The Best Running Watches with Music in 2018

If you’re into running and fitness, there’s a good chance you like to have some good music while you exercise! Smartwatches have become increasingly popular with all the different features and stats they provide, so how do you choose which is best for you? Many of the watches listed below share many of the basic features most people expect to see, such as step tracking, distance, goals, move-reminders, and more. Here are some of the best running watches with music that will cater to your unique needs as a fitness enthusiast.


Top 3 Best and Favorites

Best Overall

Garmin Fenix 5X Plus

Best for Thin Wrists

Fitbit Ionic

Best Value

TomTom Spark 3


1. fenix 5S Plus, 5 Plus, 5X Plus

Starting at $699, the Fenix watches have seen some nice upgrades, with all three models having music, maps, and contactless payments. The 5X Plus has an additional Pulse Oximetry which could possibly be approved as a medical device, as the company works on FDA approval with other smartwatch makers.

As a higher end feature, this is very useful for high elevation exercising. These watches are more heavily focused on hiking, which can certainly fall into the running category as well.

The ClimbPro app has some nice features, such as splitting up various elevation climbs throughout your day. It also keeps time, total distance, elevation, vertical speed, and average inclination displayed on the watch during your workout.

With the upgrade came improved battery life to a little over one day in GPS mode and over three days in regular mode. For avid golfers there are 40,000 courses stored in the watch! If you like using Google maps, there are 16GB of storage to preload maps to see trails that are most popular (though some cost extra to download.)

The watches provide music storage for offline listening, as well as streaming services like iHeartRadio and Deezer, and you can connect with Bluetooth headphones or speaker. You must sync the music first using Wi-Fi however.


PROS:

  • Built-in GPS and altimeter
  • Improved connectivity with Bluetooth headphones
  • Music storage and streaming services

CONS:

  • Additional cost for map downloads
  • Very pricey

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2. Garmin vivoactive 3

With a price range starting at $299, the vivoactive has a very nice five-day battery life, and a GPS battery life of 13 hours. It is water resistant up to 50m, so you can run in the rain and go for a swim after, while tracking your strokes!

Use your watch as a music control for your phone, but there is no on-board storage for music in this one. If you don’t mind taking your phone along, the watch control function makes it much easier to skip that song you don’t like, pause, and turn the volume up.

This watch is equipped with a very accurate heartrate monitor to see how fit you’re becoming, including tracking your level of cardio fitness. Then you can compare how fit you are with others in your age group and gender in the app. It also measures stress and recovery throughout the day. Enjoy over 15 preloaded GPS and indoor sport profiles from swimming, running, snowboarding and much more.


PROS:

  • Waterproof
  • Great battery life
  • Lots of built-in fitness profiles

CONS:

  • No music storage

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3. TomTom Spark 3

Starting at a reasonable $250, the Spark 3 comes with Bluetooth headphones and is truly made for cardio health and music. Pretty similar to the original TomTom watch, this one has the built-in GPS and tracks basic workouts you’d expect from a fitness watch – running, swimming, biking, and a few indoor sports.

The heart rate monitor is most accurate for running and biking, and it supports an external Bluetooth monitor when you need more accurate numbers. This is not the best watch for activities and sleep tracking, but does offer the most common metrics from calories, steps, distance traveled, etc.

One nicer thing about this watch is it allows for storage of up to 500 songs, which is more space than most, so there’s no need to bring your phone along when you go for a quick run. There is also a built-in compass and the ability to download trail maps to the watch, so you can stay on course when exploring new areas.


PROS:

  • Waterproof down to 50m
  • Map download
  • Store up to 500 songs

CONS:

  • Not great for activity and sleep tracking
  • No smartphone notifications

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4. Fitbit Ionic

Fitbit Ionic comes in at $299 with a comfortable design, a battery to last at least four days, and a GPS battery life of about 10 hours. This watch comes with quite a few extras beyond the fitness features, from female health tracking, mobile payments, and the ability to install apps.

Fitbit has plans for its heart rate monitor to be more useful in health tracking such as irregular heartbeat, but data isn’t quite as accurate as a chest strap just yet. They’ve also installed an SpO2 monitor, which isn’t in use yet, but will be useful for checking blood oxygen levels.

If you stop while on your run, the watch detects this, pauses, and starts back up for you so you can stay focused on your activity. If you forget to set your activity, there is an automatic workout detection that will choose the right workout for you and begin collecting data. If you have trouble sleeping, wear your Fitbit to bed and see how much of each sleep cycle you’re really getting.

With a convenient 2.5GB internal storage space for 300 songs and access Pandora, there’s no reason to bring your phone along on your run. However, you must load the songs onto the watch using your computer and Wi-Fi.


PROS:

  • Music storage
  • Waterproof
  • Long battery life

CONS:

  • Must plug into the computer to load music onto the watch
  • Not many apps available (yet)

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5. Polar M600

The Polar M6oo starts at $330 and features many smartwatch extras that many fitness lovers look for including custom watch faces, phone notifications, and download apps from the Google Play store.

The Polar is large and might not work well for small wrists. It has replaceable wristbands which is something many people look for in a smartwatch. It has a square shape and is slightly different from other watches on the market, with a look that is more fitness-oriented than fashionable. But this could speak towards better accuracy of the heart rate monitor, featuring a very large sensor compared to others on the market.

The Polar developed the first ever wireless heartrate monitor over 30 years ago, so the brand has gained trust from fitness enthusiasts.

This watch is Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capable, with the ability to connect an external Bluetooth heartrate monitor if desired. The app comes with a huge list of sports that can be tracked by the watch including CrossFit and weightlifting. But running tends to be the focus for this one, providing accurate routes, speed, and distance.

Music capabilities include 4GB of internal storage, and you can stream it right to your Bluetooth headphones. With both a GPS and music loaded and ready, there’s no need to bring your phone along for your next run.

Because this is an Android-wear device, it’s best to choose this one if you have an Android rather than an Apple. With the built-in microphone you can use Google Voice for some functions as well as reply to text messages.


PROS:

  • Built-in GPS
  • Waterproof to 10m
  • Sleep tracking
  • Built-in microphone

CONS:

  • Not the best battery life – two days on Android, one day on iOS

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6. Fitbit Versa

Fitbit Versa is a great choice for those who want a smartwatch that looks like Apple but works well with Android and has a solid battery life of at least four days. There is also a 24/7 heart rate monitor, coaching, and a good variety of apps.

Similar to the Ionic but smaller, this one has the same options for wrist straps and colors, tracks female health, and allows mobile payments. There are three buttons which is more than most watches with a touchscreen, and they’re customizable so you can get into your favorite activities or apps quickly.

Unfortunately, this one does not have a built in GPS like many of the others on this list, but the price point of $199 is fair and you can connect to your phone’s GPS.

Activities include over 15 exercise modes including running, biking, swimming and weights, so you can enjoy plenty of stats in the Fitbit app while comparing to your active friends. It also tracks your cardio fitness level.

Versa has Bluetooth capability so you can receive any phone notifications you’d like, plus the ability to quick reply to texts. There is space to store up to 300 songs for offline listening, but this must be done with WiFi on your computer. You’ll also have access to Pandora and Deezer for steaming which also must be pre-loaded prior to listening.


PROS:

  • Good battery life
  • Music storage
  • Waterproof to 50m

CONS:

  • No built-in GPS

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7. Garmin Forerunner 645

Retailing at $400, this is a great watch for running when it comes to its slim and lightweight design, also allowing interchangeable wrist bands. The watch is built mainly for running, biking and swimming. The heart rate monitor works best with these as well and can be limited when lifting weights. It also offers connectivity with Bluetooth devices if your workout needs more accurate stats with external devices.

Speaking of accurate stats, the information collected from your running activities is very robust and much of it will probably only be of use to the most hard-core runners out there, especially if you’re training for events. There are also lots of other interesting sports available from indoor biking, skiing, snowboarding, rowing, yoga, and more.

This watch provides that handy built-in GPS, so you can workout and leave your phone at home. There are also maps and route tracking, which can be interrupted by trees and other interferences, but overall Garmin tends to do a good job with tracking accuracy (within reason).

There is finally onboard music storage in this Garmin device, with space for 500 songs. Then you can connect Bluetooth headphones or a speaker and go. There’s also the option to store podcasts and audiobooks. If you have iHeartRadio All-Access, you can download your playlists to the watch as well. Deezer may be coming in the future for another streaming option.


PROS:

  • Waterproof to 50m
  • Built-in GPS
  • Battery life of about four days

CONS:

  • Inaccurate sleep tracking
  • No golf app
  • Bluetooth headphones will cut out if you do not have the receiver on the same side of your body as your watch

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8. Apple Watch Series 3

 

The Apple Watch is always a top pick for any avid Apple users, so if you have an iPhone this may be a good fit for you.

There are two available models for Series 3 – one with the built-in GPS ($329), and one with an additional LTE capability ($399). Using LTE costs more per month, but music streaming is now possible which is perfect for utilizing those extra fees. Access Apple Music and Beats Radio right through Siri or tap through the watch’s menu. There aren’t pre-made playlists to browse through, so make sure you get familiar with Apple Music if you haven’t used it before.

The Apple watch brings your phone notifications right to you to easily stay updated with your life while you work out. And there is a very convenient find-my-phone feature. When swimming, there is a screen-lock mode that will ensure the screen stays off during your swim, and when you’re finished the watch will eject water out of the speaker with vibration.

Apple Pay is installed as well for easy payment on the go. Again, if you have LTE version, you can use Siri to find out anything you need to know from the weather to current news, to changing your music.


PROS:

  • Built-in GPS and altimeter
  • Waterproof up to 50m
  • Music streaming with LTE

CONS:

  • Short battery life

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9. Samsung Gear Sport

With a price of $300, similar to many other smartwatches out currently, the Gear Sport is a bit on the heavy side but looks like a regular watch. It provides easy menu navigation and has a battery life of over three days. The design while large, is masculine and attractive with replaceable watch bands and lots of well-designed custom watch faces.

For the price, it provides many fitness tracking options, including over 60 workouts that are guided by the watch. This one also has a built-in heart rate monitor and will automatically detect the activity you’re doing and begin collecting data if you forget to start manually. The data goes to the Samsung S Health app, but other apps are available, and more may be on the way.

As some of the sensors might not be accurate enough for some serious sport enthusiasts – steps and calories burned may not be 100% – this watch might be better for someone looking for causal exercise. You can also track sleep as many of the other watches.

Receive and browse through your smartphone notifications and reply to texts with an Android phone. With iOS you cannot do calls or messaging or take advantage of Samsung mobile pay.

There is a music player, and Spotify is surprisingly supported! Search with your voice to find your favorite jam while exercising. Music can be streamed or download entire playlists from Spotify for listening offline with 4GB of storage.


PROS:

  • Waterproof to 50m, including saltwater
  • Calorie tracking without extra apps
  • Built-in GPS
  • Up to four days of battery life

CONS:

  • Poor voice recognition
  • Heart rate monitor may experience some bugs

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10. LG Watch Sport

 

With a price tag of $350, like the Apple watch, you can opt for LTE if you pay an additional monthly fee. There has also been a keyboard installed so you can fully reply to texts if needed. This watch is on the bigger side and might not be suitable for small wrists.

The Sport is somewhat water resistant but is not made for swimming (can handle 1.5m for 30 minutes.) The wristbands can be taken off but are not replaceable as LG built antennas into them. It will also function more fully if you own an Android phone, so you can take advantage of Google Assistant and Android Pay.

With a variety of fitness apps to choose from, the Sport is best for running and biking. While the GPS is very handy and allows for leaving your phone at home, it might be a little shaky in areas with tall buildings or trees (as expected for most GPS systems.)

This watch is very well rounded with great features for fitness tracking as well as other smartwatch “extras”, a fast processor and quality screen. There is a heartrate monitor built-in as well as a SIM card tray. Receive phone notifications and read them comfortably on the large screen. As well, there is a full 4GB of storage space for music storage, and with the LTE connectivity, you can stream all you want.


PROS:

  • Built-in GPS
  • 4GB storage space for music

CONS:

  • Short battery life (less than two days)
  • Large and heavy
  • Has both a speaker and microphone, but they are very basic

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11. TomTom Adventurer

At $350, the Adventurer has a rugged design and is designed for many sports, with a GPS and heartrate monitor built in. It tracks basic activities and sleep cycles like the rest of the watches and features a music player. Some sports offered besides running include trail running, hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, and more.

This watch has a good battery life of over four days without using the GPS. If you have some favorite trails or new trails you’d like to try, you can download the maps to the watch, so you can stay on course and see if you’re setting new records!

With a full 3GB of music storage, connect your favorite Bluetooth headphones or speaker and jam out without your phone while you exercise. You also have the option to connect via Bluetooth to external devices such as heartrate monitors for more accurate data.

The display is only black and white, and you will not receive smartphone notifications. This is a downside for many when considering the price. If you’re concerned about the design, it’s very sporty with orange and black-orange options. This may change in the future, but currently this might be for sports lovers only.


PROS:

  • 3GB music storage
  • Built-in GPS, barometer and compass
  • Battery life of 4 days
  • Waterproof to 40m

CONS:

  • No phone notifications
  • Black and white display

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