Running with the Apple Watch: Yes, you can leave your iPhone behind

“To evaluate the fitness functionality of the Apple Watch, I went running with the Apple Watch, Garmin Vivoactive, Fitbit Surge, Microsoft Band, and Sony SmartWatch 3 all strapped to my wrists,” Matthew Miller reports for ZDNet. “It turns out that the Apple Watch may indeed be just fine for recreational runners like me, even on those days you decide to leave the iPhone behind.”

“One important thing to remember if you are going to use your Apple Watch to workout is to select to resume to the last used app and not the clock face,” Miller reports. “This way while you are running your selected running app appears when you raise your wrist up and you won’t have to fumble around with the UI.”

MacDailyNews Take: We quickly learned this one during our first run with Apple Watch last week.

“I understand Apple wants you to run with your iPhone the first few times to calibrate your Apple Watch with GPS,” Miller reports. “I learned this after my test and after just a single day with [the iPhone’s GPS], Apple looks to have gotten the calibration algorithms spot on.”

MacDailyNews Take: We ran with our Apple Watches and iPhones for three days. Our Apple Watches are now well calibrated and the iPhones can be left at home if desired.

“I saw about 10 other runners during my morning run with every person, but two, running with their phones in their hands or strapped to their arms. I prefer to run with my phone for a couple of reasons; I enjoy capturing photos on my routes since I often run when I travel around the world and I want a means to call my wife or 911 in case of an emergency,” Miller reports. “In my experiences, many recreational runners tend to run with their phones so I better understand Apple’s move to not put in a GPS receiver. Given the solid performance of the Apple Workout app without GPS, I have no problem leaving the phone behind every now and then. The only thing missing is the map data. You could even run with the Apple Watch and stream music from it to your Bluetooth headset.”

Tons more, including test results, in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: For our Bluetooth headphones, we went with the JayBird BlueBuds X Sport Bluetooth Headphones in Midnight Black ($124.99).

So far, they work perfectly and they sound just fine during runs and while working out (better than many wired headphones we’ve tested).

We use the Nike+ Running app during runs. We’d love to be able to dump our Nike+ FuelBands, but so far, it doesn’t seem that Nike Fuel app supports Apple Watch. It does support iPhone, but we do not have the iPhone on us constantly (most of the time they’re in stands on our desks), so that’s pretty useless. Hello, Nike and/or Apple? It would be nice to have a seamless transition; we’d hoped to be able to not have to wear our FuelBands once we strapped on our Apple Watches. If we’re wrong and there’s some way for Apple Watch to collect NikeFuel and transmit it to Nike’s database, please let us know how!


  1. I use JayBird too. I like not having any wires when I run.

    My preferred running app is RunMeter. FYI, the following three apps are identical: WalkMeter, RunMeter and CycleMeter. Free versions are nice, but the upgrade is worth it.

    1. Runmeter looks like a good app. I was a fan of MapMyRun until it gradually got bloated and monetized. No, I don’t want to share all my gear purchase info with UA.

  2. Interesting. I have found that when the workout app is running it automatically goes back to workout app when you raise your wrist. Is this not true when you leave your phone at home? That would be odd behavior.
    One note for Apple: I really REALLY want auto pause functionality when doing cycling workouts. The pause feature is difficult to make happen (and even harder to turn off), and it’s quite dangerous on a bike to have one hand off and eyes off the road fumbling with the watch.
    I too am waiting for my fave cycling app(s) to come to the watch. Hopefully then things’ll work better, as the base Apple version is not great.

  3. Oh, one other thing. Love me my 66 Audio BTS+ headphones. They stay on great and cost so much less(!!!!!) than other headphones. Sound quality is very good, with enough bass, though they tend to skip just a tad when running. For $49, really can’t beat them.

  4. Another thing is that Apple Watch memorize all of Wi-Fi networks it ever faces while being with iPhone, and then most of its function can work without iPhone, including Facetime calls, messages, Siri, calendar, reminders, and so on.

  5. Good tip on the headphones. I’ve been using Avantree Jogger Pro. One of the first bluetooth head phones that have died through sweat or battery. The battery lasts a long time. Sound is okay. The connectivity is the worst part where if you have the phone in your pocket when walking it can cut out. For running I have used an armband which provides good connectivity.
    With the Apple Watch, I ran with the phone in my shorts pocket. Bounces around a bit but wasn’t too bad. The only downside with the Nike Running app was that the display takes a second to update. So as you lift your arm up the old time is displayed and you have to hold it up for a bit tot wait for the new time. Also the display text is blue and I don’t think you can change it. Yellow would be easier to read and it would be good to have the time in larger font size. There is space on the display to make it larger.

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