New Apple Watch Ultra features significant upgrades including a larger screen, improved GPS tracking, an action button, and improved battery life.
But how does the Apple Watch Ultra hold up as a premium sports watch compared to the Garmin Fenix 7, Epix and Enduro 2? Here’s everything you need to know!
Video: Apple Watch Ultra vs. Garmin Fenix 7, Epix, Enduro 2
Here are seven categories in which we compared the Apple Watch Ultra to the Garmin Fenix 7, Epix and Enduro 2:
Apple Watch vs. Garmin: Price Comparison
- Apple Watch Ultra: $799
- Garmin Fenix 7: $699 and up
- Garmin Epix: $899+
- Garmin Enduro 2: $1,099
The Apple Watch Ultra and the Garmin Enduro 2 both have a one-price option. However, the Garmin Fenix 7 and Epix can be upgraded to Sapphire or Solar (or Sapphire + Solar) versions.
Solar versions come with solar glass that charges the battery when exposed to direct sunlight. This can extend battery life by an additional week or more. It costs $100 more for the Garmin Fenix 7 and Epix.
The sapphire versions are made from sapphire crystal and titanium, replacing the regular version’s Gorilla glass and steel. This upgrade also costs an additional $100.
The Garmin Enduro 2 has already included Solar and Sapphire upgrades.
With this price, Apple Watch Ultra is very competitive with Garmin’s high-end sports watches. Only the base model of the Garmin Fenix 7 is cheaper.
It’s hard to deny how nice the display is on the Apple Watch Ultra. It’s one of the best screens ever made for a smartwatch. At 49mm, it’s also large enough to easily see and use while training.
The Apple Watch Ultra’s display is also exceptionally bright. Soaring up to 2000 nits outdoors, it’s incredibly easy to see, even in direct sunlight.
The most comparable here would be the Garmin Epix. While the other two Garmins use a transflective Memory In Pixel (MIP) display, the Epix has an AMOLED display. This screen looks great, even if it’s not as beautiful as the Apple Watch Ultra.
The Garmin Fenix 7 and Enduro 2 MIP display doesn’t look as good on the inside. The main reason this type of screen is used (besides the benefit of much longer battery life) is that it’s very easy to see outdoors or in direct sunlight.
Control Apple Watch Ultra vs. Garmin
The Apple Watch Ultra is primarily controlled via the touchscreen, but also includes a digital scroll wheel, normal button, and the new action button. The action button is a nice addition for precision starts and splits, but the ability to customize it is still a bit limited.
Apple Watch Ultra’s biggest downside for sports use here is reliance on the touchscreen itself. Although the touchscreen works great and is super responsive, it can become very difficult to use when your fingers get very sweaty.
While the Garmin Fenix 7, Epix and Enduro 2 also use a touchscreen, there’s one big difference: it’s 100 per cent optional. There’s nothing on the watch that can’t be done via one of the five buttons. Same zoom and pan maps while navigating.
The Apple Watch Ultra and the Garmin Fenix 7 (and others) are all very good when it comes to heart rate accuracy. The Apple Watch Ultra tends to be slightly more consistent, although the difference is minor.
Likewise, these watches all have great GPS accuracy. In my experience, Garmin GPS accuracy is slightly more reliable – but only by a small margin.
When it comes to sleep tracking, the Apple Watch Ultra does a much better job. The Garmin Fenix 7, Epix, and Enduro 2 have a little trouble detecting waking times before getting out of bed, so they tend to overestimate how much I slept compared to the Apple Watch Ultra, which is best for wake detection.
Other than sleep, the difference in accuracy between these watches is extremely subtle, so I wouldn’t suggest using accuracy as a determining factor when making your choice.
Even though we compare Apple Watch Ultra to Garmin as sports watches, it’s also good to know what they can do as smartwatches.
Unsurprisingly, the Apple Watch Ultra is the winner here. It has all the same smartwatch capabilities as a regular Apple Watch, which is (by far) the best smartwatch available. Whether you want to make calls, send/receive texts, listen to music, get directions or just about anything else, you can do it.
Since the Apple Watch Ultra includes LTE support, you can also do all of the above without your phone nearby, though it’ll probably cost you an extra $10 per month to add the watch. to your phone plan.
The Garmin Fenix 7, Epix, and Enduro 2 don’t have the same smartwatch functionality. However, you can receive notifications (such as text, phone, and calendar) from your phone, use Garmin Pay as a wallet, and can also download and play music directly from Spotify.
And in terms of storage:
- Apple Watch Ultra: 32 GB
- Garmin Fenix 7 and Epix: 16 GB
- Garmin Fenix 7 and Epix (sapphire): 32 GB
- Garmin Enduro 2: 32 GB
Sports watch functionality
While the Apple Watch Ultra is a superior smartwatch, it’s the sports watch’s feature set where Garmin comes out on top in class.
The Apple Watch Ultra offers workout customization options. Various workout metrics can be turned on or off, and there are a few areas to adjust which metrics you want to display.
The Garmin Fenix 7, Epix and Enduro 2 take the same, a lot further away.
With Garmin, you can create an unlimited number of screens to display in a wide variety of formats (including those mixed with navigation). The number of available metrics and workout customization options is huge.
There’s so much stuff here that you’ll never touch, though some that I’ve found incredibly very useful.
For example, I have the “Treadmill” workout type to automatically broadcast my heart rate. So every time I run on the Peloton treadmy Garmin syncs and shows on the screen in front of me.
Not only is workout customization like this not available on the Apple Watch Ultra, it doesn’t allow for any heart rate streaming. Some devices (like Peloton) have a workaround for this, but it doesn’t always work.
During outdoor workouts, Garmin has a trail forks feature that lets you know exactly how far and where to turn next. And if you need to find a new route or change to get a full route to your starting point, you can do it even in the middle of a training session – even if you don’t have a route uploaded or scheduled, because all the maps and everything are already downloaded to the watch.
Outside of workouts, the Garmin Fenix 7, Epix, and Enduro 2 give you immediate access to your HRV status, workout readiness, training status, body battery, sleep score, etc. You can also seamlessly add entire workout plans or create workouts on the app or on the watch itself.
For me, this is where the Apple Watch Ultra is still extremely lacking. While some third-party apps can help offset this (I’ve used and tested dozens of them), to date, no combination of them works as well.
Apple Watch Ultra vs. Garmin: Battery life
The Apple Watch Ultra has twice the battery life of the regular Apple Watch. And while that’s great, it still pales in comparison to Garmin. Let’s take a look:
- Apple Watch Ultra: up to 3 days
- Garmin Epix: Up to 10 days
- Garmin Epix Solar: Up to 17 days
- Garmin Fenix 7: Up to 18 days
- Garmin Fenix 7 solar: up to 30 days
- Garmin Enduro 2: Up to 45 days
Or if we look at battery life in normal GPS mode:
- Apple Watch Ultra: 12 hours
- Garmin Epix: 42 hours
- Garmin Fenix: 57 hours
- Garmin Enduro 2: 150 hours
Apple Watch Ultra vs. Fenix 7, Epix, Enduro 2: Suggestions
If being able to track and monitor your workout is your biggest priority for a watch, then Garmin is still the very easy choice here. The choice of Garmin depends on your needs, your preferences and, of course, your budget.
If you love outdoor sports but that’s not your watch priority, then the Apple Watch Ultra is the way to go.
For me, I could go either way. When I’m focused on racing, I want nothing more than a Garmin or a Coros. When I’m not running much, I prefer the Apple Watch Ultra. Let me know which you prefer in the comments below!