginner runners who are looking for a high-quality running watch with great battery life.
- It’s ideal for those who are looking for a traditional looking running watch.
- It’s a great choice for those who need a premium running watch with excellent battery life.
One of the Best Fitbit Running Watches
The Fitbit Ionic comes with dynamic personalized workouts, 300 plus song storage capacity, built-in GPS/GLONASS, heart rate tracking capability and a water-resistant body (up to 50 meters). You also get both large and small sized bands with the device which is pretty sweet. The body is made of Aluminum, making it quite lightweight and durable at the same time. The design of the watch especially the overall blocky shape can be somewhat divisive with people either loving it or hating it. It is somewhat of an acquired taste.
As this is the official first smartwatch from Fitbit, you get all the fitness features seen in their other products along with a few upgraded ones. The heart rate tracker is placed a lot closer to the skin allowing it to give more accurate data. You also get the automatic pause option which basically recognizes if you have come to a stop. Your ongoing workout will be paused until you start moving again. This is very helpful when you are running, to get accurate data.
The Fitbit coach feature contains preset workouts which will be shown to you on the display. Once you have finished the workout, the data accumulated is taken to further refine your next activity. You can also upload music to the Fitbit Ionic as you have 2.5 GB storage capacity. The battery lasts for up to 4 – 5 days with limited use. If you use various features and GPS consistently, then you will probably get somewhere around 10 hours. All in all, this is a solid running watch that is best suited for beginner and intermediate runners.
Who should buy this?
- It’s perfect for beginner/intermediate runners who are looking for a high-quality running watch with solid features.
- It’s ideal for those who are looking for a running watch with good battery life.
- It’s a great choice for those who want a phone free music running watch.
One of the Cheapest High Value Running Watches
LETSCOM Fitness Tracker HR
The LETSCOM smartwatch is indeed something to marvel at. It comes with many useful features such as heart rate/sleep monitoring, activity tracking, multi-sport modes, smart notifications and a wide variety of color options. Design-wise, the device will be a hit or miss depending on people’s tastes. Some will enjoy the thin, sleek, serpentine look and feel of it whereas others would prefer something more traditional. Then again you don’t buy this watch for its looks. You do it for the insane value you get from it.
The intuitive heart monitoring features are quite handy as you get an overall assessment after the activity filled with data pertaining to your heart rate such as rest, average, maximum heart rate, etc. You also get 14 sports tracking compatibility ranging from hiking and riding to running. After you have finished your activity you will receive a map of the route you had taken which is pretty cool and something you don’t see even in some top tier watches. As far as motivation goes, the device actually sends you an alert when you have been sitting in one place for too long.
Once you pair it with your smartphone, you will be able to receive messages, emails and notifications on your wrist. When it comes to battery life, you get about 7 days with normal use which is great. One very unique aspect of this watch is that you don’t need a cable to charge it. It has an inbuilt USB plug which you can just plug into your charging brick. This eliminates the need for messy wires on your table. Another very unique feature is the fact that you can remotely control your camera and take some cool looking pictures with this device. All in all, no running watch can beat the LETSCOM smartwatch in terms of value.
Who should buy this?
- It’s perfect for beginner runners who want a running watch with simple yet efficient features.
- It’s ideal for those who are looking for a running watch at a very low price.
- It’s a great choice for those who want a basic running watch with great value and lots of color options.
The more features a running watch has, the more expensive it will be. However, as it is a matter of health, you really can’t put a price on great quality running watches that will help you to lead healthy and happy lives. There are several key aspects you need to look into before buying a running watch. A great running watch is only as good as its features. Inbuilt GPS, heart rate monitoring, seamless mobile connectivity and accelerometers are basic features that should be present. Another thing to look out for is battery life and then comes aesthetics. Though the primary purpose of a running watch is to track your fitness, it needs to look good on your wrist too. Before making a purchase, do your own research and make sure that you look for the best running watch that best suits your needs.
See also: Best activity trackers