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Triathlon Sport Watches Review: Apple Watch Series 5

We wrap up our look at multisport watches with the Apple Watch Series 5. While this watch does so much more than track your workouts, it does a surprisingly good job of that and, for many, offers enough training features to serve as their go-to training monitor. Here’s the list of the watches that we’ve reviewed in the series:

Apple Watch Series 5

When most of us think of the Apple Watch, we’re not imagining something geared for training. It’s such a sophisticated piece of equipment that, in many ways, it can act just like a phone on your wrist (if you sign up for cellular access), making calls, sending texts, playing music and so much more. But can this powerhouse smartwatch replace the high-end training watches that have become a staple for avid triathletes? Are you just as cool and serious a triathlete if you’re wearing an Apple Watch instead of, say, Garmin’s flagship 945, Polar’s new Grit X, or Suunto’s 9?

For the most part, the answer to that question is an an only slightly qualified “yes.”

Smartwatch or fitness tracker?

At some levels its hard to picture the Series 5 as a sport watch because it looks so, well, stylish rather than functional. Available in a variety of different materials including titanium and aluminum, you can personalize the watch with a variety of different bands.

With cellular access the Series 5 can make calls, send texts and even stream music. Add the comfortable AirPods Pro to the mix and you can listen to that music on the go, turning up the volume with a simple spin of the dial on the side of the watch, and easily shifting from noise cancelling to transparency mode – we strongly suggest that mode while working out as it allows you to hear what’s going on around you.

The Series 5 seemingly spends much of the day tracking your activity. All day long it reminds you to stand and to “breathe” – a reminder to take a few minutes to “practice mindfulness” to reduce stress – while also keeping track of all your other activities. The watch literally encourages to reach your activity goals by closing your move, activity and stand rings (to close that ring you need to get up and move around for at least one minute during 12 different hours of the day).

Most active triathletes will blast through their rings with ease. So does the Apple Watch have something to offer them when it comes to working out?

Absolutely. The latest version of the Apple Watch features an always on display, so your workout metrics are always visible. The watch features lots of different workout apps to keep track of your training. The GPS sensor is both accurate and quick (the watch even figures out if your out for a walk or hike and you haven’t started a workout, asking you along the way if you wanted to track the activity.) Water resistant to 50 m, there are both pool and open water swim app options to track your swim workouts. The pool app records splits and can even recognize what stroke you are doing. The open water app tracks your distance and overall pace, and can even map your route after your done.

In addition to all the regular metrics like pace, distance and time, the run app provides pace alerts and monitors your cadence. The cycling app provides all the basic data you’ll want, too, including speed, distance and elevation. Like the Garmin 945, the Series 5 pairs with Form’s heads up display goggles, adding a really nice dimension to open water swims.

The GPS syncs faster with satellites with the Series 5 than any of the other watches we’ve reviewed, and seemed to stay rock solid for bike and run workouts. Which is why it was surprising to find that it dropped out a little more frequently in open-water swims that with other watches we’ve reviewed.

Apple has always been renowned for its huge app store, and the watch benefits from that library as well, offering numerous third-party apps to expand your monitoring capabilities. Everything from Strava to apps that will keep track of your power are available, which turns the watch into an impressive training tool.

After a few months of using the Apple Watch Series 5 as my main training watch, I’m pretty much sold on the fact that this watch can serve as a more than capable option when it comes to keeping track of even an avid triathlete’s training. There are a few aspects from other training watches that I miss, though. While the Series 5 has no problems lasting a full day, when you’re working out regularly with the watch it is pretty much impossible to get two days use out of it. A three-day camping trip requires bringing along a battery to charge up the watch each night – something I never had to think of while reviewing say the Suunto 9, Garmin 945 or Polar Grit X. While those watches don’t sync quite as smoothly with a phone for say, volume control, when it comes to getting texts and other alerts, the sport-specific watches can be quite functional.

If you’re a fan of the Apple ecosystem, and looking for a stylish smartwatch that can also keep track of your triathlon training, there’s lots of good reasons to look at the Apple Watch Series 5.