Sunday, February 25, 2024

These are the best Garmin smartwatches you can buy

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Whether you’re searching for the best Android smartwatch or the best fitness tracker, you’ve likely come across a Garmin wearable along the way. The company has a solid reputation for offering many devices that cater to fitness and smartwatch enthusiasts, including the Garmin Vivoactive 4. You’ll have incredible battery life, superb tracking capabilities, and some great smart features. Although this might be one of the best Garmin smartwatches you can buy, several other options are available. So whether you’re a professional athlete or a casual runner, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for.

Best overall: Garmin Vivoactive 4

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The Garmin Vivoactive 4 may not be the newest Garmin smartwatch on the market, but it’s overflowing with features that make it a worthy upgrade from the previous model. Choose between two sizes: 45mm and 40mm. The larger model gives you an extra day of battery life in smartwatch mode at eight days. It’ll last six hours when it’s in GPS and music mode. The smaller model dips down to seven days and five hours, respectively.

As for the good stuff, you’ll have all of the essentials, like built-in GPS, smartphone notifications, Garmin Pay, and 5 ATM water resistance. Music storage is now standard, which you had to pay more for with the predecessor. You’ll have many of the same workouts, like strength, cardio, elliptical training, floor climbing, indoor rowing, and yoga. There’s now a Pulse Ox sensor to track blood oxygen saturation levels and respiration monitoring to monitor the number of breaths per minute. As a result, you’ll have more insightful sleep data.

The Body Battery lets you check your energy levels during the day by gathering data from heart rate variability (HRV), stress, sleep, and activity. Then, it’ll help you schedule your workouts and rest periods at optimal times. There are over 40 on-screen workouts for strength training, cardio, yoga, and Pilates. Follow the animation on your watch as it demonstrates proper form and technique. If you’re a workout enthusiast, you’ll love this fitness smartwatch.

If you go with the larger 45 mm watch, you’ll only have the color choice of Slate or Silver. However, you can find plenty of Garmin Vivoactive 4 bands that allow you to personalize your wearable further. It would’ve been nice to have a richer display at this price point, but the Vivoactive 4 uses the same transflective display as most Garmin wearables.

Pros:

  • Built-in GPS with great tracking features
  • 5 ATM water resistance
  • Garmin Pay
  • Music storage
  • Good battery life
  • Pulse Ox sensor

Cons:

  • Pretty pricey
  • 45 mm has fewer color options
  • Lackluster display

Best overall

Garmin Vivoactive 4 GPS Smartwatch

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  • From $260 at Amazon
  • $350 at Best Buy
  • $235 at Walmart

Well-rounded smartwatch

The Vivoactive 4 offers activity tracking and other useful features, including Body Battery, Pulse Ox, and more.

Best value: Garmin Vivoactive 3

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If you’re not worried about having the latest and greatest Garmin smartwatch, you can save some money by opting for the Vivoactive 3. Admittedly, it’s not nearly as impressive compared to its successor, but it has a lot to offer. Most importantly, the unbeatable price tag makes the Garmin Vivoactive 3 an excellent value pick. As long as you don’t mind it only being available in one size and a few other differences, you won’t find a better deal than this.

The noteworthy Vivoactive 3 features include built-in GPS, smartphone notifications, Garmin Pay, multiple preloaded sports apps, and 5 ATM water resistance. This smartwatch also offers stress tracking, sleep tracking, and heart-rate monitoring. The battery will last for up to a week in smartwatch mode and 13 hours in GPS mode. As we mentioned, you’ll be hard-pressed to find all of these features at this price point.

As you can see, it’s not the worst thing in the world to select a smartwatch that’s not the newest option on the market. You get a whole lot of bang for your buck here. Another difference that might affect your choice is that the Vivoactive 3 doesn’t offer music storage as a standard feature. You’ll have to spend a bit more to get a model that comes with music storage. With that in mind, if you’re looking for a cheap Android smartwatch, you can’t go wrong with this wearable.

Pros:

  • Built-in GPS
  • Excellent value
  • 5 ATM water resistance
  • Superior battery life
  • Garmin Pay

Cons:

  • Music storage isn’t standard
  • No on-screen workouts
  • Only comes in one size

Best value

Garmin Vivoactive 3 GPS Smartwatch (010-01769-01)

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  • From $149 at Amazon
  • $180 at Walmart
  • Best bang for your buck

The Garmin Vivoactive 3 may not be the latest in its lineup, but it has plenty to offer at an amazing price.

Best hybrid: Garmin Vivomove Sport

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If you’re not quite ready for a full-blown smartwatch, you might be interested in a hybrid model instead. Garmin has an impressive hybrid lineup, including the new Vivomove Sport. This attractive wearable resembles a traditional analog watch but has a hidden OLED panel on the bottom portion of the screen. Hybrid smartwatches are made for fashion-forward folks who still want to enjoy some extra perks. Most importantly, they’re reasonably priced in comparison to other smartwatches.

This watch comes in a modest 40mm polymer case. The color options are ivory, Cool Mint, Cocoa, and black. These variants come with 20mm silicone Garmin Vivomove Sport bands. Your hybrid smartwatch can track your heart rate, stress levels, and sleep patterns. You’ll also have Garmin’s Body Battery feature that monitors your energy levels throughout the day. There are numerous built-in sports apps for fitness enthusiasts such as cycling, treadmill running, yoga, strength, Pilates, cardio, and more.

If you’re someone who doesn’t need an expensive smartwatch with premium features, you’ll love the basic yet efficient activity tracking on the Garmin Vivomove Sport. It doesn’t have a built-in GPS feature, so you’ll need to connect to your phone to track your route during a workout. The battery will last for up to five days in smartwatch mode plus an extra day in regular watch mode. Remember that the touchscreen only exists on the bottom portion of the display, so navigating through the menus can be tricky at times.

Pros:

  • Reasonably priced
  • 5 ATM water resistance
  • Decent battery life
  • Stunning, stylish design
  • Activity, stress, sleep, and heart-rate tracking

Cons:

  • Lacks built-in GPS
  • Touchscreen navigation can be tricky
  • Poor sunlight visibility

Best hybrid

Garmin Vivomove Sport Hybrid Smartwatch

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  • $180 at Amazon
  • $180 at Walmart

Hybrid lifestyle

The Vivomove Sport is a hybrid smartwatch that can track steps, calories, distance, heart rate, sleep, and stress levels.

Best lifestyle watch: Garmin Venu Sq

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Those who want a bit of everything Garmin offers without breaking the bank will appreciate the Venu Sq. As the name suggests, this is a square version of the original Venu. So you might expect many differences to set the two apart, but that’s not totally true.

The Garmin Venu Sq comes in standard and music editions, although you’ll pay more for a music model with Wi-Fi. On the original Garmin Venu, all models have music storage and Wi-Fi. The budget-friendly, square-shaped model isn’t quite as fancy, but it still looks and feels nice on the wrist. It comes in a 40mm fiber-reinforced polymer case with a 1.3-inch color LCD — no premium AMOLED screen or stainless steel bezel here. However, you do get 20mm interchangeable Garmin Venu Sq bands, making it easy to change up your look.

Surprisingly, those are the only major differences between the Garmin Venu and the Venu Sq. It lacks an altimeter and a gyroscope so that it won’t be measuring elevation or angular velocity. Other than that, this model can do just about everything the original can. You’ll have onboard GPS, heart-rate monitoring, activity and sleep tracking, over 20 preloaded sports apps, 5 ATM water resistance, Body Battery energy monitoring, and a Pulse Ox sensor for measuring blood oxygen saturation levels. You also have mobile payments with Garmin Pay.

If you don’t mind having a watch without music or Wi-Fi (or accepting that you’ll pay more for those perks), the Garmin Venu Sq is an excellent lifestyle watch with a reasonable price tag. It’s not nearly as premium and stylish as the original Venu, but that may not be your highest priority in choosing a wearable.

Pros:

  • Onboard GPS
  • Heart-rate monitoring
  • 5 ATM water resistance
  • Pulse Ox & Body Battery
  • Six days of battery life
  • Garmin Pay

Cons:

  • Music version with Wi-Fi costs more
  • Lacks altimeter, gyroscope

Best lifestyle watch

Garmin Venu Sq GPS Smartwatch (010-02427-00)

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  • From $200 at Amazon
  • $200 at Best Buy
  • $150 at Walmart

For every lifestyle

Any lifestyle will benefit from the Garmin Sq with its lightweight design and useful features.

Best for women’s fashion: Garmin Lily

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The Garmin Lily is a small but efficient smartwatch specifically designed for women by women. It’s not uncommon for some to feel like they have to choose between having smartwatch features and maintaining their sense of style. While this may not be the case for all women, this watch is a solid option because it combines the two, so you’re not forced to choose one over the other. The Garmin Lily may just be one of the best smartwatches for women.

One of the first things you’ll notice is that this smartwatch has a monochrome display. If you’re used to bright and shiny AMOLED displays, this might be a bit of a drag. However, the text and numbers are large, crisp, and easy to read. Not to mention, you’ll enjoy up to five days of battery life on a single charge.

Other key features include heart-rate monitoring, 5 ATM water resistance, activity/sleep tracking, blood oxygen monitoring, and much more. You’ll also be able to choose whether you want the Sport model with aluminum hardware and a silicone band or the Classic model with stainless steel hardware and a leather band. As you might’ve guessed, the Classic model is a bit more expensive.

It’s worth mentioning that the Garmin Lily lacks a few key features. If you want a full-blown smartwatch experience, this might affect your final decision. For example, you won’t have built-in GPS, music storage, or NFC payments. Another issue for some users will be the proprietary T-bar lugs used for the proprietary band system. This means you’ll need a special tool whenever you want to change the band, which is a bit of a hassle. Fortunately, there are still third-party Garmin Lily bands on the market. You just have to make sure they’re the correct 14mm straps.

Pros:

  • Activity/sleep tracking
  • 5 ATM water resistance
  • Music controls and notifications
  • Heart-rate monitoring
  • Up to 5 days of battery life

Cons:

  • Lacks built-in GPS, NFC payments
  • Monochrome display isn’t for everyone
  • Proprietary bands

Best for women’s fashion

Garmin Lily

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  • From $199 at Amazon
  • $200 at Best Buy
  • $200 at Walmart

A feminine smartwatch

If you want to enjoy the benefits of a smartwatch in the form of a fashionable wearable, you’ll love the Garmin Lily.

Best for runners: Garmin Forerunner 945

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Looking for a reliable GPS running smartwatch that will never let you down? The Garmin Forerunner 945 fits the bill. This model takes a few key features from many of Garmin’s high-end smartwatches and wraps them into a powerful package. It promises a whopping two weeks of battery life in smartwatch mode, 10 hours in GPS mode with music, and up to 60 hours in UltraTrac mode. The size is 47mm, so it’s large and in charge. It’s also slim and lightweight, essential for those intense workouts. You’ll have a convenient 22mm quick release system when swapping out your Garmin Forerunner 945 bands that can be changed in a matter of seconds.

You can look forward to multi-sport tracking, updated training analysis, Garmin Pay, a built-in music player, GPS, and full-color maps. Some outdoor activity profiles include hiking, climbing, skiing, and kayaking. The training load analysis tells you how much time you’ve spent working in different aerobic and anaerobic zones. It even offers suggestions based on your performance to help you be more productive. It’s also got the Pulse Ox sensor to track blood oxygen saturation levels, supporting advanced sleep monitoring and altitude acclimation.

It’s easy to see why runners and serious athletes alike praise all of the amazing features that the Forerunner 945 offers. Whether you’re looking to track a simple long-distance run or a more complex triathlon, there are no limits to what you can do with this smartwatch. With that said, it’s not the cheapest option out there, but the price tag is warranted. If you want the whole experience, you’ll need to invest in the Running Dynamics Pod for additional data, like stride length, vertical oscillation, and ground contact time.

Garmin also launched a new version of this watch with LTE connectivity. It will cost more, but it’s worth considering if you’ve always wanted an LTE smartwatch that keeps you connected. The Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE has the same features as the standard model, but it has LTE connectivity to give runners peace of mind when they’re working out and need assistance.

Pros:

  • Built-in GPS, full-color maps
  • 5 ATM water resistance
  • Endless activity tracking
  • Stress, sleep, and heart-rate tracking
  • Music storage and controls
  • Garmin Pay

Cons:

  • Quite expensive
  • Only one size option
  • Need Running Dynamics Pod for additional data

Best for runners

Garmin Forerunner 945 (010-02063-00)

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  • From $550 at Amazon
  • From $600 at Best Buy
  • From $600 at Walmart

A multisport lover’s dream

There’s a lot to love about the Forerunner 945, like advanced running metrics, multi-sport tracking, full-color maps, and more.

Best for adventurers: Garmin Fenix 7

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The long-awaited Fenix 7 smartwatches are here with some significant upgrades that true adventurers will love. Previous models required users to navigate the UI with side buttons. Now, the Garmin Fenix 7 models offer a touchscreen design as well as side buttons. There are several variants to pick from, with the 7S and 7 models being the most affordable — but they still cost a pretty penny. If you want a specific design, size, or extra features, you can opt for the 7X Solar or 7X Saphhire Solar.

The 7S models come in a 42mm case with 11 days of battery. The standard Fenix 7 models come in a 47mm case with 18 days of battery life. The larger 7X models come in a 51mm case and can last for a whopping 28 days. All battery life figures can be stretched further with battery saver modes. It’s also worth noting that the 7X offers a new multi-LED flashlight. Garmin says this multi-purpose tool will change the game for adventurers. Whether you’re setting up camp or running while it’s dark outside, you’ll have the confidence you need. The red or adjustable white light will illuminate the way for improved visibility and situational awareness.

It should come as no surprise that the Garmin Fenix 7 models are made to be durable. The 10 ATM water resistance rating ensures your watch can withstand rugged environments. You’ll have tons of built-in sports apps, GPS, preloaded maps, heart-rate monitoring, daily workout suggestions, and a recovery time advisor. The new real-time stamina tool lets you monitor and track exertion levels during a run or bike activity. The new visual race predictor tool considers your running history and overall fitness to deliver race estimates and insights into how training is progressing. As you might’ve guessed, these upgrades aren’t cheap. But, if you spend a good chunk of time adventuring, the price tag just might be worth it.

Pros:

  • GPS, HRM, NFC
  • 10 ATM water resistance
  • New touchscreen design
  • Built-in flashlight (select models)
  • Multi-day battery life

Cons:

  • One of the most expensive options
  • Not the most stylish wearable

Best for adventurers

Garmin Fenix 7 Adventure smartwatch

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  • From $700 at Amazon

Boundless adventure

The Fenix 7 is designed for those who crave boundless adventure. Just be prepared to spend a pretty penny to get it.

Best upgrade pick: Garmin Forerunner 745

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When faced with deciding whether or not you should upgrade, sometimes it’s a no-brainer. That might be the case for many users when they see what the Garmin Forerunner 745 has to offer. This wearable is a much-needed upgrade to the tried-and-true Forerunner 735XT. The company says the Forerunner 745 is geared toward runners and triathletes who require detailed training stats, on-device workouts, and plenty of smartwatch functions.

It comes in a 44mm reinforced-polymer case with a 1.2-inch transflective display that’s easy to read in sunlight. The 22mm Garmin Forerunner 745 bands are interchangeable. You can expect up to a week of battery life in smartwatch mode and six hours in GPS with music mode. There are plenty of key features on this watch, including onboard GPS, heart-rate monitoring, activity and sleep tracking, multiple sport modes, music storage for 500 songs, and Garmin Pay.

You also get many other advanced features. The Garmin Forerunner 745 offers performance monitoring tools such as VO2 max, training load, training status, and aerobic and anaerobic training effects. After a challenging workout, the improved recovery time feature will let you know how long to rest before a challenging training session. Garmin Coach provides free training plans that will adapt to your specific goals and performance.

At 44mm diameter and 13mm thick, this wearable might be too large for those with dainty wrists. Unfortunately, this is one of the few smartwatches from Garmin that only comes in one size. The hefty price tag might deter some users, but it’ll be well worth the investment for those dedicated to their training program.

Pros:

  • Onboard GPS
  • Heart-rate monitoring
  • Advanced training metrics
  • 5 ATM water resistance
  • A week of battery life
  • Garmin Pay
  • Music storage

Cons:

  • Too expensive for some
  • Only comes in one size

Best upgrade pick

Garmin Forerunner 745 GPS Running Watch

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  • From $485 at Amazon
  • $425 at Walmart

Worth the upgrade

When you need an in-depth overview of your health and fitness, look no further than the Forerunner 745.

Best for music: Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

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As you might’ve gathered now, there are multiple Garmin Forerunner models to choose from. Fortunately, you can get a Garmin running smartwatch without spending a fortune. The Forerunner 245 Music is most popular for its long list of advanced running features and offering onboard music storage for up to 500 songs.

Remember that this model is pricier than the standard Forerunner 245, which doesn’t offer music storage. However, both models are compatible with interchangeable Garmin Forerunner 245 bands. As far as battery life goes, smartwatch mode lasts up to seven days, GPS with music mode lasts up to six hours, and GPS mode without music can go for 24 hours.

It provides you with quite a few upgrades that its predecessor lacked, including pool swimming, strength workouts, all-day stress tracking, UltraTrac mode, and more. Athletes will enjoy a host of advanced features, like support for Running Dynamics and Garmin Coach. You’ll have the necessary tools to help you set and reach your goals. The Forerunner 245 Music also has a training status feature that tells you if you’re overtraining or undertraining. You can see how your workouts influence your speed and endurance. Then, the training load compares your most recent exercise volume to the optimal range for your fitness level.

The only real complaints worth mentioning with this Garmin smartwatch are the lack of NFC payments and an altimeter. The latter seems like a very odd omission since even the most basic wearables have them. Many users won’t miss Garmin Pay, but it still would’ve been a nice feature to have. You’ll still get Wi-Fi connectivity, music storage, smartphone notifications, built-in GPS, and more than sufficient activity tracking.

Pros:

  • Built-in GPS
  • 5 ATM water resistance
  • Good battery life
  • Ample music storage
  • Pulse Ox Sensor and Body Battery
  • Activity, stress, sleep, and heart-rate tracking

Cons:

  • Lacks Garmin Pay
  • No altimeter
  • Costs more to have music

Best for music

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music GPS Running Smartwatch

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  • $300 at Amazon
  • $350 at Best Buy
  • $350 at Walmart

Don’t stop the music

This is the perfect mid-level running watch with Wi-Fi and music storage, ideal for heavy listeners.

Best for premium perks: Garmin Venu 2 Plus

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If you’re familiar with the Garmin Venu 2, you know this wearable is the perfect combination of lifestyle watch and fitness watch for users who are focused on tracking their progress and bettering their health. Now, Garmin has officially launched the Venu 2 Plus, which creates a whole new experience thanks to the addition of voice assistant control and phone calls.

Previously, you could choose between the Garmin Venu 2 and 2S, which are available in 45mm and 40mm cases, respectively. The Venu 2 Plus sits right in the middle at 43mm. The ultra-thin bezel allows for a large AMOLED display that comes in at 1.3 inches. The cases are available in three variants, including Slate with a Black band, Silver with a Gray band, and Light Gold with an Ivory band. All Garmin Venu 2 and 2S bands are interchangeable, so you can always switch up the look of your watch.

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus offers all the great health and fitness tracking features that can be found on the Venu 2 and then some. The main difference is that users now have access to on-wrist phone calls and voice assistant control. It’s important to note this is not an LTE watch. Your wearable will rely on your phone’s Bluetooth connection for calls and to access your phone’s smart voice assistant. So whether you use Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant, you’ll now be able to use it on your wrist. The Venu 2 Plus is a bit more expensive than the original Venu 2, but some users may be willing to pay more for these perks.

Pros:

  • GPS, HRM, NFC
  • Crisp AMOLED display
  • Voice assistant & phone calling
  • 5 ATM water resistance
  • 9 days of battery life

Cons:

  • Expensive price tag
  • No LTE connectivity

Best for premium perks

Garmin Venu 2 Plus GPS Smartwatch with Call and Text

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  • $450 at Amazon
  • 4550 at Best Buy
  • $450 at Walmart

A truly smart watch

The Venu 2 Plus takes your wearable experience to the next level with phone calling and voice assistant control.

Best Garmin smartwatch: Which should you buy?

Considering how many incredible choices you have, it’s challenging to crown only one of these wearables as the best Garmin smartwatch. However, if you’re seeking a magnificent lifestyle watch that’s packed with essential features for a well-rounded experience, we highly recommend the Garmin Vivoactive 4.

You’ll see that the Vivoactive 4 sits right in the middle of the price range of Garmin wearables. Most importantly, it’s a fair price tag for all it offers. You can easily track your activities, sleep patterns, stress levels, heart rate, and more. You can also monitor your respiration rate, hydration, blood oxygen saturation, and energy levels. That’s not all; this Garmin powerhouse now offers onboard music storage and animated on-screen workouts. Whether you’re busy being active or taking the time to recover until your next workout session, this is the best Garmin smartwatch you can buy.

Of course, if you’re purchasing a wearable for the first time, there are more affordable and basic Garmin smartwatch options that are better suited for beginners. However, experienced users will find a broad selection of high-end wearables that cater to their cravings for endless details, advanced tracking, and premium features. Whatever your intended purpose is, there’s a Garmin smartwatch out there that will meet all your needs.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

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Courtney Lynch is a freelance writer at Android Central. She’s obsessed with all things health, fitness, and music. At any given time, she can be found checking out the latest and greatest gadgets while simultaneously petting her dog and sipping iced coffee.

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