Choosing your GPS Watch....find that needle in the haystack - UPDATE APRIL 2020

Posted on April 14 2020

Choosing your GPS Watch....find that needle in the haystack - UPDATE APRIL 2020

Since our last update over a year ago the GPS market has changed significantly. COROS has emerged as a truly disruptive player in the market and launched a series of watches that have really driven the pace of innovation by the other top brands.

First and foremost, they realized what people wanted above everything else was battery life. It isn't just a question of how long is your longest run, although of course for some people, for some events that is vital. No, for the majority of us its about the convenience of not having to focus continuously on if my watch is charged enough for my daily run. 

Secondly, what COROS has also shown is that this functionality can be provided in a high quality, good looking package for roughly half what the market incumbents want you to pay. 

So we have updated our guide to get you through the noise. Its not perfect, but will help you get closer to what you want. Of course the choice will change as new models are released and we will chase that trend with you.!

Last year we introduced our categorization of what we have seen customers looking for and found this has stood the test of time. We are a running store, we focus on a core shared running passion, so we exclude the more simple "smart watch" selection and have generalized the needs and wants of customers from what we hear and come to 5 broad runner "types". Forgive us if you don't fit exactly into one of these 5, we know you are unique!.  

1. The "Hard Core Ultra" Beast

2. The Train Hard, Race Long Warrior

3. The Fashion Conscious Fanatic

4. The Cost Conscious (up to) Marathon Running Maniac

5. The "I love this running lark, get me started!" Nut

 

So ... from the top.

1. The "Hard Core Ultra" Beast

Top needs : Battery Life, Robustness... Nice to haves : We don't do "Nice" 

Assuming you want tech of course and it doesn't spoil your wilderness experience we would point to six watches. 

COROS VERTIX - Seriously, if you want a "beat anything" hardcore watch, this is the one to go for. 60 Hours of battery life on GPS . Gorgeous to look at and will get you through any expedition $4999/5999  https://bit.ly/VertixGR

COROS 46mm APEX Pro - The Apex, pushed out to 40 hours ... just phenomenal  hours on full GPS mode, 100 hrs on UltraMax, sapphire screen and a host of useful functions .. all for $4099 https://bit.ly/APEXProGR

COROS 46mm APEX - 35 hours on full GPS mode, 100 hrs on UltraMax, sapphire screen and a host of useful functions .. all for $2799 hkd bit.ly/Coros46mmAPEX

12/04/19 Daniel P.F.

The first difference you can see when you compare these two watches it is the size, the Coros Apex is much lighter and smaller than Suunto, which is much thicker. In my opinion the lighter the better but it’s true that the screen is a bit smaller.
I was testing the watch not only running but also riding bike. 
In running mode the options and measurements are quite similar to the one provided by my Suunto, well accurated in all the variables. GPS, Pace, elevation, altimeter...
I could see an important difference in favor of the Coros and it is the heart rate sensor; I have always complaint about Suunto sensor becuase it get lost when running downhill beacuse the impacts, even worst when you are running going down stairs, however Coros keeps working perfectly even going uphill or downhill wherever you run.
Other point where Coros is much better than Suunto in the transmission data to the APP. Coros is much much faster.
The GPS is one of the strong points of Suunto, it can find the signal very fast. Coros sometimes is even faster or at least same fast as Suunto.
The battery is simply amazing, how is possible that such a small watch can last that long, 10 days so far, 5 training sessions and I did not recharge it yet. If you plan to run UTMB as I will do this year, no doubts that this watch is a good choice.
The silicon bands are not very strong but it is not a big issue, I fell down on the trails last week and I broke on of them but the customer service was very fast and send me a new one in two days, those bands you can swap it very easy, they have several different colors.
Even I hit the watch quite strong when I fell down, the aluminum case just got small scratches but the Sapphire glass has not any damages
Riding bike I love one function that Suunto cannot provide and  it is the gradient, there is a screen mode which shows the gradient of the road that you are climbing, very cool for cyclists.
In summary, I can say that it’s a very nice option to run long, affordable price and definitely worth it.

Suunto 9 - The Suunto 9 is now looking a bit "long in the tooth" in the current company it also suffers from being connected to an App that has had lots of complaints. Still a very capable watch but desperately needs an update. Nevertheless, intelligent battery management which gives a claimed 120 hours of life .... the "Blumberg Choice" bit.ly/GRSuunto9

Solid, accurate, reliable plus excellent battery life

There are a couple things I look for when it comes to a sports watch for ultrarunning: measurement accuracy including GPS and altitude (check out fellrnr.com for extensive comparisons), native Stryd power support, native integration with TrainingPeaks, robustness and reliability of the watch and battery life. What I don't care much for in a sportswatch is for it to be all singing and dancing, playing music, providing contactless payment features etc. I've been using Suunto watches for many years now for these reasons including the various Ambit models, the Spartan Ultra and since end of July 2018 the Suunto 9. Of course there is always a compromise between measurement accuracy / frequency and battery life. So when the Suunto 9 was announced, I was intrigued by its improved battery life and flexibility to change battery modes during exercise sessions. I've used the watch now extensively for about 5 weeks and am very happy with it. I plan to use it during my upcoming Spartathlon 246km road race and am confident that the battery will last the distance (the race has a 36 hours cutoff time). Whilst the watch itself is great and meets all my core requirements, Suunto could do better in terms of software support. Their mobile app strategy seems in transition (two apps), Suuntolink doesn't currently work with Mac OS 10.14 Mojave and Movescount platform reliability could be better. There are also some complex interval features (e.g. 1 min - 2 mins - 3 mins - 2 mins - 1 mins) for which I need to go back to my Ambit 3 for since I can't figure out how the Spartan Ultra or the 9 support this. But I'm happy to put up with all of that for the Suunto 9 meeting my key needs: accuracy, reliability, robustness and battery life

Forerunner 945 - Reponding to COROS, the 945 has been pushed up battery life and claims "up to 36 hours"  which is marketing speak for, we cant claim it, but we want to sound better than COROS. It does however remains the no nonsense workhorse, but not quite at the COROS price point at $4999.99  https://bit.ly/945GR  

Garmin Fenix 6 - The Fenix 5 Plus was not the step change in performance that the Fenix 5 was before it and the battery life on all but the 5x Plus actually declined. It was made worse by the inclusion of apps that drained it faster than a plughole but the Fenix 6 claims to remedy that. Again, lots of "up to's" but the claimed performance is there to match COROS and on top of that the Garmin brand is clearly seen as a valuable entity. Top of the range 6x "Titanium everything" is eyewateringly expensive but the mid range 6's are reasonable and as long as you dont need a sapphire lens,  do claim significant battery life improvements to make them worthy of this category and if true, will match the COROS Vertix $5779  https://bit.ly/6ProGR

Beware though !... all need careful setting up and trade tracking accuracy for battery life and batteries deteriorate with age. The manufacturers claims are likely to be maximums. 

 

2. The Train Hard, Race Long Warrior

Top needs : Battery Life... Nice to haves : Music while I train

You want your watch to be there all the time for your Ultra but a few more bells and whistles will make my training more fun and music is one of them. Again 6 watches

Garmin Fenix 6  - If you sacrifice your tunes, the Fenix 6 will get you to about 25 hours of battery life... but pricey  https://bit.ly/Fenix6GR

Garmin Fenix 6Pro   - No sapphire screen helps to bring down the price point of the Fenix 6 for the same battery life. https://bit.ly/6ProGR

Forerunner 945 - Take away the music and you get a watch that does have battery life to shout about ... almost 36 hours of it!.  A no nonsense workhorse.  https://bit.ly/945GR  

COROS 46mm APEX - 35 hours on full GPS mode, 100 hrs on UltraMax, sapphire screen and a host of useful functions .. all for $2799 hkd bit.ly/Coros46mmAPEX

COROS 42mm APEX - 25 hours on full GPS mode, 80 hrs on UltraMax, sapphire screen and a host of useful functions .. all for $2399 hkd bit.ly/Coros42mm APEX

Forerunner 645 with Music .. You like that cheaper price point but you get to have your tunes, and you don't race those long ultras that often anyway (14 hours of battery life on normal GPS). bit.ly/GoneRunning645

 

3. The Fashion Conscious Fanatic

Top needs : Sufficient battery life, looks, style.... Nice to haves : Music while I train

You are serious about your running, but you also want your watch to look good, all day. You need reasonable battery life but it just needs to be adequate. You train a lot and like having the music to help you along the way.    

Garmin Fenix 6 - Close too, but not quite top of the range for Garmin, if you like a big watch and want people to see it, this is the one for you. It has more features than you can throw a stick at so when you want to get serious about your training its perfect... for the rest of the time ..... just seriously cool. https://bit.ly/Fenix6GR 

Forerunner 645 with Music .. You like a lighter but still capable watch so the 42g is nice, the price point good and you still get the looks and the tunes!. bit.ly/GoneRunning645

COROS 42mm APEX - No Music but in white and gold is seriously cool and with 25 hours on full GPS mode, sapphire screen to keep it looking nice and a host of useful functions .. all for $2399 hkd bit.ly/Coros42mm APEX

 

4. The Cost Conscious (up to) Marathon Running Maniac

Top needs : Sufficient battery life, keep the weight down, reasonable price point... Nice to haves : Looks good all day, maybe music

You are shaving off the kilos and focused on that PB and you want a watch that just does what you need, its a functional tool.  

Garmin Fenix 6Pro   - No sapphire screen helps to bring down the price point of the Fenix 6 for the same battery life. https://bit.ly/6ProGR

Forerunner 945 - Take away the music and you get a watch that does have battery life to shout about ... almost 36 hours of it!.  A no nonsense workhorse.  https://bit.ly/945GR

COROS 42mm APEX - 25 hours on full GPS mode, 80 hrs on UltraMax, sapphire screen and a host of useful functions .. all for $2399 hkd bit.ly/Coros42mm APEX

COROS 45mm PACE Multisport - 25 hours on full GPS mode, 80 hrs on UltraMax, and a host of useful functions .. all for $2399 hkd bit.ly/Coros45mm Pace

Forerunner 645 - You want lighter still capable watch so the 42g is nice, the price point does what you need. bit.ly/GoneRunning645

Forerunner 245 - get a Garmin with tunes at a reasonable price point and adequate functionality to help you smash your Strava segments...  https://bit.ly/Garmin245GR

 

5. The "I love this running lark, get me started!" Nut

Top needs : Reasonable price point, simple to use, "music motivates me!"... Nice to haves : Just nice to have one !

You have been bitten by the running bug and you would love to get connected and record the fabulous progress you are making. You "luurrvve" the music but want something that is cost effective and adequate.

Forerunner 645 with Music .. Its a light and capable watch so the 42g is nice, the price point good and you get the looks and the tunes !. bit.ly/GoneRunning645

COROS 45mm PACE Multisport - No Music but a great price point - 25 hours on full GPS mode, 80 hrs on UltraMax, and a host of useful functions .. all for $2399 hkd bit.ly/Coros45mm Pace

Forerunner 245 with Music - get a Garmin with tunes at a reasonable price point and adequate functionality to help you smash your Strava segments...  https://bit.ly/Garmin245GR

Of course we know that you are unique and probably don't fit exactly into the groups above but we hope it is a starting point for you in your decision. 

 

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