With the release of the Apple Watch Ultra, Apple took a direct shot at the fitness-focused, rugged wearable industry, which Garmin previously dominated. Many compared this move similar to what Apple did to Nokia with the release of the first iPhone. It is clear that Apple has positioned itself as a Garmin competitor, even if they do not admit it.
So, let's take a head-to-head look at the newest smartwatch offerings from these companies to see how they stack up. Here is your most comprehensive review of the Apple Watch Ultra vs Garmin Fenix 7 / Epix 2.
Apple Watch Ultra vs Garmin: Battery Life.
Battery life is one area in which the Apple Watch has always lagged behind the competition. The full-day battery life just doesn't cut it in this day and age, especially when competitors like Garmin last for weeks. Thankfully with the Apple Watch Ultra, Apple improved its game and claimed to have a battery life of around 36 hours,
In terms of raw specs, Apple has always been vague about the actual capacity of its battery. But it is safe to say that although battery life in the new Apple Watch Ultra is likely to improve, it will still lag behind Garmin's 18-day battery life.
However, one thing going for Apple is the tight software integration and an efficient battery-saving mode that, according to Apple, will double the battery life. But using the battery-saving mode will restrict some features like automatic workout detection.
Winner: Garmin. Even with so much software optimization and a dedicated battery-saving mode, Apple still has some grounds to cover.
Apple Watch Ultra vs Garmin: Display
Apple always had a significant advantage over Garmin regarding display technology. The bright, vivid AMOLED display in the Apple Watch looks stunning. In addition, the new Apple Watch Ultra also has a 9% larger screen than the previous 45mm Apple Watch Series 7, making it the best display in Apple's current smartwatch lineup.
Garmin uses a rounded display, while Apple uses a semi-rounded rectangular display, so they are not exactly the same. But giving where credit is due, even with the smaller display, Garmin made good use of the space and cramped in 8 different metrics, which is a nice touch.
Winner: Apple Watch Ultra. Apple easily wins the display category with more screen real-estate and a brighter display.
Apple Watch Ultra vs Garmin: Weight
Weight is an important factor when deciding between a watch. Ideally, you want a certain heft to it but not too much that it becomes an issue carrying around on your wrist all day.
Interestingly, both watches use titanium cases and sapphire displays. So, the materials are similar. The Garmin Fenix 7 in the 47mm version comes in at just 50 grams for the case. The Apple Watch Ultra is heavier at 61.3 grams. The difference is negligible, and in day-to-day usage, we do not expect to run into any issues because of the weight.
Winner: Tie. The Garmin is slightly lighter; however, with the watch strap on, they are both identical in weight, so it's a tie.
Apple Watch Ultra vs Garmin: Features
Both Apple and Garmin offer several features that you may find useful. Here is a comparison of some of the features each platform provides.
Tracking: This is one feature that Garmin had perfected in its previous iteration of watches, and models like Garmin Fenix 7 or Epix 2 are no expectation either. Accurate, easy-to-use tracking is expected for Garmin, and they do deliver.
But with the Apple Watch Ultra, Apple did make some ground with a new GPS sensor for accurate direction and the ability to add waypoints to help you find the way. But it still falls short of Garmin's heat maps for trails and mapping suggestions. Garmin also offers third-party app integration like ClimbPro, which improves the overall experience.
Workout Suggestions: This is another feature that Garmin holds the upper hand in when compared to Apple. The workout suggestions are much thought out and are based on sleep quality, heart rate variability, training status, and more.
Connectivity: Garmin currently does not offer any cellular connectivity with its watch line up which is a bummer if you constantly find yourself without a phone. Apple, being a phone company by heart, has sorted the connectivity issue and offers an array of both cellular and WIFI-enabled smartwatches. If you do not want to carry around your phone and still stay connected, Apple is the way to go.
Apple Watch Ultra also gets a feature to use the satellite above you to send SOS messages, which can be a real lifesaver.
Other features: Both Apple and Garmin have a list of proprietary features that they add to make the overall experience pleasant. Apple offers advanced features like car crash detection, menstruation and ovulation detection, blood oxygen detection, ECG and more which is going to further improve with WatchOS 9 upgrade.
Garmin offers features like body battery, auto workout detection, body temperature and more. If we compare each side by side, Apple will have a slight edge over Garmin and offer a more seamless experience harnessing the power of Apple's robust ecosystem.
Winner: Tie. When it comes to features, it is hard to call a clear winner. Both have their pros and cons, with several places for improvement.
Apple Watch Ultra vs Garmin: Price
Surprisingly, The Apple Watch Ultra is cheaper and comes in at £849, while the Garmin Fenix 7 Sapphire, which has the upgraded GPS, costs £860. The Garmin Epix 2 with Sapphire costs £900.
We usually do not associate Apple with undercutting the competition, but in this rare instance, Apple Watch Ultra is the better value-for-money option compared to Garmin. But do note that the Garmin includes multiple watch straps in the box, while Apple includes just one and charges you a premium for more.
However, plenty of third-party sellers offer Apple Watch straps at significantly cheaper prices without any compromise in quality.
Final words: Which one should you get?
So, what is the end result of this head-to-head comparison? In my opinion, Garmin still has the edge over Apple and overall is a better device, especially considering Apple's battery life still has a lot to be desired. But the gap between Apple and Garmin is closer than ever and backed by the massive ecosystem Apple has created, Garmin must up its game quickly to stay relevant in the industry.