2021 Starts with Bad GPS Tracks from Sony

January 2, 2021 – and if you went for a run in the new year already, you may have had bad GPS tracks with quite an offset.

[Update January 3, 2021: The problem was solved; future GPS tracks should be normal again. If you got one of those bad tracks, you’ll have to live with it. Syncing with the app to get the latest aGPS data is highly recommended!]

Image from a user, shared publicly on Facebook – I was running very early on Jan 1 and there were no issues yet, at that time, so I don’t have an image of wrong GPS tracks. This offset (the light blue shading is of the actual track) is what’s being reported by most users

You may think that Sony has little to do with your GPS watch, but whether it’s a new watch from Garmin, Suunto, Polar or Coros, it most likely has a GPS chip from Sony.

The current issue of bad tracks has now been reported from various Garmin models, the newer Polar watches, as well as the Suunto S5 and S9.

Watch restarts tend to help, but only until a sync delivers the, apparently faulty, aGPS file, i.e. the little bit of data that the watches (are supposed to) use to calculate GPS satellite positions, and with that, your own position and tracks, more quickly.

(Suunto watches, at the very least, don’t seem to sync the aGPS at the current time, the end of Jan. 2, 2021; perhaps Sony pulled it off its servers to prevent faulty files from download.)

It’s a bad start into the year, but also a very instructional one re. how GPS works: This is yet another example of how it’s not only the construction of a GPS receiver such as a sports watch, i.e. the hardware alone, that makes for good or bad GPS tracks!

Oh, you probably want to hear a solution…

The solution: Wait for a solution from Sony.

You *can* also restart your watch (Garmin or Polar Vantage V2, from the menu; Suunto: 12 sec press of the upper button), leave it disconnected from its app so it doesn’t get the aGPS file (if it could still do that – see above, Suunto watches now get an aGPS N/A instead).

This means that you’ll have to wait a while outside to get a decent GPS fix, but at least it should be a right one.


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