5 Reasons you shouldn’t buy an Apple Watch for sports
A year ago I was VERY excited about the launch of the Apple Watch, as may others were. My primary interest in it, apart from being a bit of an Apple junky at the time (I’ve recently converted to Android, which is another story), was to track running and biking while also being able to get notifications on-the-go.
It was a let down in so many ways.
1. ALWAYS-OFF SCREEN
Whether you’re running occasionally for fitness or training for a half or full marathon, your running watch should help you during and after your run. Your watch should be able to track your pace, intervals, laps or simply time. Unfortunately, the Apple Watch Sport is even worse than a regular TIMEX digital watch as you can’t even really accurately monitor your time.
If you’re like me, running tires you out. It’s exhilarating, but exhausting and the last thing you want to do is have to wait a couple seconds for your watch to turn on when you want to take a quick peek at your pace, distance or time. While it doesn’t sound like a big deal, the second it takes for your Apple Watch to turn on while running is frustrating to the point that I just stopped checking. Ideally, you just want to take a quick glance and keep running, not have to run with your arm up in front of you for several seconds. It not only looks dumb, but it distracts you from why you’re out there in the first place. To run.
2. FRUSTRATING TOUCH SCREEN
When you need to pause or end your run it can be extremely frustrating to get the touch screen to actually respond. On several occasions, I would finish my run and then go to tap on my Apple Watch to end the run and the touch screen would fail and not actually stop the run or hang for an additional few seconds and then stop. While this, again, might not sound like a big deal, when you run regularly, tracking your pace and progressing toward getting better is critical. So several seconds added at the end of a run while you fumble around trying to make it stop is showstopper.
3. NO GPS
While Apple does do a good job of replicating a GPS as it gets to know your steps and approach to running, it is really not useful for any other sports or flexible with any other running platforms such as Garmin or Strava where you can upload GPS files to track them over time. To be fair, Strava has an Apple Watch app that works OK, but not having that direct connect to GPS never felt very accurate. What’s more, if you do any other sports where you’d like to use GPS tracking, the Apple Watch is useless, like biking or skiing/snowboarding.
4. NOT WATERPROOF
The Apple Watch is apparently “water resistant,” but this still made me pretty nervous having it out int he rain, especially heavy rain. Regardless of whether it stops working or not, you can bet the touch screen won’t work properly when it is doused in a layer of water. This might not be a big deal for many, but I’m a big waters ports guy and love to kiteboard, swim and *try to surf and most recently got into Triathlons. Not being able to take your sport watch with you to track ALL of your sports just seems like a waste to me.
5. AWFUL BATTERY
Apple tried to make the argument that people would charge their watch the same way they charge their phone every day. The difference is, people’s phones are CRITICAL for them to function on a day-to-day basis. Smartwatches are not. They are amplifications of existing life and thus, some days you just plain forget or can’t be bothered to to plug it in. As a result, run time comes around and your Apple Watch isn’t charged, so you just hoof it old school and run without a watch. My watch was dead A LOT - more than it was alive.
My Solution: A REAL sport smartwatch
If you want a smartwatch with lots of bells and whistles that will also need to be taken care of and not really used outside, then go for the Apple Watch. But, if you are even remotely considering buying an Apple Watch as a sport watch, stay away. Companies like Garmin, Polar and TomTom have much better options that will suit you as an athlete. They include great features like always on displays, easy to press start/stop buttons, highly accurate GPS, waterproofing and superb battery life (several weeks depending on how you use them).
My watch of choice today is the Garmin Fenix 3. I do many different adventure oriented sports and it handles them all with ease, whether it be running, swimming, biking, surfing, kiting, snowboarding or hiking, my Fenix 3 has custom tracking for that sport. What’s more is that it doesn’t look too shabby and notifies me of both emails and sports scores on the fly. It’s not the cheapest of the smartwatches out there, but Garmin and other manufacturers make tons of options that will surely fit your budget and are much better value than an Apple Watch.
The biggest downside of many sport smartwatches, including the Fenix 3, is that they can’t handle music playback without a phone close by. Most do it via bluetooth and only a few have internal storage. Not sure why, but this should change eventually. Most people enjoy working out with music and would welcome some time to be untethered from their phone and just… run.
Thoughts? What smartwatch do you use? Would love to hear other people’s experiences.