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Best Garmin Watch 2023: The best we’ve tested and reviewed

Garmin is one of the biggest names when it comes to sports-focused wearables, and we’ve reviewed all the major models in recent years. Here you’ll find our expert ranking of the very best Garmin watches on the market.

Garmin has released numerous smart wearable devices in the past decade, catering to all sorts of markets, from gym beginners to hardened ultramarathon runners. They can vary wildly in price, and for many people, the top-end models are likely to be overkill for daily step and sleep tracking.

Our expert reviewers rate Garmin devices very highly, with many models sitting in our best fitness tracker and best running watch lists. We even use the Fenix 7 as the benchmark when testing the accuracy of other trackers, as we feel it’s one of the most reliable wearables on the market. 

Garmin watches are not only usually very feature-rich and accurate when it comes to tracking, but they work across Android and iOS.

Every watch included on this list has been used by an expert as their main tracker for at least a week – although often a lot longer and thoroughly reviewed. During that time they have tested all its tracking and smart features, battery life and build quality to ensure that it’s worth your hard-earned cash.

Which is the best Garmin Watch?

How we test

Find out more about how we test Garmin watches

Every Garmin watch we test is used by the reviewer for at least a week – or longer, if the battery life lasts beyond that point or we need more time to trial its features. During testing we evaluate key metrics including usability, battery life, and the accuracy of fitness and distance tracking.
For distance tracking, we assess how accurately the device records outdoor runs on tracks we know the length of. We also evaluate the level of battery life lost per hour using features such as built-in or connected GPS. To check heart rate accuracy, we compare the results from the wearable to a dedicated HRM strap.

Next we combine the data recorded with our general experience of using the wearable day-to-day, revealing whether the device proved comfortable to wear, alongside any issues we may have encountered with unexpected bugs over the review period.

Garmin Fenix 7

The best high-end option
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  • Strong outdoor tracking accuracy
  • Responsive touchscreen
  • Improved battery life


  • It’s not cheap
  • Not the full smartwatch experience
  • Core experience similar to Fenix 6

The Fenix line is one Garmin’s most expensive options, and while the Fenix 7 is undeniably pricier and not as pretty as an Apple Watch 7, based on our testing it is definitely worth the money if you’re a serious athlete looking for a multi-sport watch that’ll last for years.

The rugged sapphire glass smartwatch is one of the toughest we’ve tried, with it surviving an accidental encounter with a climbing wall rock, crack free. On top of that, the device offers all the features any serious athlete will need.

We struggled to find an activity the Fenix 7 couldn’t track. There’s everything from basic outdoor running to surfing and cross country skiing on offer. The watch’s accurate distant tracking, reactive GPS and ability to store maps locally also made it great when we tested it on run and cycle routes we weren’t familiar with. During our checks the GPS connected in seconds, and the watch offered easy to follow turn by turn navigation on our cycle route.

Our reviewer also loved the post workout analytics the watch gave. These included key tracking stats like heart rate zones and VO2 max as well as estimates and advice on how much rest we needed before working out again. Add to this the watch’s local music support, which lets you store and listen to tracks without a phone nearby, and the Fenix 7 became an easy recommendation for any serious athlete.

Reviewer: Michael Sawh
Full review: Garmin Fenix 7 Review

Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar

The best for serious runners
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  • Snappy and accurate multi-band GPS connectivity
  • Comfortable discrete design
  • Local music playback


  • Limited smartwatch functionality

The Forerunner 955 is one of the best wearables currently available to serious runners. During testing the device outright wowed our reviewer, with it sharing a lot of the same key features as the Fenix 7 despite being smaller and more lightweight (as well as cheaper) than it’s premium multi-sport sibling.

The smaller plastic chassis isn’t as rugged as the metal used in the Fenix, but its smaller dimensions and thinner body made it a lot more comfortable to wear, particularly during extended long-distance runs on 10km or more.

Under the hood it also supports multi-band GPS, which meant during our tests it was accurate when tracking distances and uniformly offered equivalent data to the Fenix. During our 5km check we detected a maximum variance of just 0.1km, which is seriously good considering the fact our reviewer’s test track is in a busy signal area in London.

But it was the watch’s advanced post run analytics and coaching powers that really won us over. As well as tracking VO2 Max estimates, SpO2, and heart rate zones, the watch is also the first we’ve tested that can offer training recommendations based on upcoming events in your calendar.

Specifically the watch will factor races you’ve entered into its recommendations as well as the biometric data it collects. This, plus its custom training readiness metric, made it a lot easier for us to trust its recommendations and avoid overtraining ahead of races. The only thing stopping it from being our recommended tracker for all Garmin fans is that the plastic frame and lack of a Sapphire Glass option make it a poor fit for climbers, extreme sports participants, and watersports fans. For these, we have different recommendations.

Reviewer: Alastair Stevenson
Full review: Garmin Forerunner 955

Garmin Enduro 2

The best for battery life
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  • Full-colour mapping added
  • New Multi-band mode boosts tracking accuracy
  • Slightly refined design


  • Expensive
  • Design will still be big for some
  • Smartwatch battery numbers are down

The Fenix 7 is great, and the week-and-a-half battery life we recorded is excellent by comparison to most smartwatches that often struggle to last more than a couple of days in our experience. But if you want a Garmin watch with the longest battery life possible, then the Garmin Enduro 2 is our recommendation for you.

The Enduro 2 is a dedicated wearable from Garmin with a singular focus: offering the best possible battery life. Garmin quotes the watch as offering 34 days of general use and 100 hours worth of battery life with GPS active. We found the claims rang true during our review process, too.

Offering a near enough core tracking experience to the Fenix, the Enduro 2 is a great option for ultramarathon runners or people who like to take multi-day hikes or cycles. There are a number of upgrades over the original Enduro 2, such as the inclusion of offline music playback from the likes of Spotify and Deezer.

Reviewer: Michael Sawh
Full review: Garmin Enduro 2 Review

Garmin Venu 2S

The best for small wrists
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  • Huge improvement on battery life
  • The new UI is a pleasure to use
  • Super-fast GPS connectivity
  • Health snapshot is an ingenious idea


  • There are more robust wearables for pro athletes
  • Garmin Pay is still a letdown

One consistent criticism our reviewers have mounted at Garmin wearables is that, while they’re great fitness trackers, they’re admittedly not the prettiest of devices. The majority offer utilitarian, chunky designs that focus on performance and not their looks. This has meant that some of the team with smaller wrists, and a degree of fashion sense, have often opted for other more discrete looking trackers from the likes of Fitbit.

Thankfully, Garmin has fixed this problem with the Venu 2S which is our recommended option for people who don’t want a chunky watch. Venu is Garmin’s fashion-focused line of wearables, and the 2S is the best option in the line-up that we’ve tested. Out of the box its thinner, circular design and OLED screen immediately made it feel more like a smartwatch than the other options on this list.

Though it doesn’t track the same amount of sports or metrics as the Fenix, for mid-to-entry level athletes its activity and post workout analytics are more than good enough. We found the GPS to be suitably reactive and accurate to track 5km runs and the odd cycle. Offline music and Spotify support are also welcome features that are rare on wearables at this price. The only downside is that it’s not quite as rugged as the Fenix or Enduro, so if you regularly engage in extreme sports then you’ll be better off looking elsewhere as a result.

Reviewer: Thomas Deehan
Full review: Garmin Venu 2S Review

Garmin Vivosmart 5

The best affordable option
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  • Reliable fitness tracking for the price
  • Week long battery life
  • Comfy gym-ready fit


  • Screen is too small for most notifications
  • Limited smartwatch functionality

If you’re after an entry level tracker that won’t break the bank then Garmin’s Vivosmart 5 is one of the best on the market.

The discrete band design is wonderfully comfortable to wear, and it still offers all the analytics and features an entry level runner or a gym newcomer will need. During testing we found that the watch is capable of tracking all the basic activities well, supporting indoor and outdoor running, cycling plus basic cardio and swimming.

As an added bonus, while it doesn’t have local music or Spotify support, the Vivosmart 5 can at least be used to control music being streamed from a phone. We found this feature particularly useful when treadmill running, as it saved us from having to awkwardly paw at our phone when an unwanted track made its way into the playlist.

Post-workout analytics are stripped down to make them understandable, but offer all the detail you need to make a difference. Highlights include your intensity minutes plus useful metrics like your body battery, VO2 Max estimate, and fitness age. These are rare insights for a wearable at this price. Fitbit, by comparison, hides some of them behind a paywall.

The only real compromise we noticed is that due to the lack of untethered GPS connectivity, distance tracking when running outdoors could be a little hit and miss. Without a connected GPS the wearable had a tendency to add or remove around 0.3km from our 5km runs.

Reviewer: Alastair Stevenson
Full review: Garmin Vivosmart Review

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Garmin Forerunner 255

Best mid-range option
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  • Reliable fitness tracking
  • Accurate health metrics
  • Practical, lightweight design
  • Good battery life


  • Few smart features
  • Unspectacular screen

If you’re a reasonably experienced runner but feel like you don’t need the full gamut of features offered in Garmin’s range, then this wearable is an excellent option that delivers brilliant tracking accuracy across a range of metrics, at a lower price point than the flagship fitness watches from the brand.

You’ve still got very accurate GPS tracking and heart-rate sensing on board this running watch, but beyond that there are a wealth of other metrics, such as SpO2, VO2 Max, and reliable sleep tracking too. Once you’ve finished your exercise session, you can consult the Garmin Connect app for a full readout of all the stats recorded from your workout, and can plan training sessions accordingly, taking into account all this feedback and advice.

If you’re an enthusiast of any of the triathlon disciplines then this watch will give you a huge amount of information that’s key to improving, and you’re very unlikely to feel shortchanged given the reasonable starting price point.

Reviewer: Peter Phelps

Full Review: Garmin Forerunner 255


What activities do Garmin watches track?

This varies between different Garmin watches. The top end Fenix devices are multi-sport focussed and can track everything from running to specialist extreme sports. More basic trackers in the firm’s Vivo-lines tend to focus on essentials and can only track standard activities like cardio, running, cycling and swimming.

Do all Garmin watches have GPS?

Garmin is one of the best companies for accurate location and distance tracking, but many of its more affordable wearables do not have built-in GPS functionality. Instead, the cheaper wearables tend to have “connected GPS” which lets them offer GPS tracking using a paired smartphone.

Are Garmin devices smartwatches?

Garmin wearables tend to have an overt fitness tracking focus and use the firm’s proprietary operating system. This means they do offer some smartwatch functionality, like alerts, music controls and weather reports, but don’t have the same app support as Apple’s watchOS or Google’s Wear OS devices.

Comparison specs

You can see a detailed breakdown of all the wearables specifications below.

Screen Size
IP rating
Size (Dimensions)
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date

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