Garmin Forerunner 15 review: sports watch first, fitness tracker second
For about the same price as an entry-level running watch, the Forerunner offers all the usual running features, plus step tracking so you can monitor your activity between workouts. It's a good buy for runners who need a sports watch, and would prefer not to wear a second device for fitness tracking.
- Long battery life
- Fair price, considering the feature set
- Includes step tracking, allowing it to double as a basic fitness tracker
- Compatible with heart rate monitors
- No wireless syncing
- Doesn't automatically track sleep
- App doesn't offer much motivation
- Because it's more of a running watch than fitness tracker, you won't necessarily want to wear it every day
As the reviews editor for this tech blog, I often get asked which fitness tracker I own. And I tell people: I don't need one, silly; I run marathons. Maybe that sounds snotty, but it's true: During training season, at least, I'm probably more active than most people buying a fitness band. And besides, I already own a running watch to track my time, distance and pace. That doesn't mean I can't use a little extra motivation, though. My activity slowed to a crawl this winter, precisely because I was burned out from all those long training runs. (The frigid weather didn't help either.) At one point, I didn't exercise for nearly two weeks. I gained back the weight I lost last year, and my muscle mass shrank. It now hurts to do squats. Even so, asking me to wear another device is a tough sell -- especially when it means my stats are getting spread across different services.
For people like me, there's the Garmin Forerunner 15, a sports watch that doubles as a fitness tracker. Like other running watches, including those made by Garmin, the Forerunner 15 tracks your distance, pace and time. It's offered with an optional heart rate monitor, and has a handy run-walk setting. But it also tracks your activity between workouts, telling you how many steps you've taken and how many calories you've burned. It issues not-so-subtle reminders to move, lest you spend too much time in your cubicle. At the same time, it doesn't do everything a standalone fitness tracker would: It doesn't automatically monitor your sleep habits, and you can't log your food intake directly from the app. Priced at $170 ($200 with the heart rate monitor), it costs more than your typical fitness tracker, but it's cheap for a running watch. So is it a good deal? That all depends on your priorities.