Whether you're a professional sportsperson or an amateur who only just decided to take their fitness seriously, using the right tools can make a huge difference to the effectiveness of your exercise program. Fitness watches would quickly come into the picture, but do you really need them, and how do you select the one that's right for you? In this article, we will discuss your options.
In 2016, 49.2 million connected watches were sold all over the world. Quite a small number, compared to over 1.5 billion smartphones sold worldwide in 2017.
Nevertheless, smartwatches are all the rage right now, and more and more manufacturers are into a specific type of this digital device: sports watches.
The popularity of the Sports Watch
The smartwatch is synced to a mobile phone: and it does more than just show the time; it is more of a sports coach than a timepiece!
With more and more people desiring to stay healthy and fit, training watches are coming in very handy.
In many ways, these watches complete the smartphone.
You can install apps on them, they have GPS function, as well as storage capacity - so you can listen to music while jogging - and have a whole suite of functions which both the newbie sportier and professional athletes will find very useful:
- Heart rate monitor
- GPS receiver,
- Speed and distance indicator
- Altimeter, compass
- Blood oxygen levels, etc.
There are so many watch brands out there, so how do you go about selecting the best training watch for your needs? This article has a mini guide on the top 10 sports watches out there.
Tips for Choosing a Sports Watch
Rather than use exercise machines, take advantage of technology...
With the numerous features they come with, running watches serve as more than just connected wristbands, and are increasingly becoming an indispensable tool in sports.
A great fitness watch optimises your exercise training just like a personal trainer.
It helps you
- Lose weight
- Burn excess calories
- Forge ahead
- Calculate the distance covered (using the GPS function),
- Measure your heart rate
Some training watches designed for extreme sports have an altimeter, a compass, a barometer, as well as a thermometer.
Most mobile phone manufacturers including Samsung, Sony, Huawei and Nokia - are in a race to become the most competitive in this market. Whether on iOS or Android, you should have in mind these three criteria when choosing a watch:
- Screen type: LCD screen? transflective screen? check. Pointers, Oled screens? Check.
- Compatibility with other smartphones: Apple Watch, Withings Activity and NévoWatch Névo for iPhone 5 and 6, Samsung Gear for Android,
- Activity tracking feature, synchronised with a smartphone
- Processing power
- Storage capacity
- Inbuilt sensors: oxygen level (VO2Max), pedometer, gyroscope, heart rate monitor, camera, GPS chip
- Sports coach applications
- Wireless connectivity
- Battery charging: via micro USB port, by wireless contact,
- Autonomy: up to 3 days without charge? Check.
- Water resistance: some watches are waterproof up to 50 meters deep in water
- Look and design: Just like jewellery, the design, thickness and colour are very important too.
Does your training coach have to use exercise machines? Well, not if he has a smartwatch!
Top 10 Sports Watches 2018
There are just so many connected watch brands out there, we cannot mention them all. But here's a list of the ones we think are the best.
Samsung Gear S3
Probably the coolest thing about this watch is that when it's synced smartphone is too far away from the watch, the wi-fi comes on to maintain the connection.
The built-in S Health app tracks the physical activity of the wearer and enables a complete activity tracking.
The size of your stride and height of your step are automatically recorded, and you can start an exercise session by choosing from fifteen different sports.
Data is automatically calculated: from distance covered, to calories burned, to your heart rate during physical activity (the heart rate monitor functions nonstop anyways during training).
This wristwatch is just right for high blood pressure patients, but costs quite a chunk, with its £399 price tag.
- optional LTE telephone service
- payment service anywhere in the world.
- Spotify for great music on the go
- Works with most Android phones, and even iPhones to some extent.
- Attractive design and intuitive interface with a spinning bezel.
- The iOS connection works but is not stable.
- Few applications use independent LTE services.
- The Tizen-based operating system supports fewer applications than Apple Watch or Android Wear.
Bottom Line: the Samsung watch sits right on top of the pack, as one of the best options for Android users.
Sony Smartwatch 3
The Sony Smartwatch 3 comes with a GPS chip that records the physical activity of the wearer, even when it is not connected to its sister smartphone.
- Smooth performance
- In-built GPS
- Great display
- MicroUSB charger
- Not particularly sleek
- Unstable GPS performance
- Fiddly charging port
- Non-standard charging port
- This watch has no application for monitoring the heart rate
It's ok, it's an entry-level product and you can get it for just £110.
Withings Steel HR
This wearable device is compatible with iOS and Android and is urban, elegant, and sporty all in one go.
At a price range of between £190 and £200, here are some of the features you get with this training watch:
- Heart rate monitor, ideal for persons who have been living sedentary lifestyles for a long time,
- A sleep quality tracker, for persons with sleeping disorders (for example, persons suffering stress, anxiety, even depression),
- A chronometer that enables you to measure the exact time and distance covered during a running session
This watch has an impressive level of autonomy, being able to stay up to 25 days without charge at regular usage!
Apple Watch Series 2
The high points of this training watch are its pulse calculator as well as a stopwatch to measure your time in a race.
The only difference between this and the first generation Apple Watch is an inbuilt GPS chip to enable you to measure the distance covered.
Outdoor amateur sportspersons can calculate atmospheric pressure using the barometer pre-installed in this cardio GPS watch.
It is perfect for swimming enthusiasts and even divers: the watch is water resistant even up to 50 feet underwater!
- Excellent follow-up on your fitness
- The GPS enables versatile usage of the watch
- Long-lasting battery life
- Quick performance
- Bright and magnificent screen
- Only compatible with iOS
- Quite expensive...with price ranging from £410 to £465!
Huawei Watch 2
This Chinese-made watch is made waterproof according to IP68 standards; you can immerse it in water up to a depth of 1.5 metres for half an hour.
The wristwatch is just perfect for sports, and comes with:
- GPS chip,
- Heart rate monitor,
- Digital Compass
- VO2max (tracks blood oxygen levels),
- NFC connection, Bluetooth and 4G Wifi (with SIM card)
Whether you are going for a jogging session, a brisk walk, or training in the gym, you can listen to music and get sports coaching right from this watch!
Real-time activity monitoring also enables you to keep track of your performance and make progress.
You can get it for a price of between 280 and 330 euros.
Find the best online personal trainer on Superprof.
Suunto Ambit 2S Graphite HR
This multisport cardio GPS watch is very useful for track races, swimming, biking and all other outdoor sports.
It is both stylish and has a comprehensive range of features.
- Systematic detection of movement type
- Recording of data in history
- Heart rate belt
- GPS receiver
- Water resistance up to 50 metres of water
- Power cell (for cycling)
- Detector for the type of swimming
- Virtual sports coach function
You can get it from £299; it's one of the most talked about on the web
Garmin VivoActive HR
This is a high-sensitivity watch with a bracelet to track physical activity.
Its features include
- Heart rate monitor
- Tracking of calories burnt
- Distance calculator
- Weather and Temperature app
- Training pace calculator
- Sleep quality analyser
With this watch you can do different sports types like running and swimming; it can measure distance covered as the duration of your sessions, whether you are biking, playing golf, canoeing, or doing indoor sports...
Garmin's latest strategy sacrifices quality and brightness of the display in favour of longer battery life, which largely explains the average display of VivoActive.
You can see graphs on the screen to get an idea of the changes in your physical condition over time.
If you miss your training or get complacent, the watch reminds its owner it is time to move!
You can get it for just £240, and it is one of the best products on the market.
Polar V800 GPS
This GPS sports watch is ideal for running, cycling and swimming, and is perfect for triathlons.
Athletes who desire to progress and improve their performances can't resist this running watch, which combines the latest technology with simple design.
It has all you would want in a running watch:
- GPS function
- Sleep quality analyser: deep sleep, light sleep
In addition, you can plan a complete exercise programme thanks to its 13 hours of autonomy and a super memory of 99 hours!
Prices start at £360. Not particularly cheap, but hey, it has the full range of functions.
TomTom Runner 3
This watch comes with an mp3 player and a real-time itinerary tracker, all at a price of £249.
What beats listening to your favourite song while jogging, doing abdominal exercises, or during a cycling session outdoors? The advantage is that you can listen using the Bluetooth connection, without having to connect a cord from your wrist to your headphones.
The activity tracker on the display makes it perfect for running, hiking or walking. You can download an itinerary and do your mountaineering, without getting lost again. Ever!
Outlined below are some of the features of this watch:
- Activity tracker
- GPS chip
- Heart rate wristband
- Tracking of calories burned
- Water resistance up to 30 meters deep in water
- Training plans available
- Speed indicator (km/h)
- Personal assistant
- MP3 player
Moto 360 2nd Generation
This seems to be the best sports watch in the Android Wear Suite.
For just £300, this Motorola sports watch has everything to satisfy any athlete.
Compatible with Android and iOs, this uncomplicated training watch also allows you to automatically update the apps.
It's quite an extension of your smartphone; it's a veritable sporting coach and comes in handy for everyday usage. This fitness watch is well adapted for both light and intense sporting activities.
- A customizable news feed
- Training pace calculator
- Distance calculator
- Tracking of calories burnt
- Activity reminders, to help you stay motivated towards reaching your fitness goals
- Heart rate monitor, available upon downloading the app
You can use this watch without a synced smartphone during a running session.
So what are you waiting for? Go grab one of those and make the most of your training! Let your watch be your personal trainer!
Check out the home fitness equipment you can buy here.
See what other fitness equipment is out there to use in gyms.
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