Tracking Your Run – Is a GPS Watch or iPhone Better?
Posted on November 14 2018
Originally published in Asia Trail on 28 October 2018.
Given the rapid advances in phone technology, we decided to test if your iPhone could really give you the same accuracy as a GPS watch on the trails. Can you really justify that extra toy or will your phone give you the same result without blowing your budget?
The difference between the two – Garmin in blue and iPhone in red – surprised us, with the iPhone recording an extra 2.0km or 13%. On the larger map, iPhone seems to deviate in a number of places, both on road and trail, particularly where the course turns sharply.
Zooming in for a closer look at a shorter section on the Wilson Trail, it’s clear that the iPhone is having some serious issues. The iPhone route is broadly correct but oscillates left and right of the actual route, adding significant distance beyond what was actually run.
This same issue is apparent in the elevation profile of the iPhone, where flatter sections are recorded with significantly more variation as the iPhone drifts. While the elevation profile is broadly correct, the iPhone can be out by up to 50m at a time and adds significantly more false elevation changes over the course of the run. Amazingly, the total recorded elevation was 71% more than recorded on the Garmin.
Of course, we can’t apply these findings to all phones and all GPS recording apps, but it does give pause to anyone considering replacing their GPS watch just yet. If you just want a general diary of your runs, the iPhone-Strava combo might be “good enough” but those seeking accurate recordings might need to stick with their watch!
Gone Running have a great selection of GPS watches available at https://gone.run/
By John Ellis – Gone Running