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GPS Watches 2023

Every year we say, "Thank you!", and we have to again this year...so, THANK YOU! In the past we've had up to 110 answers, but this time, 250 of you gave your answers regarding GPS watches, and we hugely appreciate it. Every year we've had people tell us that this information was helpful for them to choose a watch, and with a much larger sample size this year, the data should be even more helpful!


If you'd like to see the data from previous years, those articles are tagged below:

We asked: If you HAD TO choose a different GPS watch BRAND to use other than the one you currently use, which would you select?

These are the top 5 watch brands that people would choose if they weren't using their favorite already.

Garmin: 64 votes

Coros: 53 votes

Suunto: 48 votes

Apple: 26 votes

Polar: 18 votes

The other brands listed (there were 11 total) received so few votes that they weren't worth adding to the graph.

Sorry other brands...



The next question was: What were the 3 Most Important Factors you considered when purchasing your current GPS watch? Please select ONLY your Top 3 reasons.

Quality and battery life are CLEARLY the main things people are looking for from their watch. It makes perfect sense. The watch being waterproof is a huge reason as well, and then price and appearance/style come in next. It's clear that if a company can build a high quality/durable watch that's water proof and has great battery life, it'll sell a lot. Finding the right price obviously matters too, but not nearly as much as those other points.


 

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Which BRAND of GPS watch do you CURRENTLY, MAINLY use for your training and racing? THE TOP BRAND OF CHOICE IS...

Really, this is a bit ridiculous. It's so far from close it's almost not worth talking about the other brands. I'm even a little afraid that an article like this will just encourage others to buy Garmin, and thus skew the data even more. But, I'm just here to report data, so that's what I'll do. Apple's watch is popular, but you'll see below that it might not be right for all type of endurance events based on some feedback. Coros and Suunto are pretty close to each other. They are on the backs of peoples' minds...who knows what it will take for those companies to get a larger share of the GPS watch market. Garmin has been far-and-away the top GPS Watch Brand every year we've done this survey, so other companies are clearly not gaining much ground yet.


What MODEL (this is not asking for the brand again, just the model) of GPS watch do you currently race/train with PRIMARILY? (Example: Fenix 7)

1: Garmin Fenix Series - 75 votes

2: Garmin Forerunner Series - 47 votes

3: Apple Watch Series - 22 votes

4: Garmin Vivoactive Series - 19 Votes

5: Garmin Instinct Series - 12 Votes


Pretty self-explanatory. We did lump models together into series because otherwise it's just a train wreck of data.


Finally...Have you had a BAD experience with any GPS watch brands that you think is worth sharing so others can be aware? If so, share a brief explanation of what happened, and which watch and model you had an issue with. If you haven't had any issues, just leave this section blank.


After sifting through all of the answers, there were 3 companies that received the most complaints. Only 3 other brands received any complaints, and none of them more than 2, so it isn't a large enough complaint sample size to share.

a

Fitbit: 19 complaints

Apple: 11 complaints

Garmin: 11 complaints


Fitbit: Issues were generally along the lines of these:

"Fitbit. Great watch but they only last around 2 years max is my experience with several different models."

"I had 3 Fitbits that all completely died in less than a year so I switched to Garmin. I do not remember the model of Fitbit."

"Fitbit always broke." and "Fitbit GPS is horrible."

"Fitbit (can't recall model) died under warranty (less than a year), was replaced, "new" one died after the same amount of time but wasn't covered because the warranty only went from initial purchase date."


Apple: The main issues listed were as follows:

"Apple Watch Series 3. Due to touch screen, I often could not stop the stopwatch at the end of a muddy OCR due to wet or muddy hands."

"Apple Watch, poor battery, not very tough, not really a serious contender for Garmin."

"Apple. Broke 3 of them." and "Apple Watch. Terrible battery life. And screen smashed easily. Too expensive."

"Apple Watch just isn’t durable enough for the kind of stuff I do. Battery died too quick as well."


Garmin: Honestly, it makes sense that Garmin would have a number of complaints considering just how many people own their watches...maybe it's a problem, or maybe it's a tiny fraction of all the watches that have issues. There is no such thing as a perfect product, but I'm sure they can fix some of the issue people have with them. I use a Suunto, so don't think I'm trying to help Garmin here...they are clearly doing just fine.

"Garmin servers always went down but other than that it was an alright watch."

"Garmin has watch band durability issues. I have made my own bands from Velcro strips."

"Garmin 610 went crazy on me. Garmin 235 wouldn't charge anymore."

"Garmin Forerunner 235, buttons got stuck and got a replacement."


THAT'S IT! Thanks for reading, and we hope this information will be useful in helping you decide on a good GPS watch to train with. If you have friends who you think could benefit from this information, share the article with them or tag them in posts on social media!





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