Apple Watch vs. Garmin Forerunner

If you are in the market for a new smart watch, you may be trying to choose between the Garmin Forerunner vs. Apple Watch. This post compares these two high quality smart watches, to help you choose.

Smartwatches continue to dominate the wearable industry with a five year compound annual growth rate of 11% according to the International Data Corporation. The growing popularity and adoption of mobile devices will swell the number of shipments from about 125 million (125.3) units in 2018 to nearly 190 million (189.9) units in 2022. While declining in market share, Apple Watch is expected to remain the most popular smartwatch for the near future. However, another very popular choice is the Garmin Forerunner, which many people love.

Apple Watch vs. Garmin Forerunner - which one is for you?
Apple Watch vs. Garmin Forerunner – which one is for you?

Smartwatches Offer Quick Access to Information

Consumers appreciate the suite of features that most smartwatches share. Like smartphones, smartwatches use touchscreens, provide apps, and track vital signs.

Accessibility remains the primary motivation behind purchasing a smartwatch.

Most consumers who plan to buy a smartwatch want the device to reduce the number of times they need to pull out their phones. More than 30% of people who plan to purchase a smartwatch said directing phone notifications to improve productivity is the device’s most important feature.

More than 30% of people who plan to purchase a smartwatch said directing phone notifications to improve productivity is the device’s most important feature
More than 30% of people who plan to purchase a smartwatch said directing phone notifications to improve productivity is the device’s most important feature

While smartphones offer these features, smartwatches provide access to information and functions at the simple tilt of a wrist.

If you are trying to decide between an Apple Watch or a Garmin Forerunner, there are several important factors to consider before you buy.

Apple Watch vs. Garmin Forerunner: Each has Distinct Capabilities

Apple Watch and Garmin Forerunner offer similar features with different functionalities, which influence the devices compatibility with consumers.

Apple Watch supports an expansive app database, which means the device can push more notifications.

Garmin Forerunners support a limited app database, reducing the number of notifications users can receive.

Both devices track fitness activities such as hiking, running, cycling, and swimming, but with varying capabilities.

Heart Rate Tracking with Apple Watch vs. Garmin Forerunner

While consumers previously found the device to react too slowly to changes in heart rate, the newest series of Apple Watch have significantly improved monitoring capabilities.

Garmin Forerunner also tracks your heart rate accurately, responding quickly to changes. The device can connect to ANT+ chest heart rate monitors for optimal tracking.

Apple Watch can also connect through Bluetooth to the Polar external heart rate monitor.

As well, Garmin Forerunners can connect with GLONASS alongside GPS to more accurately track location and rungs.

Garmin Forerunner is Better for Non-Apple Phones

Offering more interoperability than Apple Watch, Garmin Forerunner smartwatches can connect to Android and Apple Smartphones.

Apple Watch will only pair with compatible iPhone models for optimal functioning.

Apple Watch vs. Garmin Forerunner: Different Interfaces

Apple Watch and Garmin offer users distinctly different interfaces. Apple Watch provides a touchscreen OLED display, which optimizes picture quality. The newest versions include more usable display area, as well as a rounded edges rather than corners.

The increased display size enables more information and larger fonts to display than earlier versions.

Garmin Forerunner prioritizes battery-life with its display, offering about a week of regular watch use on one full charge. The smartwatches are also controlled with four buttons.

The screen of the Garmin Forerunner is less bright, which supports inconspicuous glances. The round face enables large fonts to be displayed, as well as a clear watch face.

Paying for Purchases with Apple Watch vs. Garmin Forerunner

Recently, Garmin integrated digital wallet capabilities into their smartwatches. The Garmin Forerunner models can be linked to Chase cards through Garmin Pay.

Apple Watch users benefit from the wide market adoption of Apple Pay system.

Cost of Apple Watch vs. Garmin Forerunner

A primary consideration for many users is cost. Depending on the band and case, an Apple Watch Series 5 can cost between $399 and $799.

Garmin Forerunner models cost between $199 and $599, depending on the features consumers seek.

Both smartwatches offer a suite of features, which are important for consumers to consider prior to making a purchase.

Users of Either Smartwatch Face Unique Challenges

As with all technology, consumers have faced challenges with their Apple Watches and Garmin Forerunners.

Slower GPS Acquisition with Apple

Due to supplemental navigation technology, Garmin Forerunners can acquire a GPS signal in a second. Apple Watch users have faced greater challenges acquiring a signal, which can influence fitness tracking.

Differences in Displays

Users of Apple Watch have found that in dark environments, one side of the display is slightly yellow and brighter than the other side.

Garmin Forerunner users have also experienced issues with newer models’ displays. Users have noted lines or a faded display on the Forerunner 735XT.

Apple Watch vs. Garmin Forerunner: Battery Life is Better with Garmin Forerunner

The most common challenge faced by Apple Watch users is the device’s poor battery life. While the OLED display is impressive, that color costs in battery power. The device does offer a Power Reserve mode, which reduces the watches display to only the time.

Connectivity Problems

The primary issues consumers face with Garmin Forerunners involve connectivity. As the device must pair with smartphones, users most frequently need to troubleshoot their Bluetooth connection.

Pick a Device to Fit Your Needs

While more devices will enter the growing smartwatch market, staples such as Apple Watch and Garmin Forerunners are likely to stay.

When making a purchase, features and functionalities are important considerations. Apple Watch and Garmin Forerunners may seem to offer similar features, but they do function in distinct ways. For that reason, the Apple Watch will be more loved by some people, while other people will enjoy the Garmin Forerunner more.

Whether you choose an Apple Watch or a Garmin Forerunner, it is important to take you time and end up choosing the smartwatch that will best fit your needs.

Thanks to our Guest Author, Emily Clark

Emily Clark leads The Manifest’s emerging technology research and writing efforts. As a Content Developer, she is responsible for designing research that helps business buyers learn about and determine the best fit for their business services needs.

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