A smartphone isn’t always the perfect running partner. It requires the use of (probably sweaty) hands to operate a touchscreen and, if you’re like me, you have to stop running to do so.
The Magellan Echo watch ($150) makes running with a phone easier by acting as an interface for iOS running apps.
The watch displays your iPhone’s fitness data in realtime using Bluetooth technology. It is not a GPS watch, but rather a remote control for the fitness app running on your phone.
(Just make sure the phone you’re using is an iPhone 4S or newer; it doesn’t work with Android yet, but the brand says that is coming in the near future.)
I’ve been using the Echo for about three months now, paired with my iPhone 4s. Once connected, I start up Strava on my phone, find the watch via a Bluetooth connection, press the start button, and take off out the door.
Using Echo I could easily see my time and pace, which made crushing Strava segments much easier. With the buttons on the side of the watch, I could start, stop and lap my run, as well as pause and skip the music I was playing.
In addition to the watch, Magellan sells a Bluetooth chest strap to monitor heart rate. This strap can be bought separately or as a package with the watch.
If you’re not addicted to Strava like I am, the watch also works with Wahoo Fitness, ISmoothRun, and MapMyRun.
Beyond running, the Echo works for a number of activities such as hiking, swimming and golf. You’ll have to check the brand’s website to make sure your app is supported beforehand.
When not in workout mode the Echo serves as an everyday watch, displaying time, date and a weekly distance summary. It weighs 1.5 ounces and is more comfortable to wear than some of my other, larger GPS watches.
Since it doesn’t have GPS, the Echo has an exceptional battery life. It uses a cell battery that the brand claims will last for six months or more with regular use. I have yet to change the battery in mine even after using the watch for three months.
While I don’t always run with a phone, the Echo makes it much easier to do so. I like that I can just throw my phone in a pocket and not have to fumble with it during a workout. The watch is available now for $200 with a heart rate strap, or $150 without. — Amy Oberbroeckling is an Assistant Editor at GearJunkie.com