The Best Running Watches With Music – Top 15 in 2020

We all know that the right music playlist can make a good run even better. Music can help you run longer and faster, and it can make running feel effortless. But that means if you want to benefit from music’s performance-enhancing effects, you’ll need to bring along a durable, music playing device. Gone are the days of the clumsy cd player strapped to your belt or even your smartphone bouncing around in your pocket.

Now you can ditch the phone and head out for your run with just a watch! Dont’ be fooled, these running watches with music aren’t just mp3 players strapped to your wrist. These are high-tech little machines that can track and improve your running in several ways. Check out our list of the best running watches with music.  

Top Three
IMAGEPRODUCTDETAILS
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
  • Stores up to 1,000 songs.
  • 6-12hrs of GPS and music playback time.
  • Endless training features.
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Forerunner 945
  • Up to 10 hours GPS and music playback.
  • Track your Vo2 Max.
  • Ability to track metrics from various types of sports.
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Fitbit Versa 2
  • Stores up to 300 songs.
  • Tracks heart rate and distance.
  • Great value for the price.
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15 Best Running Watches with Music

1. Garmin Fenix 6 Pro – Best for Running

If price is no object for you, and you want to milk your running watch for all it’s worth, the Fenix 6 Pro is for you. This thing is a powerhouse of advanced features.  It comes with 32GB of map storage, and holds up to 1000 songs. You can even download and play songs from Spotify and other music services to play without your phone.

The robust GPS feature perfectly complements the on-board map functions which extend far beyond just running maps. It comes with maps from 2000 ski resorts around the world. You can also use it as a guide when on the golf course and it’ll give you tips about each hole.

It has a long battery life of eight-twelve hours while using GPS and music. This is supplemented by its ability to use solar power to help increase the battery life. Stay safe with its safety tracking features. If your watch senses that an incident occurred, it can send your location to your emergency contacts.

One Garmin Fenix 6 Pro owner commented: “I’ve had other Garmins but this is the absolute best, the range of functions and ease of use make it practical and useful.”

Features: Rugged Construction, GPS, 1,000 songs and so many training features we can’t list them all here.

Pros

  • All the features you could ever dream of and more!
  • Good battery life
  • Plenty of storage
  • Rugged durability

Cons

  • Expensive (If you have the money, this isn’t a con)

2. Garmin Forerunner 945 – Best for Triathlons

The Forerunner 945 is great if you want to accurately track your performance across a wide range of sports. Garmin engineered this one with triathletes in mind, so you can be sure it will have everything you need for your training.  

Just like the Fenix 6 Pro, it has space for 1,000 of your favorite race-day songs and up to 10 hours of battery life ready for your longest runs, swims or rides.  Don’t worry about not being able to see the screen and control the watch while gasping for breath. Its full-color screen protected by Gorilla Glass, combined with the physical buttons on the outside make it easy to see and control.

Track more performance metrics than ever before! The Forerunner 945 will give you real-time updates on your Vo2 max, training status and performance condition thanks to sensors like its Pulse Ox Sensor and the Body Battery Energy Monitor. When combined with the Garmin Running Dynamics Pod, you can track advanced running metrics like your cadence, balance, stride length and ground contact time.

One Garmin Forerunner 945 owner commented: “Best watch ever for runners and a potential life-saver.”

Features: Up to 10hrs battery life, track your Vo2 max, advanced performance monitoring features. 

Pros

  • Track advanced training performance for any competitive sport 
  • Good battery life
  • Large, full-color screen

Cons

  • Expensive (As we said before, this may not matter for some of you)

3. Fitbit Versa 2 – Best Value

If you don’t need all the fancy features of our first two options and are looking for some simple tracking and phone-free music capabilities, the Fitbit Versa 2 is a good option.  It easily tracks basic metrics like the number of steps and distance traveled based on sensors other than GPS. This can still give you a good idea of how far and fast you ran.

The Versa 2 has enough onboard storage for 300 of your favorite running songs. Although that’s not as much as the first two watches, you’ll have to be a pretty serious runner to make it through all 300 in one run. The combination of these features along with the great price makes the Fitbit Versa 2 our pick for the best value.

One Fitbit Versa 2 owner commented:  “If you are looking for a fitness tracker that has incredible battery life, a fantastic app, and sleep tracking there is no better product on the market.” You may also like our guide on the best fitness tracker for women reviews.

Features: Heart rate, steps and distance trackers, 6-day battery life, Amazon Alexa, 300 song capacity.

Pros

  • 300 song capacity for phone-free music
  • Tracks your heart rate, steps, and distance
  • Plays music without your phone
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Lacks GPS and advanced tracking features. May not be the best for serious athletes

4. Garmin Venu – A Good Mix of Value, Features, and Style

Some of the running watches we feature on our may appear to be a bit “clunky”. The bright and beautiful Garmin Venu gives you advanced running features in a stylish frame that you’ll want to wear even when out with your friends. Choose from several sleek color combinations like dark grey and silver or tan and rose gold.

Don’t be fooled by its pretty face. This running watch packs a punch! You get onboard GPS, a Pulse Ox sensor, Body Battery energy monitoring and an onboard Garmin running coach to help you get the most out of your training.

One Garmin Venu owner commented: “Perfect combo of smartwatch and running watch.”

Features: AMOLED display, Stylish Bezels, Advanced Running Features.

Pros

  • Up to 6 hours of battery life with GPS and music playback
  • Up to 500 songs of music storage
  • Tracks your heart rate, steps, and distance
  • Mid-Range Price

Cons

  • Slightly more expensive than your average smartwatch (But, it has a lot more features!)


5. Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music – 2nd Best Budget Option

It’s really amazing that Garmin can pack several modern features into this watch and still keep it at such a reasonable price. It gets even better if you use Verizon because the Vivoactive 3 has 4G connectivity on the Verizon network. Forget to download your Spotify playlist? No problem, just stream it. Don’t want to miss an important message? You’ll love the phone free messaging capabilities!

The integrated GPS will accurately track your runs, and along with sensors like its Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate monitor, you can monitor your fitness and exertion levels throughout your workout.

One Garmin Vivoactive 3 owner commented: “Almost a perfect smart sports watch with GPS.

Features: Garmin Chroma display, 4G connectivity, compatible with Spotify and other streaming services.

Pros

  • Great features at an amazing price
  • Compatible with some streaming services 
  • Up to 500 songs of music storage
  • 4G Connectivity with Verizon

Cons

  • 4hr battery life with GPS and music streaming over 4G is not as good as some others (But you can’t beat the price!)


6. Garmin Forerunner 245 Music – Mid-Range Features Without the Bulk

Tired of the bulky running watches? The Forerunner 245 can change your mind. Garmin packed some nice, runner-focused features into this watch while maintaining a sleek and lightweight design.  

The Pulse Ox sensor and the Garmin Coach can give you real-time feedback during your runs. Despite the lightweight design, it still sports some decent battery life at up to 6hrs while using the GPS and music playback functions. You may also like all the best Garmin running watch review guide.

Features: GPS, compatible with Garmin Running Pod, improved navigation features.

Pros

  • Sleek and lightweight design
  • Offline playback with services like Spotify 
  • Good navigation features
  • Mid-range price

Cons

  • Doesn’t track as many non-running activities

7. Fitbit Ionic- Best Running Watch for the Fitbit lover

The Ionic is a bit pricier than the Fitbit Versa 2, but it packs some extra features in its sleek body. The clean design and useful features, like the contactless payments, make it an exceptional watch not just for the run, but for everyday life.

You’ll benefit the most from the Fitbit Ionic if you wear it all the time. The 24/7 health tracking features can give you valuable insights about your health in general, and your runs.

One Fitbit Ionic owner commented: “You’ll love the Ionic if you’re a runner, swimmer or generally enjoy tracking your fitness closely.” 

Features: Stream Pandora offline, contactless payments, waterproof.

Pros

  • Built-in GPS
  • 10 hour battery life with GPS
  • 300 song storage
  • Gorilla Glass 3 screen

Cons

  • Limited amount of compatible apps

8. Apple Watch Series 5- Best Normal Smartwatch

Although the Apple Watch isn’t designed primarily as a fitness or running watch, it’s including extra features that can be beneficial for the casual runner. It works great if you’re already used to the Apple product ecosystem.  

Apple has a good selection of running and fitness apps. Some, for example, can track your running pace and give you a slight vibration if you’re going too fast or slow.

One Apple Watch Series 5 owner commented: “Went on a run and left the phone home with no issues.”

Features: Water-resistant to 50 meters, Built-in GPS, Great no-phone features.

Pros

  • Built-in GPS
  • Make calls and take messages without your phone
  • Stream music from your watch
  • Good selection of fitness apps

Cons

  • Battery life could be better

9. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2

The Galaxy Watch Active2 is designed for someone who is, well… active. It includes an average range of premium smartphone features while including plenty of apps for the fitness enthusiast.

Trying to keep your heart rate in an optimum range while running? The Galaxy Watch Active2 will automatically alert you if it detects a high or low heart rate.

One Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 owner commented: “As someone who was a past Fitbit versa user as well as an apple user, this has to be my favorite.”

Features: Heart health monitoring, lightweight design, option for LTE connectivity.

Pros

  • Light and sleek design with fun color options
  • Option for LTE connectivity
  • Built-in GPS

Cons

  • 4GB of onboard storage is less than many others at this price range (It still gives you about 5 marathons worth of music.)

10. Garmin Forerunner 645 Music

The Forerunner 645 Music is a solid mid-range Garmin running watch. It doesn’t quite have all the bells and whistles of the Forerunner 945. But it’s made to get the job done with the built-in GPS, durable construction and ability to create multiple training profiles. It’s compatible with the Garmin Running Pod if you want to track even more detailed metrics from your runs.

One Garmin Forerunner 645 owner commented: “I’ve been wearing the Garmin Forerunner 645M for about a week now and love it! I’ve only gotten three runs in, but was very impressed with the GPS tracking.”

Features: GPS, Multiple activity profiles for different sports, bright display.

Pros

  • Built-in GPS
  • Sleek design
  • Can be paired with Garmin’s Running Pod for enhanced tracking
  • Stores up to 500 songs

Cons

  • Only 5 hours of battery life with GPS and music playback (Not bad, but could be better.)

11. Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle 

The Gen 5 Carlyle is a decent all-around smartwatch that is designed for someone with an active lifestyle. The built-in GPS and 8GB of storage for your songs make it a trusty companion for your runs.

The built-in microphone and Google assistant allow you to control some features by talking, instead of fumbling with the touch-screen while running.

One Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle owner commented: “I’ve tried the activity tracker both in the pool and while running and it is a huge asset. The set-up was easy.” If you have children you may also like the best kids activity tracker reviews.

Features: Google’s Wear OS, Swimproof, 8GB storage for several hundred songs.

Pros

  • Built-in GPS
  • Google assistant + Speaker
  • Store and play several hundred songs right from the watch
  • Fast charging

Cons

  • Not as many specific running features as some of the Garmin watches

12. Amazfit Verge

The Amazfit brand is new to the smartwatch space and is owned by the phone company Huami. It offers some impressive features like GPS tracking, 4gb of phone storage, phone-free music playback, and heart-rate tracking, all at an impressive price tag. Time will tell more about the quality and reliability of this new brand of fitness watches.

One Amazfit Verge owner commented: “Well worth the price, very easy to set up.”

Features: GPS tracking, Sleek design, AMOLED screen.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • The battery can last for days (without GPS)
  • Comes with Amazon Alexa built-in
  • Nice AMOLED display

Cons

  • Not much compatibility with 3rd party streaming apps (You can still transfer music to your watch’s memory and play it from there.)

13. Ticwatch Pro 4G/LTE

TheTicwatch brand is gaining popularity and plenty of good reviews. Android Central even ranks some of its models as the best affordable android watches.  The Ticwatch Pro with 4G/LTE capabilities is a premium choice.  

The built-in GPS and Google’s Wear OS give you plenty of options to track your runs and other fitness activities while listening to the music you have stored on your watch. The great thing is these impressive features don’t come with a hefty price tag.

One Ticwatch Pro 4G/LTE owner commented: “After having this for a few months I am still satisfied and would recommend it.”

Features: Google’s Wear OS, Swimproof, NFC payment-enabled, stream music with 4G.

Pros

  • Gorilla Glass anti-fingerprint face
  • Dual-layered AMOLED/LCD screens
  • 4G capability for Verizon users
  • Ready for swimming

Cons

  • Non-removable SIM (If you’re buying it to use with Verizon’s 4G/LTE network, that’s not a problem.)

14. Ticwatch S2

Here’s another great option from the up and coming smartwatch brand Ticwatch. Although it’s a little cheaper than the previously mentioned Ticwatch Pro, it contains some impressive features like built-in GPS, Google’s Wear OS and military-grade durability.

One Ticwatch Pro 4G/LTE owner commented: “Nice looking and very lightweight watch with great sports tracking ability.”

Features: Google’s Wear OS, Swim-ready, built-in GPS.

Pros

  • Military-grade durability (Anti-shock, dustproof, etc.)
  • Swim-ready water resistance
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon processor

Cons

  • Non-removable SIM (If you’re buying it to use with Verizon’s 4G/LTE network, that’s not a problem.)

15. HUAWEI Watch GT 2

The Watch GT 2 is a decent mid-range smartwatch from the Chinese smartphone maker. It includes a unique coaching app that can help you while you run by providing real-time feedback on things like your Vo2 max, pace, and heartbeat. 

One HUAWEI Watch GT2 owner commented: “It runs well!”

Features: Google’s Wear OS, Swimproof, 8GB storage for several hundred songs.

Pros

  • Built-in GPS
  • 2-week battery life (without GPS enabled)
  • On-board fitness coaching
  • Storage for up to 500 songs

Cons

  • No third-party apps

Running Watches with Music Buyer’s Guide

Maybe you’re wondering, “Can’t I just buy a normal smartwatch?” That’s a great question, and it’s true, some normal smartwatches can work on your runs. In fact, I’ll even include some of the running-appropriate smartwatches on our list. 

But, if you’re a serious runner or simply a fitness geek (like me), then you’ll love having tons of extra features and sensors to monitor more than just your heart rate and number of steps. Smartwatches designed specifically for running have those features. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a good running watch with music.

  • Phone free functions
  • GPS
  • Storage space
  • Battery life
  • Brand
  • Customer feedback

Phone free functions

There’s nothing more annoying than being on a run with your phone bouncing around in your pocket. I’m sure your phone isn’t happy with it either. Then you might try the arm strap phone holster. That’s a little better, but after a while, it starts to slide down your arm and it’s inconvenient to switch songs while you’re running. You’ll usually end up accidentally calling your uncle Francis, and then you have to explain why you’re so out of breath. (I swear I’m not speaking from personal experience.) 

That’s the joy of having a running watch with built-in music, you don’t have to worry about bringing your phone. Leave it at home to rest, it’s been bounced around enough or even just running on a treadmill. We did a recent guide on the best treadmill running shoes. They’re pretty good reviews if you are into treadmill running.

Be sure to confirm this functionality when looking for a good running watch with music. If the description says something like, “Play Spotify from your watch,” make sure your watch doesn’t need to be connected to a smartphone to do this. Look for things like onboard storage for a certain amount of songs or “offline playback” features. 

Many smartwatches use Google’s Wear OS (operating system). Although many of these watches will only allow you to play songs from Spotify through your phone, you can download the Google Play Music app. The app can then access or help you download music playlists to your watch that you can then play while running. That way you can get up for your early morning run while giving your phone a little extra snooze-time.

GPS

Some of the less expensive watches say they can track your speed and distance while walking or running. Most do this through a combination of sensors, which count your steps and calculate your speed. This works ok for simple fitness tracking, but it doesn’t always provide the most accurate readings.

The average smartwatch gets GPS readings from your phone and can do a better job at tracking and mapping your runs. But if you run without your phone, then you’ll lose this functionality.

That’s why the best running watches have a built-in GPS. If you want to get the most out of your watch, you’ll need to get one that has its own GPS. It will more accurately track your speed and will be able to map your run or even give you directions if you’re running in an unfamiliar area. You may also like the best running watch without music that are budget-friendly.

Storage space

Since you don’t want to be tied to your phone, you should make sure your running watch has sufficient storage space. You’d hate to have to hit repeat on your music playlist halfway through your run. You’ll also want enough space for a good variety of music, so you can adjust your playlist to the type of run you’re doing that day: Slow and mellow for long-distance, fast tempo techno for the speed runs or some classic metal for hill climbs.

Having sufficient storage space helps with other functionalities as well. It can store more offline maps, so while running in an unfamiliar area, you’re sure to never get off course. 

Battery life

The average smartwatch has a battery life of one to two days. When you add GPS and music playback through Bluetooth, that battery life will be greatly reduced.

So pay attention to the different battery life calculations depending on the functions being used. A cheaper running watch will probably only have a few hours of battery life while using GPS and playing music. Imagine if you went for a long run and didn’t have your watch fully charged. Your music could cut out or even worse, you could get lost if you were relying on the directions your watch was giving you.

The best options on our list have around eight to twelve hours of battery life while using GPS and playing music. That should be plenty of time for you to go for a run, unless you’re planning on doing some ultra marathons.

Brand

Do any search online and you’ll quickly realize that Garmin is the ultimate brand for adventure and fitness smartwatches. They have almost 20 options of smartwatches, which are specifically designed for runners. As you’ll see, many of the options we review are Garmin. Their rugged durability and advanced features for the adventurous athlete are unmatched. You may also like our recent guide on the best workout gym shoes.

It’s true there are plenty of other good smartwatches and fitness tracking brands, but few compare to Garmin’s advanced features designed specifically for athletes. Some of the main smartwatch brands like Samsung or Apple are constantly adding new functionalities and apps that can help you during your runs. You might also want to visit our page on the best manual treadmill review guide.

Customer feedback

When buying something as expensive as a running watch, it’s always a good idea to look at feedback from other customers. You’ll always find a bad review or two, even for the best products, but try to look for a common thread among the reviews.  

For example…

  • Do many people mention Bluetooth connectivity issues?
  • Are people saying that the battery life isn’t as good as advertised?
  • Are folks reporting that the watch is uncomfortable?
  • Do many say the GPS cuts in and out?

You get the idea. Cautiously reviewing what other people have said is a great way to make sure you’re making the right purchase. In our review for each watch, we’ll be sure to include some comments from real customers like you.

Keep reading to check out more in-depth information about our choices for the Top 15 running watches with music.


Final Thoughts on the Best Running Watches with Music

You’ve got plenty of good options if you’re looking for a running watch with music playback capabilities, from the Garmin Fenix 6 PRO powerhouse to the budget-friendly FitBit Versa 2. Find the best one for you and soon you’ll be running faster, farther and better than ever, thanks to your new running watch with music.


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Austin Mills

Austin Mills in an outdoor enthusiast. He's been featured on some of the top outdoor & fitness blogs sharing his expertise in order to help others. In his free time, he likes spending time with his dogs enjoying the outdoors.

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