Garmin watches are brilliant for tracking your activities – they do everything from running to cycling and swimming. But are Gamin watches compatible with iPhone? Here’s what you need to know…
If you’re serious about running – or swimming and cycling, or all three – then you’re probably well aware of Garmin smartwatches. Garmin watches are used by pros and amateurs alike. And the reason is simple: they provide you with the richest data on the market.
Take me, I like running. I run most days. I’ve used Garmin to track nearly all of my runs for the past 18 months. While on my run, I can check my pace, my heart rate, and even pre-program a route. After the run, I can then check all my metrics inside the Garmin Connect App – everything from my pace per kilometer to whether I improved my V02Max.
Why not use an Apple Watch? The main reason, for me, is that Garmin watches give you A LOT more data. Garmin watches are also a lot more durable, have better battery life, and – in some cases – are cheaper to buy. Mostly, though, Garmin watches have a more accurate GPS, so they’re generally better at tracking your runs and activities.
Are Garmin Watches Compatible With iPhone?
Apple would prefer you use an Apple Watch to track your activities. But this doesn’t mean you have to. Apple’s iPhone does support Garmin smartwatches, so long as you’re running iOS 7 or higher. If you are, all you need to do to pair a Garmin watch to your iPhone is download the Garmin Connect app via the App Store and connect via Bluetooth.
Once you’ve done this, your Garmin watch will be paired to your iPhone. You will then be able to use Garmin Connect to track and monitor all of your runs and activities. Garmin doesn’t support things like Siri, however, so in this respect, there are some limitations. But as a fitness tracker, a Garmin watch will always beat an Apple Watch for accuracy, data collection, and overall ruggedness.
Let’s Talk About Garmin Connect
One of the things that make Garmin watches so useful is Garmin Connect. Garmin Connect is where all your activities and data are stored. If you go for a run, and you track it on your Garmin watch, all the data is fed back into Garmin Connect, so you can analyze it once you’re done. Apple Health does this too with Apple Watch. But it is way more limited in its scope.
For instance, Apple Health cannot track or measure the following things, while Garmin Connect can: track pace; monitor temperature; track elevation; track your sleep; track your BMI; integrate with smart scales; give feedback on perceived effort; provide updates on your progress, so whether you’re improving your cardio system, and so on.
As you can see, from the perspective of an athlete, Garmin Connect has Apple Health bang to rights. It tracks more, it provides more data, and it will even update you on your recovery time inside Garmin’s awesome Body Battery feature. I also love that Garmin watches come with built-in, personalized workouts and running plans – these are great for beginners and when you want to switch things up.
You can also use Garmin Connect to get notifications from your phone on your Garmin watch but you cannot respond to them, unlike with Apple Watch. Me? I prefer to extend the battery life of my Garmin watch, so I don’t have notifications switched on. This saves around 20% more battery life which means less charging and noticeably longer battery life.
Is Garmin Connect Better Than Apple Health For Running?
This isn’t to say that Apple Health isn’t any good. Far from it, in fact. Apple’s Health app is brilliant. But it is very broad in what it covers, whereas Garmin Connect is focussed on training, logging training sessions, and recording the metrics athletes care about the most – the markers that let you know if you’re improving and getting better.
But for someone that wants to track their running activities, Garmin Connect is a vastly superior platform to Apple Health. From uploading routes to the watch itself to Garmin’s Body Battery, Garmin Connect has all the tools and metrics you’ll ever need to monitor and track your progress. As a runner, Garmin Connect is invaluable. It has helped me go from barely being able to run a mile to comfortably running 12+ miles at a time.
When I first got my Garmin, though, I was a little underwhelmed by the hardware. Garmin watches do not look as fancy or as cool as Apple Watch – or any smartwatch for that matter. They’re a bit chunky and the cheaper ones (like the one I have) are made from plastic, so they don’t exactly exude an air of fanciness. What makes them so useful, however, is on the inside.
In this respect, they’re very much function over form, especially if you get one of the cheaper ones like the Garmin Forerunner 245. The more expensive models, like the Fenix 6, do look very good but these are way more expensive. The Fenix 6 is a brilliant watch, though, it looks amazing, has market-leading tracking, is very robust, and it can even charge up using the sun’s power via its solar charging feature.
Whatever you’re budget, Garmin watches aren’t cheap. But they are very good. For its cheapest model, the Garmin Vivosport, you’ll pay around $115. And this will give you access to all the health metrics you need, as well as things like GPS and water resistance. My advice? Pay a little extra and get the Forerunner 245 – it costs $350 but it is a vastly superior sports tracking watch.
You can check out all of Garmin’s dedicated running watches here.
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.