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Garmin Forerunner vs iPhone RunKeeper

by Blogger on ‎07-22-2009 12:35 PM - last edited on ‎04-27-2012 05:31 PM by Moderator

Next to my iPhone, my favorite gadget is my Garmin Forerunner 305. I've had this device, in various editions, on my wrist when I run andride for nearly 7 years.

garmin.gifIt'sa GPS trainig watch that instantly helps me stay on track with my paceand lets me improvise my routes in the neighborhood by tracking myaccumulated distance.  When you're training for marathons (I run themfor Team Diabetes), knowing your pace and distance are vital.  Intervaltraining will have you running and varied speeds and each week you addabout 10% distance to your long runs.  Planning ahead using the web ishandy, but when you want to freestyle a new route, or you start bonkingon a run, knowing where you are and how far you've gone is handy.

I'veseen some Twitter chatter about a similar app for the iPhone anddecided to test it out.  RunKeeper is a free app (a premium version isavailable for $9.99) that lets you perform similar tricks using the GPSabilities of your iPhone.

I took the RunKeeper and Garmin Forerunner outfor some runs this week and matched up the data.  They both came backwith comparable results, so the time and distance aren't a separatorbetween the two, but the functionality of using an iPhone app to trackdistance vs having it all on your wrist is where the battle is won andlost with these gadgets.

If you strap your iPhone toyour bicep you can't see the screen while in full stride.  Same thingif you tuck the phone into your pocket - it's tough to get out whileyou're running and your sweaty fingers make a mess of the screen.  Andthis is crucial when it comes to monitoring your performance on a run. (The premium version does offer audio cues through your headphones tohelp you with pre-programmed interval training).

Theapp is also a battery hog since it's constantly pulling and pushing GPSdata, it's working your location services overtime.  Just a 1 hour rundrained nearly half my battery supply.

That said, the interfaceof RunKeeper is very slick.  There's no syncing needed between yourcomputer and the app since the iPhone is always online.  Just save theworkout when you're done and it's automatically saved to profile


runkeeper.gifI actually love the RunKeeper results onthe web, the automatic splits are handy, the graphics are elegant andthe interface is clean.  I wish this was how my Garmin looked (to befair I'm using an older Forerunner 305 model and the new Forerunner 405does have some fancy features I can't access).

In the end,RunKeeper is a great introduction to the sort of wonderful things youcan add to your training with a GPS guide, but it's just too bulky touse every single day.   It will have you dipping your toe into the pooland dreaming about how much more convenient all this data would be ifyou could quickly glance at it on your wrist.  If you're not sure aboutcommitting to a GPS running watch, and already have the iPhone, stickRunkeeper on it and take it out for a couple of runs - you'll become adata junkie after just a couple laps.

catch the buzz ... pass it on.

Message Edited by Julez on 07-29-2009 06:01 PM
Message Edited by ElizabethS on 09-10-2009 07:53 PM

by runkeeper on ‎07-22-2009 09:10 PM - last edited on ‎07-23-2009 06:17 AM by Retired Moderator

Thanks for the review!  Just a quick comment that if you use the top lock button on the iPhone to sleep the screen, RunKeeper will get 4-5 hours+ of battery life on a full charge.  Still not a ton yet, but much longer than 50% killed after an hour of use :-)


Hope that helps!


Jason (RunKeeper founder)


Message Edited by JS on 07-23-2009 09:17 AM
by cristianx on ‎10-11-2009 03:12 AM

I have a forerunner 301 and an iphone with runkeeper and wanted to compare them on a run. I was incredibly surprised by the effectiveness of iphone gps which makes runkeeper working way better than my 301.


I have saved both tracks and there's no way garmin can compete with iphone in the wood for instance. Garmin track measures 4 miles against the actual 6 miles measured by the iphone.


The only downside for iphone is the lack of heart monitor and the fact that's it's bigger than the garmin. Still have to test the latest garmin models, in fact 301 is quite old and am sure they did better with latest models.



by Matthew Riddle on ‎03-14-2010 03:46 PM

Thanks for this review.  I have been using RunKeeper Pro for a couple of months now, and based on this review, I think I'll stick with it.  The only feature I'd like that I don't have now is the heart rate monitor, but it doesn't seem like this is very important.  As for strapping it on my arm -- I find it perfectly comfortable, and RunKeeper has a handy feature allowing you to rotate the display and lock it in horizontal view for easy reference during a run. In practice, with the voice prompts, I rarely even think of looking at the screen while I'm running.  I set it to announce my time/distance every 5 minutes and use the prompts for interval training.

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