12 GPS and watches activity trackers that have marked 2016 and prospects for 2017



the battery of ads of the season was made ( Suunto Spartan Sport , Garmin Forerunner 35 and Fenix Chronos , Polar M600 , TomTom Runner 3 and Adventurer ). These ads are launched watches in the HomeStretch around Christmas (except perhaps on the part of Garmin, which is almost used to announce a new watch by month).


then like I did last year, I went through all the novelties presented in 2016 to highlight the GPS and watches the activity trackers that have marked this year.



a lot of people were expecting a Fenix 4 in 2016. Garmin has preferred to offer a version of its flagship model, adding my cardio optical sensor on the Fenix 3. The Fenix 3 HR was therefore announced at the Electronics Show THESE early January. Since Garmin developers have yet released numerous updates to add new features and make it the most complete GPS watch market.



Apple Watch 2 apple-watch-nike


as one would if expected (like every time that Apple unveils a new product), announcement of the Apple Watch 2 caused a sensation. Because the Apple Watch 2 will be waterproof and equipped with a GPS. Wahoo, really? But then it is neither more nor less than almost all other watches cardio GPS, no? Yes but it’s a Apple Watch… Good truce joke. With these features, the Apple Watch 2 could find its place on the sports market. The athletes who could have chosen one Fenix 3 HR or a Polar M600 could now be tempted by Apple Watch Nike +.



the Suuntoistes looked forward to an Ambit4 that can compete with the features of the Fenix 3 of Garmin. Suunto has created the surprise (and enthusiasm) by announcing in early summer the Spartan Ultra, with screen color touchscreen. But not Ambit4… There was a bit of flutter, until Suunto confirms that there is no Ambit4. Then, the second effect Kisscool was the price: € 750 for the titanium, without heart rate belt version. Clearly, it’s a gap with 600 of the Fenix 3 HR. Finally came the time for patience. As the Spartan Ultra came out with a software version though and widely bugged. The second birth of the Spartan Ultra will be held with the update from late September.



polar M600 polar-m600


the M600 Polar caused quite a stir for 2 reasons. First, it is the first Polar watch that will run under Android Wear. Facing platforms download app from Garmin and Suunto, Polar replies with the versatility offered by the operating system Android Wear, which will allow to have applications like Strava directly on the watch. The second is the promise of a more accurate optical cardio sensor. It is built with 6 LED’s surrounding a photovoltaic cell. Incidentally, with its built-in microphone, you can use voice commands on the M600 . Cool, right?



Swimmo swimmo


Swimmo, it’s the baby of a promising crowdfunding campaign. Really promising. Because this was to be the first watch dedicated to swimming, with cardio on the wrist that works in the water. Reminder: currently, there is NO optical cardio that works in the water. A Garmin, a thriller, not a Suunto does. I say ‘had’, because its release was scheduled for the fall of 2015. But after a series of production problems, none has yet been delivered. But the first news, the first series of 200 to 300 Swimmo will be released very soon.



beats Chronos garmin-fenix-chronos


if the price of the Suunto Spartan Ultra gave some gagging to some, they have certainly made a syncope by seeing one of the Garmin Fenix Chronos. It’s 3 premium models whose prices range from 1 000 to 1 €300! For that price, you’ll have the titanium, leather and even wood. If if each Fenix Chronos is delivered in a wooden box. Inside is also a silicone bracelet, which will replace, for comfort, leather or metal bracelet from sport sessions. A model of niche for some wealthy sportsmen.



Suunto Spartan Sport HR (not yet final name) suunto-spartan-sport


the official name of this watch is not yet known. It is a variation of the Spartan Sport which will have a cardio optical sensor. Yes, the first cardio optical sensor of Suunto. We were not sure that Suunto, mountain and reliability-oriented brand follows the general movement. That’s it, all major brands of GPS watches have put a foot in optics! TomTom, Garmin, Polar and now Suunto. Unlike Garmin, Suunto chose not to integrate the optical sensor cardio on its model high-end (Spartan Ultra) but on its model for the triathlon (Spartan Sport).



Fitbit Flex 2 fitbit-flex-2


after the monsters that I have already presented, you might ask what is the Fitbit Flex 2 in this list. This is what he can do? It is simply an activity without screen tracker that automatically detects the activities such as walking, race walking, cycling or swimming. That’s all? Yes, that’s all. But this is the first Fitbit bracelet that is waterproof. Finally! The interest of an activity tracker is to be worn 24/24 and finally a Fitbit bracelet that can get in the shower and a pool.



Pokémon Go Plus pokemon-go-plus


Surprise, Pokemon slipped into a blog of cardio GPS watches. The game Pokémon Go is all the rage this summer. And a band came to complete the essential smartphone to go hunting to small watches. The Pokémon Go Plus allows to simply play without setting my laptop screen. A little more for safety. Vibration alert from the proximity of a Pokestop and is also used for hatching eggs.



TomTom Touch tomtom-touch


arrived well after the historical Garmin, Polar and Suunto, TomTom managed to get a place on the cardio GPS watches market by offering innovative products: optical cardio for the Cardio Runner, music player built into the watch to the Runner 2 . TomTom retains the same way to get its first bracelet activity tracker. This time, the innovation is to have integrated a sensor body composition in the bracelet. The same technology as on impetancemetre scales. With the TomTom Touch , you can follow the results of your physical efforts by measuring the percentage of fat in your body.



Withings Go withings-go


Withings Go, it’s a bracelet activity tracker. All simple (good, waterproof to 50 m anyway), announced to the THESE in Las Vegas in January. The novelty is that its screen uses electronic ink technology E Ink e-readers like the Kindle, very little greedy energy. So, we get a bracelet thin, lightweight and with a battery that lasts 8 months. Level features, the Withings Go saves walking, running, swimming and sleeping.



Under Armor Band under-armor-band


at first glance, this activity tracker bracelet is one that will be revolutionized 2016. But then why have included it in this list of watches and bracelets that have marked 2016? It’s all in the name: ‘Under Armor’, the giant of American sports. Because Under Armor, it’s a market capitalization 2 times bigger than Garmin. All say that the day where Under Armor will really decide to enter the market of watches / bracelets sport, it will hurt. I think that the Under Armor Band is a first test and we will see more in 2017 (because there is money to be made in the wearables market).



what should be expected for 2017?


frankly, it’s hard to say. Polar and Suunto have every 2 out a watch which still has a large potential for software development ( Spartan and M600 ). These 2 models will be strengthened by successive updates, and one can think that they are not substitutes in 2017.


next to it, there is Garmin, who pulled the Fenix 3 in 2015, the Fenix 3 HR in 2016 and who will certainly be a Fenix 4 in 2017. Garmin has always oriented development of GPS watches on still more features. But what can we expect from this Fenix 4?


the side from Polar, the last updated announced on the V800 (integration with the GoPro) is expected before Christmas. This is probably the last update that will happen on this watch. And so we can anticipate a replacement (V900?) by 2017, with color screen and everything.


TomTom has expanded its range with the 3 Runner, the Adventurer and a bracelet (Touch) activity tracker . I think that these models will remain in place, alongside the Runner 2, until the end of the summer and that TomTom could renew its range with a new watch for Christmas 2017.


Fitbit has released a new watch ( Blaze ), a new bracelet ( Alta ) and replaced other 2 (-> Flex Flex 2 and Charge HR-> load 2 ). There remains the question of the successor of the Surge, the only one with a GPS chip. We can expect a Surge 2 for the 2017 CES in Las Vegas.


and Epson in all this? Epson, to General surprise, came home on wearables market leaving a fairly complete range of GPS watches and bracelets activity tracker. But it’s silent radio in 2016. No new model, no ads. Will there be a second generation of watches GPS Epson in 2017? Hard to say, because I do not know if the sales of the first line really allowed them to break through and have achieved their objective.


Apple and Samsung have released their Apple Watch 2 and Gear S3 in 2016, so we won’t see anything new on the side of these brands.


the trend is still offers expanded, with brands that offer more in addition to different models to meet specific needs. The trouble is that they sometimes create the software clamping just to create 2 or 3 different models from the same base hardware (Forerunner 230 / Forerunner Forerunner 235 630, / Forerunner 735XT , Runner 2 / Runner 3). And that, from the point of view of the consumer, it’s good and bad. The advantage is that it is possible to spend less by buying the watch that has the features needed. The downside is when you see a more powerful model replace the one that we just bought (route profile of the Vertical Ambit3 is not transferred on the Ambit3 Peak, Runner 2 / Runner 3) or that one is obliged to buy a more expensive model just for a tiny feature ( Forerunner 235 that does not display the elevation).


the good news is that on average, GPS watches have gained autonomy. There where she tended to 8-10 h in 2015, we find more regularly autonomies of 10-15: 00 in 2016. But it still lacks a real big watch with autonomy for the ultra precision Max


Finally, the other general trend, is the concern of the design. Gone are the days where you choose a sport for its technical features watch. Now, people want to be able to wear their watch at all times. And the daily activity monitoring features, 24/24, go in this direction. Suddenly, the manufacturers take great care to create beautiful watches of sport. Reactions in the face of the design of the Fenix 3 or the disappearance of the unsightly hump of the Ambit3 illustrate well. It should also be noted the more sleek design of the second generation of Fitbit while the Fitbit first, load, Flex and Surge were rather rude. Even step on the side of TomTom between Cardio Runner and the Runner 2 .



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