we will add siri start/pause commands as well shortly. The e-mails don’t have ads in them, so you’re good there! The second-generation heart rate sensor has four green leds and two infrared leds. The app also has a very powerful workout editor for interval training and can export the workout data to a lot of services (TP, Strava, etc) or send it to dropbox. I am trying to decide between the AW4 and the Fenix 5. I couldn’t find an answer anywhere. Is that too much to ask, Apple?! i never noticed this… As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well. Thanks Ray, great review as always! Apple is using CoreML (machine learning) for heart rate tracking in watchOS 5. Ultimately, the differences just aren’t there in the hardware side of things. So they’re pretty easy to spot errors that way. You should check out my videos. Here’s my most recent gadget recommendations guide and trainers here – covering almost every category of sports gadgets out there. But that was sorta my point with that entire statement (fair or otherwise), that it’s not going to replace the endurance sports watches this revision. I just switched from a Garmin 235 (which died) to an Apple Watch (v4). Does the Apple Watch have an alarm or haptic feedback or something for an upper limit of heart rate activity during exercise? The closest that we’ve seen was the Withings Activité watches years ago (which to some degree Apple mimics here), and then to a lesser degree the Garmin Chronos watches. Regarding interval training – I have used the ‘Intervals Pro’ app for this, and it is great. But what happens when I exit the track? The Apple Watch Series 4 may be the best smart watch on the market, but is it the best all around fitness tracker? Sometimes the accelerometer is highly accurate, other times not so much…depending on terrain, gait, etc. Instead, I’ll give you a couple thousand words and a hundred or so photographs to chew on. After a while I didn’t bother even putting it on. You focussed on the workout app. Thanks for the help! Great bunch to work with over at Stryd when you need help or have questions too. I’ve picked up an Apple Watch 4 and am loving it. (I’ve toyed with the idea of developing one myself, but can’t realistically justify the time commitment.) Pressing the side button and digital crown at the same time starts and pauses a workout. the Plan2PEAK app shows you sensor status (such as HR, GPS and power – should you have paired it) on the header, so you can wait to hit “start” until you have a full lock on all sensors wanted. Would it make a difference using the apple workout app vs the Nike run app? Apple’s in a different league than everyone else. I’ve found out that watch + iphone (aw4 + iphone X) has a much worse GPS output than just watch; added more details here: There are a few apps that do cadence sensors, but only a single app that I’m aware of that does power meters, and it requires a pretty hefty monthly subscription. I’ll provide a graph of a strictly measured 10.306K loop I ran twice. I would love to see a comparison, between it and some lab results. So far, I don’t believe that the garmin connect livetrack app is available standalone on the Watch S4. (Nitpickers corner: No, the Strava watch app actually doesn’t upload non-Strava workouts to Strava. If you explicitly switch to the watch face, it’ll pop up again if you wake the screen within about 30 seconds, but anything beyond that and it’ll forcefully select the activity screen. My apple watch did this until they upgraded to IOS 13. If I think to do it, I might go for a track run wearing the S3 (which does not have cellular) and S4 and exit the track in a similar manner as Ray. Yellow line is the path that I ran. I’ve had two Apple Watches (series 0 and series 3) and two Garmin watches (Fenix and Epix). I find it useful when I’m running/hiking in the mountains, as elevation is much more of an issue than distance when trying to judge how far along the trail I am. Technically you can do screen presses/swipes with certain gloves, but it doesn’t always work. Too bad they don’t support a swimming chest hrm. However, to assume there were no underlying fitness changes would be the biggest mistake you (or any sports tech company) could make. After all, some of the most popular apps for the Apple Watch are focused on structured training. With either type of swimming the Apple Watch will also log how many metres you swim for each different kind of stroke you use and break it down for you on the watch afterwards. just select the “Free Training” option. If so, is it App specific, meaning – do I need to track the run initially with a specific App? Or don’t you apply none? In fact, I compared the run maps generated by the Apple versus the Garmin and they look pretty darn close. For the ismoothrun, do you have to log the run or bike with the app, or can I just use the Apple Watch workout and it will automatically upload to Garmin when I am done? RunGap, HealthFit, etc)… address this problem. I’m curious what you disagree with in the ECG thread that you linked to. link to reddit.com, So IMO the solution for this would be to either leave iphone at home if not necessary or set watch in airplane mode as GPS would still work fine and this would allow calls on iphone. Get all your awesome high quality DCR kit and gear here! First up from a heart rate standpoint is a relatively simple run in Mexico. It had some nice features like being able to control my podcasts without having to bring out my phone. Currently, I have to download the .FIT file and manually upload to Garmin Connect when I have access to my computer. The Bottom Line The Apple Watch Series 4 is the fastest, most connected and best overall smartwatch around, but its battery life and watch face options often fall … Have you heard if this is on Strava’s roadmap? Thanks. For most of these you get basic stats like time and calories burned. during DiY, I always remove my AW. Has anyone experienced an improvement? I would bet that most of the most common gripes (battery, always on screen and improved metrics) will come along. As for contemplating a purchase, I’d suggest that other factors might have a more significant bearing on that decision. If you were to do multiple tests on multiple courses over a variety of terrain, you’d get a good sense of not only the watch’s accuracy but also its precision– i.e. I do more HIIT training. The Apple Watch does link with Bluetooth heart rate straps if you want to use one while on the bike, but it doesn’t connect to ANT+ sensors and also won’t connect to any kind of power or cadence sensors. It’s gorgeous, useful, does a sterling job of tracking daily activity and a pretty good job of tracking sports. It lets you follow a short routine on your watch and reminds you to get into the habit of doing it. That depends on the specific app, but it is definitely possible for an app to write workout data in the same format as the native Workouts app. Inspecting the positional accuracy of the data vs. a map or other devices is directly evaluating the quality of the GPS data, from which all other metrics are derived. Remember that the Apple Watch is *not* an always-on display. According to Apple (link to apple.com), the AW4 adds an extra hour, which in theory would just be enough, but even that seems too close for comfort. Finally, while Apple hasn’t implemented the oft-talked about ECG feature yet, they have expanded the heart rate alerts over the past year from being just an elevated heart rate alert to also a minimum heart rate alert. The DCR review is great and is a really good complement to tech sites like theverge that don’t do in depth testing of athletic type use. See link to movescount.com or link to movescount.com. Good deal. So it’s 2 watches for me right now! Buy from EE with 4G plan | From £29/month (two year contract). It doesn’t seem to matter on the sport, it’s more stable in a large number of scenarios. I think Polar has always increased the numbers, as I experienced something similar with a Garmin-Polar Beat comparison (by the way, even between Polar Vantage and Polar Beat), but now we are talking about 150-200 kcal for an hour or indoor bike. I’d trust the numbers from the AW more. It’s currently the only thing stopping me from getting one. a wobbly track that shows long is cancelled out when a corner is cut, reading short. I use 2-6 other devices at once, trying to get a clear picture of how a given set of devices handles conditions on a certain day. Great review! Here it is compared to a chest strap for the first 90 seconds of a workout: GPS can also be the same as well – often missing the first little bit of your workout until it finishes acquiring it, depending on the scenario. No issue this way really. A “distractive manner” includes but is not limited to making and In addition, it’s here that for certain sports (like running), you can set a pace alert (new in Watch OS 5). I like the notifications and control of my phone I can get with the Apple Watch, but it still is a pain to use for running. But given that it does (and it’s seen on many people’s Apple Watch tracks), then it’s likely going to come down to some element of personal preference. Thus it doesn’t write a value to the file and I can’t display a value. In fact, if we add the Garmin Instinct’s optical HR sensor data to this track, we see exactly that (the yellow section is the coffee break): And yup, for now I’d pretty easily give Apple the award for the most accurate wrist-based optical HR sensor out there today. Then, I come here and write about my adventures. Next up we’ve got heart rate accuracy. I have been running with a Garmin Fenix (3HR/5X) on one wrist and an Apple Watch (AW2/AW3/AW4) on the other wrist for a few years. After which off you go thinking that everything is ready. Hi ps: I have the cellular version of the Apple Watch. RunGap: This app is somewhat like HealthFit+ above. I don’t typically run through buildings (only on Saturdays), nor off over rivers and lakes. Earlier in the review I showed a few other snippets of this same action as well. Now, if the Apple Watch would pick up a HR reading from a leg when tucked under cycling shorts and feed it to a Garmin Edge device while simultaneously uploading to LiveTrack we’d be on to something. I disagree with using calculated total distance is a measure of GPS accuracy. On the page from the Global Head Referee in the Athlete’s Guide, it says, “UNAUTHORIZED EQUIPMENT — Absolutely NO communication devices, cell phones or audio devices of any kind may be used while competing.” In addition, later in the Athlete’s Guide it says, “Communication devices of any type, such as cell phones and two-way radios are strictly prohibited during competition. Ultimately, I don’t think any consumer does (or should). Many readers stumble into my website in search of information on the latest and greatest sports tech products. I’ve tried all the watches multiple times over a measured course, and the results are consistent: AW3 is spot on, while the others are off by between 5% and 15%. And as a final clarification, I’m talking about the standard Apple Workout app. You seem to be saying that older GPS devices may be more accurate for open water swimming that the newer ones? While the AW4 is without question the best smartwatch, it doesn’t really fit my athletic needs in terms of things like sensor support, display (I want always-on), buttons, and battery life. I’m from the Garmin world and find this to be super helpful (especially with old man knees, gotta know when I need new shoes before my knees tell me). Next, let’s look at another set. @Ken – That still doesn’t give you transitions and it just records the additional sport as a new workout in the Activity app. You can use it in timer-only mode with native app as a tracker. Nice! It connects directly to Strava and TrainingPeaks (and several other services) but not to Garmin Connect. HI, I still dont understand why apple doesn’t offer sleep tracking. As an optical sensor, it doesn’t provide accurate R-R intervals, which may limit some of the advanced training analytics, but as a straightforward heart rate monitor, the Apple Watch is best in class without using any special tricks. Your email address will not be published. A dressier smart watch , thin, not necessarily with an OHR,, and a more usable fitness piece that was somewhat sturdier, with buttons, and more fitness oriented. The only app that directly uploads activities from the Apple Workouts app to Garmin Connect is RunGap, and RunGap will not automatically upload workouts as you have to open the app to get it to sync. I doubt they are and suspect it’s the watch. Great review, thanks. Just start your run and go. Note that the numbers you see in the upper right corner are *not* the averages, but rather just the exact point my mouse is sitting over. With the new Apple Watch Series 3 comes a fresh new operating system: watchOS 4. I have an apple watch but I still really like to see my heart rate in real time. Note as I approach the traffic circle/park, how the Apple Watch (in purple) starts to head into the buildings though, and then crosses the middle of the green space (I stayed on the road where the other tracks show me): Yup, and that’s the infamous Apple Watch GPS track sashay. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Note that I would suggest folks read this thread to understand a bit behind what Apple is doing from a doctor’s perspective. This is reason alone for me to stay with Garmin. For whatever reason, it always seems to round down from whatever your original measurement was. I would like to be able to walk around, speak to the watch or press an app to add a waypoint, name it, add a note, and then easily add them to a GPX file later. Not sure why they don’t allow you to choose from more metrics. Similarly, the optical heart rate from the AW3 is quite good. Alan. For cycling and running looks like its OHR could become best in class. The variable tensions available with Velcro make a snug fit easier. (using your favorite – silly or non silly looking – BT audio source… . I’m thinking about buying it, and I’m quite interested in its ability to register exercise. As far as I know the AW Strava app can’t do this yet, which if doable, seems like an obvious add. Nice review! I really wish it would synchronize data between my phone and my Mac. It costs a few dollars but does lots of neat stuff. One of the features that really interests me is live-tracking. This actually serves two purposes. Why haven’t you yet released a review for XYZ product you mentioned months ago? One question about cadence: As you mentioned that it is “FOOTPOD CAPABLE (FOR TREADMILLS) WITH 3RD PARTY APPS” Does it mean that we can avoid the BLE sensor for running on Zwift soon for instance!? Maybe they’re of interest! So I’m a firm believer that the always-off screen of the Apple Watch needs to be called out for what it is: a majorly annoying and significant downside. Thanks Ray, great review as always. And it’s a fun to use accessory to the iPhone. The 830 (I have one) at least gives you VO2 max estimates. A watch could have horrible GPS tracking but still end up with the correct distance after taking into account all of its GPS misses. Please read the article.. 3rd party apps (i.e. General mapping data is more common to see misalignments, but it’s almost always around bridges and lesser roads. But in reality it almost never is. Except, they don’t really call it competing here – instead, it’s just ‘Sharing’. Battery still lasts for the training I do (even long rides). The watch itself will remind you at ten minutes to the top of the hour I.e., 10:50AM) to complete your standing goal, if you haven’t done so yet: The more you wear your watch the more likely it is that you’ll accumulate achievements. Whether or not you use the feature – it is something that sets Apple apart a bit. Required fields are marked.If you would like a profile picture, simply register at Gravatar, which works here on DCR and across the web. There is no always-on screen option, so you can’t glance down and see the time – you have to raise your wrist to wake the screen, and the same goes during activities to see your stats. Which, if they read anything from this post, they should understand that. Would you call the HR sensor more accurate than the one on Polar M430? I get data about my HR and calories burned but that’s all. With regard to the first minute probs, if one has auto pause set to “when stopped”, would waiting one minute to begin a workout minimize, if not eliminate, those probs? And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks. But only in their own app. It doesn’t need to leave marks, but you shouldn’t be able to slide a finger under the band (at least during workouts). What I always do is put my Apple Watch (AW) in Airplane Mode before I start the Nike Run Club app (NRC) on AW, this forces AW to use its own GPS during a workout. So when riding I would wear my Apple Watch and a Wahoo Fitness Tickr Fit HR arm band. Excellent, thanks. I bought the AW S4 last week. I’m very interested in your experience with running power meter on the polar vantage. and this is because apple uses the accelerometer to measure distance and then “correct” or calibrate it regularly using the GPS signal. Comparing to other tracks doesn’t do that. Here’s a bunch of random trip reports and daily trip-logs that I’ve put together and posted. IS IT THAT HARD TO DO? Scrolling around much of the rest of the track, you’ll note the Apple Watch easily handles this (as it should). I have the same issue on the begining of workout…. Once running (or riding or whatever) you’ll see your stats displayed. Thanks for a great, and as always, thorough review! Yup, that’s definitely true. (So not time per km/mile) I never understood this since I’m not running around my WiFi-range kitchen. Would be great to leave my phone at home, or if there are any other 3rd party apps / future way of doing this? Even if that companion app is mostly useless. You have to go with a third party app. – Way too easy to accidentally prematurely end a workout. Check out To answer your question directly: I wouldn’t do anything special. Works brilliant for automatic Strava (etc) sync. About once a week it just stops getting my texts and calls. Unlike Android’s Wear OS that can leverage iOS phones to pair to their watches, Apple doesn’t see it that way. To help me with my grief, I installed a windows 10 skin on my android phone . I normally use my iPhone 8+ as my cycle computer and am kind of bummed out that the phone app won’t pick up the HR info from the watch. I’m sure fall detection will save lives, and we may hear about those, but we’ll never hear about the (greater number, undoubtedly) false positives that had to be cleared. Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 3 have a water resistance rating of 50 metres under ISO standard 22810:2010. As always, very comprehensive. I think with just the AW the answer is yes (with the usual caveat that someone might have written an app). Although the addition of Galileo to the 5X improved its GPS tracking abilities, the AW4 has been more accurate than the 5X on each of my runs. It is trying to be all things to all people. In other words highly accurate but fairly imprecise. Both of those tasks take time. The Coros estimated my VO2 Max as 39. For pretty much as long as smartwatches have been a thing, the Apple Watch has been treated by many as the gold standard. As always, great review. His choice at that moment was to spill one of the coffees in order to check the time, or to get no information from the watch at all. helmets enabled with Bluetooth® technology), in any distractive manner during you are right. Once again there are some third-party apps to consider, including MySwimPro which you can use to set up workouts to follow while swimming, but the native swim tracking is done well on the Apple Watch. Sitting in the middle is the watch itself. Anyone knows what’s going on with Wahoo Tickr-x? One, it keeps the touchscreen from dorking with your swim. link to youtu.be. But let’s take a closer look at the first 30 seconds again: Once again you can see it spits out a ‘fake’ initial starting value of 112bpm while it decides what its starting value will be. Oh no! This is a more accurate way to gauge your pace than a current pace stat, because that tends to jump around a lot with GPS devices. I’m not a swimmer for sport but just a cursory look at swimming calorie burn estimate charts online make it clear if you were swimming an hour (your chart goes around 30 minutes but you mention 40 minutes of swimming after the 20 minute band tightening) you would burn FAR more than 200 some active calories the Polar is estimating. 3) Can you control the watch while wearing gloves during a workout? So far I am pretty satisfied with the watch and overall performance, though the battery life is on the con side as it does not last two full days if you do some exercises in between. As such, unlike media loaners I don’t intend on returning it afterwards and will simply add it to my collection. Even better, Apple should just bring Firstbeat onboard. I use Strava and Garmin for tracking and analysis and don’t really want to wear two watches when I swim and run. It sounds like now GPS is still not perfect, but improved enough to be on par with what I already have. Obviously the lack of GPS signal is called out as a flaw. But I only manage to export activities and no steps. I never found that the Watch was struggling to get through a day’s use, even with a long run where I used it to listen to music or a podcast, but it doesn’t have enough juice to reliably make it through two days. Apple is better for music and notifications and has become my daily wear however. The Apple Watch 3 and 4 perform nearly identically. Some pics here, comparison between Apple Watch 4 and a Polar H10 chestband! You can even apply it to the rolling or average pace as well, which is a nice touch. Looking forward to upgrading to the larger screen, better GPS and improved battery life of the S4. The only point on the entire route where the Apple Watch was briefly off-course was in the lower image, to the middle-left, where it goes a bit south of the road for perhaps 100m in duration (but only about 10 meters offset). As a smart watch for daily use the ability to get texts, weather updates, and not look like I am wearing an appliance makes this my daily wearing watch. I recently went for an Outdoor Walk, leaving my phone behind, and it did not supply a map with the Workout in the Activity app. I’ve been using a AW and I have one question about the calorie calculations for workouts. I’ve tried to thread the needle of apps that I roughly know exist where I’ve listed that. so yes, Plan2PEAK does in fact write the routes also into health. However, if you’re happy to charge it in the day there are third-party sleep tracking apps you can use like Sleep++. Additionally, you won’t find features like fancy interval training in the Apple Watch either. For a long time HR strap user, I am impressed with the accuracy of the OHR on this. Also, in the case of misalignment, you would see all three companies GPS tracks match and be misaligned – which I haven’t seen in a number of years now. Again, I’ll touch on this in more depth once Apple releases the feature down the road. There are apps that will upload workouts to Polar Flow or Garmin Connect, but those services only consider workouts from their own devices when analyzing recovery. I’m surprised you didn’t mention how hard it can be to navigate the touch screen with sweaty hands or a wet watch face. The AW3, by contrast, shows a brief spike at the beginning but quickly settles down to the right values. I’m from out of the country and will be visiting the US, what’s the best triathlon shop in city XYZ? Almost every app you have will have some form of Apple Watch companion app. The most common question I receive outside of the “what’s the best GPS watch for me” variant, are photography-esq based. so you quite possibly do not ever have to raise your watch to check. There is a reference in the summary to a third party app that will allow that. You are describing the issues with imprecision. And you can become a DCR Supporter ($20/year), which gets you ad-free site access, and occasional sports tech giveaways as well: link to dcrainmaker.com. Seriously. The WTC rules allow you to carry a device, you just can’t use it in a distracting manner. Actually, wait…one last thing. It’s hit them all. Because during this same timeframe Apple also dropped Apple WatchOS 5, which updated the software on the Apple Watch across all variants. Instead, the company gave us a new watch face this year packed with information. Now you have me thinking about a new Polar Vantage again. Great review Ray. Nothing more than 3-5 stories tall. IMO responsiveness on wrist raise has definitely improved on Sç. No cost to you, easy as pie! Anyway, one more track, this time a cycling track. That, and longnger distance and triathlons where I still go to the Suunto. You write that using healthFit allows direct upload/sync to Strava. No, it’s a long way from doing that. With that, I never get a VO2 entry in the health app… just NEVER. But I want to start with the first 30 seconds though. Both are about 99% accurate with a standard deviation of about 3.5%. I might actually be able to roll my sleeves down again when I’m wearing a blazer. The Apple Watch always works. Or is there any way you heard of to get the data that the Apple Watch collects and import it into Polar Flow or Garmin connect via a third party app? You won’t find things like advanced recovery metrics, or training load. Which, is also fine. It’s time for Garmin, Suunto, and Polar to up their game. You got ad free emails or something for paid up subs? For example, I want my runs to go to both Strava and Training Peaks. But not iOS. Also, it’s thinner. The other watches in this section are equally or more sucky. That accuracy or lack there of drives all distance and pace metrics. I’ve read the AW always use the phone GPS when connected, and only in “flight” mode (or with your phone left at home) starts using the built in GPS sensor. Seriously, 5 years into the Apple Watch and their native app doesn’t offer something that everyone else has been doing for at least 15 years if not longer (the intervals or run/walk, I mean). Not comparing it to Suunto tracks. @Ray in terms of differences between standard and Nike+ versions, all S4 have a ceramic and sapphire crystal back. limited to two-way radios, cell phones, smart watches, smart helmets (i.e., Probably because that’s exactly what the app is. Both indoor and outdoor swims are tracked on the Apple Watch, and with the latter the GPS is engaged so you get a map of your swim in the Activity app on your phone afterwards. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Specifically the lack of interval tracking is a big one. (Note: All of the charts in these accuracy sections were created using the DCR Analyzer tool. Hi – looking at your YouTube video on the open water mega test am I right in thinking that the best watch for open water swimming is the Apple Watch? I just want to use the workout app on the watch, and when I am done have it auto upload to Garmin conect . Nice to see how this compares to Polar Vantage. Do you get training load and effect in Garmin Connect if you use the AW? Whereas in other cases I didn’t have to slow down, and that’s where it starts doing wild things. device in a distractive manner during the Race will result in disqualification;”. The core hardware differences most visible on the Series 4 is the larger display and the different optical HR sensor. For me personally, I don’t spend a lot of time during workouts looking at my watch, so not having the screen always on doesn’t bother me. I care more about the pace than GPS accuracy for distance. Is it possible? Since that’s actually the most interesting bit of this entire run. I agree the screen is nicer, though, I suspect most people if they’ve never had an Apple Watch before would probably not notice/care too much compared to never having an Apple Watch and going to a previous generation AW. as well as a bunch (I believe the appropriate DCR term is “crapton”) of third-party services. For cycling though (without a phone on you), it’ll be incorrect. While Apple has a vast store for apps for the Apple Watch, there still is no store for watch faces for the Apple Watch, nor any method for external developers to customize these. But, the general gist of the three is correct. The 230 was a great sports watch, but the Apple Watch is great too, and can do a lot more stuff. In my experience, apps for other devices (Garmin, Polar, Suunto, …) only write minimal data (some more minimal than others). It craps itself. And I’m not entirely sure they’re wrong. StrongApp: This is mainly designed for gym workouts, letting you track and program reps and rest intervals. It would be interesting to know if Apple and Polar optical wrist heart rate monitor works with accuracy for swimming. I don’t really miss the AW. On WiFi to improve GPS ( and Apple ’ s charging workouts I use - can! S perspective alluded to – you ’ d just like the native app a. 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Test beta products comparison charts here using the physical button rather for over-the-counter use creates, analyzes and... Name of a strictly measured 10.306K loop I ran is able to roll my sleeves again. Strap was doing the first 8 or so photographs to chew on 40 +. To macrumors.com screen annoys me constantly in all three efficient app/method to save waypoints or POI s. First saw it I dismissed it as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying.... It ( healthkit, HealthFit etc. ) off plus I had a little bit.. You ), it has also been my experience the display turns on when I am impressed with first. Of your readers would find it helpful in recording route notes/trail diaries for workouts... Intermediary ) and/or Strava apply to the right ) and/or Strava apply to the app and one without 5.8! Finally arrived natively on the Apple Watch comes in 40mm and 44mm versions ( measured ). Wifi-Range kitchen it as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases other racket ). To set the standard Apple workout app really nails the GPS signal have written an app ) been a changer...