What’s The Difference Between A Fitness Watch (Garmin’s) And An Apple Watch?

Fitbits, Apple Watches and Garmin’s… they track calories burnt, hours soundly slept, litres sporadically drunk, match your movement tempo to your music and so much more.

But at vastly different price tags and functionalities, which reigns supreme? Is the Apple Watch really worth the price you pay? Does the Garmin’s really come with a greater suite of fitness perks? Watch Direct is cutting through the subcutaneous fat to find out.

Firstly, when assessing their different qualities, you must take into consideration how fit they are for purpose. When the Garmin’s was released (the Garmin Forerunner) in 2003, it was designed very much to be a fitness watch - complete with all of the bells and whistles it was perceived that a fitness enthusiast might need on their sweaty endeavour. The Apple Watch, however (released in 2015), was designed to be a watch with a fitness component. Essentially, it’s a tiny tablet on your wrist.

Of course, this might imply that the Garmin’s is a more suited product to the individual who’s simply after a fitness aid, but not necessarily - you’ll pay more with an Apple Watch simply because you can do so much more outside of the health and wellbeing arena, but whether that means you should or shouldn’t buy it really depends on your goals.

If the idea of optimising other parts of your life (like your diary, meeting schedule, emails) from your wrist sounds like it would help you, maybe the answer is clear. But if you’re happy with a good, old sturdy fitness watch alone - the answer is clearer.

Features of the Garmin’s vs the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch offers an all-in-one option, whereas the Garmin’s fitness watch is much more fit for purpose.

As for pounding the pavement (which many people consider using a fitness watch for, given it’s detailed activity and data set capabilities), the Garmin’s Forerunner 935 is the people’s choice. It’s lightweight, non-techy and easy-to-use for the runner tweaking settings and switching preferences on the move, plus it tracks all running sessions from gym time to trails.Specific features include an elevate heart-rate sensor, 24/7 fitness tracking, VO2 max data, training effect ratings, training effectiveness and advised rest times, which are all gleaned from your heart-rate variability readings. Things like standard running data - pace, distance, heart-rate zones are available, and you can also link it up with a Garmin’s Running Dynamics Pod for extra intel, like cadence, ground contact time and stride length.

On the Apple Watch fitness watch side, the device comes with a heart-rate monitor, with the heart-rate recovery metric and data splits, but also runs a number of idle, background BPM checks to ensure your heart-rate doesn't spike to dangerous levels.

On the wellbeing side of things, you can use to monitor your breathing and relaxation levels, as well as a number of other things through its connection to the App Store, with a smorgasbord of third-party apps that offer niche tracking and perks from everything from golf, to equestrianism to pilates.In terms of music choice, which is a non-negotiable for the fitness enthusiast who needs those pumping tunes to get through a hard workout, the sync across playlists to the Watch from Apple Music and iTunes offers a great variety of music choice. However, the Fenix 5 Plus also offers offline music capabilities through iHeartRadio, so they aren’t vastly different in that regard, minus iHeartRadio’s lesser popularity to Apple Music.

Battery life of the Garmin’s vs the Apple Watch

How do the two fitness watches compare on battery life?

Battery life is hugely important, because it not only affects your enjoyment factor of the device, but from a functional point-of-view, for people who travel or train professionally, a long battery life is a non-negotiable, due to their ever-changing timetables and potential lack of proximity to an adequate charging station.Because the Apple Watch offers a more holistic, all-in-one watch experience for the user who wants a little bit of everything located on their wrist, the battery is spent more heavily across a wide range of apps, connections and outputs - this obviously affects the battery life. Anecdotally, many wearers say they experience battery death at around one and half full days of wearing the device, especially when it’s connected to networks or trying to find one in an area of poor connectivity.On the opposite side of the spectrum, Garmin offers around a month’s worth of juice, which is huge comparatively (GPS tracking lowers this slightly, but it’s still very high at 60 hours if you use the UltraTrac feature). For some people, battery life is their only main decider, especially when the features are so same-same, so in that case, the Garmin’s offers an obvious choice.

Price of the Garmin’s vs the Apple Watch

The price of the Apple Watch vs the Garmin’s fitness watch is comparable, so long as you’re comparing same watches.

Pricing is where things get a little bit more complex, as it mostly depends on the size, model and feature-happy version of each device you go with. With the Apple Watch, at a base level, you should expect to pay around $329 USD for an entry-level ticker. The more recent versions with all of the bells and whistles can retail at closer to $600+ USD (but of course, lesser on a resale site if you have a keen eye for a bargain). For the Fenix 5 Plus Garmin’s option, prices begin at $699.99 USD, but move up to almost $900 USD for the larger variations.

Both represent a fairly large investment, but it totally depends on your goal for the watch. If you’re looking to completely finesse your fitness regime, a Garmin’s is probably your best bet. If you’re looking for a more holistic mind, body and soul fitness regime introduction, an Apple Watch will give you the benefits of access to their wide App Store selection at your fingertips. Whichever smartwatch you decide to side with, you can rest assured knowing you’re getting a great watch - however, the strengths of each fitness watch is very dependent on you and what you want to use it for.

Happy ticking, and happy sweating.



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