When you buy technology to use during your workout, there are some products you’re likely to consider: a fitness tracker, suitable headphones, any device that’s directly plugged into your chosen sport. You probably wouldn’t consider choosing a smartphone an important consideration – but it can be.
Where I am?
Column number: 3
Date of writing: 29/04/21
Current location: Honey Bend, IL
Distance traveled: 231.32 miles
Distance to the left: 2046.48 miles
Current tracking: Polar Vantage M2
As a member of the TechRadar phone group, I test a lot of different smartphones, sometimes changing the device every week during busy times of the year. Currently, I am also involved in the challenge of running more than 2,000 miles in two years, where you can read everything here.
As a result, I’ve used every smartphone I’m testing on the many times I’ve completed for the challenge – which has been about 50 devices in the last two years. And at the time, I noticed differences between devices that make some incredibly annoying to run, and others really stunning.
So if you’re looking for a new smartphone and also love running, I hope I can give you some tips.
Let the music play
Many of my smartphone observations have been dependent on the use of other running devices, and a running phone needs to play well with your headphones. Especially if the loops are wired, the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack on some phones makes your cans useless.
Sure, you can buy adapters that allow you to connect wired headphones to a USB-C or Lightning port, but these can be quite tricky. I used to be a user of fixed wired headphones, but after testing a lot of connectorless phones, I have to upgrade to some low-cost wireless units because the experience of using the adapter proved so annoying (and I lost this constant addition).
Of course, if you have a wireless headset, you can use any phone.
Also, consider whether you want to use music, if your phone has 5G support. I have already written how 5G is useful for finding songs on the road in the previous column, which you can read by clicking on the blue text above.
Another running aid is a smart watch or fitness tracker, and this can really indicate your choice of smartphone because some wearables don’t work well on certain devices.
For example, Apple Watches only connects to the iPhone. The OnePlus Watch connection app can only be downloaded to Android phones. The Honor Band 6 I recently tested allows you to track GPS only if you are using a Huawei or Apple phone.
If you have a beloved band that you want to stay with, you should research the phones it connects to and which operating systems run the required application, so you won’t find yourself unable to connect to the new device.
Perhaps the most important feature of the phone when running is its overall design (unless you want to run with your device in a pocket or bag – I decide to keep it so I can change music when I want and take pictures quickly).
Driving with a ceramic or glass phone is very scary because I am afraid of a device that constantly causes a slippery structure to fly out of my hand. Some handsets come with cases that protect the device if it is dropped, but if the handset has a curved screen, the cases are smaller so they do not cover this edge, which prevents the rubbery shell from completely protecting the device.
For this reason, I always feel safer when driving with a handset with a plastic cover – they are better protected, and many such devices have a patterned back, which makes them more sticky.
However, perhaps the most important thing to consider is the size of the phone. Big phones can be harder to understand, especially if you have smaller hands, making smaller devices look like a better option for running.
However, even small phones have their drawbacks. One that has prevented me from using this size in running is that a smaller size means a thinner device. This means that your fingers extend farther around your body – and on phones of a certain size, your fingers will naturally fall over the ‘skip track’ buttons on the onscreen music player.
While driving with the Google Pixel 4a 5G, I constantly skipped songs or accidentally restarted them as a result of my fingers falling naturally while I was holding the phone. I’ve encountered this problem with other devices as well, but there was something about the size of the Pixel that meant I kept tapping the screen, about every 30 seconds.
As you can imagine, this caused the use of the phone while being ridiculously annoying – in fact, it was better to run without music than with songs that jump forward and backward. I couldn’t find a way to lock the screen or keep it turned off, so the music player didn’t show up.
Note that the Google Pixel 4a 5G was a problem for me just because of the size of my hand. If your numbers are bigger or smaller, it can be a phone of a different size that ruins your running experience.
Oh – and if you have a Motorola phone, be sure to turn off shortcuts before you run. The ” Karate-chop ” movement to turn on the flashlight is really easy to start accidentally during a run, so if you don’t want to blind people you passed, you might want to disable this otherwise useful feature in the settings menu.
Of course, choosing a good phone must take into account important factors such as its cameras, battery life, display and, most importantly, price. But if you are an avid runner, you should also consider the above factors.