Apple Watch Accuracy

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by mcutugno, Oct 20, 2016.

  1. mcutugno macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2016
    #1
    Question for all the Apple Watch owners out there. Do you find your watch to be accurately tracking distances and HR?

    I have a series 2 aluminum and have been calibrating it on every walk and several 5 mile runs over the past two weeks. However, when running (at the same pace, and same distance) that I did outside on the treadmill, I get distances that are under reported by more than 25%. A 5 mile run on the treadmill as an example is giving me 3.75 - 4 miles max in the workouts app.

    As for HR, I do think that the sensor is generally providing a good reading as it ties to what my past Fitbit Charge HR and the HR monitor on the treadmill say at any given time. However, what I notice for every workout is that I will get periods of time where it is either not reading my pulse OR at the peak of my run when I know my HR is 170+ it drops to 130-140 for a few minutes and then back up... all while my pace has been constant. For reference, the Fitbit retains the 170+ reading the whole time. Note that the band on the apple watch has been made tight and is worn above the wrist bone... and does not move during these occurrences.

    Interested to hear others experiences.

    Thanks.
     
  2. exxxviii macrumors 65816

    exxxviii

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    #2
    Treadmill running is often very off from outdoor running, because many people run with a different stride on a treadmill. Compare your cadence outside versus inside. In your case, I bet you are running with a shorter, quicker stride outside. But, on a treadmill, I bet you slow down your cadence and run with longer strides.

    Usually the strap tightening fixes it. You may just be one of the lucky ones where a wrist-based optical HR monitor will not work well during workouts.
     
  3. Clint1583 macrumors regular

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    Mar 4, 2011
    #3
    You may already have seen my post but as for distance accuracy, it's pretty darn close to perfect. As for heart rate, for general everyday purposes it's pretty close to your actual heart rate but for running (exercising in general) it can be way off at times. I kept getting so many incorrect readings while running that I purchased a Polar H7 ($49. on sale at Best Buy) chest strap monitor that I pair with my watch.

    A chest strap heart monitor gives the most accurate readings of all products on the market. I still use the standard Apple Watch heart rate monitor for day to day pulse readings.
     
  4. rwstgermain macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2016
    #4
    Your apple watch 2 has GPS, which I would think is more accurate than the treadmill. HR on an apple watch is about 90% accurate, according to a recent medical report. I do see that it fluctuates when I do CrossFit but that is most likely due to sweat, which reflects the light and muscle tension, which makes it harder as well. The HR is really there to give you an insight into how hard you are training, and not for accurate calorie counts. Pay the $79 for the polar chest strap that can be connected to the apple watch if you want more accurate readings but for a majority of people the apple watch HR readings are good enough.
     
  5. Klaatu63 macrumors regular

    Klaatu63

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    Nov 3, 2010
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #5
    I question the accuracy of the exercise measurement. My wife and I take long walks on the beach - I have a original series 1 watch with OS3.0 and my wife has a series 2 Apple watch with the same version OS. We walk a distance of two miles and compare watch exercise readings. My watch will show twice the amount of expended exercise with both watches showing very close heart rates. Any ideas on the different readings?
     
  6. Macaddict16 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2002
    #6
    In addition to the heart rate I think it also analyzes your hand swinging. Are you holding hands where one persons hand has the apple watch? That or one of you naturally swings their arms more when walking. I have found the same thing so my wife and i take turns on who's "watch hand" gets held so we get the most tracking :)
     
  7. Long Run Nick macrumors regular

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    Oct 4, 2016
    Location:
    Florida Panhandle
    #7
    I have had my AW2 for 2 weeks: 12 runs totaling 94 miles. Have worn both my AW2 and my nearly year old, tried and true Garmin FR235.
    My findings in a nut shell: 9 mile run(on a course that has been measured by numerous GPS watches I have had over the years) Garmin 9 miles. AW2 between 9.05 to 9.09. Actually not bad from my perspective. HR is pretty close to my Garmin with and w/o my HR strap. I have a few occasions where it will leap way above what I know to be pretty close to my actual,HR. I say this with the experience of running just over 40 years and using HR monitors for about the last 20 years, or whenever Polar HR straps/watches hit the market.
    Average pace is pretty close. I am impressed. I got the AAW2 more for smart watch stuff. My Garmin235 is the best running Watch I have used- and believe me I have tried about all of them.
    Serious runners will mostly rely on Garmin because the watch's main function is by its' name Forerunner.
    My ego forces me to add, 73 and still running 40-50 miles a week. Current total since 4/76- 85,486 miles and counting. Nick
     
  8. mcutugno thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 20, 2016
    #8
    Thanks for weighing in Nick. Nice to hear from someone who has so much experience running and running with different tech. Keep it up!

    A couple of questions:

    1. When you take GPS out of the equation, as in treadmill running, is your AW2 (or other devices) accurate? That is, is your cadence very different on the treadmill vs running outdoors? I am guessing that is likely my issue with tracking my indoor runs.

    2. Do you every find that the AW2 heartrate drops? At the peak of my runs (when I am most sweaty), my HR usually goes from 170ish to the 140s for a while and then back up, all while I am maintaining pace. Like you I also see very high values sometime hitting 215.
     
  9. exxxviii macrumors 65816

    exxxviii

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    #9
    I know you directed this at someone else, but I have a few thoughts related to outdoor vs. indoor cadence and stride.

    Indoor versus outdoor cadence and stride varies by runner and is affected by training and coaching. Years ago, I used to have a greater disparity between outside and inside cadence & stride, but it is narrowing. I am more aware of cadence overall, and try to run around 180 spm or quicker; therefore, I tend to be more consistent inside and outside. However, I know some pretty strong triathletes who still have big differences.

    The easiest thing you can do is simply pull up your average cadence from an outside run and look at that next to your treadmill runs. When I run, the two primary data fields I use on my watch are cadence and HR. Even in races, these are the only two that I look at.
     
  10. mcutugno thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 20, 2016
    #10
    How do I see the average cadence (steps?) from a particular run or walk in the workout app?
     
  11. exxxviii macrumors 65816

    exxxviii

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    #11
    Great question... I just clicked around, and I do not think Workout or Activity report cadence information anywhere. I quit using Workout a while ago in favor of Runkeeper. RK reports cadence. However, no 3rd party apps use the AWS2's internal GPS at the moment, so you are kind of in limbo. You could do a few test runs with one of the apps that reports out cadence to test this.
     
  12. Long Run Nick macrumors regular

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    Florida Panhandle
    #12
    I have no experience running on a treadmill. Well, I lie, 2x when I was over 40 the Army had me do a stress test. The first time I broke the machine. I guess it wasn't use to many over 40 fit folks in the Army(early80's).
    The second time they told me to get off before I broke the machine:)
    A little advice. Relax, don't get too caught up in all the metrics. Just run. Guess what? Back in the 70's without all the stuff we have now, race times for average neighborhood runners were faster than today. Marathons back then wanted you to finish well under 4 hours, now people stroll marathons in over 6 hours.
    Have fun, have running be your play. I think I was happier when I didn't know my VO2 MAX, cadence or max HR. I like the data now, but we seem to have made a natural thing as running more complicated than it needs to be. When I speak to groups about running, I tell folks most of them ran before they walked, but would get yelled at for running as a child. Sadly. Too many took those admonitions seriously which has been one of the reasons for the epidemic of obesity, at least here in the USA. Nick
     
  13. julesme macrumors regular

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    Oct 14, 2016
    Location:
    San Jose
    #13

    73 and still running 40-50 miles a week

    This is amazing, please keep it up! I just completed 2 weeks with my Series 2 and also notice that the HR occasionally leaps up during an outdoor run, but I don't mind as I mainly use the HR to check my resting rate during the day. I have yet to try an indoor treadmill run, so can't comment there but as a casual runner I am more than happy with the outdoor distance tracking and believe it to be consistent across several 5K runs.

    Final comment: While running I've noticed the "current pace" sometimes lags 10 or 15 seconds before updating properly after I change speed or perhaps even if I simply hold my wrist in place for a few seconds to look at something like my music playlist, and then check back to see my current pace has changed dramatically. This issue with pacing seems random and I never have a problem with the average pace. I haven't owned other fitness trackers so I don't know how it compares to Garmin or others.
     
  14. exxxviii macrumors 65816

    exxxviii

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    May 20, 2015
    #14
    Current pace is almost universally bad for every GPS-enabled running device I have ever used or read about. (It is bad for Garmin's best too.) There is one exception... some watches will use its internal accelerometer or external foot pod to calculate instantaneous pace. Those that do that are very accurate.
     
  15. Long Run Nick macrumors regular

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    Oct 4, 2016
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    Florida Panhandle
    #15
    Current pace is usually a little wonky on most devices. I use average pace. Garmin has average lap pace as well as overall. That works pretty well.
    A comment on being a little bit more of an intuitive runner. Don't become a slave to pace data. I use it,but a lot of times I know what my pace is within a few seconds usually. See, there are advantages in running for over 40 years. Again, if running becomes your play, odds are you will be at it in your 70's and 80's +. Learning to listen to your body- rest an extra day if fatigued. If a speed workout is not going well, just jog. I think doing this over the decades has resulted in my longevity. Nick
     
  16. julesme macrumors regular

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    Oct 14, 2016
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    #16
    Thanks guys, appreciate the replies. Lap pace sounds great, maybe Apple could add that the built-in app in the future. I would definitely check it out.
     
  17. Long Run Nick macrumors regular

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    Oct 4, 2016
    Location:
    Florida Panhandle
    #17
    You would think after running over 100 miles with the AW2 and my Garmin FR235 I would have figured this out. I have noticed that the HR average for the 2 devices ends up being the same. Ran today with the Garmin HR strap instead of the wrist HR. Again, the HR reflected the same on the activity app, whereas on the 235 my HR average was 6 beats less than what was reflected on the app.
    Bottom line, if you are going to test HR accuracy with another running watch, it appears that the AW trumps the other watch which results in the HR average being the same on the activity app. I will run again tomorrow with the HR strap and see what happens.
    Hopefully this isn't TMI. :) Nick
     
  18. The Game 161 macrumors G5

    The Game 161

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    Location:
    UK
    #18
    my girlfriends series 0 vs my series 2

    she always seems to have more steps doing the same thing while i have more miles...which seems odd to me. I will trust my GPS i guess
     
  19. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

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    Jul 17, 2008
    #19
    Assuming she is shorter than you, wouldn't it make sense she'd have more steps? Not sure what you mean by you having more miles.
     
  20. The Game 161 macrumors G5

    The Game 161

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    #20
    I'm talking when we go for a walk I always have more miles completed even though we are going same distance
     
  21. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

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    Jul 17, 2008
    #21
    Hmmmm. Are you carrrying your iPhones, or relying on just the Watches?
     
  22. The Game 161 macrumors G5

    The Game 161

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    #22
    Yeah both our iphone's are in our pockets.
     
  23. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

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    #23
    Interesting. How large is the discrepancy? Do you have any other way of telling how much you actually walked?
     
  24. The Game 161 macrumors G5

    The Game 161

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    #24
    not by alot.

    would be for example

    3.1 miles vs 3.7 miles.
     
  25. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

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    Jul 17, 2008
    #25
    Both watches are on wOS 3?

    If you are inclined to experiment, perhaps you could try swapping watches and see of you get the same discrepancy.
     

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