Garmin watches deliver high performance in a sleek format, both in structure and interface. And similar to features found on the ever-popular Apple Watch and other fitness trackers, Garmin is a smartwatch integrates advanced fitness tracking tools such as a heart rate monitor that detects irregularities. Plus, if you’re interested in tracking your sleep, Garmin’s Morning Report is fantastic for helping you track sleep quality and works well with the Training Readiness metric to tailor an appropriate recovery plan.

Also: The best smartwatches, according to fitness experts and marathon runners

Having tested and reviewed six of the most popular Garmin Watches, we’ve now selected which are best for you and your fitness, wellness, and overall tracking needs. And to combat your watch’s battery dying as you train and track, some models, like our first choice, the Garmin Fenix 7X: Solar Edition feature solar charging. Read for details on how other options and generations compare on the battery front, durability, price, and more.

The best Garmin watches in 2023


  • Solar charging
  • Wide range of features, namely for skiing, surfing, climbing, and mountain biking
  • LED flashlight


  • Pricier than other models

Garmin Fenix 7X: Solar Edition features:  Battery life: Solar charging yields up to 14 days | Heart rate monitoring: Yes | Garmin’s full performance metric suite: Yes

The Garmin Fenix 7X Solar offers the latest in Garmin GPS watch technology, packing in just about everything Garmin wearables have to offer. The Fenix 7X includes a broader array of supported sports than any other series of Garmin, including in its repertoire skiing, climbing, mountain biking, and surfing, all in addition to the more « traditional » sports and exercises like running and biking.

Solar charging features add a layer of suave functionality to the already robust lineup within this sporty smartwatch. The Fenix 7X Solar Edition allows for some solar charging while out and about, making this watch last longer for those who prefer to do their sports and exercise in the great outdoors. The Fenix also includes the whole suite of Garmin’s extensive health monitoring features, such as heart rate monitoring, stress tracking, pulse ox reading, women’s health features, and more.

Ultimately, ZDNET’s reviewer was « [V]ery pleased with GPS performance, heart rate performance [accuracy], crystal clear playback, long battery life, vast assortment of sports and activities, and the quality materials. »

Review: Garmin Fenix 7X Solar


  • Budget-friendly
  • 20 preloaded sports apps
  • Screen encased by Gorilla Glass 3


  • Relies on multiple smartphone apps

Garmin Vívoactive 4 features Battery life: Up to eight days | Heart rate monitoring: Yes | Garmin’s full performance metric suite: Yes

This sleek GPS watch packs in Garmin’s extensive health and wellness features in a user-friendly, responsive 40-45mm touchscreen interface.

In addition to tracking the traditional exercise metrics, the Vívoactive 4 also includes respiration and pulse ox tracking along with other premium suite functions like Garmin Pay for contactless transactions, Garmin coach to help you train, and women’s health features.

While $250 may still be a pretty penny, it’s a fairly middle-range for the smartwatch industry, and especially low for a Garmin watch of this caliber. If you want to play the « comparing Apples to Apple products » game, I’d say this is the Garmin equivalent to the Apple Watch SE: It features all the perks of the flagship without any heavy emphasis on a certain aspect or price tag to match.

Also: The best fitness apps with live and on-demand workout classes


  • Excellent battery life thanks to the hybrid design
  • Motorized hands that adapt to what’s on-screen
  • Supports wireless charging


  • Not as rugged and durable as sportier watches
  • Only comes in a 40mm watch size

Garmin Vívomove Trend features:  Battery life: Five days | Heart rate monitoring: Yes | Garmin’s full performance metric suite: Yes

Garmin’s Vívomove line is notorious for blending the natural mechanics of a traditional analog watch with its latest digital features. This makes models like the Vívomove Trend ideal for users who prefer a subtle and timeless smartwatch design.

ZDNET tested the latest Vívomove Trend and found it to strike a good balance of in-app health and fitness features, battery life, and charging tech. Speaking of which, the Trend is the first Garmin watch in general to support wireless charging. That means you can plop the wearable on any Qi-enabled charging pad and it’ll power up nicely. (There’s also a wired option included in the box if that’s more of your cup of tea.)

Also: Garmin’s Vívomove Trend fixes my biggest issue with its smartwatches

With a hybrid design, the Vívomove Trend’s motorized hands will adaptively rotate around the watch face as you interact with it, from swiping through fitness metrics to changing sound and vibration settings to starting a workout. Auto workout detection is still a thing, as is Garmin Pay and the slew of data that the companion app provides for any other model, so you won’t miss out on every Garmin feature by going with more style here.

ZDNET’s June Wan, who contributed to this article, put it best when talking about this hybrid option, « In ways, I appreciated the focus on digital well-being here, with the lack of bright, distracting, and colorful screen animations, alongside my daily health metrics. »


  • Perspiration and hydration tracker
  • Voice assistant capabilities
  • Wireless call and text with a paired smartphone
  • Pulse oxygen sensor
  • Fitness age calibration for custom exercise patterns

Garmin Venu 2 Plus features: Battery life: Up to nine days | Heart rate monitoring: Yes | Performance metric suite: Houses activity-tracking metrics, Body Battery, sleep score, hiking and climbing modes, and Health Snapshot

Garmin included more « typical » smartwatch features in the Venu 2 Plus than in most other Garmin watch series. For example, unlike most other Garmin models, the Venu 2 Plus allows for wireless calls and text messages when paired with a smartphone. The Venu 2 Plus also includes a broad array of health monitoring technology and sports-based apps and hardware.

Its features make the Venu 2 Plus uniquely suited to people who combine their sports and exercise with work, writing, or digital socializing. Wireless notifications on the watch screen from your smartphone are also supported, as is using the voiceless assistant from your phone. With this technology, you can observe important health metrics while exercising and dictate a reminder or memo through your watch at the same time.

While the Venu 2’s cost is higher than some alternatives, its combination of sport, health, and clerical functions make it a comprehensive choice for the health conscious multi-tracker.

Review: Garmin Venu 2 Plus


  • Triathlon-geared features
  • Multiple GPS protocols, including onboard mapping
  • Recovery time meter
  • Can store up to 1,000 songs


  • Pricey
  • Bigger form factor than its 745 predecessor

Garmin Forerunner 945 features: Battery life: Up to 2 weeks in Smartwatch Mode | Heart rate monitoring: Yes | Performance metric suite: Analyzes pace, heart rate, and heart rate variability (HRV), and asses performance condition

The latest in its triathlete-tailored Forerunner series, the Garmin Forerunner 945 builds on the extensive training features from its predecessor, the Forerunner 745. Aside from the impressive performance metrics like outlining your running routes, showing training effects, and measuring VO2 Max, the 945 also makes improvements in its music storage (holding up to 1,000 songs) capabilities and onboard maps.

ZDNET’s testing confirmed not only that playback controls made for an easy control and set-up, but that the « advertised time of ten hours for simultaneous GPS tracking and playback is accurate. » This ease coupled with longevity is great news for long training sessions when you need some guidance from both your maps and music.

The 945, however, does tack on 3 more grams and feature slightly larger dimensions than that of the 745. While the 47 to 50 gram difference may seem subtle, side by side it is obvious that the 945 features a bigger form factor, which might be a drawback for athletes biking, swimming, and running long distances for long hours.

It’s also worth noting that while yes, the 945 is very much a triathlete watch, it does uniquely feature Garmin CT10 golf club sensors and supports golf functionality, too.

Review: Garmin Forerunner 945: Music mapping, payments, pulse, and incident detection


  • Unlimited battery potential with solar charging for smartwatch mode
  • 100-meter water resistance
  • Mid-range price


  • No offline music or maps
  • No voice control functionality

Garmin Instinct 2: Solar Edition features: Battery life: Up to 28 days on a single charge; unlimited with solar charging | Heart rate monitoring: Yes | Performance metric suite: Houses activity-tracking metrics, stress tracking capabilities, sleep score and sleep monitoring functions, Body Battery energy monitoring, Pulse Ox, and the fitness age feature

The Instinct 2: Solar Edition is a GPS Garmin watch with features tailored to outdoor pursuits. Its ABC sensors help users better navigate trails and the trackback routing feature makes it easy for hikers and runners to get back to their starting points. Plus, with GNSS support, users can see their position even at higher latitudes.

With solar charging built-in, the Solar Edition of the Instinct 2 has the potential to run near-limitless on outdoor adventures without needing to constantly top off and charge. Although power banks are a common resource for modern hikers and explorers, having a GPS smartwatch that essentially charges itself is a boon that can’t be understated.

Additionally, this mid-range price model includes many of the health monitoring features, such as sleep and stress tracking and women’s health capabilities.

Review: Instinct 2: Solar Edition

The Fenix 7X Solar was chosen as the best overall because of its comprehensive sports functions, solar charging ability, and extra features. Few, if any, other Garmin watches are designed to handle as many sports, circumstances, and environments as this one. While its steep price may be a deterrent, this watch delivers more in function than most Garmin alternatives.

To compare all of our top choices to see what best fits your budget and battery life needs, here is a chart for a quick comparison.

Garmin Watch model  Price  Solar charging  Battery life 
Fenix 7X: Solar Edition $900 Yes Solar charging yields up to 14 days
Vívoactive 4 $250 No Up to eight days
Vívomove Trend $270 No Five days
Venu 2 Plus $450 No Up to nine days
Forerunner 945 $500-600 No Up to 2 weeks
Instinct 2: Solar Edition $450 Yes Up to 28 days on a single charge; unlimited with solar charging
Choose this Garmin watch model… If you want…
Fenix 7X: Solar Edition ZDNET’s choice for best Garmin watch overall. It houses the most features and functions, supports solar charging, and a built-in LED flashlight.
Vívoactive 4 A fully functional GPS smartwatch with an emphasis on exercise and health features. It’s also one of the most affordable Garmin watches available.
Vívomove Trend A hybrid smartwatch with the flexibility of wireless charging. The Trend nicely blends both digital and analog features, making it a great option to wear from work to workout.
Venu 2 Plus A business-focused watch. If you’re often digitally social or working while exercising, the Venu 2 Plus supports voice assistant controls and wireless calls to make multi-tasking a seamless feat.
Forerunner 945 A triathlon-geared smartwatch. The Forerunner 945 is packed with extensive fitness tracking for running, biking, swimming, and more. Plus, it makes improvements to its 745 predecessor in music storage and the inclusion of onboard maps.
Instinct 2: Solar  A mid-range Garmin watch with solar charging and GPS protocols. Focused on health and exercise, the Instinct integrates animated on-screen workouts in a lightweight form factor.

These watches were evaluated by display functions, interface, long battery life, durability, supported activities, and price. Not all attributes were given equal weight, however. Supported activities, functions, and battery life were given more priority than interface, display, and price. High durability in design was a common theme throughout the considered Garmin watches and did not always vary significantly between many of the products.

  • Display functions and interface:  Each Garmin interface on this list has slight variations. Depending on whether you’re using the watch to train for a triathlon or run outdoors, you may want different functions, such as trail trackback capability.
  • Long battery life: Your watch is only as powerful as it’s alive and working. We considered solar and wireless charging options that provide ultimate battery life as you train and track, along with other options with a battery life that is well over 20 hours on a single charge.
  • Durability: You’ll need a watch that withstands your environment, especially if you’re training outdoors and in the water.
  • Supported activities: We considered the array of activities — outdoor and indoor — you’ll be wanting to track with your Garmin.
  • Price: Smartwatches can cost a pretty penny — especially quality models — so we were sure to include mid-range models as well as the units with a more luxury price tag.

Once our top pick from each series was determined, they were then compared to each other and reviewed within this guide using the same criteria as above. Each of the five was selected as superlative in some role or for some audiences. For instance, the Fenix 7X is the « best overall, » and the Forerunner 945 is the « best for triathletes ». These rankings are the opinion of the reviewer in the context of the review, based upon the above-stated criteria.

Most Garmin GPS watches are water resistant from up to 50 or 100 meters. Less expensive and older models tend to be water-resistant up to 50 meters, although this can vary by model and series. The more expensive and newer models like the Fenix 7X are water-resistant to 100 meters.

If the watch breaks within the first year and your limited consumer warranty covers it, then you may be able to have Garmin fix it for free or for a small fee. However, if it breaks outside of that warranty, you’ll likely need to have it repaired.

You can request a repair through the Garmin website and mail them your GPS watch for repair. There are also third-party repair businesses that may work on Garmin GPS watches.

Through most mainstream distributors, Garmin watches will include a limited warranty. However, this is a blanket warranty for Garmin watches, and specific models can have different warranties. The base warranty is a one-year manufacturer’s warranty, and Garmin does not offer extended warranties in most situations.

The Garmin Connect app is your digital hub for compiling all your fitness stats in one place. After downloading it on your phone, you can use a compatible device (like a Garmin sports watch) to see daily step totals, max heart rate during workouts, and much more. Further, the « Last 7 Days » gives you a weekly average of your physical activities, sleep, and average heart rate.

Thanks to Garmin watches’ extensive tracking features and athlete oriented metrics, Garmin watches are a highly popular choice amongst marathon runners and triathletes, especially its Forerunner series.

« I really like the data the Garmin connect provides from all my past activities, I can see the progress I’ve made over time and look back to previous training schedules, similar runs, Routes, etc, » says two-time Iron Man competitor and avid marathon runner, Jeramie Pinter.

Jeramie, who completes one to two marathons a year, has been using his Garmin to train since 2011. He specifically utilizes Garmin’s training mode for certain workouts like track and tempo runs, measuring his pace zones for the given workout.

He currently uses the Garmin Forerunner 645, the predecessor to the 745, and two generations before our pick for best Garmin for triathletes, the 945.

While we tried to include a wide array of Garmin watches in our review, there are many more to consider than what we can represent here. Consider one of these three alternatives for those who didn’t find the Garmin watch they want above.

Here are some alternatives, from the most affordable Garmin GPS watch to one of the most stylish to the most expensive:


Best solar-charging alternative

Garmin Enduro 2

A runner-up to the Fenix 7X, the Enduro 2 features Garmin’s signature, rugged design, and a slew of health tracking capabilities.

The Garmin Vivofit 4 watch is seen here.

Best affordable alternative

Garmin Vívofit 4

The Garmin Vívofit 4 is a fitness tracker versus a fitness watch, but it’s still reliable for keeping track of time and your workout statistics. It only costs $80.

The Garmin Lily Classic is seen here.

Best stylish alternative

Garmin Lily Classic

Like the Vívomove Trend, the Garmin Lily Classic has a more stylish look and feel than your typical Garmin.

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Source: The best Garmin watch models of 2023: Expert tested and reviewed | ZDNET