Guide to Buying a Sports Watch Tips and Considerations

Guide to Buying a Sports Watch: Tips and Considerations

Discover essential tips and considerations for buying a sports watch in our comprehensive guide. Explore features, brands, and more.
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If your desire is to perfectly record your workouts, then what you are looking for is not a smartwatch but a sports smartwatch, which is specialized in measuring our heart rate, calories, and GPS position.

Update April 8: We’ve added the new Suunto Vertical Solar to the listing

Smartwatches have come a long way in recent years, so much so that it is now necessary to differentiate several categories within them, where they can be separated because they are very different from sports watches themselves.

We are talking about watch models that, despite having some functionalities typical of smartwatches, such as the synchronization of notifications, have as their strong point the collection of physical and health data, as well as sports activities.

Then each one processes and shows them in a different way, and there are even those that give you tips to improve in different sports, particularly running, cycling, or swimming.

We have prepared a GPS sports watch buying guide with some models that we can recommend and also with everything you need to know before buying one, what you should look out for, and what features are really important.

Guide to Buying a Sports Watch: Tips and Considerations
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Garmin Fenix 7

Elevate your athletic performance with the ultimate companion – a rugged yet stylish multisport GPS watch boasting a vivid 1.3” display that remains continuously active. Crafted with a cutting-edge fiber-reinforced polymer case, this watch exudes durability and sophistication in equal measure.

Garmin Fenix 7

Of all the brands competing in this sector, Garmin is surely the most acclaimed. It has models in all price segments, but at the top of the range today is the Garmin Fenix 7 in all its versions.

There’s even a solar-charged edition, which is a bit more expensive. What is clear is that at the battery level (up to 22 days), GPS and NFC connectivity and accuracy have very few competitors.

However, it’s Garmin’s software and the way it processes data and information that its users love the most, in addition to the strength of numbers: you can share exercise data and compare it with friends in real time.

Guide to Buying a Sports Watch: Tips and Considerations

Apple Watch Ultra 2

Apple Watch Ultra 2: Rugged, capable, with specialized bands for endurance athletes, adventurers, and water sports. S9 SiP for a superbright display and touch-free interaction.

Apple Watch Ultra 2

The king of sports watches is, without a doubt, the Apple Watch Ultra, at least in terms of technical capabilities, because it is able to survive the most extreme conditions, the deepest dives, and the coldest peaks. Its materials are also fantastic, but if you want a simple running watch, you’ll soon discover that you’re not bringing out its full potential.

But sometimes it’s not a question of whether or not to take advantage of the watch, but that aspirational element that makes many people buy a Rolex Submariner when they don’t even live near the sea. There are watches that are something more, and this Apple Watch Ultra 2 is the only smartwatch right now in this category.

Guide to Buying a Sports Watch: Tips and Considerations

Amazfit Cheetah Pro

Experience the pinnacle of GPS technology with MaxTrack by Amazfit. Our revolutionary dual-band circularly-polarized GPS antenna, MaxTrack, ensures unparalleled satellite signal reception, capturing nearly 100 percent of signals.

Amazfit Cheetah Pro

Amazfit is not only a brand of cheap sports watches, because in its latest launches, we have been able to verify that due to their technical characteristics and functionality, they can well rival the top watches.

This Amazfit Cheetah Pro is a good example of that. It lacks nothing: artificial intelligence to create personalized workouts, Alexa measurement of SpO2, VO2, and, most importantly, a problem-free two-week battery life.

Technically, the watch has several options among the flagship products of rival brands, such as dual-band GPS, capable of latching onto any signal, a great trainer with AI algorithms, or Bluetooth call reception. Best of all!

Guide to Buying a Sports Watch: Tips and Considerations


Garmin epix Pro

Boasting a generous 1.4” always-on AMOLED display, every glance becomes a visual delight. Say goodbye to scratches with the scratch-resistant sapphire lens and titanium bezel, designed to withstand the rigors of daily wear and tear.

Garmin epix Pro

Unlike the Fenix, the Epix is a Garmin line focused on running, yes, but not only in the city and the running track but also in the mountains and rural trails.

To do this, they incorporate improvements in battery life, GPS positioning, and maps, with the option of receiving audio indications on which path to take as well as round-trip maps in the middle of the mountains.

Beyond these functions as an ideal trail watch, it is perfect because it includes everything that the Fenix and Forerunner have, as well as the Garmin Coach.

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Guide to Buying a Sports Watch: Tips and Considerations

Suunto 9

Experience the pinnacle of performance with the Suunto 9 Peak multisport GPS watch. Crafted for the ultimate sporting adventures, it’s not just a watch; it’s a testament to the peak experiences that sports evoke. Designed to be the thinnest, smallest, and toughest in Suunto’s lineup, it’s the perfect companion for your active lifestyle.

Suunto 9

The Finnish brand Suunto is gradually gaining ground, despite the fact that competitiveness is at its highest. It does so by also betting on a minimalist design and quite resistant models.

The Suunto 9 Peak is relatively affordable, has a good battery, and has a robust design like few others, but it also has good accuracy when it comes to measuring all kinds of data.

Perhaps as a legacy of being a Nordic company, they put a lot of emphasis on reading weather data.

Guide to Buying a Sports Watch: Tips and Considerations

Polar Pacer Pro

Unlock your running potential with the lightweight and powerful design of our latest innovation. Weighing in at just 41g, it’s the ultimate companion for runners seeking to push their limits. With up to 35 hours of battery life in training mode, you can go the distance without interruption.

Polar Pacer Pro

Unlike other sports watch models, the Pacer Pro is entirely focused on running, although it can measure other activities.

To do this, it offers very advanced functions, such as performance tests, a barometer with running power measurement, or VO2 Max, which is used to calculate your maximum heart rate.

It’s ideal for running, so if you’re only interested in measuring this sport, it’s not bad at all because it’s noticeably cheaper than other multisport models.

Guide to Buying a Sports Watch: Tips and Considerations

Garmin Forerunner 745

Revolutionize your fitness journey with endless possibilities. Our smartwatch offers a diverse range of preloaded activity profiles, including running, triathlon, cycling, pool swimming, track running, and more. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting out, you’ll find the perfect workout to match your goals.

Garmin Forerunner 745

This Garmin model is much more affordable than the Fenix, but it has features that are at least enough for most users, both runners and practitioners of other disciplines.

Of course, it has GPS, but it also measures SpO2 and VO2 Max, and it uses it all to provide you with tips, process running metrics that allow you to make weather forecasts, create personalized workouts, and much more.

It has Garmin Pay, so you can go for a run with it without having to carry your phone or wallet with you, as you can pay at any store with your watch.

It’s an option with excellent value for money if you want a Garmin watch that’s halfway between the cheapest models and the high-end Fenix.

Guide to Buying a Sports Watch: Tips and Considerations

Suunto Vertical Solar

Suunto Vertical, your ultimate companion for conquering new heights. With its large 49mm color display, you’ll never miss a detail of your adventures. Explore with confidence using free global maps that work offline, ensuring you’re always on the right path. Enjoy extended battery life and stay ahead of the weather with the built-in barometer.

Suunto Vertical Solar

The latest from Suntoo is incredible. This watch includes everything you would expect from a high-end watch and several additional surprises on top of everything we already liked about the brand and its sports watch philosophy.

With Suunto Vertical, you won’t have to compromise when it comes to battery life and accuracy, offering the best on both sides with up to 500 hours of continuous exercise tracking in tour mode and over 60 hours in the most accurate dual-band GNSS tracking mode on the market.

It even has storm and adverse weather warnings so that when you go hiking, climbing, or similar sports, you are not caught by surprise, putting your day and even your life in danger.

The Suunto Vertical Solar, although you can buy it in a bundle with the Suunto Sonic bone conduction headphones.

Garmin Fenix 7
1Our Pick
Garmin Fenix 7

Elevate your athletic performance with the ultimate companion – a rugged yet stylish multisport GPS watch boasting a vivid 1.3” display that remains continuously active.

Apple Watch Ultra 2
2Our Pick
Apple Watch Ultra 2

Apple Watch Ultra 2: Rugged, capable, with specialized bands for endurance athletes, adventurers, and water sports.

Amazfit Cheetah Pro
3Our Pick
Amazfit Cheetah Pro

Experience the pinnacle of GPS technology with MaxTrack by Amazfit. Our revolutionary dual-band circularly-polarized GPS antenna, MaxTrack, ensures unparalleled satellite signal reception, capturing nearly 100 percent of signals.

Garmin Epix 2 Pro
4Our Pick
Garmin Epix 2 Pro

Revolutionize your fitness journey with endless possibilities. Our smartwatch offers a diverse range of preloaded activity profiles, including running, triathlon, cycling, pool swimming, track running, and more. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting out, you’ll find the perfect workout to match your goals.

Suunto 9
5Our Pick
Suunto 9

Experience the pinnacle of performance with the Suunto 9 Peak multisport GPS watch. Crafted for the ultimate sporting adventures, it’s not just a watch; it’s a testament to the peak experiences that sports evoke.

Polar Pacer Pro
6Our Pick
Polar Pacer Pro

Unlock your running potential with the lightweight and powerful design of our latest innovation. Weighing in at just 41g, it’s the ultimate companion for runners seeking to push their limits. With up to 35 hours of battery life in training mode, you can go the distance without interruption.

Garmin Forerunner 745
7Our Pick
Garmin Forerunner 745

Revolutionize your fitness journey with endless possibilities. Our smartwatch offers a diverse range of preloaded activity profiles, including running, triathlon, cycling, pool swimming, track running, and more.

Suunto Vertical Solar
8Our Pick
Suunto Vertical Solar

Suunto Vertical, your ultimate companion for conquering new heights. With its large 49mm color display, you’ll never miss a detail of your adventures. Explore with confidence using free global maps that work offline.

Bonus: Apple Watch Series 9

Despite not being a sports watch per se but a smartwatch, the Apple Watch Series 9 is worth including here for its great accuracy in recording your activity and important parameters of our health, such as heart rate.

This generation includes a useful gesture to interact with it without using your other hand, which is very useful in the kitchen, playing sports, or working. In addition, the screen shines brighter than ever under the influence of the sun. However, if you’re exclusively interested in it as a sports watch, you’d do well to get the Apple Watch SE or Apple Watch Series 8.

Choose the right size for your wrist

When purchasing your sports watch, it’s important to ensure that its size isn’t overly large, even though the current trend favors larger sizes, as size and weight are inherently linked.

Numerous manufacturers provide a single model available in two varying dial sizes. Remember, the smaller the dial, the more inconspicuous it will feel during arm movements and the less likely it is to slip.

A few grams may seem like a small thing when you’re going about your daily life, but when your body is pushed to the limit during workouts, trust us, they’ll seem like a ton to you!

It is true that fashion and style trends often lean towards large watches (even excessively large at times), but when choosing your sports watch, comfort should take precedence above all else.

Guide to Buying a Sports Watch Tips and Considerations
Guide to Buying a Sports Watch Tips and Considerations

Attention to materials

The selection of materials composing the watch directly correlates with the earlier suggestion for purchasing a sports timepiece. Opting for metal chains or bulky steel cases can substantially augment the watch’s weight, rendering it less comfortable to wear.

In this sense, the presence of polycarbonate, carbon fiber, or other light alloys for the case and the use of silicone straps or hypoallergenic derivatives are the best choices for several reasons: they hardly add weight to the overall set, improve comfort, and increase the durability of the sports watch.

If there’s one thing that characterizes the workouts, it’s because you sweat—aand a lot—aand sometimes there’s also dust and very repetitive movements during the running stride, for example. The use of silicone or rubber wristbands prevents irritation of the skin around the watch from contact with the bracelet.

Some manufacturers offer the option to change your wristband easily. That way, you can combine it according to your style and add a more elegant touch to your sports watch when you’re not training.

Screen Visibility

Good screen visibility is a must-have for any Sports Watch

Keep in mind that the information displayed must be clear enough to be readable at a glance. You can’t stop your workout to read the screen!

In addition to being clear, it should offer a good level of brightness that allows it to be read without problems even in bright sunlight, something that will be very common if you practice running, cycling, and many other outdoor sports activities.

As usual, the technology of smart sports watch screens can be different types: e-ink, LCD, TFT, and OLED, depending on the different developments of the manufacturers. There are even some models that offer analog display models where the active icons are simply illuminated.

You should also look at whether it has a touchscreen or not, as this feature will have a significant impact on its battery life. In addition, the layout of the options menus and the navigability through their menus should be simple so that you don’t waste too much time setting them up before each workout.

Guide to Buying a Sports Watch Tips and Considerations
Guide to Buying a Sports Watch Tips and Considerations

Check the water resistance

Water is very present in sports activities (not only in the necessary hydration of the body). You sweat, it rains, you cool off on a break, etc.

Even if you’re not going to practice water sports, having a waterproof smartwatch will always be welcome.

Most sports watches offer splash and sweat resistance, certified by an IP rating of IPX4 or higher, ensuring that they work perfectly even when it starts to rain while training or you splash them with water when cooling off or drinking water.

Other models extend this protection with a higher waterproof rating (IPX7 or IPX8), which allows you to shower with it without problems and even swim. Sports watches designed for watersports or swimming deserve a separate chapter. These can easily withstand immersion beyond 3 meters as they have a much more sophisticated sealing system.

Some watches use the same system of atmospheres used in traditional watches, with 5 ATM being splash resistant, 50 ATM waterproof and suitable for swimming and other nautical activities, and EN13319 certified for deeper dives.

Connectivity

Connectivity is the foundation that differentiates smartwatches from conventional watches. This connection is mainly made between the sports smartwatch and your smartphone, but it can also be linked with other sports devices, such as chest straps to measure the heart rate or accessories to measure pedaling cadence.

The Bluetooth version used by the sports watch will also condition its autonomy since, version after version, the standard has been perfected to save resources and improve the stability of the connection.

This pairing with your smartphone will allow you to receive notifications from your mobile on your watch and even answer calls.

But Bluetooth isn’t the only technology that will keep you connected. Many smartwatches already offer GPS tracking. This allows them to record your training routes or use real-time route tracking features.

You can also find high-end sports watches with 4G LTE connectivity through an integrated eSIM that offers greater battery life for the smartphone, allowing you to receive calls or answer emails without the need to have your mobile nearby. This is the perfect solution for those who prefer to go out to train but do not want to give up staying contactable.

Guide to Buying a Sports Watch Tips and Considerations
Guide to Buying a Sports Watch Tips and Considerations

Multimedia Control Capabilities

Being linked to the smartphone allows smart sports watches to perform other tasks that you wouldn’t expect to find on a watch. Taking on mobile multimedia control tasks is one of the most common.

Training with music is much more fun, as well as serving as a motivational element to raise the intensity of the workout. Many smartwatches allow you to control music playback functions, volume, or skip to the next song.

Some of them even integrate a memory chip on which you can store your music and play it without the need to be linked to any mobile phone.

There are models that go a little further in the control of multimedia functions and integrate a remote shooting control for the mobile camera, small microphones from which you can answer the calls you receive without having to pick up the mobile, or, in the most extreme, they even integrate a small camera from which you can take your own photos from the watch or make video calls.

Battery

We couldn’t fail to mention the importance of battery life in this guide to buying a sports watch. This is undoubtedly one of the great weaknesses of these devices, although great strides have been made in this area.

From just offering a day of autonomy, smart sports watches have gone on to offer up to a month of use in some cases. The complexity of integrating a battery that is as large as possible in a very limited space and that does not involve a considerable increase in weight is behind this problem.

One week’s worth of use is the typical autonomy provided by smart sports watches..

Logically, this autonomy depends to a large extent on the use of GPS connectivity, notifications, or different functions since manufacturers usually make a fairly optimistic estimate of battery life.

Guide to Buying a Sports Watch Tips and Considerations
Guide to Buying a Sports Watch Tips and Considerations

Heart rate monitor, pedometer, and other measurements

A smart sports watch is a must-have for monitoring functions that include the functions you need for your physical activity.

The most common are the heart rate monitor, pedometer, and different specific functions that measure specific factors of the sports activity you practice, such as cadence for cycling, lengths for swimming, or the distance covered and its speed for running enthusiasts. Heart rate monitoring is increasingly present in these smartwatches for sports.

Rest is essential for a workout, so it’s also common to find sports smartwatches with sleep monitoring features. With this feature, you’ll be able to keep track of how many hours you sleep per day and the quality of that rest.

The monitoring functions recorded by the smartphone are very much defined by the specialization of the smartwatch in a specific sports category. For example, you can find sports smartwatches geared towards water sports, so they offer features like GPS-based marine navigation or sun exposure time.

Other sports watches designed for adventure or mountain sports can record data such as altitude or compass to keep you oriented even when the GPS isn’t working. They can even include SOS systems by location!

Specific or generic app

The last tip in this guide to buying a sports watch is not specifically included in the watch itself, but in the way it has to display all the data it collects during your workouts and sports practices.

Most do so through an app installed on the phone, to which it sends all the data it records. As a general rule, brands develop their own apps to display this data and adjust other options in the operation of their mobile devices.

That doesn’t mean these sports smartwatches can’t sync with other generic sports platforms like Google Fit or Apple Health, although doing so will likely lose some control over some of the sports smartwatch’s configuration and customization options.

In addition, it is also worth considering compatibility with operating systems, as some of these sports smartwatches only allow you to connect with smartphones of your brand or that use a certain operating system.

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Lineesh Kumar
Lineesh Kumar

Expertise in digital marketing

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