Garmin 245 MusicSource: Andrew Martonik / Android Central

Best Garmin Smartwatch Android Central 2020

If you're both a fitness fan and a smartwatch enthusiast, you might be familiar with Garmin, which designs various wearables that cater to both the smartwatch and fitness crowds. When you're looking for a perfect mix of both, the Vivoactive 4 is the best Garmin smartwatch you can buy. Whether you're a professional athlete or a first-time runner, there are many fantastic choices here.

Best Overall: Garmin Vivoactive 4

Garmin Vivoactive 4Source: Garmin

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 might be a year old now, but it's overflowing with features that make it a worthy upgrade from the previous model. You'll now have your pick between two sizes: 45 mm and 40 mm. 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.

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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, like strength, cardio, elliptical training, floor climbing, indoor rowing, and yoga. There's now a Pulse Ox sensor to track blood oxygen saturation levels and respiration tracking to monitor the number of breaths per minute. As a result, you'll have more insightful sleep data.

The 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. There are over 40 on-screen workouts for strength training, cardio, yoga, and Pilates. Follow the animation on your watch as it demonstrates proper form and technique.

If you go with the larger 45 mm watch, you'll only have the color choice of slate or silver. Both models are compatible with interchangeable bands that allow you to further personalize your wearable. It would've been nice to have a richer display at this price point, 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
  • Pulse Ox sensor

Cons:

  • Pretty pricey
  • 45 mm 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, and more.

Best Value: Garmin Vivoactive 3

Garmin Vivoactive 3Source: Android Central

If you're not worried about having the newest and best Garmin smartwatch, you can save some money by opting for the Vivoactive 3. It's not nearly as impressive when compared to its successor, but the unbeatable price tag makes it an excellent value pick. As long as you don't mind it only being available in one size and a few other differences, you won't find a better deal than this.

The noteworthy features on the Vivoactive 3 include built-in GPS, smartphone notifications, Garmin Pay, multiple preloaded sports apps, and 5 ATM water resistance. This smartwatch also offers stress tracking, sleep tracking, and heart-rate monitoring. The battery will last for up to a week in smartwatch mode and 13 hours in GPS mode. As we mentioned, you'll be hard-pressed to find all of these features at this price point.

As you can see, it's not the worst thing in the world to select a smartwatch that's not the newest option on the market. You get a whole lot of bang for your buck here. One other difference that might affect your choice is that the Vivoactive 3 doesn't offer music storage as a standard feature. You'll have to spend a bit more to get a model that comes with music storage.

Pros:

  • Excellent value
  • 5 ATM water resistance
  • Superior battery life
  • Built-in GPS
  • Garmin Pay

Cons:

  • Music storage isn't standard
  • No on-screen workouts
  • Only comes in one size

Best Value

Garmin Vivoactive 3

Best bang for your buck

The Garmin Vivoactive 3 may not be the latest in its lineup, but it has plenty to offer at an amazing price.

Best Hybrid: Garmin Vivomove HR

Vivomove HRSource: Garmin

For those who are searching for a reasonably priced hybrid smartwatch that offers a sleek and attractive 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, which is a nice bonus if you're on a budget. This 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 who wants to track the basics. 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 five 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 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 budget-friendly 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 Hybrid

Garmin Vivomove HR

Hybrid lifestyle

The Vivomove HR is an excellent hybrid smartwatch at a fair price. You can track steps, calories, distance, and heart rate.

Best Lifestyle Watch: Garmin Venu Sq

Garmin Venu SqSource: Courtney Lynch / Android Central

Those who want a bit of everything that Garmin offers without breaking the bank will appreciate the Venu Sq. As the name suggests, this is a square version of the original Venu. You might expect many differences to set the two apart, but that's not totally true. The Garmin Venu Sq comes in a standard and a music edition, although you'll pay more for a music model with Wi-Fi. On the original Garmin Venu, all of the models have music storage and Wi-Fi. The budget-friendly, square-shaped model isn't quite as fancy, but it still looks and feels nice on the wrist. It comes in a 40mm fiber-reinforced polymer case with a 1.3-inch color LCD. No premium AMOLED screen or stainless steel bezel here.

Surprisingly, those are the only major difference between the Garmin Venu and the Venu Sq. It does lack an altimeter as well as a gyroscope, so it won't be measuring elevation or angular velocity. Other than that, this new release from Garmin can do just about everything the original can. You'll have onboard GPS, heart-rate monitoring, activity and sleep tracking, over 20 preloaded sports apps, 5 ATM water resistance, Body Battery energy monitoring, and a Pulse Ox sensor for measuring blood oxygen saturation levels. You also have mobile payments with Garmin Pay.

If you don't mind having a watch without music or Wi-Fi (or accepting that you'll pay more for those perks), the Garmin Venu Sq is an excellent lifestyle watch with a reasonable price tag. It's not nearly as premium and stylish as the original Venu, but that may not be your highest priority in choosing a wearable.

Pros:

  • Onboard GPS
  • Heart-rate monitoring
  • 5 ATM water resistance
  • Pulse Ox & Body Battery
  • Six days of battery life
  • Garmin Pay

Cons:

  • Music version with Wi-Fi costs more
  • Lacks altimeter, gyroscope

Best Lifestyle Watch

Garmin Venu Sq

For every lifestyle

Any lifestyle will benefit from the Garmin Sq with its lightweight design and useful features.

Best for Beginners: Garmin Forerunner 45

Garmin Forerunner 45 Source: Garmin

The Garmin Forerunner 45 is geared toward beginners 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 7 days in smartwatch mode and 13 hours in GPS mode. The size options include 39 mm and 42 mm, 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. This easy-to-use smartwatch will feel more like a robust fitness tracker with all that it packs into its tiny housing.

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 ideal for beginners. It has the basics at a fair price: GPS, activity, sleep, and heart-rate tracking.

Best for Runners: Garmin Forerunner 945

Garmin Forerunner 945 Source: Garmin

Looking for a reliable GPS running smartwatch that will never let you down? The Forerunner 945 fits the bill. 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 at 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 47 mm, so it's large and in charge. It's also slim and lightweight, which is important for those intense workouts. You'll have a convenient 22mm quick release watch bands that can be changed in a matter of seconds.

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 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, supporting advanced sleep monitoring and altitude acclimation.

It's easy to see why runners and serious athletes alike would praise all of the amazing features that the Forerunner 945 offers. Whether you're looking to track a simple long-distance run or a more complex triathlon, 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, like advanced running metrics, multi-sport tracking, full-color maps, and more.

Best for Adventurers: Garmin Fenix 6

Garmin Fenix 6 Source: Garmin

The Fenix 6 Series is another wearable that Garmin has released within the last year. Some users feel that it's not much different than the predecessor. The good news is that it's still packed to the brim with features. There are a few other models in the series, but we'll be discussing the standard Fenix 6, which is 47 mm. It's worth noting 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 varies. 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 evident 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 critical data, like last activity, steps, 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, elliptical 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. It might be expensive, but it's easily the best Garmin smartwatch for adventuring and exploring.

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 watch

Best for Adventurers

Garmin Fenix 6

Boundless adventure

The Fenix 6 is designed for those who crave boundless adventure. Just be prepared to spend a pretty penny to get it.

Best Upgrade Pick: Garmin Forerunner 745

Garmin Forerunner 745 Source: Garmin

When faced with the decision as to whether or not you should upgrade, sometimes it's a no-brainer. That might be the case for many users when they see what the Garmin Forerunner 745 has to offer. This wearable is a much-needed upgrade to the tried-and-true Forerunner 735XT. The company says the new Forerunner 745 is geared toward runners and triathletes who require detailed training stats, on-device workouts, and plenty of smartwatch functions. It comes in a 44mm reinforced-polymer case with a 1.2-inch transflective display that's easy to read in sunlight. You can expect up to a week of battery life in smartwatch mode and six hours in GPS with music mode.

There are plenty of key features on this watch, including onboard GPS, heart-rate monitoring, activity and sleep tracking, multiple sport modes, music storage for 500 songs, and Garmin Pay. You also get many other advanced features. The Garmin Forerunner 745 offers performance monitoring tools such as VO2 max, training load, training status and aerobic, and anaerobic training effects. After a challenging workout, the improved recovery time feature will let you know how long to rest before a difficult training session. Garmin Coach provides free training plans that will adapt to your specific goals and performance.

At 44mm diameter and 13mm thick, this wearable might be too large for those with dainty wrists. Unfortunately, this is one of the few smartwatches from Garmin that only comes in one size. The hefty price tag might deter some users, but for those who are dedicated to their training program, it'll be well worth the investment.

Pros:

  • Onboard GPS
  • Heart-rate monitoring
  • Advanced training metrics
  • 5 ATM water resistance
  • A week of battery life
  • Garmin Pay
  • Music storage

Cons:

  • Too expensive for some
  • Only comes in one size

Best Upgrade Pick

Garmin Forerunner 745

Worth the upgrade

When you need an in-depth overview of your health and fitness, look no further than the Forerunner 745.

Best for Music: Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

Garmin 245 MusicSource: Andrew Martonik / Android Central

As you might've gathered now, there are multiple Garmin Forerunner models to choose from. Fortunately, you can get a Garmin running smartwatch without spending a fortune. The Forerunner 245 Music is most popular for its long list of advanced running features as well as offering onboard music storage for up to 500 songs. Remember 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 7 days, GPS with music mode lasts up to 6 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, UltraTrac mode, and more. Athletes will enjoy a host of advanced features, like support for Running Dynamics and Garmin Coach. You'll have the necessary tools to help you set and reach your goals. The Forerunner 245 Music also has a training status feature that tells you if you're overtraining or undertraining. You can see how your workouts influence your speed and endurance. Then, the 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, perfect for heavy listeners.

Best for Style: Garmin Venu

Garmin Venu Source: Garmin

If you're worried about having to sacrifice your sense of style when buying a smartwatch, you'll have met your match with the Garmin Venu. This attractive wearable serves as an excellent lifestyle smartwatch with many essential features. For the first time, you get a colorful and crisp AMOLED display. Garmin usually sticks to the standard transflective display, but not with the Venu. Even with all that bright color, you still get up to five days of battery life with typical use.

Some of the other key features include built-in GPS, over 20 sport modes, heart-rate monitoring, activity and sleep tracking, music storage for 500 songs, and mobile payments via Garmin Pay. It also has a Pulse Ox sensor, which monitors your blood oxygen saturation levels like some of the other watches mentioned on this list. It also comes with stress tracking and female health tracking.

Many of Garmin's smartwatches are available in more than one size, but the Venu only comes in a 43mm variant. This is a small compromise for an otherwise excellent lifestyle watch. The stainless steel case is available in slate, rose gold, silver, and gold. The 20mm bands are interchangeable, so it's easy to swap them out when you want to change up your look.

Pros:

  • AMOLED display
  • Heart-rate monitoring
  • Onboard GPS
  • 5 ATM water resistance
  • Garmin Pay
  • Five days of battery life

Cons:

  • Too pricey for some
  • Only comes in one size

Best for Style

Garmin Venu

Style it up

Your sense of style doesn't have to suffer in the name of a smartwatch like the Garmin Venu.

Best Garmin Smartwatch Which should you buy?

It's challenging to label just one of these wearables as the 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 to enhance your overall experience, we recommend the Garmin Vivoactive 4.

You'll find that the Vivoactive 4 sits right in the middle of the cost range of Garmin wearables, and it's a decent price tag for all that it offers. You'll have all the tracking you need for activity, sleep, stress, heart rate, plus some other new ones. You can also track respiration, hydration, blood oxygen saturation levels, and energy levels. That's not all; this Garmin powerhouse now offers music storage and on-screen workouts.

Of course, if you're just starting, there are more affordable and basic Garmin smartwatch options 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. Not to mention that there are plenty of other Android smartwatches out there that might fit the bill as well.

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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