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The 4 best cheap running watches

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It’s no secret that running has a wealth of benefits. In fact, studies show that just 10 minutes of moderate-intensity running can enhance memory skills, mood, and self-control. The best cheap running watches help you take your workout to the next level by keeping track of basic metrics like distance, heart rate, and time. For a little more money, some have enhanced features, including built-in Alexa and GPS functionality, or vibrating prompts that notify you of running goals and milestones.

When it comes to the best inexpensive running watches, your choice will ultimately depend on a balance of which features are most important to you, and how much money you’re willing to spend. For example, a more upgraded watch with voice activation capabilities will allow you to set timers, check the weather, and control music, all with verbal commands — helpful if you don’t want to break your cadence in order to make an adjustment on your watch. GPS technology is almost always a great feature to have, as you can view a map of your route on a connected smartphone and get a more accurate distance measurement. And since you might want to pump yourself up with tunes while running, a watch with built-in music controls will help you adjust the volume and switch tracks without having to pull your smartphone out of your pocket. Last, certain watches designed for runners will have highly specific features, like vibrating notifications that alert you when you’ve completed a mile or reached a pacing goal.

Of course, upgraded features tend to result in a pricier watch, so if you’re looking for something as budget-friendly as possible, opt for a simple sports watch with more basic functionality. Although you’ll forego some high-tech upgrades, you’ll still get features like a chronograph, a countdown timer, and lap memory. (Not to mention, a conventional sports watch — unlike a smart watch — doesn’t need to be recharged every few days.)

Below, you’ll find the best cheap running watches that will help you reach your fitness goals — and most of them are under $75.

1. The best bang for your buck

  • Pros: built-in Alexa, GPS, 60+ sports modes, water-resistant up to 50 meters, SpO2 sensor
  • Cons: less consistent reviewer ratings
  • The hype: 4.2-star overall Amazon rating, 7,900+ reviews

All things considered, the Amazfit BipU Pro smartwatch offers a lot of bang for your buck, and it just might be one of the best value running watches out there. Complete with built-in Alexa technology, the watch allows you to use simple voice commands to check the weather, set timers, or toggle between settings, without having to stop mid-stride to make any adjustments on your wrist.

The watch’s built-in GPS allows you to track your route, and when connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth, you can receive text and call notifications, as well as control music right there on your wrist. You’ll have access to more than 60 sport modes — the most on this list by far — as well as information on heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and sleep quality. To sum it up, this is a great mid-range pick with an impressive number of helpful features — it just has a slightly lower overall rating on Amazon than some other options on the list.

According to a reviewer: “Amazing battery life, bought this mainly for running, the accuracy of the GPS is great, I have measured side by side with different cellphones and the distance recorded is the same. [...] If your goal is to track your runs and/or your heart rate during other type of exercises, this is an excellent device to start with.”

  • Available colors: 3

2. The best budget smart watch

  • Pros: budget-friendly, built-in Alexa, 20 sports modes, water-resistant up to 50 meters, SpO2 sensor
  • Cons: no GPS
  • The hype: 4.2-star overall Amazon rating, 2,000+ reviews

On the lower end of the smart watch price range, we have this great little model from TOZO. It has built-in Alexa technology for voice control, and like the other smart options on this list, it can track stats like your heart rate, distance traveled, blood oxygen levels, and sleep patterns. However, there is no GPS feature, a significant drawback which may be a dealbreaker for anyone wanting to map their route or get highly accurate distance tracking. That being said, when connected to your phone via Bluetooth, you can toggle between 20 different sport modes, switch between songs, and receive text and phone notifications.

This watch is also water-resistant up to 50 meters, so you don’t have to worry about sweat or other moisture affecting the watch’s performance. If you don’t mind sacrificing GPS, this is a solid option at an extremely budget-minded price point.

According to a reviewer: “Smart watches are usually extremely expensive, but this TOZO watch proves you can have a great watch at an excellent price. I use it to track steps, workouts, [heart rate] -- all while listening to music -- and it does the job!!! I especially love using it for running instead of having to carry my phone around. Sleek design, perfect size, easy to use, and amazing price - honestly if you need a basic smartwatch, this is the one.”

  • Available colors: 3

3. The best no-frills sports watch

  • Pros: budget-friendly, simple design, doesn’t need to be recharged, countdown timer, calendar, 30-lap memory, water-resistant up to 100 meters
  • Cons: no upgraded functionality like Alexa, GPS, heart rate monitoring, SpO2 sensor, or sleep tracking
  • The hype: 4.6-star overall Amazon rating, 12,000+ reviews

For those who don’t need the extra functionality of a smart watch, this sports watch from Timex is a trusted classic that will give you years of use. It doesn’t have a touch screen, Alexa, or GPS technology, but it still does the all-important job of tracking your progress while running — and for some people, that may be what counts most. The watch has a countdown timer, calendar, 30-lap memory, and chronograph, all of which can be read easily on the digital screen. And since it’s not a smart watch, you don’t have to worry about recharging it every few days (according to multiple reviewers, the battery lasts for at least five years).

The durable design is water-resistant up to 100 meters, so you can wear it while swimming or in rainy weather. Finally, the Indiglo watch face makes it easy to read in low-light conditions, even if it is slightly less visible than a touch screen. While it doesn’t have the bells and whistles of the smart watches on this list, the simplicity of this pick is perhaps its biggest asset.

According to a reviewer: “I became more serious about training and wanted to track my pace and progress when running. This is the only time I wear a watch and appreciate the very light feel and simple ease of use. One click of the mode and another click on the start/split button and it's time to go. The light works well as well when needed. The cost and simplicity made this an easy choice. Highly recommended.”

  • Available colors: 13

4. The best watch under $150

  • Pros: designed specifically for runners, GPS, running progress notifications, water-resistant up to 50 meters
  • Cons: no Alexa, no SpO2 sensor, limited sports modes
  • The hype: 4.6-star overall Amazon rating, 13,000+ reviews

If you’re willing to spend a bit more money while still staying within a relatively reasonable price range, this smartwatch from Garmin is an excellent choice that’s earned a great reputation with reviewers. It’s designed with runners in mind, so you’ll find some top-notch features, including a built-in GPS and helpful vibration alerts that notify you of running prompts, miles completed, and pacing progress. When connected to your phone via Bluetooth, the watch notifies you of calls and texts, and allows you to control music streaming on your device. You’ll also be able to see GPS mapping and more in-depth running metrics when using the Garmin app.

Like most smart sports watches, this pick offers insight on basic metrics like sleep and heart rate, but there’s no SpO2 sensor for monitoring blood oxygen levels. Besides running, it has options for cardio and cycling, but note that this pick is less versatile if you’re looking for something with multiple sports modes to track activities like hiking, swimming, or yoga. Last, it’s water-resistant up to 50 meters, so you can wear it while swimming.

According to a reviewer: “Training for a marathon. It's fantastic. I get continuous distance and time reading and, every mile with a vibration, my minutes for that mile. I can also save each run's results (again, by mile). Absolutely love it.”

  • Available colors: 4
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