Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Garmin Epix Pro: The NYC Test Gauntlet

It’s that time again – for another New York City GPS accuracy test. Just like the annual Christmas Tree by cargo bike tradition, so is the NYC GPS accuracy test posts. Albeit, this time I’ve got an interesting double-date test. Still, it’s one of the hardest places in the world for GPS to do its job properly – yet, because I can run it year after year, we can see how technology and models advance. In case you’re interested, here was the test there of the Apple Watch Ultra 1 vs Garmin Epix (not Pro).

In any case, this time around on one wrist/side we’ve got the dual-frequency/multi-band Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Garmin Epix Pro. Whereas on the other side we’ve got the non-multi-band Apple Watch Series 9 and Garmin Venu 3. Both of these sets are priced in roughly the same ballpark, and target many of the same consumers (especially as Apple continues to expand their endurance sports features/support).

For now, I’ve got the video above, complete with all sorts of little entertaining nostalgic things I run past, like memories of my Concorde trip, and New York City Triathlon from years ago. But, if you want to look at the actual GPS data set in the DCR Analyzer, you’ll find it here too.

Thanks for watching!

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15 Comments

  1. Niki

    Have you noticed that AWU 2 always shows a shorter distance than Epix Pro? I have both and it happens every time. Which do you think shows better?

    • Alex McCoy

      Yep! I have these two same watches. Before that, I had an AWU1 and and Enduro 2. Apple Watch is consistently 0.02-0.05 miles shorter than the Epix on 5-10 mile runs.

    • Interesting, I’ll go back and look at some runs. Most days I have the Ultra 2 with me for runs. Yet, I don’t tend to look at the end-state exact distances much, mainly because it’s a misleading metric when comparing accuracy. But certainly, if it’s course-cutting or such, then that’s different.

      My guess here is that some of the ‘aligning’ that Apple is doing to Apple Maps data might be removing a bit of the wobble out. Likewise, we’ve long-seen Apple have more smoothing in their tracks (it used to be really bad, but now it’s more reasonable), which also removes some of the slight wobble on a street.

    • Peter

      Same here – i also have the AWU 2 and the Epix 2 pro, and Apple is always behind. My wife also has an Epix, and when we run together, our Garmins are almost identical, but my Apple is off by several hundred meters.

  2. Pavel Vishniakov

    Hi Ray,
    I’m curious – can Apple Watch Ultra (and regular Apple Watch with LTE for that matter) leverage its LTE connectivity for better accuracy?

  3. S

    I don’t watch your videos because it takes too long and prefer your written posts, which I can read and understand better. But I did look at the analyzer info. For a real test, go to lower Manhattan or run throughout midtown. Central Park is too easy of a GPS test, and it shows on the map with pretty good accuracy, because it is so open. Also, would’ve been nid for more watches like 965 and/or Fenix.

    • I’ve actually done that before – and ultimately, the section from Central Park to Times Square is honestly as hard as it gets in NYC, save a random alley or such.

      In this case, I did two major building sections (from the water to Central Park), and then from Central Park to Times Square.

      Last year, I did an even longer segment from the tip of Manhatten, along the water under the viaduct for a fair chunk along those tall buildings, then cutting in through midtown hell for a while: link to dcrainmaker.com

      As you can see there, the silly-long section of buildings I ran, didn’t show any different than the section I normally do in terms of accuracy. The only thing it did was drive me crazy with all the stop/go/car avoidance. 🙂

  4. fiatlux

    The good question is, why would you voluntarily run among the traffic in one of those urban canyons? 😉

    • Not sure I understand. On the first main section, I was on the sidewalks.

      And the second section, I was in a no-mans land of dead space between the bike lane and parking areas and then roadway lanes. All of which is a heck of a lot better than trying to run on the sidewalk with tons of pedestrians.

    • fiatlux

      My remark was not to be taken too seriously and urban canyons are an interesting environment for GNSS accuracy testing. It is however very difficult to determine the main cause of the problems experienced, between signal attenuation, shading, reflections or interferences.
      Another interesting environment which could be more relevant for runners is a forest with a thick tree cover (not the right season I know). It would also mainly test receivers’ sensitivity.

  5. André

    Thanks for linking your Concorde adventure, flipping nice!

  6. Oskars

    Would love to see Coros and Polar too in this test.

  7. Ed Shapiro

    When did you do this? You posted it today but everyone is in shorts and teeshirts. I live here and the weather isn’t that good for shorts and tees.

  8. Sven

    Have you tried a Stryd for distance and pace on the same route?