Which GPS watch do you use ?

Gary

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Glad you're still as happy as I am with the swap mate. (y)
Dry or wet I never wear gloves mtbing and even commuting only when temps are aproaching freezing.

I'd disagree about the map screen being too small. I don't really use navigation functions anymore (phone or Garmin) but that's just down to my eyesight deteriorating over the last few years and not carrying reading glasses on rides. Back when my eyesight was perfect I used the old 800 (similar sized screen to the newer 5/830 but lower resolution) to navigate when riding and in Spain (just an example of an area I have no knowledge of) and the mapping detail was absolutely fine. The 530/830's screens have improved a fair bit from that old device so I'd be surprised if they're not equally if not more useable. Couldn't comment on the re-routing issues you mention though.

I think a decent dedicated bar/stem mounted GPS has to be the better option for following routes over a GPS watch and pulling out your phone combo. A deliveroo style phone mounted to the bars/stem might be a better option for some riding (definitely delivering food anyway) but I'd never even dream of doing that for the type of riding I do.
 

Marksou

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If I don’t need to navigate, I use the Fenix 6 Pro. If I need to navigate I use my edge 530. Don’t use my iPhone for anything such as nav or logging as the battery life is crap compared to Fenix or Edge.
 

Growmac

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Glad you're still as happy as I am with the swap mate. (y)
Dry or wet I never wear gloves mtbing and even commuting only when temps are aproaching freezing.

I'd disagree about the map screen being too small. I don't really use navigation functions anymore (phone or Garmin) but that's just down to my eyesight deteriorating over the last few years and not carrying reading glasses on rides. Back when my eyesight was perfect I used the old 800 (similar sized screen to the newer 5/830 but lower resolution) to navigate when riding and in Spain (just an example of an area I have no knowledge of) and the mapping detail was absolutely fine.

Both of us happy. Win win! 👍

I had an 800 too, and the screen is certainly much improved since then. (As an aside, the touchscreen on the 800wasn't capacitive so worked fine in the wet and with gloves, but I digress). My objection is really that the screen is small enough that getting enough context to make any navigational decisions is tough. You can certainly see detail, but an overview is more challenging. I far prefer the large, bright, responsive screen on my phone.
 

Gary

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How long has it been since you used an 800? Mine was attached to my roadbike until I finally sold it 9months ago. So was using both the 800 and 830 back to back and direct comparison to the 830 the 800s touchscreen was really slow, laggy and quite unresponsive even when bone dry and without gloves on and pretty horrendous if compared to any vaguely modern phone screen. Not exactly surprising as it's a 12 year old unit. It did work reliably when wet though but I think if you went back to one now you'd be surprised as just how clunky it actually felt in use. Personally I think Garmin actually got the balance pretty right with the 830s screen's responsiveness vs wet weather usability.
Out of curiosity I just looked up the specs and although the units are of a similar physical size the 800 had lower resolution than the 5/830 so the newer model's maps are a lot more detailed.
ie.
800 160x240pixels
Vs
830 246x322pixels

I far prefer the large, bright, responsive screen on my phone.
No doubt. But that's also why it's screen on battery life is poor. and I'll bet it doesn't work too well when wet through cold wet gloves either? :sneaky:
 
Last edited:

Tubby G

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@Zimmerframe
Ok, explain why a GPS enabled 'watch' is better than a smartphone that uses its built in GPS to run a navigation/map app?
Genuinely what am I missing - how do you use it?

In general, the GPS signal from a smartwatch (Garmin) is far more accurate, especially over shorter distances. Garmin have been leading the field for GPS devices in commercial applications for many years, and their technology is more advanced as a result, and filters down to consumer grade electronics that we are able to purchase

Mobile phones’ GPS signals are better suited for long distances, such as sat nav for Google maps

If you’re into ride data, and want to beat your own times on particular trails (or chase Strava KOM’s), a Garmin device will always be far more accurate. They also lock on to more satellites, and can pin point your position & elevation to within a metre, whereas mobile phones give varied and quite often unrealistic results

For example, say a trail is avaraging over a minute long, the KOM for that trail being 58 seconds, 2nd place 59 seconds, 3rd place 60 seconds etc. Then someone comes along as a fairly mediocre rider and wins the KOM in 47 seconds, chances are they recorded their ride on the Strava app on their mobile phone and the results aren’t accurate
 

Gary

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In general, the GPS signal from a smartwatch (Garmin) is far more accurate
it's actually not.
it depends on the GPS chip and refresh rate. and many phones actually have very good GPS chips and refresh rates to rival that of a Garmin device.
ONE thing that can make a Garmin Edge device's GPS trail more accurate than a phone's is that they're generally place on top of the bike. whereas most folk store their phone in a bag/pack or pocket.
The barometric altimeter can also help with accuracy. But comes with another set of issues. namely calibration.
 

Growmac

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How long has it been since you used an 800?
Out of curiosity I just looked up the specs and although the units are of a similar physical size the screen of the 800 was actually quite a bit smaller AND lower resolution than the 5/830 so the newer model's maps are a lot more detailed.
ie.
800 screen size 3.8mm x 5.6mm and 160x240pixels
830 screen size 50mm x 83 and 246x322pixels


No doubt. But that's also why it's screen on battery life is poor. and I'll bet it doesn't work too well when wet through cold wet gloves either? :sneaky:
You're probably right. it's been three years since I used it. My 800 is in the drawer next to me now, I'm almost tempted to put it on charge and turn it on and see (update: I don't have a mini-USB lead handy so can't), but it did work in the wet whereas I was often unable to make the 830 do what I wanted in the muddy depths of winter.

Your figures on the 800's screen size have a rogue decimal point by the way. It's taller and narrower than the 530's by 4 mm each way, which is not radically different. Are you sure of the 830 measurements? I don't recall it being much taller, are you thinking of the 1030?

And yeah, of course the phone can be problematic in the wet, although it's mostly better than you'd think, and I remain baffled by people who think it's a good handlebar-mounted device. The camera could well be ruined for one thing (the OIS is ruined by vibration). The 530's buttons are flawless though, so I'm happy.

IMG_1489.jpeg
 

Growmac

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it's actually not.
it depends on the GPS chip and refresh rate. and many phones actually have very good GPS chips and refresh rates to rival that of a Garmin device.

They do indeed, and can be great, but many (i)phone applications have aggressive power conservation, which reduces polling frequency, and is responsible for their current ability to work all day without too much battery drain, but also for reduced usefulness for things like Strava.

EDIT: also, phones have had barometric altimeters for the past few years, so that's not the differentiator. I agree with Gary, the differences are down to positioning (do they have an unobstructed view of the sky?) and power conservation. A phone's primary job is not GPS, so it'll have a lower power budget for that task than a dedicated device.
 

Tubby G

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it's actually not.
it depends on the GPS chip and refresh rate. and many phones actually have very good GPS chips and refresh rates to rival that of a Garmin device.
ONE thing that can make a Garmin Edge device's GPS trail more accurate than a phone's is that they're generally place on top of the bike. whereas most folk store their phone in a bag/pack or pocket.
The barometric altimeter can also help with accuracy. But comes with another set of issues. namely calibration.

Having a Garmin device on the bike or on your wrist certainly helps the signal, whereas most people will probably have their phone in pocket / hip-pack / bag etc

The problem with phones is that they are often running multiple apps in the background so won’t prioritise a GPS signal being recorded for an activity over other apps that may also be using the GPS data, hence more margin for error, whereas a dedicated GPS device is only using the data for recording your activity and nothing else
 

Gary

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Your figures on the 800's screen size have a rogue decimal point by the way. It's taller and narrower than the 530's by 4 mm each way, which is not radically different. Are you sure of the 830 measurements?
just copied and pasted from the specs. sorry. Seems they weren't accurate
 

Gary

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The problem with phones is that they are often running multiple apps in the background so won’t prioritise a GPS signal being recorded for an activity over other apps that may also be using the GPS data, hence more margin for error
So you know what to do if you're 6s off a KOM ;)
 

urastus

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The problem with phones is that they are often running multiple apps in the background so won’t prioritise a GPS signal being recorded for an activity over other apps that may also be using the GPS data,
I guarantee they are doing just that. Every app has a cost, just like pharmaceuticals. Does the benefit outweigh your data being shared?

I rarely have my phone online. I do use gps but have found that I can do this with flight mode activated - that is just gps, not using the mobile network system to supposedly aid gps.
 

Zimmerframe

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The Fenix 6s arrived.

Initial impressions ... It's crap !

Not sure if it was something I did when turning it on (didn't read the manual) but it was in a forced test mode - which was really interesting seeing all the sensors and figures, but didn't seem very useful and it took some time to work out how to exit (having not read the manual to work out what buttons do what :) )

Next problem - the display. Unlike the pictures, it's dull with no vibrancy. The screen depends on external light source for much of it's clarity - so once you're in the sun, it works really well. I also had to up the default brightness levels in various modes as these were all set at 20% which was like looking at a mobile phone with the back light off.

The watch itself is surprisingly small. I was worried it would seem huge and bulky, it's not. I could have probably got the 6 and it wouldn't have been too big. This would have given a slightly larger display which would have been beneficial. Without glasses I was struggling to read the default watch face. Once I'd found a 40+ persons one, it's really good and I can see everything I need/want to see.

The other issue I had was updates. Unless you have a windows PC and install the garmin app, you can't force updates. You have to set the watch to auto update - then keep checking it to see if an updates ready, once it is, you can say "update" .. Mine was several updates behind and until they were done it wouldn't let me install anything on the watch like new watch faces.

In terms of using it, whilst I've not ridden in it yet, I've actually found it really interesting. The sleep tracking is informative and appears to accurately reflect how I feel like I've slept - or not ...

The "body battery" function also seems to give a reasonable guide to how knackered you are. I've been down to 5% a few times and have been wondering if I die if it gets to 0 ... 🙃 I almost went for a ride but felt pretty tired and thought I might fall off if I was going for it, the watch said I was at 18% so I skipped the ride and probably injury ..

Heart rate readings and general activity stats aren't really essential, but are still interesting to see. My resting heart rate is lower than I thought it would be. I've only had it on for 5 days, but I've already walked 50km's just doing day to day things and climb an average of 75 floors when not really doing anything..

All in all, I like it, so thanks again all for the recommendations.

I need to start a new thread ... which watch strap do you use on your garmin watch ... :)
 

H.E.

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The body battery will not go below 5%.
I think it can be an indicator but when you feel good and have 18% in the evening its probably
fine to go out for a short ride. One time i went sick during the night- the watch figured that
out and i lost all of my battery during the sleep. Must say that i dont really use that thing for training/optimization
but you can see how much battery you actually loose with certain activities.

You can set auto Backlight in the settings for odd lighting conditions or nighttime.

In case you run into trouble with the battery life things that help:
-turn off pulse ox
-turn of wifi
-turn off bluetooth (phone)

Cant help with the straps, used the original ones until they wear out and then i buy
replacements. (not the original garmin ones but they are basically the same)
 

RickBullotta

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TL;DR: all watches SUCK for navigation. They're all "ok" for fitness tracking and capturing your ride statistics. If you have an iPhone, an Apple Watch gives you the largest app ecosystem and best integration for calls/messaging while riding.
 

Zimmerframe

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Having played with several watch faces, I settled on Glance Pro (€1.99) over "Glance" but with a bit more field flexibility. Even on the 6S all the fields are clear. I quite like the size of the "S" especially after not wearing a watch for at least 20 years.

In terms of GPS, the lock on is slower than a phone (considerably slower when inside or under heavy tree cover).

Accuracy, compared to a phone mounted on the handlebars, segments were all within 1 second of each other - no matter what the length and altitude (in strava) was within 1 meter difference.

Battery life is good, or certainly acceptable for me and the 6S has the smallest battery.

Ultimately, it's a bit of a toy. It's not essential, but I quite like the features and it would be great when combined with a bike with ant+ to show battery for example.
 

Another One

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Having played with several watch faces, I settled on Glance Pro (€1.99) over "Glance" but with a bit more field flexibility. Even on the 6S all the fields are clear. I quite like the size of the "S" especially after not wearing a watch for at least 20 years.

In terms of GPS, the lock on is slower than a phone (considerably slower when inside or under heavy tree cover).

Accuracy, compared to a phone mounted on the handlebars, segments were all within 1 second of each other - no matter what the length and altitude (in strava) was within 1 meter difference.

Battery life is good, or certainly acceptable for me and the 6S has the smallest battery.

Ultimately, it's a bit of a toy. It's not essential, but I quite like the features and it would be great when combined with a bike with ant+ to show battery for example.
Glad your getting used to it now I have not tried Glance will have a look, I use the Titanium face by Garmin when I am out on a ride I use EMTB mode (Timer, Gears AXS awesome, Elevation, Distance & Timer Again need to change just noticed)
 

Zimmerframe

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Been doing some more testing with the watch vs the phone.

If there's any tree cover at all, then interestingly, the phone is actually a lot more accurate than the garmin !

Much of the initial excitement of the new toy and fancy features and functions have worn off and other than being able to glance at phone notifications I find I'm using it less and less. I like all the extra information during an activity, but there's nothing I don't really know either from my own body or the phone that it's telling me.

Discovering, the GPS isn't actually very accurate ultimately obliterates the reason I bought it in the first place.

I like it, but it's starting to feel like an unnecessary toy/pointless trinket.
 

Zimmerframe

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Has it not been said that the cell phone uses cell tower zones for positioning? You even don’t have to be with in cell signal and it’ll still see an out of coverage zone for a better fix so long as it can triangulate.
A cell phone could also use cell towers to give some extra positioning, but unless you have several it won't triangulate very well and where I am most of the time I have no signal anyway.

I think the phones quite often will use multi-band GPS to get more accuracy, because you have a far larger battery compared to a small device, you can do this. The Fenix 7 Sapphire also gives you access to multi-band-GPS, but it's the only Garmin watch with it.

I know some of the watches use GPS smoothing. I guess they use the gyroscope to work out exactly where you went so they can manipulate/correct the GPS track - I think some of the Suunto's have the option to turn on multi-band and also do some additional smoothing/correction (at the expense of battery life) if you turn that on.

The Fenix 6 does rate as having some of the best GPS tracking for a watch. If you have your phone stuffed in the bottom of a backpack, I'd imagine the watch would be more accurate.
 

aarfeldt

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I've used lots of Garmin watches the last many years.
Phenix/EPIx/Delta.....all nice, but too heavy for all_day_use for me.
I've settled on a Venu 2....very light, fantastic screen, excellent new H/R sensor etc.
It tracks all my rides fantastic.....and it /can/ navigate.

If I need to navigate, I use my bike computer Edge 530.
 

mark.ai

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A cell phone could also use cell towers to give some extra positioning, but unless you have several it won't triangulate very well and where I am most of the time I have no signal anyway.

I think the phones quite often will use multi-band GPS to get more accuracy, because you have a far larger battery compared to a small device, you can do this. The Fenix 7 Sapphire also gives you access to multi-band-GPS, but it's the only Garmin watch with it.

I know some of the watches use GPS smoothing. I guess they use the gyroscope to work out exactly where you went so they can manipulate/correct the GPS track - I think some of the Suunto's have the option to turn on multi-band and also do some additional smoothing/correction (at the expense of battery life) if you turn that on.

The Fenix 6 does rate as having some of the best GPS tracking for a watch. If you have your phone stuffed in the bottom of a backpack, I'd imagine the watch would be more accurate.

Have you checked the GPS settings for whichever activity you are using? (It can be set per activity). By default it is just normal GPS, but some people say adding Glonass or Galileo can help: fēnix 6 Series - Changing the GPS Setting (garmin.com)
 

Zimmerframe

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Have you checked the GPS settings for whichever activity you are using? (It can be set per activity). By default it is just normal GPS, but some people say adding Glonass or Galileo can help: fēnix 6 Series - Changing the GPS Setting (garmin.com)
Good point !

I was using GPS+GLONASS with all the different activities I've tested it with because most people thought in rural terrain this gave the most accurate results. I'll try it with GPS+Galileo and see what that's like.

Not that it's overly relevant as they're moving, but I did check the sat positions ..

GPS :

1656333312822.png


GPS + GLONASS

1656333289536.png


GPS + Galileo

1656333267842.png
 

Jdub

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I have the fenx 6x pro purchased 2nd hand. It's now my only device for navigation. Instead of buying the insanely overpriced topo maps from garmin I installed the free open source maps OpenTopoMap Garmin Maps
They don't have the details but on the watch face it would just be a distraction. The watch has incredible battery life even when recoding a lot of activities. The nav is more than enough for me as it's more about the occasional glance. I find having a gps screen on my handlebars a huge distraction and it pulls my attention away from the trail.
 

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