Of all the multi-sport smartwatch brands currently on the market, Garmin and Apple can be considered the most popular. This observation can be attributed to two main reasons: Garmin is better at tracking fitness, and Apple is better at intelligent alerts.
I have different versions of each brand and I have tested many others, and I can tell you that both brands offer great functionality for very different reasons.
Comparison between Garmin and Apple, what is the best solution for sports tracking?
When it comes to multi-sport tracking, GPS navigation and performance measurement, Garmin watches offer the best value for money. Apple Watch (see on Amazon) is better in terms of smart notifications and the wide range of features normally found on smartphones.
The choice between these two watch brands boils down to what is mainly expected of an intelligent watch. Since Garmin is more athletic and Apple watches are more of a niche product that offers a mini iPhone, it’s important to know the similarities and differences between the two brands. Read on to find out which of these two brands best suits your needs.
Is a Garmin watch better than an Apple watch?
The Garmin Forerunner 35 was the first watch I bought. As a fitness enthusiast, I’m baffled by the watch’s level of detail in measuring performance. But because I’m also a big iPhone fan, I was just as excited to see the first batch of Apple watches, and I literally have a smartphone on my wrist.
The truth is that Garmin and Apple both make great smart watches, but your best decision will depend on many different variables.
Most people I know in the fitness industry don’t use Apple Watches regularly to track their performance, but that’s only because their Garmin or Suunto are much better at tracking things like triathlons or complex performance metrics based on open GPS variables.
The average user who just wants a smart device on their wrist will find the Apple watch series superior to all of these brands.
But to say the Apple Watch series lacks performance tracking would be a lie; there are many important performance tracking features on the Apple Watch. For example, the 6 ranges of Apple watches include Vo2 Max, as well as the performance-enhancing features I’ve found in my Garmin watches for advanced and professional users. Both brands have a sleep tracking function and the accuracy of both brands is about the same with the sleep tracking function.
But if you really compare it, Garmin improves your ability to follow your health and fitness. Garmin watches make running or following multi-sport activities a really comfortable process. With models designed for both tactical and rugged outdoor activities, you can enjoy all the comfort indoors.
But Garmin lags far behind the Apple Watch series when it comes to intelligent notifications. With the Apple Watch family, you can respond to text and other alerts much faster, and the overall screen quality of every Apple Watch family is better than that of a Garmin watch. Apple notifications are truly more innovative on the Apple Watch series model, and all this is made easy by the lack of physical buttons.
Final verdict: Garmin is better than Apple watches at measuring performance and fitness.
But what are the real differences between the Garmin watch and Apple-series models?
What is the difference between Apple Watch and Garmin?
The very first difference that emerges is the inclusion of touch technology in the Apple Watch series; this is a debate between Garmin and Apple Watch that Garmin is far from winning. Garmin watches are button-based, which is not a negative point, but touch screen technology is much more convenient.
Plus, the Garmin watch battery life is generally better than that of Apple-series models. If we compare the batteries in the cases of Garmin and Apple watches, we can see that some Garmin watches can easily hold a charge for one to two weeks or even three to four days of constant GPS tracking. The Apple Watch series isn’t far away. Add to that some of Garmin’s solar-powered models and the comparison of body batteries becomes even more impressive.
Both the Garmin and Apple Watch series offer convenient payment options in Garmin Pay and Apple Pay, respectively. Garmin Pay and Apple Pay are easy-to-use programs that really save you having to open individual programs to pay for extra programs or even make daily purchases. Health surveillance statistics are also an important part of any brand. Garmin and Apple Series watches tell you what you need to know to keep track of your health and fitness.
Oxygen levels in the blood, heart rate and recommended activities to increase or balance them are included. Garmin is a little more innovative in this area, especially in terms of heart rate monitoring and generally better suggestions for increasing productivity or reducing rest, even while sleeping.
The Apple Watch Series is faster and more convenient, with more data at your fingertips. You’ll probably be pleased with what Garmin has to offer in this area, but it’s just an added convenience to everything the Apple Watch series can do.
The Apple Watch series is also the leading smartwatch for music. With preloaded Apple Music and the ultra-comfortable Apple Air Capsules as optional accessories, even the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music and Forerunner 645 Music can’t compete with the Apple Watch family.
Again, the main difference you should keep in mind when comparing Garmin and Apple watches is the most important use you expect from the watch. The Apple Watch Series has nothing in common with Garmin when it comes to fitness, but Garmin can’t match the innovative and intelligent features of the Apple Watch Series.
You can get good fitness features from an Apple model, but good fitness features from Garmin; Garmin is pretty good with smart features, but Apple sets the gold standard.
What is the best alternative to Apple Watch?
Apple is by far the best choice when it comes to applications and downloads, but there are competitive watches that strike a good balance between smart technology and fitness:
Garmin Harbinger 245 Music
No fitness session (nor any use of a smart watch) is ever truly complete without a watch that allows you to store music, and this watch is all about music. Predecessor 245 Music (see on Amazon) allows you to play up to 500 audio files in random order. Gone are the days when you had to use a separate device to listen to all your favourite fitness songs. With this model you can easily listen during your workout.
The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music is also useful if you want to improve your workout during your fitness activities. The Garmin Coach feature provides advice on the status, impact and understanding of the dynamics of your fitness history and how it relates to the new goals you want to achieve, as well as recommendations for the future, which can then be broken down into individual categories to ensure that you spend the necessary time on each activity.
Forerunner 245 The battery life of the music’s battery is also impressive. You can have up to 24 hours of battery life when using the Watch in GPS mode, and up to a week when using the Watch in normal smartwatch mode.
The Forerunner 245 Music has most of the features of the Apple Watch with the added advantage of better accessibility to the music, making it an excellent choice over the Apple Watch. But this model is also excellent for many other activities. Forerunner 245 Music makes it easy to change settings with built-in activity profiles for running (indoor/outdoor), cycling (indoor/outdoor), swimming, elliptical, fun and strength training.
This watch would certainly be a good choice if you can’t choose between other models.
- Easily load up to 500 songs onto the watch and pair it with a Bluetooth headset for hands-free listening.
- Synchronizes music from certain streaming services for offline listening.
- Provides improved performance dynamics, including ground contact time balance, stride length, vertical ratio and more.
- Uses estimated wrist heart rate data to perform performance monitoring functions, including evaluation of the current state of the training.
- Uncomfortable watch strap
- Rapid battery discharge
Predecessor Garmin 945
The Garmin Forerunner 945 is a significant improvement over the already perfect Forerunner 745. I have written with passion about this watch, and the same level of passion continues as I analyze the possibilities of Forerunner 945 versus Apple. Forerunner 945 monitors your training performance and can even give you a personal view of your workout, so you can train smarter, not harder.
The smartwatch monitors your VO2 max and adjusts the value based on the heat and altitude. Training Status reviews your recent training history and performance metrics to let you know if you are training productively, peak or overworked. You can see how your training affects your endurance, speed and strength development, with feedback on the effects of aerobic and anaerobic training, even from multisport statistics.
Recovery time helps you get the most out of your efforts by predicting when you will be ready for your next intensive workout. You can even view your total workout load, which measures your workout volume over the past 7 days and compares it to the optimal range for your fitness and workout history. In addition, Forerunner 945’s new Training Focus has been divided into different categories based on training patterns and intensity.
The Apple Watch is always a good choice for fitness, but the Forerunner 945 takes fitness to the next level of performance monitoring.
- Performance monitoring functions include Vo2 Max and training status with adjustment to heat, altitude acclimatization status, training load concentration, recovery time and the effects of aerobic and anaerobic training.
- Coloured cards on board help you to run so you don’t get lost during training.
- Security and tracking features include event detection (for certain activities) that sends your location to emergency contacts via a paired, compatible smartphone in real time.
- Battery life can be up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode, 10 hours in GPS mode with music, or up to 60 hours in Ultratrac mode.
- One-time connection problems may require frequent power cycles for updates.
Garmin Wiener Platz
The Garmin Venu Sq has enough power for such a small watch. This can be useful for athletes who don’t want to feel burdened by a large, bulky watch. In addition to the attractive price and some similar smart notifications found in Apple watches, the most important attributes of Venu Sq are health statistics and watch tracking.
When you want to relax or concentrate after an intensive workout, you can start a breathing activity and this watch will record your stress and your breathing to help you better understand your breathing. You can also keep a daily diary of fluid intake to remind you to stay hydrated. You may even have an automatic hydration target that adapts to the amount of sweat you lose during your workout.
The Pulse Ox sensor evaluates the level of oxygen in the blood, which can be very useful during training, especially during a competition. What’s more, quick relaxation memories will even prompt you to take a short breath when you’re stressed. This model may not have any innovative features, but the Venu Sq will be useful if you are looking for health surveillance.
- Small and compact
- Find new ways to exercise with over 20 preloaded sports applications, including hiking, running, cycling, conscious breathing, swimming, golf and more.
- Use predefined exercises such as cardio, yoga, strength training and even Pilates, or create your own workout in the Garmin Connect application (application required on compatible smartphones).
- Never miss another call, text or social media alert with smart notifications delivered directly to your wrist (linked to a compatible smartphone).
- Sensitive to interference and sporadic GPS reception
- It may be too small for some cyclists
Live Garmin 4S
The Garmin Vivoactive 4S is another excellent Garmin watch at the bottom of the size spectrum. When it comes to fitness, you can now use a handy exercise counter to record and display your specific performance and health goals while you work out. But the Vivoactive 4S has a lot more to offer if you want to change your fitness programme from time to time.
If you want a swimming mode, this model now has a fully integrated wattmeter that records your movements underwater and suggests improvements to help you achieve your goals.
A special feature is the performance monitoring of Garmin Move IQ. This function can automatically detect the type of fitness program you are following. Based on this detection, you can view a saved event in your Garmin Connect calendar to see what you’ve accomplished, even if you weren’t planning on saving the activity.
The Vivoactive 4S enhances previous exceptions to this popular Garmin line, such as. B. the Vivosmart series, and in that sense the Vivoactive 4S is an excellent investment for any fitness level.
- Monitors your energy level
- Easily download songs to watch, including Spotify, Amazon Music or Deezer playlists (a premium third party subscription may be required), and plug in headphones to listen without your phone.
- Record all types of exercise with over 20 pre-programmed GPS and indoor sports applications, including cycling, yoga, running, swimming and more.
- Enjoy easy-to-use, animated workouts right on your TV screen, including strength training, cardio, yoga and Pilates.
- Up to 7 hours in smartwatch mode; up to 5 hours in GPS and music mode
- No robust design
- There are not many distinguishing features in cycling.
Suunto 3 Fitness
If Garmin is too expensive, Suunto 3 Fitness is a beautiful and reliable fitness watch with attached features, designed for those who lead active lifestyles and enjoy health and wellness. The watch creates an individual workout plan for you that adapts to your fitness needs. During your training you will receive real-time instructions to help you maintain the correct intensity.
Based on your personal profile, Suunto 3 creates a 7-day training plan with optimal duration and intensity for each exercise to improve your fitness. The programmed exercises are easy to activate and once you start, the watch helps you stay at the right intensity.
The training recommendations are based on the current fitness level and the recorded training history. The training plan is automatically adapted to your actual training. So if you skip an exercise or get excited and do something more than you expect, you don’t have to worry about manually updating the plan.
True to Suunto’s sports experience, Suunto 3 is ready for all your sports – from running, swimming and cycling to gymnastics training, hiking and much more. The Watch uses the cadence of the wrist to measure speed and distance while walking and running, which means you can keep track of your speed and distance inside.
The watch also measures your exertion and recovery throughout the day to make sure you have enough in the tank to get through the day. The easy-to-use summaries give you an overview of your overall activity and help you find a balance between activity and rest.
- This fitness monitoring watch accurately records steps, movement, stress and recovery; a customized training guide creates personalized 7-day plans to help you maintain or improve your fitness level.
- This fitness watch provides an overview of your daily activities, including steps, calories and sleep. The ultra-soft and elegant microfiber bracelet is ideal for the gym or city.
- Connect to your favorite sports applications and services through the Suunto application to learn more about your watch; share it with your sports communities and access specific analytics and training tips.
- Our watches combine Scandinavian design with ultra-durable materials and capture your sporting and daily activities, as well as your sleep, so you can continue to develop.
- Founded in 1936, Suunto brings to its watches, compasses and diving products over 80 years of superior craftsmanship, unparalleled precision and groundbreaking innovation.
- The layout of the 5 buttons can be confusing
- Thick bar and bezel can be uncomfortable for some users.
Is the Garmin watch worth it?
What makes a Garmin watch good value for money? The Garmin watch is a practical fitness tool. This watch is a complete upgrade for the fitness industry, which means that some previous issues with other models such as Apple have been improved for your comfort. B. Activating different sports and fitness dynamics as opposed to receiving smart notifications on your smartphone.
The technology has been refined to go beyond simple speed and even to locate targets in different areas of the body, not just an overall score. Garmin watches can be comfortable and lightweight or sturdy and bulky, depending on your condition.
These are just some of the reasons why Garmin watches are worth the investment for fitness enthusiasts:
- Ideal for triathletes. The Garmin watch is designed for users who want to know that their smartwatch can keep up with a variety of triathlon performances. With updated and enhanced cadence, ground contact time, stride length, and all features that synchronize with accurate heart rate readings and performance statistics, many Garmin watches are ideal for triathletes.
- It comes with pre-installed activity profiles. Most Garmin watches are designed for a wide range of fitness activities. Innovative and detailed activity profiles for swimming, running, cycling and triathlon are part of the profile selection that you can choose from a variety of Garmin watches. Most Garmin models also include a series of recommendations if you want ideas on how to change your condition.
- Indicator V02 Max. When you train hard, the technology can sometimes make inaccurate statements that take into account variables that are beyond your control. Wind, altitude and differences in outdoor temperature, both hot and cold, can give a slightly distorted display of performance, but the V02 max display on many Garmin watches indicates specific characteristics that take this into account and give you an accurate reading.
- Innovative technology in a state of performance. Like most models in Garmin’s line of intelligent watches, the watch analyzes heart rate, condition and heart rate variability. It is based on a wide range of different power types to provide a real-time assessment of your performance during training. With extra features to estimate how long it takes to reach different thresholds.
- Different GPS navigation protocols. Nearly all Garmin watches are equipped with Glonass and Galileo GPS, allowing you to track the terrain and its surroundings over a larger area than is possible with traditional GPS technology.
- The ability to synchronize music. Apple easily beats Garmin when it comes to music, but there are Garmin watches that let you sync music with the music storage built into the phone’s software. You can sync a Spotify playlist or use a pre-programmed playlist when you’re on the go and don’t have time to sync your favorite songs to the music storage portal.
- Road maps. Many Garmin watches now offer the ability to customize maps and routes using the Glonass and Galileo GPS protocols, which allow you to follow a route in a wider variety of environments and terrains than traditional GPS technology allows. The map technology is colourful and interactive (on the most advanced models), giving you even more detailed and visually attractive routes based on your location.
So, Garmin vs. Apple watches, what’s the best? The Apple watch is ideal for those looking for a small version of their iPhone on their wrist. It’s convenient and innovative, but compared to Garmin, fitness activities and logbooks are not as advanced. This is because Garmin mainly offers its watches to consumers in the fitness niche.
It is difficult to label one brand of watch directly as better than the other, because the two brands pursue different approaches. Just by weighing the difference in shape, I’d say Garmin is the best choice. But Apple has the Garmin key for notifications and common smart features.
>> You might also be interested in the Garmin Phoenix vs. Garmin Forerunner trial.
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