As you may have read, Apple just announced the new Apple Watch Series 3. It looks nearly identical to its predecessors, save for the red crown that indicates the presence of an LTE chip. But how good is the Apple Watch Series 3 for runners? We break it down with some first impressions, below.
Why the Previous Apple Watch was Good for Runners:
— You can take music or podcasts with you on your runs (without your phone), if you have bluetooth earbuds or AirPods
— It works directly with third-party apps like Strava and MapMyRun.
— You can get notifications, so long as you have your phone on you.
— You can use Siri to huff out messages as you run.
Why the Previous Apple Watch Wasn’t Good for Runners
— Some reviewers have noted that the HR and GPS are spotty. This may well depend on your wrist shape and your location.
— The battery life is enough for a standard marathon, but not an ultra.
— The watch “seems relatively delicate” compared to rugged models from Garmin and Suunto.
— The lack of physical buttons is frustrating for some, especially runners looking to mark splits.
— The screen can be slippy when wet with sweat or rain.
— A lot of true smartwatch features — streaming music, notifications, etc — are not useful without a phone.
What’s changed in the new version? How is the Apple Watch Series 3 for Runners?
There is one real, substantial improvement that makes the Apple Watch Series 3 for runners an appetizing proposition:
— The addition of LTE means real, hard data is streaming to your device. Music, podcasts, emails, the works. Without your phone. That’s insane.
— Apple made in-depth heart rate monitoring stats more easily accessible.
Many of the complaints about the Apple Watch are fundamental, and some still remain: Since the device is ultimately a smartwatch with excellent fitness features – and not a dedicated running watch with notification support – it will make certain compromises — on battery life, on athletic endurance, on button placement — that will make it great for the overwhelming majority of users, but not necessarily the most hardcore athletes and runners. For instance:
Most photography enthusiasts are fine with their iPhones, but photographers – albeit decreasingly – still use SLRs and Hasselblad setups. Many journalists use the iPhone’s built-in microphone and voice memo, but audio professionals still use, say, a Shure array.
Apple has always been this way: it makes beautiful, well-engineered products that work well for most people, in most circumstances. But in certain niches, the very passionate end user may prefer a dedicated device that offers more utility in that niche.
Which is to say, because the Apple Watch Series 3 will need to look good with a tux or a pair of heels, it will never have quite the same rugged, plastic-bolstered build as a Suunto Ambit or Garmin Fenix 5X.
However, if you don’t routinely run ultra-marathons, or if you’re an Apple devotee, or if you just want something that really lets you leave your phone at home and take just your watch and a pair of Airpods for a long run, the Apple Watch Series 3 is worth a very close look. It is, hands-down (ah-hah!) the best smartwatch on the market, and the Series 3 brings some really compelling features to the table, trail, and road – features that are certain to please most runners, especially those who want to leave their iPhones at home.
➡️We’ll be doing a full rundown once we get our hands on a review unit. Sign up here to get the review when it’s up! ⬅️