Best Garmin Smartwatch Android Central 2019

If you're both a fitness and a smartwatch enthusiast, you might be familiar with Garmin, which designs an array of wearables that cater to both the smartwatch and fitness crowds. Our personal favorite is the new Vivoactive 4, which mixes the two well. Whether you're a pro athlete or a first-time runner, there are many fantastic choices here.

Best Overall: Garmin Vivoactive 4

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is still new to the market but it sure is promising. You'll now have your pick between two sizes: 45mm and 40mm. The larger model gives you an extra day of battery life in smartwatch mode at eight days. It'll last six hours when it's in GPS and music mode. The smaller model dips down to seven days and five hours, respectively.

As for the good stuff, you'll have all of the essentials, like built-in GPS, smartphone notifications, Garmin Pay, and 5 ATM water resistance. Music storage is now standard, which is something you had to pay more for with the predecessor. You'll have many of the same workouts: strength, cardio, and elliptical training as well as stair stepping, floor climbing, indoor rowing, and yoga. The new features include a Pulse Ox sensor that tracks blood oxygen saturation levels and respiration tracking that monitors the number of breaths per minute. As a result, you'll have more insightful sleep data.

The new Body Battery lets you check your energy levels during the day by gathering data from heart rate variability (HRV), stress, sleep, and activity. It'll help you schedule your workouts and rest periods at optimal times. You'll now have more than 40 on-screen workouts for strength training, cardio, yoga, and Pilates. Follow along with the animation on your watch as it demonstrates proper form and technique. Finally, new breathwork activities are designed to promote focus and relaxation. If you go with the larger 45mm watch, you'll only have the color choice of slate or silver. At this price point, it would've been nice to have a richer display, but the Vivoactive 4 uses the same transflective display as most Garmin wearables.

Pros:

  • Built-in GPS with great tracking features
  • 5 ATM water resistance
  • Garmin Pay
  • Music storage
  • Good battery life
  • New Pulse Ox sensor

Cons:

  • Pretty pricey
  • 45mm has fewer color options
  • Lackluster display

Best Overall

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Well-rounded smartwatch

The Vivoactive 4 offers activity tracking and other useful features, including Body Battery, Pulse Ox, respiration tracking, and on-screen workouts.

Best Value: Garmin Vivomove HR

For those who are searching for a watch that offers a sleek and fashionable design along with a good feature set, the Vivomove HR is ideal. Perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of this model is its surprisingly affordable price tag. It's a nice bonus if you're on a budget. Your watch offers up to five days of battery life in smartwatch mode and an additional two weeks in regular watch mode.

While this is not a full-blown runner's watch by any means, it still has a lot to offer for the casual athlete. Whenever you record a workout, the Vivomove HR will track your heart rate, speed, distance, floors climbed, and pace. It will also track your sleep patterns and stress levels. It's disappointing that this wearable is equipped with an accelerometer and 5 ATM water resistance yet it doesn't offer swim tracking. However, given that it's a hybrid smartwatch with a screen that doesn't work while underwater, it makes sense.

If you're happy with the basic activity tracking and heart-rate monitoring features, the Vivomove HR is a great watch to have on your wrist. You won't have GPS or swim tracking, but that's a small price to pay for a fashionable hybrid smartwatch. Not to mention that there are a handful of dazzling color and style options to choose from, so it'll look good as it handles your tracking needs.

Pros:

  • Reasonably priced
  • 5 ATM water resistance
  • Decent battery life
  • Stunning, stylish design
  • Activity, stress, sleep and heart-rate tracking

Cons:

  • Lacks built-in GPS
  • No swim tracking
  • Touchscreen navigation can be tricky
  • Difficult to read in direct sunlight

Best Value

Garmin Vivomove HR

Best bang for your buck

The Garmin Vivomove HR is a nice hybrid smartwatch at a fair price. You can track steps, calories, distance, sleep, stress, and heart rate.

Best for Beginners: Garmin Forerunner 45

The Garmin Forerunner 45 is geared toward beginners who are looking for an entry-level running watch that's easy to use but still packing plenty of helpful features. You'll have a color transflective display that provides you with smartphone notifications. Your battery will last up to seven days in smartwatch mode and 13 hours in GPS mode. The size options include 39mm and 42mm with two color choices for each size.

When it comes to the features, you'll get built-in GPS, heart-rate monitoring, activity tracking, VO2 Max, and more. You'll also have access to Garmin Coach training plans along with sports apps for running, cycling, indoor track, treadmill, elliptical, cardio, and yoga. You'll be able to keep track of many metrics with the Forerunner 45, including pace, distance, calories, sleep, and stress. It also comes with the Body Battery feature.

All in all, this running smartwatch is a significant improvement from its predecessor. While the Forerunner 35 costs less, it also offers fewer features. The only real disappointments we can find with the Forerunner 45 are the lack of interchangeable bands, which look a tad cheap. This means the only customization you'll be doing is through the watch faces. For some, the price tag might be a bit steep for what's considered an entry-level device. However, it's hard to complain much with all the features you'll be getting.

Pros:

  • Built-in GPS
  • 5 ATM water resistance
  • Music controls and notifications
  • Great battery life
  • Activity, stress, sleep, and heart rate tracking

Cons:

  • Still expensive for an entry-level device
  • A bit cheap looking
  • Lacks interchangeable bands

Best for Beginners

Garmin Forerunner 45

Perfect starting point

The Forerunner 45 is an ideal pick for beginners. It offers the basics at a fair price: GPS, activity, sleep, and heart-rate tracking.

Best for Runners: Garmin Forerunner 945

Looking for a robust GPS running smartwatch that will never let you down? The Forerunner 945 fits the bill. In fact, this model takes a few key features from many of Garmin's high-end smartwatches and wraps them into a powerful package. Let's start from the top. It promises a whopping two weeks of battery life in smartwatch mode, 10 hours in GPS mode with music, and up to 60 hours in UltraTrac mode. The size is 47mm, so it's large and in charge. At the same time, it's slim and lightweight, which is important for those intense workouts.

You can look forward to multi-sport tracking, updated training analysis, Garmin Pay, a built-in music player, GPS, and full-color maps. Some of the outdoor activity profiles include hiking, climbing, skiing, and kayaking. The new training load analysis tells you how much time you've spent working in different aerobic and anaerobic zones. It even offers suggestions based on your performance to help you be more productive. It's also got the Pulse Ox sensor to track blood oxygen saturation levels, which supports advanced sleep monitoring and altitude acclimation.

It's easy to see why runners and serious athletes alike would praise all of the new features that the Forerunner 945 offers. Whether you're looking to track a simple long-distance run or a more complex triathalon, there are no limits to what you can do with this smartwatch. With that said, it's not the cheapest option out there, but the price tag is warranted. If you want the full experience you'll need to invest in the Running Dynamics Pod for additional data, like stride length, vertical oscillation, and ground contact time.

Pros:

  • Built-in GPS, full-color maps
  • 5 ATM water resistance
  • Endless activity tracking
  • Stress, sleep, and heart-rate tracking
  • Music storage and controls
  • Garmin Pay

Cons:

  • Quite expensive
  • Only one size option
  • Need Running Dynamics Pod for additional data

Best for Runners

Garmin Forerunner 945

A multisport lover's dream

There's a lot to love about the Forerunner 945, including advanced running metrics, multi-sport tracking, Garmin Pay, full-color maps, and more.

Best for Adventurers: Garmin Fenix 6

The Fenix 6 Series is another brand-new wearable that Garmin has just released. It's new, but it's worth mentioning considering just how packed to the brim it is with features. There are a few different models in the series, but we'll be discussing the standard Fenix 6, which is 47mm. It's important to note that the higher up you go in the Fenix 6 Series, the more expensive your watch will be. Given the different watch modes, battery life can vary. Smartwatch mode lasts 14 days, GPS mode lasts 36 hours, Max Battery GPS Mode goes for 72 hours, Expedition GPS Activity gives you 28 days, and Battery Saver Watch Mode promises 48 days.

It's obvious at first glance that the Fenix 6 isn't exactly an everyday lifestyle watch. It's big and very rugged, with good reason. It's built for challenging expeditions that require a durable device. While there aren't any major software upgrades from its predecessor, there are enough subtle changes to justify purchasing the newer version. You'll now have your data organized into widgets. Tap a button on the home screen to sort through key data, like last activity, stepx, heart rate, notifications, music controls, weather, and calendar. GPS accuracy has been improved and you'll also be able to get a heart-rate reading underwater.

In addition to the basic activity tracking profiles for strength, cardio, elliptrical training, and so on, there are also a ton of outdoor activity profiles. You'll have hiking, mountain biking, snowboarding, and more. It's clear that the Fenix 6 is the ultimate adventure companion. There's not much you can't do with this smartwatch. It's not made with fashion as the highest priority, but that's not its purpose. If you're constantly looking to push the limits when you head outdoors for a workout, the Fenix 6 will be right there with you.

Pros:

  • New-and-improved GPS
  • 10 ATM water resistance plus underwater wrist-based heart rate
  • Solid, durable design that can withstand
  • Activity, stress, sleep, and heart-rate tracking
  • Numerous activity profiles to choose from
  • Garmin Pay

Cons:

  • One of the most expensive options
  • Not too many new features over predecessor
  • Not the most stylish option

Best for Adventurers

Garmin Fenix 6

Boundless adventure

The Fenix 6 is designed for those who crave boundless adventure and multisport capabilities. Be prepared to spend a pretty penny to get it.

Best for Music: Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

You can get a Garmin running smartwatch without spending a fortune. The Forerunner 245 Music is most popular for it's long list of advanced running features as well as offering onboard music storage for up to 500 songs. You can load music files to the watch or access your favorite playlists through third-party streaming services, like Spotify and Deezer. Keep in mind that this model is pricier than the standard Forerunner 245, which doesn't offer music storage. As far as battery life goes, smartwatch mode lasts up to seven days, GPS with music mode lasts up to six hours, and GPS mode without music can go for 24 hours

It provides you with quite a few upgrades that its predecessor lacked, including pool swimming, strength workouts, all-day stress tracking, Galileo, UltraTrac mode, and more. Athletes will enjoy a host of advanced features, like support for Running Dynamics and Garmin Coach. This gives you access to tools to help you set and reach your goals as you train. Speaking of training, the Forerunner 245 Music has a training status feature that lets you know if you're overtraining or undertraining. There's also training effect to help you see how your workouts influence your speed and endurance. Training load compares your most recent exercise volume to the optimal range for your fitness level.

The only real complaints worth mentioning with this Garmin smartwatch are the lack of NFC payments and an altimeter. The latter seems like a very odd omission since even the most basic wearables have them. Many users won't miss Garmin Pay, but it still would've been a nice feature to have. You'll still get Wi-Fi connectivity, music storage, smartphone notifications, built-in GPS, and more than sufficient activity tracking.

Pros:

  • Built-in GPS
  • 5 ATM water resistance
  • Good battery life
  • Ample music storage
  • Pulse Ox Sensor and Body Battery
  • Activity, stress, sleep, and heart-rate tracking

Cons:

  • Lacks Garmin Pay
  • No altimeter
  • Costs more to have music

Best for Music

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

Don't stop the music

This is the perfect mid-level running watch with Wi-Fi and music storage. You pay a bit more for these features but it'll be worth it for music fans.

Bottom line

It's difficult to name a best Garmin smartwatch due to just how many models and features there are to choose from. If you're looking for a magnificent lifestyle watch with tons of features, we recommend the Garmin Vivoactive 4. It sits right in the middle of the cost range of Garmin wearables, and it's a decent price tag for all that you get. You'll have all the tracking you need, for activity, sleep, stress, heart rate, plus some new ones. You can also track respiration, hydration, blood oxygen saturation levels, and energy levels. That's not all; this new Garmin powerhouse now offers music storage and on-screen workouts.

Of course, if you're just starting out, there are more affordable and basic Garmin smartwatch options that are designed for beginners. On the other hand, seasoned experts will find a wide selection of high-end wearables that cater to their cravings for tons of details and features. Whatever your purpose is, there's certainly a Garmin smartwatch that's made to meet your needs.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

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.

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