Apple Watch vs. Garmin: Which Is More Accurate?

With smart devices taking over the world, smartwatches have become one of the most sought-after gadgets in technology. If you’re a fitness enthusiast and are considering the best devices for fitness tracking, you are surely aware that Apple and Garmin smartwatches are the industry leaders.

Choosing the better one among the two is rather tough as both the products in our Apple watch vs Garmin watch battle have robust health tracking features. We will look at a breakdown of their key features so you can decide which one would provide more accuracy.

1. Apple Watch vs. Garmin: Basic Smartwatch Features

Let’s take a look at Garmin and Apple watch’s features in terms of –

  • Fundamental controls
  • Operating system compatibility
  • LTE connectivity
  • Battery life

1.1 Fundamental Controls

Like all smartwatches should perform, both Apple and Garmin watches have the usual functionalities such as notifications, alarms, timers, etc. 

Both brands also support contactless payment. However, you can make payments through Apple Pay for all Apple watch models, but not all Garmin models can make payments through Garmin Pay.

1.2 Operating System Compatibility

As expected, Apple watches are not compatible with Android phones as the environment is completely different. But this is not bad news for you if you are already an iPhone user.

The Garmin smartwatch is versatile and was designed to work with both Android and iOS operating systems. For Garmin to work with iOS, your iPhone needs to have iOS 7 or higher. Then, all you need to do is download the Garmin Connect app from Apple’s app store and then pair your device accordingly.

You also have the ability to download third-party apps from Garmin’s Connect IQ Store. Since your Apple watch is already compatible with your iPhone, you have to worry less about not being able to install necessary Apple watch apps from the App store.

There are many Garmin watches that support a lot of extra features like music streaming, but most of them are designed to focus on exercise metrics. 

1.3 LTE Connectivity

Apple watches and Garmin watches both support LTE connectivity, and there is a cellular fee for both. With Garmin smartwatches, you will not be able to send text messages when your phone is too far away, as the LTE in this watch does not connect with your internet service provider.

In the case of the Apple watch, its cellular and LTE features disconnect the smartwatch from your iPhone, for which you will have to pay an additional fee. Nevertheless, you can always use an LTE Apple watch without a data plan if you wish for a change.

1.4 Battery Life

One major drawback of Apple watches is that the battery life is poor. The reason could be all the various features it has to house and maintain, which adds to the drainage.

While Garmin is very sports-centric, it doesn’t need to focus much on other functions like ways to stream music, messaging, etc. Hence, Garmin watches have better battery life.

2. Apple Watch vs. Garmin: What Is the Main Difference?

Both are smartwatches with amazing fitness tracking features. But what makes them inherently different from each other?

The Garmin watch was developed specifically to be a fitness watch. Meaning, it embodies all the attributes and functionalities required for sports tracking. 

Garmin watches have built-in GPS technology to track running. And since Garmin watches are tailored to be made for outdoor activities and training, you can keep track of personalized plans and the training status of your workouts.

Due to all of its sports tracking and metrics analysis abilities, the Garmin smartwatch is basically the dream gadget for athletes. It also caters to swimming more than an apple watch.

While the Apple watch does still keep track of sports and workouts, its core capabilities aren’t built around focusing on workout stats, although it supports some sports apps. Apple watches were designed more to fit the all-in-one tag, as it’s catered toward users that prefer smart watches irrespective of whether fitness tracking is important for them or not.

3. Which Is Better for Overall Fitness Tracking and Health Monitoring?

Comparing these attributes will be a bit tricky, as both Apple and Garmin smartwatches have impressive health and fitness tracking abilities. It is up to you which particular feature you want to focus more on.

Let’s look at the similarities and variances in terms of –

  • Basic fitness activities
  • Sleep tracking
  • Monitoring health
  • Heart rate sensor

3.1 Basic Fitness Activities

Consider the normal features that fitness trackers have to offer, such as calorie burns, steps walked, blood oxygen levels, respiration tracking, etc. In these cases, both smartwatches provide equally accurate results.

So, if you are looking to track only these basic activities, you can either go for either one.

3.2 Sleep Tracking

When it comes to tracking sleep, the Apple watch has a very primary version of this function. It does not provide any in-depth analysis of sleep data, such as the different sleep phases or precise scoring concepts. Garmin watches can be considered the winners in this aspect. 

Why? There is a unique Advanced Sleep Monitoring (ASM) feature that thoroughly analyzes sleep information, including light, deep, and REM phases, restful and restless sleep, and wake times, and provides a comprehensive sleep score. All Garmin models have this robust feature.

Using the Garmin Connect app on your smartphone, you will get detailed stats of your sleep data which was recorded on the previous night while wearing the watch to sleep. Apple has declared to include an enhanced sleep tracking program in a future release of their product. 

3.3 Monitoring Health

Although both smartwatches provide monitoring of primary health aspects such as heart rate and blood oxygen saturation levels, each is more exclusive in selective matters. For example, ECG monitoring options are available in Apple Watch Series 4 and above.

On the other hand, Garmin watches do not have this function but have something different than the Apple watch. The “Body Battery” feature calculates how much energy you have remaining based on the day’s activities.

This is measured by integrating the person’s heart rate variability, activity data, and stress levels to provide a numerical value representing the amount of energy you have remaining in your body.

3.4 Heart Rate Sensor

In the matter of general heart rate (at rest, during exercise, etc.), there is no winner when considering a Garmin or an Apple watch. Both display the necessary heart rate information as needed.

Though in the question of the accuracy of the sensors, the Apple watch has the upper hand. Apple Watch Series 6 and above have proven to maintain consistency and accuracy in measuring heart rate in different situations.

A few bugs were found in the heart rate sensor for Apple Watch Series 7 smartwatches, but those are expected to be resolved in a future enhancement of the product. You can also see your heart rate recovery information in graphical form through the Apple Fitness app.

If you are looking for reliable heart rate information during exercise, then nothing compares to the Garmin Forerunner, Garmin Venu, and Garmin Fenix 7 series. Most Garmin watches also track heart rate recovery data.

4. Which Has Better GPS Technology?

It is important to note that both Apple and Garmin watches have reliable GPS trackability. But Garmin used three different types of satellites, namely GPS, Galileo, and GLONASS. You can probably already guess what that implies.

That’s right – more satellites ensure higher accuracy. A lot of users have stated that the GPS in Apple Watch Series 7 has significantly improved from its earlier versions, but it still cannot top Garmin.

As you already know by now, the Garmin watch was specifically designed for runners, athletes, and anyone heavily involved in outdoor activities. For this reason, an accurate GPS mode is crucial as it would have to consider those long distances outside.

After many tests, comparisons, and in-depth reviews, it was still found that Garmin watches have a more accurate GPS system compared to the Apple watch. So, if you were questioning accuracy based on global positioning, you now know which smartwatch is the winner.