Best Budget GPS Watch For Activity Tracking Compared 2021

Last updated: October 10, 2021

GPS Running Watch / Best Budget GPS Watch For Activity Tracking Compared 2021

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Having a GPS watch for activity tracking can be a very useful investment

From tracking your heart rate and sleep to activities such as running, cycling or swimming. Using these metrics in your everyday life can help you improve your fitness levels as you can learn to understand your baseline and work from there.

However, as we all know finding the best GPS watch can oftentimes leave us out of pocket. Therefore we’ve done a review on some of the more popular “budget” GPS watches which will help you get started, without breaking the bank. Check it out.

Best Value
Polar M200 GPS Running Watch
Polar M200 GPS Running Watch
Best Overall
Garmin Forerunner 45
Garmin Forerunner 45
Most Popular
Fitbit Charge 4
Fitbit Charge 4
Top Budget Option
Amazfit Bip U Pro
Amazfit Bip U Pro
Best Battery
COROS PACE 2 GPS Sport Watch
COROS PACE 2 GPS Sport Watch

1. Polar M200 GPS Running Watch

Key Features

  • Water-resistant
  • Compatibility with all kinds of mobile devices
  • Simple design made for everyone

Reasons to buy

  • Very comfortable
  • Easy-to-use
  • Built-in USB plug

Reasons to avoid

  • Slow GPS connection – might affect usage in areas that require more mapping
  • Slow synchronization
  • Low durability

For runners who have are sensitive about the weight of their accessories on the run, the Polar M200 GPS running watch is great to consider. With their silicone wristband and breathable design, runners would sweat less and worry less about any additional weight. Despite being lightweight, it is more than reliable to give you mapping and accurate physical fitness information when monitoring your running performance.

With its easy-to-use interface, the Polar M200 running watch gives you real-time descriptions. It also gives data on your heart rate, distance travelled and tasks accomplished. 

The watch has a simple interface, which makes it popular not only for runners but also for non-athletic wearers who just want to track their physical well-being. Wearers and runners do not need to worry about long charging hours since the watch has a built-in USB plug that recharges the device for as short as an hour. 

The battery can last for five days if it is consistently used from day tonight. If the wearer does not use the watch to track their sleeping habits, the watch can last up to a week.

However, for runners who rely on their phones to keep track of their physical activity, the Polar M200 GPS running watch might not be the best for you. Its slow GPS connection can be bothersome for those who go on runs in the deeper forest terrain, or areas that need heavy mapping. The device also takes a considerable time to set up due to its slow synchronization to mobile devices and computers. 

The compatibility of the watch is also commendable due to its friendly relationship with both android and iPhone users. Its simple design does not overwhelm the wearer. The watch also has fewer buttons compared to other GPS watches which makes it very convenient for everyone who wants to track their physical fitness. Its water-resistant feature is also a plus.

2. Garmin Forerunner 45

Key Features

  • Lightweight
  • Wrist-based heart rate
  • Built-in sports app

Reasons to buy

  • Accurate mapping results
  • Decent battery life
  • Water-resistant

Reasons to avoid

  • Rubber wristbands break easy
  • Outdated software
  • Sports app deemed to be outdated

Built perfectly to deliver accurate mapping results, the Garmin Forerunner 45 lives up to its popularity and quality. As with the signature design of Garmin watches, their wrist-based high-tech design, which bases all physical fitness analysis on the wrist, is simple and efficient.

Its lightweight design gives comfort to the wearer without sacrificing your need for accuracy and real-time analysis of heart rate, distance travelled and sleep time habits. 

You can choose between a 39 mm or 42 mm screen to best fit your wrists. Both sizes have a clear and bright screen build that can withstand high levels of brightness, making the watch a useful item for morning and afternoon hiking, mountain climbing and biking. However, the watch does not work well under the water. 

Even though it is water-resistant, the watch cannot withstand places with high levels of pressure; making it perform less in activities such as diving and extreme swimming sports. Surely, it will be able to withstand sweat and raindrops while you’re on the run.

For wearers who like a stable wristband, the Garmin Forerunner might fail you. Its rubber wristbands are so flexible that they can be broken easily if bent too much and too often. However, on the brighter side, the wristband fits perfectly with all kinds of wrists sizes with its adjustable feature. 

The interface of the Garmin Forerunner 45 has mixed benefits. With its built-in sports app, the wearer can execute different kinds of exercises in addition to running. Garmin also has an exclusive application that can be installed on any Android or Apple phone with a feature that can give you some coaching on fitness. However, some say the application is outdated and does several things that are deemed old. 

With consistent twenty-four-hour use, the watch can last for four days.

3. Fitbit Charge 4

Key Features

  • Android 7 compatible
  • Bluetooth synchronization

Reasons to buy

  • Fast synchronization
  • Accurate GPS tracking
  • Clear display

Reasons to avoid

  • Diamond-shaped wristband design might be bothersome for some users
  • Buttons are a hard to press
  • Short battery life

The Fitbit Charge 4’s accurate GPS tracking system will give you a reliable and consistent mapping on your run. This feature is great for wearers who enjoy their quick morning jog or longer running routes. 

Another commendable feature of the Fitbit Charge 4 that made it eligible to be in this list of best budget GPS watches is its rapid synchronization. The watch pairs very fast with any Android phone and delivers real-time information. 

When the phone is within the Bluetooth range of the watch, automatic synching takes place that backs up information and new tracking records during your run. It also gives suggestions on how to improve your physical condition. However, this also has a downside. Its high-tech components drain the battery fast. At most, it can only go 3 days without charging. 

The screen can withstand activities under the sun or rain thanks to its clear display. It also has a rubber wristband that speaks of its comfortability. With its adjustable feature, the watch can be worn by any adult regardless of wrist size. 

However, the diamond-shaped wristband can irritate some wearers for it covers too much of their wrist, making the area sweat more. 

A major downside of the Fitbit Charge 4 is that the buttons of the watch are hard to press; it will entail that you go on full stop should you want to check your distance or pacing on your GPS.

Another feature of the Fitbit Charge 4 that can benefit some wearers is its Android 7 interface. This interface is very direct with its options and is very easy to use. It might be a challenge for Apple product users. However, through time and consistent usage, anyone can easily adjust to its interface.

4. Amazfit Bip U Pro

Key Features

  • Built-in Alexa feature
  • Water-resistant
  • Blood-Oxygen monitoring feature

Reasons to buy

  • Very budget-friendly
  • Long battery life
  • Strong GPS tracking system

Reasons to avoid

  • USB cable charger
  • Application-dependent
  • Limited storage

Compared to other budget-friendly GPS watches, the Amazfit Bip U Pro has been deemed to be one of the most reliable budget GPS watches to date. This watch is highly recommended for wearers who do not want to spend too much on a watch but still want to track their performance accurately.

With its accurate GPS tracking system, you can easily check location, events you have attended and the distance you have travelled accurately.

Battery life has also been covered by the Amazfit Bip U Pro. The battery of the watch can last up to seven days with consistent 24-hour use. With this, also comes charging time that is longer than most of the watches on the list. This is actually just a minor inconvenience compared to the overall battery performance of the watch. 

Another prominent feature of the Amazfit Bip U Pro is its built-in Alexa feature that can be accessed with the help of a stable internet connection. The product is also water-resistant and can withstand up to 1.5 meters of pressure underwater. 

Major inconveniences go to the interface of the Amazfit Bip U Pro. The watch is highly dependent on the app, meaning all settings can only be changed and set up through the phone application. Without the application, the watch is not efficient and would be very hard to navigate. 

Furthermore, the watch is limited only in tracking distance, heart rate, sleep time rate and blood-oxygen levels. Other physical fitness and GPS-related tracking features cannot be installed due to its limited storage space.

5. COROS PACE 2 GPS Sport Watch

Key Features

  • Multiple watch designs
  • Lightweight
  • 20-day battery life with 30-hour full GPS use

Reasons to buy

  • Up to 20 days battery life in smartwatch mode
  • Clear and bright display, water-resistant
  • High durability

Reasons to avoid

  • Charging port not universal
  • Inconsistent heart rate and cardio sensors that requires a reset of the device

Compared to other GPS sports watches in the market, the COROS PACE 2 has the longest battery life. With a battery life that can last up to twenty days, you can save electricity twice as much as the ordinary GPS watch user. 

The only minor inconvenience about this watch that is the charging port that’s not universal.

Also, the COROS PACE 2 has a maximum of thirty-hour GPS active time, meaning to maximize the 20-day battery life, the GPS feature of the watch should be used for up to thirty hours only. An extension of the use of the GPS feature will reduce the battery life from twenty days to fifteen. 

The COROS PACE 2 also delivers a very clear and bright display that can withstand strong light conditions such as intense sunlight. Furthermore, it is water-resistant and very lightweight, making it highly recommended for wearers who join triathlons. 

However, there are times that the watch delivers inconsistent heart rate and cardio information. This can easily be fixed by adjusting the wristband of the watch and resetting the cardio application. 

The COROS PACE 2 has a variety of designs that you can choose from to suit your style and fashion sense. The wristbands are silicone-based and have a tough exterior that adds up to durability. The watch comes with an application that must be installed on your phone so that settings can be easily navigated and changed.

6. Polar M430 GPS Running Watch

Key Features

  • LED display screen

Reasons to buy

  • Accurate GPS tracker
  • Lightweight

Reasons to avoid

  • Users found it difficult to navigate buttons
  • Low durability
  • Low water-resistance

The Polar M430 GPS watch has an accurate GPS tracker like its predecessor, the M200. With an LED display screen, the watch can withstand low to medium light conditions. However, it cannot stand up to extreme lighting conditions such as a bright sunny day and well-lit malls.

Compared to the M200, the new Polar M430 GPS Running Watch is, unfortunately, less durable. The wristbands can easily fall off and they cannot withstand long-running sessions due to their non-breathable and sweat-producing silicone material. With this, the watch can easily fall off your wrist.

On the flip side, the lightweight design of the M200 is still present in the M430. However, the water-resistance of both Polar GPS watches differs significantly. The Polar M430 GPS watch cannot last long underwater and cannot withstand pressure during diving and swimming activities or triathlons. Furthermore, the overall interface of the watch is difficult to navigate.

Overall, the Polar M430 is still a decent choice for casual runners. But for more competitive running, the M200 might be the better choice.

7. Garmin Forerunner 55 GPS running watch

Key Features

  • PacePro feature
  • Customizable Interface

Reasons to buy

  • 14-day battery-life
  • Easy setup and navigation even without an app
  • Adjustable wristbands

Reasons to avoid

  • No other smartwatch features like reminders and other applications found commonly on GPS watches

The Garmin Forerunner 55 GPS running watch improved so much in its battery performance and wristband design compared to its predecessor. The watch can last a maximum of fourteen days as long as the GPS tracking system does not exceed usage of twenty hours. 

If the wearer must exceed the usage of the GPS tracking system, the watch can last up to nine days, which is still an improvement compared to its predecessor, the Garmin Forerunner 45 and Garmin Forerunner 45S. With this innovation, the wearer can now charge the watch less.

The wristband design of the Garmin Forerunner 55 GPS running watch also increased its durability significantly. It has a design that can perfectly fit any size and shape of an adult wrist with its adjustable feature. The buttons of the watch also became an important add-on since it can easily navigate through the watch without the use of an application. However, the phone application is still needed for advanced settings and application updates. 

The most recognizable disadvantage of the Garmin Forerunner 55 is its purely GPS and fitness tracker interface. The watch does not contain any smartwatch features such as reminders, alarms, games, sports tutor and other applications that can be found on other GPS and Fitness watches. This can be a pro or con depending on your preference.

Garmin focused solely on GPS innovation. It also made its heart rate tracker very accurate. It also added the PacePro feature that acts as a location saver for places visited by the wearer. 

Garmin Forerunner’s last distinguishable feature is its customizable interface that offers a wide variety of widgets and clock designs for the wearer to use.

8. TIMEX Ironman R300 GPS Smartwatch

Key Features

  • Strong water-resistance
  • 24 mm adjustable silicone wristband
  • Multiple workout modes

Reasons to buy

  • Jam-packed features
  • Strong GPS tracker
  • Water-resistance

Reasons to avoid

  • Screen cannot withstand extreme sunlight levels

The TIMEX Ironman R300 GPS combines both the features of a smartwatch and a GPS tracking device. It has an alarm, stopwatch, workout modes, coaching applications and other features that help you stay fit and physically active. 

Furthermore, the GPS tracking system of the watch is one of the strongest trackers in the market that is budget-friendly. The combination of these two features in one watch makes the Timex Ironman R300 highly recommended for athletes and people who exercise daily.

Its battery life lasts a minimum of five days and a maximum of seven days, depending on usage. Other battery-reducing features of the watch include its automatic reminder and SMS systems that keep you up to date with your tasks and work. However, the screen of the watch cannot withstand extreme sunlight levels making it inefficient in activities under bright sunlight. 

The most commendable feature of the TIMEX Ironman R300 GPS watch is its strong underwater resistance innovation. Meaning the watch can resist long hours of pressure from swimming in triathlons. 

The problem with this lies with the Bluetooth synchronization radius. The Bluetooth feature of the watch stops syncing when you stay too long under the water. This makes backup and synchronization harder to do later due to the amount of information stored in the watch. However, this is hardly an inconvenience for non-competitive runners.

Another feature of the TIMEX Ironman R300 GPS watch is its twenty-four-millimetre adjustable silicone wristband, which is compatible with any wrist. The watch also has multiple workout mode features that guide you in performing various exercises correctly. Overall, the watch is highly recommended for those who want to track their locations, stay healthy and at the same time keep themselves updated with their other endeavors. 

9. Amazfit GTS 2e

Key Features

  • 5 ATM Water-resistance
  • Strong GPS built-in system

Reasons to buy

  • Intelligent Voice Assistant
  • Simple interface

Reasons to avoid

  • App is not compatible with multiple kinds of phone
  • Short battery life

The Amazfit GTS 2e offers a wide range of system applications to cater to your needs. The watch fits in any wrist through its adjustable silicone wristbands that provide ultimate comfort. 

With its simple and straightforward interface, the Amazfit GTS 2e can be easily navigated. Its customizable widgets can help you navigate the watch comfortably. The watch comes with an application that is not compatible with all android phones. 

Although the watch can be navigated without the help of the application, some third-party applications that you want to install cannot be done without the phone. This can be a problem with wearers who want to maximize their watches for various reasons.

Another inconvenience of the Amazfit GTS 2e is its short battery. The battery can last from a maximum of five days and a minimum of three days. On the brighter side, the watch has a 5 ATM water-resistant feature, meaning it can resist 50 m of pressure underwater. This is highly recommended for triathletes or those who also engage in water activities.

The most commendable feature of the Amazfit GTS 2e is its Intelligent voice assistance feature with a strong GPS built-in system that can guide the wearer in travelling and locating desired places that they want to visit. The GPS tracking system is fast and works perfectly in remote places.

10. Garmin Forerunner 35

Key Features

  • Vibration alert
  • High-resolution display

Reasons to buy

  • Simple interface
  • Accurate GPS tracking
  • Heat rate monitor

Reasons to avoid

  • Not customizable
  • Small wristband
  • Low durability

For beginner runners looking for an easy-to-navigate GPS watch, the Garmin Forerunner 35 is one of the best budget GPS watches to consider. Packed with all the applications you need, the watch has a heart rate monitor, sleep rate tracker, distance pedometer and even a speedometer to show how fast or slow you are performing. 

With the easy-to-use interface of the watch, you will worry less about the device and focus more on the practice and training you are doing. 

However, compared with its successors, it is not customizable and only displays one monotonous theme. This is a minor inconvenience for runners who value the data provided by the watch rather than its aesthetic value. 

Furthermore, the watch has low durability and a small wristband which can make some runners irritable. The wristband is not detachable, meaning it cannot be replaced to fit other wrists. The watch is neither water-resistant nor waterproof, making it unfit for swimmers.

Other functions of the Garmin Forerunner 35 include a vibration alert to remind you of your tasks and goals; an auto-sync feature to transfer watch data to an application in an Android or Apple phone; and a high-resolution display for wearers who like to run under bright weather conditions. 

Overall, this is a recommended GPS watch for beginners and other people who just want to track their physical fitness routines. This is not recommended for triathlons and other extreme athletic sports.

How to Choose the Best Budget GPS Running Watch

With the wide range of choices, it is indeed very hard to choose a budget GPS watch. Although a lot of GPS watches in the market are very affordable, it is still very hard to find a budget watch that can give you the best experience and most accurate results to track your physical fitness. 

Especially if you do not want to spend much money on the accessories you buy and focus more on the training you do. Here are four things you should consider when buying a Budget GPS watch.

Synchronization speed

A good budget GPS watch should be able to synchronize with phones and computers very well. Fast is a bonus, however, this cannot be expected in most budget watched. Synchronization should happen in less than an hour and not more than. 

Ease-of-use

The interface of budget GPS watches must be direct and easy to understand. Most budget watches are bought by beginner runners and people who just want to track their physical well-being, thus, navigating and adjusting the watch should not take much of their time since they are devoted to the exercise and training itself rather than the accessories they buy.

Battery Life

Expecting a long-lasting battery life for a cheap GPS watch can lead to disappointment. Although buying an affordable watch with long battery life is a bonus, most budget watches last only for three to four days. 

Battery lives that last for a day or two should be avoided and are not worth spending money on. An affordable GPS watch should still perform the bare minimum to give the wearer accurate results.

Price

Price, of course, is one consideration. What is affordable depends on your overall budget. To avoid wasting money on budget yet low quality watches, make sure to buy from a trusted company. 

Avoid buying from sites that do not offer warranties and do not have a help hotline. Warranties and hotlines are important so if the watch fails to perform well or has damages, you can return or negotiate with the manufacturer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best budget GPS watch brand?

When it comes to the best budget GPS watch brand, there are three most recommended names that can be found on lists made by runners and wearers. The first one is the Polar M200 GPS running watch. 

This watch is a comfortable watch that has all the basic features you will need. Next is the Garmin Forerunner. This watch offers a wide variety of sports apps that can be very useful to you. And last, the Fitbit Charge; with this, you can enjoy the company of an Alexa search engine, a blood-oxygen rate monitor and other useful applications that can help you progress as a runner or as a healthy person.

What is the best GPS watch brand?

Most runners and fitness enthusiasts recommend the Garmin Watches brand. This brand has a lot of different watches to choose from. Whether you are going to use the watch as an athlete preparing for a competition or a casual runner who just wants to stay in shape, the Garmin watch brand has been known for many years, and many claim that its quality, durability and features live up to its name.

Is the water-resistant feature on most GPS watches same as waterproof? 

Water-resistant is not the same as waterproof. Water-resistant can withstand water pressures for a short period of time.  Furthermore, water-resistant can protect the watch against splashes and weak rains. Waterproof on the other hand means total protection from water regardless of periods of time and pressure.

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