Electronics

The 10 Best GPS Watches

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Lea Kuscer Avatar
Lea Kuscer
20 August, 2020 • Updated 24 days ago
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Did you just started running and need a GPS watch to track your time and progress?

I prepared a list of the best ones on the market for you. After a detailed research, I compiled over a hundred different models. The analysis was based checking which model has the best features and which one was proven to work perfectly in various conditions.

If you thought fitness trackers are useful workout-tracking device, think again. A good GPS watch should do more than just tell time and track your location. The best GPS watches provide heart rate information, track your progress, give you information about your recovery after a heavy workout, or even let you check your emails.

Thanks to advances in technology, GPS watches aren’t as expensive as they used to be. In fact, some cheaper models are on par with other sports watches that lack GPS technology.

IN A HURRY? CHECK OUT OUR EDITOR’S CHOICE
Forerunner 245 Music

There has never been a better time to buy a GPS watch, and I’ve tracked down ten of the best watches on the market to help you out. Are you ready to find a watch that will fit your lifestyle?

What You Should Know

Watches have long been an item of fashion, and are for many athletes a helpful tool that helps them regulate and make the most out of their exercise routine.

With watches meaning so many things to so many people, making a definitive list of everything you need to watch for is impossible. But here are five things that are important for almost everybody.

1. App Quality

Unlike traditional watches, a GPS watch is only as good as the app that connects it. Some apps are better than others.

2. Battery Life

One major appreciable difference between a GPS watch and a regular watch is the battery consumption. Because of the energy demands of GPS technology, these watches have a limited battery life and need to be recharged from time to time.

3. Display

Most GPS watches have a computerized display, and some are easier to read and understand than others. Some of these displays are very small, so if your eyesight isn’t the best, you might want to buy a watch with a larger digital face.

4. Strap

A weak strap or a broken buckle can render even the best watch pointless. The material of a strap determines both its strength and its comfort level, so be sure to pick one that you’re not going to mind wearing.

5. Price

An entry-level GPS watch costs less than $200. A high-end watch can cost $500 or more. Low-end watches won’t have all the features of a more expensive watch and may have inferior battery life.

QUICK OVERVIEW

The Best GPS Watches


Products
Features
EDITOR’S PICK
4.5
1,020+
1020+
  • Audio notifications
  • Music streaming
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $400
  • Audio notifications
  • Music streaming
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $400
Check price
at Amazon
MOST REVIEWED
4.5
3,225+
3225+
  • Tracks 39 exercises
  • Real-time audio updates
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200
  • Tracks 39 exercises
  • Real-time audio updates
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200
Check price
at Amazon
TOP PICK
4.7
1,585+
1585+
  • Battery lasts up to 18 hours
  • Noise reminders
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $600
  • Battery lasts up to 18 hours
  • Noise reminders
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $600
Check price
at Amazon
BUDGET PICK
4.4
3,140+
3140+
  • Extra-large display
  • Real-time audio updates
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200
  • Extra-large display
  • Real-time audio updates
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200
Check price
at Amazon
BUDGET PICK
4.3
2,910+
2910+
  • Improved workout tracking
  • Additional features
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200
  • Improved workout tracking
  • Additional features
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200
Check price
at Amazon
EDITOR’S PICK
Forerunner 245 Music
Affordable and accurate

If you want an excellent GPS watch that is easy to read and has plenty of helpful features, we recommend the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music.

4.5
1,020+
1020+
  • Audio notifications
  • Music streaming
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $400

GPS Watches Under $200

Garmin Forerunner 235 GPS Running Watch

Garmin Forerunner 235 GPS Running Watch

Features

  • Extra-large display
  • Real-time audio updates
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200

The Forerunner 235 is yet another advanced exercise watch from Garmin. The 235 is outfitted with an extra large watch face that’s super easy to read and displays colorful charts and graphs to help you get more out of your training exercises. As the name indicates, the Forerunner is built especially with runners in mind and has powerful app tools to help you get the most out of your fitness routine.

The Forerunner 235 is Bluetooth-enabled and connects straight to your phone, providing you with real-time audio updates on various information, such as alarms, lap times and other figures.In addition, the watch can provide you notifications of e-mails, text messaged or missed phone calls so you can know when to check – or not check – your phone when you’re exercising.

Also built-in is a heart rate monitor, conveniently bypassing the need for a second device. The watch has 11 hours of battery life in training mode and provides up to 9 days of standard operation, depending on how frequently the GPS feature is turned on.If you’re looking for an exercise companion that works in sync with your phone, the Forerunner is a great choice.

In fact, it’s the best-selling Garmin Forerunner on Amazon, so clearly they’re doing something right.

Pros
  • Attractive, easy-to-read display
  • Measures speed, pace and other statistics
  • Waterproof up to 165 feet
Cons
  • Takes a long time to sync up with app

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

Features

  • Tracks 39 exercises
  • Real-time vibration updates
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200

The face of a watch has always been important, and that counts double for a GPS watch. Smart, intuitive designs are essential for a good GPS watch. That’s one thing the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active has going for it right off the bat, with a stylish, easy-to-read screen that gives you all the information you need to know. 

As the name implies, this watch is designed with runners in mind. It positions you with the help of GPS, tells the time, and analyzes a number of vital statistics, such as your heart rate, your sleep patterns, stairs climbed, and steps taken. Plus, it also detects up to 6 exercises and it can track up to 39 more. The watch works up to 45 hours on a single charge.

The watch is stylish, lightweight, and sends you vibration alerts, as well as mobile notifications on compatible devices: Samsung smartphones, non-Samsung Androids (OS 5.0 and above RAM 1.5GB and above), iPhone 5 and above (iOS 9.0 and above). 

It has Bluetooth capabilities, it’s water-resistant with a maximum water resistance of 164 feet and comes with a wireless charging pad to keep it powered up and running. This watch lacks some of the advanced features that more expensive watches have, but it’s a great lower-cost watch to get you started.

Pros
  • Tracks many activities
  • Easy-to-read screen
  • Water-resistant
Cons
  • Undercounting steps

Smartwatch GARMIN Vivoactive 3

Smartwatch GARMIN Vivoactive 3

Features

  • Improved workout tracking
  • Additional features
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200

The Smartwatch GARMIN Vivoactive 3  is a new and improved model of the vívoactive HR model, providing you with heart monitoring technology without the need for a second attachment. It also features a modernized display that makes it easy to keep up to date with your exercise routine.

This watch has several built-in apps, including running, biking, golf, and intensity tracking, all of which let you keep track of important information specific to each of these activities.

Workout-related tracking is one of the biggest draws of this watch. It analyzes distance covered, number of steps, pace, stride, and other statistics. The heart rate stats are extremely accurate on this watch, while the touchscreen makes it easier to use it. 

The waterproof Vivoactive 3 also has features non-related to fitness, such as its payment system Garmin Pay, the stress tracking app, and the improved sleep tracking app. It is the ultimate in smartphone-meets-smartwatch, giving you ultimate control over the world of exercise. The main downside is that you can’t decide which apps get alerts, so you’ll be reminded of analyses for features you don’t really use.

Pros
  • Efficiently tracks many activities
  • Easy-to-read screen
  • Water-resistant
Cons
  • Specific apps get alerts
  • Inaccurate stair count

Polar Vantage M

Features

  • Separate cardio load, muscle load, and perceived load
  • Tracks 130 activities
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $300

The face of the Polar Vantage M displays a lot of valuable information, including a heart rate monitor. As every watch on this list, it uses GPS technology to provide accurate information on your speed, distance, route, or calories burned.

The watch has a wrist-based heart monitor powered by Polar Precision Prime sensor fusion technology that monitors your heart rate without the need for additional peripherals. It has an easy navigation screen and offers up to 30 hours of battery life with the GPS sensor turned on. This device separates your cardio load, your muscle load, and your perceived load. 

The color touchscreen display lets you track 130 activities and has Sleep Plus monitoring. You can pair the device with your cycling accessories. Since this is a waterproof watch, you can use it while swimming and don’t have to worry about getting it wet when running. It can capture key metrics like swimming stroke and pace, as well as running and bike-riding data.

Pros
  • Efficiently tracks many activities
  • Easy navigation
  • Water-resistant
Cons
  • Inaccurate calorie expenditure

Garmin Forerunner 735XT

Garmin Forerunner 735XT List

Features

  • Audio notifications
  • Automatic updates
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $300

I’m not really sure what kind of numerical system Garmin uses to categorize their Forerunners, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. That said, the Forerunner 735XT is still a workhorse of a GPS watch, with all the advanced features you need to take your exercise to the next level.

One of the great features of this watch is that it has apps tailor-made for a variety of different forms of exercise. From running, swimming and cycling to hiking, cross-country skiing, and rowing, this watch is programmed to assist you with virtually any cardio-vascular exercise. And yes, that includes basketball too.

Like the other Forerunner models, the heart rate monitor is built in and doesn’t require a second strap. It also features smart notifications, as well as other conveniences such as audio prompts and media controls that make it easier to work out the way you want and get access to the data you need more quickly.

The one thing I don’t like about this watch is that the interface doesn’t seem nearly as streamlined as the 235 or 920XT. That said, this is a great GPS watch with plenty of features, and it’s well worth the money.

Pros
  • Advanced technology keeps track of advanced metrics
  • Comes with a heart built-in rate monitor
  • Activity alert notifications keep you in the loop
Cons
  • Display information isn’t as colorful

GPS Watches Under $400

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

Features

  • Audio notifications
  • Music streaming
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $400

The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music is a GPS watch with an added feature. Most sports enthusiasts would like to see this feature their regular watch. It’s the option to stream music from your favorite music streaming services, like Spotify. Moreover, you can store up to 500 songs directly on the watch. The battery lasts up to 7 hours with the music and GPS mode on.

It also measures metrics such as your record speed, distance covered, the grade of the terrain, and more. The 245 Music is also powered by Bluetooth and outfitted with alert audio notifications. These inform you of important phone calls or reminders.

A variety of information is available on the screen. This includes detailed charts and graphs that detail your performance ratings, as well as personalized training and recovery insights.

Personally, I think this is one of the best watches on this list. It is waterproof and although a bit big, it is extremely lightweight. Plus, it has safety features like incident detection that send a real-time location to your emergency contacts

Pros
  • Efficiently tracks many activities
  • Music streaming
  • Security features
  • Water-resistant
Cons
  • Short battery time

Garmin fēnix 5s

Garmin fēnix 5s

Features

  • Battery lasts up to 3 weeks
  • Sunlight-readable
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $400

Garmin fēnix 5s is a gorgeous, modern, streamlined watch that combines the latest in GPS and sports technology with a timeless aesthetic. It has a traditional clock face when the various exercise apps aren’t in use. The Garmin Chroma Display ensures you’ll have great readability in all ambient conditions.

Unlike the Forerunner series, the heart rate monitor is not built into the watch, although it is included in a separate bundle. The watch is rated for a depth of 100 meters, or 330 feet, making it suitable for swimming and water sports. 

It also uses the Glonass satellite which enhances its GPS performance for more accurate results. The fēnix 5s has good battery life if you use it only when you work out. With 14 hours of GPS battery life, it rivals the previous model. When you combine that with its timeless appeal and advanced fitness apps, the fēnix 5s makes for an excellent, if somewhat expensive, sports GPS watch

Pros
  • Clean design
  • Easy navigation
  • Water-resistant
Cons
  • APAC models can’t download certain apps
  • Issues with tracking some activities

Polar Vantage V

Polar Vantage V

Features

  • Tracks more than 130 activities
  • Built-in barometer
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $400

When you’re serious about fitness, you need a good watch to help you keep track of all of your fitness information. When you can keep track of your progress from day to day, it becomes that much easier to motivate yourself and watch your progress develop. 

The Polar Vantage V helps you to do just that. This smartwatch separates cardio load, muscle load and perceived load, allowing you to look up your vital information without having to pull out your phone. The touchscreen face can show notifications, like incoming calls, messages, or emails. The waterproof device tracks activities such as hiking, running, biking, or swimming. 

The battery lasts up to 40 hours with GPS tracking enabled. It also comes with a heart monitor to keep track of your vital statistics and help you get the most out of your workouts. The watch has a cool feature that not all from this list have: it has a Recovery Pro app which enables you to see what you’ve done, how to recover from injuries, and what you can do to have optimal results.

Pros
  • Clean design
  • Touchscreen face
  • Water-resistant
Cons
  • Inaccurate heart rate tracking

GPS Watches Under $500

Polar Grit X

Polar Grit X

Features

  • Battery lasts up to 5 days
  • Tracks more than 130 activities
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $500

The Polar Grit X is the champion of GPS watches. It is built especially for stronger endurance activities, like ultramarathons or climbing.  This model is extremely sturdy and has a built-in GPS, responsive recovery insights, an optical heart-rate sensor, and gives you workout recommendations. It is made to withstand extreme temperatures, water resistance (up to 100 meters), drops, and humidity.

The Grit X supports tracking for more than 130 activities. Unlike its predecessors, this model has a cool feature called FuelWise that enables you to set manual or automatic eating and drinking reminders. Moreover, it has hill tracking and route guidance for when you’re out in the nature, working out.

The Sleep Stages measure the quality of your sleep, while the Glonass and GPS take care of your location. The Grit X also measures your heart rate and the recovery insights will let you know what is the amount of your Carbs/Protein/Fat to understand it.

Pros
  • Clean design
  • Sturdy
  • Water-resistant
Cons
  • Issues with the GPS

GPS Watches Under $600

Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular, 44mm)

Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular, 44mm)

Features

  • Battery lasts up to 18 hours
  • Noise reminders
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $600

Apple is the most famous name in the tech industry. No wonder they made the GPS watch, as well. What sets Apple Watch Series 5 apart from other GPS watches is that it has a built-in cellular that enables you to take calls, check your emails, or even send text messages. You can listen to Apple Music on it and use it as a compass, as well as a wallet with Apple Pay.

It features the Always-On Retina display, meaning you can always see the face of the watch and know what time it is or what emails you received. This feature is the only new feature that sets it apart from previous models. 

The Series 5 model is also equipped with features like the ECG app, which measures your heart rate and your heart rhythm. Plus, it has advanced workout metrics, water-resistance up to 50 meters, and menstrual cycle tracker for the ladies. What’s best about it is that it can sync with your other macOS devices. 

What I like most about this watch is the feature of noise reminders. If there’s a sound that can have an impact on your hearing, you’ll get an alert. Sadly, the device only works on iPhones older than 6s and iOS 13 or later and the battery works for 18 hours. Given all the features packed in, it’s a pretty good deal.

Pros
  • Efficiently tracks many activities
  • Music streaming
  • Noise reminders
  • Water-resistant
Cons
  • Short battery time

Conclusion

Everything is getting smarter. Our televisions, our phones and our cars can do more than ever before, and now, so can our watches. Now that you’ve finished, you’re ready to make a purchase. You can’t go wrong with the Garmin vívoactive, but these are all excellent watches.

Look for the perfect combination of price and power, and you’re in for business. Good luck!

Lea Kuscer Avatar
Written by
Lea Kuscer
Lea Kuscer is a marketing maniac enthusiastic about testing new products and gadgets. Her new mission is to share her passion with those who want to know which product is the best on the market.