Best Running Watches for 2021- Reviews & Buyer’s Guide


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If you have been using fitness trackers before then, shifting to a running watch will be a big move ahead.

Running watches have exceptional features if you compare them with fitness trackers. These features include inbuilt GPS, accurate heart rate monitor and sensors, and various sports profiles onboard.

Running watches have been long associated with the ability to track your performance in the gym.

But the makers of these watches are now designing these watches for various other sports and outdoor activities as well. These include swimming, rowing, cycling, jogging, and a range of different activities.

In this post, we will have a look at some of the best running watches that the market has to offer and review them.

What are running watches?

Running watches are wristwatches that allow you to track different activities that you do outdoors or in the gym. These running watches can provide you with different types of graphs associated with your activity. They can also track your location accurately.

In the past, running watches were only designed to log the activity that you do in the gym. But, manufacturers of these watches are now integrating a host of different sensors and monitors in them. Now you can have a better track record of your health right on your wrist.

Top 10 best running watches currently on the market for 2021

Vivoactive-3 by Garmin

Garmin Vívoactive 3

Garmin is among the top manufacturers of the best running watches. The case of the Vivoactive-3 is made with fiber-reinforced polymer along with rear stainless steel cover. You can check your fitness levels with VO2 max and estimate fitness, and keep your eyes on how to control stress.

It keeps your 14 days of activities tracking history. So, you can track your performance. Additionally, it has up to 15 preloaded GPS and multiple indoor sports apps. These apps include running, swimming, yoga, and more.

The diameter of its display is about 1.2-inch, which makes it easy to read. The best feature is that you can customize it with plenty of inbuilt apps, widgets, and faces. You can also download widgets from the Connect IQ store.

Many other sensors are accessible such as Barometric altimeter, GLONASS, thermometer, compass, and accelerometer sensors.

Comfortable to wear due to silicone straps.
Available in 3 styles and 7 colors.
Customize your watch with the Connect IQ store.
Spotify app control.
Preloaded up to 15 GPS and sports apps.
Battery life is more than 7-day or 13-hours according to the selected mode.

It doesn’t have a turn-by-turn navigation function.

Best place to buy

Galaxy SM-R800NZSAXAR by Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Watch smartwatch

The 5-ATM water resistance running watch works in harsh conditions. You can track your daily activities, also schedule your steps, and weather.

The best feature of this watch is that it automatically monitors your heart rate, tracks select exercises, and detects whenever you switch your activities.

It also comes with GPS capabilities whenever you go outside for running. Additionally, this Samsung Galaxy Watch is compatible with both iOS and Android. So, you can create a Bluetooth connection with your smartphones.

Your purchase comes with the wireless charging station or dock. Therefore, it is effortless to charge your watch. It also tracks your sleep time and plenty of other activity patterns.

Also, you can control home appliances via using Samsung Galaxy watch for simplifying your life. You can use Home IoT functions for controlling appliances such as air conditioners, TV, and robotic vacuum cleaners.

Available in 3 colors, 3 sizes, and 2 patterns.
Compatible with both iOS & Android.
Durable and 5-ATM water resistance.
Easy to charge with its charging dock.
Personalize watches with a colorful strap and face designs.

Battery drains too quickly.

Best place to buy

Forerunner 35 by Garmin

Garmin Forerunner 35

The monitoring of heart rate during running is crucial. For that reason, you should have a Forerunner 35 wristband. The company uses heart-rate technology in its construction so you can monitor your heart rate at your wrist.

It also has an inbuilt GPS feature that tracks how fast, how far, plus where you are running.

Apart from that, it tracks your daily activities such as intensity minutes workout, count steps, and calories. Also, it reminds you of what time to move.

This lightweight running watch is perfect to wear for daily use like racing, training, and running.

Here’s the best part… You can connect it with your compatible smartphones. It automatically syncs your text messages, social media notifications, call alerts, and others. So, there is no need to use your smartphone during your training or running session.

Lightweight and slim for tracking activities.
Wrist band equipped with the technology of heart rate.
Available in 04 stunning colors.
An inbuilt GPS tracker guides you in the ways.
Plenty of connected features enhance its functionality.

GPS requires strong signals.

Best place to buy

Forerunner 235 by Garmin

Garmin Forerunner 235

Forerunner 235 watch by Garmin comes with a large display screen. The display diameter is about 1.23-inch that makes it easy to read.

It is equipped with a long-lasting battery. If you are using it in watch mode, then 12 weeks is the battery life. On the other hand, if you switch it in the training mode, then battery life is only 12 hours. Plus, you will experience more than a 9-days battery lifespan if you turn it on activity tracking, notification, and others.

You can also connect it with your smartphones to get smart notifications.  This smart wristband alerts you about incoming calls, text messages, email, calendar reminders, and much more.

Additionally, the company uses premium quality silicone to construct its strap to make it comfortable. Last but not least… It maintains your 200 hours history of your activity.

Easy to read due to a large display.
Excellent battery life.
The strap is very comfortable for long-wearing people.
Accessible in 03 stylish colors.
Tracking all day and night activities.

The display could be brighter.

Best place to buy

Watch Series 5 by Apple

Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS, 40mm)

Apple Watch Series 5 comes with an aluminum case. It is highly reliable, durable, and comfortable to wear while running. It is available in different colors, styles, and sizes. So, you can purchase something that attracts you more.

The best feature is that it never sleeps. It means that it is equipped with an always-on retina screen that always shows you the time.

Furthermore, if you seriously want to prepare a log for your heart rate history, then you can check your heart rate with the ECG app.

The noise function informs you when the thing is going a little loud. Besides, the cycle tracking feature makes it easy to maintain a log about menstrual periods.

It is equipped with advanced exercise metrics and GPS for enhancing its functionality. Furthermore, it motivates you while reminding you to move more, sit less, plus workout every day. It also has a wonderful sense of direction due to a ground elevation and compass.

Comes with an always-on retina screen.
Connect with the ECG app for monitoring your heart.
Noise app also alerts you when things are getting louder.
The cycle tracking feature also maintains your menstrual cycle.
Water-resistant up to 50 meters.

The band isn’t comfortable.

Best place to buy

Forerunner 735XT by Garmin

Garmin Forerunner 735XT

Be a better runner with Forerunner 735XT by Garmin. This model of Garmin watch is a multisport watch that is ideal for training and other running sessions.

With this watch, you can monitor your heart rate during your sessions. It is also a water resistance watch, so you can confidently use it in watery sports.

Another good feature is GPS; it tells you about your track distance. You can also connect it with your smartphones for smart notifications. It also counts your steps, calories for keeping you healthy and fit.

Now, you will get all notifications on your wrist bands such as incoming emails, text messages, incoming calls, social media alerts, and much more. So, there is no need to put out the smartphones from your pocket for checking notifications.

Personalize your running watch according to your interests.
Connect with your smartphone to turn on smart notifications.
Track your daily activities, and keep you healthy.
Comfortable to wear for a longer period.

The Syncing process is slow.

Best place to buy

Forerunner 245 by Garmin

Garmin Forerunner 245

Still not sure which running watch is best for you? Consider Forerunner 245 models of Garmin to enhance your activity experiences.

It features GPS tracking. So, it will tell you about the distance, time, and adequately turn-by-turn guidance.

Now you can stay updated with its alerts and multiple statuses. Plus, you will achieve your goal with ease because it monitors your all-day activities timely.

Also, you can customize your running watch with multiple apps; watch faces, and visit the Connect IQ app store.

The battery lifespan is highly appreciated; it perfectly works more than a 7-days in smartwatch mode. And, if you are using it in GPS mode, it will work more than 4 hours.

Ideal for advanced training.
Personalize your watch with an app, or watch faces.
Great battery lifespan.
Features with two modes like smartwatch and GPS mode.
Available in 2 styles, 3 patterns, and 5 stylish colors.

The connection isn’t consistent with some smartphones.

Best place to buy

M430 watch by POLAR

Polar M430 GPS Running Watch

Plenty of running watches are available on the market, but POLAR M430 running watch offers great value for money. You can set your goal, and it will help you to achieve them because it has inbuilt plenty of running programs and metrics.

It also tracks your 24/7 activities, and it also creates log information about your sleeping duration.  An integrated GPS function also guides you during training and running sessions.

Additionally, you can connect it with your smartphones for receiving smart notifications such as incoming text, call, social media alerts.

Available in 6 attractive colors and 4 sizes.
Comes with integrated GPS for tracking your activity.
Monitor your heart rate all day and night.
Multiple inbuilt running programs.

Smart notification after creating a connection with your smartphones.

Buttons aren’t durable.

Best place to buy

Forerunner 45S by Garmin

Garmin Forerunner 45S

Garmin seems to hit the fitness niche big time. Garmin Forerunner 45S comes with two 39mm and 42mm sizes. It is the best running watch for athletes. The GPS feature enhances its functionality and gives you excellent training experience.

It comes with plenty of safety features that include incident detection. It can send your real-time location to emergency contacts through your smartphone. Now that could be a lifesaver.

You can also connect with your smartphones to make your training convenient. It comes with Garmin Coach Plans and training supports for helping you to achieve your goal.

Furthermore, the tracing and safety features send your current location to your emergency contact. The battery lifespan is also a great option to purchase this watch.

Accessible in 2 sizes, 2 styles, and 4 colors.
Easy to read display.
GPS tracking feature makes it the best running watch.
Connect it with your smartphones for smart notifications.
Free training support.
Excellent battery life, 7 days.
Smart notification after creating a connection with your smartphones.

Not a water-resistant watch.

Best place to buy

APEX Premium by Coros

Coros APEX Premium Multisport GPS Watch with Heart Rate Monitor

If you are looking for a stunning and ultra-durable running watch, then you are in the right place. Here, we recommend the APX premium watch by Coros. It is a multisport watch, so you can use it for running, cycling, or tracking your daily activity.

Additionally, it is equipped with a longevity battery that gives you an excellent running experience. If you are using it in UltraMax-GPS mode, the lifespan of a battery is more than 80 hours.

Apart from that, if you are using it on Full-GPS mode, then battery life will be more than 25 hours. Besides, on regular use, it works for more than 24 days.

The company uses a sapphire glass and finishes with ceramic bezel. It also has a digital knob for easy navigation from the menu to the required data screen.

Premium quality multisport watch.
Equipped with a full training guide.
It comes with a long-lasting battery.
Available in 5 colors and 2 sizes.

The face is very dim.

Best place to buy


Benefits of running watches

These running watches have high-quality inbuilt GPS in them, which is a lot more precise than your smartphone or a fitness tracker.

Moreover, these running watches come with sensors that are far more accurate in monitoring your body and heart credentials than any other smart device.

Some of these running watches can connect with your phone, and you can access all kinds of data regarding your current health status.

You can also maintain a full diet chart daily if you have connected your watch with your phone. It’s the smartwatches like these that have blurred the line between a fitness tracker and a running watch.

Which running watches are right for you?

There are different types of running watches available on the market today. And they are also different from one another in terms of features and price.

Choosing the right one is critical; otherwise, you will end up buying a watch that is just telling you time and your health numbers in a fancy way.

1. Budget running watches

If you are looking for a simple running watch with no fancy features, then you need to choose a budget-friendly product. These running watches will only tell you your current location and will track the running activity for you.

These watches are usually not expensive and are best suited for beginners or for those who just like a simple running watch. Anything under $100 will fall into this category.

2. Mid-range running watches

These watches come with a lot of bells and whistles. Besides, telling time, your accurate location, and step counting, these watches also come with different body sensors like heart rate monitors. You can keep a log of your full health data with these trackers.

You can also measure your blood pressure and check various other vitals with these watches. These watches are best suited for intermediates or those who want a little bit more than just tracking location and counting steps.

3. High-end running watches 

The high-end running watches usually come from brands like Garmin, Apple, and Samsung. These watches are essentially your smartphones, and you can do a lot more than just count your calories and activity.

These smartwatches are like mini-computers on your wrist, and you can track almost anything and get a full health report about yourself with these watches. With so many features, they also come with a hefty price tag.

What to consider before buying the best running watch?

Running watches have grown in popularity in recent times. Some of them can even replace your smartphone, as well.

But if you are looking for something just for running, then a fully-featured smartwatch can be very expensive. Here are key things to look for before buying the best running watches.

1. Activities

The difference between the fitness trackers of the old days and the contemporary running watches is that you can track a range of different activities with your modern-day running watch. It’s not just limited to running or your gym.

You can track any outdoor activity and even your entire day’s activity that you have spent indoors. In addition to the activities that it can track, the watch can also measure your heart rate monitor, and there are various other body sensors as well.

But in addition to running and jogging, these watches can also track other activities like cycling, rowing, and swimming.

2. Precession

It is another advantage that the modern-day running watches have on those fitness trackers of the old era. The watches are getting more and more accurate in their numbers from the trackers and the sensors.

These watches are also using more cutting edge technologies for location tracking. Therefore, your GPS location is a lot more accurate with these watches.

3. Satellite GPS

These watches can establish a better connection with the GPS satellite. As we have mentioned that the modern-day running watches are a lot more accurate in their location because of the cutting edge technology that the modern manufacturers are using.

Some of these running GPS watches connect with your smartphone and provide you with the location based on your phone.

4. Battery life

Here is a slight blue patch that you will have to deal with if you are going for a fully-featured smartwatch. With more and more sensors running and with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, you will have to compromise on battery life.

And the more features you use, the faster the watch is going to consume the battery. Therefore, if you don’t like to charge your watch a lot, then you will have to give up on some of the features so that the watch can run for at least two days.

5. Water-proofing

It is an important feature that you need to consider if you are going to wear your watch all day even when bathing. If you swim regularly, then this feature becomes critical for you to consider. But if you are going for a waterproof smartwatch, then you will have to pay a serious amount of money.

6. Touchscreen

The simpler models of running watches don’t have a touchscreen on them. There are buttons on them like the traditional wristwatches.

These watches are not very expensive, but they can certainly get the job done. The watches with touchscreen are very simple to use, but they are also expensive and a lot more delicate.

7. Various data fields

The modern-day running watches come with a range of different data fields. They can measure distance, time and speed, calories, elevation, temperature, cadence, and most of them also feature swim stroke counters.

It all boils down to which activities you like to participate. If you prefer to take part in several outdoor activities, then you can certainly go for a running watch that has all of them featured.

But if running is your only concern, then you don’t need to overspend on an expensive smartwatch.


What is the difference between a fitness tracker and a running watch?

Fitness trackers are the simpler version of running watches. They can only count steps or monitor heart rate at a basic level.

On the other hand, a running watch can track several types of activities, provide you with accurate location and monitor your vitals too and with a lot more accuracy. Running watches are far more versatile than fitness trackers.

Do heart rate monitors on a running watch work?

The heart rate monitors that are wrist-based are a lot less troubling than the models that feature chest straps. But you will also get a lot less accurate reading.

If you run faster and then monitor your heart rate, the reading will be of several beats. So these watches are less cumbersome but less accurate, too, if you compare them with the specialized apparatus.

Why are these step counters not accurate?

The step counters are not 100% accurate because they are countering numbers based on the movement using GPS. They are not counting your steps. They are counting the distance between your start and endpoint.

Some models use acceleration and deceleration to estimate the step count when you walk. That is why the numbers can be way off.

Our Verdict

Overall, your running watch can be your trusty partner in several ways. But you cannot overly rely on your watch and believe that it provides you with accurate numbers.

These watches are not accurate up to each step, but they will provide you with data that allows you to track your daily health routine. You can surely set your records and try to beat them the next day for a little self-competition.

You need to be a little more proactive in using your running watch, and it will become your reliable fitness companion. So which one of these are you considering buying? Let us know by leaving your suggestions and comments below!



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