Image source: Samsung

Fitness bands with built-in GPS, activity tracking for runners and cyclists

Built-in GPS is important – but only if you need it. If you run or cycle on a regular basis it ensures your stats are as accurate as possible, plus you get a map of your workout. All this comes at a cost, though, and such devices are more pricey.

Essential reading: Top GPS watches for running and training

The other route, of course, is to go for Connected GPS. With this option the wearable on your wrist connects to a smartphone’s satellite signal. This is just as accurate as the first option, the only problem is you need your phone to be in close vicinity. For those that like phone-free exercising it is not an ideal option.

There are lots of sports watches to choose from with built-in GPS, but the selection is quite limited when it comes to fitness bands. This is our overview of the few that fall into this latter group. We expect the selection to become much wider during 2020.

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Fitbit Charge 4 | Garmin Vivosport | Garmin Vivosmart HR+ | Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro | Huawei Band 4 Pro


Fitbit Charge 4

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Fitbit Charge 4 is a recent upgrade to the company’s most popular fitness band. It comes with everything from the predecessor including built-in GPS. Up to now, Ionic was the only Fitbit wearable with this functionality.

The built-in GPS is a significant upgrade, particularly considering the price of the fitness band has not increased much. The functionality is something runners and cyclists, in particular, will appreciate. The number of exercise modes has been expanded to over 20, and built-in GPS will certainly come handy with this.

Furthermore, NFC comes as default now. Previously, only the special edition of Charge 3 has NFC for payments on-the-go through Fitbit Pay.

Other specs are largely identical as the current version. The 7 day battery is no different (5 hours with GPS switched on), as is the 5 ATM water-resistance. All the sensors are there which means you’ll be covered 24/7 in terms of fitness and sleep tracking.

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Garmin Vivosport

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which garmin fitness tracker should you buy - Fitness bands with built-in GPS, activity tracking for runners and cyclists

Vivosport can be seen as an upgraded blend of the company’s popular Vivosmart 3 and Vivosmart HR+ trackers. In a sense, Garmin has taken the best from these two and come up with an entirely new fitness band.

The large size weighs only 27 grams and the small-medium 24.1 grams. It feels great on your wrist, fitting very snuggly. Measuring 21mm in width and 10.9mm in thickness, you hardly feel you are wearing it.

Despite the slim form-factor, Vivosport has some pretty decent specs under the hood making it one of the most fully featured fitness bands around. Garmin has managed to squeeze a GPS along with a barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer and optical heart rate sensor into the device – pretty much everything you could hope for in 2019 when it comes to sensors.

Battery life is not too shabby either. Up to 8 hours with GPS switched on will get you through any run. In smartwatch mode this goes up to a week.

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Garmin Vivosmart HR+

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Image source: Garmin

Launched in 2016, Vivosmart HR+ features a B&W screen, activity and sleep tracking and smart notifications. There is also an internal optical HR sensor, with 24×7 heart rate recording including resting heart rate.

The built-in GPS allows users to track distance, time and pace more accurately, and you can also view a map of your activity via Garmin Connect. The sleek band is swim-friendly, comfortable to wear all day, and the always-on touchscreen display shows your stats, even in sunlight.

Like the earlier version of the product, the device packs a rechargeable lithium battery. This one will keep going for up to 5 days between charges which bodes well compared to the direct competition. In GPS/HR mode battery life comes down to around 8 hours.

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Amazon | Garmin*


Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro

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Samsung’s popular second generation fitness tracker uses a range of sensors to keep tabs on your activity levels including steps taken, calories burned, heart rate, and sleep quality. It can even automatically identify the different types of physical activities such as running, cycling, working out on the elliptical, and more.

In terms of design, the water-resistant Gear Fit2 Pro features a beautiful curved full-color Super AMOLED screen that displays real-time activity stats along with texts and other alerts from your iOS or Android smartphone. The fitness tracker boasts 0.5 GB RAM and 4.0 GB of internal memory, while under the hood you will find an accelerometer, barometer, gyroscope, heart rate sensor and GPS for mapping your runs. Battery life is up to 5 days, and 9 hours with GPS switched on.

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Huawei Band 4 Pro

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Image source: Huawei

Launched about a month ago, Huawei Band 4 Pro retains the 0.95 inch AMOLED touch-display of its predecessor. There’s now a pill-shaped physical button underneath to help navigate the menus. The casing is made of metal and the tracker has a matte surface. All of this is attached to a fairly sporty-looking silicone strap.

The tracker comes with a 6-axis accelerator, detached PPG cardiotachometer, infrared wear sensor and built-in GPS. In addition to all of this, the 2019 iteration has an SpO2 sensor to measure blood oxygen levels and NFC for on-the-go payments. Along with monitoring activity and sleep, Huawei says the band looks for irregular heartbeats.

The 11 sports modes include running, spinning, cycling, swimming and more. The fact that there’s built-in GPS means you can leave your phone behind and still get detailed info and maps of your outdoor workouts.

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*Disclosure: We are a review site that receives a small commission from sales of certain items, but the price is the same for you. We are independently owned and all opinions expressed here are our own. See our affiliate disclosure page for more details.

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