Apple Watch SE vs. Garmin Forerunner 245 Music: Which should you buy?

Garmin Forerunner 245 Shoes
Garmin Forerunner 245 Shoes (Image credit: Android Central)

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

As the name suggests, the Forerunner 245 Music is designed for runners (and music lovers). You can expect much more than basic health/activity tracking from this watch. It features many advanced metrics, including training status, and you can store music directly on your watch.

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

Serious running watch

Built-in GPS
Music storage
Great battery life
Pulse Ox sensor
Advanced running features
No touchscreen or altimeter
Lacks Garmin Pay

Apple Watch SE

Apple Watch SE

If you've been longing for an Apple Watch but have stayed away due to the expensive price tag, your time has come. The Apple Watch SE is much more affordable and still offers many essentials, like LTE, GPS, activity/sleep tracking, new Apple Fitness+, and more.

Apple Watch SE

Affordable lifestyle watch

Optional LTE connectivity
Always-on altimeter
Apple Fitness+
Two size options
Lacks always-on display
No blood oxygen sensor

Apple Watch SE vs. Garmin Forerunner 245 Music Two very different watches

When deciding between the Apple Watch SE and the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music, there are several factors to consider. Most importantly, what are your reasons for buying a smartwatch in the first place? This question seems simple enough, but it will help guide your decision.

If you want a wearable that's ideal for daily use and filled with smart features, you'll want to go with the Apple Watch SE. Of course, this watch is also geared toward existing iOS users. On the other hand, if you're an Android user or you're more interested in a smartwatch that focuses on fitness features, the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music will be the better choice.

The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music takes care of your fitness needs

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

Spoiler alert: the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music has more to offer in terms of health/fitness tracking than the Apple Watch SE. Some of the key features include built-in GPS, 24/7 heart-rate monitoring, a blood oxygen sensor, stress tracking, and sleep monitoring. The intuitive software is also designed to track your daily movements and workout sessions while interpreting the data into easy-to-read breakdowns. As a side note, the only difference between the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music and the standard model is the addition of music storage and Wi-Fi connectivity, which do cost a bit more.

While some users might miss having a crisp AMOLED touchscreen, Garmin's choice to use a transflective display makes the Forerunner 245 Music a better fitness watch. You might be shocked to learn that relying on side buttons is much easier when you need to make a quick selection or switch display during a run. Additionally, the low-reflectivity display is readable at all times. Plus, you'll typically average about a week of battery life between charges, which is pretty impressive. This watch is compatible with 20mm quick release watch bands so you can change them as you see fit.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Apple Watch SEGarmin Forerunner 25 Music
Display1.6-inch or 1.8-inch Retina LTPO OLED display1.2" transflective display
Dimensions40 x 34 x 10.4mm44 x 38 x 10.4mm42.3 x 42.3 x 12.2 mm
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, LTE (select models)Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi
SensorsHRM, compass, always-on altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, ambient light sensorGarmin Elevate wrist heart rate, accelerometer, compass, Pulse Ox
ColorsAluminum: Silver, Space Gray, GoldGray, White, Aqua
Water resistance5ATM5ATM
Battery life18 hoursSmartwatch mode: 7 daysGPS with music: 6 hours
Optional LTE✔️
Built-in GPS✔️✔️
NFC payments✔️
Always-on display✔️
Blood oxygen✔️

You'll find that the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music's software is much more robust for setting up your training routines, mapping your running routes, and tracking your workout. Some of the sport modes include trail running, treadmill running, indoor and outdoor cycling, pool swimming, yoga, and more. You can view general data right on the watch, but you'll want to access the Garmin Connect app to view the more intricate details of each workout.

The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music offers performance analytics to help you set and achieve your goals.

If you often find yourself training for a run, you'll love what this watch can do. The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music offers performance analytics to help you set and achieve your goals. You can take a look at important metrics that tell you how effective your training is, including training status, training load, and training effect.

If you want to go a step further, pair it with a compatible heart rate strap or the compact Running Dynamics Pod. This will allow you to measure cadence, stride length, ground contact time and balance, vertical oscillation, and vertical ratio. This information is crucial for understanding your form and overall progress as you get ready for your next big race.

The Apple Watch SE is a great choice for iOS users

Apple Watch Se 2020 Lifestyle

Source: Luke Filipowicz / iMore (Image credit: Source: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

As you may already know, the type of phone you use can have a big impact on your smartwatch choice. When it comes to iOS users, Apple Watch will always be the superior option. However, not everyone wants to break the bank for one of these devices. Fortunately, the Apple Watch SE solves that problem for a lot of people. It might be a lesser version of other models, but it still has a lot to offer.

The Apple Watch SE takes features from the Series 4 and 5 models with a few key differences to keep costs low. You'll have the bigger display from the Series 5, but it doesn't come with the always-on feature. You also won't have the electrocardiogram (ECG ) sensor or blood oxygen monitoring. Unless you're an extremely health-conscious individual or have a medical need to monitor these metrics, this may not be a major drawback.

When it comes to iOS users, an Apple Watch will always be the superior option.

The good news is that the Apple Watch SE has an always-on altimeter for all-day elevation tracking, which is also available on the new Series 6. Other notable features include low/high heart rate alerts as well as irregular heartbeat alerts. You'll have access to the company's new subscription service, Apple Fitness+, which features an array of workouts that you can access from any Apple device. Your real-time metrics will be displayed as you work out, so you don't have to rely on your watch the whole time. You'll enjoy three months of the new service for free when you purchase an Apple Watch (a Series 3 or later).

While the Apple Watch SE does run on watchOS 7, it does still have the S5 processor. This may not be the new S6 processor that the Apple Watch Series 6 has, but there's still a recognizable difference in performance. You'll notice that basic daily tasks such as scrolling through options and launching different apps are still quick and seamless on the Apple Watch SE.

Apple Watch SE vs. Garmin Forerunner 245 Music Which should you buy?

After discovering just how different these two smartwatches are, you're probably leaning in one direction or the other. Android users and serious runners who want a fitness-focused device will be better off with the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music. You'll have plenty of important metrics, including training status, training load, training effect, and more.

While Apple Fitness+ might be sufficient for some iOS users, it's not nearly as detailed as what you get with the Forerunner 245 Music. However, if you're buying a smartwatch for everyday use, the Apple Watch SE could be exactly what you're looking for. You'll have seamless notifications, excellent app support, mobile payments, and optional LTE connectivity.

It's easy to see that these watches are made for two different types of users. The Apple Watch SE will easily be the best pick for iOS users who are seeking a smooth wearable experience that's packed with smart features. However, we recommend the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music to those who want to go deeper when tracking their health and fitness.

Courtney Lynch

Courtney Lynch is a freelance writer at Android Central. She's obsessed with all things health, fitness, and music. At any given time, she can be found checking out the latest and greatest gadgets while simultaneously petting her dog and sipping iced coffee.