The Best Garmin Watches of 2020

If you’re in the market for a new smartwatch, the first one that likely comes to mind is the Apple Watch, widely considered the best smartwatch available. Why look further? For reasons that include functionality and price, many people seek alternatives to Apple’s popular wearable. One worthy contender is Garmin’s line of sport-oriented smartwatches, which are popular with a variety of athletes — runners, cyclists, triathlon competitors, and other outdoor sports aficionados — for their accuracy, precision, and durability.

Navigation is a strong suit for Garmin watches, and the company has a good reputation for longevity. Its watches stand up to wear and tear for years, and the company continues to upgrade them long after their release dates. Digital Trends has kept a close eye on a number of Garmin watches and gathered them together in this list to give you a better idea of which ones might serve your lifestyle.

Garmin Quatix 6

The Garmin Quatix 6 has similar functionality to the popular Fenix 6S Pro — even with its maritime-oriented look and features. So, why choose one over the other? The decicion relies mostly on aesthetics. The Quatrix’s signature Captain Blue silicone band and brushed stainless steel bezel with touches of red offer some variety to the classic all-black options. The Quatix 6 tracks steps, calories burned, sleep, and stairs climbed. It connects with either an iPhone or Android device for notifications. It also features GPS, a heart rate monitor, barometric altimeter, compass, thermometer, accelerometer, Pulse Ox, and gyroscope.

What makes the Quatix 6 special isn’t that it has all of those sensors, though, but the fact that it’s customized for seafaring folks. You’ll always know where you are with coastal charts and inland maps. Its preloaded apps specialize in boating and fishing, as well as workouts. You can sail for up to two weeks on a single charge in smartwatch mode. The Quatix 6 also comes in a titanium version for $1,000, which features a sapphire crystal lens, titanium bezel and band, and a slightly lower weight.

Garmin Vívomove HR Sport

Garmin Vivomove HR sport

The vívomove HR Sport is a stylish hybrid touchscreen smartwatch with precision analog hands that show the time and dynamically move when you swipe through your messages, heart rate, and other screens. Its style fits into the office or any sports you’re into. Use it to count your steps or track your calories and stress level. It estimates heart rate with Garmin’s Elevate heart rate technology and features monitoring tools like a relaxation timer, advanced sleep monitoring with REM sleep, steps, calories, distance, heart rate, intensity minutes, and VO2 levels. The battery lasts up to five days in smart mode and up to two more weeks in watch mode with only hands indicating the time. You can connect with smart features like auto uploads, smart notifications, and music controls. The vívomove HR Sport also works on Android and iOS and has 50-meter water resistance.

Garmin Forerunner 645 Music

Garmin Forerunner 645 Music
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If you’re running with tunes in your head, you will appreciate the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music, which lets you download songs to your watch with playlists from your Spotify, Amazon Music, or Deezer subscription. Among this watch’s major selling points is syncing music from select streaming services for offline listening during your routine. It also facilitates the Garmin Pay contactless payment feature, so you can use your watch for purchases when paired with supported cards from participating banks. It supports many advanced running dynamics, including speed and distance, stride length, cadence, vertical ratio, ground contact time, and balance. For swimming, it tracks laps, distance, stroke count, and lap pace. Garmin rates the Forerunner 645 with its silicone strap as waterproof to 50 meters. The battery lasts up to seven days in smartwatch mode, but only five hours in GPS mode with music.

Garmin Fenix 6S Pro

The Garmin Fenix 6S Pro has a rugged but relatively petite design with an always-on 1.2-inch display that’s easy to read even in bright sunlight. It features enhanced estimated wrist heart rate and pulse oximetry for advanced sleep monitoring and high elevation altitude acclimation. Training features include PacePro for grade-adjusted activity pace guidance and adjusted VO2 max (maximum rate of oxygen consumption) and training estimates. The watch facilitates navigating any kind of terrain with preloaded topographical maps, ski maps for thousands of ski venues worldwide, multiple global navigation satellite systems including GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo, and built-in sensors for three-axis compass, gyroscope, and barometric altimeter. The Fenix 6S Pro also conveniently supports Garmin Pay contactless payments, music storage with streaming service support, notifications, and more. The battery lasts up to nine days in smartwatch mode and up to 34 days in battery saver watch mode.

Garmin Instinct

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The Garmin Instinct is for the hardcore of whatever activity you’re into. This rugged GPS watch — which aligns with U.S. Military standard 810G for thermal, shock, and water resistance up to 100 meters is built for tough environments. It features a three-axis compass, a barometric altimeter, and multiple global navigation satellite systems like GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo to track your challenging path. You can also use this watch to monitor estimated heart rate, activity, and stress, and train with preloaded activity profiles. When paired with a compatible smartphone, you can connect with notifications and automatic data uploads to the Garmin Connect fitness community. A TracBack feature helps you navigate your route so you don’t get lost on the trail. The Garmin Explore website and app help you plan your activities in advance. The Instinct‘s battery lasts up to 14 days in smartwatch mode and up to 40 hours in UltraTrac battery saver mode.

Garmin Forerunner 945

Kelly Hodgkins / Digital Trends

The Garmin Forerunner 945 features an always-on, 1.2-inch, 240 x 240-pixel display, meaning you’ll always be able to see your data during your training sessions. The watch tracks all the training metrics you could want, including Vo2 Max and training status, altitude and heat acclimatization, training load focus, recovery time, and aerobic and anaerobic training thresholds. The Forerunner 945 is a true multi-sport watch, preloaded with 30 indoor and outdoor sports. Options range from running to skiing and just about everything in between. If you enjoy some music while you train, the Forerunner 945 has you covered. It’s compatible with Spotify, Amazon Music, and Deezer, meaning all your favorite tracks and playlists can come with, even if you don’t want to bring your smartphone along. It also features Garmin Pay, so you can leave your wallet behind as well. It also includes full-color mapping, so if you find yourself off-route, you can easily find your way home. The Forerunner 945 also has built-in safety features, including incident detection for some activities. If you get into trouble, your location will be sent to your emergency contacts, although you will need to have your phone with you for this feature to work. The battery lasts up to two weeks in smartwatch mode and up to 60 hours in UltraTrac mode.

Garmin Forerunner 45s

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For those on a budget, the Garmin Forerunner 45s offers an affordable alternative to some of the more expensive watches on our list. Its optical sensors track your heart rate without the use of a chest strap, and the built-in GPS allows you to track your pace, distance, intervals, speed, cadence, and calories burned. You also have access to free Garmin Coach training plans and automatic uploads to the Garmin Connect community. When paired with a compatible smartphone, you’ll receive incoming call and text notifications, have access to safety features, including incident detection and tracking, as well as access to music controls. Sports apps are available for running, cycling, indoor track, treadmill, elliptical, cardio, and yoga. The battery lasts for up to seven days in smartwatch mode or 14 hours in GPS mode. It comes in two sizes — 39.5mm and 42mm.

Garmin Vívoactive 4

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 not only tracks critical biometrics like energy levels, Pulse Ox, respiration, menstrual cycle, stress, sleep, heart rate, and hydration, it also has a built-in coach. Using onscreen animations to demonstrate proper techniques, the Vivoactive will guide you through a variety of workouts from strength training to yoga poses. It also includes 20 outdoor and indoor sports apps, from yoga to running and swimming. The Vivoactive 4 is compatible with Spotify, Amazon Music, and Deezer, so your favorite tracks and playlists are available right on your wrist. You’ll just need to pick up some wireless headphones to listen without your smartphone. If you do bring your smartphone along, you’ll take advantage of the Vivoactive 4’s safety features, including incident detection and real-time tracking. Thousands of free watch faces, apps, and widgets from the Connect IQ store. Battery life lasts up to 8 days in smartwatch mode and up to 6 hours in GPS and music mode. The Vívoactive 4 is available in two sizes — 40mm and 45mm.

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