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The best Garmin watches you can buy: Fenix 7, Venu 2 Plus, and more
Fitbit might be the king of activity trackers, but Garmin is nearly untouchable when it comes to fitness watches. Whether you’re looking for a running watch, a golf watch, a fitness tracker, or a smartwatch that can do it all, Garmin has something for you. In fact, Garmin has so many options it can be hard to keep track of them. Here are the best Garmin watches and the best Garmin smartwatches you can buy in 2022.
How to choose the right Garmin watch for your needs
Garmin has dozens of watches and they’re all built for specific users. That makes it difficult to pin down “the best” Garmin you can buy. To help, we’ve separated all of the Garmin watches on this list into categories.
The best Garmin watches
- Garmin Fenix 7 series: Devices from the Fenix 7 series are the top Garmin watches you can buy. These are Garmin’s everything-but-the-kitchen-sink devices boasting tons of features for outdoor enthusiasts and runners.
- Garmin Vivoactive 4 and 4S: At a fraction of the cost, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 and 4S are the best multisport Garmin options if you don’t have $700 plus to spend on a Fenix 7.
- Garmin Venu 2 Plus: With even more smart features than before, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus is Garmin’s best smartwatch thanks to its bright OLED display and onboard music storage.
- Garmin Venu Sq 2: The Garmin Venu Sq 2 is the best cheap Garmin smartwatch. It’s similar to the Venu lineup but with a few cost-cutting measures.
- Garmin Forerunner 955: Garmin’s best running watch, the Forerunner 955 is a little pricey but has tons of useful features for runners.
- Garmin Forerunner 55: For runners on a budget, the best cheap Garmin running watch is the Garmin Forerunner 55.
- Garmin Lily: The Garmin Lily is the best Garmin fitness tracker for women. It’s made specifically for people with small wrists.
Garmin Fenix 7 series: The best multisport Garmin watches
Garmin’s top-tier multisport watches, the Fenix line can track dozens of sports modes including running, cycling, gravel biking, skiing, hiking, and much more. The devices also track your daily metrics from steps and stress to sleep and SpO2. When testing the device we found notably accurate GPS (classic Garmin), though the heart rate sensor wasn’t quite perfect, especially in cold conditions.
On top of these measurables, the Fenix 7 can even determine your fitness age using metrics like your weight and BMI. Unlike its predecessor, the Fenix 7 series showcases tools like Garmin’s Body Battery and Health Snapshot. These tools proved especially useful during our review period for at-a-glance insights into energy and overall wellness. More importantly, Fenix 7 devices display all of their users’ metrics on the very first touchscreen display to be found on the Fenix line. This crisp, responsive display is just one of many hardware upgrades the Fenix 7 series offers over the Fenix 6 and older models.
The Fenix 7 line is available in three sizes — Fenix 7S (small), Fenix 7 (large), and Fenix 7X (extra large). All three models are available with solar charging capabilities. Likewise, each model is also available in multiple colorways, though you’ll only find a flashlight built into the Fenix 7X.
- Incredible battery life
- Touchscreen display makes it easier to use
- Accurate GPS tracking + multi-band GNSS
- All-around accurate fitness tracking
- Plenty of onboard storage for music
- Tons of sizes and colors available
- Heart rate sensor can struggle
- Some of the best features only available on the largest model
Check out our full review to learn more about the Garmin Fenix 7 series.
Garmin Vivoactive 4 and 4S: The best cheap multisport Garmin watches
The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is the multisport Garmin watch to buy if you don’t have roughly $700 to spend on a Fenix smartwatch. The device features the same great software as other Garmin trackers and the same excellent ecosystem of apps. You’ll also get a heart rate monitor, built-in GPS, seven-day battery life, and 5ATM water resistance. Additionally, the Vivoactive 4 includes the same music playback that came with the Vivoactive 3 Music.
Other new features this time around include a pulse oximeter for measuring blood oxygen, along with all-day stress tracking, and Body Battery. The screen also received an upgrade from the Vivoactive 3 line. Finally, if you need something for slimmer wrists, the Vivoactive 4S variant has you covered there too.
In testing, the Vivoactive 4 proved to be a reliable fitness tracker. Both the GPS and heart rate sensor performed adequately (and better than those of the Vivoactive 3 line). It’s also a very useful sleep tracker with a sleep timeline that was easy to read and advanced sleep stage stats for breaking down your rest. We would not tout this device as an especially well-rounded smartwatch, however, just a solid fitness watch. For phone call support or digital assistant support, shoppers should look to the Venu 2 Plus, below.
- Garmin Pay support is convenient
- Music storage is standard
- Week-long battery life
- Unique breathwork exercises
- Accurate fitness and health tracking
- Useful and accurate sleep tracking
- It can be expensive, even in 2022
- Heart rate accuracy can be off with high-intensity workouts
Check out our full review to learn more about the Garmin Vivoactive 4.
Garmin Venu 2 Plus: The best Garmin smartwatch
The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is hands down the company’s best smartwatch. It upgrades the original Garmin Venu 2 in many ways, adding a few important smart features for a more functional device. In fact, our review called it “the best smartwatch Garmin has ever made.”
The biggest additions are on-wrist calls and voice assistant support. These everyday tools help a fantastic fitness watch compete as a well-rounded smartwatch. When testing phone calls on the device we found voice quality virtually unaffected by the hardware. Our voice assistant had a bit of a delay but it was far from frustratingly slow or finicky.
Beyond those additions, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus retains the original’s activity-tracking metrics, Body Battery, sleep score, hiking and climbing workout modes, and Health Snapshot. Plus, it also still supports Garmin Pay and has plenty of music storage. You can grab a Venu 2 Plus in Silver, Slate, and Cream Gold. It’s pricey for sure, but well worth the money.
- Excellent design and build quality
- Rapid charging helps make up for battery woes
- Clear call quality on the wrist
- Slow, but useful voice assistant support
- Accurate fitness and health tracking
- High price tag
- Battery life shorter than Garmin’s claims
- Heart rate sensor still has issues
Check out our full review to learn more about the Garmin Venu 2 Plus.
Garmin Venu Sq 2: The best cheap Garmin smartwatch
Looking at the Venu 2 Plus but not looking to pay $400? The Garmin Venu Sq 2 gets you 90% of the way there for just $250. It may be a cheaper smartwatch, but it still has plenty to offer.
A significant upgrade to a device we already loved, the Venu Sq 2 adds a few important updates to the original Venu Sq for an even better experience. Off that bat, users will notice a bright, colorful AMOLED display in the same, familiar square shape. This means you can now personalize the Sq line with hundreds of watch faces available in the Garmin IQ app. The watch is also available in sleek colorways with metallic bevels for an elevated look. We found it easy to pair the device with everything from activewear to formal attire during our review period.
Beyond the build, the device offers more than 25 sport modes, as well as 24-hour heart rate monitoring, SpO2 monitoring, sleep tracking, and more. Users will even find Body Battery and Health Snapshot on board. In testing, the device’s sensors proved accurate and reliable, though we were surprised to see Garmin drop an altimeter from the line.
Like the previous generation, the Venu Sq 2 comes in both a base model and a pricier Music Edition with storage for up to 500 songs. We suggest splurging for the latter as the added storage means you can leave your phone at home and still have music on runs and rides. The base model can be found in Gray/Slate, White/Cream Gold, and Cool Mint/Metallic Mint. The Music Edition is available in Ivory/Peach Gold (pictured), Black/Slate, and French Gray/Cream Gold.
- Bright, colorful AMOLED display
- Very impressive battery life
- Improved heart rate accuracy
- Accurate GPS
- Useful sleep tracking
- Handy Health Snapshot feature
- Pricier than its predecessor
- No altimeter
- Music storage costs extra
- Limited smartwatch features
- No audible alerts
Check out our full review to learn more about the Garmin Venu Sq 2.
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar: The best Garmin running watch
The Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar is the best of the best among Garmin running watches. It’s a great pick for anyone prepping for races, including marathons and triathlons. It is expensive, but only because it’s absolutely packed with features. Most notably, it now carries a highly-responsive touch screen and its Solar model boasts up to 15 days of battery life. So far, our only complaint is that it doesn’t use quick-release bands.
Runners and riders can depend on multi-band GPS, and tap into new tools such as training readiness, and HRV status. The latter tracks heart rate variability overnight to provide deeper insights into your recovery. Meanwhile, new real-time stamina insights let you track your exertion mid-run (or ride). Finally, we also appreciate the new Garmin Race widget and Morning Report both of which push out important stats and info.
If the Forerunner 955 is a bit out of your budget, Garmin’s Forerunner 745 is a great alternative as well. Battery life won’t be quite as good and there is no solar model, but it’s a very good running watch at a more manageable price point.
- Excellent solar-enhanced battery life (Solar model only)
- Countless activity types
- NFC support for Garmin Pay
- Upgraded heart rate sensor
- Storage for up to 2,000 songs
- Downloadable maps for running and biking
- Expensive, though not more than the 945
- Redundancy between button-based navigation and touchscreen
- Proprietary charging setup
Check out our full review to learn more about the Garmin Forerunner 955.
Garmin Forerunner 55: The best cheap Garmin running watch
The Garmin Forerunner 55 is the best cheap running watch from the company. It follows Garmin’s typical update strategy — the Forerunner 55 is essentially a cheaper Forerunner 245 with hardware similar to the Forerunner 45 line. The 55 looks much more like Garmin’s other Forerunner devices. Luckily, you no longer need a screwdriver to remove the straps.
On this model, battery life is improved from seven days to two whole weeks. Garmin also brought many of its existing training features to the Forerunner 55, including PacePro, Race Predictor, Recovery Advisor, cadence alerts, daily suggested workouts, and new sport profiles. However, there’s still no Garmin Pay or music storage, so you may need to opt for a higher-end device if you want those features.
Most importantly, we were very impressed with the device’s accuracy during our review period. Garmin’s Elevate heart rate sensor kept up well with more expensive devices including our Apple Watch. Likewise, GPS is very reliable. It accurately tracked our runs and even outperformed competitors in some cases.
- Improved design with easily removable straps
- Fantastic 2-week battery life
- Race Predictor and cadence alerts are helpful additions for runners
- Great value
- Excellent heart rate and GPS performance
- Sleep tracking accuracy is questionable
- The display could be improved
Check out our full review to learn more about the Garmin Forerunner 55.
Garmin Lily: The best Garmin fitness tracker for women
The Garmin Lily is a small, basic activity tracker geared toward women. Primarily, the lightweight, compact design is refreshing for those with smaller wrists — a demographic underserved in the wearables market. However, the Garmin Lily is a bit bare-bones for our liking. Garmin markets this as “the small and fashionable smartwatch women have been waiting for.” Sure, it’s small and fashionable, but the second half of that sentence may be stretching things.
Due to its compact design, Garmin made some sacrifices with the Lily’s feature set. For instance, it doesn’t have Garmin Pay or onboard GPS. It does however offer detailed sleep tracking and accurate heart rate data. If you are a woman looking for a very basic device, this is a good pick. It’s also Garmin’s only watch specifically designed for women.
- Great fit, for even the slightest of wrist sizes
- Simple, easy-to-understand UI
- Accurate heart rate tracking
- Detailed, accurate sleep tracking
- Display pattern can be distracting
- Proprietary, non-standard charger
- Proprietary straps may cause headaches
Check out our full review to learn more about the Garmin Lily.
That’s it for our list of the best Garmin watches you can buy, but it’s only a fraction of what’s out there. We also want to give an honorable mention to the following products:
- Garmin Fenix 6 series: Featuring last-gen tech, the Fenix 6 series is still a line of powerful devices and a good way to save some cash. The devices can often be found on sale for significantly less than their launch price.
- Garmin Venu 2: Now that the Venu 2 Plus is out, the original is available for a discount across many retailers. If you don’t mind skipping the new smartwatch features, this is a worthy option.
- Garmin Vivosmart 5: Garmin reentered the fitness tracker game this year with the Vivosmart 5. The latest adds a touchscreen display and interchangeable bands.
- Garmin Instinct 2: For adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts, this latest addition to the Instinct line adds a ton of features including new sport modes and impressive battery life with solar charging.
- Garmin Forerunner 255: Another great running watch at a middle-of-the-road price, the Forerunner 255 is easy to recommend. In fact, we couldn’t find much not to like about it.
Most Garmin wearables are water-resistant to 5ATM.
Yes, Garmin can connect with the popular running and cycling app Strava. To link your account to your device, open Garmin Connect, select settings, and select connected apps. Finally, select Strava and sign in to your Strava account.
Read more about the Garmin ecosystem and Garmin devices
- The most common Garmin problems and how to fix them
- The best Fitbit alternatives: Garmin, Apple, Xiaomi, and more