One of the most useful features with wearable tech is GPS capability, but as far as smartwatches go, not many are GPS-enabled. There are plenty of sports watches such as the Garmin Forerunners that have GPS, but we’re drawing a line between sports watches and smartwatches, although the line is getting thinner.

As there are so few GPS-enabled smartwatches around we included some “sort of smart” fitness/sports watches, otherwise this would be the world’s shortest list..

We’ll be updating our guide as the year goes on and new GPS-enabled smartwatches are launched. Here’s the best of what’s on offer so far in chronological order – newest first.

 

Best Smartwatch 2016 With Built-in GPS..

Apple Watch Series 2

best-gps-smartwatch-apple-watch-series-2

Apple have once again raised the benchmark for smartwatches, only this time they’ve kitted their watch out with a built-in GPS, a feature lacking with the original Apple Watch.

Release Date

September 2016.

Main Specs and Features

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

Under the hood is a new GPU and S2 dual-core processor which has twice the power of the original Watch. 1GB of RAM, 2GB of storage for music and 75MB for photos. NFC is on board so you can use Apple Pay. Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, all the essential fitness tracking sensors including a heart rate monitor, GPS and GLONASS.

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

The Apple Watch 2 doesn’t leave many stones unturned 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 2 is. What’s more, swimming features have been added to the Workout app to keep track of laps and more in the pool.

In short, the Apple Watch Series 2 is the best smartwatch in the world, bar the battery life.

Compatibility

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

Battery Life

Up to 18 hours depending on usage.

Water-Resistant

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

 Apple Watch Series 2

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Polar M600

best-smartwatch-gps-polar-m600

The Polar M600 is probably the sportiest of all the sport-orientated Android Wear watches.

Release Date

September 2016.

Main Specs and Features

The Polar M600 has a 1.3 inch 240 x 240 (260ppi) color TFT LCD touchscreen protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The watch is modular, so the strap can be changed by popping out the top.

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

With the Polar M600 you can choose from over a hundred Polar sports profiles, as well as your own favorite sports. It features training routes, map view, altitude readings, and you can discover training sessions shared by other users by browsing the map on the Polar Flow web platform. 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 Android Wear so it offers plenty of smarts and works with a ton of apps, from TripAdvisor and Tinder to Strava and Endomondo. There’s a built-in mic with Google Now at the ready for voice commands, plus Google Cards, Translate, Maps, gesture control and the other goods that come with Android Wear, such as customizable watch faces and smartphone notifications.

Compatibility

Android 4.3 + / iOS 8.2 + (with limited features).

Battery Life

Up to 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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Moto 360 Sport

best-smartwatch-2016-GPS-wearables-moto-360-sport

The sporty rendition of the popular Moto 360 2 is more robust and has been designed with the outdoors in mind. The 360 Sport is an all-in-one unit so the straps can’t be swapped like the regular version. The silicone band is impervious to stains and fading, and has built-in air vents to help you stay cool.

Release Date

January 2016.

Main Specs and Features

The Moto 360 Sport has a brand new type of display called AnyLight which auto adjusts to different light conditions and reflects natural light to improve readability outdoors. The AnyLight display is a 1.37″ 360 x 325 (263 ppi) LCD touchscreen, it looks impressive but doesn’t give you the contrast and viewing angle of its Super AMOLED competitors. Also, the Flat Tyre still lives on the bottom of the screen.

Under the hood is a Snapdragon 400 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 4GB storage, 512MB RAM, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, wi-fi and all the essential sensors including a built-in heart rate monitor.

The Moto 360 Sport runs the Android Wear OS so you’ll have access to plenty of apps and interactive watch faces. Also onboard is Google Now, Google Translate, emojis, tetherless wi-fi, voice messaging, tons of gestures and more.

Compatibility

Android 4.3 + / iOS 8.2 + (with limited features).

Battery Life

Around 1 day.

Water-Resistant

IP67 – not safe for swimming.

 Moto 360 Sport

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Samsung Gear S2 3G

best-smartwatch-2016-GPS-wearables-samsung-gear-s2-3g

The Samsung Gear S2 3G is one the most complete smartwatches, the downside being that so far it’s only available with data plans from a few network operators.

Release Date

November 2015.

Main Specs and Features

Samsung’s flagship smartwatch enables you to make and take calls Dick Tracy style thanks to an embedded e-SIM, 2G and 3G support, and a built-in speaker. The critically acclaimed rotating bezel makes easy work of navigating apps, adjusting levels, zooming, scrolling and a Home and Back button makes it even more user-friendly.

The Gear S2 3g features a 1.2″ 360 x 360 (302 ppi) Super AMOLED touchscreen with great contrast making it one of the most impressive smartwatch displays. It is powered by a Snapdragon 400 dual core 1 GHz processor, with 4GB storage, 512MB RAM, GPS, Bluetooth 4.1, wi-fi, a built-in heart rate monitor and NFC. Samsung have announced that NFC payments will be coming to the Gear S2 in 2016.

It runs the Tizen OS, there aren’t as many apps as you’ll find with WatchOS or Android Wear, but Tizen is growing and already has plenty of big name third-party apps onboard. There’s also S Voice which is Samsung’s equivalent of Siri or Google Now – but not quite as good.

Compatibility

The Gear S2 3G is compatible with Android 4.4 + and iOS compatibility is on the way in 2016. Your smartphone/tablet needs to have at least 1.5GB of RAM.

Battery Life

Officially the Gear S2 3G is supposed to run for up to 2 days between charges. It might manage 2 days if you’re just using it as an ornament, but if you’re taking advantage of its advanced features it’ll need a charge at least once a day.

Water-Resistant

IP68 – not safe for swimming.

Garmin Vivoactive

best-smartwatch-2016-GPS-enabled-wearables-garmin-vivoactive

Traditionally known for their sporting wearables and GPS devices, Garmin have got in touch with the connected age, bringing smart notifications and the ability to download apps, widgets and watch faces from their Connect IQ platform.

Release Date

March 2015.

See also: Garmin Vivoactive HR

Main Specs and Features

The Garmin Vivoactive has a 1.13″ 205 x 148 (181 ppi) LCD touchscreen. When I first switched on the Vivoactive I was disappointed with the display as it’s a little dull and there’s no option to adjust the brightness. However, I was inside. When I took it outside the display came to life – it looks much better outside and responds well to sunlight.

Onboard the Vivoactive is Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and GLONASS, the essential sensors, and sports modes, including: running, walking, cycling, swimming, and golf. There’s no wi-fi and it lacks a built-in heart rate monitor, but you have the option to pair with a Garmin HRM chest strap.

It runs Garmin’s own OS which allows you to customize data fields and profiles. As the Vivoactive works with Garmin Connect IQ you can download different profiles, apps, watch faces, widgets and more

The Vivoactive displays incoming caller ID, text messages, emails, calendar alerts and notifications from social media apps. It features music control, VIRB control, a phone finder, and all the Quantified Self essentials.

Compatibility

Android 4.3 + / iOS iPhone 4S + / Windows 10 + / Desktop/Laptop.

Battery Life

The official battery life listing is 3 weeks in Activity Mode (GPS switched off), and 10 hours with GPS on. I was using the GPS every day for around 1 – 1.5 hours and got 7 – 8 days between charges.

Water-Resistant

5ATM- safe for swimming – features swim tracking.

 Garmin Vivoactive

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Garmin Fenix 3

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The Garmin Fenix 3 is a high-end sports/smarwatch with more features than Meatloaf’s dinner plate, and it doesn’t come up short on the aesthetics front, especially the Sapphire version pictured above.

Release Date

February 2015.

See also: Garmin Fenix 3 HR

Main Specs and Features

The Fenix 3 sports a 1.2″ 218 x 218 color chroma display with high readability in sunlight. Unlike the others though, it’s not touch-enabled. Onboard is Bluetooth 4.0, wi-fi, all the essential sensors for activity tracking, and tons of sports modes, including: running, hiking, cycling, swimming, golf and skiing. There’s also a virtual training assistant, weather reports, all the navigation features under the sun, and so many more features that my brain would melt before I could finish writing about them.

Along with a plethor of sports and fitness modes, the Garmin Fenix 3 will deliver incoming caller ID, text messages, emails, and social media notifications to your wrist. It also features music control, VIRB remote and a phone finder.

The high-end GPS watch runs Garmin’s own OS and is compatible with the Garmin Connect IQ platform so you can download apps, widgets, watch faces and data fields.

Compatibility

Android 4.3 + / iOS iPhone 4S + / Windows 10 + / Desktop/Laptop.

Battery Life

It has an impressive battery life of up to 6 weeks in watch mode, around 2 days in UltraTrac mode and just short of a day in GPS mode.

Water-Resistant

10 ATM – safe for swimming – features swim tracking.

 Garmin Fenix 3

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Fitbit Surge

fitbit-surge-GPS-enabled-smart-fitness-watch

Fitbit’s flagship wearable is sort of sitting on the threshold of being a smartwatch, although it’s almost completely orientated towards fitness.

Release Date

January 2015.

Main Specs and Features

The Fitbit Surge has a 1.2″ monochrome LCD touchscreen. Its black and white display is far more friendly to the battery than its full color competitors. It has an available backlight, looks good indoors and reads well in sunlight.

Under the hood is a Silicon Labs 48 MHz ARM Cortex-M3 processor, 1024KB flash, 128 KB RAM, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0 and a built-in PurePulse heart rate monitor. If you’re looking for one of the most accurate wrist-based HRMs on the market to accompany your GPS the Fitbit Surge is a top option.

Fitbit’s home-grown operating system doesn’t offer the same variety of features as the likes of Android Wear, WatchOS or Tizen, but it’s compatible with plenty of fitness apps, including: Strava, Weight Watchers, FitStar Yoga, MyFitnessPal, MapMyRun, RunKeeper and more. It also has IFTTT integration which opens up new possibilities such as controlling your smart home devices.

The Fitbit app doesn’t officially sync with Apple Health, but there’s hope in the form of workaround apps such as Wristband Manager and SyncSolver. The Surge can be used to remotely control your music playlist with Bluetooth Classic, and it delivers incoming caller ID and text messages to your wrist.

Compatibility

Android / iOS / Windows / Desktop/Laptop.

Battery Life

5 – 7 days with GPS deactivated, and up to 10 hours in GPS mode.

Water-Resistant

5 ATM – should withstand a shower but nothing more.

 Fitbit Surge

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Sony Smartwatch 3 SWR50

sony-smatwatch-3-steel

The Sony Smartwatch 3 is one of the seniors on the list but it’s still mixing it up as the only GPS-enabled Android Wear smartwatch other than the Moto 360 Sport. Another feature that makes it unique among AW smartwatches is NFC, which so far none of the others have.

Release Date

November 2014.

Main Specs and Features

It features a 1.6″ 320 x 320 (283 ppi) LCD touchscreen, it’s not the most vibrant of smartwatch displays and not amazing in sunlight, but it suffices. Under the bonnet is a Snapdragon 400 1.2 GHz quad core processor, 4GB storage, 512MB RAM, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, wi-fi, but no heart rate monitor. The Sony Smartwatch 3 runs Android Wear which means there’s a ton of apps, interactive watch faces, Google Now, Google Translate, emojis, notifications galore, music players, fitness apps, the works.

Compatibility

Android 4.3 + / iOS 8.2 + (with limited features).

Battery Life

Around 1 – 1.5 days.

Water-Resistant

IP68 – not safe for swimming.

 Sony Smartwatch 3 SWR50

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Samsung Gear S

best-smartwatch-2016-guide---gps-enabled-samsung-gear-s

People sit on two sides of the fence regarding how the Samsung Gear looks. Personally I like it and despite the watch’s large size it looks good on my not too bulky wrists.

Feature wise, the Gear S is still virtually unmatched. It has a few more sensors than the Gear S2 but lacks the rotating bezel and NFC.. See the differences.

Release Date

November 2014.

Main Specs and Features

It features a Nano-SIM with 2G and 3G support, and thanks to a built-in speaker you can use it to make and take calls from your wrist.

The Gear has a beautiful 2″ 360 x 480 (300 ppi) curved Super AMOLED touchscreen. Under the hood is a Snapdragon 400 dual core 1 GHz processor, 4GB storage, 512MB RAM, GPS, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, wi-fi and a built-in heart rate monitor.

Like most Samsung smartwatches the Gear s runs their home-grown Tizen OS – not the richest wearables ecosystem in the world, but still there’s no shortage of apps.

Compatibility

A bit of a downer with the Gear S is its limited compatibility with Samsung Galaxy smartphones running Android 4.3 +.

Battery Life

The Gear S needs a charge every 1 – 1.5 days, but it comes with a charging dock that’s also a portable power bank to give it an extra half a day or so while you’re on the move.

Water-Resistant

IP67 – not safe for swimming.

 Samsung Gear S

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