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The Top Garmin Smartwatches of 2024: A Comprehensive Guide


The best Garmin smartwatches compared

In the table above, you’ll find our personal highlights from Garmin’s multiple smartwatch series. In the course of this article, we will show you all the models from the various series once again in detail, including their detailed technical specifications.

Table of Contents:

  1. The best Garmin smartwatches by series
    1. For demanding users: Fenix, Epix, Tactix & others
    2. All-rounders from the Vivoactive, Venu, and Lily series
    3. Garmin’s running watches: Meet the Forerunner
    4. The robust models of the Instinct series
    5. More Garmin wearables
  2. Buying advice
    1. Sports & fitness features on Garmin watches
    2. Smartwatch features on Garmin smartwatches
    3. Garmin smartwatches for women and men

1. The best Garmin smartwatches by series

Garmin’s smartwatches can be divided very roughly into four major, different series:

  • For demanding users and pro athletes: Fenix, Epix, Tactix & more
  • Chic all-rounders from the Vivoactive, Venu series, and Lily 2 Classic
  • Garmin’s running watches: Meet the Forerunner series
  • The robust models of the Instinct-2 series

1.1 For demanding users: Fenix, Epix, Tactix, and more

Garmin Epix 2 Front
The Garmin Epix 2 is not only chic but offers an “epic” range of functions for sports and outdoor freaks. / © nextpit

Garmin builds the top models around the Fenix series–here; however, you have to reckon with a rather massive design and upscale prices. The Fenix 7 starts at around $600, while the Tactix 7 Pro Solar Ballistic has an MSRP of 1600 dollars.

For that amount of money, Garmin has squeezed just about everything that is currently possible in terms of sensors in its high-end watches–the models from the Fenix, Epix, Tactix, D2 & Co. series have all that in common. However, there are special models for different target groups that are, for example, suitable for being read with night-vision equipment or offer special safety features.

The following table shows the most important models from Garmin’s Fenix 7 series in comparison with the Epix 2, Tactix 7, Quatix 7, D2 Mach 1, and the newly released Pro models.

1.2 All-rounders from the Vivoactive, Venu series and Garmin Lily

Garmin Venu 2 Plus
The Garmin Venu 2 Plus also serves as a writ-mounted speakerphone thanks to its integrated microphone and speaker. / © nextpit

In Garmin’s Venu, Vivoactive, and Lily series, you’ll find the all-rounders. These smartwatches tend to be a bit more elegantly designed than the Forerunner models, and of course, much more discreet than the rather bulky models from the Fenix series. While the Forerunner models are aimed more towards runners, the Venu, Vivoactive, and Lily watches are rather targeted towards all-around athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

Unlike the Forerunner models, the various Venu, Vivoactive, and Lily models offer the Health Snapshot. Here, the watch analyzes your overall health based on the pulse, heart rate variability, SpO2 value, respiratory rate, and stress and gives you a summary. On the other hand, these models don’t have advanced running metrics. Even with a compatible chest strap, you, unfortunately, won’t have access to the ground contact time, vertical movement, and the like while running.

Another unique feature in Garmin’s lineup can be found in the Venu 2 Plus: The smartwatch is compatible with Siri, Bixby, and Google Assistant. Thanks to the integrated microphone and speaker, you can also use the watch as a speakerphone and leave your smartphone in your pocket.

Finally, the latest addition to the Lily Series, the Lily 2 Classic, is more than just a fashionable smartwatch. It’s also one of the smallest devices in the Garmin portfolio, which makes it a great choice for people who want to sleep better.

The table below shows how the Garmin Venu 3, Venu 3S, Venu 2 Plus, and Garmin Venu 2 compare to Vivoactive 4S, Vivoactive 4, and Garmin Lily 2.

                 
Product
Image Garmin Venu 3 Product Image Garmin Venu 3S smartwatch Garmin Venu 2S Product Image Garmin Venu 2 Plus Product Image Garmin Venu 2 product image Garmin Vivoactive 4S product image Garmin Vivoactive 4 product image Garmin Lily 2 Classic Product Image
Review

Not yet tested


Not yet tested

Not yet tested


Review: Garmin Venu 2 Plus


Not yet tested

Not yet tested


Not yet tested


Review: Garmin Lily 2 Classic
Case size
Strap size
Display technology
Display glass
Display size
Resolution
Touchscreen
Memory
Weight
Battery life (smartwatch)
Battery life (GPS)
Waterproof
Price (MSRP)
To the offer*





1.3 Garmin’s running watches: The Forerunner models

Woman wearing Garmin Forerunner 55
The Garmin Forerunner 55 is aimed primarily at runners and endurance athletes. / © Garmin

As the name suggests, Garmin’s Forerunner series is aimed at runners. Accordingly, the second-smallest models, the Forerunner 245 and Forerunner 255, are already equipped with the running metrics so that you can get a detailed evaluation of your running efficiency values ​​with the right chest strap.

On the other hand, you also have to do without the comfort features in the Forerunner models. For example, only the top model Forerunner 955 has a touchscreen—and the health snapshot feature is also missing on all Forerunner watches below the 955. Garmin differentiates between endurance athletes and all-around athletes in its two mid-range series. If you want the best of both worlds, you’ll have to reach for the Fenix models.

In its two mid-range series, Garmin made a clear distinction between endurance athletes and all-around athletes, although the boundaries have become increasingly blurred, especially with the most expensive Forerunner models. The Forerunner 955 and Forerunner 965 have practically arrived at the level of the Fenix ​​series in terms of features.

There are also a few features you’ll have to do without on the smaller or older Forerunner models. The Forerunner 55, for example, cannot track blood oxygen saturation and does not support running efficiency analysis. The Forerunner 245, on the other hand, lacks respiration rate measurement.

In the following table, you can see the most important technical data of the Garmin Forerunner 55, Forerunner 245, Forerunner 255, Forerunner 745, Forerunner 955, and Forerunner 965 in comparison.

               
Product
Image Garmin Forerunner 965 Product Image Garmin Forerunner 55 Garmin Forerunner 245 Garmin Forerunner 255 Product Image Garmin Forerunner 265 Product Image Garmin Forerunner 745 Garmin Forerunner 955 Product Image
Review


Not yet tested

Not yet tested


Not yet tested


Review: Garmin Forerunner 255


Review: Garmin Forerunner 265


Not yet tested


Not yet tested
Case size
Bracelet
Display technology
Display glass
  • Chemically reinforced glass
Display size
Resolution
  • 360 × 360 Pixel / 416 × 416 Pixel
Touchscreen
Memory
  • k. A. / approx. 4 GB (music version)
  • k. A. / approx. 4 GB (music version)
Weight
Battery life (smartwatch)
Battery life (GPS)
  • up to 42 h / 49 h (solar)
Waterproof
Price (MSRP)
To the Offer*




1.4 The rugged models of the Instinct 2 series

Garmin Instinct 2 front
The Garmin Instinct 2 Solar offers infinite battery life thanks to photovoltaic cells built right into the display. / © nextpit

Each series below Garmin’s Fenix lineup embodies a subaspect of the flagship models. Garmin’s Venu and Vivoactive models are all-rounders with broad fitness features and touchscreens, while the Forerunner models are aimed at endurance athletes. Finally, the Instinct 2 series represents the outdoor capabilities and resilience of the Fenix lineup.

For example, the Instinct 2 and Instinct 2S offer excellent battery runtimes–and in the solar-powered variants, they can even be operated permanently without recharging. That’s right: The Instinct 2 Solar offers virtually infinite battery life, as long as you get to see the sun regularly. In addition, the Instinct watches are extremely robust and water-resistant up to 10 ATMs.

On the other hand, you have to do without a touchscreen and instead get two nested monochrome displays with comparatively low resolution. You also have to cut back on the integrated memory. Instead, there are multiple special variants of the Instinct 2 each with their features, for example, especially for surfers, hunters, or truckers.

The following table shows the technical specifications of the Garmin Instinct 2S and Garmin Instinct 2 in comparison:

     
Product
Image Garmin Instinct 2S Garmin Instinct 2 Product Image
Review


Not yet tested


Review: Garmin Instinct 2
Case size
Strap size
Display technology
Display glass
  • Chemically reinforced glass
Display size
Resolution
Touchscreen
Memory
Weight
Battery life (smartwatch)
  • up to 21 d / 51 d (solar)
  • up to 28 d / unlimited (solar)
Battery life (GPS)
  • up to 22 h / 28 h (solar)
  • up to 30 h / 48 h (solar)
Waterproof
Variants
Price (MSRP)
To the Offer*

More wearables from Garmin

At this point, we have focused on the four major smartwatch series from Garmin. Apart from these models, however, the manufacturer also offers several other wearables that we would like to mention at least once here:

  • Garmin’s Vivomove series: hybrid smartwatches with an analog watch face and display.
  • Garmin’s Vivosmart series: fitness trackers in the classic wristband form factor (Garmin Vivosmart 5—read review)
  • Garmin’s Vivofit series: simple fitness trackers with extremely long battery life
  • Garmin’s Vivofit Jr models: activity trackers for kids in a robust design

2. Buying guide: What to expect from Garmin’s watches?

Garmin introduced its first sports watch with integrated GPS in 2003. Back then, the iPhone was still a distant idea in Steve Jobs’ head, and smart features in watches were dreams of the future. In 2024, we’re making phone calls and chatting on our wrists, but we’re also using our smartwatches to check our vitals and measure our fitness levels. After all, no other gadget is worn so close to the body during the day.

In the following paragraphs, we will therefore take a look at which sports and fitness features Garmin smartwatches offer on the one hand–and which smartwatch features you can expect on the other.

Garmin Fenix 7, Epix 2, Venu 2 Plus, Instinct 2
Garmin’s smartwatch lineup serves different target groups. nextpit explains which models are the right ones for you. / © nextpit

2.1 Sports & fitness features on Garmin watches

The most important thing about Garmin’s watches is their sports and health features. All sports watch from Garmin–here in points 2.1 to 2.4–offer a heart rate sensor, including measurement of resting heart rate and heart rate variability. The body battery function, i.e. your daily shape, is also available on all models, as are sleep and stress tracking. All Garmin sports watches also determine your cardio fitness in the form of the VO2Max value.

The snapshot of your health data called “Health Snap Shot” is supported by all Garmin smartwatches listed here, except the Forerunner models. The Forerunner 55 also lacks measurement for floors climbed and SpO2 values, and the Forerunner 245 does not record your respiration rate. All other models include these features.

Garmin Connect Workout Screenshots
If you do a strength workout with the Epix 2, the watch automatically recognizes the exercises and determines the load on the individual body areas. / © nextpit

Bluetooth, ANT+, and Wi-Fi are on board with all Garmin sports watches except the Forerunner 55. This means that the smartwatches not only connect to your Wi-Fi at home and your smartphone but also to various accessories from Garmin, including cadence sensors for cycling or various chest straps. However, the running efficiency values that the more advanced Garmin chest straps measure are not supported by the Venu and Vivoactive series.

GPS sensors are also present everywhere. Some new models also support multi-band GPS, although we could not notice any difference to the already excellent GPS accuracy of the Garmin smartwatches in the practical review of the Epix 2, for example. By the way, all Garmin smartwatches lack an ECG measurement. If this feature is important to you, I recommend taking a look at our best smartwatch list.

2.2 Smartwatch functions in Garmin’s smartwatches

The Garmin models are not only excellent sports watches, but also smartwatches with various smart features. Notifications from smartphones are available on all models described here, as well as basic calendar functions and weather forecasts. Garmin Pay is also included in all the watches described here (except the Forerunner 55), and Garmin’s payment service supports many banks in the USA. A current list can be found here on the Garmin website.

Except for the Instinct, the Forerunner 55, and the non-music models of the Forerunner 245 and 255, all Garmin smartwatches offer internal storage for music–but controlling music stored on the smartphone is possible on all watches. Only the Venu 2 Plus currently offers support for voice assistants, and an LTE option was only available with the Forerunner 945 from 2019, but not with the successor 955.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus side view
Thanks to a microphone and speaker, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus supports voice assistants and serves as a wrist-worn speakerphone. / © nextpit

All Garmin smartwatches in this comparison also have the proprietary Connect IQ Store in common. Here you can find watch faces and data fields for workouts as well as numerous apps like Spotify, Komoot, Amazon Music, or Accuweather. You can also take a look at the selection in the browser via this link.

The bottom line is that the Garmin watches offer several smartwatch features. However, you should not expect such a seamless integration with your smartphone for example with the Galaxy smartwatches or the Apple Watch.

2.3 Garmin smartwatches for women

Garmin’s smartwatches are mostly unisex, but the manufacturer does offer models specifically for women. These models, like the Garmin Lily Sport, have a rounder design and offer features such as menstrual cycle tracking—which can be beneficial for all individuals that menstruate.

Fortunately, most models also come in a variety of sizes: the S models are for people that have a slimmer wrist, like the Garmin Fenix 7S Pro or the Instinct 2S.

The latest addition is the Garmin Lily 2, which has a small form factor and colors such as “lilac”, “sage gray” or “mulberry”. Fortunately, in 2024, smartwatches for women are no longer just defined by their looks, as you can read in the linked section of our smartwatch best list.

The Garmin portfolio also includes the HRM-Fit, a chest strap specially designed for women. Thanks to its “clip-on design”, it can be easily attached to sports bras.

Garmin HRM Run and HRM Tri
Garmin offers an extensive accessories package for its smartwatches–there is something for almost every sport. The photo shows the HRM Tri (left) and HRM Pro (right) chest straps. / © nextpit

Did we forget something important, like a specific type of watch or information you might need? And which Garmin smartwatches are your favorites? We look forward to your feedback!


Note: This article was updated in May 2024 with the current prices and suggestions for the Lily 2 model. Existing comments were left as they were.



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