LG Watch Sport Tracks Inaccurate GPS and Heart Rate Data on Runs: Test, Review, and Conclusion

Testing the LG Watch Sport against my benchmark running watch, the Garmin Forerunner 235 the first time, revealed disappointing results.  To eliminate possible confounding factors, I tested the two watches several more times.  Here are the results.

The second time I ran with the watches, I adjusted them both to an appropriate tension on my wrists, so that the heart rate monitor would function correctly.  On the LG Watch Sport, I used the built-in Google Fit app.  A drawback of that app is that I cannot export the GPS and heart rate data. Below are the results.

The Google Fit run tracking results are abysmal.
The Google Fit run tracking results on the LG Watch Sport are abysmal.

As you can see, the LG Watch Sport lost GPS a minute or so after I started the run, and that was after I waited in an open area for several minutes for the watch to acquire a GPS signal.  Also, again, the pace data varies wildly from 5:30-minute miles (I wish I ran that fast) to 30-minute miles (I definitely run faster than that).  Average heart rate is in the right ballpark at 167 BPM (the Forerunner reported an average of 172 BPM), but doesn’t show a graph.  Here’s the benchmark (Garmin Forerunner 235) result:

Garmin Forerunner 235 Tracking Results
The Garmin Forerunner 235 didn’t lose GPS signal and tracked pace much better than the LG Watch Sport.

The Garmin Forerunner 235 tracked GPS, pace, and heart rate more accurately.  The Forerunner also tracks cadence, which is an important running metric.

The next day, I attached the watches to both wrists as before and tried tracking on the LG Watch Sport using the Strava app.  Again:  failure.

LG Watch Sport Run Tracking with Strava App Results
Each lap shows inconsistent, wobbly GPS data on the LG Watch Sport.

Again, the GPS is all over the place and the heart rate is just wrong.  There is no cadence data.  Here is the same run tracked on the Garmin Forerunner 235:

Garmin Forerunner 235 Track on Strava Results
This is how the GPS track should look.

Again, the LG Watch Sport loses hands down.  The laps on this run are particularly revealing.  On the LG Watch Sport, the laps are disuniform and the track strays off course, over houses and fences.  The Garmin Forerunner 235, the champ, plots consistent, uniform tracks each lap.  That’s accurate.  The heart rate data on the Forerunner, while imperfect, is head and shoulders better than the data from the LG.

Conclusion

Disappointing, to be sure.  Though the Garmin Forerunner 235 lacks smartwatch features, it is an excellent running watch that I have relied on over hundreds of runs.  It’s like an old friend.  I was hoping that the LG Watch Sport could deliver the same accuracy as my Forerunner 235, and the terrific Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch features.  While the LG Watch Sport offers promising Android Wear features, it falls on its face with run tracking.

I think it must be the hardware.  I used several different run tracking apps and each failed in the same way.  My guess is that to include all of the hardware necessary for smartwatch processing power, it uses a compromised GPS and heart rate sensor.

Whatever the reason, I think it’s still too early to justify buying this watch.  The smartwatch features, like turning on lights through the watch, though convenient, are still a little buggy (granted, the software was just released).  And for athletes, the sports tracking feature simply isn’t accurate enough to offer useful data.

I’m anticipating the day comes when a smartwatch can offer both Android Wear 2.0 features and accurate activity tracking.  Until then, I’ll stick with the reigning champ, my Garmin Forerunner 235.

I hope you found this information useful.  Join me on Strava!