We’re only months away from 2022, and it’s already shaping up to be a fantastic year for running watches for beginner, intermediate, and seriously advanced athletes. The Garmin Venu 2 Plus arrived in early January, followed closely by the Fenix 7 and Epix, then the excellent Instinct 2. Meanwhile, Suunto gave us the lightweight Suunto 5 Peak, Huawei brought us the Huawei Watch Runner GT, and now Polar has unveiled the lightweight Polar Pacer and Pacer Pro.
We’re absolutely spoiled for choice, but all of these watches lack one game-changing feature: a camera. When I mentioned it in the office, most of my colleagues looked at me as if I had grown a head. Did I not know the Samsung Gear, and how terrible it was in practice?
It’s true, I haven’t got my hands on a Gear, but I believe my colleagues when they say its camera execution was lacking…maybe a little. With a mere 1.9MP sensor and 320 x 320 pixel resolution, it certainly wouldn’t rival your phone’s camera, but it wasn’t too shabby either, as these snaps taken by TechRadar’s Global Editor, Gareth Beavis:
The Gear also offered a macro mode for close-ups, could capture Sound and Shot images (images with accompanying audio), and could even record 15-second video clips.
Sure. trying to aim a camera mounted on your arm isn’t easy, but just think of it as a bonus mobility exercise.
Running and photography go hand in hand – in fact, most running apps are set up to share photos of your route. Strava lets you upload snaps to go along with your stats, Garmin Connect can overlay your time and pace onto a square image ready to upload to Instagram, and Komoot lets you add photos when you’ve finished a tour.
It’s a great social feature that can really bring a route to life, and I always appreciate seeing other riders’ snaps, but it’s not something I use often myself. Getting my phone out of my pocket or backpack is a hassle, and those camera-worthy moments don’t always coincide with times when I want to take a break.
One of the joys of running is the ability to get outside and soak up nature, as seen in the photos below taken from runs in my hometown. Even on a well-trodden training route, I sometimes see something special like the electric blue flash of a kingfisher by the river, or a particularly beautiful sunset, but by the time I’m done to search and unlock my handset, the moment has passed.
Smartwatches with cameras never became mainstream, but they still exist, like the odd Sunsune 4G smartwatch, which looks like a miniature widescreen TV strapped to your wrist. I certainly don’t expect to see one built into a sports watch any time soon, but maybe in a few years a miniature camera could be the flagship feature of the Garmin Fenix 9 or Epix 4 .