Knowing which Garmin watch or smartwatch is right for you can be made easier with our 2023 guide. There’s something for every user and budget. Whether you’re an athlete or a more casual smartwatch user with basic fitness interests, there’s a Garmin built for you.
Newbies to smart wearables may want to opt for Garmin watch models that are less feature-heavy, whereas the more serious athletes should look to the Garmin Fenix 6, or get for the Fenix 7 which has been recently released.
One thing which many of these smartwatches can offer is Garmin’s Assistance and Incident Detection Features. Some of these features are unique to Garmin smartwatches and are perfect for the lone runner or cyclists, teenagers, or seniors. Assistance requires Garmin Connect and a network connection, while Incident Detection is a feature specific to each model.
This isn’t all
Note, this list isn’t definitive as there are many fantastic Garmin wearables you could consider. So, treat this as an overview of the spectrum that’s on offer. Ultimately, each of the Garmin watches recommended below will not disappoint.
Best Multisport Garmin Watches
The new Epix 2 is a welcome companion to workouts but comes at a steep price. Part of the higher price is attributed to the top-of-the-line materials used in making this epic Garmin smartwatch. Users can choose from either their Sapphire/Black Titanium model, Sapphire/White Titanium, or Slate Steel models. These materials ensure the eEix Gen 2 is a durable sports watch that can handle any weather conditions, some bumps and bangs, or just a passionately active lifestyle.
Many who are shopping for multisport GPS watches at these prices may consider the Fenix 7 versus the Epix 2. The Epix will show you its worth in durability, amazing screen resolution that you can’t find on any other Garmin model, and its GPS capabilities like round-trip routing, turn-by-turn navigation, and multi-continent topo maps. The Epix Gen 2 is built for the hardcore adventurers, and with accurate GPS tracking functions, you can make use of Garmin’s safety features with the Connect App.
As long as your Epix Gen2 is connected to a smartphone and the app, your smartwatch can help keep you safe on these extreme adventures with Incident Detection, Assistance, LiveTrack, Live Event Sharing, and GroupTrack. All these safety features work with your GPS tracking to notify emergency contacts of your location in worst case scenarios.
The highly anticipated release of the Fenix 7 brought a lot of excitement for Garmin wearers, as it is a marvelous sports watch with a few key improvements upon the Fenix 6 model. It is also available in the three sizes, Fenix 7, 7S, or 7X, as well as with a Solar option, or Solar Sapphire model.
Some of those key improvements made on the Fenix 7 include more accurate GPS, an improved heart rate sensor, an updated user interface, all of which comes in a thinner and lighter package. In fact, most about the Fenix 7 (no matter the size or model) can be considered a more minimalistic version of what the Fenix 6 offered, or a sleeker version of what the Epix 2. The buttons stand out less, the band is simpler,
That does not mean there are fewer features on the 7, however. It offers all of the same workout trackings as the 6, with a few added workouts and activity profiles. The improved GPS on the 7 comes in handy when you consider Garmin’s safety features as well.
The Fenix 7 offers a multitude of ways to stay connected with Incident Detection, LiveTrack, GroupTrack, and Assistance features, contactless pay, music streaming, and Smart Notifications.
One of the neatest features to come out of the 7 series is the Fenix 7x’s built-in LED flashlight. It isn’t the brightest light, but when in need, it will surely come in handy.
There are several new capabilities in the Forerunner 255, including multisport tracking, more sophisticated GPS and a slew of high-end technologies that are more accessible than ever before.
Versions of the 255
Forerunner 255, Forerunner 255 Music, and Forerunner 255s are 46mm wide devices, while the Forerunner 255s and 255s Music are 5mm smaller at 41mm wide. Aside from their little stature, the 255s versions’ specifications are nearly identical. Batteries may last up to 14 days and 30 hours in GPS mode, but the Forerunner 955 has touchscreen technology.
The UK retail price of the Garmin Forerunner 255 and 255s is £299.99, while the US retail price is $349.99. £349.99 (UK) or $399 (US) for the 255 Music or 255s Music watch, which can store 500 songs as well as access Spotify, Deezer and Apple Music via your phone, respectively. Prices in Australia are unavailable at this time.
The 255 has less features than we see in the 955. Such as the Morning Report, the race widget, and HRV status, despite not having a touchscreen.
For triathletes and other multi-sport enthusiasts, multi-band GPS provides better GPS tracking across several satellite bands while allowing you to switch between different sports profiles with a single button push.
Pulse Oximeter, VO2 Max and training status are all included in the Garmin health metrics and features. Aside with PacePro, there is no mention of ClimbPro in the 255 watches, which means they won’t be able to tell you when you’re approaching a climb. Additionally, you may plan routes on services like Strava and connect them to your watch.
For Kids- The Bounce
Garmin launched the new Bounce Watch for Kids. This watch gives the parents peace of mind knowing where their children are at all times. The watch also comes with a range of fitness-tracking features.
The Garmin Fenix 6 is a fantastic outdoor tracking device. In fact, some hail it as the king of multisport wearables. But, if you like this device and worry about the battery life, you can check out the Fenix 6 Solar, which is truly the very top of the line. (see how it compares to other Solar Watches)
The Fenix 6 knows how to track most outdoor activities with GPS and a heart rate monitor. The cool thing is, it works even underwater (offering a 10ATM rating). GPS catches on quickly and remains reliable and accurate. More, the battery won’t die on you too quickly in GPS mode, offering up to 36 hours. Altogether, this watch is a robust and reliable offering for outdoor enthusiasts.
The Assistance and Incident Detection, which work with the Fenix’s GPS and your phone’s connection to their app, can also be great for outdoor enthusiasts, as both features work to keep you safe and connected. They both can notify emergency contacts of your location if something happens while you’re out on your own. Incident Detection is an automatic feature which needs to be enabled in order to detect falls or sudden slowing of pace.
Most Stylish Garmin Watches
While Garmin has a core focus on sports and fitness of all kinds with their watches and smartwatches, the Vivomove Sport offers a brand-new look for Garmin. It is a hybrid analog/smartwatch, meaning you get the hands and time markers, but also a hidden touch screen underneath.
It does offer a decent array of smart features and fitness tracking features, but the main draw from the vívomove Sport is certainly the stylish and fashionable design choices. You have four current color options, and several band customizations options to boot. But if it is a hybrid, what sort of smart features come with your analog-looking smartwatch?
There are several, in fact, considering your screen remains hidden most of the time. You get all the necessary fitness tracking features like heart rate and sleep monitoring, step counting, stress tracking, women’s health tracking, advanced sleep monitoring, and preloaded sports apps. The hybrid watch does not have GPS built in but can connect to compatible smartphones and their maps.
The Sport is also compatible with Garmin Connect, so you can take advantage of the safety features and synching your watch with a few emergency contacts. These contacts are used for Assistance, Incident Detection, and LiveTrack to keep you safe and connected while working out alone.
Garmin Vivoactive 4S
The 4S shows off a much more modern design and is no larger than a typical smartwatch. Something unheard of when it comes to Garmin, traditionally known for their bulky wearables (the Vivoactive 4S is only 40mm by 12.7mm and is a slimmer version of the 4).
More, it offers superb fitness tracking and built-in GPS that takes only a couple of seconds to find your location, meaning you get an accurate record of your run or ride. The GPS accuracy becomes useful when considering safety and assistance features like Incident Detection.
Finally, a nice touch is the sleep, and Sp02 tracking sensors which will keep an eye on you whilst you snooze at night.
Garmin Vivosmart 5
This fitness band is a Garmin model with less features than its more complicated models. This is the successor of the Vivosmart 4, which was released in 2018. And we were blown away by it. However, there comes a time when an upgrade is all that’s required.
The new Vivosmart 5 band has a better touchscreen interface than its predecessor, but it also lacks a vital function that is important for a casual runner or pedometer user. Both the Vivosmart 5 and the Vivosmart 4 include Connected GPS in place of GPS. Because we’d want to see both functions, this is a disappointment and detracts from the smart side of the smartband, which we think is a pity.
For a solo running watch, go for a more sophisticated Garmin like the Fenix 7 or new Epix 2, which utilises the location data from your phone.
Best Garmin Models for your Budget
Garmin Venu Sq
The Garmin Venu Sq is an affordable variant of the Garmin Venu that has the same features as the Garmin Venu but has a square case.
The Venu Sq includes all the sensors you’ll need, such as a built-in GPS, pulse oximeter, and HRM. It’s a good sports tracking tool because it has dedicated modes for walking, cycling, and swimming.
It also has smartwatch features, including an onboard music player (with the music variant) contactless payments, and access to Garmin’s Connect IQ store for installing apps and watch faces in both versions.
The main Venu lacks the more spectacular AMOLED monitor, animated exercises to follow along with right from your wrist, and an altimeter to chart increases in elevation. The Venu SQ should satisfy your needs if you can go without certain advanced features.
Overall, we think the Venu is a perfect example of what Garmin can do because it mixes the best of its sports and smartwatch features with a screen that rivals some of the best smartwatches on the market.
Garmin Forerunner 55
The Forerunner 55 is the successor of the Forerunner 45 and is a formidable smartwatch which lasts up to two weeks between charges. GPS mode is good for 20 hours. It can even track your pulse while swimming. Works well with both Androids and iPhones.
Supports multiple sport modes including elliptical trainer, stepper, HIIT Cardio training, Yoga and Pilates, recording your training history and recommending workouts. It supports everything the 45 offers and more.
The Forerunner 55 can be an everyday use Garmin, but it excels as a running watch with some of the most advanced features that come from the well known brand and sports ecosystem. Plan your race and predict your finish time based on guidance and coaching. Use it’s GPS based pace guidance for even more accuracy. This watch is a true runner’s companion. You can’t go wrong with this running watch. The only drawbacks can be no onboard music or touchscreen if you’re accustomed to that interface or willing to pay for a more expensive model like the Venu 2.
Best Running Smartwatches from Garmin
Garmin Forerunner 945
The Forerunner 945 is the best for runners. Granted it doesn’t have as many features as the Fenix 6, but that’s more of a multisport watch. There’s also an LTE model for the 945 which can help if you want to run without your phone. So, if you’re into marathons, consider this one.
The hrm and GPS are incredibly accurate. Plus, the color maps and two weeks battery life (when GPS mode is switched off) is highly praised by runners.
While this is a watch for runners, it can track more than just one sport. In fact, it offers 30 built-in activities, Indicdent Detection, and Assitance for emergencies.
However, if you’re a casual runner or gym-goer, keep reading as this may not be the Garmin for you. Mostly, this will suit those who want to keep a close eye on their data. Read our Garmin Fenix 6 versus Forerunner 945 article, here.
Venu 2 Plus
There is little which the Venu 2 Plus cannot capture from your workouts, and makes a perfect, but pricier, fitness tracking watch. It also follows other Garmin models in the trend of focusing a bit more on style, while also focusing on those health features. But what does the Plus offer which the regular Venu 2 cannot? Mainly, the ability to make calls from your wrist!
While the Venu 2 can show you texts, alerts, and emails from your connected and compatible phone, the Plus watch model lets you make calls from the watch. This alone could make the Venu 2 Plus worth its extra $30.
When you get to work, the Venu2 can track multiple stats including the standard ones like heart rate, steps, and a variety of workouts. The Venu2 can also gage your Body Battery levels, your blood-oxygen saturation, your stress levels, respiration levels, and advanced sleep monitoring. But how else can the Venu2 enhance your workouts?
What else does the Venu 2 Plus offer?
It has several other connectivity features which help make a workout more fun, like Spotify, Deezer, or Amazon music streaming, and safety tracking. Garmin’s Venu 2 Plus can work with the Garmin Connect app for added workouts and more customization options, Garmin Coach, and HIIT workouts, but is incredibly helpful because of Connect’s safety features. These safety features include Assistance, Incident Detection, and LiveTracking.
The underwater rating of 5atm is not as high as some other sports watches out there, and is the same as on the Venu 2 and the Venu Sq but this only really affects avid swimmers or divers. If you don’t foresee yourself underwater all that much, the rating is still suitable for pool laps, showers, and steam rooms.
If you think the Garmin Venu Sq is a comparable watch to the Apple Watch, then you’ll probably consider the Venu2 Plus comparable to the Samsung Galaxy Watch4 (in look and features). At twice the price as the Sq, the Venu 2 Plus does have a few more features like Battery Saving Mode, twice the overall battery life, rapid recharging, more sports apps and workouts, and the Venu 2 models can display animations of the workouts.
Garmin Enduro Gen 2
The new generation of the Garmin Enduro is out this year. Designed for Ultramarathon Fans, Garmin Enduro Gen 2 ticks all the boxes for the high-entensive body workout. With its long-lasting battery, the Enduro Gen 2 is a good choice for long-distance GPS users like cycling, hiking, and more.
Garmin Forerunner 645 Music
The Forerunner 645 Music is possibly the best value for the money. Whilst it isn’t the only Garmin watch you can use for playing music, it’s the most convenient. As you can store around 500 songs on an offline playlist, so there’s no need to cart your phone around. See our review of running watches with Music.
Again, a stainless-steel bezel really makes the design of this model pop in comparison to clothes. With a decent multisport offering, you can wear it all the time, anywhere you like except if you’re into open water swimming or triathlons, which it doesn’t track.
All in all, this is a good-looking piece which would suit people who walk or cycle to work every day. Listen to music as you go, track your activity and no need to change your watch to suit your attire.
Works with Garmin Connect as well and offers many cool features.
Best Solar Smartwatch
Garmin Instinct 2 Solar
The Instinct 2 Solar grabs energy from the sun and has a potentially infinite battery life thanks to the Power Glass screen. Even in GPS mode, good sun exposure can ensure you can use this watch for days and weeks, rather than hours.
Additionally, the Instinct 2 has a wide range of models when compared to the original Instinct smartwatch, and most of Garmin’s other smartwatches. There are five models, with three available in Solar: Standard, Tactical, and Surf.
Between these Instinct 2 variations are countless ways to get active, stay safe, find your way, and monitor your health. These models still use a button control system, allowing for the screens to stay fairly small. These are still, however, bulkier smartwatches built with durability and rugged sport in mind.
Read a full review of the entire Instinct 2 series here.
Garmin Instinct Crossover
The launch this year of the Instinct Crossover new model has brought a beautiful Hybrid Smartwatch with a rugged look. The new release comes in 3 shapes: standard, Solar, and Solar Tactical edition.
Best Garmin for specific sports
Garmin D2 Air
Garmin’s latest smartwatch for pilots is the D2 Air. In addition to the Epix’s already impressive array of health and fitness features, the device also has aviation capabilities (2nd gen).
Pilots may use the Garmin watch’s numerous capabilities, including weather alerts and an HSI, both in and out of the cockpit (horizontal situation indicator). Touch-sensitive AMOLED display, integrated heart rate monitor, and support for numerous frequencies and GPS systems are also included in the Garmin D2 Air.
The smartwatch is presently available in the US, but pricing and availability information for further locations has yet to be released.
Garmin Marq Gen 2
In addition, Garmin has just launched the Marq Gen 2 Collection, which contains five new smartwatches oriented toward specific sports.
As well as a Garmin cockpit interface with the Nexrad Weather Radar and other pilot-focused functions, the Marq Aviator can display three separate time zones. Additional features include a multi-link bracelet strap inspired by aviation, titanium, and ceramic construction, and a multi-link bracelet design.
It comes preloaded with more than 250 tracks, as well as software for automatic lap splitting, a track timer, and recording a driver’s lap performance automatically tracked in time. This model has a red and charcoal grey colour scheme.
Tack help, time to burn, and a virtual starting line are among the Marq Captain’s software features, while the face shows tidal information, wind speed, and temperature in nautical colours.
Read next: Garmin Marq 2 – Complete Guide
And if you are more into the Venu series, Check out our predictions for the Garmin Venu 3 release.
If you have any more queries, let us know in the comments!
Can Garmin watches make phone calls?
The Gamin Venu 2 Plus is the only watch on our list which enables you to make calls from your wrist. All of the other smartwatches listed from Garmin can receive your phone’s notifications, texts, emails, and alerts. Additionally, the vivoactive models, and the Venu models, allow you to send texts if you have an Android phone.
Do Garmin smartwatches have good battery life?
The majority of the Garmin watches have a very good battery life. However, some have better battery storage than others. An example of this is the Forerunner 945 can last nearly 14 days without a charge and 36 hours when GPS mode is on. On the other hand, the Fenix 6 can last an impressive 20 days without charge. Choose a watch that suits your needs, so if you go on lengthy outdoors expeditions a watch with higher battery life is best for you.
Why do Garmin watches cost more than competitors?
It’s no secret that Garmin watches cost more than other brands on the market. Though you must spend a bit more on these smartwatches, they’re worth the initial investment. Garmin watches always use the latest technology to give you sophisticated features like ECG scanners and SpO2 sensors. They also use premium materials when creating their watches, such as fiber-reinforced polymers, to ensure your watch will stand the test of time.
Which Garmin Fenix is best?
The Fenix 6S Pro Solar Edition is the premium Fenix model, but that comes with a hefty price tag. The solar charging capabilities are what makes these models so sought after and a few hundred dollars more than the Fenix 6 Standard, Pro, or Sapphire.
Which Garmin watches are solar-powered or solar-charged?
- Fenix 6
- Instinct Solar (Standard, Tactical, Camo, Surf)
- tactix Delta Solar and Delta Ballistics
- quatix 6X Solar
- Garmin Tactix Delta Solar Edition
Which Garmin models have Incident Detection and Assistance?
All of Garmin’s smartwatches can use one or the other of the two safety features, as long as your watch is connected to a smartphone and Garmin Connect.
Which Garmin smartwatches can store music?
- Forerunner 945 and 945 LTE, 745, and 245 Music
- Fenix 6 (all models), 6S (all models), and 6X (all models)
- Venu Sq Music, Venu 2 (all models)
- vivoactive 4 and 4S
- Darth Vader
- Captain Marvel
- First Avenger
- Descent (all models)
- MARQ (all models)
- quatix 6 and 6X
- tactix Delta
What Garmin watches have built-in GPS?
- Forerunner (all models)
- Descent series
- tactix series
- D2 series
- Fenix 6 / 6S / 6X
- Instinct series
- MARQ series
- quatix series
- Venu series
- Approach series
- Garmin Swim 2
- vivoactive series
Which Garmin models are waterproof?
The Garmin line of smartwatches all have a water resistance rating of 5 or 10atm.
Which Garmin models have LTE?
The Garmin 945 has a special LTE model, and the Venu 2 Plus can use a microphone to make calls or write out text messages. The Fenix 7, slated for release soon, should also have LTE. However, Garmin’s other smartwatch models utilize Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in order to connect to your phone and show you notifications on your wrist.
Does Garmin Have ECG monitoring?
Unfortunately, this is one feature that Garmin lacks on their watches. Read more about the Garmin Fenix 7 here.
Does Garmin Fenix have a microphone?
No, they do not. The Venu 2 Plus, however, has a microphone.
Which Garmin is best for multisport?
Garmin’s tactix, Forerunner 945/945 LTE, and the Fenix 7 series are all exceptional multisport watches due to their rugged durability, the sheer amount of workouts and health tracking capabilities, their abilities to store music, and their GPS connections. These fitness watches listed above are packed full of features and come at just under or just over $1000USD.
If you want Garmin’s best multisport watch at the best price, then the older Forerunner models, like the 745 or the 245 Music, will get you plenty of sports features without breaking your bank.
Garmin smartwatches all offer modern and in-demand features, no matter what model you go for. From the Fenix 6S to the older watches, this brand always makes the perfect fitness companions and smartwatches for any user.
Have you found your perfect Garmin watch? Let us know in the comments.
Last Updated on January 13, 2023
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