Apple vs Garmin: Which Watch is Better for Runners

apple watch vs garmin

Running watches are notoriously difficult to decide on. Also, when weighing your options you might – despite best intentions – go for a flashy watch that doesn’t suit your specific needs as a runner. And that bulky watch with a thousand features that you have been eyeballing might actually be the least comfortable device you have ever strapped on your wrist. Apple vs Garmin, which is the better option?

There are many things to factor into your decision that go beyond price and look. For the purpose of this guide, I will showcase a few of the best watches from Apple and its competitor Garmin. And in the process, we will explore whether it makes more sense for you to go with one over the other. Which is better for running Garmin or Apple Watch?

Running Watch Comparison: Apple Watch Series 5 vs Garmin Fenix 6

Is an Apple watch better than a Garmin? Stepping into the ring are two heavyweights in the industry. Let’s see which running watch makes the most sense for you to buy as a runner. Spoiler alert, this will be a really close match between Apple vs Garmin. 

Apple vs Garmin: Apple Watch Series 5

Apple vs Garmin▷ This is the heavy-hitter in the lineup for Apple right now. With it, runners will get a sleek-looking watch with all of the functionality of the series 3 and 4, and more! 

Depending on if you want phone connectivity or just the GPS and health analytics, the price for the Apple Watch Series 5 will fluctuate. If you do decide to get your watch connected through a carrier like Verizon or AT&T, you will be paying more money for connectivity (receiving and making calls) over just sticking with the GPS model. 

Although the Apple 5 Series is the top of the line smartwatch these days, for running, you can get the same sort of features, but more in-depth analytics that is relevant to running with the Garmin Fenix 6. 

Again though, it’s a pretty close call in our battle Apple vs Garmin. The Apple Watch is the better general-purpose smartwatch for the money, and the Garmin Fenix 6 works better as a tool for endurance athletes because it’s more specialized for sports. Check the best deals for the Apple watch.

Pros of the Apple Series 5:

  • A lot of storage and a new core processor for increased application efficiency.
  • An always-on screen for convenience.
  • Similar battery life as the 4 Series (if the always-on display is turned off).
  • A wide range of watch faces to pick from and customize.
  • Easy to use Apple operating system.
  • Standard running apps and health tracking with the option of downloading a lot of helpful applications for endurance runners.
  • A built-in compass that is actually pretty accurate.

Cons of the Apple Series 5:

  •  Nothing much has changed from the Apple Series 4 to justify switching over to Series 5 just yet at the current market price.
  • Not that many applications that are geared strictly towards serious endurance athletes – only generalized health apps and tracking.
  • The new features don’t necessarily justify the price tag.
  • Sweaty arms and hands will make it hard to control the touch screen in the summer

Apple vs Garmin: The Garmin Fenix 6

Apple vs Garmin▷ When it comes to watches that are solely made for running and outdoor navigation, Garmin pulled no punches with their latest Fenix 6. The battery life can last hundreds of days while in its max battery mode. Garmin has clearly optimized the watch to cater less to flashiness and more to functionality.

This functionality and increased emphasis on making a powerful “sport watch” is just one of the many reasons that this watch is a great choice for athletes -,, especially runners. Check prices for the Garmin Fenix 6.

Pros of the Fenix 6:

  • Solars power capability for the Fenix 6 Pro Solar.
  • Different sizes and capabilities (all based on the money you want to spend).
  • Targeted workouts with accompanying stats, metrics, respiration rate, PacePro feature, and newer applications designed specifically for athletes.
  • Music and maps capability in the more expensive (Pro) versions of the watch.
  • You can customize the watch face for the look you want.
  • Stress reaction metrics to balance rest and stressful moments in your life. On top of this, the Fenix 6 provides sleep monitoring.
  • The trademark Garmin GPS and navigation functionality.

Cons of the Fenix Series 6:

  • The watch itself is expensive! The newest model means that the price tag can be pretty steep when compared to lower-end models. If this is not your first rodeo though, consider investing in the newest that Garmin has to offer.
  • Maybe a little bit overkill with all of the features. Depending on how hardcore of a watch enthusiast you are, another of the cheaper Garmin options – like the Forerunner 35 – might be worth a look.
  • It doesn’t look all that pretty or stylish when compared to the smaller, less cumbersome watches out there.

Verdict for Apple vs Garmin

This is a close battle between Apple vs Garmin because each watch is so different in look and provided features. The Apple Series 5 looks better and offers more streamlined, standard features for the everyday fitness enthusiast. 

The Fenix Series 6, on the other hand, is designed more for the fitness professional. So, if you are a professional athlete and you want a top-of-the-line watch for performance metrics and navigation, then this is the clear winner.

Because this is about watches for runners, in particular, the Fenix Series 6 is the winner. But Apple has been slowly adding their navigational capacity and accurate readings to the mix of their technology, so before long, both will be even.

Questions to Consider When Comparing Other Apple vs Garmin

Why Get an Apple Watch Instead of a Garmin?

Simply put, Apple cares more about providing a “smart” watch for all of its users than delivering on fitness results. It has many convenient, user-friendly applications for tracking health metrics, but it is not geared specifically towards running. 

Take the Forerunner 945 and you have “runner” in the title alone. This is because Garmin has been in the business of providing athletes with tools for tracking and navigation. 

The answer to the question then takes the form of another question: as a runner, what are you looking to gain from your watch? If you care more about connectivity, music, and smart capabilities, then go for the Apple watch. And if you want more heavy-duty features for health tracking and running performance, then go for the Garmin!

Is Garmin or Apple watch more accurate?

The Garmin watches are known for their GPS and navigation ability, so when it comes to tracking those instances, the Garmin usually wins out over Apple Watches. But there are unique cases and complaints that frequent the web, showing that Garmin’s software can sometimes bug up. It happens to the best of us!

With fitness monitoring and health tracking, both Apple and Garmin fare about the same. Apple does well with general fitness metrics and Garmin does better with advanced performance measurements. 

To say that either is any accurate than another is largely based upon model and use case, but for connectivity and general-purpose functionality, the Apple watch is much smarter; the Garmin is better with GPS and more advanced metrics.

First Time Buying a running watch?

I’d suggest checking out my 5 best Garmin running watches for a similar breakdown of other great running watches. Additionally, if you are a first-time buyer for running watches, you obviously should work your way up the ladder of features. 

The Garmin Forerunner 35, Vivoactive Music 3, or any of the other cheaper Forerunner models can serve you well on your mission to track your health.

For Apple Watches, make sure to check out discounted prices on the Series 3 and 4 as the release of the Series 5 has lowered the prices for all!

Which Garmin is the best to buy?

If you’re debating which Garmin watches you should buy, consider looking into these models. These are my favorites when it comes to the absolute best Garmin watch, the best value, the best running watch for beginners, and the best basic running watch. Also, please head over to my article comparing the best Garmin running watches overall.

Best Overall:  Garmin Vivoactive 4
Best Value: Garmin Vivoactive 3
Best for Basics:  Garmin Vivomove HR
Best for Beginners: Garmin Forerunner 45