People expect different things from smartwatches. Some want to be constantly connected to the internet so they can receive notifications and stream online music regardless of what they’re doing, while others want to track their heart rate, steps, and other fitness-related information to live a healthier lifestyle.
|Apple||Apple Watch Series 4||Check Price on Amazon|
|Garmin||Garmin fenix 5 Plus||Buy on Amazon|$639.95(Price as of 10/22/2019 20:49 ET)|
Today, we’re here to compare two smartwatches that are designed with completely different expectations in mind. The Apple Watch 4 is an elegant smartwatch with wide appeal and excellent integration with Apple’s iOS, while the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is a rather masculine smartwatch whose target users are people who spend more time in sneakers than dress shoes.
Build and Design
With its iconic square-faced design, the Apple Watch 4 oozes sophistication and class. The smartwatch has a beautiful display with very narrow bezels and remarkable brightness, making it readable even in broad daylight. The display has a resolution of 384×480, and it can display a lot of information at the same time despite its relatively modest size of either 40 mm or 44 mm, depending on which version of the Apple Watch 4 you go with.
Apple Watch Series 4 has a water resistance rating of 50 meters under ISO standard 22810:2010, so it’s suitable for shallow-water activities like swimming in a pool or ocean. To resist scratches and other damage, the larger 42 mm Apple Watch model has a Sapphire crystal, and the 42mm Apple Watch model has Ion-X Glass.
The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus makes it sort of obvious that it doesn’t want to be pampered. The smartwatch looks masculine, feels rugged, and is ready for adventures on unpaved roads. Its round face should appeal to purists who have never learned to love the look of the Apple Watch. You can get the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus in multiple finishes, including black, silver, carbon gray, titanium, white, and rose gold.
Compared with the Apple Watch 4, the display of the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus doesn’t look too impressive, but we’re quite satisfied with how it performs. Considering that it measures 1.2 inches and has a resolution of only 240 x 240, it can fit quite a lot of information, and it remains readable even under direct sunlight.
Performance and Battery Life
Next up in the Apple Watch vs Garmin contest, the Apple Watch 4 features Apple’s new S4 chip, which offers twice as much processing power as the previous one, largely thanks to its 64-bit architecture and two cores.
Garmin has also made sure that the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus doesn’t stutter between menus or widgets, which was a common problem with the older Fenix 5, by increasing the CPU power and adding more memory.
We can say that both smartwatches have enough performance for what they were designed to do, but we can’t say the same about their battery life. With the Apple Watch 4, you can expect at best 2 days on a charge with regular use. On the other hand, the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus should last you a whole week, unless you really push it.
We expect that such a huge difference in battery life will be enough to convince many people to choose the Garmin over the Apple Watch, especially serious athletes who would have to charge the Apple Watch every single day to track their training progress.
When it comes to smartwatch features, the Apple Watch 4 has the upper hand. Its high-resolution display can display more information at the same time than Garmin’s, and the smartwatch allows you to respond to notifications using preset phrases, emojis, a small keyboard, or voice (via Siri).
There’s a cellular version of the Apple Watch 4 with support for the new eSIM technology, allowing you to stay connected to the internet even without Wi-Fi. The cellular version is great for listening to store music directly on the watch, but you need a monthly data plan to enjoy it.
Unfortunately, the Apple Watch 4 is limited to Apple Music, whereas the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus uses Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Deezer.
Apple has a much larger app store than Garmin, offering well-made apps from such big names as GoPro, Facebook, Shazam, STRAVA, Instagram, Nest, Philips Hue, Evernote, IFTTT, BMW iRemote, Runtastic, UA Record, MapMyRun, and TripAdvisor.
Both smartwatches have implemented their own mobile payment solution: Apple has Apple Pay and Garmin has Garmin Pay. In practice, there’s not much difference between them, and most major credit and debit cards, including Visa and Mastercard, should work with both.
One of the amazing features that the Apple Watch 4 has is fall-tracking. If the Apple Watch detects that you take a hard fall, they’re able to automatically alert emergency services for you. You can turn that feature off if you want, but it can come in handy and potentially save a life.
The Apple Watch Series 4 also has an ECG feature where it can run a quick ECG test right on your wrist. This feature has actually saved lives before, so it can really come handy. In the Apple Watch vs Garmin battle, we think the Series 4 really takes the cake here.
The Apple Watch 4 may be a better smartwatch than the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus, but the situation is completely different when we move on to fitness features. The two smartwatches are both completely water resistant, have GPS & GLONASS, support heart rate monitoring with external heart rate sensors, and can track running, cycling, and swimming. They also have a stopwatch, timer, alarms, and all other traditional fitness features you would expect a smartwatch to have.
But being a performance company first and smartwatch company second, Garmin has made sure that its smartwatch is ready for all kinds of adventures. The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus provides built-in mapping and navigation features to help keep you oriented and on course, with map data optimized for at-a-glance navigation and location tracking both on foot and on bike.
By pairing the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus with the HRM-Tri, HRM-Run, or Run Dynamics Pod, you can monitor various advanced running statistics, including stride length, vertical oscillation, ground contact time, and others. You can tap into physiological metrics, such as your VO2 max score or lactate threshold, to develop a better understanding of your personal fitness level so you can adjust your training accordingly.
While there are many golf-oriented third-party apps for the Apple Watch 4, none of them comes even close to the massive database of over 40,000 that Garmin provides via its mobile app. The app shows everything from yardage to distance to the front, middle, and back of the green to your scorecard, and it’s a must-have for any avid golfer.
However, Apple Watch 4 does have an excellent Activity and Workout setup, where you can easily track any sort of exercise or fitness activity. It’s a great way to get the average person motivated as well, since the Apple Watch helps you setup daily goals, and even pushes you to achieve awards and milestones.
The verdict is clear: the Apple Watch 4 is a superior smartwatch in general, but it doesn’t come close to the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus in terms of fitness features. Unfortunately for Garmin, you can almost buy two Apple Watch 4s for the price of a single Garmin Fenix 5 Plus. Unless you absolutely need the extra features offered by Garmin, the Apple Watch 4 is a better buy.