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I wear a Garmin GPS watch because I never have to set it up again

Switching phones is just about as easy as swapping watch bands.

Published onJune 17, 2023

garmin forerunner 965 home screen
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

It’s no secret that I prefer Garmin’s wearables to their rivals from Apple, Samsung, or Google. I’ve praised Garmin’s battery life and operating system flexibility more times than I can count. Sure, I can admit that the Forerunner 965 and the Instinct 2x aren’t sleek enough for formal occasions, but there’s another essential reason that I keep going back to Garmin time and time again. That reason is that once I’ve set up a Garmin running watch once, I never have to do it again.

Set it and forget it

A Garmin Epix Pro rests next to a Fenix 7 Pro, Fenix 7, and Apple Watch Ultra.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Few people switch phones as often as I do, which means that few people are likely to face the hurdle of setting up a new wearable as often as I do. However, once you get your smartwatch set up and finish navigating every last menu and feature, the last thing you want to do is start over from scratch. If you’re swapping from Android to iOS or from a Galaxy Watch to a new Fitbit, you probably start over pretty regularly. That’s not the case with Garmin.

Instead, Garmin keeps all your watches stored in your Connect account, letting you choose and manage them as easily as if you were choosing a pair of shoes for the day. That means opening the app and selecting from my list of watches each time I set up a new phone for review. I can focus on setting up the phone while knowing that my emergency contacts, sleep preferences, and Garmin Pay information are already in place. Honestly, the most I usually have to do is coordinate the watch face with my new phone for a little bit of extra continuity.

With Garmin, swapping between phones is about as easy as changing watch bands.

On top of the simplicity of saved settings, Garmin hangs onto your sleep tracking and health data from one wearable to the next, too. This is crucial, especially for keeping an eye on your HRV. It takes about three weeks to build a baseline for your HRV when you first set up a Garmin watch, so it would be a nightmare if I had to restart that clock each time I put on a new watch. Thankfully, all of that precious data — as well as your level of running fitness and your daily Body Battery — is stored in the Connect app.

Although the stored settings make the process much easier, I’ve noticed one little hiccup when pairing a watch with a new phone — Garmin’s Bluetooth connection is almost too good. My Forerunner 965 often wants to connect back to a previous phone and pick up notifications from that device rather than my shiny new one. It’s not as big of an issue with notifications from Slack or Twitter since I only have one account, but it does mean that Garmin sometimes tries to escape my text messages and phone calls.

Of course, this won’t matter for most people since few hold onto as many phones (or Garmin watches) as I do, but that’s part of my job. If you’re simply switching phones after an upgrade, you should have no problems keeping your Garmin connected to your current device once your old one is powered off.

A watch for any occasion… or ecosystem

A Garmin Instinct 2X user holds a stand up paddle board.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

There’s a popular saying about having the right tool for the job, which is the other benefit of Garmin’s setup flexibility. Pairing one phone with multiple watches can be as simple as pairing one watch with a few different phones. It also means you can dabble in other parts of Garmin’s expansive lineup and still know you have the most appropriate watch for each occasion.

Garmin's expansive lineup means you can always have the right wearable for the job.

For example, you probably wouldn’t wear your hiking and adventure-focused Garmin Instinct 2x to a wedding, just like you wouldn’t wear a Garmin Venu 2 Plus for a long camping trip. If you had both watches and one phone, you could just swap them on your device and keep your focus on the big day (or, in my case, the view from the top of the mountain). Or, if you’re a runner who splits time between roads and trails, you might bounce from your Forerunner 965 to your Fenix 7 Pro when weight and durability are your primary concerns.

See price at Amazon
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
Excellent display
Fast charging battery
Phone calls
See price at Garmin
Garmin Forerunner 965
Garmin Forerunner 965
Crisp OLED display
Upgraded titanium bezel
In-depth mapping options
See price at Amazon
Garmin Instinct 2X Solar
Garmin Instinct 2X Solar
Built-in LED flashlight
Multi-band GNSS
Training Readiness
See price at Amazon
Garmin Fenix 7 Pro
Garmin Fenix 7 Pro
Built-in flashlight
Solar charging multi-band GNSS
Gen 5 Elevate heart rate sensor

By the way, Garmin’s setup simplicity still holds true if you’re switching from Android to iOS. Instead of spending extra cash on an Apple Watch or a Samsung Galaxy Watch for the extra dedicated features, you can bring your Garmin with its unbeatable battery life, pinpoint GPS, and simple setup process from one platform to another.

I won’t pretend that the Pixel Watch isn’t stylish or the Apple Watch Ultra isn’t among the best Apple products to date, but I’ll keep reaching for Garmin’s simplicity and flexibility every single time.

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