Wow, the arena of devices that can keep track of your workouts with GPS has certainly filled up over the last few years! What was a space that was mostly dominated by Garmin has filled up with others as well (more from Suunto, Polar, FitBit, Apple, and Samsung). This is actually great news for runners or people wanting to be more active as it presents us with more options and – even better – great prices and deals. Here is why the Apple Watch Series 3 is the best GPS smartwatch around – for the value.
The Apple Watch Series 3 is an Incredible Value GPS Smartwatch
Link: Apple Watch Series 3 (affiliate link)
Are there better smartwatches? Sure, Apple even has their Series 5 on the market and watches from Samsung are great as well. How about better GPS watches? Absolutely – just look at the makers that specialized in GPS watches and you will find watches that offer more for your GPS-workout.
But, I doubt there is a better value GPS smartwatch right now (fall of 2019) than the Apple Watch Series 3. Let’s take a look at why this is.
1 – Price
We could almost stop right here but we will do more after this! 🙂 Right now, the Apple Watch Series 3 can be purchased (brand new) for as little as $189. That is an incredible deal for a watch that delivers so much!
Think about this – when the Series 3 was released, the Series 1 (no GPS) was discounted to $249! Now, the Series 3 can be had for less than $200 brand new! Oh, and it comes with GPS.
Where I would previously say that Garmin had the edge on value in the sub-$200 range, I believe Apple edges that out now due to its overall smartwatch capabilities. Remember, I didn’t say the best value GPS watch but rather best GPS smartwatch. There are plenty of Garmin devices in this area of price that are quite compelling – the Vivoactive 3 and the Forerunner 45, to name two.
Oh, and these prices will get even better around Black Friday with various sales and deals for stacking – just wait and see!
2 – Battery Life
Apple has improved battery life with each iteration of the Apple Watch and the Series 3 was the last model to have the slightly smaller display (meaning, less battery to power all the pixels). I had found the battery life on the Series 3 to be good enough to last more than a day and over 2 runs in that timeframe. That means you can put it on in the morning, do a 1 hour run during the day, get all your notifications, wear it to bed, and run again the next day before you need to charge it.
That cannot hold a candle to any Garmin watch but you are getting a watch with far more interaction between your phone and wrist than a Garmin provides. Not only that, most of the Garmin watches do not have the same full color display that the Apple Watch has.
As for charging, you can get it charged up in about an hour for full capacity again so that is great if you want to charge it while working at your desk or maybe while you are showering/dressing/etc.
3 – Smartwatch Functions
Here is where the Apple Watch starts to move away from the Garmin devices. The Apple Watch is a full featured smartwatch while the Garmin watches offer smart notifications and some two-way interaction. This means you can do a lot of things from your wrist that can make the Apple Watch become an invaluable part of your day.
For example, when traveling, you can have your boarding pass on your wrist and simply turn it over to scan that at security and then when boarding. That means you can keep your hands free for other things. It also lets you dictate messages to it through earbuds or directly to the device so that, again, you can go hands free. It also can give you clear, colorful directions when driving so you can just glance at your wrist on the steering wheel when you feel the buzz from Apple Maps to notify you of upcoming turns or instructions.
There are a ton of apps available for Apple Watch and WatchOS 6 even brought its own app store to the watch. This means that there is almost no end to what you can do with the Apple Watch (including things like monitoring security cameras or opening garage doors). My wife wears one and she has little apps like her Ember app to notify her when her mug is at the right temperature or to let her adjust the temperature from her wrist.
The Apple Watch cannot be beat by Garmin in the smartwatch department – the Apple Watch was made for that. And, at less than $200, it gives you an incredible amount of smart functions that you can have right on your wrist.
4 – Communications
This part will go up and over the $200 price mark but if you want to have cellular connectivity while away from your phone, the Series 3 was the first one to offer built-in cellular capability. Sure, Garmin has a device that will let you do that but it seems that maybe Garmin is either moving away from that area or holding off going systemwide until next year.
For an extra $100 and whatever your carrier will charge you each month (like $10), you can have calling/texting/data capabilities wherever you are (in the US, if you have a US model) without having to carry your phone. For runners, this is yet one more thing to like about the Apple Watch since it lets you have contact in case of emergency without having to carry a phone.
Even paying the extra for cellular capability, you are still over $100 less than what the latest non-cellular Apple Watch Series 5 costs! Not bad!