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10 best running watches

These high-tech watches can transform the way you track and reach your fitness goals 

Running is not only a healthy way of living and a competitive sport; running watches have transformed the hobby into an absolute science. Lots have changed since last year’s running watches review, so here is the wristwear that offers the most precise science this year, of course, for the best prices.

From closely following your trajectory to listening to your favorite music without having to carry your phone or paying for your post-run smoothie with your watch, the world of running watches is getting more and more exciting. Of course, the basics of a running watch are also important, such as monitoring your heart rate and performances and being able to access your monthly efforts. Here are the watches the IndyBest team believes offer the most exciting features that will help you improve your performances, and enjoy your time outside!

1. Samsung GearSport: $228, Amazon


Samsung GearSport has everything a running watch needs to have and is user-friendly. The watch will vibrate every kilometer completed and has an improved integrated GPS that will precisely record your trajectory. For the city runners, the watch pauses every time you have to stop at a traffic light, which tends to be more representative of your effort. The unique perk of this watch: paired with wireless headphones, this is the first watch to allow for the offline use of Spotify – and you’ll be able to play your favorite music without having to carry your phone with you. The only downside of this watch is the battery life that tends to be quite short.

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2. Garmin VivoActive3: $269.99, Garmin


Ever wanted to grab a coffee or a juice after a morning run, but then realized you didn’t have any money on you? Well, this is one of the perks of the Garmin VivoActive3. This watch is on the lower-end of Garmin’s quality running watches, and a truly enjoyable one to use. This everyday watch easily connect to your phone through the Garmin Connect app, and the availability of data is infinite. The look of the new watch has highly improved and overall the watch is easy to use and get used to.

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3. Polar M430: $199.95, Polar


The Polar M430 isn’t the nicest looking running watch nor the most enjoyable to use, but its reliability and effectiveness make it an option to consider for serious runners with a lower budget. This mid-range watch has an improved GPS and will record your performances effectively. For the serious runners that do not care about all the technological perks the Apple Watch and others may have, this watch is exactly what you need, as it is reliable and quite cheap.

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4. Garmin Forerunner 935: $420, Amazon


The top-end watch of the Garmin collection delivers the company’s promises. This is a reliable and precise watch for runners looking to have a variety of data on performances. Garmin’s Advanced GPS features can give the athlete data on distance, elevation, and speed for every part of the exercise - meaning this watch helps make your running experience an exact science. The only downside of this high-end watch is the unavailability of native music playing, which means you can only play music from your phone. But that’s a small downside to a high-quality watch for very serious runners.

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5. Apple Watch Series 3: $329, Apple


For iPhone users, the Apple Watch 3 is a convenient and complete option to use. The Apple watch is probably the nicest-looking of all, coming in a variety of colors with matching bracelets. The battery life is more than enough, and so is the amount of information available. The Apple Watch 3 has an integrated GPS, with an improved heart rate sensor. The “activity” app, the main app related to the watch, will monitor your daily exercise, standing, and moving time.

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6. Fitbit Ionic: $299.95, Fitbit

The Ionic is Fitbit's first attempt at offering a smartwatch, and overall, it’s a success. The watch will monitor your heart rate effectively, has a precise built-in GPS and is equipped with a dynamic personal coach that will motivate your run. The battery life is also commendable with battery that can last up to four days. The Fitbit Ionic also allows for payment on your watch. Overall, the price of the watch and its perks mean it's a worthy option for more serious runners who want to track more precise performances.

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7. TomTom Sparks 3: $129.99, TomTom


TomTom Sparks 3 offers a running watch that’s midway between an everyday watch and a running watch. For a little more than $100, this watch will give you information about your trajectory, heart rate, as well as access to your favorite music on Bluetooth. The Route Exploration feature allows the runner, and the traveler, to go through already-explored routes without getting lost or even worrying about finding your way. For low-budget runners, the TomTom Sparks 3 definitely offers a good-quality tracker with enjoyable features.

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8. Garmin Fenix 5 Plus: $699.99, Amazon 


This is the ultimate! Is it overkill if all you're going to do is run? Absolutely, but if you can afford this...who's to say you aren't going to go skiing or skydiving or hiking in some crazy jungle sometime soon, and when you do, the Fenix 5 Plus has a functionality ready. Whenever you see a neat function on some watch that sets it a part from the others, realise that the Fenix 5 has it too. A watch that sacrifices nothing, no metric is lost and no app is missing, except your bank account. 

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9. Suunto 9: From $599, suunto


Yes, this will track all your running metrics as well as some other exercises like biking or swimming, but what sets this watch apart is it's unbelievable battery life. The suunto 9 will never be the fickle friend you're always afraid to depend on, no, it's the stone castle that stands after centuries. Boasting a ridiculous 120 hours of battery life and all the functions you need, the suunto 9 is built for those who seem to never be around the charging station, probably because their lives are more interesting than others. 

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10. Garmin Vivosmart HR+: $99.95, Amazon 


All the basics are here. The Vivosmart will track your distance, pace, records, even comes with a walk mode, and a nifty 24/7 heart rate monitor. Plus it looks nice, it's small, and at just under $100 it becomes an absolute steal. 

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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