As you may have noticed on Instagram, I recently decided to buy a fitness watch. As with almost all decisions that I make, I have researched a lot of different options very (very) intensively. After considering all the options, I was faced with the decision Garmin vs. Apple Watch. Because of that I will summarize my findings for you and I will explain the reasons for my decision. If you are thinking of buying such a watch, you should definitely read on!
Busy? Then I’ve summarized the most important information of this blogpost for you.
First of all: Why did I want to buy a fitness tracker at all? Right at the start of my triathlon training, I quickly became aware of the importance of data (see also #RoadTo: Triathlon – Running). So far I have used a Fitbit, which has only provided me with a little data, especially regarding my running efficiency. Another thing to mention is, that my Fitbit is not waterproof. Because of that I could not record my swimming training at all.
That’s why I wanted to get more information about my training and my physical fitness. I wanted to focus on endurance sports and my triathlon training.
As one of the market leaders for fitness trackers, Garmin has been on my radar for a long time. In addition to the overwhelming range of functions that Garmin Watches offer, I really like the design of the watches. The option of connecting additional sensors and trackers via ANT + (or also Bluetooth) extends the range of functions even further.
One of the great strengths of Garmin is the battery life. According to the manufacturer, the new Garmin Fenix 6 lasts up to 14 days in smartwatch mode, up to 36 hours in GPS mode and even up to 48 days in energy saving mode! These trackers are designed to easily record long athletic activities.
Garmin Watches are of course equipped with an extremely wide range of fitness features. For my needs, the following were particularly important:
- Wrist heart rate measurement (the latest Garmin models even offer a pulse oximeter to measure blood oxygen saturation)
- VO2-Max estimate
- Running efficiency data
- Tracking while cycling (so that I can compare my routes)
- Tracking while swimming (swimming style detection, pulse measurement in the water, SWOLF value)
- Training load data
Apart from that, Garmin offers countless other functions, of which only a fraction is probably required as a “mere mortal”. Additional apps can also be installed to expand the range of functions even further.
Nowadays, Garmin already offers the most common smartwatch features such as synchronizing the calendar, music control and of course smart notifications. However, Garmin primarily manufactures fitness trackers and not smartwatches. Because o that, the features of the products are designed accordingly.
Garmin Watches do not offer a touchscreen, they are operated with 5 distinctive buttons.
When it comes to smartwatches, Apple is definitely the market leader. The watches are of high quality and the display is simply breathtaking. But Apple has also caught up strongly in the fitness area and offers a very wide range of functions. Because of that it is a valid alternative to a fitness tracker for every athlete.
The battery of the Apple Watch is the biggest shortcoming in my opinion, especially in terms of fitness. According to the manufacturer, it lasts 18 hours if you use it “normally”. The Apple Watch has to be charged every night. Tracking of sleep and further data on recovery are therefore not available. With the Apple Watch it will not be possible to track long-lasting activities such as a half-distance triathlon while simultaneously measuring your heart rate on the wrist, the battery simply won’t last.
Even though the Apple Watch does not offer many of the niche functions of a Garmin Watch, the Series 5 covers the most relevant areas. For example, the following areas are also covered:
- Heart rate measurement on the wrist (however, a pulse oximeter is not available)
- Tracking when running (e.g. current time / km, rolling pace etc)
- Tracking when cycling
- Tracking when swimming (swimming style detection, pulse measurement in the water)
You can get a VO2 estimate on the Apple Watch via an additional app. The Apple Watch does not offer run-efficiency data per default. However, it is possible to purchase a chest strap from a third-party provider that provides you with this data (a chest strap is also required for these data with a Garmin Watch). You don’t have to do without running efficiency data with an Apple Watch.
However, the Apple Watch only offers Bluetooth to pair devices, ANT + is not supported (which is particularly disadvantageous for pairing multiple devices).
It should be noted that the Apple Watch can record a heart ECG, a feature which Garmin does not offer.
In my opinion, the Apple Watch is, without a doubt, the best smartwatch. The intuitive usability, the clear display and the large selection of additional apps, which can further expand the already extensive range of functions of the watch, are clear signs of that. As an iPhone owner, the compatibility with the Apple Watch is undisputed.
The Apple Watch is operated via a very responsive touchscreen and a small button.
If you are looking for a robust fitness tracker with a long battery life and a very wide range of fitness features, then you are best advised with a Garmin Watch.
Why Apple Watch?
However, if you are primarily looking for a smartwatch, have an iPhone and are not doing any athletic activities for which you need long battery life, you are certainly better advised with the Apple Watch.
I chose the Garmin Fenix 6. My primary motive for buying this watch was tracking my fitness level and my athletic activities. I want to optimize my triathlon training which is why battery life is very important to me. The fact that Garmin Watches do not offer a touchscreen is an advantage for me, because I can use the watch with buttons even when swimming in the water or in the rain.
Do you already have a fitness tracker or a smartwatch? Which brand did you choose and why? Let me know in the comments!