GPS watch buying guide: types, tips and models for athletes, versatile users and design lovers from 70 euros
smartwatch guide for athletes, versatile users, and design lovers
The Global Geopositioning System or GPS is a very interesting instrument in a watch since it allows us to know our position with enough precision without having to carry the mobile with us. Now, not all smartwatches integrate it or offer the same autonomy with this system activated. In this GPS watch buying guide, we offer you a careful and diverse selection of models in terms of performance, design, and market budget.
What is GPS in a watch for?
The GPS uses a set of satellites and trilateration to determine latitude, longitude, and altitude, or what is the same, our position. If the device accumulates our position over time, we will obtain the route we have followed.
Although the accuracy of the GPS in these devices can be centimeters, obstacles such as trees, buildings, or even clouds can noticeably alternate in the result.
In this sense, there are watches with GPS that also consist of other geopositioning systems such as Galileo, the European satellite radio navigation and positioning system developed by the European Union and the European Space Agency, GLONASS, the geolocation system created by the former USSR, or the Japanese Quasi-Zenith.
Geolocation systems are demanding from the point of view of energy consumption. Come on, although in the specifications of a watch we see that the autonomy is 10 days, when activating the GPS it drops drastically. Here the most ambitious models in the sports field stand out, providing a life that allows them to be used in more demanding disciplines.
As you can see, geolocation systems are very attractive for recording sports outdoors, but also if they include (or we can download and add) general navigation applications, for example, Google Maps, to orient ourselves in a city or on trips.
GPS sports watch
If the main objective of your GPS watch is to record your workouts and you practice these with moderate frequency and intensity, sports GPS watches are probably the most suitable option.
Sports GPS watches stand out for their advanced metrics thanks to the inclusion of sensors and instruments beyond the classic accelerometer and heart rate monitor so that in addition to the usual steps, distance, calories, and sleep - which we find even in the vast majority of bracelets activity -, provide information about our training such as cadence, maximum heart rate, recovery time, oxygen consumption or even tracks and maps.
Even in data such as heart rate or position, they can offer additional precision, among other things because there are models that are compatible with a chest strap to register our heart and because they implement additional instruments such as alternative geolocation systems or barometric altimeters.
Before buying a sports watch with GPS, think about what sport you practice and with what frequency and intensity, since there are specific models. The most basic ones focus on athletics and cycling, but there are also models for golf, high mountain, multisport and even that detect the change of discipline, something that interests us if we practice triathlon. There are brands of sports watches that have models for fitness and other common indoor sports in the gym, be careful because they usually lack GPS.
Sports GPS watches are made of materials that stand out for their durability and resistance to potential bumps and scratches, however, they must also be comfortable to wear and touch. The models of the highest ranges also do not neglect the weight and opt for materials that look premium
Although these watches are usually bulky - especially if we have small wrists - to integrate batteries, instruments, and a large screen from which to view the data, they also dump them into an application. It is worth taking a look at the manufacturers' interfaces: the information shown if they are multi-device if they can be shared if they are compatible with other services …
Frequency, duration, and intensity are key to choosing a model since normally sports GPS watch with greater autonomy with geolocation activated are the most ambitious in terms of metrics, but also in price.
For those who want a cheap and simple GPS sports watch, the Polar M430 (119 euros) is a great option. Its design is rather basic, with a 128 x 128 px resolution mono-color screen with remarkable bezels - its launch dates from 2017 - but with large and clear letters and is also available in several sizes.
Focused on running and fitness, it offers metrics for aerobic capacity (fitness test), recovery time, training load, and training history, as well as designing plans. With the GPS on, you can monitor pace, distance, altitude, and route outdoors for up to 8 hours. And if you wish, it is compatible with Polar BLE heart rate sensors.
Another model from Polar's entry range is the Ignite (199 euros), this time with a more current design with a color touch screen. If your wrist is small, it is a good option as it is moderately compact and is available in several sizes.
In this case, it is a multisport watch with options such as gym, swimming, running, cycling, and walking. With the GPS on, its battery lasts for approximately 17 hours.
Garmin Forerunner 735XT
Another veteran model that is worth it is the Garmin Forerunner 735XT and it does so because for a very attractive price it is not only multisport, but it is compatible with triathlon. It also has GPS and GLONASS and if you want to use both at the same time, its autonomy is 10 hours. If you only use the GPS, go up to 14 (with heart rate).
Its metrics are very complete, with data such as contact time with the ground, stride length or vertical ratio, VO2 maximum, lactate threshold, or recovery control.
In addition to viewing workouts from the app, you will receive notifications, you can download and install spheres, applications, and share workouts.
The Suunto 5 is a mid-range that stands out for its lightness, compactness, and versatility, as it is capable of offering advanced metrics and recording 80 disciplines. In addition, the interface of its screen is very careful and uses graphics to make it intuitive. With the GPS activated it achieves 40 hours of use, figures that are not bad for most athletes
Polar Vantage M
Good design, multisport vocation, and lightness for this Polar Vantage M, one of the brand's bestsellers in the mid-range. It stands out for its recording of more than 130 sports, swimming included, and its autonomy with the GPS activated for about 30 hours
Garmin Forerunner 245
In the mid-range of Garmin is the Forerunner 245 model, which has a "Music" version to listen to music through the device. It is an easy-to-use multisport watch with a high performance-cost ratio, very complete in terms of metrics, with personal statistics regarding performance, technique, training, and even personal goals. With active GPS it offers up to 24 hours of autonomy.
Suunto 9 Baro
In Suunto's high-end the 9 Baro model (449 euros), with that last name precisely because of its barometric altimeter, an instrument that reinforces its proposal for lovers of high mountain sports together with its great autonomy of 120 hours, its combination of systems of geolocation (with GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS, and BEIDOU), its great resistance and its detailed maps with points of interest.
Polar Vantage V2
The second generation of the Vantage V implements innovations such as performance tests, reinforcing a multisport proposal (more than 130 disciplines) that is light and resistant with a very careful design. With the GPS activated it reaches 40 hours of autonomy.
Garmin 6 Pro
If you need a watch with multisport GPS but with special emphasis on outdoor sports in high mountains, this model is the most complete you will find. It consists of GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS to offer maximum precision, as well as a barometric altimeter, thermometer, a pulse oximetry acclimatization system, and the pre-installed TopoActive Europe maps with ski resorts and tips. In the event of an accident, it includes a safety and assistance function.
This premium model can also listen to music, both stored inside (it supports about 2000 songs) and through streaming services. With the GPS activated, its autonomy is up to 36 hours.
General GPS watch
Under this umbrella, we are going to bring together what we usually know as smartwatches (although at present they are all more or less "intelligent" and live connected to the mobile) and their strong point is that they are off-road models.
In general terms, they are not the most complete for sports, but they do offer a series of metrics and characteristics that may be sufficient for more or less common athletes.
Unlike sports GPS, these models offer general range data, but it is rare to see how long their battery lasts with GPS activated. As you will see below, the autonomy differs a lot, although the usual thing is that the most basic models are the longest in this sense.
In the same way, in general, they are not the most aesthetically elegant, but their versatile character, the different versions, and accessories such as straps make even the most fashion-conscious people wear them.
They can also have very useful features for day to day, such as mobile notifications, LTE connectivity to make calls without having to carry the mobile with you, the NFC to pay, the possibility of listening to music from the device itself …
Another asset of smartwatches is the diversity of the sector on an aesthetic, functional, and budget level. If you are looking for a versatile GPS watch, these are the most interesting options.
Amazfit Bip U Pro
The Amazfit Bip U Pro is one of the most affordable GPS watches on the market, in fact, it acquires its Pro surname precisely for this feature (GPS + GLONASS) and for integrating Alexa. With the somewhat rough but functional aesthetics of the family, its screen has grown thanks to better use of the screen and includes sensors to measure oxygen in the blood (novelty), pulse, and the usual accelerometer and gyroscope. Without geolocation, its autonomy is around 9 days.
Huawei Watch GT2
The Huawei GT 2 is one of the most attractive watches on the market in terms of value for money and it is because for just over 100 euros it is available in different sizes and finishes that fit very different profiles, it has a quality screen and precision offered in your measurements.
It is also a versatile watch, allowing you to listen to music directly from the watch, pay or make and answer calls.
Although the sporty halo of the firm is undeniable, the Venu was born with a general vocation with very useful functions for day to days such as NFC for mobile payments, stress estimators, and sleep. However, it is well served in terms of sensors, with an accelerometer, gyroscope, heart rate monitor, compass, altimeter, ambient light sensor, SpO2 meter, and in terms of geolocation, with GPS / GLONASS / GALILEO systems. Its autonomy is around 5 days
The current flagship of the brand is a watch for health (in the words of the brand), also with a very varied sensor system that includes a new electrodermal activity sensor, continuous heart rate sensor, a body temperature sensor, and measurement of Sp02. If you are going to measure your workouts, record 20 different disciplines
The Fitbit Sense has a very general aesthetic, with a very intuitive interface, NFC for payments, and autonomy of 6 days.
Amazfit GTS 2
The second generation of the Amazfit GTS maintains that aesthetic that is quite reminiscent of the Apple Watch in an affordable version. The main improvements come in its interface, making it more useful. This is an attractive and lightweight watch that stands out for its autonomy of more than a week (without GPS activated) and it's precision
Apple Watch SE
Last year Apple debuted a smartwatch twice with this Apple Watch SE, a very interesting model in price-quality if you have an iPhone or if you want to try the smartwatch of the bitten apple. With some sacrifices compared to the Series 6, it integrates the same S5 chip as the Apple Watch Series 5, is waterproof, and monitors sleep. In addition to GPS, it has a fall detector, altimeter, and compass. With a large catalog of accessories and apps to download, you can pay with it and there is an LTE version.
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3
With a very successful aesthetic between the sporty and the urban, the TicWatch Pro 3 is a smartwatch with Wear OS as the operating system. We are facing a powerful and fluid versatile watch, compatible with Google Assistant, NFC for payments, and the LTE version option.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is a very attractive smartwatch both inside and out thanks to its design and materials, but also the size and quality of its screen and its interface. With the option to answer and make calls thanks to its integrated microphone (and LTE version), NFC for payments, and a set of sensors that includes a heart rate meter, pulse oximeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, and ambient light
Apple Watch 6
If you are looking for the most modern and complete Apple smartwatch, it is the Apple Watch Series 6. Unlike the SE, this has the always-on screen and the ECG sensor, in addition to measuring oxygen in the blood, and improved altimeter, and a brighter screen. You can download applications, make payments, answer calls (there is an LTE version). Its weakest point is the battery, 18 hours for mixed-use.
Urban GPS watch and design lovers
If you want a watch with GPS but consider neither the sporty nor the more general models are attractive enough, there are also geolocation watches with a particularly neat aesthetic.
Here we are going to find essentially two aspects: fashion and design brands that have made the leap to the smartwatch format and general smartwatch in their most premium lines.
In the case of the models of common fashion brands, their strength is generally in aesthetics, with discreet and elegant lines and materials typical of jewelry, such as steel and leather. Of course, in some cases these proposals have a B-side: their functionality is more limited.
Some models use an analog dial to provide a more classic look, which leads us to turn to the mobile for more comfort and/or to see all the information.
Fossil Gen 5
Very attractive and urban minimalist design, with very useful features such as NFC for payments, music control, and Google Assistant to make and receive responses by voice. As it also has a microphone, we can answer calls directly (and there is an LTE version). While there are different battery management options, with standard use it lasts about a day
Amazfit GTR 2
The Amazfit GTR2 is a great option for those looking for an eye-catching watch with a sleek steel or aluminum style but with a tight investment.
This generation maintains its commitment to the analog sphere, which is larger and AMOLED type, in addition to implementing new features such as blood oxygen saturation. You can make payments through NFC and its autonomy in general use is about two weeks
Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro
The most premium version of the popular Huawei Watch GT2 that we have seen above is this Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro, with an elegant 46 mm titanium dial available in two colors with a 1.39 "screen with AMOLED technology and sapphire crystal.
Despite its aesthetics and finishes, its heart is sporty following in the wake of the family with more than 100 training modes. Thus, it has an integrated accelerometer, gyroscope, geomagnetic, pressure, the new TruSeen 4.0+ heart rate, and it also measures blood oxygen saturation. It also maintains the level of autonomy reaching 2 weeks.
Skagen Falster 3
Available in various materials, the Falster 3 (275 euros) maintains the minimalist aesthetic typical of Nordic countries such as Denmark, its place of origin.
In addition to GPS, it comes with NFC for payments and a heart rate sensor. Although you can see notifications, you will not be able to respond from its three buttons, two of which are programmable so that you use them as you like
Michael Kors Bradshaw Gen 5
The Michael Kors Bradshaw Gen 5 (221 euros) does not go unnoticed for its attractive appearance thanks to its stainless steel case and strap in rose gold-tone. With Wear OS as OS, it has a speaker to receive calls and answer them or make use of Google Assistant, NFC for payments, heart rate measurement, and is waterproof.
Montblanc Summit 2+
We make the leap to a benchmark brand in watches with this Montblanc Summit 2+ (985 euros) that is made with premium materials such as a multivalent dial with a sapphire crystal with AMOLED panel and interchangeable calfskin strap.
With a battery that ranges between a day and five days of use, it includes heart rate sensors, compass, altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, and ambient light to record our activity and display it through its interface, which is run by Wear OS...
Tag Heuer Connected Modular
Tag Heuer is another institution in watchmaking and this Connected Modular 45 (2,250 euros) is its latest foray into the world of smartwatches. With a 41 or 45mm titanium, ceramic and gold case, you can change the electronic module for another mechanical one or replace its strap with another that you like more of the 56 versions launched.
Wear OS as the operating system, it includes NFC for payments, Wi-Fi connectivity, a very complete geolocation proposal (GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, QZSS), and water resistance.