3 min read

Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Garmin Fenix 7 vs Garmin Epix Gen 2

Related: Gadgets


I've been looking for a perfect smart/sports watch recently. I was going to buy Garmin and honestly, I did my best to justify the purchase. I couldn't. In the end and picked Apple Watch Ultra 2 and here is why.

Apple Watch Ultra VS Garmin Fenix & Epix – Fair Comparison

It's more fair to compare the Apple Watch with Epix because of the OLED/AMOLED screen types.

For me, the screen type doesn't matter. It's not movies that I'm gonna watch on my wrist, that's why I consider the transflective screen of Fenix to be equally cool.

Garmin Fenix 7 Pro or Epix Pro Gen 2 are pretty much the same devices hardware-wise except for the screen and tiny details. So the following can be considered true for both.

Why Garmin is a Killer

For me, there are 3 main competitive advantages of Garmin:

Out-of-the-box experience: you pick the top device on the market, and you get everything needed. Garmin has all the software built-in, so there is no need to dig into forums to find the best set of apps. After you get your Garmin you just download the offline maps for the whole country and you are all set.

Battery life is just beyond the competition. It's pretty decent even for an OLED screen on Epix and is capable enough to stop caring about it at all. One or two weeks or a month it doesn't even matter.

I love the overall design mainly for its ruggedness. I think it's just right. Built like a tank, but not as brutal as G-shock. I also like round watches more than rectangular ones.

Why Garmin Features are Not Relevant

In reality, all of Garmin's competitive advantages above turned out to be completely irrelevant. At least for my use cases.

Software

Built-in software is both the good and the devil.

There is no tight integration with the mobile ecosystem. There is no big market for third-party apps. No competitive market for 3rd party software developers.

As a result – software that looks and feels like something from 2000x.

Garmin has cool built-in metrics like "body battery".

On Apple Watch you would have a dozen of apps to choose from that have some similar metrics. Not exactly the Garmin numbers, because the exact formulas are different, but it's not a problem to find relevant numbers to rely on.

Battery Life

Battery life matters but let's be honest. Apple Watch Ultra lasts longer than one is capable of not just exercising but staying awake.

For a decade I haven't had a single case when I spent more than 24 hours away from a charger. But even if I did I would have taken a power bank with me. Period.

What's Wrong With Garmin?

Accuracy

The biggest problem with Garmin is its accuracy. According to this guy's findings Best Health and Sports Trackers in 2023: Scientist's Top Picks - YouTube

Garmin's accuracy is far behind the Apple Watch. It's not as responsive in HR measurements during workouts and it's total garbage at sleeping stages predictions.

I'm pretty much sure that it's not even related to hardware. Apple simply has an order of magnitude more Apple Watch users and data that it can use to train its models.

The problem is that the whole thing of fitness wearables is about Heart Rate, Heart Rate Variability, Body Temperature, and Sleeping Stages evaluation.

If measurements are inaccurate, all metrics that rely on them are pointless.

Build Quality

I tried Garmin Fenix and I was disappointed because it feels like a cheap device with shitty UI which is not even close to its price.

Garmin probably was the first gadget that I was holding in my hand and I didn't want to buy. It hardly ever happens to me.

Why Apple Watch Ultra is a Killer

Apple Watch has features that have real use cases that turn out to be important: cellular connection and Apple Pay.

I was pretty sure that I would never use it. Who the heck needs to call on the watch or pay for water in the supermarket with it?

Now I go for jogging and don't have to take anything with me. Never thought before about how awesome it is!

Apple ecosystem is a network effect beast and the wildest electronic drug of the present time. You just add one device and the UX of all devices bumps a little bit.