Black Friday is fast approaching and if you find yourself in the market for a new, or upgraded, fitness watch, you might find yourself quickly overwhelmed by all the brands, models, features and choices that have flooded the market in the last few years. Everyone really wants you to get your 10k steps each day.
Asking yourself three simple questions when starting the buying process can make sorting through the options and offers a whole lot less stressful.
Are you upgrading or starting fresh?
If you are upgrading an existing watch, you might strongly considering narrowing your search and staying in the same brand “family” so that you have access to previous workout data. If you look at your past workouts on a third-party site such as Strava or TrainingPeaks, maybe this isn’t as much of a concern.
You might also consider your existing familiarity with the watch brand (nomenclature, UI, etc), its app, and/or its website. Knowing how to use the watch and its features from a previous model can help a lot in getting up to speed on the latest model.
What is your primary purpose in getting the watch?
This is the big question. The big fitness brands compete directly with each other on many features, but they are also aimed at subtly different audiences.
For example, there are not many serious amateur athletes using FitBits or Apple watches for training or tracking workout data. These brands are aimed more at the active lifestyle crowd and existing iOS users.
Garmin or Suunto, on the other hand, can accommodate the daily fitness/active lifestyle crowd, but are more strongly aimed at the weekend warrior. These companies pack a lot more features and functions onto the watches to satisfy the fitness data nerds. If you are more primarily interested in getting your 10,000 daily steps rather than knowing your average run cadence or heart rate variability, you likely do not need all the data fields of a Garmin.
The sports or activities that you plan to use the watch for should also be a big consideration. Apple watches are water resistant, but won’t help tell you how you performed during that sprint triathlon. Conversely, if a daily jog or hike is your main form of exercise, you likely don’t need the bike or SUP features found on high-end performance watches.
What is your budget?
Finally, if budget is a primary concern, it will definitely help you narrow your choices. The more expensive watches have more bells and whistles, of course. But that also doesn’t mean you can find a watch to fit your primary need.
If you are a single sport person, like a runner, you can get a great watch with GPS and plenty of other feature bling for under $200. If you are primarily a triathlete or biker, along with a runner, you are going to have to pay more.
In a nutshell, I think, if you are an iOS person in the rest of your tech life and believe you will use the new watch mostly for running or general wellness – go with the Apple Watch.
If you are a little more serious, or plan to do multiple sports, and really like getting into the training data and place a high emphasis on HR or GPS accuracy, go with Garmin or Suunto.
If budget is a big concern, Garmin or Polar have great sub-$200 options that will be a step up from relying on your phone to track your runs or fitness activities.
If you want to dig more into the watches, I highly recommend dcrainmaker.com for very (very) detailed write-ups and unbiased reviews of all the latest fitness tech accessories.