Apple Watch GPS: The quest for calibration

After my initial post about the Apple Watch Series 6 and the follow up to get a better GPS accuracy I was never quite over to topic and started to check out a lot.

It was really bugging me that a new GPS Watch was having more problems to get an accurate signal in comparison to my older Garmin Forerunner 735XT.

What was the problem?

The main Problem with the Watch was, that it was giving me different results on Strava when importing the data from Fitness App and from within the Fitness App.

When checking my last attempt to calibrate the watch, we see that it looked promising on the surface. But this result did not stand the test of time.

More and more the accuracy went down and at some point in time the Apple Watch gave me around 700 Meters more distance than what Strava showed. A real bummer.

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My assumption is, that the watch has a problem with the forest that I am running in. An additional point could be, that my style of running does not fancy the algorithm for calibration. I move my arms pretty little while running on a fast pace.

How did I solve it

I tried fixing it with the Apple workaround (see here in German), but only had good results in an open space but not in a forest.

When I ran with my phone all was good, so the iPhone GPS seemed to be correct as it was basically overlapping the Garmin Watch 100%.

What was fixing it ultimately was, to reset the calibration data (check the linked Apple article on the top) and then run with my iPhone and my Apple Watch in an open space.

Now my results are pretty much exact and I have an accurate distance again.

Whats next

It is a bit odd that Apple does not mention this kind of calibration or in fact any kind for different terrains. Assuming that not everybody has a flat surface on the typical running path it should be possible to do the calibration somehow different.

I am aware that the Apple Watch is for sure not for the most demanding runners or fitness people, but nevertheless should the accuracy not suffer for those. After all, it is an expensive device.

Next I will monitor the accuracy for some more runs and check back how it develops over time.

But for now, the winter has hit and the gyms are closed…

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