Best running watch and smartwatches 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 enables you to stop hauling a giant smartphone out for a jog.

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

Most of the Garmin sports watch range, and newer smartwatches such as the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, offer the ability to play music straight from the wrist.

The best running watches with music offer offline sync Spotify, Deezer or Apple Music playlists, but there are plenty of cheaper routes to getting music features from the likes of Amazfit too. However, that generally means uploading good old MP3s.

Read on for our pick of the best music options/

Best running watches with music

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

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

Price when reviewed: $349.99

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

  • 500 songs
  • Spotify support and offline syncing (Premium required)
  • Deezer
  • iHeartRadio
  • 6 hours GPS with music
  • Offline playback supported

Probably the best all-out running watch with music – when you balance connectivity and price – the Forerunner 245 offers top-end features without a crazy price tag.

The Forerunner 245 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 245 as a running watch. It offers loads of extra data leveraged from the heart rate sensor, which focuses on Training Effect, Training Load and recovery time – all garnered from HRV and VO2 Max.

It’s also been handed down the PacePro feature from the Fenix, which will help you stay on track for your PBs during races too.

In short, the Forerunner 245 blends great running features, offline music playback at a price that's not absurdly expensive.

Read more: Garmin Forerunner 245 Music review


Apple Watch Series 6/Watch SE/Series 3

Price when reviewed: From $399 (Series 6), $279 (SE), $199 (Series 3)

apple watch series 6 music

  • 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 is very much a running watch in its own right – so don’t be fooled into thinking it’s all style and no substance.

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.

So, what about music? Well, you can make playlists in Apple Music and sync them to your 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.

For those who want to save money, the Apple Watch Series 3 is now available for $199. There's also the Apple Watch Series SE $279.99, which features Apple's newest heart rate monitor, which we found is one of the most reliable for exercise.

Tested and rated: Apple Watch Series 6 review | Apple Watch Series SE review | Apple Watch Series 3 review


Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

Price when reviewed: From $279.99

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

  • 500 songs
  • Spotify offline syncing and MP3
  • 40mm and 44mm sizes
  • Offline playback supported

Like the rest of the Samsung smartwatch bunch, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 offers a dedicated Spotify app. This means you can stream music (over Wi-Fi or LTE) and download offline playlists from the streaming service onto the watch.

It's also a decent fitness device, it's a decent experience for casual runners looking to make that step up, although the Samsung Health experience isn't as polished or complete as rivals. There is a Strava app however, which makes gripes about the app a moot point.

You can transfer music through Samsung's own music player as well, and thankfully it's really easy to do from the Gear Companion app.

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 comes in 40mm and 44mm sizes, with both offering 4GB of storage to pile on your music and Spotify playlists.

Bringing back a software version of the much-loved rotating bezel makes it easier to navigate through your tunes and playlists, too. This is a smartwatch well worth considering to liberate the music from your smartphone.

It's also worth noting that the Galaxy Watch 3 is available too, which also supports Spotify. It's larger, but doesn't come with a silicone strap so you'll need to swap the strap to get sweaty on runs.

How it stacks up: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review


Garmin Fenix 6 Pro series

Price when reviewed: From $599.99

Garmin Fenix 6 Pro

  • 1000 songs
  • Spotify
  • Amazon Music
  • Deezer
  • iHeartRadio
  • 10 hours of GPS with music
  • Offline playback supported

The Fenix 6 range has the full gamut of music features, including storage for 1,000 songs and full support for Spotify, Deezer and iHeartradio. However, you need to make sure you opt for Pro or Sapphire options when buying (these cost more money, naturally).

One of the biggest features of the Fenix 6 – and why it costs so much – is the battery life. You get 10 hours of GPS tracking with music (and 36 hours without music), so serious runners should be covered.

When it comes to sports tracking, the Fenix 6 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 6 Pro review


Garmin Forerunner 645

Price when reviewed: $449.99

Garmin Forerunner 645 Music

  • 500 songs
  • Spotify
  • Amazon Music
  • Deezer
  • iHeartRadio
  • 5 hours of music with GPS
  • Offline playback supported

While Garmin doesn't officially list it on its site anymore, it's still one you can pick up at a good price to get some music in your life. It’s got room for 500 songs and supports offline playlists for Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music and iHeartRadio just like the rest.

The Forerunner 645 Music does come with a slightly larger price tag for all this extra dressing, and you get five hours of GPS tracking while listening to music from the wrist.

So, why opt for the Forerunner 645 for more money? It blends the power of a Forerunner with VO2 Max data, recovery, Training Status and advanced analytics with a sleeker, nicer look. It’s got a silver bezel.

There are also some other features: the Forerunner 645 Music has a barometric altimeter, can measure running power (if paired with a Running Pod or chest strap) and has Garmin Pay.

The cheaper Forerunner 245 Music has none of those things, but does feature the Body Battery, which can predict how well you’re set to train and a Pulse Oximeter sensor, and the new PacePro feature.

Fully tested: Garmin Forerunner 645 Music


Garmin Vivoactive 4

Price when reviewed: $349.99

Garmin Vivoactive 4

  • 500 songs
  • Spotify
  • Amazon Music
  • Deezer
  • iHeartRadio
  • 5 hours of music with GPS
  • Offline playback supported

Garmin has added the same music features to the watch that was considered Garmin's answer to the Apple Watch. Though the Venu (mentioned below) has changed that.

The Vivoactive 4 is the company’s smartwatch, and it mixes music, notifications and Garmin Pay with wide-ranging sports tracking with lots of dedicated modes – but entry-level feedback.

It will track running (indoor, outdoor, treadmill), cycling (indoor and outdoor), swimming (pool only), golf, strength, cardio, elliptical, indoor rowing, yoga and more.

You can drag and drop audio files onto the watch when you hook it up to a computer, and it'll offer offline playlist support for select music streaming services, such as Deezer and Spotify.

On top of that, you get the same sports tracking features packed in the Vivoactive 3 Music, including Garmin Pay, GPS and a heart rate monitor.

In detail: Garmin Vivoactive 4 review


Garmin Venu 2

Price when reviewed: From $399.99

Garmin Venu 2

  • 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.

In terms of music, you're now 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. 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 Forerunner 945

Price when reviewed: $599.99

Garmin Forerunner 945

  • 1,000 songs storage
  • MP3, Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music and iHeartRadio
  • GPS with music: 10 hours
  • Offline playback supported

By now you get the picture about Garmin's efforts, and the top Forerunner has space for 1,000 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 watch with the extra sports stripped out. The Forerunner 945 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.

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.

There is now a Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE, though unlike other LTE-packing watches, that extra connectivity is reserved for communication and safety features over letting you stream music sans smartphone.

In-depth: Garmin Forerunner 945 review


Garmin Forerunner 745

Price when reviewed: $499.99

garmin forerunner 745

  • 500 songs
  • Spotify
  • Amazon Music
  • Deezer
  • iHeartRadio
  • 6 hours of music with GPS
  • Offline playback supported

If you want a triathlon-friendly Garmin and really can't stretch to spending on a 945, the 745 comes in cheaper and will give you the same music features. Though you have half the storage to play with.

It's the successor to the Forerunner 735XT putting many of the same features into a smaller case. That includes a built-in music player where you can pile on your own music via drag and drop on your computer. Or you can sync playlists from Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music and iHeartRadio on the watch.

You get all of those core sports tracking modes including new Suggested Workouts and a smarter recovery advisor to up its training skills.

Battery life with music and GPS in use is up to six hours, which compared to the 16 hours you get without music shows how much streaming will dent its staying power.

Wareable verdict: Garmin Forerunner 745 review


Fitbit Versa 3

Price when reviewed: $299

running watch with music playback update

  • 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 is no longer available directly from Fitbit's own website, which means in time it's unlikely to get the same software update treatment as its new Sense health watch and the new Versa 3 lead the smartwatch assault for the now Google-owned company.

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.

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 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 – similar to Apple's version.

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.

Fully trialled: Fitbit Versa 3 review | Fitbit Sense review

Huawei Watch GT 2e

Price when reviewed: $122.99

huawei watch gt2e

  • 4GB storage
  • Works with own music synced in Health app
  • 14 day battery life (GPS + Music unknown)

The Huawei Watch GT 2e has emerged as a bit of a surprise fave as an affordable running watch that also has the bonus of a built-in music player.

That functionality however only works if it's paired with an Android phone, letting you sync over your own music in MP3 and AAC format via the Huawei Health app. It doesn't work with music streaming services to store playlists offline like other watches on this list.

Away from its useful music features, it's a really solid performer when it comes to run tracking. Built-in GPS is reliable and you have a crisp 1.39-inch screen AMOLED display to view your real-time stats. There are also some useful running guides that offer a good starting point for anyone that wants to add more structure to running training.

Then there's the battery life, which is an impressive 14 days in smartwatch mode. You'll likely get less with music and GPS in use, but it's still a really good showing for a fitness-focused watch that doesn't cost a whole lot.

The Huawei Watch 3 and Watch 3 Pro are now on the scene, which run on Huawei's new HarmonyOS and offers the same music support as the Watch GT 2e. We're still finishing up our testing, but the experience of running and piling on music onto it isn't all that different from this more affordable Huawei option.

In-depth verdict: Huawei Watch GT 2e review


Amazfit Stratos 3

Price when reviewed: $199.99

Amazfit Stratos

  • 4GB memory (500 MP3s)
  • No streaming services
  • 5 day battery life (GPS + Music unknown)

Amazfit may not be a familiar name to most, but Zepp Health, who also makes Xiaomi's wearables along with the Amazfit line of watches, is one to keep an eye on.

The Stratos is a budget watch that can suitably handle your music needs. The Stratos 3 offers solid overall sports tracking features including a built-in music player.

The original Stratos doesn't just compare favorably to the top pick in this field with regard to price, either, with the Stratos matching Garmin with 4GB of storage data for your music. In our testing, we found the music controls to be limited, but generally the playback lives up to basic expectations.

Like other sports watches, the meat here is in its built-in tracking modes, which are also backed up by GPS/GLONASS support and a heart rate monitor. Thanks to a partnership with Firstbeat, more advanced metrics, such as VO2 Max and Training Load, are also on board.

For the full details on its music tracking capabilities and tracking chops, jump over to our Amazfit Stratos review. If you wanted to spend less, and want more of a sleeker look with the same sports tracking, the new Amazfit GTS 2 and GTR 2 offer built-in music players too.

Put through its paces: Amazfit Stratos review