Product Review: Avantree Elephants sports armband for smartphone

My Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS watch has been giving me battery problem, lasting only 3+ hours, evidently through my last 2 full marathons (Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon 2016 and Kuching Marathon 2016). The battery is supposed to last for 5 hours though. If I were a sub 3 hours runner, the shortened battery hours would not be a problem. But I'm just a regular runner striving to be better, not an elite runner. Therefore, it has been bugging me. :)

With that, my search has started to look for an alternative solution. 

In truth, I only need 4 key features: pace, time, distance and cadence. The rest of the features are good to have but not a must for me. Knowing pace, time, distance and cadence can help me in my training progress and during races. Otherwise, I feel paralyzed. haha! May be too much dependent on technology.

Most value-for-money option without purchasing a new GPS watch or while waiting for my GPS Forerunner 10 to be fixed? I would say a combination of using Smartphone's running apps and music instead. But the problem is that I like to run light. The less I carry during run, the better I feel. And to use running apps instead of GPS watch, I need to carry my Samsung Galaxy Edge 7 to run. Err!!!! I hate the idea of carrying a phone to run! So inconvenient and heavy! I just want to focus on running and carry as little as possible!

Do I look like I have a choice? What do I do while waiting for my Garmin Forerunner 10 to be fixed? I feel handicapped not knowing my pace during my training.

Ok ok - I will try to bring Samsung Galaxy Edge 7 for my run so that I can use running apps.

Next question: Shall I put my phone in my current Nathan waist pouch or buy an armband to try out?  Well, I have tried to run with my phone in Nathan waist pouch but I just don't like my phone's bouncy feel. Therefore, I have decided to try out armband running. :)

After some shopping and product comparisons at Low Yat Plaza, I bought Avantree Elephants Sports armband for Smartphone to see if I like this alternative way of having GPS through Nike + running app on my phone to track my pace, distance and time.

Box design
I must confess that Avantree Elephants stood out among different armband products due to its simple yet elegant packaging. See - I love things with simple design. Luckily there was a display armband unit for me to have a feel of the material and the armband itself before I made the purchase.  I thought that was a good move!
Avantree Elephants Sports Armband: simple, nice, elegant packaging. My kind of liking! :)

Avantree Elephants sports armband is slim and flexible with the soft material used for 4' to 5.5' smartphones. 

I love the simple design too - with a very soothing bluish lining over black color

On the smartphone transparent cover, there is a reflective strip in a shape of a smartphone as a safety running feature.

Earphone ports are also provided at both ends. For each end, there are 2 earphone ports, giving the flexibility to slide earphone wire through connecting to the headphone jack of different types of smartphones. A thoughtful design indeed!

The armband trap is made of neoprene material, a family of synthetic rubbers. Neoprene exhibits good chemical stability and maintains flexibility over a wide temperature range. in fact, it is used in a wide variety of applications including but not limited to laptop sleeves, orthopedic braces (wrist, knee, etc). It comes with velcro for the arm tightening.

The dual fit design allows me to adjust the armband tightness of my arm freely. For smaller arm, one can use the inner slot (a); and for the larger arm, one can use the outer slot (b) to slide in the strap. 

Another feature I really love is the key holder to hold car key when out running. That's such a cool feature! 

How about holding some cash, credit card or identity card? Where to put? There is no special slot for it but I believe it can be slotted into a little plastic bag and placed behind smartphone in the sports armband pocket. By the way, I intentionally chose this one without additional pocket to keep the thickness of sports armband down to the minimal.

Wearing Avantree Elephants sports armband

According to instruction, I can wear the sports armband first then only slide my phone into place.
The transparent cover will keep my smartphone protected from finger prints and scratches. Additionall, I can easily access my multi-touch display and headphone jack through the sensitive transparent cover and earphone ports.

Time to experience it!

Hey - it's cool! I could actually slide my phone into place, with or without my smartphone protective cover and smartphone ring. Of course, without my smartphone protective cover and ring will make the wearing more comfortable and less thick and bulky. 

I could even slot in my car key!! I love it!!

As for my little cash and driver's licence which I carry during run, I put inside a small little plastic bag and place behind my Samsung Galaxy Edge 7 in the armband.

Perhaps I am not used to having something wrapping around my arm, I can feel the tightness on my arm and sweat between the sports armband and skin, even before I start running! And it's so bulky!! (I can't blame sports armband for the bulkiness. I shall blame it on my 5.5" smartphone. haha!) I guess these are the reasons why I never wear any sports armband in the first place since I started running end 2010. Very uncomfortable, bulky and cumbersome.

But since I already bought it, I should wear it to run before I jump into any conclusion. 

Besides, if so many runners can run with a sports armband, why not me? In fact, I have a friend who runs below 3 hours 30 min in his full marathons with his sports armband and iPhone 6 Plus. Isn't that even bulkier? But yet, he is not bothered by it yet registering such lightning speed in full marathons. :) 

Running with Avantree Elephants sports armband

In order to replace Garmin Forerunner 10 with sports armband running, I need to prepare the below:

1. Avantree Elephants sports armband
2. Nike + Run Club running app
3. Pioneer sport headphone
4. Samsung Galaxy Edge 7 

And I must say that's a lot of preparation compared to a simple watch! :) Anyway, I was adventurous a little bit this morning in my experiment. I tried out 2 ways of sports armband running:

1. sports armband running with headphone (11.6 km)
Basically all in - with the Pioneer sports headphone through earphone port connected to headphone jack on my Samsung Galazy Edge 7. 

2. sports armband running without headphone (19.2 km)
I removed my Pioneer sports headphone from the earphone port and headphone jack. Then I turned on the volume of smartphone so that I could hear Nike + Run Club notification at each KM and the music.

30.8 km run with Avantree sports armband + Nike + Run Club running app + Samsung Galaxy Edge 7

After 30.8 km run with a sports armband for the very first time in my life, here is my honest feedback on Avantree Elephants sports armband:

Initially I wasn't so used to it, feeling the tightness in my right arm. I could feel the sweat between the neoprene-made strap and my arm skin the moment I tightened the strap. 

As I ran, my Avantree Elephants sports armband also started to slide down my arm. I had to adjust a few times until it became more stabilized

However, this no longer bothered me once I got used to it after my first 11.6 km run

The transparent cover is excellent! I could activate my Nike + Run Club running app through the transparent cover with no problem. It was truly a joy!

My run became even more enjoyable when I decided to remove the headset and run with the music volume on for the remaining 19.2 km. I could hear the time, distance and pace every km clearly. I could hear the music too which I used for my cadence.

It has been a while since I could run comfortably without headset because I needed to know my cadence for my training and race.

And I was pleasantly surprised at this new discovery of having the combination of Avantree sports armband and Nike + Run Club running app on my Samsung Galaxy Edge 7 could do the trick!! Awesome!

Towards the last 5 km, I felt the slight numbness on my right arm where the sports armband was. May be it was due to the long distance and it was too tight. It could also possibly be that I wasn't used to it yet.

By the the time I completed 30.8 km run, I noticed my sports armband was soaking wet. Thank goodness for the water resistance of Samsung Galaxy Edge 7. I was worry-free. :)

All in all, for a newbie in sports armband running, I would say that my early resistance to wearing one was totally wrong. After trying, it gave me new thoughts and insight about armband running, especially with Nike + Run Club running app and music, it gave me a complete training requirement of having to have time,distance, cadence and pace. And I did it without sports headphones and Garmin Forerunner 10. :) Awesome!!

For RM 30 bought at Low Yat Plaza to try out, it was well worth it!! :) 

Written on 2016.09.18


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