Apple Watch vs. Garmin – GPS Smartwatch Comparison

Last Updated: September 20, 2022

Disclosure: All products recommended on TheUltimatePrimate are independently selected by our team. If you make a purchase through any of these links, we may receive a commission. Learn more about our product selection process here.

Multisport smartwatches have become a must-have gadget for athletes and individuals who want to track daily activities. However, due to the vast brands in the market, deciding which watch suits your unique needs can be a daunting task. 

If you’ve been keeping tabs with the smartwatch industry, you might have noticed that they are a few brands that have pulled out ahead of the rest.  Among them are two heavyweights, which have been going head-to-head for the longest time now; Apple Watch and Garmin.

 From their popularity, you can tell that both brands offer top-quality watches with many incredible features. 

Although models from both brands, such as Apple Watch SE and the Garmin Venu Sq, adorn similar aesthetics, Apple and Garmin watches are designed to suit slightly different needs. 

While the Apple Watch series boasts several smartwatch models with daily innovative features, Garmin watches go full throttle with their cutting-edge exercise-related features. 

This piece lays out the facts about Apple, and Garmin watches side-by-side to help you make an informed buying decision. 

But, before we get into the comparison, here’s a brief history of the two brands.

Apple Watch vs. Garmin History

About Apple Watch

Although the Apple brand dates back to 1976 when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak decided to create a company that would change how people view computers, they only mentioned releasing new hardware in September 2014. However, it was not until 2015 when the company released three Apple Watch models.  

Today, Apple has evolved into a global company with many products, including Apple Watch 6 series that boast state-of-the-art features and functions centered around health, fitness, and training. 

Apple Watch Series 6 – Comes in Multiple Colors
Apple Watch Series 6
Apple Watch Series 6

About Garmin Watch

Garmin was founded over three decades ago by Min Kao & Gary Leon Burrell. Since its inception, the company has developed vast groundbreaking technologies and products utilized across various industries.  

Besides the smart GPS watches, Garmin is also behind several innovations, including plane navigation gear, smart GPS wearables, GPS software for PDAs, and fish locators & trackers. 

Top Rated Garmin GPS Watches

Apple Watch vs. Garmin: Which One Should You Buy? 

Garmin watches offer GPS navigation, multisport tracking features, and excellent performance metrics. 

If you lead a health-conscious lifestyle and fitness at heart, Apple Watch offers the best health trackers. 

But you’ll need to have an iPhone for you to use an Apple watch.

Read on to learn the two brands’ unique features to know which of the two will meet you’re your needs better. 

Display and Size

Both Apple and Garmin watches measure around 1 to 1.5 inches diagonally. They also come with a crystal-clear display and allow users to set their watches to an always-on mode. 

Both Garmin and Apple Watch’s screens have a decent resolution that allows you to view everything. However, Apple comes out on top with its crystal-clear retina display visible even in the glaring sunshine. 

All iPhone watch series come with touchscreen technology, which makes operating them easy and more convenient. Unlike the Apple Watch series, most Garmin wearables don’t feature touchscreen technology and rely on buttons.  

However, this is not a bad thing as using the touchscreen during strenuous exercises, when it’s raining, or when your fingers and gloves become sweaty can be hectic. 

In terms of size and display, both brands offer sizeable and clear screens for a better experience. However, Apple seems to have an edge on this front with the retina display and the touchscreen technology. 

Heart Rate Monitor

Both Apple Watch and Garmin watches come with wrist-based monitors to track your heart rate in real-time. Both are specially designed to send alerts when abnormally high and low rates are detected. 

Apple claims to integrate a second-generation optical heart sensor, which doesn’t seem to bring much change. Apple also boasts an irregular heart rhythm sensor. 

Garmin heart rate monitoring is more tailored to help users increase output or have more fruitful resting periods. Their watches are designed to improve performance and provide better suggestions for runners and workout enthusiasts.

For instance, while the Garmin Venu has the standard Garmin Elevate optical heart rate sensor, it can measure your heart rate underwater when you’re swimming. 

Therefore, for heart rate monitoring, both brands are expertly designed to deliver the best experience. 

GPS Tracking 

Garmin is renowned for producing some of the best GPS trackers in the market. Conversely, their watches are fitted with an in-built satellite navigation system that actively tracks your global positioning. 

When the GPS mode is on, Garmin watches keep tabs with every stride you make in real-time. The watches measure distance, time, and pace based on GPS data. 

Also, you can set your Garmin watch’s tracker to send data to a family member or friend in case of an emergency. If GPS trackers are on, family members and friends will be able to locate you quickly and offer necessary assistance.

By contrast, the Apple Watch series also have GPS trackers. However, unlike Garmin watch trackers, Apple trackers perform at a basic level. You’ll need to have cellular connectivity for your GPS to function. 

Nevertheless, Apple watches come with an in-built electronic compass that helps you find direction, especially when hiking in unknown terrains. However, the accuracy of the apple watch GPS is still being put into question. 

Undoubtedly, Garmin boasts watches with better GPS tracking technology than the Apple Watch series. It delivers reliable and more accurate data when tracking your global positioning. 


Both Apple and Garmin offer superior and reliable connections to IOS and Android-powered smartphones, respectively. 

Apple Watch series connect to your iPhone using the cellular network, which makes responding to calls, emails, texts, and making payments a breeze.  

More importantly, you can issue voice commands to Siri rather than utilize the touch interface to operate your Apple watch. One of the dealbreakers is that Apple wearables are restricted to Apple devices.

By contrast, Garmin watches connect to smartphones from all brands. You’ll enjoy a smooth and seamless experience on any Garmin watch. 

Conversely, you can use Google Voice Assistant and Alexa to command Garmin watches. 

Due to Garmin’s compatibility with smartphones running on different operating systems, their watches are highly preferred. 

Battery Life

The reliability of the battery is crucial when selecting a smartwatch brand. Garmin is famed for having the most extended stated battery life. 

Although there are Garmin watches with batteries that can last up to 56 days, on average, the brand estimated battery life for all watches is around six days.

However, if you’re using GPS, the watches will give you about 11 hours on average. 

By contrast, the Apple Watch series’ batteries offer an average of 18 hours when on standby mode. However, when the GPS is activated, the battery will only last for 6 hours.

Unlike Garmin, which provides detailed information about their watches’ battery life, Apple doesn’t offer much, and we had to scour through various sites to get the information. 

Both brands differ in charging times. Apple watches can charge fully for 1.5 hours, while Garmin watches charge in 2 hours. 

Even though Garmin watches take longer to charge, it’s vividly clear that this brand is the most reliable in the battery life department.

Activity Tracking

Although both brands can track many activities, the Apple watch is mainly inclined towards monitoring daily activities. On the other hand, Garmin watches are packed with advanced features that give serious fitness enthusiasts the motivation and focus they need.  

With Garmin watches, you’ll get in-built profiles for running, hiking, strength training, cardio, cycling, indoor track running, elliptical training, indoor cycling, XC skiing, snowboarding, swimming, indoor rowing, yoga, Pilates, and much more. 

Apple Watch also allows you to track various activities but on a smaller scale. These include running, track walking, hiking, cycling, dance, yoga, swimming, and HIIT. 

Garmin offers more exercise-inclined features on their watches, but the Apple Watch series boasts extra features such as wheelchair running and walking. Apple watches can easily pair with various gym equipment to help you save your stats and track your progress. 


If music gives you extra motivation when working out, both Apple and Garmin watches are excellent in this department. 

With Apple Music already integrated into all Apple products, you can enjoy music podcasts and audiobooks from your iPhone or directly from your apple watch. You can also enjoy your favorite songs straight from your carefully curated playlist. 

With up to 32GB of internal storage space, the Apple Watch can store up to 8,000 songs for those who don’t like streaming. 

Conversely, Garmin watches offer the best music experience. The Garmin Venu Sq Music and Garmin Forerunner 745 allow you to control music playing from your tethered phone straight to your headset. 

The former Garmin model boasts more music options, allowing you to download over 500 songs on it from Deezer, Amazon, Spotify, or transfer your collection via a computer. 

While the Apple Watch is taunted as the premier smartwatch for music, Garmin also boasts several models that can rival the Apple Watch series. 

Health Monitoring

Both the Apple Watch series and Garmin watches are great at monitoring various health metrics besides heart rate. Both have trackers that help monitor your sleeping habits and aid in setting healthy sleeping goals. 

Besides, Apple and Garmin allow for the monitoring of the menstrual cycle and feature wellness and mental health functions to help you take charge of your overall well-being every day. 

Some of the latest Apple Watch series comes with an advanced hand-washing detector that starts a countdown of 20 seconds once it detects that you’ve placed your hands under running water. 

Garmin taunts an incredibly vital Body Battery Energy Monitor that helps fitness enthusiasts see how well their bodies are recovering when at rest. Furthermore, it provides regular hydration reminders to ensure that you’re taking enough fluids as you work out. 

Other Features 


Typically, both Apple Watch and Garmin watch come with a water-resistant rating, which means they can be exposed to a given amount of water based on the rating. 

Nearly all Garmin watches boasts a commendable water-resistance rating, meaning you can wear them in the shower when running in the rain, when swimming and when scuba diving. 

While the Apple Watch series are splash and water-resistant, most can only be used when swimming in shallow waters like in the pool or ocean. However, wearing any Apple Watch series when water skiing or scuba diving is not recommended.   

For triathletes who train and swim in deep pools and oceans, Garmin Fenix Fitness Watch can make a great companion since they have a 100m waterproof rating.

The Apple Watch Series 6 is an incredible alternative, although it doesn’t match the Fenix Fitness Watch’s waterproof rating.

Pay Apps

Both brands come with convenient pay apps for their watches; Apple Pay and Garmin Pay. You can make card-less, contactless, cashless, and phoneless payments. 

Apple Pay and Garmin Pay make the process of paying for items more manageable. They eradicate the hassle of having to operate separate apps when you want to send money. 

Safety Features

Thanks to the Emergency SOS and Fall Detection Features, the Apple Watch can detect a sudden change in movement or hard impact and send an emergency message to ask for help.

Conversely, runners can send an emergency SOS when in trouble by pressing and holding the side button. 

Some Garmin watches, such as Garmin Venu SQ Music, come with a LiveTrack feature that helps keep your friends or families on the know. They also boast an accident detection sensor that detects any sudden impact or change in movement. 


From our comprehensive article, you can tell that both the Apple Watch series and Garmin watches boast high-end features to suit all your fitness goals. However, all their features point to the fact they are designed for slightly different purposes. 

From our review, no brand is better than the other since both have similar technology, price, and aesthetics. 

If you’re a serious runner or athlete planning to do lots of tracked exercises, you better go with Garmin. 

All their watches boast comprehensive activity profiles and advanced tracking features that offer more specific data about your runs/workouts. We can’t also fail to mention that they have powerful battery life than their rivals. 

On its part, the Apple Watch is more of a smartwatch than a fitness tracker. Their watches offer advanced features that help track basic exercises and workouts and help you live a healthy lifestyle. 

Therefore, the decision to go with an Apple Watch or Garmin will boil down to your unique needs as an individual. 

Sign Up For FREE Access To Fitness Guides And New Product Reviews!

First Name Email Address

  • Get the latest guides on exercise techniques, weight loss techniques, healthy living and more.
  • Receive regular hand-picked videos and content for healthy living, eating and mindfulness.
  • Join The Ultimate Primate movement like many others already have. We’re all in it together to share information on bettering ourselves everyday.

Leave a Comment