The best Garmin smartwatches of 2018: which one is right for you?

Garmin was initially known for its GPS units, but it now also offers a wide range of smartwatches. Some of them are among the bestselling devices on the market, but it's easy to get lost in their vast catalog. In this comprehensive list, you'll find the best, grouped according to their specifications. Take a look and find one that best suits you, whether you're an avid triathlete or just want to buy your first smartwatch.

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The best ones

Fenix 5 Plus

The improved version of the Fenix 5 is probably the best watch for exercise enthusiasts. If you're a data lover and want to keep track of your progress, you'll be delighted. The precise measurements are among the most complete you can find.

Its new features include the Garmin Pay payment platform and the option of listening to music offline with Spotify. With its 1.2-inch (240x240 pixel) screen, you can view topographic maps using GPS, which is ideal for outdoor sports. With an autonomy of 18 hours, it's one of the best watches on the market.

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus esp
The watch is compatible with GPS, GLONASS and Galileo technologies. / Garmin

Vivoactive 3

The Vivoactive 3 is much more than just a fitness watch. It's a smartwatch you'll wear everyday. Its fitness monitoring capabilities are comprehensive. The heart rate and GPS sensors make it suitable for runners and people who want to monitor their overall activity.

The third edition of Vivoactive includes Garmin Pay and access to many apps (Uber, Accuweather, etc.). It comes with 15 pre-installed sports apps and its 5ATM of water resistance, making it the perfect swimming companion. It also has 13 hours of battery life with the GPS enabled. 

vivoactive 3
You can download and create your own workouts. / Garmin

For beginners

Forerunner 35

If you want to buy a smartwatch that doesn't complicate your life, the Forerunner is a good option. It helps you with the basics. If offers intelligent notifications, GPS, a heart rate monitor, calorie counter and basic settings for runners, as well as notifications. It's recommended for people who want to move the fitness app on their smartphone onto their wrist.

forerunner 35
Its weight (45 grams) makes it very comfortable. / Amazon

The cheapest

Forerunner 25

So you've decided to buy a Garmin smartwatch, but you don't know that much about it and the Forerunner 35 still seems too expensive. In that case you can opt for the Forerunner 25. It might not be the best designed device out there, and it can't monitor your heart rate (you'll need a chest strap for that), but it does count the distance you've covered, your steps and the calories you've burned. It has an autonomy of 8 hours if you use GPS. If you install the Garmin app on your smartphone, you can receive notifications on your Forerunner 25.

garmin forerunner 25
It has everything you need. / © Garmin

The best for running

Forerunner 630

This smartwatch is ideal for runners who want the most complete data: ground contact time, stride length, VO2 max. The performance option is particularly interesting, since it shows you how much energy your muscles have left while you run. 

Its 1.23-inch touch screen makes navigation much easier and allows you to quickly scroll through the options. The device promises 16 hours of battery life. Unfortunately, it doesn't offer a heart rate sensor.

garmin forerunner 630
With real-time tracking and intelligent notifications! / Garmin

Forerunner 235

If you prefer a cheaper option, the Forerunner 230 is a good alternative. There are many customization options available, since you can download all the apps from Garmin Connect. The design also stands out nicely.

Without the need for a pedometer, the smartwatch captures all the data on your sporting activity (highlighting the calculation of your VO2 Max at the end). When you're not running it has all the features of a fitness tracker. It counts your steps and calories throughout the day. The device offers 16 hours of battery life when you don't use GPS.

forerunner 230
You can download wallpapers and widgets from Connect IQ. / Garmin

The best for triathletes

Forerunner 935

If you want to swim, cycle and run, you'll need a multi-sport fitness tracker. The Forerunner 935 is an elegant device, with features similar to the Fenix 5, but it's lighter. Its tracking capabilities are incredible - it provides all kinds of information about your exercise activities. The device comes with an altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer and thermometer. You can also monitor your heart rate without using a chest strap (but don't forget that it doesn't work under water).

It has 24 hours of battery life, which is great for a Garmin smartwatch. The advanced autonomy is part of the reason why the device has a higher price. It's recommended for the most demanding triathletes.

forerunner 935
Ready for your Ironman? / Garmin

Forerunner 735XT

The Forerunner 735XT is another option for triathletes that is a little more economical. Although it doesn't have as many options as the Forerunner 935, it's perfect for people looking for a triathlon-specific smartwatch that collects  and analyzes swimming, running and cycling data.

The Forerunner 735XT offers a great range. The device can also measure your heart rate without the need of a chest strap. It comes with GPS and is very comfortable and intuitive to use. It's a bestseller.

Do you use Garmin smartwatches? Do you think there are others we should have included in our list? Let us know in the comments.


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