When it comes to smart watches and the best watches for runners, there's no shortage of choices. But while we love the most popular options -- the Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch Ultra and coming Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 -- one of the most popular selections in smart watches for sports enthusiasts comes from Garmin.
Luckily for us, Amazon is holding a Labor Day sale right now on a selection of Garmin smart watches, including the 4.7-star-rated Garmin Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar. We chose our favorites below, which we must admit, was no easy feat.
Our favorite Garmin smart watches deals:
- The most powerful Garmin in 2023: Garmin Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar, $845 (reduced from $1,000)
- Style won with reviewers: Garmin Vivoactive 4, $309 (reduced from $330)
- Great for sports and adventure: Garmin Instinct, $175 (reduced from $250)
How we chose the best deals on Garmin smart watches
When narrowing down which Garmin smart watches to feature, we considered multiple factors.
- Price? Yeah. We work hard for our money and know you do, too. We loved the variety of deep Amazon discounts on Garmin, but considered much more than price when making our selections.
- Functionality. We thought long and hard about what each watch does. More importantly, do we need it? Smart watch bells and whistles are great if you'll actually use them. If not, you're paying extra for features that sound good at a dinner party but never actually get used.
- How does it look? Call us superficial, but if we're going to wear a tiny computer on our arm, we don't want it to look like a tiny computer on our arm.
- What did other people say? We don't mind standing out in a crowd and forming our own opinions, but we do consider buyer reviews from confirmed buyers. Glowing reviews en masse are as informative as critical reviews screaming "Buyer beware!"
Now, the fun part. Let's shop.
It's impossible not to be impressed with the Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar smart watch from Garmin. One of the top-of-the-line models, this is a long-running, multisport GPS tracker with a scratch-resistant Power Sapphire lens, which uses the sun to extend battery life.
Clever features like the built-in LED flashlight keep you illuminated after dark (dusk runners, hello!), while the 24/7 health and wellness tracker can also track sleep. Multi-band GPS makes this watch incredibly accurate, a bonus for trail runners, adventurers and anyone else on the go. The 28-day battery life in smart watch mode was music to our ears.
It's currently $845 at Amazon, marked down from $1,000. That's the lowest price we've seen for this Garmin smartwatch in the last few months.
Why we like the Garmin Fenix 7X:
- This gorgeous top-of-the-line smartwatch comes in nearly a dozen colors to suit every personality and taste.
- It has solar charging: Its 28-day battery life can be extended to 37 days when worn outside for at least three hours a day.
- The Garmin Fenix 7X offers better GPS tracking than most popular smartwatches, making it ideal for hikers and explorers.
Those who are in the military might want to upgrade to the Garmin Tactix 7 Pro Ballistics Edition. It features all the navigation, fitness and sleep tracking features of the Fenix 7X above, but with some added bonuses. It has software from Applied Ballistics built in: a ballistics calculator for long-range shooting with a library of more than 2,000 custom-measured bullets. The display, meanwhile, is compatible with night vision goggles.
"Worth every penny!" says one Amazon reviewer of this pricey smart watch.$1,599 at Amazon
When choosing a smart watch, we hate to let price dictate a purchase, but it's tough to deny the quality of Amazon's discount on the Garmin Vivoactive 4 GPS smartwatch. Keep track of everything from energy level, stress levels and sleep (sorry it can't find your keys, but they're probably still in the door, you're welcome), but it can track just about everything else.
Twenty preloaded indoor sports and GPS apps, including yoga, running, and swimming, can record all the ways you move, all day, all the time. Smart notifications keep you in touch with text messages and calendar reminders when paired with your mobile device. Available in two sizes.
Regularly $330, it's currently on sale at Amazon for $309. Rated 4.5 stars.
Why we like the Garmin Vivoactive 4:
- Its battery lasts for up to 8 days in smartwatch mode, and up to 6 hours in GPS and music modes.
- Features more than 20 preloaded GPS and indoor sports apps so you can track performance during yoga, running, swimming and more.
- You can download music to your the Garmin Vivoactive 4 directly so you can listen to tunes without having your phone nearby.
Boasting durability that can withstand life's adventures, the Garmin Instinct is shock and water resistant (up to 100 meters). Multiple navigation systems make for accurate tracking in rugged environments proving more accurate than GPS alone.
We like the track back feature for hiker, climbers, runners and adventurers to help navigate the back to your starting point. The battery life was a plus as well: 14 days in smartwatch mode and up to 16 hours in GPS mode.
Train with preloaded activity profiles and monitor heartrate, activity and stress, to make this one of the most efficient smart watches, especially for the price. Four color options available.
Regularly priced at $250, the Garmin Instinct GPS is on sale at Amazon now for $175.
Why we like the Garmin Instinct GPS:
- It's lower price makes it more accessible to athletes on smaller budgets.
- Trackback GPS feature makes it easy to return to your starting point while on a hike.
- It's water-resistant up to 100 meters, so you can wear it on swimming workouts.
A hiker's necessity, Garmin's lightweight and compact satellite communicator allows you to navigate back to your starting point, share your location, and pairs with Garmin devices to receive messages and trigger an SOS. Some features require an active satellite subscription. Regularly $400, you can find one on Amazon at $388, a slight discount.$388 at Amazon
An older (shh, don't tell) cousin of the Fenix 7X above, the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro has a large 1.4 inch display (that's 36% larger than Fenix predecessors) and uses solar power to end battery life, which lasts up to 21 days in smartwatch mode and up to 165 hours in GPS mode.
Systems here, including sleep monitoring, pulse, and heart rate monitoring are advanced and can assist with altitude acclimation at high elevations. Pre-loaded ski maps for more than 2,000 worldwide ski resorts make this the perfect accessory for the ski bunny in all of us.
Our favorite part, though? It's roughly half the price of the newer Fenix 7X this Labor Day weekend.$420 at Amazon
Track tide changes and get anchor drag alerts with Garmin's marine GPS smart watch, the Garmin Quatix 7 Sapphire Edition. Called a "remarkable" wristwatch by one reviewer, sailors and fishers, this is for you.$900 at Amazon
Shop more top-rated Garmin smart watches on Amazon
- Great for runners: Garmin Forerunner GPS running smartwatch, $214 (reduced from $350)
- Elevated style in a smaller size: Garmin Venu 2S smartwatch, $350 (reduced from $400)
- Bright beautiful 1.3-inch display: Garmin Epix Gen smartwatch, $700 (reduced from $900)
Best Garmin alternative: Apple Watch 8
Apple Watch Series 8 features advanced health sensors and apps, so you can take an ECG, measure heart rate and blood oxygen and track temperature changes for advanced insights into your menstrual cycle. And with crash detection, sleep stages tracking and advanced workout metrics, it helps you stay active, healthy, safe and connected.
The Apple Watch 8 is available in four colors. It pairs effortlessly with Apple iPhones, but note that the Apple Watch is largely incompatible with Android smartphones.$309 at Amazon
Apple Watch Ultra is also a top Garmin alternative
Key features of the Apple Watch Ultra:
- The most advanced Apple Watch, ever
- Designed for endurance athletes, outdoor adventurers and water sports enthusiasts
- Up to 36 hours of battery life
- Features a 49mm corrosion-resistant titanium case, Apple's largest
- Brightest always-on Retina display of any Apple Watch model
- Precision dual-frequency GPS for accuracy, distance, route and pace calculations
Android alternative: Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
You need an Apple iPhone to get the most out of your Apple Watch. If you're an Android phone owner, consider going with the just-released Samsung Galaxy Watch 6. It includes all of the best features and sensors of the 4.6-star-rated Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, with some notable upgrades. It's compatible with Android devices in a way that the Apple Watch 8 is not.
Key features of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6:
- Android compatible
- Rotating bezel controls are back
- Bezel is now smaller, giving you more screen space (1.3" and 1.5")
- 2 GB RAM, 16GB storage
- Auto workout tracking can identify running, swimming, rowing and more
- IP68 rated (water-resistant in up to 5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes)
- Measures blood oxygen saturation and monitors your heart (ECG functionality)
- Charge lasts for one to three days, depending on usage
What's so great about a Garmin smart watch?
Good question. Known for innovation and accuracy, Garmin is known for being at the forefront of technology. From solar powered smart watches to detailed fitness trackers, the American watch brand is known as much for style as product features.
What sets Garmin apart from other smart watch companies is its multi-sport tracking available on certain models and navigation features. This makes Garmin smart watches winners with runners, swimmers, adventurers and anyone wanting to up their fitness game with detailed feedback and metrics.
And while a smart watch won't get you to the gym (oh wouldn't that be nice), Garmin's analytics can help you understand how to optimize movement more. It might just be the motivation you need to push yourself to the next level.
Amazon reviewers were quite evangelical about Garmin smart watches, many of whom had upgraded to a Garmin after years using similar less expensive brands. Buyers enthusiastically touted Garmin's accuracy. Styling won big points with reviewers, some of whom called theirs "gorgeous" and "beautiful." Reviewers noted Garmin is "a tad expensive." Fair point, but more often than not reviewers felt their purchase was well worth the price -- especially when you can snag a great deal on Garmin at Amazon.
What do we like about Garmin? Thanks for asking. While we were first drawn to Garmin because of Amazon's killer discount, we dug into reviews and were struck by buyers' passion, even on the higher-priced models. Durability and accuracy rated big from buyers, which means the purchase will pay off over time.
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