Garmin Watches – Global GPS Errors | Sony the Culprit?

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Garmin Watches – Global GPS Errors

Garmin users all over the world are experiencing GPS accuracy issues aka ‘Errors’

Apple Watch SE | Use Hampton Wick Pond as landmark to compare to 945’s image above

Typically what is happening is that the post-workout tracks are shifted Westwards for many 10s of metres. In some cases, people are reporting 200+ metres.

I can also confirm the same behaviour on 1st Jan when I experienced a shift of over 100m to the South West (SSW), as shown above on the track from my 10k run with a Forerunner 945.

I was also wearing an Apple Watch SE at the same time. The AW SE did NOT experience the same issue when recording with iSmoothRun (beta). If anything, its track was very slightly shifted in the opposite direction.

What am I going to do about it?

Clearly, my sporting world has come to an end. This is the start of the end of days. We are all doomed and I’m heading off to panic-buy something. I’m not quite sure what. Probably toilet rolls, although I do have a lot of those still left from March.

or

I might just forget about it and hope it goes away and keep using my Stryd and heart rate strap (HRM-PRo) as I’d never actually noticed the problem until @JK brought it to my attention last night! He was notably perturbed and I think has an emergency counselling session booked today. Good luck, John. Stick with the program.

In a nutshell: I’ll do nothing apart from writing a few words attempting very poorly to be funny/hilarious. The problem will hopefully go away.

Being slightly more serious

I appreciate this is a first world annoyance. With the exception of New Zealand, it does appear to be global in nature. It seems that Jacinda had this one covered too, blimey she’s good. Very good.

My initial theory was that this was a Glonass-related issue, perhaps one of the satellites was out of sync?

This seemed like a reasonable theory and one dodgy satellite in the northern hemisphere could explain why New Zealand was fine. My errant 945 was using GPS+Glonass with recently synced ephemeris data, so the sync would hopefully eliminate ‘user error’ and I was guessing that would be the same for most other people. However, a quick glance at one of the many Garmin forums reporting this soon contradicts my assumption eg this Garmin Forum. It seems that the problem also occurs with GPS+Galileo and GPS-only

What about other manufacturers?

In my case, my Apple Watch SE would probably be using GLONASS as well. OK, its track was not as good as normal but the error was not the same as that on the Garmin. So the problem is probably not Glonass-realted. Looking to a Suunto forum we see a similar error on a Suunto 9.

 

 

If you look in the comments below you can also see an issue with a Coros watch.

Is Sony the Common Thread?

There are so many more Garmin watches than those from other manufacturers that it seems that the problems are Garmin related. However Garmin, coros, Polar and others have all shared highly similar or identical Sony GNSS chipsets over the last 2ish years.

So my working hypothesis is that this is a problem with the Sony chipset. My guess would be that this is a minor year-end coding problem along a similar vein to the Year 2000/Millenium bug which nearly ended humanity two decades ago.

Is this same happening to your old Garmin (eg Fenix 5-Plus?)? @Andy, comments below, doesn’t get this error.

I have a Garmin Edge 820 and might try that.

That said my Garmin does show the following: System>About>CPE Expired.

  • Rebooting & syncing: Does not eliminate the CPE expired message
  • Changing GPS+GLONASS to GPS-ONLY, getting a satellite fix & Syncing: Does not eliminate the CPE expired message
  • Changing GPS+GLONASS to GPS-GALILEO, getting a satellite fix & Syncing: Does not eliminate the CPE expired message

A Fix

I’ve got the impression that Sony moves slowly. So don’t hold out for a fix from them next week.

However, whatever you think about Garmin I reckon they will take this seriously and that they will produce a workaround this week if it’s possible.

Comments and rants welcomed below! This is, after all, a life and death situation and tempers will inevitably get frayed.

Feb 2021: More Garmin GPS Errors, the problem resurfaces

On a Lighter Note

One solution is to realise that the start point is 200m to your SW. So walk and start the workout there….Hmmm…wait a minute….there’s something wrong with that 😉

Good luck to all in finding a proper solution!

Another solution, like with cycling, is to buy another one. So here are some thoughts for Garmin’s 2021 releases (955 yay!) or try the following link to products they could release but won’t (personally I think the latter is a more thought-provoking read)

Garmin Anti-Predictions – What WON’T happen in 2021

 

 

 

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68 thoughts on “Garmin Watches – Global GPS Errors | Sony the Culprit?

  1. Ran with Garmin Fenix 6SPro and Coros Apex 46 on 1st & 2nd Jan. Can Confirm Fenix way out west for initial 10 mins of run, then corrects itself. Coros bang on track both times. Thought [may be wrong], that both use the same GPS chipset.

    1. Same here (Poland). Fenix 6. In my case Fenix was way out south-west for initial, about 11 minutes of run, then corrects itself.

  2. Probably not glonass related, i ran today with only gps setting and got shifted 150m to west for only 800m, rest of run was ok, but sometimes it lose signal on open sky. Writing from Poland

    Also noticed CPE is expired no matter of syncing

  3. we ran yesterday with my girlfriend, i have a 945, she has a coros apex (sony chipset too) and we have nearly exactly the same shift.

  4. Fenix 6, track goes to northwest first kms, then somehow corrects itself, happened today

  5. New years fireworks could have shifted the satellites. Or maybe the earth has shifted. But this does look like a good excuse to put GPS activities on a hold. 😁

  6. Seems to be an issue with the CPE file going to watches with the Sony chipset. Both my Fenix 6X and MARQ (with Sony chip) are showing ‘CPE Expired’, but my Fenix 5+ with the Mediatek chip is showing ‘EPO Current’. Garmin Express is delivering a new CPE File to both MARQ and Fenix 6X every time I sync, but the watches clearly cannot ‘consume’ the file being delivered. That said, I didn’t see any problems with a mountain bike ride just done, but I did leave the watch static for 5 mins before starting, to collect any missing satellite data the CPE file normally provides. There are threads on the Garmin Fenix 6 and 945 forums with others reporting the same thing. I guess Sony might fix this on Monday when the tech folks who know how to sort this are back in office.

  7. I don’t think you can blame Sony or Garmin exclusively. My Anytone 878 radio using APRS has exactly the same shift.

    1. And it’s GPS chipset is what? I would guess it’s Sony 🙂 As the problems are on the devices that uses Sony’s GPS chipsets.

      1. I only noticed the APRS issue as I’m testing it as a backup to Garmin Livetrack in areas where I don’t get cellular coverage. It’s not as robust, but useful for tracking….

  8. I had this issue on my Fenix 6 Pro yesterday (1/1/21) morning in Virginia, USA. My track started shifted West about 320 meters until it corrected itself about 21 minutes later. The end of my run was accurate.

  9. Currently using a Garmin Venu and can confirm on both my walks GPS off from the route I walked

  10. FR945 here. I got misaligned track yesterday, but it shifted in a fun way to “real” position after 2 km (~13 min) run. In the evening I drove to the forest for a walk and checked this time with map: error was around 400 meters. After 1 km walk I restarted workout and it got good position immediately. Then I have experimented in the evening: restarting watch, deleting ephemeris data. “About” section showed “current” after sync, but after sync position was wrong again initially.

    This morning I have spent moving around my front yard before ride, as initial position was a whopping 1 km away. Interesting observation: the more I moved, the quicker position was crawling towards my real one.

    Again drove to the forest and opened workout in my car and right to the map. Again around half kilometer away, but the pointer moved to the real position quicker.

    Not very scientific, but it looks the quicker you move, the quicker you get the right position.

    So… remember your warm-ups before run or ride! And move around! I’ll do it while waiting for the fix…

    1. if it is satellite-related then the effects we see could be impacted by each person’s latitude

  11. I haven’t noticed this issue in Florida (my runs are not in the Gulf of Mexico. As a precaution, I will be launching my own satellite.

  12. I have a fenix3 which has the same issue. Furthermore, during runs and hikes it just loses any signal and to goes to zero km. I also have an Edge 820 which I have never had a problem with. Prior to that I had an 810 which lasted for 11 months. A couple of my tri friends have switched to Polar watches and so far have nothing but good things to say about them.

    1. Oh, forgot to mention, yesterday I rode my fat bike with my 820 in the morning and x-country skied in the afternoon with my Felix3 and both worked fine. My daughter skied with her Garmin Insight and didn’t have an issue.

  13. Quick re-test this morning with eTrex Vista/Fenix 6 and Anytone shows an initial 300m shift which corrected itself after about a minute.

  14. Ha, glad I found this. I had my quatix 6x out and it was shifting as you say and also was testing out my old epix which tracked properly. So definitely the Sony gps I’d say.

  15. The start of my run was was initially off too the West but did correct itself halfway. The issue does not seem to be limited to Garmin as I used a Polar Vantage V2.

    1. I don’t know if it’s related but my fenix 6 has experienced 2 issues today:
      first km in the run: 4’26″/km…and i was running near 6’/km
      5° KM: see the attached file…i simply turned right at the crossroad…

      do u think it’s related to the issue above eplained ?

  16. I ran this morning with my FR945 and I got misaligned tracks for the first 3 km although the watch had greenlight’ed the initial position. It realigned itself with the real position after around 3 km and it stayed well aligned until the end of the run.

    However my GPS setting is “GPS + GALILEO”, so I am not 100% positive that it would be a GLONASS only issue.

    Quite happy that the issue is global, it will make the fix faster to get released. I hope.

  17. Garmin have made a statement (On their support forums)

    Please be aware that we are aware of the serious GPS issue that 2021 has brought upon the Fenix 6 series watches and we are investigating reports. The issue seems to be impacting not only Garmin but some of our competitors too.
    We hope to have this issue resolved as quickly as possible and this issue is our #1 highest priority.

  18. Fenix 6X, here in CT, USA. Took about 9min 30 to get on track on 1 JAN. Just took 3 ‘Walk’s today 2 JAN, first walk took about 3 min 20 seconds to correct, 2nd and 3rd ‘Walks’ had no initial issues. All initial issues were offsets 400 – 500 to the west of the actual positions.

  19. I just checked and also my run has a track about 100 meters shifted for the entire first 30 minutes. Then the watch found the correct position, but in the end again a big error of about 100 meters (it completely lost the track). I saw this only after reading this post, I checked the run before and I didn’t realize that something was wrong 🙂 ! The total distance seems quite good. Yesterday everything was good.

    1. yes the common themse seems to be a shift error. so other people are reporting correct total distances but just shifted.
      It’s also interesting how many of us never noticed first time around!!! perhaps we don’t need these pesky gps devices after all 😉 ?

      1. Same think that I thought after I realized that I couldn’t see such a big error! Joke aside, today I did sprints, so I was not looking at the watch (FR945) while running. I was running also with a Garmin FR610 (SirfStar chipset), but I didn’t upload the run to Garminconnect. It would be interesting to see if also that watch was affected by the problem. I will check tomorrow.

    2. For my run yesterday, pace in first mile was showing faster than I feel I was going. 2nd mile hit about a 10th of a mile sooner than it should have.

  20. Thank you for this analysis, I confirm that the problem is also present in France since today January 1, 2021 with the Fr245 (Sony chip on board…).

  21. I did a 8k plus run today and my partner and I got garmin watches. My run read 7 half k and partner was over 8k also gps was all over the place as his saw him in a river! And mine completely different. Never had a problem before now . How do we fix this issue

  22. My Vivoactive 4 had a very similar problem that morning. GPS +Galileo. I runned at Modi’in (Israel)

  23. We are having issues in NZ too. I apparently ran a 6:29 mile during a recovery run and my tracks are way off.

  24. Yes, my fenix 6 pro saphire had that same problem.. Checkt the info, same. Cpe expired.. Checked my polar gritx, assisted gps verloopt 15/01/2021 Us..
    Hope these things get fixed..

  25. Got the Forerunner 35 for Christmas. Just walking now, but, at one point I started far from home and hit max speed of 109 mph. 🤣🤣

  26. Talk on the PolarFitness Reddit about this too.

    As a Vantage M user I experienced it this morning but weirdly it ‘sorted’ itself out after about 500m however was ‘off’ for roughly the same 500m on the return.
    Nice clear view of the sky there and I’ve ran that section so many times as nearly ever run I do starts and ends on the stretch.

    See why tomorrow’s run brings. Let’s hope it’s a simple fix if it something software based.

    Knowing Polar at the minute they’ll releases a new watch with the fix and call it an upgrade!

  27. Hooray, some subject other than Covid and/or Brexit to moan about/discuss. Nice one Sony/Garmin🤪

    1. 😉
      I’m working on something that combines China, Covid and Brexit all in one, perhaps also demonising some segment of society at the same time. There’d need to be a GPS watch in there too and that’s the point I’m stuck at.

  28. Hi
    Garmin adds an offset based on the hand you’re wearing the watch on. I wear it on right hand and during sports this offset is on the right with 10s meters.
    Fix? Wear the watch inside the wrist(no matter which hand) in order to have 12 o’clock pointed up.
    Why this fix? Find a narrow path in open field and run 1k forth and 1k back with the watch outside your wrist. After that run 1k forth and 1k back with the watch inside your wrist.
    You will see 2 separate lines for the first round and 2 overlaid lines for 2nd round.

    You don’t have to trust me…try by yourself.
    I tried with my 6x and this is the outcome

  29. Sorry to say that Jacinda didn’t protect us from this disaster. I’m in NZ and my 10.74km run turned into a 11km run as my course was shifted westwards and then shifted back mid run… What will I do??? 😂

  30. GPS and GALILEO – US and Europe. GLONASS – Russian. Unprecedented hacking of US networks. Hmmmm.

  31. Thank goodness I found this thread… not being so technically inclined, I thought I was going mad. Had this issue 1st and 2nd of Jan (UK), on Garmin Vivoactive 4. Just makes me look like I’ve parkoured through a village, jogged along a railway line (not recommended and ventured into some fairly knarly cross country. Much more exciting than my actual runs- will hold fire for a fix!

  32. Fenix 3 is totally fine, no issues like this at all, but it’s not Sony. In South Korea here.

  33. My Vivoactive4 has just in the last week has given a start point 200m South using GPS only. Same runs previously start point has been accurate. Location Rotorua NZ

  34. Noticed the CPE status on my own watch says current this morning, maybe that’s the fix? Will find out later as have to wait for the ice outside to melt a bit.

  35. EPO file updated, everything was ok today. It’s safe to run again everyone! 🤭

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