Best Garmin Smartwatches For 2020 [Our Reviews and Comparisons]

Garmin Ltd. is a US company founded in 1989 that specializes in GPS technology that is incorporated to support different venues including marine, aviation, automotive, and sports. The company’s extensive selection of wearables shows you that this company is focusing on offering products that address many individual choices of activity, needs as well as different budgets.

We are reviewing the best 10 Garmin smartwatches highlighting their features, strengths, and weaknesses, and they are listed from modestly priced to more expensive.

PRODUCT FEATURES LATEST PRICE
1. Vívofit 3
  • Viewable in sunlight
  • Displays both steps taken as well as steps needed
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2. Vívosmart 3
  • Waterproof
  • Easy to configure
  • Battery life up to 5 days
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3. Vívofit 4
  • Display is easy to read
  • Pairs easily iPhone
  • Waterproof
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4. Vívosmart 4
  • 7-day battery life
  • Responsive screen
  • Smart notifications
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5. Forerunner 35
  • Sedentary reminder
  • Waterproof
  • Free online fitness community
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6. Vívoactive 3
  • 7-day battery life
  • Waterproof
  • Automatic uploads to Garmin Connect
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7. Instinct
  • GPS/GLONASS/Galileo connectivity
  • Responsive menus
  • Accurate ABC sensors and tracking
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8. Venu
  • Easy to see your workout data
  • GPS is accurate
  • Strava and Nike Plus sync
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9. Forerunner 645
  • Download up to 500 songs
  • Waterproof rating: 5 ATM
  • GPS connectivity
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10. Garmin D2 Delta
  • Comfortable silicone strap
  • Smart notifications
  • Easy to read screen display
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Our Best Garmin Smartwatches Reviews and Comparisons

1. Vívofit 3

Product Highlights

Garmin’s vívofit 3 automatically tracks your steps with the Move IQ app which is suited for the walker or jogger. You can view all of your data with Garmin Connect. If you need a reminder to get moving you can count on its sedentary reminder feature. With interchangeable bands, you can even wear it when you are going out on the town and still want to track your progress.

Features

  • Garmin Connect displays all of your activities online
  • Battery life is for 1 year on a single charge
  • A comfortable and sleek silicone band that can be worn 24/7 on land or in the water
  • GCM compatibility with the free smartphone app to automatically or manually view and analyze your metrics

What We Like About vívofit 3

Move IQ automatically records your activities and when you are ready to track your progress you can upload all the metrics online via Garmin’s Connect Mobile app which displays your activities in various easy-to-read and easy-to-understand formats (graphs, charts, maps).

Being waterproof means you never have to worry should you forget to take it off. The sedentary reminder feature will keep you on track with your workouts.

The band stays secure because it locks so there is no worry about losing it. While the band may not coordinate with all fashion styles, the band can be hidden, changed, or accessorized.

This device recommends a minimum number of activity minutes to complete each day to get you started, track your progress, and keeps you on top of your goals.

The display remains on so you can glance at it without the need to flick your wrist or push a button and it performs in the background.

Customers prefer the smaller screen. The MoveBar will keep you on track to move if you have been still for too long. When you go to sleep this smartwatch will automatically track without pressing any buttons.

What We Don’t Like About vívofit 3

The device can also track intensity min, which means it tracks when you are exercising hard. Unfortunately, you have to be exercising hard for 10 min straight at a time. The feature counts consecutively instead of accumulatively which will not suit many who are not prepared for 10 minutes straight of intense exercise.

The band is not attractive if you want to be able to wear this device when dressing up. The band does not fit smaller wrists.
Garmin offers a fitness community but the population is not many for those who wish to engage in competition with other users.

Some users find Garmin Connect is not user friendly. The data is not displayed in a clear to read format. This smartwatch does not have an alarm that is loud enough for some users to actually hear and there is no vibration feature.

PROS

  • Viewable in sunlight
  • Displays both steps taken as well as steps needed
  • Program sets new realistic daily goals based on your actual achievements
  • Offers activity minute/week recommendation and tracks your progress.

CONS

  • Screen LED stops functioning within a year
  • Band is not very secure

2. Vívosmart 3

Product Highlights

vívosmart 3 is an activity tracker that is both functional and attractive while working to track activities, monitor metrics, and display smart notifications. The slim and low-key band in addition to the display that stays hidden until you want to see it makes this an unassuming smartwatch that can be worn anywhere without bringing any attention to it if that is what you prefer.

Features

  • VO2 max fitness monitors your activities
  • Elevate wrist heart rate technology monitors 24/7
  • Waterproof: safe for swimming and showering
  • Battery life up to 5 days

What We Like About vívosmart 3

An extremely slim band suited for those who are looking for a discreet look. This item is compact so it is less likely to snag on surfaces. Rugged build quality.

Great screen responsiveness for medium to large fingers. The band is great for a smaller wrist leaving 2-3 holes to allow for tightening. Being waterproof means you can wash your hands while wearing it. The band does not attract fingerprints.

Metrics are reliable and accurate. Easy to clean when it gets dirty. Easy to navigate. Customize the apps according to preference.

What We Don’t Like About vívosmart 3

Users have found when the device is paired with Android they can only pause the music and not navigate between tracks.

Users have had to manually edit metrics that were not correctly recorded by the app. It does not give feedback regarding breathing patterns.

Band broke after two months of wear. The watch is designed so that replacement bands are not an option, instead you must purchase a new watch.

Users have reported the screen area has a rubbery texture which impedes being able to access data as it is not possible to swipe the screen in a smooth manner. The waterproofing on the screens blurs the visual clarity.

PROS

  • Choice of portrait or landscape for display
  • Waterproof
  • Easy to configure app with smartphone
  • Battery life up to 5 days

CONS

  • OLED screen reduces clarity of the screen by 10%
  • Stress monitor requires time to determine natural resting heart rate

3. Vívofit 4

Product Highlights

With vívofit 4 and Move IQ you can track your activity 24/7 without taking a break to recharge with a battery that will last for at least a year.

To add more conveniences you want to have the new tools this smartwatch offers like the weather widget so you can plan your day accordingly. An alarm to help you stay on top of what is going on in your day. The countdown timer is a great feature, too. If you cannot find your phone then vívofit 4 will help you track it down.

Features

  • Customizable color display
  • Safe for swimming and showering
  • Garmin Connect
  • Garmin Move IQ

What We Like About vívofit 4

A sleek design that looks like a tasteful bracelet that will go with any fashion choice. Its backlight allows you to see in the dark while easily visible in average light.

It comes with a watch type buckle strap, which stays securely fastened. Connectivity has been seamless. The phone battery and smartwatch battery are not drained when connected for the purpose of storing data.

A variety of settings can be programmed according to preference, including display formatting, alerts turned on, and off including the starting point of health metrics.

Move IQ automatically captures and classifies different activities and the data is collected and displayed via Garmin Connect.

What We Don’t Like About vívofit 4

Users have found that the Bluetooth connection stopped functioning after 2 months and stopped working entirely after 5 months with no reliable customer support offering service.

The stats are inaccurate when displayed on the device while on the Garmin Connect app the stats are accurate.

A customer tried to replace the battery when it died and lost one of the screws and found out that replacement screws are not for sale, the screws are proprietary and the customer had to ship the device to the company. When the device was returned it was refurbished, not the original device the customer ordered and had to reset it.

PROS

  • Display is easy to read
  • Pairs easily iPhone
  • Connect app is reliable
  • Waterproof

CONS

  • Item stops working after a few months
  • Screen is difficult to read

4. Vívosmart 4

Product Highlights

This slim wristband tracker complements all areas of your life. With an easy-to-read display that turns on only when you need it and automatically adjusts the ambient light levels so you can view the display in bright sunlight.

Wherever you are, vívosmart 4 will be busy monitoring your metrics in order to guide you to make the best health choices for your busy life.

Features

  • Easy to read display
  • Advanced sleep monitoring with REM sleep
  • Pulse Ox sensor gauges blood oxygen saturation levels during the night
  • GPS connectivity with smartphone

What We Like About vívosmart 4

A wrist-based Pulse Ox sensor lets you estimate blood oxygen saturation while you’re sleeping — or you can spot-check your oxygen levels anytime during the day.

Customers like being able to wear a waterproof fitness tracker in the pool and in the shower without worry. This tracker is the right size for smaller wrists.

The “flick your wrist to display the screen” setting is very convenient.

The different screens are super easy to navigate. The smart notifications can easily be modified to preference. Customers find this smartwatch to be easy to set up, easy to find what you need, and easy to pair with a smartphone.

What We Don’t Like About vívosmart 4

Users have not found it easy to access the information desired. Even though it is designed to be used for swimming it is not usable while wet.

The monitors are displaying inaccurate readings and work sporadically. Multiple issues with syncing the smartwatch with the smartphone. Unresponsive customer service.

PROS

  • 7-day battery Life from one charge
  • Responsive screen
  • Smart notifications
  • Garmin app displays all data that is easy to read

CONS

  • Unreliable tracking
  • Unresponsive customer service.

5. Forerunner 35

Product Highlights

Forerunner 35 is a compact and lightweight easy-to-use GPS running watch that tracks distance, pace, intervals and more. Leave your phone at home because this watch is all you need since it records and displays your metrics.

Features

  • Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate technology
  • Smart notifications
  • Automatically uploads your data to Garmin Connect
  • All-day activity tracking estimates steps, calories and intensity minutes and reminds you when to move

What We Like About Forerunner 35

Customers enjoy the convenience of a wrist-based heart rate monitor. Some love the square watch face which is easy to clean. The size is more comfortable for smaller wrists. The band is flexible and stretchy to give a comfortable fit.

The display is easy to see and is crisp and clear in sunlight and at night. The backlight has a somewhat bluish tint that is easier on the eyes. Some users like the analog display.

Waterproof so you can swim or exercise in the rain with no worries. Accurate GPS tracking.

What We Don’t Like About Forerunner 35

There is a lag of approximately 3 minutes for the device to track any pace changes. AutoPause does not work. This device can only be set at one interval time which is inconvenient for runners. Does not adjust for changes between intervals.

While displaying time and date are acceptable, customers have found the other features to be marginally functional or totally inaccurate and unreliable. There have been syncing issues that would not resolve.

The buttons are a little difficult to push. Connectivity is inconsistent.

Some say that this smartwatch does not include all the features that are suited for serious runners.

PROS

  • Sedentary reminder
  • Waterproof
  • Live tracking and music controls
  • Free online fitness community

CONS

  • Buttons on the side of the watch are hard to push
  • Poor screen quality

6. Vívoactive 3

Product Highlights

With an active life, the need for conveniences is necessary. Play and pay with vívoactive 3 thanks to the added ease of contactless payments from this smartwatch. With 15+ preloaded sports apps, your varied fitness needs are covered. The built-in GPS helps you stay on track of your distance, pace, location, and more for your outdoor activities.

Features

  • Garmin Pay contactless payment
  • Garmin Chroma Display
  • Made of extra-durable Corning Gorilla Glass
  • Monitor your fitness level with VO2 max
  • Side Swipe interface offers quick scrolling and navigation of menus and widgets

What We Like About vívoactive 3

A sleek and visually appealing watch that is easy to modify the data screens for each workout according to your specific needs. The display conveniently shows everything you want in one area including, time, date, heart rate, steps, battery life, etc. Many watch faces to choose from as suits your taste.

The sports tracking features are reliably accurate.

The bands are strong and tuck into themselves so there’s no bulk on the wrist. Battery charges pretty quickly. Customers remain satisfied with this smartwatch after a year.

Spotify works with this device.

Users like that this smartwatch feels “normal” in size. When listening to music the phone does not need to be nearby.

What We Don’t Like About vívoactive 3

Phone notifications seem to drain the battery. There is no customization feature for notifications, the options are to receive all notifications or none. It seems this product sometimes experiences notification syncing snags, if this occurs for a time consider returning it for a new one.

Sleep tracker, stress measure, and heart rate monitors barely function. Battery does not last as long as advertised. The band is not comfortable and can irritate the skin. The touchscreen is not accurate.

While exercising, customers found that while perspiring and moving their wrists the menu will be turned on unintentionally including changing music volume and other widgets/app options. GPS connectivity is erratic.

After music is played, the next time the same music disappear for each successive use.

PROS

  • Personalize your watch with thousands of free watch faces, apps and widgets from Connect IQ store
  • Battery life: up to 7 days in smartwatch mode; 13 hours in GPS mode.
  • Waterproof for swimming or shower
  • Automatic uploads to Garmin Connect

CONS

  • Battery drains too quickly when in use
  • Monitoring features are inaccurate and unreliable

7. Instinct

Product Highlights

For the outdoor mountaineer who hikes, hunts, and backpacks, Garmin’s Instinct is the rugged GPS watch that is designed to stand up under tough and demanding conditions.

Features

  • U.S. Military standard 810G for thermal, shock and water resistance (rated to 100 meters)
  • 3 axis compass, barometric altimeter, multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, Glonass and Galileo) which is necessary support when tracking in challenging environments
  • Tracback navigates the same route back to your starting point
  • One charge = Battery life maximum 14 days (smartwatch mode) maximum 16 hours (GPS mode) and maximum 40 hours (Ultratrac battery saver mode)

What We Like About Instinct

A strong and durable smartwatch thanks to its design including a fiber-reinforced polymer case plus the chemically-strengthened, scratch-resistant display. Lightweight and comfortable.

The screen’s LCD display gives off a high contrast when viewing the text. In addition, the way the face catches ambient light so well makes it very easy to read the screen.

Easy to navigate menus, widgets, and settings. The keys and apps respond quickly getting you to where you need. Tracker features work well.

It is a strong smartwatch that if you drop it or it gets banged up during any activity this device will continue to work.

What We Don’t Like About Instinct

Metrics readings are inaccurate and unreliable. Silicon band gives a skin rash. The screen lock feature is so sensitive that with a flick of the wrist it can unlock the screen unintentionally.

The screen area is too small to view while running to check data at a glance. To check different data you have to switch between screens. The buttons begin to get stuck after a short time.

PROS

  • GPS/GLONASS/Galileo connectivity
  • Responsive menus
  • Exceptional screen visibility
  • Accurate ABC sensors and tracking

CONS

  • Screen is too small
  • Low screen resolution

8. Venu

Product Highlights

The Venu GPS smartwatch gives you more time to do the activities you enjoy thanks to a battery that lasts up to five days before needing to be recharged. Venu provides a comprehensive picture of your health.

Features

  • AMOLED display
  • Five-day battery life in smartwatch mode; up to six hours in GPS and music mode
  • All-day health monitoring features
  • Easily download playlists to this watch from Spotify, Amazon or Deezer
  • 20+ preloaded GPS and indoor sports apps

What We Like About Venu

The music feature works flawlessly. The workout screen displays 4 different data fields that you can rearrange as you prefer. Battery life lasts a long time and does not drain easily when using GPS/music features, etc.

Customers have found the water tracker to be quite helpful in staying hydrated.

What We Don’t Like About Venu

The AutoPause is not consistent. Heart rate is inaccurate. Battery life is closer to 1-2 days. The screen does not remain on which means you have to snap your wrist to turn it on.

It takes a bit of time to learn how to use this smartwatch. The setup will take a bit of time as there are approximately 50 permission prompts to submit halfway through the process.

PROS

  • Easy to see your workout data and steps
  • GPS is accurate
  • Sync your activity with Strava and Nike Plus
  • Notifications appear immediately and easy to dismiss or remove.

CONS

  • Setup is not simple
  • Shorter battery life than advertised

9. Forerunner 645

Product Highlights

For runners who must have music to accompany their exercise, the Forerunner 645 is an ideal GPS running tracker with its on-device music storage to access your favorite tunes and make contactless payments to buy whatever music you wish, while this device tracks your metrics.

Features

  • Syncs music from select streaming services for offline listening
  • Garmin Pay contactless payment solution
  • Provides advanced running dynamics
  • Uses estimated wrist based heart rate data to determine your health status

What We Like About Forerunner 645

The running playlist loads up within 10 minutes of opening it. Recognized by Mac computers as soon as the watch is plugged in and software is loaded. Zero interruptions while music is playing.

The watch is lightweight, has a large and easy to read screen and looks a little dressier. The screen is always on and the data can easily be seen in bright sunlight.

GPS connectivity operates quickly. Customizable settings on the home screen include time, weekly mileage, date and time of sunset.

What We Don’t Like About Forerunner 645

The functions of this device deteriorated as the watch neared being 2 years old, for example, the battery drained within 5 hours without GPS, with the GPS feature the battery lasted an hour.

The “resting heart rate” is measured as the average heart rate while sleeping instead of the lowest heart rate during the day.

Bluetooth range is not as far as expected so the phone cannot be left at home during exercise.

PROS

  • Download up to 500 songs
  • Waterproof rating: 5 ATM
  • GPS connectivity
  • Battery life: up to 7 days in smartwatch mode; 5 hours in GPS mode with music.

CONS

  • Wristband stains easily
  • Default watch face does not display real time heart rate

10. Garmin D2 Delta

Product Highlights

Garmin D2 series is another level of smartwatch. This top of the line series specializes in GPS aviator watches. For pilots there is now available global flight navigation capability all from their wrist.

Aviation in addition to the commonly known sport functions, music (500 songs) plus the convenient Garmin Pay contactless payment solution. Garmin has taken the smartwatch to a whole plateau above the rest.

Features

  • Dynamic GPS aviator watch with color mapping, NEXRAD weather, automatic flight logging and alerts for course deviations, pattern altitudes and more
  • Synchronizes with avionics for enhanced GPS navigation and mapping data
  • Easily store and play up to 500 songs on your watch,
  • Bluetooth technology for phone-free listening (requires compatible Bluetooth device)
  • Battery life: Smartwatch mode – Up to 12 days. GPS mode – Up to 18 hours. GPS + Music – Up to 8 hours. UltraTrac mode – Up to 42 hours

What We Like About Garmin D2 Delta

The smartwatch battery lasts over a week without GPS. The screen display is easy to read in daylight without the backlight and under dim lighting.

What We Don’t Like About Garmin D2 Delta

The screen is not worth the price. Customers report that the pictures shown by Garmin are extremely deceptive. There are bugs when using Spotify and users have to restart the watch a number of times to make it work. There have been connectivity issues.

Very poor screen resolution. Battery worked for 6 hours maximum. The device was hard to set up. The watch face is not very bright.

PROS

  • Comfortable silicone strap
  • Battery lasts about a week when using pilot features
  • Smart notifications
  • Easy to read screen display

CONS

  • Battery life is around 50% of what Garmin publishes
  • Unreliable connectivity
  • Feature3

Final Verdict

As the saying goes, “different strokes for different folks,” Garmin has been spreading out their smartwatch net to cover several areas of fitness, sports including mountaineering and flying.

For walkers and runners, you can consider the Forerunner series. The vívofit series gives you choices among several activities to track your progress via Garmin Connect. Vívosmart utilizes VO2 Max Fitness plus the convenience of contactless payments. For the mountaineers and hikers you will need Instinct with specialized metrics for elevations and then our aviators will truly appreciate the D2 Delta smartwatch.

So you have a decent starting point to find a smartwatch most suited for your lifestyle.

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