Smartphone Vs GPS watch?

Hi all, I am new here and relatively new to running.

I'm training for a half marathon and have also signed up for a marathon next year. I'm finding it terribly hard and sometimes downright demoralising not knowing exactly how far/fast I'm running.

My current phone doesn't have GPS on it but I'm due an upgrade in November. I was wondering if the GPS apps on newer phones will do for tracking how far and fast I'm going or whether a GPS watch would be better?

Ideally I'd like it to shout at me when I've done X miles, or every X minutes just for a bit of a morale boost. The heart rate aspect would be more out of interest than anything as I've not gone that much into detail with my training.

What do you all recommend?


  • well.. I have signed up for my first marathon next year aswell as currently training for a half next month. Whilst I have run before I am relatively new to longer runs!!

    I have a smartphone with GPS and whilst it proved useful its quite big and I didnt really get on with it whilst running. I went for the basic garmin (110) and I love it - It wont alert you when you have done x miles etc but it tells you time distance and pace. I got it with a HRM and I have to say I actually like it - On the downside whilst knowing all these stats are great and can motivate you - sometimes it can mess with your head - many a run I have to order myself not to look at my watch every 3 minutes!!!!

    So in answer - there will definately be an app for what you require which with headphones can literally talk you round but I personally preferred the simplicity of a watch....and sometimes dare I say it I run completely gadgetless!!!!

  • ClagClag ✭✭✭
    Personally, I've not used my I-phone for this and don't take it running as its really quite heavy.

    I recently got a new GPS watch (Garmin 405 with heart rate monitor for ??119-99) from this website. Was well chuffed!
  • Hi Runny

    There are apps that do what you want - I 've been using runkeeper - it works on iphone and android phones. I am using my phone as MP3 player as well so it would be with me on the run anyway, even though the GPS watch is a more comfortable solution as a training aid. 

  • mapmyrun shouts at you after x distance.


    i'm one of those that started with iphone, but found it quite a hassle just having to sort it on top of everything so i changed to a garmin and upload the data once a week. 

    It's fine using a phone they are just different, and i always worry about the abuse the iphone will get in winter in sub or very near sub zero tempretures in lots more rain (if that's possibe after our summer). 

    I've no idea which is more accurate, i run by the distance on the watch two weeks ago it said i did 28k my iphone said i'd gone 30.5km don't know which is best I guess it's somewhere in the middle? 

    A phone will do the job perfectly, but i just find it's cooler having a running watch imageand easier to glance at / change the settings / data you are viewing, when you are on the move.

    EDIT: For example set map my run to shout each km or mile, what happens if you have had a rough half km/mile and want to just check your heart rate or speed then... it's a pain with the phone, with the watch, quick glance... then onwards.


    EDIT2: Also imagine hundreds doing that at the same time in a marathon you'd never hear your phone over the gaggle of other iphones image 

  • I use runkeeper and endomondo on my htc and both of them track fine.

  • Thanks for the input all. I think seeing as I will get a new phone anyway I will wait until I get that and see how I get on with it before making any decisions to splash out on a watch.

    I'm a little frustrated that I won't have anything before my race (next month) but that's life eh?image

  • Do you know anyone who you can just borrow their smart phone for the race if you want it just for the stats?

  • for your race, there should be mile markers alng the route.  Therefore a simple stop watch will help you keep track of your pace

  • Smartphones are much better now at getting and keeping a GPS lock than they were a couple of years ago.


    The main advantage of a GPS watch I find is during races: having it at your wrist whenever you want it with a nice clear - not overcluttered - display makes it easy to tell whether you're on target pace or not. The Garmin 405 is still a great bargain, and works perfectly well. I think they must have corrected a lot of the flaws towards the end of the product's lifecycle, but the bad reputation remained.


    If you only want to review your performance after runs or post them to Facebook, stick with the smartphone.

  • I'd add that you might not be interested in heart rate right now, but the biggest single thing they tell new runners is that they've been running unecessarily hard on many runs; it teaches them how to make easy sessions easy. This on its own helps motivation and cuts down on demoralization a lot.

  • My wife and I use Runtastic - works on iOS and Android, costs about 4 quid for the paid version of the app, and gives you a live track (optional) that means that your support party (and friends anywhere else) can see where you are. I've used it for duathlons, 10Ks and bike training - you can get a shoulder pouch for most phones for about a tenner to hold it while you run. One (slightly obvious) advantage of it over a watch is that it means, if you do turn an ankle while training on your own, you have a phone to shout for help on!

  • I have a question related to this. Some people seem to think that a smartphone's GPS isn't accurate enough. However, I remember my dad got a small GPS unit for work, and it had bluetooth, and I was able to pair it to my Blackberry and use it as my main source for GPS data. Could this possibly be used as a cheaper alternative to a GPS watch? Has anyone tried this? I know it's not as convenient but it may be an option for some. GPS watches seem to be nice but as a soon-to-be beginner, I'm not sure if they're worth the money yet.

  • well I have been running for a year now with a nike running app on my I phone, Ok it may be a little heavier then a garmin on your wrist but personally I love the way it interacts with the I pod on my phone and i can set goals and and review them on the noke+website. Also it may sound silly but yes I do get motivated by the sport celebrity voices that tell me well done when i reach a goal...

    However  one day I may buy a wrist nav too, but for now my i phone serves me well.

    So here is my advice to you: if your phone upgade is a necessity go with that as you get a phone an mp3 player and a sat nav all in one and trust me there are a lot of running apps to chose from... map my run, endomondo, nike+ and nike running and lots more....

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