Sports Watch Update April 2021
V2.323 – 29 March 2021
This frequently refreshed post gives you an indication of which GPS Run, Bike and Triathlon sports devices are rumoured to be pending release, available NOW, DISCONTINUED or which are due to be superseded. Elsewhere on this site, there are detailed opinions about specific devices, future devices and sports tech trends. Oh! and LOTS of detailed hands-on reviews on virtually all of the key run/tri watches and bike computers that you can BUY NOW.
This is a LONG article, use this Index to skip to the section you want. If you are here for the first time and interested in ‘future sports devices & feature sports tech developments‘ then this entire post should be of interest – some of it is based on part-substantiated rumours and extrapolation of past product release cycles. Most of the product predictions will happen but the precise timing will differ. Similarly, most of the futures/features section will be proved to be mostly correct.
The April edition has a revamped section for Suunto/Polar
Recent Highlights and the INBOUND Queue
2021 is going to be a good year for sports tech as we start to see the appearance of slipped developments from last year, the expansion of known technologies and perhaps even some genuine feature innovations. Plus many watches and bike computers from several vendors have 2 or 3-year lifecycles and replacements are naturally due this year.
The full list of everything, past & future is towards the end of this post for each manufacturer. The general trend will be of iterative releases of bike computers and sports/fitness watches. We should also see the next tranche of bike power meters from most manufacturers. Perhaps we shall also some product innovation and competition in the accessories space with competitors to WHOOP and STRYD as well as a new swathe of Dura-Ace 12-speed, WiFi goodness? Here are headlines from recent months:
- IMMINENT: Garmin Descent MK2s
- RELEASED: Garmin Rally power meter pedals (rs/xc/rk 100/200, dual single, spd, spd-sl, Look/Keo aka Vector 4, up to $1200)
- RELEASED: Polar Ignite 2
- RELEASED Polar Vantage M2
- RELEASED: Garmin Enduro Watch x2 –
- EXPECTED: Garmin 955 (Leaked) Expected features here. March-May 2021 other sources say September 2021. Both those dates are plausible, I favour the later one.
- EXPECTED: Garmin 955 LTE! (Leaked) March-May 2021 other sources say September 2021
- EXPECTED: Garmin Venu 2/Venu 2s Q3.2021 maybe sooner
- RUMOURED: Garmin 945 LTE! (Leaked in several sources) Likely date could be ‘now’, April 2021 or never. This could be confused with 955LTE.
- EXPECTED 2021: mioEXP triathlon watch.
- EXPECTED by some but I’m not sure: Garmin Forerunner 655 + Wrist Running Power?
- EXISTS/PROBABLE: Garmin Vector AIR, RALLY AIR??
- EXPECTED: Forerunner 255 & 655 (or 245+/645+ /Music). Likely date Q1-2.2021
- EXPECTED: Edge 530plus and 830plus (or 840/540) might be imminent ie April/May 2021 (no intel)
- EXPECTED: Vivoactive 5/Vivoactive 5 LTE (Late Q3.2021, some intel)
- EXPECTED: Fenix 7 (Sep 2020-Jan 2021, likely)
- POSSIBLE: MARQ v2? v1 released circa 13 MAR 2019…a two-year lifecycle could give this perhaps planned for 2021.
- SPECULATION based on generic 2-3 year product lifecycles: Suunto and Wahoo are all due refreshes this year at some point (there is some info if you look but it doesn’t amount to much and it’s not on this site and it leads to confusing conclusions.)
Recent (selective ones of wider interest)
- RELEASED: Wahoo Elemnt RIVAL
- RELEASED: Descent Mk2i (aka Fenix 6 Dive)
- RELEASED: D2 Air
- RELEASED: Garmin Index S2 Scale
- RELEASED: Huawei Watch Fit
- RELEASED: TicWatch 3 Pro
- RELEASED: Apple Watch
- RELEASED: Apple Watch 6 SE
- RELEASED: Garmin 745 (15 Sep)
- RELEASED: Garmin Venu SQ (23 Sep)
- RELEASED: Garmin Fenix 6 SOLAR Series
- RELEASED: Garmin Instinct Solar (plus variants)
- RELEASED: Zepp E (Huami/Zepp)
- RELEASED: Zepp Z (Huami/Zepp)
- RELEASED: Coros PACE 2
- RELEASED: Fitbit Versa 3 / 3 SENSE
- RELEASED: Polar Vantage V2
- RELEASED: OnePlus Watch (probably same as Oppo Watch. Oppo, OnePlus and Realme are made by BBK, not Wear OS therefore it will fail…no apps)
- RELEASED: Oppo Watch (Wear OS version)
Q1.2020 has been quieter than I expected. Garmin has limited launch slots that were taken by Enduro and RALLY, although Polar provided some excitement with two refreshed models.
There are not as many new rumours as usual for sports watches, at least none that I can mention. Conversely, there are a few smartwatch PR companies creating a lot of noise, but that all that ‘sound and fury’ probably signifies very little.
Garmin Running & Triathlon Tech for 2021
There are a LOT of Garmin products that are due for a refresh this year if you look at previous release cycles. The new Garmin Enduro Watch for Ultra Runners is not a refreshed 655 but perhaps the last of the Fenix 6 variants.
Garmin Vector 4 was an outside bet for Q4.2020 and clearly, that didn’t happen, instead, we got the RALLY pedal power meter line which comes in at least 6 combinations with a dual/single version of each of SPD (MTB), SPD-SL (Road) and Look/KEO cleat options
There is very little recent chatter around the Forerunners 655 & 955. Perhaps there is too much crossover with the Forerunner 745 and perhaps there will never be a 655 if Garmin decides to simplify its sometimes-confusing product-range? Or probably the new Enduro has taken the place previously occupied by the 645 as the top running-specific watch.
The Venu SQ from September was interesting and signalled Garmin’s intent to take the mid-priced smartwatch market more seriously and Garmin Lily backs that point up further by attacking the small-wristed, female-market squarely on, albeit with an ugly watch. Perhaps they can beat Fitbit Sense/Versa 3 in the Android market but an informed purchaser with an Apple iPhone would always buy an Apple Watch 3/SE. Nevertheless, Garmin will roll the Vivoactive 5 dice in Sep 2021-Jan 2022.
For all new higher-end iterations from Garmin later in 2021 expect to see LTE as an option, perhaps even in the bike computer formats too.
Garmin has just about refreshed all their accessories to include BLE and ANT+ support. The obvious omission is the footpod. Whilst I would like to see a STRYD-competitor, it’s more likely that Garmin will introduce wrist-based power SOON and PERHAPS also a new iteration of the RD-POD
Suunto, Polar, Wahoo, Coros & Other Sport-focussed Products
In 2020 Polar introduced Grit X which builds on the standard Polar features as well as adding in some new ones that increase the Grix X’s suitability for outdoor adventures. Then, Polar released its high-end multisport watch, the Polar Vantage V2 to mixed reviews. The V2 was new hardware and all the existing Vantage 1 features topped up with all the new features from the Polar Grit X. Their portfolio was completed this year with the Vantage M2 refresh.
Coros Vertix tries to compete against the Garmin Fenix and their Apex models are sporty-smart hybrids in a similar vein to Polar. Like Polar, Coros has well-made hardware, more features but a poorer platform. Thus Coros has found it harder to justify their pricing as a premium competitor in their chosen segments. That changed with the Coros Pace 2 which is highly featured, with novel features and at a great price. Again, it’s the platform that lets down the Pace 2 but it still sold well because of the price/feature combination. This may have caused Coros to rethink its strategy going forward.
Polar M2 and Coros Pace 2 thus go head-to-head on many levels with each having quite stark advantages over the other. Yet the two are relatively evenly matched as an overall offering and both can sell well compared to Garmins at the same price points…unlike at the higher price levels where most vendors struggle to counter Garmin’s products. The ageing Suunto 5 slots in here as well with some deep discounting making it an interesting alternative.
Suunto 9 joins the fray and tries to compete against the Fenix, Vertix and Grit X. It’s hard to see how anyone but Garmin Fenix will dominate the higher-priced end of the market. Ultimately the Garmin dominance will stifle the competition as soon as Suunto et al realise they just can’t win unless they are really, really clever.
The Wahoo Rival competes against the V2/935/945 as a true sports watch. Like the V2 it can’t match the Garmins on a feature-for-feature basis, however, Wahoo has some key benefits over Polar because of the loyalty to their brand, the openness of their platform and their interesting portfolio of products.
The sporty-smart-fitness watches then sit as uneasy bedfellows at the low/mid-price points, all trying to differentiate themselves from the out-and-out smartwatches made by the smartphone manufacturers (Samsung, Apple, etc). The main differentiator of these products seems to be their claimed sportiness. Ultimately an app or two on an Apple Watch will do the same job(s) and therein lies their long-term fate.
Cheaper sporty-fitness watches include the Polar Ignite 2 and its GPSless sibling the Unite. Perhaps you might bundle in the Suunto 3 Fitness here too. Premium models here might include Garmin Vivoactive and Suunto 7. I don’t really ‘get’ the Unite/Suunto 3 part of the market but the others all have compelling arguments in their favour. That said they are all competing in a confusing, competitive part of the market and sometimes it’s the one who shouts loudest that is hard to beat…Apple. Interestingly I would say that the Suunto 7 is the one product that could shift this segment of the market.
Q2. 2021 sees these brands & products at an interesting juncture.
- Polar has thrown the dice. There might be a Unite 2 but their future suggests conservative platform improvements and new features trickling out through firmware.
- Suunto now is next to refresh their product line. Will they boldly push the S7 further or double-down on the Suunto 9? A refreshed Suunto 5 could also be interesting but the market has moved on a lot since its original launch and more than a simple refresh is needed. S9 will never beat the Fenix.
- Coros are likely to iterate rather than release new models. They have a conundrum though, the app needs significant work and, with the exception of the P2, Coros must realise that their company strength is “features” and their products can sell REALLY WELL if they get the price right. Thus if a next-gen Vertix could be $200-$300 cheaper, then it might be a game-changer. At the current price levels, it’s just tickling the Fenix 6 rather than even being a thorn in the side of the Fenix 5/5+
- I can’t see Wahoo releasing another (cheaper) watch in the foreseeable future but as a company, they have a huge range of options open for their progress.
Out of all that, what I see that would be interesting in 2021 are a Suunto 7 gen 2; a feature-full & revamped Coros data platform; and many more Wahoo RIVAL features. None of those is a certainty. In fact, I’d probably bet they don’t happen! Which could make for a boring 2021.
Smart Fitness, Wear OS, Watch OS & Similar Smarts
Finally. The Google Fitbit deal is done.
Although not official, we shall say ‘Bye Bye’ to Fitbit’s FitOS and Wear OS will swell in size, notably because the next generation of Fitbit devices will likely run WearOS. Plus it’s also rumoured that 2021 will see Samsung make a move in Wear OS, which will add significant credibility to the platform.
After a quiet 2020, we shall see a lot of activity elsewhere in Wear OS as (non-Fitbit/Google) companies build on the new generation of SnapDragon processors (4100) with a new WearOS 3.0 – that mostly means Fossil but others too. Fossil is clearing out their Gen 5 stock at LOW prices and introducing some Gen5/LTE variants, probably before the launch of their Gen 6 in 2021. It will be interesting to see if Oppo/Zepp/RealMe/BKK can take over Fossil’s mantle in the Wear OS space, it looks like WearOS is one of their strategic targets and the company is already in talks with Google about expanding the feature set of Wear OS. At the same time some vendors, like Mobvoi, are considering alternatives to Wear OS.
2021 is the year when Google MUST act with a significantly improved Wear OS 3.0, however, the Fitbit acquisition will delay their hardware efforts into 2022. So Can Fossil and Samsung(!) come up with the goods.
What will Google do with Wear OS features or Fitbit in 2021…who knows? Probably not too much. The Fitbit Versa 3 SENSE is the last Fitbit. Fitbit will become a sub-brand of Google, like Nest. so I guess the Google Pixel 2 could be rebranded as a Fitbit?
Then again, the much-rumoured Google Pixel 2 Watch might already exist and come out in 2020. Eventually, it will be branded as a Fitbit Pixel (by Google). Just as NEST will become Google’s home hardware sub-brand so will Fitbit become Google’s health sub-brand in some form or other.
Amazfit, Xiaomi, Realme, Redmi, TicWatch, Zepp and others will continue in the battle of the budget smartwatches. Several of these have significant sales figures in some Far Eastern markets and some of the products might even be described as increasingly competent. Indeed what we are perhaps seeing right now are the Chinese companies building up significant competences and sales volumes in their domestic markets before using that strength in other geographic markets.
Oh. I almost forgot 😉 There might be an Apple Watch 7 in Sep 2021, preceded by Watch OS8 in August. That’s just a longshot though 😉
Bike Computers – Hope or Hopeless?
Garmin is clearly dominant in this sector and Wahoo is clearly the main challenger brand. The jury is firmly OUT on the potential longterm impact of Karoo 2 but it is ‘one of the great hopes’ with a realistic chance of success
Wahoo must be due a Bolt Gen 2 by now. Rumours?…nope, none. Other than an occasionally misplaced FCC filing, Wahoo is very good at keeping quiet, so don’t expect any leaks…just hope quietly.
Apple, Google and maybe China will eventually clean out the watch markets but Garmin holds a comparable position with bike computers. There are many challengers to Garmin’s Edge Series but only Wahoo/Hammerhead seem to be coherent challengers and they are a long way behind. Will Bolt 2/Roam 2 be able to withstand an onslaught from Edge 530+/830+ in April/May (ish)? It’s an interesting market position to debate as Garmin Edge will NOT pull further ahead either in terms of features or market share as their tech is already well-advanced and their market position too dominant. Catching up in each of those respects is MUCH easier than pulling further ahead.
How difficult is it for smaller companies to catch or even beat Garmin at cycling? Read this: How to Beat a Garmin Edge. The answer is ‘VERY‘. If there is ever some new product to beat Garmin it will likely be another device based on Android. Why?… Answer: “apps” and a shorter, easier product development cycle, which sounds a bit like the Karoo.
I suspect that Garmin doesn’t care too much about lower price points, so Bryton, Sigma, Lezyne, CatEye, Polar and other smaller bike computer companies can fight out the price-per-feature battle in that very messy and less profitable arena.
Garmin also doesn’t seem to care too much about MTB, gravel or e-bike specific models. Maybe they know something that we don’t? (A: probably!)
Lists of All GPS Sports Watches & Bike Computers
This is my opinion of current & future devices across the GPS running/cycling market. Updates to this will be issued as and when information emerges which may include rumours, although please note that any information provided to me under NDA by manufacturers will *NOT* appear here and I won’t talk about it as I always honour agreements I make either written or verbal. So there will be a few more surprises over and above all of this 😉 I have at least a reasonable level of confidence that watches predicted here for the future are broadly correct – timings and functionality may NOT be what I expect. Please let me know of errors or omissions. At the end of the table is a discussion about current issues and sports tech trends. Thank you. Enjoy.
Garmin – Current and Rumoured Models
🔴 = Discontinued or effectively discontinued and replaced
🔵 = Expected Future Model or ‘very recent’.
|Category||Links to Review and opinion article||Price Check Link||Comments|
|Bike||Edge Explore||Current: Jul 2018’s smaller version of the Edge 1030. Most performance features removed. Good for navigation|
|Bike||Edge 1030||Price Check||Current, Q3-Q4.2019 saw big updates to the 1030 to match the new 530/830.|
|🔵 Edge 1030 Plus (2020)||Price Check|
Price Check: Bundle
|Edge 1030 Plus was June 2020|
|🔵 Edge 1040 (2022)|
|Price Check||Entry-level cycling computer|
|Bike||Edge 130||Price Check||Entry-level cycling computer with very interesting specs. May 2018|
|Bike||🔵 Edge 130 Plus||Price check|
Price Check: MTB Bundle
Price Check: HRM Bundle
|🔵 Edge 140 (2021)|
|🔴 Edge 200,|
|Bike||🔴 Edge 510||Price Check||Effectively Discontinued|
|Bike||🔴 Edge 520||Price Check||Still a great cycling computer and getting CHEAPER but a bit slow with no maps|
|Bike||Edge 520 PLUS||Current. Updated hardware capability (CIQ3), maps and software. Replaced by faster 530|
|Bike||Edge 530||Price Check||Available May 2019|
|🔵 Edge 530 Plus||Spring 2021|
|Edge 540||540 could be Spring 2021 (or 530+)|
|Bike||🔴 Edge 800, 810||Effectively Discontinued|
|Bike||Edge 820||Price Check||Top-end, medium-sized, nav cycling computer. Dodgy screen. Replaced by 830|
|Bike||Edge 830||Price Check||May 2019|
|🔵 Edge 830 Plus||Spring 2021|
|Edge 840||840 could be Spring 2021 (or 830+)|
|Bike||🔵 Edge MTB (something more than the 530 MTB bundle)||There are gaps in the market here at least two price points. It could be filled by Garmin – just like the Instinct did for budget outdoors.|
|Outdoors||🔴 Epix||Nice But Effectively Discontinued and replaced by Fenix 5X|
|Outdoors||🔴 Fenix, Fenix 2, Quatix||Price Check||Effectively Discontinued, not as good as subsequent models.|
|Outdoors||🔴 Fenix 3 Fenix 3 HR + variants||Price Check||Current, still great devices|
|Outdoors||Fenix 5 PLUS, 5s PLUS, 5x PLUS||Price Check||Garmin’s flagship model for 2018-2019. These are notably updated Fenix 5 models. Superseded in with better hardware in the Fenix 6.|
|Outdoors||🔴 Fenix 5, Fenix 5s, Fenix 5x||Price Check 5||Garmin’s flagship model for 2017-2018.|
Caveat Emptor. The Plus version is the one you want to buy NOT these…
|Outdoors||Tactix Bravo (disc), Tactix Charlie, Tactix Delta (2020), Descent MK1/MK22s, D2 Bravo, D2 Charlie, Quatix, D2 Delta (& S and PX) Solar & Sapphire||‘military’/hunting, diving, aviation, solar, durable variants of Fenix 5/6|
|Outdoors||🔵 Fenix 6,||Price Check|
|Fenix models are 6S (Base, Sapphire and Pro), 6 (Base, Sapphire and Pro) 6x (Pro and Solar)|
|🔵 Tactix Delta, D2 Echo,|
|🔵 Descent MK2i (Q4.2020)|
|Quatix 6 (2020)|
|🔵 D2 Delta (base, sapphire, solar)|
|🔵 Fenix 6 (further Solar and Sport variants for 2020)|
|🔵 Enduro||Ultra Watch|
|Outdoors||🔵 Fenix 7||Q2-Q3.2021|
|Outdoors||🔴 Fenix Chronos||Price Check||Super Premium: Quality innards, Quality shell and finish. F5s firmware. Expensive. Replaced by the MARQ.|
|Outdoors||MARQ (effectively Fenix Chronos 2)||Announced. the MARQ range is the Fenix range in a fancy shell eg MARQ ATHLETE is a 945 in an expensive shell.|
|Aviator (aero), Captain (marine), Athlete (multi-sport), Expedition (Hike/Outdoors), Driver (car).|
|🔵MARQ Commander 1 Oct2019.|
|Outdoors||Instinct||Price Check||Oct 2018 A cut-down outdoors-focussed Fenix. Kinda|
|🔵 Instinct Solar (plus Tactical, Camo and Surf versions)||Price Check||Jul 2020|
|The Instinct Tactical edition is now available and differs only with the NIGHT VISION and STEALTH modes, as well as the JUMPMASTER profile.|
|August 2019 TACTICAL COYOTE edition|
|Outdoors||Instinct 2 (possibly SOLAR version)||Due in 2021. This WILL come as the Instinct is popular.|
|Run||🔴 Forerunner 210, Forerunner 220, Forerunner 225||Effectively Discontinued|
|Run||🔴 Forerunner 230||Probably won’t be replaced. Effectively Discontinued.|
|Run||🔴 Forerunner 235||Price Check||Replacement 245 & 245M released|
|Run||🔴 Forerunner 235L||Apr 2018’s cut-down version for the Chinese market.|
|Run||Forerunner 245 & Forerunner 245 Music||Current|
|🔵 Forerunner 255 (2021)|
|Run||🔴Forerunner 25||Price Check||Entry-level run/sports watch|
|Run||🔴 Forerunner 30||Entry-level run/sports watch|
|Run||🔴 Forerunner 35||Price Check||Entry-level run/sports watch|
|Run||Forerunner 45, 45S||Current, Announced April 2019|
FR45 Plus, August 2020 silent announcement
|Forerunner 45 Plus|
|🔵 Forerunner 55 (2021)|
|Run||🔴 Forerunner 610, Forerunner 620||Effectively Discontinued but good enough|
|Run||🔴 Forerunner 630||Great device, superseded|
|Run||Forerunner 645 and 645M||Current.|
|🔵 Forerunner 655 (2020)||655 Overdue|
|Run/Tri||Forerunner 735XT||Current, great mid-range tri watch (no barometer). it’s the last remaining CIQ2 device hence next to be replaced|
|Run/Tri||🔵 Forerunner 745||September 2020, top-end smaller tri watch|
|Run/Tri||🔴 Forerunner 910XT||Great tri watch in its day, still good enough if you can find one|
|Run/Tri||🔴Forerunner 920XT||Price Check||Great tri watch…all you need really. Sometimes CHEAP|
|Run/Tri||Forerunner 935||Still a Top tri watch, no gimmicks|
|Run/Tri||🔵 Forerunner 945||Top Tri Watch, gimmicks|
|🔵 Forerunner 955, Q1-2.2021|
|🔵 Forerunner 955 LTE, yup it WILL happen|
|Fitness||🔴 Vivoactive||Price Check||Effectively Discontinued|
|Fitness||Vivoactive 3||A contender to Fitbit Ionic and Apple Watch 3|
|Fitness||Vivoactive 3 MUSIC, Vivoactive 3M||VA3 with music. Q2.2018|
|Fitness||Vivoactive 3 Plus Music LTE Verizon||Jan-19|
|Fitness||Vivoactive 4 & 4S with a great AMOLED screen on the top-end VA4 called VENU.||Sep-19|
23 Sep 2020
Venu Plus to follow?
|🔵 Vivoactive 5 (2021, possibly 2020 if now moved to annual release cycle)|
|Fitness||🔴 Vivoactive HR||Great device, effectively Vivoactive 2, replaced by Vivoactive 3|
|Fitness||�Vivofit 2, Vivofit 3, Vivofit 4||December 2017: supersedes VivoFit 3. Vivofit 5 due for Xmas 2019.|
|Fitness||🔴 Vivomove||Price Check||Dress watch, superseded September 2017|
|Fitness||🔴 Vivomove HR||Sept 2017|
|Fitness||🔵 Vivomove 3 / 3s /Style / Luxe||Sep-19|
|Swim||🔴 Swim||Effectively Discontinued|
|Swim||🔵 Swim 2||Oct-19|
|Swim||Swim 3||2022? this will be on a 3-4 year release cycle|
Polar, Suunto, Wahoo, Fitbit, Apple, etc – Current and Rumoured Models
CategoryLinks to either a review, opinion article or your local AmazonLinkComments
|Manufacturer||Category||Review, opinion article Links||Price Check Link||Comments|
|Amazfit (Xiaomi-Huami/Zepp)||Run||Bip (#A1608 – Bip S Supercedes)||Price Check|| |
|Pace (#A1612, #A1602)||Price Check|
|Huami is renaming to ZEPP|
|Bip Lite (#A1915)|
|Bip S (2020)|
|Ares (Rugged, hexagonal Bip, May 2020)|
|Xiaomi Mi Watch Color (2020), plus sports edition|
|Amazfit (Xiaomi-Huami)||Run||Pace 2||Pace 2 is Stratos. The only difference between the Chinese (A1609 Amazfit Pace 2) and the International version (A1619 Amazfit Stratos) is the firmware.|
|Amazfit Stratos 2 means Stratos (A1619)|
|Amazfit (Xiaomi-Huami)||Fitness||Verge, Verge Lite,||Current model A1811 (Lite #A1818), as over 1 Dec 2018 now selling in the USA. Verge 2 / Nexo imminent with eSIM.|
|Verge 2 / Nexo|
|🔵 GTR, GTR2||GTR2 released Aug2020|
|🔵GTS , GTS2||GTS2 announced Aug 2020, it’s their version of the apple watch|
|🔵Neo||Garmin Instinct rip off Aug 2020|
|Amazfit (Xiaomi-Huami)||Run/Tri||🔴STRATOS 1/2||Current, Multisport 2018 watch. Intl versions v1 & v2 are same.|
|🔵STRATOS 3||STRATOS 3 Aug 2019 – model #A1929|
|Huami Amazfit T-Rex – model #A1919,|
|Apple||Fitness||🔴Watch Series 1 (Sport),||Current, great pricing on the AW3 beware inferior hardware compared to AW4.|
|🔴 Watch Series 2 w/Nike,|
|Series 3 GPS+Cellular,|
|Apple||Fitness||🔴 Watch Series 4 w/Nike||Current. A notable hardware upgrade from the AW3. Discontinued|
|Apple||Fitness||🔵 Watch Series 5||Aluminium, stainless steel, titanium and ceramic versions as well as the 40mm and 44mm versions. Also a Nike co-branded version.|
|Apple||Fitness||🔵 Watch Series 6|
Apple Watch Series 7 – Sep 2021
|Runs Watch OS7|
Watch OS8 due Summer 2021, Watch7 might bring a circular watch face or sliders to replace the crown
|Bontrager||Bike||TREK Ride Time Elite, Trip 300, Bontrager Garmin Edge 1030||low spec own-branded devices and Bontrager-branded Garmin device|
|Bryton||Bike||RIDER 100, 310, 330, 410, 450h, 530E, Rider 530 T, aero 60, one, Rider 860, Rider 420||Current, 450E is top model @<$200 with all functions even 310 @<$150 supports a PM (Full model list here). Aero 60 is a fully-featured bikenav. The Sep 2019 Rider 860 and Rider 420 might see the 860 as the new top-end model built on Android – a first for Bryton|
|Bryton||Bike||RIDER numerous other models||Effectively Discontinued|
|Casio||Outdoors||Pro Trek Smart WSD-F20||Current, replaced by F20/F30 announced Aug 2018|
|Casio||Fitness||Pro Trek Smart WSD-F21 HR||Sep 2019. Updated F20 with oHR|
|Casio||Outdoors||Pro Trek Smart WSD-F30||Announced: Jan 2019, replacing WSD-F20. Expect a WSD-F40 in Jan 2020 😉|
|Casio||Outdoors||Casio G-Shock Move GBD-H1000|
|CatEye||Bike||STEALTH 50, Stealth EVO, STEALTH EVO, STRADA, PADRONE Smart+, Stealth evo+ CC-GL51 (2015), full spec’d Aventura||2016 models are current (full model list here), Avventura might only be available in Japan|
|COROS||Run/Tri||Pace Multisport M1||Current, Garmin 735XT lookalike|
|Pace 2||2020 should see an update of the Pace, as Coros return to revisit their road running roots|
|COROS||Run/Tri||Apex 42mm 46mm||Current Oct 2018. Highly credible endurance run and tri alternative. Competent small format is available. Jan 2019 a special edition announced for 46mm.|
|COROS||Run/Tri||Apex PRO||Q4.2019 Somewhere between Apex and Vertix|
|COROS||Outdoors||Vertix||Current May 2019. Premium case and SpO2|
|CooSpo||Bike||BC200||Current (hey! they made the effort to include power meter support, I made the effort to include it in this list, I’ve no idea who they are)|
|Epson||Run/Tri||🔴ProSense 17, 🔴ProSense 57, 🔴ProSense 307, 🔴ProSense 347||Discontinued|
|Fitness newOS||Afer failing to buy Fitbit, Facebook will enter the market possiby with WearOS possibly in 2022.|
|Fitbit||Fitness||🔴Blaze||Price Check||Replaced by Versa|
|Fitbit||Fitness||🔴Charge, Charge 2||Discontinued|
|Fitbit||Fitness||Charge 3||Price Check||Current|
|Fitbit||Fitness||🔴Versa,||Current SE version has Fit Pay payments|
|🔵 Versa 2||Versa Lite – March 2019|
|Versa 2 – available 15 September 2019 with Aug 28th Announcement|
|Versa 3 / Versa 3 SENSE||September 2020|
|Fitbit||Fitness||🔴Charge HR (Band)||Discontinued, replaced by Charge 2, Charge 3, Charge 4 (2020).|
|Fitbit||Fitness||Ionic||Current, September 2017|
|Fitbit||Fitness||Ionic 2||Overdue, might never happen|
|Fitbit||Fitness||Ionic Adidas||Announced Feb 2018, has an Adidas app|
|Fitbit||Fitness||🔴Surge||Superseded by Ionic|
|Fossil||Fitness WearOS||Puma SmartWatch||Sep 2019 (Prob same watch inside as the Fossil sport)|
|Michael Kors MKGO||Sep 2019 (Prob same watch inside as the Fossil sport)|
|Emporio Armani Smartwatch 3||Emporio Armani Smartwatch 3|
|Fossil||Fitness||Sport||Sport Uses 2019 Snapdragon processor. Fossil is a BIG WearOS watch producer for many sub-brands. Sport uses a new 3100 processor.|
|Fossil||Fitness WearOS||Gen 5||Still 3100 chipset but looks sweet and runs smoothly enough|
|Giant||Bike||NeosTrack||Cycling Computers. The NeosTrack is a reasonably high-spec model.|
|Fitness WearOS||Pixel Smartwatch||To be released in 2020 maybe. Unclear if a SPORT/FITNESS version will be released as well.|
|Decathlon||Bike||BC900||Cycling Computer, records power|
|iGSPORT||Bike||iGSPORT iGS618||Cycling Computer, I think these guys are owned by Xiaomi and could be one to watch at the budget end|
|Expect even more significant firmware updates throughout 2020|
|Hammerhead||Bike||Karoo 2||Cycling Computer, small format, Xmas 2020|
|Huawei||Fitness WearOS||Fit, Watch 2 Sport, Watch GT Active||Price Check||WearOS and a good spec. Current (Watch 2 was 2017 with an incremental 2018 update) The Fit was effectively the “Watch 1 Sport”.|
|Watch Gt2e||Watch 3 Watch GT and this was codenamed FORTUNA (GT is not WearOS anymore)|
|Huawei||Fitness WearOS||Honor Magic||WearOS and a good spec, November 2018|
|Huawei||Sport ?WearOS?||Honor GS Pro/Kanon||Q4.2020, TomTom map partnership could be interesting|
|Huawei||Proprietary Android?||Watch Fit|
|Lezyne||Bike||Mini, Macro Plus GPS (Macro, Macro Easy, Micro, Micro Watch, Super Pro (Super GPS), Mega, Watch variants||MEGA announced July 2018|
|MACRO EASY GPS announced Jul 2019|
|Macro Plus & Super Pro are revamped from earlier models, announced Jul 2019 with FE-C…cheap, sturdy and highly featured.|
|Full, current list here|
|LG||Fitness WearOS||Watch Sport||Price Check||Current, apparently one of the better WearOS devices – certainly spec looks the best. Watch2 has seen e-sim in China only|
|LG||Fitness WearOS||LM-W315, LM-305, LM-W325, LM-W319,||LM-W315 could be called ICONIC. With one of the other models being the ICONIC SPORT. LM-W319 could be as soon as Sep 2018 (likely this is now the W7 which is a non-sports hybrid.) but a Watch3 derivative will be 2019.|
|Mont Blanc||Fitness WearOS||Summit 2||Announced – several quite advanced sporty features|
|MIO/MiTAC/Magellan||Bike||Cyclo 605,||Nice devices. The 505HC appears to now be discontinued and replaced with a slightly superior 605HC (Q2.2017). Other models include Cyclo 210 (re-announced Aug2018?), 400, 405, 405HC, Discover/Plus (May 2020)|
|Discover||Unsure of the situation in USA with sister company MAGELLAN. Who have dated ECHO/SWITCH run/bike products|
|Mio Labs||Running||🔴 Mio Alpha 2||revolutionary at the time|
|Mio Labs||Running/Triathlon||mioEXP||First sports watch in a loooong time by Mio. in fact since about 2015. Triathlon focussed and looking good for Q4.2020|
|Misfit||Fitness WearOS||Vapor||Price Check||WearOS. Replaced by Vapor 2|
|Misfit||Fitness WearOS||Vapor 2||WearOS. Current.|
|MiVia||Fitness||Run 350||2017 Fitbit Versa look-alike|
|Mobvoi||Fitness||Ticwatch 2 aka Ticwatch Active||2017 budget sports watch with GPS & Music|
|Mobvoi||Fitness WearOS||Ticwatch E2||2018 budget sports watch with GPS & Music, the replacement for Ticwatch E|
|Mobvoi||Fitness WearOS||Ticwatch S2||CES2019 replacement for Ticwatch S (ie S1). S=Sport|
|Mobvoi||Fitness WearOS||Ticwatch S||2017 WearOS 2.0 budget sports watch. Ticwatch E is cheaper and non-sport version. Ticwatch 2, Active and Classic are different – not WearOS. Replaced by S2.|
|Mobvoi||Fitness WearOS||Ticwatch Pro|
Ticwatch Pro 3
|WearOS 2.0, Pro 3 has snapdragon 4100|
|🔵 Ticwatch Pro 4G LTE|
🔵 new Ticwatch Pro Jul 2019 with LTE (USA only). Bad GPS…avoid.
|360 Sport – 2nd Gen/Sport||Price Check|
|Gen 3 November 2019|
Moto G Smartwatch,(Summer 2021)
Moto Watch ,(Summer 2021)
Moto One,(Summer 2021)
|New Balance||Fitness WearOS||RunIQ||WearOS. Current|
|Omata||Bike||Omata One||Price Check||Trendy Bike Computer Current|
|BKK, OnePlus||Fitness||Likely WearOS||Probably due Q4.2020, probably based heavily on the Oppo Watch|
Sister brand RealMe will also have something in 2021
|BKK, Oppo||Fitness Android|
Fitness Wear OS
Watch (Wear OS Version)
|Looks like an Apple Watch very limited EU/USA availability as of July 2020. Based on Android|
Wear OS version released 31 Jul 2020
|Ordnance Survey||Bike||OS Horizon GPS||High-quality MAPS on a bikenav|
|OS Velo GPS|
|OS Trail Bike GPS|
|OS Trail 2 Bike GPS (2019)|
|Polar||Bike||V660||V650 refresh 2020? Well Overdue…perhaps never|
|Polar||Run/Tri||🔴 Vantage V||V800 replacement|
|There are no published plans to take the features any further. Polar will fix bugs though.|
|V2 new for October 2020|
|Who knows if they will iterate either the hardware or software.|
|Polar||Run/Tri||Vantage V Titanium||high-end case variant of the Vantage V|
|Polar||Run/Tri/Outdoors||Grit X||Polar Grit X – outdoors version of Vantage V|
|Polar||Run/Tri||🔴 Vantage M||More run-focussed than the V model and a bit more than the M430.|
|I’m not convinced there will be a Vantage M lite model ie something to theoretically replace the M200. Looks like the Ignite/Unite covers that.|
|No intel on the M2. My guess would be Q1.2021|
|Polar||Fitness||A370||A360 replacement with linked-GPS|
|Polar||Fitness||A380||I guess you could speculate that there is an A380 due but I would not be so sure that Polar (or anyone else beyond Garmin/Fitbit) will pursue a premium band format.|
|Polar||Fitness||🔵 Ignite||Fitness & Running watch. With GPS. Scope for a 3Fitness-like model with no GPS. Scope also to beef up the shell quality a little.|
|Polar||Run||M200||Entry-level oHR running/sports watch 2016. Replacement due in 2020 maybe? M200 looks out-of-date|
|Polar||Run||🔴M400||Replaced by M430 in Q1.2017|
|Polar||Run||M430||An optical M400, released. this is mostly replaced by the Vantage M, although the Vantage M has notable extra stuff kinda making it a model higher. M430 has been confirmed as remaining in the Polar product set as a full-featured running watch BUT it will not receive new functionality.|
|M430 looks out-of-date|
|Polar||Bike||🔴M450||Replaced by M460 in Q1.2017|
|Polar||Bike||M460||M450 with STRAVA LIVE. M460 looks out-of-date|
|Polar||Run WearOS||M600||WearOS sports watch for Android|
|Polar||Bike||V650||A good Bike Nav Cycling device. Might get an ANT+ refresh but fine as-is. Does Polar want to go down the route of giving this proper onboard maps?|
|Polar||Run/Tri||🔴V800||One of the greatest multisport watches of all-time, replaced by Vantage|
|Samsung||Fitness||🔴Gear Sport||Price check||Current (Gear Fit Pro is BAND format and the Samsung Gear Fit Plus could be the 2018 version of that)|
|Samsung||Fitness||🔴Galaxy Watch Active||Galaxy Sport is Galaxy Watch Active|
|Samsung||Fitness||🔵 Galaxy Watch Active2||Jul-19|
|Galaxy Watch2 (never existed)|
|Galaxy Watch3 (SM-R840)|
Galaxy Watch 4
Watch 4 is leaked in Feb 2021. Rumoured to have Wear OS.
|Sigma Sport||Bike||Rox GPS 7.0, ROX GPS 10.0, Rox GPS 11.0, Rox 12.0 Sport, id.TRI, id.FREE||Good feature set, current.|
|Rox 12.0 Sport June 2018 looks like a massive leap forward for the company. Highly competent bikenav|
|id.TRI is a very interesting budget TRI offering|
|Full list of Sigma products here|
|Skagen||Fitness WearOS||Falster 2||With GPS & oHR added, this now counts as a sports watch. It aims to be seen as the prettiest WearOS|
|Falster 3||Falster 3 uses the fastest processor|
|Sony||Fitness WearOS||Smartwatch 3 SWR50||Price Check||WearOS. Current|
|SoWatch||Fitness||SoWatch||IndieGogo – Sports and other stuff|
|Pioneer||BIKENAV||SGX-CA500, SGX-CA600||Cycling Computer looks nice. OSM, ANT+, power|
|Full list here|
|Specialized||Bike||SpeedZone Sport / SpeedZone II||Basic Cycling Computers|
|SRM||Bike||PowerControl 7 (PC7) / 8 (PC8)||Cycling Computer|
|Stages||Bike||Dash (L10)||Cycling Computer. cheap and well-featured|
|Stages||Bike||Dash L50, M50||New models for release Q1-2.2019|
|Suunto||Various||Ambit 3 variants (Peak, run, Sport…)||Still great devices. In many ways superior.|
|Suunto||Various||Ambit 4||The SPARTAN TRAINER is the replacement to the AMBIT3, at least in terms of looks.|
|Suunto||Various||🔴 Ambit/Ambit 2||Effectively Discontinued|
|Suunto||Run/Tri||🔴 SPARTAN Sport||Current, OK to buy now|
|Suunto||Run/Tri||🔴 SPARTAN Sport with oHR (WHR)||Current|
|Suunto||Outdoors||🔴 Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro||Current|
|Suunto||Run/Tri||🔴 SPARTAN Trainer||New outdoor variants in Jan 2018, superseded in 2019 with Suunto 5|
|Suunto||Outdoors||🔴 SPARTAN Ultra||Current, OK to buy now. Suunto 9 is an effective replacement|
|Suunto||Fitness||Suunto 3||Current. A low-end model with interesting specs. GPS only from paired and carried smartphone.|
|🔴 Suunto 3 Fitness||The Suunto 3 dropped the FITNESS suffix in 2020 and DOES have very slightly different hardware|
|Suunto||Fitness||Suunto 9||Current. High-end Spartan ULTRA replacement. My GUESS is that this will iterate next in some way in 2021 (no intel)|
|Suunto||Fitness||Suunto 7||Wear OS Smart sports watch|
|Suunto might iterate bi/tri-annual versions of 3/5/7/9|
|Suunto||Run/Tri||🔵 Suunto 5||Good mid-range tri watch. Replacement for SPARTAN Trainer. Due a refresh in 2021|
|Tag Heuer||Fitness||Connected Gen 1||Wear OS on snapdragon 3100 and a big price tag. yet still a smart fitness watch|
|Connected Gen 2|
|Connected Gen 3|
|TomTom||Run||🔴 Adventurer||TomTom sports division is closed down. Firmware updates as of 8 May 2018|
|🔴 Runner 3, Spark 3|
|TomTom||Run||🔴 Spark, Runner, Runner 2||Effectively Discontinued, there was never a Spark 2|
|Vivo||Smart||Watch||Smartwatch running FunOS, from BKK who own Oppo, Realme and One Plus.|
|Withings||Fitness||Move & Move ECG||CES2019, Sweet Fitness ecosystem|
|Withings||Fitness||Steel HR Sport||Current|
|Wahoo Fitness||Bike||ELEMNT||A great cycling computer, due a refresh|
|Wahoo Fitness||Bike||ELEMNT BOLT||A great cycling computer, due a refresh|
|Wahoo Fitness||Bike||ELEMNT ROAM||Colour version of a super-sized Bolt with navigation|
|Wahoo Fitness||Bike||ELEMNT MINI||Cut down cycling computer no GPS, no power compatibility, Wahoo-only sensors. Due a refresh but unlikely|
|Wahoo Fitness||Run/Tri||ELEMNT RIVAL||A mid-tier, mass-market triathlon watch|
|Wahoo Fitness||Bike||BOLT 2||Overdue|
|XPLOVA/Acer||Bike||🔴 G3, G5, E5, E7||Effectively discontinued|
|XPLOVA/Acer||Bike||X3 EVO||Current, FYI they are releasing a turbo trainer Q3.2019|
|XPLOVA/Acer||Bike||🔴X5||Superseded by X5 EVO|
|XPLOVA/Acer||Bike||X5 EVO||Current, refreshed model. onboard video, guess there’ll be an X6 next…|
|Zepp||Smart Fitness Watch||Zepp E|
|Zep E: 2x Apple watch wannabes|
Zep Z: likely sports watch
- There are many other low-priced brands, several of which are visual rip-offs of the main brands’ models.
- Some low-priced brands include PARNERME, UWEAR, GoLife, GooPhone, Reabeam, FitCare, iGPSport
- There are probably also some Kickstarter and Indegogo type new models planned. My broad opinion is that if this is the first sports watch from a company with no track record then you will lose your money or, at best, receive a pile of junk. Spend a little bit extra and instead get a real product now.
- If you’ve found a brand that I’ve not listed above and the price looks too good to be true…there’s probably a reason. Just go for the brands above…eg Lezyne & Bryton offer cheap and perfectly good bike computers that support complex usage.
What have I missed? Are there others?
Note: information that has become available about accessories is NOT included here as there are too many of them to keep up-to-date with. There are also too many Power Meter variants for me to keep track of. I have more than a passing interest in PMs for triathlon disciplines but I don’t keep an eye on the whole market – the document I keep up-to-date on PM is my guide to the best power meter. I’m generally going to exclude wrist bands from the lists above, like the Vivokids v2, although some bands have sneaked in there already.
Lists of all Firmware Updates
- Suunto Spartan is here: link to Suunto.com
- Suunto 5 is here: link to Suunto.com
- Suunto 7: is here: link to Suunto.com
- Suunto 9 is here: link to Suunto.com
- Suunto 3 is here: link to Suunto.com
- Polar updates are here: link to Polar.com
- Garmin updates are here: link to gpsinformation.net
- Elemnt Updates are here: link to wahoofitness.com
- Fitbit updates are here: link to Fitbit.com
- Hammerhead Karoo is here: link to Hammerhead.io
- Lezyne is here: link to Lezyne.com
- WatchOS 5 is here: link to Apple.com
- WatchOS 6 is here: link to Apple.com
- WatchOS 7 is here: link to Apple.com
- Stages DASH is here: stagesdash.com
- Sigma Rox 12 here: sigmasport.com
- Mio Cyclo: mio.com
- Coros: link to Coros.com
- Bryton: Facebook page for announcements
Please let me know of any I’ve missed
Also useful for checking compatibility and new ANT+ devices. VERY occasionally you might see a special ‘leak’ appear here first by accident.
Sports Watch Tech Trends?
The big trend is ‘not here guv‘….the smart VC money is now in MEDICAL-WEARABLE tech rather than sports wearable tech, there are numerous obvious exceptions but that is a general and strong trend as evidenced by the Fitbit Versa 3 SENSE
The following sections cover the major feature trends that affect endurance sports devices as I see them. You will find that there are general thrusts forwards in watch tech which are lagging slightly behind smartphone tech and that there are also sports-specific innovations that can likely only ever happen on watches. Some of the trends are technical trends eg for ‘LTE’ but then the technical trend itself also enables new services & features to be provided on it eg LTE will support instantaneous location-based functionality which could be useful during a race to show performance stats of competitors centrally
Apple Watch/WearOS devices and others already have high resolution screens but no ‘proper’ sports watches do…yet.
AMOLED / transflective / microLED screen tech is coming to a sports watch near you. Garmin’s VENU is the start and it will end with AMOLED-like tech on VERY MANY sports watches. You might have to wait up to 4 more years though for it to be widespread. Power usage is the issue holding it all back, although MicroLED is rumoured for the AW7 as soon as 2021 requiring lower power and enabling a thinner screen.
Other basic, power-saving tech like we see with Garmin Lily and maybe greyscale tech like E-Ink will also become more widespread.
WiFi will get ever faster but that won’t really impact the performance of sports devices too much (even though it’s already included in location services of smartwatches like Apple Watch 6)
UWB is also coming, again on the AW6 and elsewhere, but this is for relatively short-distance sensing of compatible devices rather than a better directional signal. So this sort of thing could come to STRYD, in case you lost it, but I doubt it very much. (think Apple AirTAG)
Bluetooth and ANT+ will keep doing their thing and Bluetooth will eventually win despite not being as good for sports. Fortunately, that will be in MANY years time. So no need to worry yet.
Multiple Bluetooth connections will continue to be created on devices eg Polar H10 has 2x BLE connections and Wahoo Tickr Gen 2 has three, Wahoo’s KICKR18 now has 3x BLE connections in the latest firmware (not KICKR17 grrr) Multiple ANT+ connections are of course possible on every ANT+ device
LTE/Cellular connectivity is where most innovation will take place and several smartwatch makers, along with Garmin, have dabbled with this on smartwatches. I’m expecting this to become more prevalent from 2021 onwards on SPORTS watches and data-SIM-only companies like MOKANIX are trying to build a business on trends like that (they went under!). Don’t necessarily expect your watch’s SIM to be able to make or take phone calls…sounds crazy? maybe not, they could just be used in sports to add extra in-exercise connectivity effectively allowing more serious athletes to avoid carrying their phone if they want to transmit their progress, then, of course, this could enter into the realms of usefulness for the live screening of stats of professional sportspeople.
There’s a good chance that LTE/Cellular innovation will be one of Garmin’s key features that trickle-down once they have populated options from all the top-end running and cycling devices.
Payment Tech /NFC
This works well on all the devices I’ve used that support it (Garmin, Fitbit, Apple, others).
The difficulty for Garmin is it needs to explicitly support your bank – ie the chances are it won’t work in that sense! If you use Wear OS/WatchOS then they have generic support for Mastercard, Visa and Amex but not in every GEO.
AFAIK it’s not possible to use PayPal/Stripe/BitCoin with Garmin/Wear OS/Watch OS. This is a pain as, for example, I’d like to be able to easily handle multiple currencies in my Paypal balances.
Music Services: Garmin has commercially ‘nailed’ music whilst exercising by enabling the integration of AMAZON music, Spotify and Deezer. When I say ‘nailed’ I mean that their offering has a potentially wide appeal as it supports multiple services with the ability to relatively easily add others in the future. Audible, Apple Music and Google Play Music (now YouTube Music) still need to be added to Garmin. I suspect that at least one of those won’t happen!
Geographic constraints: All music services are constrained by regional licencing differences. Depending on exactly where you are, this could be a real pain…or not.
Few of the vendors’ offerings works as a true, generic streaming service. Instead, they use Bluetooth phone connections or domestic WiFi to cache your tracks on your watch from streaming services. Once LTE/ Cellular connectivity is supported over larger populations we might see proper/live streaming, although the current way of working suits me.
High definition music playback is NOT supported from any smartwatch that I know eg one using AptX HD. AFAIK they all use normal-quality CODECS and have other audio-tech constraints which mean that your running with music capability can sound GOOD but not EXCELLENT. And your sports watch cannot stream a high-quality music signal to high-quality Bluetooth speakers at home – over Wifi it might be possible (IDK).
GNSS Tech – GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, GPS III
Support for multiple GNSS constellations just means that you can use more satellites. That means that you will only have an increased likelihood of getting +/-5m accuracy
To get that elusively-accurate GPS running pace other things need to fall into place.
- Some of the individual constellations already support multiple frequencies (bands) of transmissions. If receivers use two of these frequencies (dual band) then that can eliminate one of the major errors on the signal travelling through the atmosphere. Dual-band Galileo might deliver that and is used in some smartphones now. This can, in theory, give +/-1m accuracy (GPS+Galileo is NOT dual-band per se, Galileo has 3 bands). I believe that even the BEIDou-3 constellation is now complete and has global coverage but that only has +/- 10m accuracy for public usage.
- HOWEVER, the aerial needs to be up to the job. A watch aerial typically just points up. But a better aerial might also point down and to the side towards buildings so that it can know if it receives a bounced signal or a direct signal. The bounced signal always travels further and currently, these confuse your watch and make it think you are a few metres away from where you really are.
- It’s possible that some sort of ground-based station can correct positional errors (SBAS) and, maybe, combining satellite signals with urban WiFi networks or nationwide cellular masts can deliver even better accuracy in urban areas #Maybe – I doubt it.
- GPS III 3 sounds one better than GPS 2. But all these things, above, equally need to fall into place first for GPS III to deliver.
- Dual-band (meaning dual-frequency) GNSS IS live on several smartphones and Garmin hiking handhelds (2020), there is now a dual-band Sony GNSS chip (Aug 2020) and signal augmentation with ground-based stations (SBAS) is used on sports watches eg Polar VANTAGE
- EGNOS and WAAS are mechanisms that improve reliability
We will soon see (2021) the first sports watches with both dual-band/frequency AND dual-GNSS eg GPS+Galileo using L1+L5 (technical…sorry..but it means more accuracy, perhaps onyl at lower speeds and with a battery hit)
However, I suspect these technologies will still not give the accuracy some runners want. Mathematical modelling and signal-correlation techniques should be able to be used to boost the accuracy of GPS in many scenarios including in buildings and urban canyons – for example, to determine which signals are reflected and which are direct. The first commercial products should appear by mid-2021 claiming sub-1m levels of accuracy.
So my personal take here (which may be wrong) is that the remaining problem to be solved is that of determining which signals are direct and which reflected (and then combine that with a good antenna and a good power consumption mode)
Optical HR Tech
We are just about there with oHR delivering resting HRV. This then means that all vendors should be able to deliver the illusion of a good SLEEP offering based on sensible sleep-based HRV data.
Beyond that, I can’t see anyone consistently delivering oHR accuracy to, say, +/-3% for >90% of athletes using existing tech whilst exercising. The best running watch oHR I’ve seen so far, for me, is the Apple Watch 6 followed by Garmin ELEVATE Gen 3.
A mythical new tech is needed to boost accuracy, although I think it’s called a chest strap 😉
In my mind, Garmin has mostly nailed this with Digital Elevation Maps (DEM) ie a map that has the known elevations of every square metre of the earth (or whatever the actual resolution).
Couple that with algorithms that fine-tune by barometric-altimetry and GPS-altimetry and we’re there. Well, unless you’re on a steep cliff face or in a built-up area. But it’s great for nearly all of us, nearly all of the time.
The problem is the cost and complexity of doing this for a smaller company. #BarrierToEntry. Those that care sufficiently about elevation (some cyclists) will probably just buy a Garmin, so is it worth new entrants trying to implement maps and DEM? If you implement maps you probably will want to implement routing at the same time and that is HARD.
- GPS location – the watch measures the distance to several satellites and works out your elevation
- Barometric altimetry – uses pressure changes to measure elevation changes. Might require calibration to known elevations at known GPS points (eg you departure point)
- GPS+Barometric – Uses both of the above. Can be good as sometimes a GPS signal can be rubbish and sometimes barometric pressure changes because of weather rather than elevation changes! (doh). The Apple Watch 6 seems to have nailed this by PROPERLY & periodically keeping the current elevation always checked with GPS (it might do that indoors over WiFi as it knows the location/elevation of your home). Once the starting point is correctly calibrated it becomes easier for a barometric altimeter to keep track of your workout elevation changes simply through air pressure and, perhaps, less frequent GPS-adjustment. My understanding is that most devices take MANY MINUTES to get a 3D GPS fix for starting elevation and that process is different from the quick 2-D GPS fix you get through A-GPS (most devices have that)
- DEM – the watch has an onboard map. For each GPS point, the elevation is known on the map. So long as the GPS point is reasonably accurate then the elevation will be correct (hills and urban areas are obvious problem areas)
We have seen the rise of physiology insights into your performance (physiological profiling). Essentially that is based on the knowledge of your time-in-zone (HR and power) and HRV. That’s pretty much it with a bit of accelerometer magic thrown in. There is much more scope to improve that.
Environmental profiling is different and is looking at the impact of the environment on your performance. So we might look at the impact of surface conditions, wind, temperature, altitude, humidity and gradient. “What’s new here?” you might ask. You might cite the examples of Normalized Graded Pace, Garmin’s Heat Acclimation and Altitude Acclimatisation along with STRYD adjusting power to take into account wind. Fair enough. You might also cite examples of Polar and Garmin looking at hill performances with the latter releasing ClimbPro in 2018 (IIRC) and Polar releasing Hill Splitter on the Grit X in 2020.
But much more is still to be done here.
- For example, Garmin’s ClimbPro relies on the knowledge of your future route to produce the elevation profile of the upcoming hill. Surely popularity routing or your personal routing history could be used to predict the upcoming elevation profile of your most likely route for the numerous occasions when you do not follow a route? (Hammerhead has embarked on this route in March 2021)
- For example, a whole raft of analyses could be applied to hills if each hill was automatically identified and recorded as some form of lap (like Hill Splitter from Polar and Suunto new features)
- For example, similar analyses could be applied to your TRUE efforts if they were auto-identified as laps. You might not start and stop your intervals at the precise time and even 3 seconds will make a difference to how you analyse your 3:35/km rep performances. Even running laps, your true efforts might last for 405m on one lap and for 398m on the next lap…yet both efforts are recorded as 400m (Edit Polar implemented something like this in 2020)
- For example, muscle oxygen states could be specifically examined (again as laps) to see how much your performance deteriorates.
- For example, some analysis software already automatically picks out STRAVA segment performances (as laps) that are already stored in your FIT/TCX files (Golden Cheetah does this for Hills and Matches too)
Garmin’s Heat Acclimatisation is partly environmental profiling and partly physiological profiling.
I said elsewhere that Garmin has reached “peak battery” I don’t know how they’ve done it. Coros is good too. Either way, their batteries last for a LONG time. WAY longer than almost any of us need them to. OK, so the reality is that the battery lives are not as good as advertised once you start connecting all your sensors and navigating, getting lost and playing music but the battery life problem seems to have a workable end-game in sight.
Solar tech will spread through Garmin’s ranges down to cheaper watches and eventually across to bike computers branded as “Power Glass”. Others amongst us will just take a battery pack. It’s tricky to see who else will try to seriously implement Solar tech, is there any point in a smartwatch company boosting their day-long battery life by a few 10s of minutes? a: No
Consequently now is the time to start introducing lots of battery-eating functions again! #Sigh !! (Yes I’ll use them too!). And yes that WILL mean introducing awesome screens on SPORTS watches.
Wireless charging and shared charging between devices might come to a watch near you. Or not. Charging based on body heat might perhaps spread more widely (eg Matrix Gemini TEG)
The ‘next big thing’ could be GRAPHENE battery tech in 2022/23 or solid state batteries.
Until then there are only 3 workarounds
- install a bigger battery
- reduce power consumption
- introduce fast charge batteries (battery can be hybrid containing fast change and normal charge elements)
Many running watch and app vendors have half-decent support for audio feedback during workouts. If you listen to music you may find yourself inadvertently ALSO hearing your 1km lap times when you were least expecting it. Of course, audio feedback is already more extensive than just lap times but, perhaps, audio features are not used by runners THAT widely.
Audio alerts DO ‘sound’ (aha, pun) a bit amateurish but, actually, I reckon they’re quite useful when you are going flat out you don’t want to have to raise your wrist or glance down at your segment progress on your bike computer. Well, I don’t do that. It seems that ‘just going for it’ might be the best way for a PB after all! However, I wouldn’t mind be selectively nagged during a one-minute STRAVA segment PB attempt…I mean, err, audio-coached.
If you use Siri or Google Assistant or Amazon through speakers at home or in your car, then it’s not hard to see that very soon sports watches could be usefully responsive to audio commands. “OK-Google…take a lap” being a simple example on a WearOS watch that could probably happen now…or you could press the button! But what if it’s raining and your touchscreen has gone AWOL…just sayin’. Indeed 2020 has already seen Bryton pushing out Google Assistant…cool stuff.
You could see group tech as a kind of instant , workout-based ‘social sharing’ like the post-ride stuff with STRAVA. But think about groups in a different way and how their sporty experience can be augmented.
Think of Sunday cycling groups. Why shouldn’t your rear-pointing radars and lights all work together to better alert the group about oncoming cars and better alerts cars with coordinated flashing? I think this might happen fairly soon, Edge devices can already support Bluetooth MESH networks and the most obvious SPORTY application for that technology has to be group light/radar control.
Why can’t rear-facing radar/lights also have proximity devices that detect fellow group riders getting dropped.
If you are running as a group then rather than just your position, why shouldn’t other stats be shared like heart rate or running power (w/kg) to help you spot the slackers?
Why can’t we sign our Garmin up to a race and periodically flash-upload lap stats to a centralised race portal? Widespread cellular support on our devices will help this in years to come.
Or we could just better share photos of cuddly cats as part of our social GROUPS 🙂 But you get the point that often innovation happens just for the sake of innovation and there are clearly many more social group innovations left to be made over and above ‘cute cat pictures’.
Solo Tech & Safety Tech
Clearly, there is a trend for gamification of solitary training where services like ZWIFT can make your treadmill experience part of a wider virtual group. That trend is obviously going to continue and the indoor side of it all has clearly been aided by Covid-19.
Watches currently have the ‘I’ve cracked my skull alert’ and the ‘someone’s following me alert’. For certain demographics that sort of functionality will hopefully become more widely available. Why not add an extra level of locational intelligence here to prompt the watch wearer “Hey…do you really want to run down THIS street at night”…ie there could be links to police crime databases or other types of geographic databases providing other kinds of intelligence based on your location.
I suspect the best way to come up with an idea in this realm is to see what apps already exist for smartphones and copy them…
Integration & Openness in a Connected World
There will be deeper integration of sports watches with their companion apps. Any sports service worth its salt will be open to key sources of data like Google FIT, Apple Health, Strava and Garmin Connect – and if the company can’t be bothered to do that then please at least provide Google Drive or Dropbox support so we can do it ourselves, elsewhere.
It’s relatively clear that HEALTH and activity data is becoming ever-more centralised in large, open repositories (Google, Apple). Those repositories obviously hold some sports data as well but will there ever be a time when Google/Apple is the first place we port our sports data to and then we use various other platforms to feed the source data from Google/Apple for our analyses and social interactions? I used to think that would happen but now I’m not so sure. STRAVA would be the most obvious platform to develop into a sports ‘data warehouse’ but they seem to be more interested in becoming the Facebook of sports rather than the Oracle of sport (Oracle made Data Warehouses back-in-the-day).
Mapping & Navigation
My most common command to my car’s navigation is, verbally, “Navigate me home” and I want that to take into account traffic delays, which it does. Sports navigational tech tries to do a lot of REALLY clever navigation stuff but I suspect that much of what they are trying to do is for a tiny number of people. None of the sports watches can get me home in the way that I use my car/smartphone. Maybe it’s just me?
My next most pressing navigation need is simply to follow a route I’ve grabbed from somewhere (say, Google maps) and, perhaps, to navigate me back on track when I get lost. Oh and to share it easily with somoene riding with me who has a different bike computer brand. These things are currently quite difficult still.
Clever routing algorithms exist to get you there in the easiest, fastest and shortest ways. Yep, even elevation gain can already be taken into account when a route is planned. This first step to calculate sensible routes is HARD to do well when all the other navigational ‘must-have’ features are also factored in eg different kinds of road surfaces on different grades of roads.
The larger sports data platforms also have the ability to route you over the most popular routes (Garmin, Google, Apple, Strava) and that ultimately relies on ‘people knowing best’ rather than ‘tech knowing best’. For most sporty routing experiences, I suspect that POPULARITY ROUTING is all we need. Yet this is a challenge for someone like, say, Hammerhead or Suunto to implement as I suspect they don’t have the volume of data that Garmin does. So they ultimately have to either pay for it from a 3rd party or offer a service based on limited-popularity routing…a similar scenario was with Google Maps’ satellite images, which used to be free until Google started charging companies to use it to serve to you. #BarriertoEntry.
“OK Garmin, navigate me home”…soon.
Seamless Google Maps integration…maybe. I guess Fitbit could now do that quite cheaply…
Much of the processor details are beyond my inclination to get to grips with them.
Expect to see the increased capability of individual chips. For example, an OHR chip (Valencell) might also include an accelerometer. A processor like the Wear OS Snapdragon 4100 (2020/1) from Qualcomm may well boast GNSS capability as well as moving Wear OS from 32bit to the faster 64bit. Multi-purpose chips potentially can make production easier as well as reducing power consumption.
Weather sensors and connectivity to weather services are generally already quite good. I was recently impressed with the MyRadar app on WearOS which graphically shows incoming weather fronts on a map on my watch. Try doing that on a Garmin screen without a smartphone connected to the net.
I want to see more wind forecast info offered. The wind speed/direction is often hidden away in a forecast. As a cyclist, the wind is often as important to me as rain…I try to avoid excesses of both in equal measure. Yet if I am on a STRAVA segment day then the exact wind knowledge can be rather helpful, maybe I could even receive a daily text/email/alert to alert me of favourable, predicted wind conditions on my starred segments. Of course, products can already show forecasted wind AND ACTUAL headwind eg from AeroPod but why can’t Velocomp (AeroPod) produce a smaller wind sensor and it might later be interesting for someone to collate actual wind strengths and directions compared to forecast to take into account/predict local disturbances of strength/direction.
I suppose you can already turn on your fridge whilst running if you have the right pieces of kit and an IFTTT account. You can do a lot of things you don’t really need to with tech.
Novel Sensor Support
This requires the ‘novel sensor’ to exist. Thus we are still waiting for sporty, PRACTICAL hydration sensors (AURA), Carb/Fat usage (Lumen), blood pressure (OMRON Heart Guide) and non-invasive, blood glucose sensors (Libre) to actually exist. Garmin can already connect to them BTW…CIQ
This also includes connecting to existing sensors in novel ways. Thus Wahoo’s ‘hand off’ from the Rival to the ELEMNT bike computer is a novel way to use the ELEMNT.
Garmin has the ability to iterate subtle variants of the Fenix series across multiple ‘sports’ like Marine usage (Quatix) and I also expect them to iterate bike devices to MTB, track, ultra running and Cyclocross (trail or gravel). Of course…now we Hhave Enduro…a Fenix for trail/Ultras.
Other manufacturers generally seem to be iterating technical variants of products eg introducing ‘navigation’ or STRAVA to a bike computer doesn’t especially target a sport.
One strategy for Garmin’s competitors is to target specific sports with a specific watch/bike computer but I doubt we will see much of that – although Lezyne is an interesting exception who generally target off-road usage. Garmin is very clearly aware of that and I would imagine could cause Lezyne some big problems if they decided to compete more seriously in the same arena.
There’s probably a sports watch that can already take a photo and share it to your STRAVA feed. Xplova integrated video recording to their bikenav a few years ago along a similar vein. It’s already technically possible, there just has to be the commercial will to match whatever demand exists.
The question here is to what degree imagery capturing needs to be integrated onto a small sports device rather than being augmented instead by the athlete carrying a secondary device (drone/GoPro). If I think of the 30 or so people that I regularly follow on STRAVA (who I actually know in real life) then only one of them adds the occasional image to a ride.
Workout Data Standards
The FIT file format is now a de-facto standard, although technical communication between platforms may well use JSON or TCX. But you don’t need to know that. You’d be surprised at how many newly released devices (non-Garmin) produce FIT files with schema errors, you’d be surprised at how many of those errors exist two years later. Or maybe you wouldn’t.