We’ve tested the best Garmin watches around to help you pick the right one for you. Whether you’re a runner, swimmer, cyclist or someone just starting to look after their fitness, we’re here to help.
We’ve put all of these watches through rigorous real-world testing, weighing up the accuracy of their GPS tracking, the responsiveness of their heart rate monitors, and the quality of their training tools. We’ve also evaluated their battery life, plus display quality, and overall design so you know how each one will feel to wear and use during workouts and in everyday use.
We’ve also found the lowest prices right now for each of the watches in this list, so you can be confident you’re getting the best deal, whether it’s the entry-level Forerunner 55 or the flagship Fenix 6.
The Garmin Instinct Solar isn’t the only watch capable of receiving regular top-ups through its Power Glass screen, but it’s definitely the most impressive when it comes to sheer longevity, and can theoretically last indefinitely between charges when in power-saving mode. In real-world use that’s unlikely to happen, but a few hours of sunlight mean that even with GPS enabled, you’ll be able to use the Instinct Solar for days rather than hours,
Another of the Garmin Instinct Solar’s best features is its dual display, which shows contextual information in a small cut-out, making it far easier to navigate the watch’s myriad settings and options. In our tests we found it extremely useful, particularly since the Instinct Solar has a frankly enormous number of activity tracking and fitness monitoring options.
The Garmin Forerunner 55 is Garmin’s new entry-level running watch, and is almost identical to the Forerunner 45 in terms of design and operation. Instead of a touchscreen it’s operated using five buttons around the circumference of the case, but they’re thoughtfully designed and clearly labelled to avoid confusing new users, and avoid fumbling mid-run.
There are some big upgrades though, including new suggested workouts based on your past activities, which help give your training some structure even if you’re not following a dedicated plan. After a workout, you’ll also see advice on how long to rest and recover before your next effort.
The Forerunner 55’s standout feature is Garmin’s signature GPS accuracy, which makes it a great entry point for anyone upgrading from a Fitbit to a dedicated sports watch.
The Garmin Venu 2 strikes a tricky balance between smartwatch and sports watch, successfully delivering the best of both worlds. Its design is understated, and doesn’t scream ‘sports watch’, but it’s packed with an impressive array of training tools including accurate GPS (supported by Galielo and GLONASS), quick access to Garmin Coach training plans, sensitive heart rate monitoring, cadence, splits, and more. There are plenty of indoor training modes too, and the watch even syncs with compatible gym equipment, plus third-party fitness and diet apps.
On the smartwatch front, there’s on-board storage for 650 songs, plus third-party music apps from Deezer and Amazon Music. You can view your day’s schedule at a glance, check your heart rate, water intake and stress level, log period symptoms, receive smartphone notifications (and send replies) and more.
The Garmin Forerunner 945 is the best of Garmin’s running-focused smartwatches. It’s not quite as feature-packed as the more multi-sport oriented Fenix 6, but if all you care about is running then this should have everything you’ll need and then some.
We found the GPS and heart rate monitor to both be exceedingly accurate in our review, and also praised the Forerunner 945’s full-color maps and up to two weeks of battery life.
And while this is a runner’s watch through and through, that’s not to say it can’t track other sports. In fact, there are tracking tools for over 30 different activities built-in.
The Garmin Fenix 6 is perhaps the ultimate multi-sport smartwatch, and certainly the ultimate one offered by Garmin. Or, well, the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar is anyway, but the entire Fenix 6 range is truly top-end as wearables go.
The Garmin Fenix 6 will track almost any outdoor activity you could possibly want, with GPS along with a heart rate monitor that even works underwater.
GPS locks on fast and works reliably in our experience, battery life is impressive, and the watch feels robust – if bulky.
The high price will put many people off and if you’re not sure you really need the Garmin Fenix 6 then, well, you probably don’t. In that case, consider one of the cheaper options elsewhere on this list, but for serious athletes and adventurers, particularly those who don’t stick to just one sport, the Fenix 6 comes highly recommended.
Because Garmin watches span a wide range of prices and features, it’s important to identify which are most important to you within your budget.
Most of Garmin’s watches have excellent battery life, but some are better than others. For example, the Forerunner 945 will last for 14 days in smartwatch mode and 36 hours in GPS mode, while the fenix 6 will last up to 20 days in expedition GPS mode. If you plan to spend extended periods of time outdoors, choose your watch accordingly.
Most of Garmin’s watches have excellent training features as well, but pay attention to the metrics that matter to you. In addition to standard metrics, some models like theGarmin Forerunner 945 also track heat and altitude, which are key for planning the impact of outdoor workouts. Others, like the Garmin Approach S62, offer in-depth golf training, too.
Garmin is known for its GPS technology, so it’s no surprise that nearly all of its watches have excellent GPS features. The watches in the vivomove series are the only Garmin watches without a GPS sensor.
Some Garmin models have more smartwatch features than others. The Venu, for instance, has a touchscreen and an AMOLED display, which are both rare for Garmin devices, along with support for mobile payments, onboard music, and a stainless steel bezel.
Not all Garmin watches support onboard music with built-in storage. For athletes who want to bring music on their go in their workouts, you’ll want a tracker that lets you leave your phone behind. Some Garmin series even offer a dedicated music variant, like the Forerunner 245 Music.
There’s a good range of Garmin watch prices for every budget. For under $150 the Forerunner 45 is a good value, as you get access to Garmin Coach and all of Garmin’s other training features. On the other hand, you can spend up to $1,149 fenix 6X Pro Solar Edition Titanium. Most models, however, fall between $200 and $500.
By wearing them, of course! When Garmin comes out with a new watch, we fully charge it up, then strap it on our wrist for about a week or so to test out all its features.
First and foremost: How does it feel? Some watches are pretty bulky, which means they won’t fit comfortably on smaller wrists or make sense for all-day wear. Next, we look at fitness features such as heart rate monitor, GPS, and custom workout tracking. How accurate are the Garmin’s sensors, and how well does the watch track your exercise and your overall health?
We also look at the other features of the Garmin, including sleep tracking, female health tracking, mobile payments, and smartphone notifications.
We also look at Garmin’s battery life claims, and compare it to our actual use. Some sensors chew up juice faster than others, so if you’ve got the screen on constantly, or you’re always using the heart rate monitor or Pulse Ox sensor, your mileage may vary. We also check to see if battery-saving mode will still meet your workout-tracking expectations.