Skip to main content

Best Garmin smartwatch 2022

An array of different Garmin smartwatches
(Image credit: Courtney Lynch / Android Central)

You won't find a more prolific fitness brand than Garmin. It targets a wide range of serious and casual athletes with five main product lineups — Fenix, Forerunner, Instinct, Venu, and Vivoactive — adding up to dozens of options. 

Across all brands, you'll get fantastic battery life, superb health and GPS tracking, and all the data and metrics you could ever want. But figuring out which to buy, and whether it's worth upgrading to the pricier models, can be tricky. So we've selected the best Garmin smartwatches available across all walks of life, starting with the classic and affordable Garmin Vivoactive 4.

What are the best Garmin smartwatches?

Garmin Vivoactive 4

(Image credit: Courtney Lynch / Android Central)
Best overall

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

-
45 mm has fewer color options
-
Lackluster display
-
Lacks newer software widgets

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 may not be the newest Garmin smartwatch on the market, but it's overflowing with features that make it a worthy upgrade from the previous model. You get all the essentials, like built-in GPS, smartphone notifications, Garmin Pay, and 5 ATM water resistance. It added music storage and a Pulse Ox sensor to track blood oxygen saturation for more insightful sleep data. 

Body Battery lets you check your energy levels during the day by gathering data from heart rate variability (HRV), stress, sleep, and activity. Then, it'll help you schedule your workouts and rest periods at optimal times. There are on-screen workouts for strength training, cardio, yoga, and Pilates. Animations on the watch demonstrate proper form and technique. If you're a workout enthusiast, you'll love this fitness smartwatch.

You can choose 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. If you go with the larger 45 mm watch, you'll only have the color choice of Slate or Silver. However, you can find plenty of Garmin Vivoactive 4 bands that allow you to personalize your wearable further. 

Our Garmin Vivoactive 4 reviewer wished it would have a richer display at this price point, but the Vivoactive 4 uses the same transflective display as most Garmin wearables on this list. It's also slightly chunkier than newer models, and while it tracks health data well, it lacks some of the sport guidance tools you'd find on a Forerunner. But for self-guided athletes needing all the essentials at a fair price, the Vivoactive 4 can't be beaten.

Morning Report widget on Garmin Forerunner 255

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)
Best running watch

Reasons to buy

+
14-day/30-hour battery life
+
Multi-band GPS
+
HRV Status
+
Morning Report and Race Widget
+
Garmin Pay
+
Smaller 255S option

Reasons to avoid

-
Music storage isn't standard
-
No maps or touchscreen

You have multiple Garmin Forerunner models to choose from, with a spectrum of features available based on how much you're willing to pay. In terms of the best available for most runners that strikes the best balance between features and price, you have to consider the best running watch available, the Garmin Forerunner 255. 

Like the Forerunner 245, you get a host of advanced features, like support for Running Dynamics and Garmin Coach to help you set and reach your goals. The Forerunner 255 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.

That all might be enough for you, if you spot the 245 on sale. But the Garmin Forerunner 255 makes some significant upgrades over the 245. It adds all-systems multi-band GPS, which tracks you across all three GNSS systems (GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO) and across multiple satellite frequencies simultaneously for near-perfect location tracking. You get proper heart rate variance data for better sleep tracking. New Morning Report and Race Widget faces make all of your data and suggested workouts more easily accessible. You even get Garmin Pay and an altimeter while also essentially doubling your battery life.

List of improvements aside, our Garmin Forerunner 255 reviewer loved the device, and ended up returning to it after he finished reviewing the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, despite its superior smarts. The battery life nearly lived up to Garmin's estimates despite heavy GPS use, the enhanced GNSS tools provided ultra-accurate results, and the design, while thick and a bit heavy, is much more comfortable than most lifestyle watches.

Garmin Forerunner 55 Body Battery

(Image credit: Courtney Lynch / Android Central)
Best affordable watch for runners

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable price
+
Lightweight design
+
Built-in GPS + HRM
+
5 ATM
+
14-day battery life
+
Garmin Coach and Pacepro

Reasons to avoid

-
No NFC, SpO2, altimeter
-
Low-res display

The Garmin Forerunner 55 sells for half the price of the Forerunner 255 Music and obviously had to make some cuts to hit that price point. It doesn't have some of the sensors you'd need to get a total glimpse of your health or your effort in high-altitude environments. But our reviewer raved that "the Forerunner 55 is a great place to start if you're a new runner or someone who's starting to track their workouts for the first time," with better tools than you'll find on most other Garmin watches at a lower price.

In terms of features, you get all the core running essentials like Garmin Coach, Pacepro, cadence alerts, race predictor, recovery advisor, Body Battery, Intensity minutes, respiration tracking, and women's health tracking. Several of these aren't available on more expensive non-Forerunner Garmin watches, and generally speaking, these offer plenty of feedback and guidance for getting into better running shape.

It'll last you two weeks per charge with a decent 20 hours of GPS tracking. At 37g it's on the lighter end for a Garmin watch, and it has 5 ATM water protection, which older budget Forerunners like the 45 lacked. And with support for 20mm quick-release watch bands, you'll find plenty of great Forerunner 55 bands to try and swap between.

Garmin Vivomove Sport

(Image credit: Courtney Lynch / Android Central)
Best hybrid

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks built-in GPS
-
Touchscreen navigation can be tricky
-
Poor sunlight visibility

If you're not quite ready for a full-blown smartwatch, you might be interested in a hybrid model instead. Garmin has an impressive hybrid lineup, including the Vivomove Sport. This attractive wearable resembles a traditional analog watch but has a hidden OLED panel on the bottom portion of the screen. Hybrid smartwatches are made for fashion-forward folks who still want to enjoy some extra perks at a reasonable price compared to "regular" smartwatches, and the Vivomove Sport is our favorite in the hybrid category across all brands.

This watch comes in a modest 40mm polymer case. The color options are ivory, Cool Mint, Cocoa, and black. These variants come with 20mm silicone Garmin Vivomove Sport bands. Your hybrid smartwatch can track your heart rate, stress levels, and sleep patterns. You'll also have Garmin's Body Battery feature which monitors your energy levels throughout the day. There are numerous built-in sports apps for fitness enthusiasts such as cycling, treadmill running, yoga, strength, Pilates, cardio, and more. The battery will last for up to five days in smartwatch mode plus an extra day in regular watch mode.

If you're someone who doesn't need an expensive smartwatch with premium features, you'll love the basic yet efficient activity tracking on the Garmin Vivomove Sport. It doesn't have a built-in GPS feature, so you'll need to connect to your phone to track your route during a workout. But as our Vivomove Sport review explains, it's "a step above other options on the market without being a full-fledged smartwatch," combining "the perfect amount of style and functionality" where most hybrids focus more on style.

Garmin Venu Sq workout stats

(Image credit: Courtney Lynch / Android Central)
Best lifestyle watch

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

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

Those who want a bit of everything Garmin offers without breaking the bank, designed with an Apple Watch-like squircle design, will appreciate the Venu Sq. As the name suggests, this is a square version of the original Venu. So you might expect many differences to set the two apart, but that's not totally true.

The Garmin Venu Sq comes in standard and music editions, although you'll pay more for a music model with Wi-Fi. On the original Garmin Venu, all 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. However, you do get 20mm interchangeable Garmin Venu Sq bands, making it easy to change up your look.

Surprisingly, those are the only major differences between the Garmin Venu and the Venu Sq. It lacks an altimeter and a gyroscope so that it won't be measuring elevation or angular velocity. Other than that, this model 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. As the review explains, it's a watch that "falls right in the middle of that spectrum" between a standard tracker and advanced watch, offering a slight feature downgrade on the Vivoactive 4 but with a much more attractive design.

Garmin Lily heart rate

(Image credit: Courtney Lynch / Android Central)
Best for women's fashion

Reasons to buy

+
Activity/sleep tracking
+
5 ATM water resistance
+
Music controls and notifications
+
Heart-rate monitoring
+
Up to 5 days of battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks built-in GPS, NFC payments
-
Monochrome display isn't for everyone
-
Proprietary bands

The Garmin Lily is a small but efficient smartwatch specifically designed for women by women. This watch is a solid option because it balances style with smartwatch features, so you're not forced to choose one over the other like with the hybrid Vivomove Sport. The Garmin Lily may just be one of the best smartwatches for women.

One of the first things you'll notice is that this smartwatch has a monochrome display. If you're used to bright and shiny AMOLED displays, this might be a bit of a drag. However, the text and numbers are large, crisp, and easy to read. Not to mention, you'll enjoy up to five days of battery life on a single charge.

Other key features include heart-rate monitoring, 5 ATM water resistance, activity/sleep tracking, blood-oxygen monitoring, and much more. You'll also be able to choose whether you want the Sport model with aluminum hardware and a silicone band or the Classic model with stainless steel hardware and a leather band. As you might've guessed, the Classic model is a bit more expensive.

It's worth mentioning that the Garmin Lily lacks a few key features. Our Garmin Lily reviewer warns that you should "manage your expectations regarding how smart this smartwatch is," beyond basic activity tracking. She enjoyed the design, but missed some tools like built-in GPS, music storage, or NFC payments. 

A man wearing a Garmin Fenix 7 rides a bike

(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin Fenix 7

Best for adventurers

Reasons to buy

+
GPS, HRM, NFC, SpO2
+
10 ATM water resistance
+
New touchscreen design
+
Built-in flashlight (select models)
+
Multi-day battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
One of the most expensive options
-
Not the most stylish wearable

The long-awaited Fenix 7 smartwatches are here with some significant upgrades that true adventurers will love. Previous models required users to navigate the UI with side buttons. By contrast, the Garmin Fenix 7 models offer a touchscreen design as well as side buttons. There are several variants to pick from, with the 7S and 7 models being the most affordable — but they still cost a pretty penny. If you want a specific design, size, or extra features, you can opt for the 7X Solar or 7X Sapphire Solar.

The 7S models come in a 42mm case with 11 days of battery. The standard Fenix 7 models come in a 47mm case with 18 days of battery life. The larger 7X models come in a 51mm case and can last for a whopping 28 days. All battery life figures can be stretched further with battery saver modes. It's also worth noting that the 7X offers a new multi-LED flashlight. Garmin says this multi-purpose tool will change the game for adventurers. Whether you're setting up camp or running while it's dark outside, you'll have the confidence you need. The red or adjustable white light will illuminate the way for improved visibility and situational awareness.

It should come as no surprise that the Garmin Fenix 7 models are made to be durable. The 10 ATM water resistance rating ensures your watch can withstand rugged environments. You'll have tons of built-in sports apps, GPS, preloaded maps, heart-rate monitoring, daily workout suggestions, and a recovery time advisor. The new real-time stamina tool lets you monitor and track exertion levels during a run or bike activity. The new visual race predictor tool considers your running history and overall fitness to deliver race estimates and insights into how training is progressing. As you might've guessed, these upgrades aren't cheap. But, if you spend a good chunk of time adventuring, the price tag just might be worth it.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)
Best lifestyle watch

Reasons to buy

+
GPS, HRM, NFC
+
Crisp AMOLED display
+
Voice assistant & phone calling
+
5 ATM water resistance
+
9 days of battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive price tag
-
No LTE connectivity

The original Garmin Venu 2 combined all of the perks of our top pick, the Vivoactive 4, only with a gorgeous AMOLED display that gave it a more attractive look without compromising on battery life. But it's the Venu 2 Plus that's our favorite, since it added a mic and speaker to truly make it a "smart" watch that can take phone calls or connect with your voice assistant of choice.

This bright, 1.3-inch AMOLED display gives you touchscreen controls for swiping through workout results, as well as three buttons for navigation and shortcuts like calling Google Assistant or Siri, activating Garmin Pay, or summoning music controls. It's dependent on your phone — no LTE here — but at least makes it easy to keep your phone in your pocket during a run.

Of course, this isn't just a pretty smartwatch; it's a Garmin smartwatch. You get tools like thousands of animated exercises, HIIT workout tools and timers, stress, respiration, and hydration tracking, Body Battery, Garmin Coach, and a health snapshot.

The main downside of the Venu 2 Plus is that it's a bit pricier than most of the other Garmin watches, and it doesn't have the specific running-focused tools of a Forerunner. But our Garmin Venu 2 Plus reviewer praised it as a great watch for cross-training or gym workouts that's so much more attractive than most Garmin watches — without compromising on quality or features like the Lily or Vivomove Sport do.

Solar intensity readings on the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)
Best for battery life

Reasons to buy

+
48 hours of GPS tracking
+
Military-grade fall and water protection
+
Improved metrics and display over Instinct 1
+
Garmin Pay support
+
Upgraded Elevate 4.0 HRM

Reasons to avoid

-
No music storage
-
Bulky
-
Fairly pricey with no specialization

Nearly all Garmin watches will last you 5 to 10 days, but only if you don't regularly use GPS tracking. In actuality, they'll require a recharge every few days if you're physically active. It's not nearly as bad as the daily recharge required by a Galaxy or Apple Watch, but if you really want a watch that'll last weeks even with daily workouts, the Instinct 2 Solar is unmatched.

We'll let the numbers speak for themselves: the non-Solar Instinct 2 lasts 28 days or 30 GPS-tracked hours. Spend $100 more for the Solar Panel display, and it'll add an extra 18 GPS hours before you need a charge; and in Max Battery GPS Mode (which tracks you every minute), it'll last 370 hours with solar. Add in 10ATM water resistance and a MIL-820-certified design, and it's virtually impossible for the Instinct 2 Solar to break during a long trek.

The Instinct 2 series lacks the specialization of a Forerunner, the affordability of a Vivoactive, or the advanced mapping and metric tools of a Fenix. But it has core features like Body Battery, sleep/stress tracking, Pulse Ox, VO2 Max HIIT workouts, training and recovery time suggestions, training effect, and training load. 

It's the opposite of a lifestyle watch, but the Instinct 2 Solar gives you the core essentials and a watch you know will never die on you during a race. Trust us on that: our Instinct 2 Solar reviewer wore one during a marathon, and it still had over 20 days of life left at the end. It more than lived up to Garmin's estimates, and can even gain back a few days of battery life if you leave it sitting in direct sunlight.

Garmin Vivofit Jr 3 Iron Man

(Image credit: Chris Wedel / Android Central)
Best for kids

Reasons to buy

+
12-month battery life per charge
+
5ATM resistance and outdoor visibility
+
Activity challenges, sleep tracking, and task reminders
+
Designed for small wrists
+
Comes in Star Wars, Marvel, and Disney Princess themes

Reasons to avoid

-
Very small screen
-
Limited parental or communication tools

Garmin watch designs can be too large for many adults' wrists, let alone children's little arm bones. Most of the features are too advanced, sport-specific, or workout-specific for kids' unstructured playtime, and Garmin watches just aren't that fun-looking. But the Garmin Vivofit Jr. 3 is the exception to the rule, as the best kids' smartwatch geared specifically towards fitness.

For starters, the Vivofit Jr. 3 design with 5ATM water resistance and a battery big enough to last one year per charge ensures that it'll never die on your kid. And you can buy one based on their interests: along with the new Star Wars-themed Vivofit Jr. 3 with Mandalorian or Grogu designs, you can get Little Mermaid, Black Panther, Iron Man, or any number of cute color choices.

Whichever you pick, your kid will have cute themed challenges rewarding them for completing chores or 60 minutes of activity per day. You set up what chores you want them to complete and what rewards they'll receive for doing so. Our reviewer found that his kid enjoyed trying to beat his workout and sleep scores, and found it comfortable to wear while sleeping.

Other kids' watches will offer features like GPS tracking and wrist-based calling, if you're more concerned with keeping tabs on your kids than about their fitness. Our Garmin Vivofit Jr. 3 reviewer instead praised it for encouraging kids to compete with other family members wearing their own Garmin watches, while the reward system for completing chores "can help a child learn valuable lessons" like independence and responsibility.


Best Garmin smartwatch: Which should you buy?

Considering how many incredible choices you have, it's challenging to crown only one of these wearables as the best Garmin smartwatch. However, if you're seeking a magnificent lifestyle watch that's packed with essential features for a well-rounded experience, we highly recommend the Garmin Vivoactive 4.

You'll see that the Vivoactive 4 sits right in the middle of the price range of Garmin wearables. Most importantly, it's a fair price tag for all it offers. You can easily track your activities, sleep patterns, stress levels, heart rate, and more. You can also monitor your respiration rate, hydration, blood-oxygen saturation, and energy levels. That's not all; this Garmin powerhouse now offers onboard music storage and animated on-screen workouts. Whether you're busy being active or taking the time to recover until your next workout session, this is the best Garmin smartwatch you can buy.

Of course, if you're purchasing a wearable for the first time, there are more affordable and basic Garmin smartwatch options that are better suited for beginners. However, experienced users will find a broad selection of high-end wearables that cater to their cravings for endless details, advanced tracking, and premium features. Whatever your intended purpose is, there's a Garmin smartwatch out there that will meet all your needs.