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(The Gear Loop) - The fitness tracker and running watch market is overflowing with options that range from the stylish and discreet, to those that seemingly harvest more data than most space missions. 

Both Apple and Android smartwatch users are well versed in receiving general health data, while the more serious outdoors fanatics turn to the likes of Coros, Garmin and Suunto for their wrist-based activity analysis.

Casio, and in particular its uber cool G-Shock range, has been offering step-counting and basic run tracking for a few years, but it tended to only come in bulkier models that didn't always prove comfortable to wear all day.

Its updated G-Shock G-Squad range, which also include a G-Lide surfing model, manages to be both small and neat (48.4 x 45.9 x 15.0mm), while still packing G-Shock’s typical robustness and water-proofing properties.

The G-Shock GBD-200UU, which stands for Urban Utility, is a hybrid smartwatch that’s designed to be worn everyday, but still offers enough fitness-tracking capabilities to help support most folk’s daily workout and step count goals.

Our quick take

The Casio G-Shock GBD-200UU is small and comfortable enough to wear all day, but offers just enough smart features to make it genuinely interesting to fitness fans. It can’t compete with more accomplished fitness trackers, but as a basic way of clocking mileage and tracking runs, it’s a fantastically affordable option that banks serious style points.

Casio G-Shock GBD-200UU review: a compact running watch that doesn't break the bank

Casio G-Shock GBD-200UU

4.0 stars
For
  • Small and light
  • Offers some smart notifications
  • Tracks simple step and run metrics
Against
  • Buttons are fiddly
  • Lots of menus to navigate
  • Fitness tracking is basic

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In the Loop

Everything you need to know about the Casio G-Shock GBD-200UU in brief:

  • Weight: 58g
  • Dimensions: 48.4 x 45.9 x 15.0mm
  • Built-in accelerometer
  • Battery life: Approximately 2 years
  • 200M water resistant
  • Bluetooth Connectivity
  • G-Shock Move app
  • Stopwatch, world time and countdown timers

Features

Arguably the biggest boon here is the fact you don’t have to constantly plug this watch into a wall to charge it. Even with Garmin’s solar charging functionality, there will still be the requirement ot charge during the month.

The Casio G-Shock GBD-200UU runs from a typical watch battery and therefore is slated to last around a year of mixed used. Hold off on the Bluetooth connectivity and it will last even longer.

Alas, the downside is that you’ll have to replace the battery when it goes, but it’s easy and relatively cheap.

Batteries aside, this G-Shock packs enough sensor technology to fairly accurately count steps, as well as calculate speed, distance and pace. This is made even more accurate when you bring a connected smartphone into the equation, but we understand not everyone will want to run with a phone.

The body itself is a hefty 200M water resistant, while the toughened urethane band, reinforced plastic bezel, shock absorbent Hollow Core Guard Structure and mineral glass watch face mean it can withstand more than a fair few bumps and scrapes.

In terms of smartwatch functionality, it will also beam basic notifications from a tethered phone to the watch face. This comes in the form of a beep and vibrate with an incoming call, as well as some basic information from calendars and messages, usually in the form of a one-line preview. 

Users also get the usual stopwatch, countdown timer, world time and alarm functions you’d expect from a digital watch.

Fitness tracking

With a basic accelerometer inside, the G-Shock GBD-200UU can only really make informed guesses of your daily step count. It’s also not particularly immediate, and you’ll notice the step count jumps up in blocks every so often, rather than giving an accurate, real-time read out.

The same goes for running, as the watch is only really accurate when you have it paired to the G-Shock Move app and take that out on your favoured loop. With no built-in GPS, it’s difficult for the watch to give a truly accurate picture.

Predominantly geared up for running and/or walking, there aren’t any further options to track things like weight training, yoga, golf or surfing like you get on Garmin’s latest devices. Instead, it’s as simple as pressing one button before heading out on a run and away you go.

G-Shock Move app

Once the run is over, all data is processed by and accessed through the Casio G-Shock Move app, which boasts a neat interface and extremely easy to digest displays.

All of these can be rearranged to the user’s preference and there’s also the option to set up monthly goals, where it will ask you to punch in an attainable weekly distance figure and will track how well you’re doing.

Bear in mind this is really only tracking distance covered and won’t give you the same fitness and running performance metrics as those offered by Garmin, Wahoo, FitBit and others.

It does, however, offer a daily overview of recorded steps, the distance clocked up and a rough estimate on calorie burn based on a few vague body metrics.

Although no way near as in-depth as the proper fitness-tracking devices, it’s a nice way to stay motivated and keep on top of your weekly runs. There’s even the option to set yourself little medals for achieving certain distances.

The app can also send data to Apple Health, Google Fit, and Strava, so you can post details of your run online afterwards with ease. 

Performance in the field

First of all, it the Casio G-Shock GBD-200UU is refreshingly small, neat and light, boasting a fairly traditional digital display that almost has an 80s feel to it.

The utilitarian grey and black colourway is also stylish, but we found the strap easily picks up dirt and ours is already looking a bit worse for wear after just a few weeks of training.

In terms of user interface, it’s all fairly simple, but with just four buttons (five if you count the one that activates the light), there’s a fair amount of long-pressing and menu diving to alter settings. 

The Gear LoopCasio GBD-200UU review photo 10

Irritatingly, you can’t do anything via the G-Shock Move app that will then reflect in the watch, which would be way easier. Messing with the small and often fiddly buttons is really irksome when trying to set up or adjust workout interval timers, for example.

Out in the field, we found the watch to be relatively accurate and it painted a good picture of a run when we headed out with our phone. We’re not sure the same can be said if you simply rely on the accelerometer, because we found the step count alone to be misleading and not hugely accurate.

Without GPS, it’s never going to rival a lot of the fitness watches out there, but for basic run tracking and an overview of step counts, it’s absolutely fine. We also enjoyed the display with daily bars that fill as your step count increases. It acts as a nice visual indicator to get up and move more.

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To recap

Although the Casio G-Shock GBD-200UU will never rival more accomplished fitness trackers and smartwatches, it’s a great way of simply, effectively and affordably tracking runs and daily steps. So long as you aren’t too fussed about performance insights and highly accurate data, this watch boasts all of the urban cool of a G-Shock with some basic but handy smart watch features. You can also leave the USB-C leads behind, because its replaceable internal battery lasts years.

Writing by Leon Poultney.