New Balance RunIQ Smartwatch Review: Not a Good Running Partner

March 25, 2017 - running watch

My initial GPS-enabled watch was a New Balance Runner 1K2. Like other early-model GPS watches, a Runner 1K2 took a prolonged time to find a signal, generally on pale days, and it couldn’t sync with a smartphone or a third-party website to store and lane run data. About 5 years later, New Balance is behind with a $299 RunIQ watch, a fitness-centric Android Wear smartwatch that boasts GPS, smartphone notifications and a heart-rate monitor.

But newer isn’t always better. My aged arguable 1K2 watch displayed distance, gait and elapsed time in genuine time as we ran, it stored information for adult to 30 runs during a time and a battery lasted days between charges. The RunIQ doesn’t do any of those things, that means we should check out other GPS regulating watches on a best-picks list.


With 3 buttons along a right side and a replaceable 22-millimeter (0.87 inches) silicone band, a RunIQ looks like a regulating watch. Measuring 45 mm (1.78 inches) opposite and weighing some-more than 2.6 ounces, it feels like a regulating watch, too.

Credit: Mike Prospero/Tom's GuideCredit: Mike Prospero/Tom’s GuideThe RunIQ fits comfortably, though, since a visual heart-rate guard (HRM) is embedded in a watch and doesn’t hang into your wrist. That’s a step adult from a Polar M600, where a HRM sticks out utterly a bit and a watch slides around on your wrist during a workout.

The tip symbol on a RunIQ starts or pauses a run, a bottom symbol starts a new lap, and a center symbol is a categorical on and behind button. The RunIQ offers a hold screen, that is roughly a must-have for smartwatches today. The controls are straightforward: You appropriate right to open a categorical menu, adult to open notifications and left to boot notifications. The shade can be unresponsive, though; on some-more than one occasion, we indispensable to press a shade several times to start a run.

Credit: New BalanceCredit: New Balance

The watch is water-resistant to 5 ATM, definition it will withstand a remarkable surge and is suitable for holding into a pool, nonetheless a RunIQ does not lane swimming.

Setup and Apps

The RunIQ runs Android Wear OS, that is concordant with Android smartphones regulating chronicle 4.3 or aloft of a mobile handling system. The RunIQ is also one of a handful of watches that will run Android Wear 2.0, nonetheless a timing of a refurbish has nonetheless to be announced.

I tested a RunIQ with a 16GB Samsung Galaxy S5. The watch is also concordant with a iPhone, yet this boundary a smartwatch capabilities.

The setup involves charging a watch, downloading Android Wear onto your phone, pairing a watch with your phone, and downloading dual smartphone apps: MyNB and Strava. 

MORE: Best Fitness Trackers for Running, Swimming and Training

MyNB will conduct a simple settings of a watch, such as your watch face and your song playlists. It will also bond we to internal New Balance stores and their dependent regulating groups, and shows we educational articles on post-run liberation and cross-training. As we use a app, we acquire points that we can redeem for New Balance merchandise.

Credit: Mike Prospero/Tom's GuideCredit: Mike Prospero/Tom’s GuideMostly, though, MyNB seems to be a selling app for New Balance boots and apparel; once my watch settings were right, we stopped regulating a app.

Strava, on a other hand, will conduct all of your run data. Watchmakers such as Epson and Polar could learn a doctrine here and throw their feeble designed exclusive apps for an determined app with a vast user bottom and a good interface. Strava formation also allows iPhone users to lane their runs.  

However, if we rest usually on Strava to save your run data, you’ll need to use dual apps with a RunIQ. What’s worse, we can’t get to your Strava comment from a MyNB app. This creates for a treacherous user experience.

Daily Use

When interconnected with Android Wear, a RunIQ behaves many like a Polar M600 and a Moto 360 Sport. You can accept all of your smartphone notifications — content message, email, amicable media, events and even work apps such as Slack — on a watch itself. The watch is Wi-Fi-enabled, so we can accept notifications when your smartphone is out of Bluetooth range, nonetheless this underline will automatically close off if a watch battery gets too low.

MORE: Fitness Tracker Buying Guide

Through Google Now, we can use voice commands to respond to messages. (Apple users can accept notifications on a RunIQ yet can't respond to them.) Verizon business can also implement a smartphone app that pairs a RunIQ with their Verizon account. Finally, we can use a RunIQ to trigger a phone call on your smartphone. Overall, a RunIQ’s smartwatch facilities work smoothly, that is what we would design from an Android Wear watch.

Running Use

The routine of starting a run on a RunIQ is straightforward. You daub a arrangement once, and afterwards daub a activity idol and wait for a watch to find a GPS signal. Once we get a signal, we usually daub a shade one some-more time and go. The RunIQ marks usually runs or bicycle rides, that is distant fewer activity forms than a Polar M600 or a Moto Sport 360 can track.

Credit: New BalanceCredit: New Balance

Android Wear does let we supplement additional aptness apps, yet really few of these lane additional activities, such as swimming or skiing.

One morning, we grabbed a watch from my nightstand, and it had somehow logged about 350 stairs in a center of a night even nonetheless we didn’t wear a watch to sleep.

Through a MyNB app, a RunIQ pairs with Google Play Music, that allows we to control your playlists and store adult to 50 hours of song on a watch itself. For another $110, we can get NB PaceIQ Earbuds, that are New Balance-branded Jabra headphones that confederate with RunIQ.

Nevertheless, a RunIQ is a bad regulating watch. There are several reasons why.

  • Kilometers are a default section on a watch, and we change this not by a watch settings on MyNB yet by a Strava settings on a watch. (Oddly, my run distances showed adult as miles in Strava before we altered a units on my watch.)
  • You can see a RunIQ watch face during emergence or dusk, yet on a default liughtness environment (2 out of 5), it’s hardly manifest in approach sunlight. If we wish to see anything, we need to daub a shade or shake your wrist. Admittedly, a Polar M600 is a same way; this smirch is common to Android Wear watches.  
  • The watch will quiver during each kilometer, yet a arrangement will be illuminated for usually a few seconds, and a RunIQ will not yield any additional info — no heart rate, elapsed time or even a separate time. (Again, my splits, totalled per mile, showed adult in Strava.)
  • The categorical shade of a RunIQ displays time, stretch and gait — yet this information isn’t updated in genuine time. If we wish to see it, we need to shake your wrist. If we don’t, a watch updates a information each 60 seconds. If we guard your gait regularly, or we do brief interlude workouts, a watch isn’t during all useful.
  • Although a watch will calculate and arrangement heart-rate data, intonation and path information while we run, we need to appropriate on a watch face to see that information. You also need to appropriate 3 times and afterwards press a Lap symbol to start a new lap. This is clumsy, if not unsafe.
  • Even nonetheless a watch gathers heart-rate and intonation data, it isn’t enclosed in a outline information that appears during a finish of a run. Instead, we see usually distance, time and pace. The Polar M600 (or flattering many each other regulating watch, for that matter), by contrast, does uncover a heart-rate and intonation data.

On tip of all that, a RunIQ step opposite wasn’t really accurate in my tests. One morning, we grabbed a watch from my nightstand, and it had somehow logged about 350 stairs in a center of a night even nonetheless we didn’t wear a watch to sleep. On another occasion, a step opposite did not reset during midnight. In my time contrast scarcely a dozen watches and aptness trackers, that has never happened to me. However, a association deputy pronounced this bug was bound with a program update.

As with many wrist-based heart-rate monitors, a HRM in a RunIQ valid reduction accurate than a chest-strap Polar H7. On a 7-mile run, a H7 totalled an normal heart rate of 148 beats per notation and a limit heart rate of 171 bps, compared with an normal of 139 bpm and a limit of 184 bpm on a RunIQ. The reason? At a series of points during a run including during dual of my fastest miles and while we was regulating adult a mountain with a 7 percent class a RunIQ totalled a heart rate of reduction than 90 beats per minute, that brought a altogether normal down.

Battery Life

According to New Balance, a RunIQ’s 410-mAh battery can final about 24 hours with customary use and 5 hours with continual use (GPS and HRM).

After putting a entirely charged watch on initial thing in a morning, wearing it all day with all notifications on, and going for a 40-minute run, a battery was next 20 percent during bedtime, that is broadly unchanging with a manufacturer’s specs. Considering that a watch doesn’t lane sleep, holding it off and charging it each night substantially wouldn’t be a large deal.

The RunIQ needs about 90 mins to come to a full charge. A magnet in a charging cradle keeps a watch in place and lets we set a watch on a prosaic aspect while it’s charging. The cradle uses a customary Android USB cord, that means a same cord that charges your phone or inscription can also assign a watch.

Bottom Line

The RunIQ is branded as an “innovative collaboration” among Android Wear, mechanism chipmaker Intel, and Strava, yet it falls distant brief of those high expectations. It offers a same customary smartwatch facilities as a Polar M600 and a Moto 360 Sport, usually with a some-more treacherous user knowledge and inexplicably bad regulating features.

Credit: Mike Prospero/Tom's GuideCredit: Mike Prospero/Tom’s GuideAfter wearing a RunIQ for a integrate of days, we missed my aged 1K2. Sure, that watch couldn’t uncover me content messages or amicable media notifications, yet it would during slightest tell me my gait whenever we looked during it. we can’t contend a same for a RunIQ. Although they don’t embody  all of a smartwatch facilities in a RunIQ, a TomTom Spark 3 Cardio and a Garmin Forerunner 235 are improved options for athletes; both of those inclination lane some-more activities, have improved apps and final longer on a charge..

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