Best running watch with music: Spotify, MP3 and more

Take control of your workout tunes and leave your smartphone at home
Best running watches with music
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The rise of running watches with built-in music playback means you can go for a run without taking your smartphone with you.

Whether you're looking for a Garmin watch with music, or a fitness smartwatch, the Wareable team has tested every device on the market.

Most of the Garmin sports watch range, and smartwatches such as the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, offer the ability to play music straight from the wrist.

Many running watches offer synced Spotify, Deezer or Apple Music playlists. And many more support the uploading of old MP3s.

Read on for our pick of the best running with with music options from our reviews.

Running watches with music key considerations:

Does it work with Spotify?

Many running watches and smartwatches support Spotify – and other streaming services. This means you can download playlists or individual tracks to listen to offline. Check that the watch supports your chosen service before you buy.

Remember, you'll generally need to be a Spotify Premium subscriber to offline sync to Garmin, Samsung and the Apple Watch.

Music controls or music player?

Most running watches with music features will offer the ability to control music that's playing on your phone – but that doesn't mean they can play music solo.

That can be from the phone's native music player or third party apps like Deezer and Spotify.

If there's a music player also onboard you'll have a portion of storage on the watch to use and need to connect Bluetooth headphones to stream music from the watch.

How to add music

If you're using MP3s then the method of getting tunes onto you watch will vary. Some require plugging the watch into a computer and dragging and dropping your own audio files to a folder on the watch. And there can be limitations on file formats and types.

Other watches will only allow you to sync music via the companion phone app, which means making sure that audio is on your phone already. That may mean connecting your phone to a computer first if that's where your audio lives before you can sync over.

Does it work with your phone?

It sounds like an obvious one but while many watches advertise having built-in music players, that doesn't mean they necessarily offer the ability to use that feature with your phone.

It can sometimes be the case that watches with music players are built to work for Android phones and not for iPhones despite being able to connect and use the other watch features on Apple's smartphone.

Huawei's watches for instance do not offer those music player features for iPhone users.

Battery life impacts

Streaming music from a watch will in general have a big impact on battery life. If you're planning to stream music while tracking runs, that's going to hit battery the hardest so pay attention to the battery numbers quoted when those two things are done together.

Best running watches with music

Our picks of our favorite running watches with music, based in our in-depth testing.

Garmin Forerunner 255 Music

Non-music: $349/£329 Music: $399/£379 | Garmin

Garmin Forerunner 255 Music

Garmin Forerunner 255 key features and specs

  • 500 songs
  • Spotify support and offline syncing (Premium required)
  • Deezer
  • iHeartRadio
  • 6.5 hours GPS with music
  • Stereo and mono listening modes
  • Offline playback supported

Probably the best all-out running watch with music we've tested – when you balance connectivity and price – the Forerunner 255 offers top-end features without a crazy price tag.

The Forerunner 255 Music enables you to store up to 500 songs, either via drag-and-drop from your library of MP3s, or offline synced Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music or iHeartRadio content. You simply pair your Bluetooth headphones and you’re away.

Pressing the Down button on the side of the watch (the button at the 7 o'clock position) gives you quick access to those music controls, and lets you do the basics like skip through tracks and change playlists.

If you're a Spotify Premium subscriber, you'll be able to transfer playlists to the device for that all-important offline support.

What's more, away from music we're big fans of the Forerunner 255 as a running watch. It offers Garmin's latest multi-band mode to improve outdoor tracking, a new race widget and morning report features. We also found the optical heart rate monitor performed well even at high intensity.

In short, the Forerunner 255 blends great running features, offline music playback at a price that's not absurdly expensive.

Read more: Garmin Forerunner 255 Music review

Apple Watch Series 7/Watch SE

Series7: $399/£369 (41mm) – $429/£399 (45mm) Amazon, Apple

SE: $279/£269 (40mm) - $309/£299 (44mm) | Amazon, Apple

Apple Watch series 7

Apple Watch key features and specs

  • 500 songs
  • Apple Music and Spotify offline syncing and LTE streaming on compatible models
  • Streaming and syncing with Podcasts app
  • Roughly three hours of GPS and music playback

The Apple Watch could pose as a a running watch in its own right – so don’t be fooled into thinking it’s all style and no substance.

The Series 7 might not offer a huge leap in change from the Series 6, but it does crucially still offer the ability to stream music while you're running – with Apple Music particularly well catered for.

The Workout app on the Apple Watch is pretty powerful, with customisable data screens that can even show live cadence when running, if you wish.

You won't get pages of data like a Garmin, but it’s no slouch when it comes to tracking your activities. Also, there are third-party apps for pretty much every running service – the Strava and Workoutdoors apps being notably good third party options.

So, what about music? In our testing we found it easy to make playlists in Apple Music and sync them to the Apple Watch quickly and easily – and it’s one of the most user friendly experiences in our list.

Apple Music subscribers rocking a cellular edition of the Apple Watch can stream music and podcasts directly from their watch.

For the Spotify app, you do now have the ability to stream your music over a cellular or a Wi-Fi connection and finally, you can store Spotify music and playlists for offline playback like you get on Garmin and Samsung watches.

There's also the Apple Watch Series SE $279.99, which features Apple's optical heart rate monitor, which we found is one of the most reliable for tracking effort levels during exercise from the wrist.

But we don't recommend the Apple Watch Series 3, which is now very dated and won't receive the new features in watchOS 9.

Tested and rated: Apple Watch Series 7 review | Apple Watch Series SE review

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

$279/£249 | Amazon, Best Buy

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 key features and specs

  • 16GB storage
  • Spotify and YouTube Music offline syncing and MP3
  • 40mm/44mm (Galaxy Watch 5) and 46mm (Galaxy Watch 5 Pro)
  • Offline playback supported

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 runs Wear OS – which means users can access Spotify and YouTube Music, which brings offline music support for Samsung's latest smartwatch.

Both apps enable you to stream music (over Wi-Fi or LTE), and download offline playlists from those streaming services onto the watch.

In in our review, it has been a solid performer as a fitness device as well. It might not match the supreme accuracy you'll enjoy on Garmin and Apple's watches, but we found it does good job overall of tracking your exercise – and is a good choice for Android smartphone users.

With Wear OS on board, you're also getting access to big third party apps that have been rebuilt for this new Wear OS and that includes Strava.

The Galaxy Watch 5 comes in 40mm and 44mm sizes, with an additional 46mm Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, which offers significantly better battery life and a titanium build

The older Galaxy Watch 4 also runs Wear OS, and you should be able to pick up bargains on that smartwatch as we approach the Holidays.

Wareable verdict: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review

Garmin Fenix 7/Epix (Gen 2)

Fenix 7: From $699/£599 | Garmin, Amazon

Epix: From $899/£799 | Garmin, Amazon

Garmin Fenix 7/

Garmin Fenix 7/Epix key features and specs

  • 1,000 songs
  • Spotify
  • Amazon Music
  • Deezer
  • iHeartRadio
  • 10 hours of GPS with music
  • Offline playback supported

The Fenix 7 range has the full gamut of music features, including storage for 1,000 songs and full support for Spotify, Deezer and iHeartradio.

You can also opt for the more expensive Epix – which is the same as the Fenix 7 but with a full AMOLED display and a $899/£799 price tag. Both excelled in our reviews in terms of athletic tracking and analysis, but we found that the experience adding music is much clunkier than rivals.

However, unlike the Fenix 6 you don't need to choose Pro or Sapphire options when buying – and all versions of the latest Fenix 7 can handle music playback.

And the Fenix 7 has also added battery life, which means you get even more music playback time. Garmin quotes 10 hours of the most accurate GPS tracking with music playback – and you'll get even more if you choose standard GPS. That's more than most people need.

When it comes to sports tracking, the Fenix 7 is pretty much the best you can buy with a vast array of modes, metrics and settings to cater for all of your sports tracking needs.

It tracks everything from trail running all the way to skydiving.

But it's the level of data you get from running that really impresses, with VO2 Max recovery stats, training data and even insights into your running form. Now all models are available in solar editions too, to give you an extra battery boost when you head outside.

In-depth: Garmin Fenix 7X review | Garmin Fenix 7 review | Garmin Epix 2 review

Garmin Venu 2

Price when reviewed: $399.99/£349.99 | Garmin, Amazon

Garmin Venu 2

Garmin Venu 2 key features and specs

  • 2,000 songs
  • Spotify
  • Amazon Music
  • Deezer
  • iHeartRadio
  • 8 hours of music with GPS
  • Offline playback supported

The Venu was Garmin's first ever watch with a full AMOLED screen, and the Venu 2 improves that screen quality for those who don't want a Garmin with one of those dull-looking transflective displays on their wrist.

We found it's a capable smartwatch and a good jack-of-all-trades sports tracker in our review – although the data and analysis is more basic than its peers.

In terms of music, you're getting room for up to 2,000 songs, which is up from the 500 song storage offered on the first Venu. That includes offline syncing support for Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music and iHeartRadio.

You're getting a comprehensive list of tracked sports and improved modes for tracking HIIT and indoor workout sessions. The Venu 2 also comes in a smaller Venu 2S version, with both offering nice, bright AMOLED displays. There's also the Venu 2 Plus, which offers access to your phone's smart assistant.

Garmin has also tweaked the user interface to make it easier to find the features you use most regularly and makes customizable data screens easy to view when running.

And the battery doesn’t take as much of a battering as you might expect. GPS tracking with music playback is eight hours, which is more than enough for the average runner.

It’s not a running powerhouse, but the Venu 2 does excel in terms of all-day wear. There's also a Venu Sq, a square version that comes in at significantly less than round Venu 2 and still offers a music edition to pile on your music.

Wareable verdict: Garmin Venu 2 review | Garmin Venu 2 Plus review

Garmin Forerunner 955

Solar: $599/£549, Non-solar: $499/£479 | Garmin

Garmin Forerunner 955

Garmin Forerunner 955 key features and specs

  • 2,000 songs storage
  • MP3, Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music and iHeartRadio
  • GPS with music: 8.5-20 hours (dependent on multiband mode)
  • Stereo and mono listening modes
  • Offline playback supported

By now you get the picture about Garmin's efforts, and the Forerunner 955 (the top Forerunner in the line) has space for 2,000 songs, as well as Spotify, Deezer and iHeartRadio offline playlists.

As a running watch, you're getting the most in-depth analytics of any Forerunner – and essentially a Fenix 7 watch with the extra sports stripped out. We really liked the new Training Readiness feature, which uses HRV to assess when you're ready to go hard in your sessions.

The Forerunner 955 is a triathlon watch, so it's big on swimming, cycling and running. It comes with big battery life, though streaming music will inevitably eat into that time you have to track, so that's something to keep in mind.

Garmin has introduced the ability to switch between stereo and mono listening modes, with the latter getting you a bit more battery time in that music player mode.

It hooks up to the Garmin Running Dynamics Pod for access to advanced running metrics. It's a gold standard running watch – with a price tag to match.

While there isn't a 955 LTE edition like there is for the 945, Garmin uses that cellular connectivity to offer safety features sans smartphone as opposed to offering phone-free music streaming.

In-depth: Garmin Forerunner 955 review

Fitbit Versa 3 and Sense

Price when reviewed: $229/£199 | Amazon, Fitbit

Fitbit Versa 3 and Sense

Fitbit Versa 3 and Sense key features and specs

  • 300 songs
  • MP3 drag-and-drop also Pandora (US) and Deezer (Europe)
  • 12 hours GPS no music (expect approx 4 hours with music)

Fitbit's first smartwatch (the Ionic) has effectively been retired, which means if you want a smartwatch with a music player you need to grab the Versa 3 or the more health-centric Sense.

The good news is that the Versa 3 (and the Sense) both now come with built-in GPS making it a better running companion when you head outdoors. It's a solid performer from our time liking with the device for our review, but only for basic tracking of workouts, alongside Fitbit's excellent daily health monitoring.

Like the Ionic and previous iterations of the Versa, you are still getting a built-in music player and music controls here too. Unfortunately, unlike Samsung, Apple and Garmin, you don't get the kind of Spotify support we crave. Despite adding the app, this really acts as just a controller for your phone.

However, those in the US will have access to Pandora in order access offline listening. If you're in Europe, that door is closed to you, but it does have Deezer support.

Thankfully, putting music on the watch itself is actually fairly straightforward, since this can be done through Fitbit's own music app. To do so, you need to go through the desktop Fitbit Connect app and select the files you want to sync.

Once on there, it's a case of pairing your Bluetooth headphones with the watch and you're away. For a deeper take on how the device fares in music streaming and beyond, take a look at our Fitbit Versa 3 and Fitbit Sense reviews below.

Fully trialled: Fitbit Versa 3 review | Fitbit Sense review

Huawei Watch Fit 2

Price when reviewed: $149/£130 | Amazon, Huawei

Huawei Watch Fit 2

Huawei Watch Fit 2 key features and specs

  • Store up to 5000 songs
  • Works with own music synced in Health app (Android only)
  • 10 day battery life (GPS + Music unknown)

The Huawei Watch GT 2e, Watch GT 3 and GT Runner series and Watch 3 all have built-in music players, but if you want the cheapest Huawei wearable to offer that support, it's the Watch Fit 2 that you'll want to grab.

The Watch Fit 2 stunned us in our review time with its mix of workout features and price tag – and it's one of the best budget sports watches going. However, when it comes to music playback, there are major caveats.

We should start by saying that to use the onboard music player, you'll need to pair the Fit 2 with an Android phone because that support doesn't extend to iOS.

You'll have to pile on music (MP3 and AAC file formats) of your own via the Huawei Health app with the likes of offline support for music streaming services like Spotify and Deezer not supported. Huawei has now launched its own music streaming service so hopefully that support will be added.

Away from those music features, Huawei includes dual-band frequency tracking, the ability to import routes and use real-time breadcrumb navigation and there's Huawei's latest running performance and training insights also included here too.

You're getting battery life that's good for a solid week's worth of tracking and longer if you sacrifice some features. If you want a good fitness watch with music features that looks like a mix of a smartwatch and a fitness band, the Fit 2 is a great performer for the price.

In-depth verdict: Huawei Watch Fit 2 review

Coros Vertix 2

Price when reviewed: $699.99/£599.99 Amazon

Coros Vertix 2

Coros Vertix 2 key features and specs

  • 32GB memory
  • Drag and drop own music
  • No streaming services
  • 60 days battery life in daily use (35 hours with GPS + Music)

The Vertix 2 is the first watch in the Coros family to offer a built-in music player giving you a good chunk of the onboard 32GB storage to pile on your own music. It only handles MP3 file formats and you'll need to connect the watch to your computer to drag and drop them onto your watch.

Unlike other watches on this list, it doesn't work with any third party music streaming services to offer offline playlist support. As long as you've got plenty of your own music, you can pair up some Bluetooth headphones and leave your phone behind.

While it might not have the best music features available on a sports watch, it does promise some pretty impressive battery life. Even when you factor in music streaming.

Mammoth battery performance aside, the Vertix 2 also packs in big collection of sports modes, offline mapping, access to its EvoLab training insights and does work with third party apps like Strava, Apple Health and TrainingPeaks to share your fitness data around.

In-depth verdict: Coros Vertix 2 review