Best Garmin Watch 2023

Someone in a white top wearing a white-strapped golden smartwatch with a black screen with activity information on it.
Credit: Garmin

Someone in a white top wearing a white-strapped golden smartwatch with a black screen with activity information on it.
Credit: Garmin

Garmin's extensive array of wearable devices makes choosing the right one a challenging task. As a leading smartwatch manufacturer, Garmin boasts an impressive lineup of fitness trackers and watches. Regardless of your preferences, Garmin likely has a watch tailored to your needs, and, to streamline the selection process, we've filtered the options down to the the best Garmin watches the brand has to offer.

Among these, the Venu 3 stands out as a top smartwatch with features such as sleep tracking, stress monitoring, and the added convenience of mobile payments, making it an ideal everyday companion. Conversely, models like the Forerunner 965 are more specialised, honing in on specific sports, in this case running.

Our selection covers watches suitable for various activities like running, cycling, and hiking, alongside contenders that hold their ground against popular choices like the Apple Watch. With these considerations in mind, we've curated a concise guide tailored to diverse preferences and activities. Let's delve into the details and find your perfect Garmin companion.

Best Garmin watches

  1. Garmin Venu 3
  2. Garmin vívoactive 5
  3. Garmin Forerunner 965
  4. Garmin fēnix 7X Sapphire Solar Edition
  5. Garmin Enduro 2
Garmin Venu 3 product image of a black-strapped smartwatch with several activities and the battery on the display.
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Credit: Garmin

1. Garmin Venu 3

Best Garmin watch overall

Screen Size: 41 / 45mm - Battery Life: Up to 14 days - Water Resistance: 5 ATM - Memory: 8 GB - Weight: 46 g - Screen: AMOLED - Bluetooth: Yes - Touchscreen: Yes - GPS: Yes - Sleep Tracking: Yes - Mobile Payments: Garmin Pay

When it comes to all-around functionality and performance on a daily basis, you're unlikely to find a better Garmin watch than the Venu 3.

It's got all the activity-tracking capabilities you need if you're into sports and fitness. For instance, it comes with a built-in GPS and over 30 sports apps that can track a variety of different workouts, while the amazing 1.4" AMOLED screen displays relevant health metrics from your sessions.

However, it's the everyday functionality where the Venu 3 really shines. Like most Garmin wearables, it can track your sleep performance, but it can also provide personalised coaching for how much sleep you need and how you can improve. You also get a Body Battery score to inform your "energy levels" for the day. It can also monitor your stress, heart rate, and it comes with a built-in speaker and microphone so you can make calls and utilise voice-activated assistance from your device.

It even features an 8 GB of memory to download apps and songs, plus it's water resistant up to 50m, rivaling some of the best swimming watches around. That's really only scratching the surface of what this watch is capable of. So, if it's a well-rounded Garmin watch you're after for a reasonable price, make sure you check out the Venu 3.

Garmin vívoactive 5 product image of a black smartwatch with the time in green along with Garmin branding on the display.
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Credit: Garmin

2. Garmin vívoactive 5

Best budget Garmin watch

Screen Size: 42.2 mm - Battery Life: Up to 11 days - Water Resistance: 5 ATM - Memory: 4 GB - Weight: 26 g - Screen: AMOLED - Bluetooth: Yes - Touchscreen: Yes - GPS: Yes - Sleep Tracking: Yes - Mobile Payments: Garmin Pay

The Garmin vívoactive 5 is similar in many ways to the Venu 2 Plus, yet it comes with a slightly cheaper price tag. Don't let that put you off though, because several of the key areas where the vívoactive 4 sacrificed to make things cheaper have actually been upgraded for this fifth iteration.

For instance, this device now features a bright, always-on AMOLED display as opposed to the previous MIP screen. It's also capable of tracking a ton of different health metrics, including stress, respiration, heart rate, and menstrual cycles. It can even provide blood oxygen readings from its Pulse Ox sensor.

Additionally, it comes with over 30 preloaded GPS and indoor sports apps, including walking, running, cycling, and pool swimming. It can also show you the correct technique for certain exercises thanks to animated cardio, strength, yoga, and Pilates workouts, which you can view on the screen.

Its battery life has been upgraded too, with it now capable of lasting up to 11 days, and it helps provide a better understanding of what drains your body's battery the most with more accurate energy tracking. It's hard to highlight everything this device has to offer, so check it out yourself to explore the vívoactive 5 some more.

Garmin Forerunner 965 product image of a yellow, black, and carbon grey smartwatch featuring a blue and yellow display.
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Credit: Garmin

3. Garmin Forerunner 965

Best Garmin watch for running

Screen Size: 47 mm - Battery Life: Up to 23 days - Water Resistance: 5 ATM - Memory: 32 GB - Weight: 53 g - Screen: AMOLED - Bluetooth: Yes - Touchscreen: Yes - GPS: Yes - Sleep Tracking: Yes - Mobile Payments: Garmin Pay

The Garmin Forerunner 965 is one of the best running watches on the market, with features catering to long-distance training, sprints, and even triathlons.

With its vibrant AMOLED touchscreen, you can monitor your pace, heart rate, and view a map of your running route in colour, a feature that's especially useful when you're trying to navigate busy urban areas.

In addition, the Forerunner 965 offers multiple sports profiles for tracking various activities, a race widget that can estimate your finishing time based on your pace, and it can even suggest workouts based on your training readiness score that's based on factors like sleep, stress, and recovery.

Interestingly, this watch boasts an extended battery life of up to 23 days (or up to 31 hours in GPS-Only GNSS mode) and is water-resistant up to 50m. So, with its comprehensive features and durability, the Forerunner 965 is an exceptional choice for accurately tracking your running sessions.

Garmin fēnix 7X Sapphire Solar Edition product image of a carbon grey smartwatch featuring a black strap and red details on the display.
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Credit: Garmin

4. Garmin fēnix 7X Sapphire Solar Edition

Best Garmin watch for hiking

Screen Size: 42 / 47 / 51 mm - Battery Life: Up to 37 days with solar - Water Resistance: 10 ATM - Memory: 32 GB - Weight: 89 g - Screen: MIP - Bluetooth: Yes - Touchscreen: Yes - GPS: Yes - Sleep Tracking: Yes - Mobile Payments: Garmin Pay

The fēnix 7X Sapphire Solar Edition is widely considered one of the best Garmin watches for hiking due to its extensive range of advanced fitness capabilities and inclusion of preloaded TopoActive maps for detailed expedition tracking.

Garmin proudly boasts that this watch has undergone testing to meet U.S. military standards for thermal, shock, and water resistance. Consequently, it is designed to withstand even the most demanding hiking conditions, making it an exceptionally durable and rugged device for long-distance adventures.

Additionally, it's equipped with a scratch-resistant Sapphire Solar charging lens. By harnessing the power of the sun, the watch can extend its battery life, offering up to an impressive 37 days of charge in smartwatch mode.

While 7X falls into the higher price range of Garmin's devices, its comprehensive set of features helps it justify its price tag. For hikers seeking unparalleled functionality and durability, this watch proves to be a worthy investment.

Garmin Enduro 2 product image black smartwatch featuring a black fabric band.
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Credit: Garmin

5. Garmin Enduro 2

Best Garmin watch for cycling

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Screen Size: 51 mm - Battery Life: Up to 46 days with solar - Water Resistance: 10 ATM - Memory: 32 GB - Weight: 70 g - Screen: MIP - Bluetooth: Yes - Touchscreen: Yes - GPS: Yes - Sleep Tracking: Yes - Mobile Payments: Garmin Pay

We're rounding things off with an excellent smartwatch to cycle within this Garmin Enduro 2. Realistically, it offers so much more than just the features needed for cycling, but we'd argue it truly excels in this particular field.

It comes with TopoActive maps and NextFork map guides as well as SatIQ technology, which optimises battery life while maintaining precise positional accuracy, ensuring you know your exact route while biking either on or off-road.

It also features an exceptional battery life, providing you with up to 46 days' worth of juice thanks to its solar charging display. Moreover, it can provide heat and altitude acclimation information for mountain bikers out there, and is resistant to water up to 100m.

Crucially, however, it's able to detect and report an incident. So, if you fall and need assistance, the Enduro 2 has you covered. Ultimately, it's an excellent endurance watch that we believe would make for a great cycling companion.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Finding the right smartwatch can be tricky at times and can often lead to a ton of questions. Fear not, however, because we've answered some of the most commonly asked queries below.

Should you buy a Fitbit or a Garmin watch?

Choosing between buying a Fitbit or a Garmin watch depends on your personal preferences and specific needs as both brands offer a range of excellent wearable devices with different features and capabilities.

For example, both Fitbit and Garmin devices excel in fitness tracking. Fitbits tend to focus on activity and sleep tracking, with features such as step counting, heart rate monitoring, and sleep analysis. Garmin offers similar features, but also emphasises outdoor activities like running, cycling, swimming, and GPS tracking for more advanced metrics from some of its wearables.

Design-wise, they tend to differ though. Fitbit tends to have a sleek and minimalist design, with a focus on slim profiles and lightweight materials as more of a fitness band. By contrast, Garmin watches are, for the most part, smartwatches, so feature larger touchscreen displays and a more watch-like aesthetic in general.

Ultimately, it's important to research and compare the specific models and features that align with your requirements. Reading reviews and considering your personal fitness goals will help you make an informed decision between a Fitbit and a Garmin watch.

Can you use a Garmin watch without a phone?

Yes, you can use a Garmin watch without a phone. Garmin watches are designed to function independently and provide standalone features even without a connected smartphone. You won't be able to utilise all features, generally speaking, but the majority will still be available without your phone nearby.

For example, Garmin watches often have built-in GPS capabilities, allowing you to track your outdoor activities like running, cycling, hiking, or swimming without the need for a connected phone. The watch will capture location data, distance, pace, and other relevant metrics.

Following on from this, Garmin watches can track various activities and provide data such as step count, heart rate monitoring, sleep analysis, and calories burned. This functionality doesn't require a smartphone connection and can be used independently.

Also, some models have onboard music storage, enabling you to download and listen to music directly from the watch using Bluetooth headphones. This feature allows you to enjoy your favourite tunes during your workouts without needing a phone nearby.

Keep in mind, however, that some advanced features may require a phone connection for initial setup, firmware updates, or to sync data to the Garmin Connect app. Additionally, a smartphone connection is necessary if you want to access more extensive features, such as downloading additional apps or utilising online services provided by Garmin.

Therefore, Garmin watches are designed to provide standalone functionality, allowing you to use them without relying on a connected phone for most basic features and activities.

Is there a monthly fee to use a Garmin watch?

No, Garmin watches come with numerous core features that do not necessitate any additional costs or monthly fees. However, Garmin does provide some subscription plans such as boat tracking and extended storage for saved video clips. While these services are optional, they can enhance your Garmin device's capabilities if you choose to sign up for them.

That said, they're not necessary to use a Garmin watch, so deciding whether to opt into any of the additional services comes down to your use case.

That said, they're not necessary to use a Garmin watch, so deciding whether to opt into any of the additional services comes down to your use case.

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