March 4, 2024

I carried five smartwatches to the top of Mount Diablo. These marks were the best for elevation accuracy.

Last weekend, I put on five fitness smartwatches, drove to Mount Diablo State Park in California, and hiked about 2,100 feet to the top. Because? Deciding which brand of smartwatch (Apple, COROS, Garmin, Polar or Samsung) was most accurate at tracking elevation.

Most high-end smartwatches feature a barometric altimeter to judge elevation gain during outdoor workouts. Altimeters use air pressure changes to calculate elevation changes in coordination with GPS data. But some are more accurate than others and most brands don’t allow you to calibrate your starting position manually.

I’ve wanted to try this for some time, ever since my experiment last year when I used six smartwatches for 6,000 steps to see which one was closest to the real number. Since then, I’ve also done several GPS accuracy tests with multiple watches for reviews, but they’ve all been two-dimensional tests: I’ve never known how accurate my watch is when it tells me I’ve climbed X feet or Y. flights of stairs.

(Image credit: Michael Hicks/Android Central)

For my test, I chose three watches that I’ve already reviewed (COROS PACE 3, Garmin Forerunner 965, and Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic) along with two that I’m currently reviewing, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Polar Vantage V3.

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