1. Key considerations
  2. Garmin Forerunner 265
  3. Apple Watch Series 9 / SE 2 / Ultra 2
  4. Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
  5. Garmin Fenix 7 / Epix (Gen 2)
  6. Garmin Venu 3
  7. Garmin Forerunner 965
  8. Top Pick: Google Pixel Watch 2
  9. Huawei Watch Fit 2
  10. Coros Vertix 2

Best smartwatches and running watches with music: Spotify, MP3 and more

Take control of your workout tunes and leave your smartphone at home
Wareable Best smartwatches and running watches with spotify
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There are plenty of running watches and smartwatches that offer built-in music playback, which means you can go for a run without taking your smartphone with you.

With the rise of fitness-focused smartwatches from the likes of Apple, Google, and Samsung, many mainstream smartwatches now have apps for the core music services. That means you can take your tunes with you.

And not to be left behind, most Garmin multisport watches also offer integration with music streaming services, for the offline playback of playlists.

But buyer beware: some devices that promise music playback require adding your MP3s to them manually. That might be what you're looking for – but often the process can be clunky.

Read below for our picks of top running watches, that are as good for training as they are belting out tunes.

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 the 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 your watch will vary. Some require plugging the watch into a computer and dragging and dropping your 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 the battery the hardest so pay attention to the battery numbers quoted when those two things are done together.

Garmin Forerunner 265

WareableForerunner 265


Garmin Forerunner 265 key features and specs

  • 8GB storage - enough for 1,000 songs
  • Spotify (offline syncing, Premium required)
  • Amazon Music (offline syncing, sub required)
  • Deezer (offline syncing, sub required)
  • iHeartRadio (offline syncing, sub required)
  • GPS with music: 6-7 hours (dependent on GPS mode)
  • Stereo and mono listening modes

Replacing last year's Forerunner 255 Music, the Forerunner 265 is now our top recommendation for those craving a top-level running watch with music.

The price has increased from the last generation, but the huge improvements to the display are worth the extra cost, in our view. And also included in that jump is double the amount of storage, with the 8GB present in the standard version of the 265 allowing for 1,000 songs on your wrist. 

There's now no need to pay extra for music, either, with Garmin helpfully canning the separate 'Music' version and including support in both the 265 and 265S devices as standard. 

It's also one of the most versatile players around, with support for MP3s, or offline playback via the Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music, or iHeartRadio apps available within the Garmin Connect IQ store.

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 can transfer playlists to the device for that all-important offline support. And though support on all these apps can sometimes be a little buggy, we still love the freedom each of them provides. 

Away from the music, we're also huge fans of the Forerunner 265 as a sports watch. Despite the name, this is an equally superb option for swimmers, cyclists, and triathletes. It offers dual-frequency GPS for super-accurate outdoor tracking, detailed training and recovery feedback, and solid heart rate accuracy.

Really, considering the price and sheer breadth of features, it's tough to find a non-smartwatch that does music playback better than the 265.

Full review: Garmin Forerunner 265 review

Apple Watch Series 9 / SE 2 / Ultra 2

WareableApple Watch Series 8


Apple Watch Series 9 key features and specs

  • 500 songs
  • Apple Music (streaming/offline)
  • Spotify (offline syncing, Premium required)
  • Deezer (offline syncing, sub required)
  • Pandora (offline syncing, sub required)
  • Streaming and syncing with Podcasts app
  • Roughly three hours of GPS and music playback

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

The Series 9 might not offer a huge leap in change from the Series 8, 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 customizable data screens that can even show live cadence when running.

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. The process has recently been overhauled, so the Apple Watch doesn't have to be attached to the charger to sync music.

And you can pause the music using the new double-tap gesture, if you so wish.

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 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 as you can on Garmin and Samsung watches.

There's also the Apple Watch Series SE 2, which got a huge revamp in September 2022. It's still one of the most reliable for tracking effort levels during exercise from the wrist and matches up to the Series 9.

The latter will offer significantly longer GPS tracking with music if you're worried about the longevity of the Series 8 / SE 2.

Full reviews: Apple Watch Series 9 / Apple Watch SE 2 / Apple Watch Ultra 2

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6

WareableApple Watch Series 8


Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 key features and specs

  • 16GB storage
  • Spotify (offline syncing, Premium required)
  • Amazon Music (offline syncing, sub required)
  • YouTube Music (offline syncing, sub required)
  • MP3 support
  • 40mm/44mm (Galaxy Watch 6) and 43mm/47mm (Galaxy Watch 6 Classic)
  • Offline playback supported

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 runs Wear OS, which means users can access offline playlists from Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer, and YouTube Music.

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

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 watches, but we found it does a 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, therefore delivering the same app support.

Wareable verdict: Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 review

Garmin Fenix 7 / Epix (Gen 2)

WareableGarmin Fenix 7 vs Fenix 6: Key differences explained


Garmin Fenix 7 / Epix 2 key features and specs

  • 1,000 songs
  • Spotify (offline syncing, Premium required)
  • Amazon Music (offline syncing, Premium required)
  • Deezer (offline syncing, Premium required)
  • iHeartRadio (offline syncing, Premium required)
  • 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 an $899/£799 price tag. Both excelled in our reviews in terms of athletic tracking and analysis, but we found that the experience of 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 to all of your sports tracking needs.

It tracks everything from trail running to skydiving.

But it's the level of data you get from running that impressed us, with VO2 Max recovery stats, training data, and even insights into your running form. All models are available in solar editions, too, which can help slightly boost your battery when you head outside.

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

Garmin Venu 3

WareableGarmin Fenix 7 vs Fenix 6: Key differences explained


Garmin Venu 2 key features and specs

  • 2,000 songs
  • Spotify (offline syncing, Premium required)
  • Amazon Music (offline syncing, sub required)
  • Deezer (offline syncing, sub required)
  • iHeartRadio (offline syncing, sub required)
  • 11 hours of music with GPS
  • Offline playback supported

The Garmin Venu 3 is a good upgrade on the last-gen Venu 2 – with an improved display and overall design. But not much has changed in terms of its music capability.

We found it's a capable smartwatch and a good jack-of-all-trades sports tracker in our review – although the data and analysis are more basic than its peers. This is especially true for running, which just shows basic pace and heart rate data only. 

There's a limited amount of recovery and VO2 Max analysis, but nothing on the Forerunner 265.

In terms of music, there's space 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. 

And the battery doesn’t take as much of a battering as you might expect. GPS tracking with music playback is 11 hours (up from 8 hours of the Venu 2), which is really good. You could run a full marathon without your phone, and have tunes the whole way around.

It’s not a running powerhouse, but the Venu 3 does excel in terms of all-day wear. 

Wareable verdict: Garmin Venu 3 review

Garmin Forerunner 965

WareableForerunner 965


Garmin Forerunner 965 key features and specs


  • 32GB storage - 2,000 songs
  • MP3, Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music, and iHeartRadio
  • GPS with music: 8.5-31 hours (dependent on mode)
  • Stereo and mono listening modes
  • Offline playback supported

The flagship Forerunner 965 is one of the better Garmin watches with music support, with space for 2,000 songs and support for Spotify, Deezer, and iHeartRadio also available via apps.

As a running watch, you're getting the most in-depth analytics of any Forerunner – and essentially a lighter, less rugged Fenix 7/Epix 2 with the extra sports stripped out.

In our testing, we've found the GPS accuracy, heart rate tracking performance, and general training features among the very best on the market. It also offers on-wrist support for Garmin's Running Dynamics for advanced running metrics, as well, which means you don't have to hook up the external sensor.

It's important to know that the battery life is reduced from the Forerunner 955 that launched in 2022 - a device that offers identical music storage and training features - but this is almost entirely due to the introduction of a new, vibrant AMOLED display. 

And given that the 965 can still manage around a week of moderate-heavy use with the always-on display turned on, we certainly think it's a sacrifice that's worth it.

With the amount of battery life lost from workouts essentially doubling if you play music through Garmin's devices, we also think the 965 is also a better option than the Forerunner 265 (above), which only typically lasts around four days in similar use.

If you can stretch your budget to this one, you're getting arguably the top sports watch available on the market - and one that's very adept at delivering offline music. 

Full review: Garmin Forerunner 965 review

Top Pick: Google Pixel Watch 2

WareableForerunner 965


Google Pixel Watch 2: specs and features

  • Google Play apps for Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube Music
  • Storage: 2GB RAM; 32GB internal (2,000 songs)
  • Streaming via LTE
  • Battery life: 24 hours 
  • 3 hours tracking GPS + LTE while listening to downloaded YouTube Music
  • Phone compatibility: Android
  • Water rating: 5ATM 

The Google Pixel Watch 2 is a much-improved workout partner, and we found good results in our testing in terms of heart rate accuracy and GPS. There's an excellent 32GB of storage on board, so room for lots of tunes.

As a Wear OS 4 smartwatch, the Pixel Watch 2 has apps for the likes of Strava, but also Spotify and YouTube Music, so it's a good option for those looking to work out and listen to music.

The downside is battery life. If you use the GPS, with LTE turned on and listen to music you'll get three hours. Of course, most people won't use LTE, so around 4 hours is more likely.

So that's fine for most casual runners, but you'll decimate the battery doing it.

Read our full Google Pixel Watch 2 review

Huawei Watch Fit 2

WareableHuawei Watch Fit 2


Huawei Watch Fit 2 key features and specs

  • Store up to 5000 songs
  • Works with MP3 music synced in the Health app (Android only)
  • 10-day battery life (GPS + Music unknown)

The Huawei Watch GT 2e, Watch GT 3, 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. 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

WareableCoros Vertix 2


Coros Vertix 2 key features and specs

  • 32GB memory
  • Drag and drop MP3
  • 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 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 a 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

How we test

James Stables


James is the co-founder of Wareable, and he has been a technology journalist for 15 years.

He started his career at Future Publishing, James became the features editor of T3 Magazine and T3.com and was a regular contributor to TechRadar – before leaving Future Publishing to found Wareable in 2014.

James has been at the helm of Wareable since 2014 and has become one of the leading experts in wearable technologies globally. He has reviewed, tested, and covered pretty much every wearable on the market, and is passionate about the evolving industry, and wearables helping people achieve healthier and happier lives.

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