What can a running watch give me that RunKeeper on my phone can't ?

RK has time, GPS, 5 minute announcements and coupled with my phone I have podcasts, music and am able to be contacted with the PAYG sim card that I shoved in it.

I like to travel light and have the phone (my old galaxy ace 3) strapped to my arm.

I like my gadgets (I also have a Fitbit Charge too) and have seen loads of running watches but wondered if a watch would give me any more info / benefits.


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28 Replies

  • Hi Richard, I got a second hand Garmin from Ebay with the idea that I wouldn't have to use my phone , but I have ended up using both ! Ha ha ! I like having the security of knowing if I get into any trouble I have my phone with me .

    I love to play music when Im running , so I have my choons on a Spotify Playlist, then I have Runkeeper on as well, then I set my Garmin too , just in case one/or the other doesn't record my run . Ah, if only you could play music on a Garmin !

    Pah - I am going to need a suitcase to carry all my gear around with me at this rate :-D xxx

  • So Christine, what you're saying is that you use it as back up as opposed to it being a standalone bit of kit ?

    Is that right ?

  • More or less, yes , I think :-)

    Although there are functions on the Garmin ie, virtual pacer that I haven't used yet and the GPS is supposed to be more reliable on a Garmin than on a phone. Some of the running watches track cadence and heart rate , I suppose it depends on what you want to track xxx

  • A basic running watch has:

    *More accurate pace and distance, due to better GPS technology

    *Current pace or pace per km or pace for that run

    *Announces each lap - whether that is km or mile

    *Some have virtual pacer, ie you can choose a set pace, then the watch beeps to alert you if you're going faster or slower than your set pace

    *A display that you can easily read for all of the above, right there on your wrist (easier to see than a phone on your arm)

  • BUT it can't play music or podcasts ?

    I like to look at the stats after my run but not really too worried about stats during my run.

    I hope I have got that right swanscot.

  • Oh, OK. A GPS watch is more of a training tool. It's useful if you wish to try running at a set pace, rather than running by effort.

    Everyone is different with different needs and wishes. Personally I very rarely run with music and only use podcasts occasionally for speed interval training. I prefer to use my tiny wee mp3 player for that and keep my phone in a bag in a pocket for emergency use only.

  • A dedicated GPS watch should be more accurate than a phone, but it can't play music.

    Like Pops, I use both Runkeeper on my phone and my, admittedly cheap, Aldi running watch. The phone is there for music and security and watch is really backup. For the most part they give approximately the same track and distance results but occasionally they depart from one another for no obvious reason, giving spurious information. I have yet to decide which is overall the more accurate of the two.

    Even the sacred Garmins give odd results or none on occasion, so I don't think paying loads more gives you a hugely better product. Most watches are considerably more waterproof than the average phone. My watch gives 16 hours of GPS battery life which is much more than my phone and I use it without my phone when I want to travel really light.

    Most of Swanscot's stat advantages of a watch are indeed available in Runkeeper and I also transfer my results to Endomondo, via Tapiriik, for more detailed analysis.

    You pays yer money and takes yer choice........

  • I loved Runkeeper when I started up. When the weather got warmer though I found the pockets on my shorts too small for my phone and I couldn't get along with the arm band. The thing that totally killed it for me though was when it kept losing satellite link and jumping me miles around giving totally inaccurate info. I didn't mind it being spot on but it just ended up being ridiculous. I kept my eye on Amazon and managed to get a Garmin for £50 and I love it. It finds a satellite link quickly and then I just need to press Start rather than messing getting my phone into my pocket.The battery life is good too. The accuracy of distance is spot on when I do Parkrun.

    If you're having no satellite issues, you've found all the voice prompts / features and you don't mind using your phone then Runkeeper is totally great though.

  • You pay your money - you make your choices. A GPS running watch does some things very well. It records your runs and gives you a real time readout (on your wrist where you can see it - not tucked in your pocket/bag) of your current pace, heart rate etc. It doesn't play music. It doesn't make phone calls. A phone is a jack of all trades, but doesn't do some of them very well. If you are happy with your phone, you don't need a watch. If you want more data with much less in the way of fiddling, get a watch. My phone stays at home these days - I don't listen to music and i don't need to check my email in the middle of a run. I consider my watch an essential though in terms of controlling my pace and running to a plan in a race or in training.

  • It depends how much/far you run. Smart phones are undeniably slightly less accurate with GPS tracking and the algorithms they use to calculate distance travelled than dedciated GPS watches. It is only a slight degree of difference, which, if you are running 5k, will be fairly negligible in overall terms. If you are running longer distances, it will add up. ( atest in a magazine I am looking at has an HM course showing as 13.2mi on a Polar watch, and 14.1 on Runkeeper on a Samsug phone) If you are using your device to gauge your pace in a marathon, that discrepancy could be problematic. Although your smartphone, running a GPS app and music at the same time will have run out of battery by the time you hit the 18 miles mark, so it is a bit of a moot point.

    Your watch will also accurately measure cadence, vertical gain, vertical oscillation, heart rate, intervals, warning bleeps if you go over/below set hear rates or pace, etc. Probably a lot more detil than most people need.

    I would say if you are just running for pleasure then phone is fine, if training for something specific then increased accuracy of watch wins.

  • For me the main advantage of my Garmin is that it doesn't run out of battery! When I used my phone for music and gps and bluetooth for heart rate etc I had to make sure it was fully charged which isn't always practical when I have been using it as phone. Now I only play music on it and it's fine (and is carried either in trouser pocket or running belt on longer runs). I plug Garmin into my laptop after every run and leave it until it is fully charged. And yes it is a little more accurate and I could use it in Germany without any additional costs.

  • Yes, I keep forgetting about the battery issues with my phone. With GPS, bluetooth and mp3 player all running together the battery goes flat in no time at all. Using my phone did help me set a PB for 10K once though - could I get round and home before the phone died? ;)

  • I used Runtastic for a full year after graduating and it was fine. I had a bit of trouble getting the heart rate monitor to work with it. I did save up and get a garmin though and I love it. I'm a stats sort of girl and I like to come home and pair them and trawl through the run. The heart rate monitor on mine is really good. I went to see my Dad last week and didn't take my garmin I logged into Runtastic and off I went and it was fine. I treat my garmin as a luxury rather than a necessity. I run with both my phone for safely and music and garmin for gps etc.

  • Brilliant replies folks.

    It looks like I shall stick with my phone.

    Why ?

    It's my old phone with a payg sim card in it and when not being used for running is charging.

    I don't plan on doing 10k \ HMS so pacing isn't a major issue

    RK is free and gives me a guide which satisfies my needs

    It's an allinone (mp3, phone, rk et al) which I strap to my arm and doesn't bug me.

    Without your advice I may have bought a watch realising afterwards that for MY needs my old cheap phone will suffice.

    Thank you all.


  • I use RUNKEEPER - and do not necessarily believe that it is a proven that GPS watches are any more accurate than the GPS in a decent phone. I did 19 Klms yesterday - and Google Maps "directions" calculation showed my result in Runkeeper to be very close. Certainly close enough for training purposes.

    I have shown this here before - but I use one of these soft spectacles cases ecx.images-amazon.com/image... clipped to either the waistband of my shorts or to my running belt when I am carrying water. They are readily available ( probably anybody who wears glasses will already have one, they often come free with a new pair) , light, provide convenient access to the phone. However I turn on whatever audio cues I want to hear when running - distance, pace, etc - and using either earphones in a noisy urban environment or simply the phones speaker in quiet rural environments, once i start my run I have no need to access the phone except to start Runkeeper or stop it.

  • Just to throw something in the mix, tomtom are now doing a GPS sports watch you put music on.

  • I wonder how you listen to it ? Do you plug your headphones into it , I am going to have to google that

    Cheers Rob :-) xxx

  • not sure poppy, was going to google it too xx

  • Bluetooth headphones Rob, theyre the future :-) xxx

  • sounds good to me. could be tempted :) xxxx

  • uses blue tooth headset - tom tom will have various watch packages and one will I believe include a headset - last time I looked the price had not been released. I am particularly interested in this watch as it has a wrist heart monitor as well as the music.

  • "and do not necessarily believe that it is a proven that GPS watches are any more accurate than the GPS in a decent phone."

    Bazza - it's not really a belief issue. It has, and that is a matter of fact, not faith.

    Also with GPS watches, certainly Garmin, if you find a discrepancy against online mapping or whatever, you have the option of recalibrating them.

  • Umm, how do you do that Rig? Recalibrate Garmin maps I mean?

  • My phone wasn't very good at doing all these things at once, Runkeeper was fine, playing music was fine, just not both at the same time. It needed a full charge to record runs too, so if it was at half battery power it would just switch off. Or the music would. I found it very frustrating. I love my Garmin, I always take my phone even if I'm not listening to music, just in case I fall into a ditch or something...Garmin has not let me down, not once. I regret not getting one sooner, mais c'est la vie....

  • I have to say I am very tempted by the TomTom Spark that Slow_Rob mentioned above which has a heart rate monitor and music storage built in... You do need bluetooth headphones but I think that would be great too - no wires!

    Better start saving up :)

  • Ah Bluetooth, that explains it, thanks Lynne xxx

  • Saw a review for the tom tom spark and the rrp was £189.

    Will stick with my old phone (that would've been sat in a drawer doing nothing) my £2.48 armband, my £14.99 wireless headphones and my free Run keeper app and free c25k podcasts.

  • What can a running watch give me that RunKeeper on my phone can't ?


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