Runners, what's better Garmin or AppleWatch?

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by satchmo, Sep 12, 2016.

  1. satchmo macrumors 68020

    Aug 6, 2008
    I'm a former marathoner but now just run max 10kms now.

    I would probably require metrics more for fitness and not so much about personal bests.

    The Garmin Forerunner's (235 & 620) has great reviews. But they feel cheaply made of plastic and cost just as much as an AW.

    With the new GPS feature in AW2, it has certainly sparked my interest. That said, I've always liked the SS model and think it may be too heavy for running.

    I suppose I could get the lighter aluminum model although it's still kind of bulky and worry it'll flop around ( I have small wrists).

    Runners, do you swear by hour Garmins? Maybe best to get a lower cost Forerunner 235 and pick up a discounted SS Original AW from BestBuy.
  2. newdeal macrumors 68020

    Oct 21, 2009
    I have no real input however what are the most important features of a running watch to you? Does the apple watch accomplish those things? My wife just got a garmin or some sort last week and we sent it back today in order to get an apple watch instead. The garmins generally do have thinness and battery life on their side over the apple watch for sure. I really like the runkeeper app on my phone and the watch has an app for runkeeper as well which seems to be all I would need, but I am not a marathon runner or anything, I just like to jog and 5k is my max to keep fit
  3. Julien macrumors G4


    Jun 30, 2007
    I use both, Garmin 620 is my 'official' running/biking/cardio recorder and my :apple:Watch is my 'all day' over all general fitness recorder and 'backup' activity recorder.

    If serious about running and like having lots of measurable metrics to analyze that can also be export to other apps then the Garmin and a used or last years :apple:Watch is IMO the way to go.
  4. exxxviii, Sep 12, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2016

    exxxviii macrumors 65816


    May 20, 2015
    My dumb analogy is that Apple Watch is to Garmin as Honda Accord is to Ferrari SF16-H Formula One. The Apple will reliably get you by in most circumstances as a basic performer. The Garmin is best in the world and will help you get to the best you can be. This analogy is generally applicable to people who track performance and are working to improve. If you are only capturing volume, then the AW is fine.

    First, don't let the appearance deter you. The Garmin watches are pretty rugged and take a licking. Yet, they are significantly lighter than the AW and feel like a feather on your wrist. I like my 735XT far more than my AW while running.

    Yes, I absolutely swear by my Garmin and would never run without it. If you have budget, get both a Garmin and an AW-- each has its optimum place.

    Here are a few of the major gaps that I would miss without my Garmin. All of these are software, so theoretically the AW could catch up someday, but it might be a year or two (or more).
    • High precision measuring course distance (as in 0.02 miles standard deviation for a 5 mile course). Apple could match this, but I would not bet highly on it with its GPS introduction. Even iPhone apps struggle to hit 0.1 SD.)
    • Customizable screen. You can setup the Garmin to display exactly which data points you want, were you want them. And, you can have multiple screens. The AW has multiple screens, but they have limited flexibility, and it is unlikely that you will have any one screen that meets your needs.
    • High reliability. The Garmin never fails to capture a run. By never, I mean that I probably have had maybe one or two mess ups over hundreds of runs and many years. AW by contrast, seemed to screw up a capture in some way at least monthly. (Maybe it is better now, but I gave up on it earlier this year.) 3rd party apps are worse.
    • Superior UI. The watch has purpose buttons for start/stop/lap that make it easy to know with assurance you are doing the function you want. The AW is finicky and the touch screen kind of sucks on those sweaty days.
    • Superior data capture and analysis. I look at heart rate, cadence, and elevation at splits and within splits to assess my workout effectiveness and performance progression. Currently, the Apple Activity app on the phone lacks all of this capability.
    • Superior HR accuracy. The AW is likely worse than Garmin capturing HR during hard workouts. I do not have issues with my AW, but others post of challenges.
    • Superior data sharing and integration. Currently, the AW does not feed to any 3rd party fitness tool like Strava, TrainingPeaks, etc. I love Strava, and would not use a fitness device that cannot feed to Strava.
    • Superior Visualizations. Garmin has Garmin Connect web for viewing maps and charts of what you have done, along with longitudinal reporting. Apple has nothing. Their mobile app is as far up as data go, and that has a limited analysis interface on a small screen in its current state.
    Get both. You will not regret the Garmin. It is world class.
  5. jhfenton macrumors 6502a


    Dec 11, 2012
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    I love my :apple:Watch, and I have an :apple:Watch Series 2 coming this week to take advantage of the GPS. I have gone from running and cycling every day with my Garmins (and old 315XT and a newer 620) to using my :apple:Watch alone on most runs.

    But...on long runs and hard workouts, I rely primarily on my Garmin. The Garmin HR monitor is more accurate because it uses a chest strap. If I'm running a track workout or a tempo run, I want that data. (The :apple:Watch is good enough on an easy day to confirm that I'm keeping it easy.) Both of my Garmins have sufficient battery to get through 20-hours of GPS and HR-monitor use. The :apple:Watch is fine for a typical workday plus 60 or 90-minute run.
  6. jbachandouris macrumors 601


    Aug 18, 2009
    Upstate NY
    I run only 5k and 10k's outdoors and treadmill most other times.

    I own both the Garmin Forerunner 225 and the Apple Watch. For accuracy, the Garmin cannot be beat. If you don't care about that, the the Apple Watch is just OK for running.

    My biggest beef with the Apple Watch was having to use force touch to pause/stop a run. This is solved in Watch OS 3.
  7. profets macrumors 601

    Mar 18, 2009
    As an avid runner/cycler/swimmer/triathlete I'm likely in the minority here. I used different Garmins and TomToms for several years, but have reached the point where I use just the Apple Watch and truly enjoy it. Some Garmins have likely gotten lighter now, but a few I used were quite big and bulky compared to the Apple Watch.

    I really like having one device/watch that tracks everything for me. The weight of the SS is a non-issue I'd say. I have thin wrists as well, truly wouldn't worry about it. There's definitely a lot of nice options from Garmin and TomTom too. Really depends on your preference as well.
  8. lordofthereef macrumors G5


    Nov 29, 2011
    Boston, MA
    I am curious to see how people feel about series two. My gut tells me that it still won't match a garmin, but the need for a garmin is also going to be dictated by how serious a runner you are. I think for the average runner that isn't competing it will do nicely to track pace, heart rate, and overall performance increase or decrease. Heck, I am happy with what my phone can do I just don't want to take it with me (flip phone for emergency calls is nice).

    I also feel like they aren;t directly comparable products in the sense that the AW is much more a smart watch in terms of what ELSE it can do compared to the garmin (correct me if I amwrong here those who have experience with both(.
  9. exxxviii macrumors 65816


    May 20, 2015
    I believe that most of Garmin's running and triathlon watches, including the hukly 920XT, are lighter than the Apple watches. The Fenix watches are heavier. The 235/630/735 watch are all significantly lighter than the Apple watches.
  10. XFactorer macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2007
    I'm getting rid of my Garmin 230 for the Apple Watch Nike+. :p I like running and the only metrics I really need are mileage and pace. Heart Rate monitor is a nice to have, not a have to have. I run about twice a week with a running group, otherwise I'd be at home eating Cheetohs.
  11. exxxviii macrumors 65816


    May 20, 2015
    Yep, the Garmin is a light weight smart watch. It does custom apps, custom watch faces (better than AW, actually), and notification. But, it does not have the horsepower or market for all of the apple apps. And, you cannot respond to any notifications. And, it cannot do Apple Pay.
  12. profets macrumors 601

    Mar 18, 2009
    Good to hear. I used the 910XT for a while, was definitely nicer than watches I had used previous to it, but to me, none are as comfortable as the apple watch.

    I'd love to see Garmin make some killer fitness apps for the Apple Watch.
  13. Bob190 macrumors 6502

    May 21, 2015
    I have an Apple Watch and also a use a Garmin Vivoactive. I basically track my runs on both (use the AW for music also), and to my surprise they are always with .1 or .2 of a mile different .. somedays they are exactly the same. I refuse to run carrying a phone, so I have a Series 2 on the way which I hope will allow me to ditch the Vivoactive.

    My main concern is getting my workout data, including the map data, to Strava utilizing only the Series 2 AW. I am hopeful that Strava, iSmoothrun, or Runmeter will update their apps to take advantage of the integrated GPS in the Series 2, but I think it is going to take a while based on email responses I got. I would expect Nike Run Club to support the Series 2 GPS on Friday, Sept. 16, but it wouldn't surprise me if the reason for the delay in the Nike branded watch is that the app won't be ready to support the integrated GPS until late October.

    I am also holding out hope that the developer or RunGap will be able to figure out how to get the GPS data that is recorded using the native Workout app imported to RunGap. Right now, all the other run data that the Workout app records and stores in Health can be imported to RunGap, then exported to Strava, Garmin Connect, etc. I have poked around in iOS 10, and can't see where the map data is stored.
  14. BarracksSi Suspended


    Jul 14, 2015
    I used my Garmin mainly for only workouts because that's all it did best. I use my AW almost all the time.
  15. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    I have a couple of Garmin's and have an original AW that I have run with a fair bit. The original watch wasn't really great as a running watch, but it looks like this is mostly fixed between the new hardware and OS3. Contrary to some of the points above, I actually think that the value of the AW is its flexibility. It's open to any app whose developer wants to make it compatible. Garmin's are great - they are durable, fairly reliable, they definitely have their place.

    If you are serious, and want to track detailed metrics, the Garmin is a better choice. It will likely hold up to daily use for longer than the AW. However, the interface, beyond the most basic use, is fairly confusing. Garmin releases really buggy firmware for the first 6 months or year of the device's life. It will nag you to install repeatedly and if you happen to accept it when you'd like to start a run it may take ages. Satellite acquisition is fast so long as you sync your device regularly. Apple promises this won't be an issue with the new AW presumably because it will generally have a data connection to keep the satellite position cache always up to date.

    The AW is a whole lot better 'rest of the day' watch than anything Garmin makes. The Garmin's are better devices for serious runners and athletes. You should determine which of those suits your needs better. I currently run with my Garmin's and wear my AW the rest of the time. If I were to get a new AW, I would probably run with the AW fairly regularly, even though I'm more serious than the average runner, just because the interface is a bit nicer. The only way that would change is if the AW proved to be unreliable for distance tracking. That remains to be seen.
  16. eez123, Sep 12, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2016

    eez123 macrumors newbie

    Oct 8, 2014
    I have used the Garmin 910XT and I have loved it. I used it primarily for training for triathlons. I use the AW and my iPhone for training when running. I always bring my iPhone on runs and rides however and I use a bluetooth heart rate sensor and apps on the phone for tracking and I use the apple fitness app for tracking on the watch. I am a little bit of a nut that way. I am excited for the iPhone 7 plus and water resistance capability as well as the new watch. I may be able to leave the phone at home now that the watch has gps if I end up upgrading the watch that is. I miss the more advanced training options that the 910xt has and If I train for an iron man I will use the latest garmin training watch. So for everyday use I love the watch and the abilities to get alerts and stuff while on a run. However the new watch software will be better for fitness. still not up to a dedicated fitness watch, but a fitness watch can't do what the AW can either.
  17. pdaholic macrumors 65816


    Jun 22, 2011
    I've got a Garmin Forerunner and a first gen AW now on Watch OS3. I ran with my watch and phone together several times, and I actually got the watch to track my distance with decent accuracy. I hate the chest strap with my Garmin, but it does provide immediate feedback on HR changes (I like to push myself and see how high I can get my heart rate up, and at what rate my heart will implode in my chest). The apple watch is just convenient as it's always on my arm, and it plays music to my headphones so no need for a music player. In the end, I'm using my Apple Watch for almost daily 5 mile runs, and I'm really happy with it, and the Garmin is in a drawer. I've got a S2 AW coming in a few days, and I'm hoping the GPS will be enough to make me want to get rid of the Garmin altogether.
  18. Chupa Chupa macrumors G5

    Chupa Chupa

    Jul 16, 2002
    I run with a the 630, and the 620 before that. I also have an AW.

    Depends what kind of data you are looking for. The Forerunner 630 is a data geeks dream plus the chest strap is the only way to get a really good instant take your on your HR and where you are in the aerobic/anerobic zones.

    If all you want is a basic HR and GPS then the new AW will do the trick but you lose out on all accurate HR data, quality and lenght of stride, quality of total run, lactate threshold data, etc.

    I will say this though, if you are not going to wear a chest strap then don' buy the 630 b/c most of the good data collection happens there. The 630 is "dumb" without it.

    In short the AW is a decent fitness watch, it's not a running watch. The 630 is a great running watch, it's not really an everyday watch. That is why I have both the AW and 630. My AW is my daily driver, my Garmin my specialty watch, and I also have a nice fine jewelry grade dress watch.
  19. Zelegorm macrumors newbie

    Feb 26, 2014
    I use iSmoothrun and the GPS Data is very accurate if you tap check sensors before a run. I'm very happy with it. The hearth rate is as accurate as other sensors on a hand.

    In addition to that: No data collection. And you can share if you want to some tools like "Trainingpeaks / Strava".

    So I'm very happy with it!
  20. redrog macrumors 6502


    Feb 26, 2008
    I have a Tomtom and an AW. For running I'd choose the Tomtom all day long. But with GPS now added to the AW2, I'm not so sure anymore.
  21. avihayg, Sep 13, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2016

    avihayg macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2016
    I had both the Fenix 3 Sapphire and the Apple Watch sport - I'm a triathlete
    I loved both of them but in the end i liked the apple watch more cause it have music capabilities and bluetooth connectivity to headphones. I run mainly long runs (10-16 miles) and music is very important to me so the watch was better. the only thing that was a bummer is that the first model didn't have a GPS so the distance measure wasn't so accurate. The new one have GPS so i just sold my fenix 3, and I'm now waiting for the apple watch to arrive :)

    Also, now that apple have added a swimming workouts I'm sure the new apple watch will be great, i love running with it, very comfortable - i use it less as a smartwatch which connect to my iPhone and more as a fitness device to track all my activities. In terms of cadence, stride length etc.. you can but the wahoo tickrx which gives you the data you want - i personally hate it cause all this data can confuse you.

    To conclude everything - Apple Watch 2 (Hell Yeah !!!!!!!!)
  22. BarracksSi Suspended


    Jul 14, 2015
    Ha! Yup -- although the data I used to get from my Garmin wasn't exactly confusing (no stride data, just biking data like speed and cadence), I never found a good use for it.

    My best data source for my stride quality is my knees. If they're hurting, I'm running wrong. ;)
  23. Snoopy16 macrumors regular

    Jun 20, 2015
    You've received a lot of detailed and thoughtful responses. I will just add a few things. I use the Apple watch on one wrist and the Garmin 620 on the other mainly because I like to see my cadence which the 620 provides. My main tracking tool however is iSmoothRun which really like. Regarding one of your other points, I have a fairly small wrist and there's no problem getting the S/M band tight enough. I also had the aluminum, but exchanged it for the stainless and don't find the stainless too heavy.
  24. MrMoonUK macrumors member

    Jun 2, 2015
    ditching my AW1 for a garmin 735XT I just cannot cope anymore with having to switch between my old 620 and my AW or wearing both. If you are a semi-serious distance runner, do not get the AW its just not designed for runners, plus it won't last a half-marathon +
  25. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    Are you crawling?

    The AW will last 4-7 hours of tracking without trouble. I run with my Garmin and charge my AW then. The AW gets worn the rest of the day, including overnight. It offers too much additional utility for me to want to wear my Garmin when not running.

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