Before we begin, please take this review of the Apple Watch Nike+ as exactly what it is, my personal view and opinions on what I think is important in a running watch.
Although the watch is an all day activity tracker, full smart watch, mindfulness tool and suitable for other sports such as swimming, weight training and cycling, I will be focusing mainly on Running. As it is the exclusive Nike+ edition, I’ll be using the Nike+ Run Club app as the benchmark. I may miss things, I may leave bits out, but I’m still getting the hang of this tech review World.
I’ve been on two, relatively short runs with the Apple Watch Nike+ so far, and I can put my hand on my heart and make the claim that I think it is simply the best running watch on the market at the time of writing. BIG claim I know, but let me share some thoughts on the key elements which have struck me in the two days of having it.
The two biggest issues people have asked me about are GPS & Battery performance.
GPS: With this particular model, you can embed the Nike+ Run Club App directly into any watch face you like (even the Mickey or Minnie Mouse ones!). The Nike+ symbol will sit there until you feel like hitting some miles, it will even ask you if you want to go for a run! It’s all about motivation from Nike.
I was skeptical of the GPS as it’s a brand new feature in the Apple Watch, I’m always skeptical of accuracy and the most crucial part for me, being able to locate a signal quickly.
The Watch uses GPS & GLONASS which is pretty much the best tracking software you can get. When I set out for my run, I stood at the corner of my street, hit the Nike+ icon, hit start, got the 3 second count down and I was off. I couldn’t see if I had signal or if the watch was tracking my route? I panicked…
…I shouldn’t have!!
The accuracy is absolutely perfect, precise even. I’ve ran two 5K routes where I know exactly the half way point, and Nike+ was bang on. When I got back, it was instantly on my iPhone NRC App, with full route from first step to last. No gaps, nothing. Unreal performance. There are other training options available on the watch, and they use the same GPS function so you’d be safe on a bike or hike.
Battery: There has been a lot of negativity and skepticism about the Watch Nike+ battery life. My first impressions were pretty positive. It charges super quick, and on my first 5K run, I used 16% battery. Not great, but not a disaster.
For my second run, I updated WatchOS 3 and did the same 5K route. I used 6% battery!! 6%!! This was with Heart Rate & GPS firing!! Massive 10% improvement!!
Let me tell you, that’s better than some leading, running tech companies performance. Apple have done something very special with the battery performance in WatchOS 3!!
Based on my very non scientific calculations, you could expect around 10+ hours of running on a 100% battery charge with ALL metrics blazing. That is seriously impressive!!
These two MASSIVE functions in a serious running watch get a BIG ☑️ from me!!
In terms of running Metrics, there are two modes on the NRC app. Basic & Advanced.
Basic: You can expect to have Pace, Duration & Distance shown on screen.
Advanced: Expect to see Pace, Duration, Distance, Heart Rate & Clock Time on simply the highest quality resolution screen on any running watch. There is also Music and Pause Run function with a quick swipe left or right.
Let’s have a look at each area:
Pace: Absolutely spot on. Quite responsive in real time and lined up with increase and decrease of speeds.
Duration: No issues here, spot on. Lines up with pacing metrics. Works perfect with Auto Pause (below).
Distance: I’ve mentioned it above, the GPS tracking is insane. I’d go as far to say the best on the market for speed, efficiency and precision. I’ve never experienced such an effortless ride. No waiting around for a signal, and absolutely amasing accuracy!
Heart Rate: This is a big one for me. Using optical wrist based Heart Rate sensors can be tricky and sometimes inaccurate. On my second run, and after the WatchOS 3 update, the HR accuracy is absolutely awesome. I’ve tested it directly against my Garmin Forerunner 235. Exactly the same. I put a few walks and intense hills into the run to test the variance. I am relieved that the HR is so accurate and true to pacing and running conditions.
Auto Pause Run: This is a cool feature, and is scarily accurate and snappy. If you completely stop for between 1–2 seconds, the run will pause, showing all metrics. Once you start moving forward for 1–2 seconds, the run starts back up and picks up exactly where you left off. Another great feature is that there is no way of accidentally starting or ending a run as it’s all contained in the touch screen. Your Heart Rate is also aligned to signal the rest. Awesome.
Sharing to NRC: When the run is done, it’s a simple tap to share the run with your Nike+ Run Club App. No Bluetooth or pushing the data from other platforms, it’s right there on your Phone & Watch. Seamless.
Sharing to Partners: I don’t think you can share the run data to other partners (yet), like Garmin for instance. You can push Garmin data to NRC, but I don’t think it’s a two way street. I could be wrong, but that’s where I’m up to for now.
Music: You can connect the likes of Spotify & Apple Music. I don’t run with music myself, but the watch has 1GB of storage space for music so you can stream music direct. I know for sure when you start a run with your phone close, your playlist will kick in.
Water / Sweat: On my second run, I wore a jacket which I knew would get me sweating. I wanted to see how the watch reacted when my skin was wet and my fingers were slippery. Again, the watch stood up to this. The touchscreen was so slick and responsive even when wet!! Great for those rainy runs which we get a lot of in the UK.
Feel: I mentioned the aesthetic and design of the Apple Watch Nike+ in my ‘First Impressions’ review (go check it out). I genuinely forgot I had the watch on. The Nike+ band is super comfortable, super soft and disappears on the skin. With the optical heart rate, you may need a slightly tighter fit, but it honestly doesn’t impact on feel. You can genuinely feel the rush of air through the perforations when running, cooling the skin.
Smart watch: This review isn’t so much about the tonnes and tonnes of functions available on the Watch Nike+. There are too many to mention. But I will say that if you want an awesome smart watch with serious running & training capabilities, you won’t find a better model. You get everything an Watch Series 2 has, with the exclusive Nike+ infrastructure. It’s simply awesome for work and play!
I don’t think that the Apple Watch Nike+ is supposed to be a direct competitor to he likes of Garmin, Suunto, Polar, TomTom etc, I don’t think it was never intended to be.
I think Nike & Apple want to eliminate distractions and encourage motivation, and they’ve nailed it. They have listened for 10 years to their Millions of users, and come up with a programme that makes it easy to run and be active. No messing.
It’s not for performance athletes mind, you won’t get cadence or VO2 Max scores or any other deep dive metric you get on the likes of a Garmin.
What you absolutely do get, is a well thought out, sleak running partner.
Nike have talked about the Watch Nike+ being a ‘running partner’. I didn’t fully understand what they meant until now.
It will motivate you to go run or just be more active. It will allow you to track metrics that matter to the majority of runners. It will allow you to share your running journey. It will blow your mind!!
Now, I don’t work for Nike or Apple (people think I do). But, the second big question after “is it any good as a running watch?” Is …. “Should I buy one?”.
Let’s be honest. £369-£399 is a lot of money. It’s hurt my bank balance. But so did my Garmin, and my TomTom before that.
If you’re a performance athlete and you want to scrutinise over the seconds and marginal gains, I wouldn’t bother. You can spend near double on something else.
BUT, if you are a runner, who enjoys running for what it is, wants to track real progress, have a slick, responsive and intuitive running partner with you at all times, in all condition, then I would say, YES, invest in yourself. You won’t be disappointed! I’m certainly not!
This is simply the best running watch I’ve ever used, and I’ve had a few! Everything about it is unreal. make great products, but combined with the Nike+ interface, the Nike+ stealth fitness tracking, and Nike heritage, they’ve all been carefully inserted to present a serious smartwatch for runners and trainers alike.
In the words of Phil Knight, Bill Bowerman and Steve Prefontaine…
Watch | Nike+