Odd comparison, AW4 vs. Fenix 5+

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by oeagleo, Jun 22, 2019.

  1. oeagleo, Jun 22, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2019

    oeagleo macrumors 6502

    oeagleo

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2016
    Location:
    West Jordan, Utah
    #1
    I've been wondering about the accuracy of my Apple Watch, series 4, and the Fenix 5+ that I also own. So, today, I took both to a calibrated track, an Olympic Oval for speed skating here in Salt Lake City, left over from when we had the Winter Olympics. The tracks are calibrated per lane, to .01 mile, so that's pretty close for me. I did a test, and both the AW and the Fenix were within .02 of a mile on the track for a 1 mile test. Pretty darn good, if you ask me, especially since the Fenix is using a calibrated footpod, that I use for all walking activities, not relying on the GPS distance for walks outdoors. I was pretty happy, except there's one odd thing.
    Last Thursday, I went for an outdoor walk, as I wanted to test the actual GPS Tracking on a nice, 'round the lake type urban walking trail here. So, while I was pretty pleased with the GPS track the AW provided, there was a HUGE difference in the actual distance travelled. The Apple Watch showed 3.95 miles, (6.36 KM), while the Fenix, using the calibrated footpod, showed 4.04 Miles, (6.5 Km). This is a pretty big difference, so I must ask, is the GPS on the AW that bad for measuring distance? I was using the app "WorkOutDoors" for the AW, (absolutely great app, by the way), and when exported, then imported into another program (Polar Flow, for instance) the AW showed absolutely no cadence after one mile. I've noticed this in other exports of the AW, so that's something consistent, the AW isn't good to show cadence. However, has anyone else noticed a significant shortening of the distance in outside walks with the AW? Not sure if Runs are affected this way, as my knees don't let me run.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 22, 2019 ---
    Example showing cadence anolomy:
     

    Attached Files:

  2. DontGetTheCheese macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2015
    #2
    I wrote a long post on the two devices, buried somewhere here, longer than this one, so if you want more look for that one.

    I had problems with the AW. I got some really weird tracks with it and sometimes near perfect tracks relative to the Fenix.

    • It was particularly bad when starting. It’s slow to pick up a lock and just YOLO’s the run using the position of your phone until getting a lock.
    • I had dropouts using various apps.. By that I mean, I’d be trucking along and according to the data sprinted at 100 mph for a couple of hundred yards.
    • Others have complained about GPS smoothing. Can’t say that was a big problem.
    • Had more than a few runs where I was Frank the Tanking down the middle of the street. I was wearing clothes and sober, however.
    There were a few other issues where the Fenix was better, particularly, because of the buttons. Those might have been resolved with more reading, effort and practice.

    The thing is, the AW does everything else way better than anything Garmin has. Getting podcasts on a Garmin device, especially with Spotify, is just too much work. Bluetooth, on the Marq, has been brutally painful. Certain headphones don’t play nice in that ecosystem. And the dozens of other things the AW does, with $4.99 fees, here and there, are just better. Even battery life, and lets be honest here, most of us aren’t exercising 6 hours a day isn’t that bad.

    I’m kind of indecisive on watches. I went 5 > 5+ > AW4 > Marq. The Marq has been a disappointment given the money, the bugs and the pain in getting it. I’d return it at this point, but since I couldn’t buy it from REI, and had to buy it from a <sarcasm>“premier”</sarcasm> jeweler, I can’t return it. The 5+ is more than adequate and I’d take a sporting goods store over the bleepheads I had to buy from every time.

    Frankly, I think the answer is 5+ and AW together, maybe even a 5 because they’re so cheap and solid. Or, if the AW picks up it’s game, just a little bit, stay there. The AW is really good, it just needs a push to get over the fitness hurdle. In a way, it’s a complete revamp of the UI/data, but the watch itself is really close and they can probably fix any GPS issue with a, wait, revamp of the UI.

    Oops, another long post. :)
    --- Post Merged, Jun 23, 2019 ---
    One other thing. Don’t take my post to mean that Garmin offers perfect GPS tracks. It regularly has me running through back yards and the middle of the road too. But, the path I run the most, it’s pretty solid on, so, for me, it’s the more accurate ecosystem. And being able to see when it has a GPS lock, so much better than the AW YOLO.
     
  3. oeagleo thread starter macrumors 6502

    oeagleo

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2016
    Location:
    West Jordan, Utah
    #3
    Your experience, and summarization closely echo mine. I have come to rely on the Training Effect, and recovery times that the Garmin gives, and the ability to see all of the data in one web page, AND on the phone. However, for that walk I referenced up there, the map on the Garmin never did get fully drawn, and the AW coupled with WorkOutDoors app had the map, complete with the trail on the watch the entire time. If I came to a junction, and wanted to shorten/lengthen the walk, the AW is the one I turned to, and oddly enough, the F5+ just showed a blank screen. I also DO with the AW had the ability to actually give a workout a name, not from one of the "pre-selected" workouts, as I do a lot of activities to keep from getting bored, from classes, (Silver Sneakers, that don't really fit in any of the pre-defined categories) and a few others. However, if/when I export/import the activities into Runanalyze, everything come through pretty much except the aforementioned TE and Recovery times. I wish I could "hold" the AW activity until it gets a good lock on the Sats, that would probably help with the distance thing, but I'm still on the fence as to which to keep..
    Thanks for the reply, I enjoy good, complete discussions and replies. Now to go look for your other post.. :)
     
  4. Monkswhiskers macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2018
    #4
    If you are really bothered about absolutely nailing distance the get a Stryd footpod. After some initial issues my gps on my AW3 has been pretty solid, not sure about the F5+ but a couple of friends have the F5 and the gps is pretty poor for the money they paid.
    I would like the Firstbeat analytics on the AW but Fjuul do offer this with an app for a monthly sub (I would prefer a one off cost). I was tempted to get the 245 in addition but to be honest I look on the Garmin forums and see nothing but complaints about bugs that never seem to get fixed.

    p.s I am a keen OW swimmer and am in Greece currently swimming 2 miles a day for the past week and the AW is absolutely nailing the distances day after day, very impressive as OW tracking is notoriously difficult for a watch.
     
  5. Newtons Apple macrumors Core

    Newtons Apple

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    Mar 12, 2014
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    Jacksonville, Florida
  6. DontGetTheCheese macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2015
    #6
    And they don’t necessarily need to be. They just need to be inaccurate in the same way every time. If your scale is 5 pounds heavy every time but it’s gone down 10 pounds you’ve lost 10 pounds, if it varies, who knows?
     
  7. QCassidy352 macrumors G4

    QCassidy352

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #7
    That’s .09 over 4 miles, or .0225 per mile. I wouldn’t call that a huge difference.

    And, it’s .09 from the garmin, which you are assuming is completely accurate. I know it has a foot pod, but even still, if it’s off by even a little then the difference to the Apple Watch is even less.

    If you’re doing timed intervals on a track, .02/mile is a lot. For a causal run, I guess that sounds fine to me.
     
  8. Monkswhiskers macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2018
    #8

    Yes, gps watches are really no good for the track because of the tight bends, but you already have what you need ie. a measured course and a stopwatch.
     
  9. mk313 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2012
    #9
    I have no read if this will help, as i've had great results from my apple watch's GPS, but I read another thread recently where people were swearing by getting more accurate GPS results by wearing their apple watch with the button facing up your arm (opposite how most people would normally wear it on their left wrists.). And one guy also mentioned putting it in airplane mode if you take your phone (or if you take your phone with you to wherever you walk and then leave it in the car). The placement is due to the location of the antennae(s) in the apple watch (specifically the 3, but also possibly the 4 IIRC), and the airplane mode was so that the watch would use the built in gps and not the phone's gps.

    Not sure if it's correct or not, but many people seemed to say it helped them. It might be worth a try for you to see if it helps the GPS accuracy.
     
  10. oeagleo thread starter macrumors 6502

    oeagleo

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2016
    Location:
    West Jordan, Utah
    #10
    Putting it that way, it does look pretty darn good, that's only 118 feet per mile, and honestly, I can live with that.. :) Thanks for pointing that out, I think I was looking at the .09 difference "per mile", which just isn't so. Next time, I'll turn off BT on the phone, and see what happens, but I'm liking my AW better and better the more I wear it.
     
  11. PatrickNSF macrumors 6502

    PatrickNSF

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2011
    #11
    This is where I ended up after having owned a Garmin since 2011 and an Apple Watch since launch, though I "downgraded" my Fenix 5+ to a Forerunner 245 recently since I only use it for running and some cycling. I still take my AW out on runs and during races for music and LTE (so I don't have to deal with a phone), but I either put it in a pocket sans the strap or wear it on an armband.
     
  12. DontGetTheCheese macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2015
    #12
    So, despite my earlier post, I wonder if I'd think this matters if I got the erratic readings. I have a course that I run with a goal of 60 minutes on it. I'm close, closer than I ever thought I'd get and the overall course being off I wouldn't care about. I start and end at the same place so a stop watch could get that job done.

    But each mile is unique and I measure speed / pulse for each segment. This information affects what i do when trying to race it. Sometimes I even quit early if I get certain readings because better to just walk it in and be safe. I also look at performance and whether I can squeeze a bit of speed out of certain areas. For instance, too fast on the climb, not enough reserve for the last mile, or, hey, got to the top fast, my heart rate isn't crazy, well, wasn't going to, but lets give it a go.

    I guess it would matter to me in that use case only, Walks, 3 mile runs, who cares, just record the calories, and be in the ballpark! And that's the Apple watch: fitness & health, good enough, not performance.
     
  13. gr4z macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2010
    Location:
    England
    #13
    Really useful thread. I have a 5+ at the moment but getting a little pissed with the bugs and Garmin seemingly unable to fix them or even reintroduce old ones with a new firmware! I am tempted to move over to the AW4 as my 3rd 5+ is about to head back to HQ for another replacement as another fault has appeared.

    I have a few friends who use AW for running and use the Workoutdoors app and who rave on about it. They are not ultra marathon runners or very serious competitive guys just people who want a good enough track of their run and calories consumed. If AW can bring the FirstBeat over or equivalent they would be on to a winner. 6 hour GPS battery life is more than enough for me. My 5+ lasts around 3-4 days with all my activities.
     
  14. PatrickNSF macrumors 6502

    PatrickNSF

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2011
    #14
    If you’re at all interested in using Stryd, the most Garmin-like experience I’ve found is using the Stryd app. You can customize the display fields even more than with current Garmin, and you get the added benefit of more accurate distance and pacing. The only impediment for me using it more frequently is lack of an always-on display, which I find necessary for speed work and intervals (and why I’m supplementing my AW with a 245 at the moment). But I could easily get by with just the AW and Stryd if I had to.
     
  15. DontGetTheCheese macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2015
    #15
    Workoutdoors is solid. The way it colors the GPS tracks is really nice too.

    But, the thing with Garmin is that everything goes to the same place. You may not like the Garmin software, but your bike rides, runs, swims, workouts all wind up in the same place.

    With the AW, to get the same kind of information, you need something like RunGap, 2 or 3 fitness apps and possibly something like TrainingPeaks. And, depending on what you do, maybe, something to automate it all. I don’t remember how I had RunGap working. Then things like your VO2 are over in the Health App, buried under menu’s that make little sense (maybe that’s changing in the next WatchOS).

    You can use the default workout app, those types are in there, but rep and weight counting won’t be. I don’t know how STRYD integrates with the workout app but I suspect not at all for the STRYD stats.

    If you are just running, no problem. But, running, weightlifting, biking, etc., it gets hard to have a clean setup.
     
  16. oeagleo thread starter macrumors 6502

    oeagleo

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2016
    Location:
    West Jordan, Utah
    #16
    True, and therein lies the true quandary for me. I am a 71 year old man, just trying to stay in shape. Since I spent most of my working career working with computers, I'm also a data freak, so the data is important to me. I do Classes (Silver Sneakers), Yoga, walks both inside and outside, weights, and ride my bike on occasion. All of which contributes to rendering out some of the lard that has accumulated over many years of "sit down" type jobs. To get all of this information into one, easily comparable place is quite a feat with the Apple Watch, and a breeze with the Garmin connect, both on the phone, and on the web. AW completely ignores the web, making it difficult to join everything together. I've started using Runanalyze to consolodate my activities, but it's readily apparent the difference in data that is provided by each, (Garmin and Apple Health/Watch) when imported into Runanalyze.
     
  17. Monkswhiskers macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2018
    #17
    I just upload all my activities to Strava, it is where I analyse all my data.
    VO2 max and HRV are easy enough to find in the health app once you are used to it.
     
  18. DontGetTheCheese macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2015
    #18
    I’m not sure about Strava. I didn’t trust it based on anecdotes I picked up. And, as near as I can tell, you have to pay for it. $60/year for the full Summit stuff. That seems lower than I remember, maybe they lowered the price?
     
  19. QCassidy352 macrumors G4

    QCassidy352

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #19
    I’d also suggest iSmoothRun as a good running app for Apple Watch and iPhone. I’ve been very happy with it.
     
  20. Monkswhiskers macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2018
    #20
    I just use the free version, suits me fine. I have had a couple of free trials of summit but didn't find it worth it for my needs, just the fatigue info etc.
    Training peaks has rest and recovery info but I always use a chest strap for accurate data, 'garbage in garbage out' etc.
     
  21. oeagleo thread starter macrumors 6502

    oeagleo

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2016
    Location:
    West Jordan, Utah
    #21
    Is that with the paid subscription, or the free version? And you're saying it will give that info for the Apple Watch? Interesting...
     
  22. DontGetTheCheese macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2015
    #22
    I used the free Training Peaks, with the premium intro, and once that went away I went away. It didn’t seem worth it without that, and by worth it, I’m referring to the free version.

    This has been a few months now but I remember getting this stuff into Garmin Connect through RunGap somehow and I remember it being imperfect (doubled up in places, especially my step counts in the health app).

    I really shouldn’t comment too much on this because I just don’t remember much beyond there being more pain than I would have liked. Garmin, for all it’s faults, mostly works for getting your data.
     
  23. Zorori macrumors newbie

    Zorori

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2017
    #23
    Anyone serious about measuring distance and pace from a watch should be buying a footpod. GPS accuracy doesn't come close on any device.
     
  24. gr4z macrumors 6502

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    Aug 7, 2010
    Location:
    England
    #24
    So how is an Apple Watch with a Stryd? Anyone tried it?
     
  25. Akrapovic macrumors 6502

    Akrapovic

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2018
    Location:
    Scotland
    #25
    GPS receiver in the AW is in the top of the watch (when the crown is on the right). When you run, the top of the watch is pointing to the ground. Rotate the watch (crown on the left) and it puts the GPS hardware on the bottom, which becomes the top when you run.

    Using WorkOutDoors to measure it, I went from 20-30m average accuracy to 6m average accuracy. Or in “bars” I went from 3 to full 5 bars every run without fail.

    Airplane mode the phone. Rotate the Watch. See what the results are. Huge difference to me.
     

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24 June 22, 2019