If you’re thinking about dipping into your pocket for a smartwatch and you’re partial to the outdoors – jogging, cycling, walking, whatever; a GPS-enabled watch is the way, but you probably know that already.

To get into the smartwatch category, a features such as notifications, music control, call functions, Bluetooth and preferably a touchscreen should be onboard along with the capability to download apps, watch faces, widgets, etc. There aren’t a great deal of GPS smartwatches on the market at the moment, so we’ve included some sports/fitness watches with a few smart features.

Obviously it’s early in 2016, so we will be updating this list when new GPS smartwatches land in the year to come. Here’s the best on offer so far in 2016..

 

Best GPS Smartwatches 2016

Apple Watch Series 2

gps-smartwatch-apple-watch-2-image

Release Date – September 2016

Apple have once again raised the smartwatch bar, only this time they’ve equipped their wearable with a built-in GPS.

Main Features & Specs

The Apple Watch Series 2 comes in his and her’s sizes: 38mm and 42mm. It features a second-gen AMOLED touchscreen display: 1.3 inch 272 × 340 (38mm Watch) and 1.5 inch 312 × 390 (42mm Watch). The display features Force Touch technology and is protected by Sapphire crystal.

Under the hood is a new GPU and S2 dual-core processor with double the power of the original Watch. It has 1GB RAM, 2GB storage for music and 75MB for photos, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, all the essential fitness tracking sensors including a heart rate monitor and GPS/GLONASS. NFC is also onboard so you can your Apple Watch for contactless payments.

It features a speaker and mic so you can command Siri and take calls from your wrist, but there’s no LTE cellular connectivity so you need to be paired with your iPhone for calls.

The Apple Watch 2 doesn’t leave much to be desired in terms of fitness tracking, and as WatchOS is the world’s largest smartwatch ecosystem there’s no shortage of apps for sports and activities.

Not many watches you can truly call a smartwatch are waterproof enough to take for a swim. The Apple Watch Series 2 is. Furthermore, swimming features have been added to the Workout app so you can keep track of your laps and more in the pool.

To cut to the chase, the Apple Watch 2 is the world’s best smartwatch.

Compatible Devices

WatchOS 3 launched on the same day as iOS 10 which is needed (or later) to run the Watch Series 2.

Battery Life

Around 18 hours depending on usage. Expect less for GPS tracking.

Water-Resistant

Up to 50 meters – safe for swimming – features swim tracking.

 Apple Watch series 2

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Polar M600

gps-smartwatch-android-wear-polar-m600

Release Date – September 2016

The Polar M600 is probably the most sporty Android Wear smartwatch.

Main Features & Specs

The Polar M600 has a 1.3 inch 240 x 240 (260ppi) color TFT LCD touchscreen protected by Gorilla Glass 3. It’s a modular watch, which means the straps can be easily swapped by popping out the top.

Under the hood is a dual-core 1.2 GHz MediaTek MT2601 processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB storage, Bluetooth 4.2 and Wi-Fi. All the essential fitness tracking sensors are on board, including a heart rate monitor with zone training and a HRmax estimate feature, plus GPS/GLONASS.

The Polar M600 allows you to choose from over a hundred sports profiles, as well as your own favorite sports. It offers training routes, map view, altitude measurements, and the ability to discover training sessions shared by other users. There’s also a Smart Calories feature that provides an accurate calorie output based on your maximum heart rate and training intensity.

The M600 runs the Android Wear OS, so there are plenty of smarts on board and it works with tons of apps; from TripAdvisor and Tinder to Strava and Endomondo. There’s a built-in microphone with Google Now at the ready for voice commands, plus Google Cards, Translate, Maps, gesture control and the other delights that come with Android Wear, such as personalized watch faces and smart notifications.

Compatible Devices

The Polar M600 is compatible with Android 4.3 +  and iOS 8.2 + ( limited features on iOS).

Battery Life

Around 48 hours with Android; 24 hours with iOS; up to 8.5 hours GPS tracking.

Water-Resistant

IPX8 – safe for swimming.

 Polar M600

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Samsung Gear S2 3G

best-gps-smartwatch-2016-samsung-gear-s2-3g

Release Date – November 2015

The Samsung Gear S2 3G is probably the smartwatch with the most complete feature set. The downside is that it’s only available (so far) with data plans from select network providers.

Main Features & Specs

The Gear S2 3G sports an onboard e-SIM and supports 2G and 3G calling as a standalone device. It’s a few sensors short of the original Gear S, but makes up for it with its rotating bezel – excellent for navigating the apps, scrolling, zooming and adjusting levels. It also has a couple of extra buttons: Home and Back which the original lacked. Another new addition to the Gear S2 is NFC capability, and Samsung recently announced that Samsung Pay will be arriving for the S2 in 2016 – which uses NFC.

The Gear S2 3G display is a 1.2-inch 360 x 360 (302ppi) Super AMOLED touchscreen. Under the hood is a dual core 1GHz processor, 4GB storage, 512MB RAM, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS and it’s wi-fi-enabled. Among the plethora of sensors there’s also a heart rate monitor.

Samsung’s crown jewel wearable runs the Tizen operating system. The Tizen smartwatch ecosystem isn’t on par with Android Wear or WatchOS but you’ll find some decent third-party apps from some of the big guns, such as Nike+ Running, Twitter Trends and Line. Samsung’s voice assistant S Voice also lives on the Gear S2, and the S2 3G has a built-in speaker.

Compatible Devices

The Gear S2 3G is compatible with Android 4.4 + and Samsung have said iOS compatibility is coming in 2016. It’s worth adding that your compatible device needs to have a minimum of 1.5GB of RAM. iOS compatibility and NFC payments are coming to the Gear S2 in 2016.

Battery Life

The swanky Gear S2 3G is supposed to have a battery life of around 2 days with typical usage – what the Korean company classes as typical use is anybody’s guess – but if you’re taking full advantage of the watch’s feature set, i.e, 3G calling and GPS you’ll need to juice it up daily.

Water-Resistance

The Gear S2 3G has an IP68 water-resistance rating. Don’t use for swimming.

Samsung Gear S

best-gps-smartwatches-2016-samsung-gear-s

Release Date – November 2014

Some say it’s ugly, some say it’s better looking than Barbra Streisand 40 years ago.. The Samsung Gear S Looks like something Bond would use to foil the plans of a super villain moments before his death. It has pretty much every feature under the Sun – apart from NFC of course. It’s the closest thing to having a smartphone wrapped around your wrist – there are a few other wristphone-type wearables on the block, but so far they’ve failed to materialize.

Main Features & Specs

Onboard the Gear S is a Nano-SIM. It supports 2G and 3G calling and can be used as a standalone device. It has a rather impressive 2-inch 360 x 480 (300ppi) curved Super AMOLED touchscreen that contours your wrist.

Under the bonnet is dual core 1GHz processor, 4GB storage, 512MB RAM, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS and wi-fi. The Gear S has more sensors than the MI6 headquarters, including a heart rate monitor.

It runs Samsung’s home-brewed Tizen OS – not the richest wearables ecosystem in the world, but it’s growing, with third-party names such as Nike+ Running, Endomondo, Bullet News and the pretty cool Opera Mini Browser.

Compatible Devices

The Samsung Gear S compatibility is limited to Samsung Galaxy smartphones running Android 4.3 or higher, unless you happen to own a Tizen smartphone.

Battery Life

Around  1 – 1.5 days, but it comes with a charging dock that’s also a portable power bank that gives it an extra bit of zing while you’re on the move.

Water-Resistance

The Gear S has an IP67 water-resistance rating. Don’t use for swimming.

• Samsung Gear S

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Moto 360 Sport

best-smartwatch-gps-enabled-2016-moto-360-sport

Release Date – January 2016

The Moto 360 Sport is a butch version of the Moto 360 2nd-gen. Any smartwatch bullies out there better not pick on this burly wrist buddy! It’s like the Batista of Android Wear watches! It has a durable silicone build with special stain-resistant, sweat conquering UV coating that apparently never fades. There are also ventilation channels built into the sides to help stay cool. Also in contrast to other Moto 360s, the Sport is an all-in-one unit so you can’t swap the strap.

Despite word Sport in the title it’s not a full-on sports watch like a Garmin Forerunner, but it is the most sporty Android Wear watch so far.

Main Features & Specs

The 360 Sport display is the first of its kind – a new Hybrid from Motorola called AnyLight. The AnyLight display is a special LCD with the ability to automatically adjust to suit the ambient light conditions of your environment. In bright conditions the new display reflects natural light to contribute to the legibility. It’s also built to look good indoors.

The AnyLight touchscreen LCD measures 1.37-inch and has a resolution of 360 x 325 (263ppi). Unfortunately, it still looks like Sweeny Todd has been set loose on the bottom of it, hence the slice of void space known as the Flat Tyre. It’s quite odd that Moto named their smartwatch the 360 but it’s one of the only round smartwatches that doesn’t actually go 360.

Lurking under the hood is a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, 4GB storage, 512MB RAM, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, wifi and plenty of sensors including a heart rate monitor.

The Moto 360 Sport runs Android Wear, the second largest wearables ecosystem after WatchOS. You’ll have access to a ton of apps and watch faces and the ability to chat to Google Now for directions, general info and more. Also onboard is Google Translate so you can travel to Russia and order a cocktail without getting your head bashed in. Unless you’re an iPhone user, Android Wear is the OS with the minerals.

Compatible Devices

The 360 Sport is compatible with devices running Android 4.3 + and also iOS 8.2 + (limited features) thanks to Google’s Android Wear for iOS app.

Battery Life

Around 1 day – not exactly Muhammad Ali (The Greatest)..

Water-Resistance

Moto’s sturdy round-faced wearable has an IP67 water-resistance rating. Don’t use for swimming.

 Moto 360 Sport

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Sony Smartwatch 3 SWR50

best-gps-smartwatches-sony-smartwatch-3

Release Date – November 2014

The Sony Smartwatch 3 SWR50 is standing the test of time. Up until the recent release of the Moto 360 Sport it was the only Android Wear watch with a built-in GPS. The LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE was all set to join them, but it died before it was born. The Sony Smartwatch 3 is also the only AW smartwatch with NFC.

Android Wear now supports LTE but so far there’s no smartwatch taking advantage of it. Some of us were hoping CES 2016 would see a Sony Smartwatch 4 announced that would be the first, unfortunately, no joy.

Main Features & Specs

The SWR50 has a 1.6-inch 320 x 320 (283ppi) TFT LCD touchscreen display. It won’t give you as much depth as the AMOLED numbers on some of the others, and it’s not the best in bright sunlight.

Under the SWR50’s shiny bonnet is a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 4GB storage, 512MB RAM, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, wife-eye and the necessary sensors – but no heart rate monitor.

The Smartwatch 3 runs Android Wear which means there’s a shed load of apps, watch faces, Google Now, Google Translate, emoji drawing, social media notifications, music players, fitness apps, the works..

Compatible Devices

It is compatible with devices running Android 4.3 + and iOS 8.2 + (limited features) thanks to Google’s Android Wear for iOS app.

Battery Life

Up to 2 days if you’re just using the watch for decoration, but if you’re a swiper it’s more like 1 day – using the GPS it’s even less.

Water-Resistance

The Sony Smartwatch 3 has an IP68 water-resistance rating. Don’t use for swimming.

 Sony Smartwatch 3 SWR50

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Fitbit Surge

best-smartwatches-with-built-in-gps-2016

Release Date – January 2015

The Fitbit Surge can just about be classed as a smartwatch, although it’s almost completely orientated around fitness. It stands out among the bunch because of its retro-style design. I’m not if sure Fitbit intentionally made it look retro, but to me it does. It actually looked better sitting on top of my mum’s Abba record collection than it did on my wrist. If you’re wearing a denim tank top, skinny jeans and pair of Dr Martens the Surge should go well. (I know that Abba wore flares).

Main Features & Specs

The Fitbit Surge has a 1.2 inch, monochrome TFT LCD touchscreen display. It’s always on and there’s a backlight so you can turn on in the dark. The Surge’s black and white display is far more battery friendly than its color counterparts, it looks good indoors and responds well to sunlight.

Powering the Fitbit Surge is a Silicon Labs 48MHz ARM Cortex-M3 processor with 1024KB flash and 128KB RAM (I think that’s right, correct me if it’s wrong). There’s GPS onboard, Bluetooth 4.0, the essential suite of sensors, including a heart rate monitor that use Fitbit’s PurePulse™ HRM technology. In terms of heart rate monitoring, the Surge is the best of this GPS bunch.

The Surge runs Fitbit’s in-house operating system. It doesn’t offer the same variety of features as the likes of Android Wear, Tizen or WatchOS but it’s compatible with most of the fitness apps, including: Strava, Weight Watchers, FitStar Yoga, MyFitnessPal, MapMyRun, RunKeeper and more. However, much to the annoyance of many iPhone users it doesn’t officially work with Apple Health, although there are a few workaround apps such as Sync Solver and Wristband Manager that allow you to import data. You can control your music playlist (Bluetooth Classic) with the Surge, but the only notifications you get are incoming calls and text messages.

Compatible Devices

The Fitbit app is compatible with iOS, Android and windows Phone. You can also log into your Fitbit dashboard on your desktop/laptop.

Battery Life

5 – 7 days without GPS, and up to 10 hours with GPS switched on.

Water-Resistance

The Surge has a 5 ATM water-resistance rating. Don’t use for swimming.

 Fitbit Surge

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Garmin Vivoactive

best-smartwatches-with-gps-2016

Release Date – March 2015

See also: Garmin Vivoactive HR

Garmin wearables have seen a bit of transformation over the last year or so. The GPS giants lead the sporting wearables sector, and have done for eons with their Forerunner series. Recently though, their watches have morphed to get in sync with the connected age, bringing smartphone notifications and the ability to download apps and watch faces from the Garmin Connect IQ platform.

Main Features & Specs

The Vivoactive has a 1.13-inch 205 x 148 (181ppi approx) TFT LCD touchscreen display. The display is color, but it’s nowhere near as vibrant as the Samsungs or the Androids. Indoors the display looks a bit dull, however, when you take the Vivoactive outside the display comes to life and the brighter the conditions the better it looks. There are two capacitive buttons on the bottom of the display: Back and Menu. There’s also a customizable backlight. You can’t adjust the brightness of the Vivoactive’s display.

Onboard the Vivoactive is Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and GLONASS, accelerometer; and sports modes for indoors and outdoors, including: running, walking, cycling, swimming, and golf. There’s no wi-fi and no built-in heart rate monitor, but you can connect a Garmin HRM chest strap and other ANT+ devices.

The Vivoactive OS is Garmin’s own. It’s oriented towards sports and allows you to customize data fields and profiles. As the Vivoactive is compatible with Garmin Connect IQ you can download different profiles, apps, watch faces and widgets.

The Vivoactive displays calls, text, email, calendar reminders and social notifications from Facebook and Twitter. It controls your smartphones music playlist: skip, play, pause and volume (Bluetooth AVRCP). It also has VIRB control, Phone Finder, a vibration motor and sleep/activity tracking.

When we reviewed the Vivoactive back in July 2015 it would sometimes crash while syncing, and some of the third-party watch faces also made it unhappy. However, improvements have been made since then.

Compatible Devices

The Garmin Connect app is compatible with iOS, Android and Windows. You can also log into your Dashboard on your desktop/laptop.

Battery Life

The Vivoactive’s battery is supposed to give you up to 3 weeks in Activity Mode and 10 hours in GPS mode. I used the GPS for about an hour everyday and got about 6-7 days between charges.

Water-Resistance

The Vivoactive has a 5 ATM water-resistance rating. It has a dedicated swim mode, but no open water mode.

 Garmin Vivoactive

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Garmin Fenix 3

best-smartwatch-gps-2016-garmin-fenix-3

Release Date – February 2015

See also: Garmin Fenix 3 HR

We will be replacing the Garmin Fenix 3 with the Fenix 3 HR when it gets released, but for now the non-HR version stands solid as the ultimate GPS watch. Obviously being Garmin, it’s orientated for sports, but it also has smartwatch features and style to burn. The Fenix 3 has more features than Keith Richards has wrinkles! In fact, if I tried to write about them all I’d look like Keith Richards by the time I finished..

Main Features & Specs

It has a 1.2-inch 218 x 218 colour Chroma display designed for high outdoor legibility, but it’s not a touchscreen like the cheaper Vivoactive.

Onboard the Fenix 3 is GPS and GLONASS, Bluetooth 4.0, wi-fi, the essential sensors, but no heart rate monitor. However, it can be paired with Garmin HRM chest straps and other ANT+ devices.

The Fenix 3 has all the Garmin fitness/sleep tracking features, and enough advanced sports tracking modes to train for the Olympics, including: running, strolling, cycling, swimming, golf, skiing, a virtual partner that you can train against and more. There are plenty of navigation features onboard, including the ability to store up to 1,000 locations and 50 routes. You’ll also get weather reports and predictions.

It will deliver incoming calls, text message, email and social notifications to your wrist. It also features music control, VIRB remote and a Phone Finder. The Fenix 3 uses Garmin’s own OS. It works with Garmin Connect IQ so you can download apps, widgets, data fields and watch faces.

Compatible Devices

The Garmin Connect app is compatible with iOS, Android and Windows. You can also access your dashboard on your desktop/laptop for an even richer experience.

Battery Life

Up to 6 weeks in watch mode, just over 2 days in UltraTrac mode and just under 1 day in GPS training mode.

Water-Resistance

The Garmin Fenix 3 has a 10 ATM water-resistance rating. It has dedicated swim modes including open water.

 Garmin Fenix 3

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Suunto Kailash

best-gps-enabled-smartwatches-2016-suunto-kailash

Release Date – November 2015

See also: Suunto Spartan Ultra

Suunto’s new adventurer’s smartwatch is named after a sacred mountain in Tibet, Mt. Kailash. Traditionally known for sporting wearables and navigation equipment, Suunto have lately been adapting thier products to the connected age, resulting in a blend between lifestyle wearables and high-quality outdoor companions.

As you can see, the Suunto Kailash is a looker, especially the copper version. The Kailash is made from some of the toughest materials on Earth; with a glass fiber composite case, space-grade titanium bezel, and polished sapphire crystal display.

Main Features & Specs

The display is a 128 x 128 LED matrix with adjustable brightness and a flashlight backlight option. It’s not touch-enabled though, no color either.

Onboard the sexy Kailash is Suunto’s FusedAlti™ technology which combines barometric altitude with GPS and a digital compass. It also supports GLONASS. Its Adventure Timeline feature makes easy work of tracking of your movements: km/miles travelled, number of countries visited, number of cities visited, days spent travelling, furthest distance from home, number of steps taken, and the clock will also automatically update when you travel between time zones to save you the hassle of doing it yourself.

There’s nothing more annoying than getting lost if you’re a traveller! That’s why the watch’s navigation system makes it easy to find your way home with a simple press of the 7R button – it will show you how to get back to where you started and how far it is.

If you did happen to get lost out in the open, you can at least take some comfort in knowing the Kailash features a Weather Trend Indicator, a Storm Alarm, and it tells you precisely what times the sun will rise and set – giving you enough time to find yourself a cave for the night.

Compatible Devices

You won’t receive a great deal of notifications on the Kailash, like the Fitbit Surge it’s limited to incoming calls and texts. If you’re an Android user you won’t receive any at all, because the Kailash is only compatible with iOS.

Battery Life

Up to 10 days with GPS active and 30 days with GPS switched off.

Water-Resistance

The Suunto Kailash is water-resistant up to 100 meters. Safe for swimming but no dedicated swim mode.

 Suunto Kailash

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