The Best Sports Watches 2018
In 2017, more than 12 million smartwatches were sold in the U.S. alone, with a generated revenue of 2.36 billion dollars (1.7 billion pounds). That’s roughly $200 (£140) for each of those little pieces of wearable technology.
The market is doing well, probably boosted by US and EU government initiatives to promote a healthier lifestyle for a population that is increasingly sedentary and by studies showing how fitness can lower cancer risks. Some even forecast that sales will double in the next 5 years.
Despite smartphones being in everyone’s hands today, these smartwatches seem to offer more to the gym goers and fitness-focused folks than a regular phone.
That is probably because these smartwatches, ultra mobile and super easy to use offer many useful features for anyone following any kind of fitness routine :
- Heartbeat monitoring
- Blood pressure monitoring
- Weight monitoring
- Sleep pattern analysis
- Burned calories counter
- Distance walked, ran, cycled etc.
Replacing the need to hire personal trainers near me, the smartwatch can even give you a personalised diet and training tips.
Depending if you’re looking to get back into shape or are more focused on your running, cycling or hiking performances, it might get tricky to make sense of all the home fitness equipment, sports gadgets and fitness apps out there.
How to Choose the Best Sports Watch?
Given the substantial amount that buying a smartwatch requires, better compare what features each smartwatch offers and check that your investment matches your expectations.
We believe that the following 5 featured should be your top priority when it comes to buying the best running watch or gadget;
- Bluetooth connection
- Waterproof (for swimming and outdoor activities)
- Price v. Budget
- The embedded or compatible apps
- Design of the product
These criteria might be different to each and everyone’s preferences and some people might overlook one in favour of another.
However, a good smartwatch starts with a good algorithm. One that will process all the data your smartwatch collects and will be able to differentiate different activities and movements.
Current smartwatches are able to recognise when you cycle or when your run and make the difference between you walking or you brushing your teeth.
Algorithms are even getting better. In 2017, the University of Sussex released a new machine learning algorithm. Whereas health gadgets so far only recognised pre-programmed activities, this new discovery will allow your smartwatch to learn new sports at the same time as you do.
Just as important, make sure you check that the smartwatch you fancy is definitely compatible with your other gadgets, i.e. Windows, Android or iOS.
You will want to install the best fitness apps on your brand new gym gadget, which usually requires a Bluetooth connection.
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The Best Sports Watches 2018
If you’re getting bored of the classic routine you’ve been doing for weeks or even months, a gym gadget might just be the way to spice up your routine a bit.
There’s a lot of brands out there sharing the market of the fitness gadgets and most of mobile phone, GPS or Sports equipment brands have one or more smartwatches in the game. These gadgets are fast replacing the fitness classes near me.
Below are the 5 best smartwatches currently on the market :
Apple Watch 3
The latest release of the Apple watch family is one of the best fitness gadgets out there.
Firstly, it has cellular network connectivity so no need to take your phone with you during your morning jog or gym workout sesh, you’ll still be able to read your text and emails.
Secondly, it’s waterproof, so keep it on your wrist while you swim and don’t be scared of the heavy rain while you cycle.
The built-in GPS will also let you track your every movement and see how much you’ve run or cycled.
The state of the art heart sensor that this smartwatch features will allow you to monitor your cardio training improvement accurately and keep you motivated as you notice that your daily jogging session through the park actually makes a difference.
On the downside, the battery life will most likely not be good enough for you to monitor your sleep patterns.
Note that this hi-tech gym gadget comes at a hefty price that some might find out their budget. At £429 a pop, it will be an investment. Also be aware that EE is the only UK carrier to offer the 4G connectivity (and will charge you an extra £5 a month for it).
The fitness gadget company, at last, released its first smartwatch. Fitbit isn’t new to the sports gadget game and the Ionic offer their fitness tracking expertise, including its very easy-to-use app and added all the features you might look for in a smartwatch. Call and text, read your emails or pay using contact-less, it does it all.
Time your run, keep track of your heartbeat, follow various workout instruction on your smartwatch or keep count of the calories you’ve burned on your cardio session, all the while listening to music thanks to the built-in music storage feature.
Those who might find the lack of battery life on the Apple Watch 3 will be happy to know that the Fitbit Ionic battery has been designed to last up to 4 days. This means that you will easily be able to monitor your sleep pattern and notice the effect of different workout on your daily shut-eye time.
However, Fitbit received a lot of criticism regarding the design of its first smartwatch. A bit chunky, it will likely be too big for smaller wrists.
The price remains in the high brackets with a non-negligible £239 (with John Lewis).
For those on a lower budget, Fitbit will release the Fitbit Versa at the end of April. It doesn’t have GPS but offer almost as many features as the Ionic with a decent battery life of 3 days and great sports tracking performances. This Fitbit Versa retails at “only” £199 and will probably be for the ones looking for an everyday smartwatch including great fitness apps.
Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro
While this Gear Fit2 Pro smartwatch offers some of the previous two features such as call answering or text messaging it is mainly a fitness tracker.
With a two-day battery life this Samsung sports gadget will accompany you on your weekly swim (water resistant up to 50m), and with the possibility to link it up with some of the best fitness apps available on the Samsung store it will help you through your fitness workouts and will monitor your progress.
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The Gear Fit 2 Pro also has a very useful calorie counting feature that displays the number of calories burned for each period of the day. If your aim is to shade the few pounds you gained during winter this comes quite handy to track your daily activity and adjust your diet accordingly.
It can also save up to 500 songs via Spotify, so you can listen to your favourite beats while running in the park or on the treadmill.
Also to be noted, the 1.5in touch-screen makes the design of this gym gadget very user-friendly and somehow the slight curve gives it a futuristic look.
You’ll have to spend £200 for this smartwatch but if you are a Samsung fanatic, this is the best fitness gadget that the brand has released to date.
Tomtom Spark 3
The satnav brand releases its third smartwatch last year. As expected from a smartwatch designed by TomTom, the GPS tracking is great, allowing you to accurately follow your daily run and your cycle to work journey.
The GPS will also allow you to explore new paths and vary your jogging route when you feel like it very easily thanks to its built-in compass and it ultra simple path navigation. Coupled with a solid heart rate monitor it makes a great fitness tracker gadget.
However, users have found that the music option and the Bluetooth pairing left much to desire, so too does the “not always” user-friendly interface
Priced at a very reasonable £99 on Amazon, this smartwatch will probably be more appealing to the casual runner who enjoys getting some data feedback from his or her regular activities.
The off-the-regular-track option might also be a plus if you like to explore new parts or if you travel a lot and enjoy getting back to your hotel without having to use your data allowance.
Garmin Forerunner 235
Launched more than two years ago, which in tech is a lifetime, this smartwatch is still keeping up the pace with its younger competitor. Garmin has since launched a few other fitness gadgets, including more features yes. However, the price will reflect that whereas the Forerunner 235 remains a powerful sports and fitness tracking smartwatch with a price tag accounting for its release date.
The Forerunner 235 will track your heart rate very precisely and its 24/7 monitoring is still considered one of the best on the market. It will track your progress and will detect things such as over-training or if you’re coming down with a cold. With all those options it becomes easy to keep motivated with your fitness goals.
The friendly interface will give you access to your current resting heart rate with the possibility to show the last 4 hours as well as a chart showing the last 7 days. It’s never been easier to see if you’re on track with your training schedule or if you should ease off a bit a give yourself a bit more time to rest.
This smartwatch also features a VO2Max reader which measures the maximum volume of oxygen you can use, expressed in millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min). For those of you who love to track their progress, this is still a rare feature on a smartwatch and though it seems the Garmin 235 could still improve accuracy wise, its consistency will make it a useful tool to track how your sweaty efforts are actually paying off.
With a mere 42g, this sports gadget will be one of the lighter fitness gadgets on the market, though some might find the plastic feel of the strap lacking some style.
The weather tracking feature will also be a nice plus for those not too enthusiast about running under heavy rain. Just check you Forerunner 235 and see if you should head to the gym instead.
The lack of WiFi, though an inconvenience, will be largely offset by the numerous compatible apps you can link to the Forerunner 235.
Overall, the design of the watch is really clever, the frequent updates that Garmin has offered over the last two years make this relatively old smartwatch a great underdog in the very competitive fitness gadget market.
The battery will last up to 9 days when used as a simple watch and roughly 11 hours in GPS mode with heart rate monitoring on.
With a retail price that has dropped from £299 to £199 over the last couple of years, this smartwatch will be a good choice for those looking for a great value for money investment. So keep an eye out for any flash discounts on your favourite shopping websites.
Top 5 Fitness Gadgets 2018
As you probably realised by now, especially if you have started looking around for your first or your next smartwatch, the competition is fierce and the ultimate choice will probably be down to your level of commitment to your physical training, AND your budget of course.
Some smartwatches will offer a more casual way to track your physical activity and general health while other will be able to completely replace a personal trainer.
Some of the more expensive models will set you back a few hundred quid but if you are really focused on getting your dream body or running that ultramarathon next year, it could be cheaper than having a personal trainer, in the long run.