Bottom line: The Garmin Lily is the company's smallest smartwatch yet — and it's made just for women. It's excellent at handling the basics, which is impressive for a wearable that seems to be mainly focused on fashion. However, it misses the mark in certain areas that some users may not be willing to compromise on.
- Fashion-forward design
- Heart-rate & SpO2 monitoring
- Activity/sleep/stress tracking
- Up to five days of battery life
- 5 ATM water resistance
- Lacks onboard GPS
- Proprietary straps are limiting
- No NFC payments or music storage
Choosing the best Android smartwatch looks a bit different for each person. We all have unique preferences and tastes, after all. The Garmin Lily is designed for women who want their smartwatch to look good and feel good while still being functional. It succeeds in several key areas, including activity/sleep tracking, heart-rate monitoring, smartphone notifications, and many more. Although, the intense focus on fashion inevitably results in some sacrifices.
If you're familiar with the company at all, it's easy to see that the Lily is not your typical Garmin smartwatch. While there are various models geared toward fashionable folks, like the Garmin Vivomove models or the Garmin Venu models, this is the first wearable that is designed for women, by women.
Speaking of which, the Garmin Lily may just become one of the best smartwatches for women. Those who want the appearance of a traditional watch while still being privy to some useful smartwatch features are the target audience here. Remember that there's bound to be a give and take when you choose a watch that's made to be stylish above all else.
Garmin Lily: Price and availability
The Garmin Lily was released in February 2021 and initially retailed for $199.99 for the Sport model and $249.99 for the Classic model. It's available for purchase directly from Garmin as well as other major retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart. Now that it's been on the market for a year, you can often find the Garmin Lily available at a discounted price.
Garmin Lily: What I like
While there's only one size option, it's nice that the Garmin Lily comes in both a Classic and a Sport model. The Classic option is slightly more expensive, which can be attributed to the stainless steel bezel and Italian leather band. If you opt for the Sport model, you'll get an aluminum bezel and a silicone band. Each model is available in three color variants. At a modest 34mm, this is the smallest Garmin watch case on the market. The 14mm bands are ultra-slim and further add to the feminine aesthetic.
Each variant has its own unique lens pattern that stands out in the background of the watch face. The lens pattern you get will vary depending on the model that you buy. Garmin states that each of the Classic models offers patterns that are "inspired by high-end fashion but made subtle for everyday wear." On the other hand, the Sport models offer "organic lens patterns that allude to nature, health and wellness."
Despite its relatively small size, the 1-inch display has a crispness to it that makes it easy to read in most settings. Whether you're glancing down at your stats, reading a text message, or receiving a move alert, you'll appreciate how clear the screen is. There are no physical buttons, but you do get one capacitive button on the bottom of the display that launches menus, wakes the display, and serves as a back button.
A noticeable difference between the Garmin Lily and other smartwatches is the lack of a color display. This might be disappointing if you're accustomed to high-quality AMOLED touchscreens, but I have to admit the liquid crystal monochromatic touchscreen is nice to look at. It will certainly appeal to users who want a high-end fashion feel to their timepiece.
With a watch this fancy, you might expect a lower water resistance rating. However, the Garmin Lily manages to deliver a 5 ATM water resistance rating, which means it can withstand depths of up to 50 meters. It even offers pool swimming as one of the available activity profiles, but more on that later.
Another success for the Garmin Lily is the superior battery life. These days, it's not uncommon for smartwatches to last for a day or two before dying. You can get up to five days of battery life, depending on your usage. Obviously, this may go down a bit if you frequently use the connected GPS feature, and you also want to take advantage of sleep tracking. Still, five days is not bad for such a tiny smartwatch.
The Garmin Lily also shines when it comes to health and fitness tracking. If you happen to be a frequent user of fitness trackers, the experience is pretty much the same. It counts your steps and calories, measures your heart rate, reminds you to get moving, and so on.
There are also multiple activity profiles to choose from. You can store up to seven preferred activities on the watch, which can be changed in the Garmin Connect app. Some of the activity profiles include walking, running, biking, pool swimming, strength training, stair stepping, treadmill, elliptical, cardio yoga, Pilates, and breathwork.
Since this is a smartwatch specifically designed for women, you'll have features such as menstrual tracking and pregnancy tracking. The menstrual tracking feature allows you to log daily symptoms, including start and end dates, physical and emotional feelings, personal notes, and more. You'll start receiving reports that show patterns and fluctuations. As you can imagine, pregnancy tracking is similar, but there is more to monitor, like baby movement and blood glucose levels, for example.
When tracking your sleep, you'll get a better idea of your sleep patterns. The smartwatch monitors your light, deep, and REM sleep stages. There are some areas where the Garmin Lily goes a step above basic activity tracking. You'll also be able to monitor your blood-oxygen levels, stress levels, and respiration. There's a feature for hydration tracking, which you'll need to log manually. One feature that is unique to Garmin is the Body Battery, which tracks your energy levels so you can find the optimal times for activity and rest.
Garmin Lily: What I don't like
There may be a lot to love about the Garmin Lily's design, but there were a few issues while wearing and using this smartwatch over the course of several days. The tilt-to-wake gesture wasn't always reliable. In some cases, I'd need to tap on the touchscreen to wake the display. In rare instances, I'd find myself frantically tapping the screen, and nothing would happen. Suffice it to say, the touchscreen responsiveness could be better.
Another design flaw that is a tad disappointing is the band system. While they're perfectly comfortable on the wrist and easy to adjust for sizing purposes, the Garmin Lily uses the company's proprietary T-bar lugs. Not only will you need a special tool to remove these bands, but the selection is rather limited. You won't be able to hit up Amazon and stock up on third-party replacement bands, at least not just yet.
You might be familiar with the company's proprietary charger if you've ever owned another Garmin wearable, which has remained mostly unchanged over the years. The Lily, however, uses a cheap clip-on charger that is not consistent with recent charging cables from Garmin. This means you may not be able to use previous Garmin chargers to charge the Lily.
While it's helpful that you have 12 different watch faces to choose from that come pre-installed on the watch, that's where your options end. Unfortunately, the Garmin Lily is not compatible with Garmin's Connect IQ app store. You'll be let down if you were hoping to download third-party watch faces, or any apps, for that matter.
For some users, the main disadvantage of this smartwatch will be the missing features. Again, this is not a high-tech advanced fitness smartwatch with premium features. More importantly, it leaves out some basic features that many people have come to expect at this price point. You won't have built-in GPS, for starters. You'll need to carry your phone with you to use the connected GPS feature. On the smartwatch side of things, you don't get NFC payments or music storage.
Garmin Lily: Updated features
Since the Garmin Lily was released a year ago, the company has released numerous software updates to improve the user experience. The following updates have been made available for the Garmin Lily:
- Added treadmill activity support.
- Added sweat loss estimation support.
- Enhanced activity data fields customization.
- Improved setting menu and UI for better user experience.
- Improved the usability of several features.
- Improve system reliability to wake up the device without trouble.
Garmin Lily: The competition
When you consider what's missing and the fact that you can get those missing features plus more from various competitors, you might think twice about buying the Garmin Lily. One of the first options that comes to mind is the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, which is available at the same starting price as the Lily. You get two size options, a stunning AMOLED display, built-in GPS, app support, music storage, NFC payments, and more advanced tracking. It might not be quite as feminine as the Garmin Lily, but it still offers an attractive design that doesn't scream "manly smartwatch."
You could also opt for the Fitbit Versa 3, which is available around the same price point and fills many of the gaps left by the Garmin Lily. Much like the Galaxy Watch Active 2, you get just about everything that's missing on the Lily. This watch also sports a neutral design that can easily be made more feminine with a third-party band that matches your style.
Even the company's own Garmin Venu Sq directly competes with Lily, although that probably wasn't intentional. You might not find the physical design to be as alluring as the smaller and fancier Lily, but it does offer some of the omitted features. The Venu Sq offers built-in GPS, onboard music storage (it costs a bit more, though), interchangeable bands, NFC payments, and a color AMOLED display.
Garmin Lily: Should you buy?
You should buy this if ...
You want a small but stylish smartwatch
If you have a dainty wrist that does better with a small smartwatch, the Garmin Lily is an excellent choice. You won't have to worry about being weighed down during workouts or having a piece of tech on your wrist that sticks out like a sore thumb. The Lily offers the perfect combination of the right size and the right style.
You don't need every feature under the sun
While the Garmin Lily is certainly packed with useful features, it will leave some people wanting more. Fortunately, it's designed for those who simply want a fashionable accessory that can also track key health/fitness metrics. If that's what you're looking for, you'll be more than pleased with this smartwatch.
You're content with basic health/activity tracking
On that note, you'll want to remember that the Garmin Lily is not an advanced fitness smartwatch. It offers basic health/activity tracking that is ideal for the casual tracker. If you want to end your day with a better idea of how active you were and what areas could use improvement, this is a good option for you.
You should not buy this if ...
You're expecting an advanced smartwatch with premium perks
This might be redundant, but it's worth reiterating. Don't buy the Garmin Lily if you're expecting high-end features and advanced health sensors. If you're looking for a watch that allows you to leave your phone behind, keep looking. You won't have NFC payments, music storage, app support, or built-in GPS.
You want a wearable with built-in GPS
Ah yes, I'm going to talk about GPS one last time. If you were buying a cheap fitness tracker without built-in GPS, I might say something like, "you get what you pay for." However, the Garmin Lily is selling at a price point that very much justifies the addition of onboard GPS. For whatever reason, that didn't happen. If you want to track your route without your phone on your person, this is not the smartwatch for you.
You prefer large, colorful displays
While there isn't necessarily anything wrong with the Lily's monochrome display, it takes some getting used to after being spoiled with AMOLED touchscreens. While it works nicely with the patterned lens, it just doesn't compare to the beauty of a full-color display with high resolution. That being said, the Garmin Lily is a poor choice for those seeking a colorful AMOLED experience.
3.5 out of 5
It's safe to say that the Garmin Lily is good at what it does. Those who want a wearable that offers basic activity tracking along with a few extra perks will be content. As long as you manage your expectations regarding how smart this smartwatch is, this is an efficient wearable that most women will enjoy. Keep in mind, there are still better options out there that focus more on smarts than style. If you happen to be seeking a fitness tracker that doubles as a luxury smartwatch for women, you may end up falling head over heels for the Garmin Lily.
Review Changelog, February 2022
This article was originally published in February 2021.
It was updated in February 2022 with the following changes.
- Updated pricing to reflect recent sales.
- Added mention of latest software updates.
- Added "price and availability" section.
- Added "updated features" section.
- Added changelog.