Wearables compared: Apple Watch Ultra vs. Garmin Fenix 7 (and Epix/Enduro 2)

The 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 vs. the Garmin Fenix 7, Epix, and Enduro 2? Here is everything you need to know!

Video: Apple Watch Ultra vs. Garmin Fenix 7, Epix, Enduro 2

Here are seven categories 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+
  • Garmin Epix: $899+
  • Garmin Enduro 2: $1,099
Left to right: Garmin Fenix 7, Epix, Enduro 2, Apple Watch Ultra

Both the Apple Watch Ultra and Garmin Enduro 2 have a single-price option. However, the Garmin Fenix 7 and Epix can be upgraded to Sapphire and Garmin Fenix 7 to a Solar version.

The Solar version come with solar glass that charges the battery when in direct sunlight. This can extend the battery life an additional week or more. It costs $100 extra for the Garmin Fenix 7.

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 both the Solar and Sapphire upgrades already included.

With this pricing, Apple Watch Ultra is very competitive with Garmin’s higher-end sports watches. Only the basic model of the Garmin Fenix 7 is priced lower.

Display

It’s hard to deny how nice the display is on the Apple Watch Ultra. It is one of the best displays ever made for a smartwatch. At 49mm, it is also large enough to easily be seen and used while training.

The Apple Watch Ultra display is also exceptionally bright. Going up to 2000 nits when outside, it is 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 display looks great, though it doesn’t look quite as good as the Apple Watch Ultra.

The Garmin Fenix 7 and Enduro 2 MIP display doesn’t look nearly as good indoors. The main reason this type of display is used (besides the benefit of a much longer battery life) is that it is very easy to see when outside or in direct sunlight. 

Controlling the Apple Watch Ultra vs. Garmin

The Apple Watch Ultra is mostly controlled via the touch screen, but also includes a digital scroll wheel, a regular 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.

The biggest Apple Watch Ultra drawback for sports usage here is the reliance on the touch screen itself. While the touch screen 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 utilize a touch screen, there’s one big difference: It is 100% optional. There is nothing on the watch that can’t be done via one of the five buttons. Even zooming in and panning across maps during navigation.

Accuracy

The Apple Watch Ultra and Garmin Fenix 7 (and others) are all very accurate when it comes to heart rate accuracy. The Apple Watch Ultra tends to be slightly more consistent, though the difference is minor.

Similarly, these watches all have great GPS accuracy. From my experience, the Garmin GPS accuracy is slightly more reliable – but only a small margin.

When it comes to sleep tracking, the Apple Watch Ultra does do a much better job. The Garmin Fenix 7, Epix, and Enduro 2 have a bit of trouble detecting wake times before getting out of bed, so they tend to overestimate how much I slept compared to the Apple Watch Ultra, which is better at wake detection.

Outside of sleep, the difference in accuracy between these watches is extremely subtle, so I would not suggest using accuracy as a huge determining factor when making your choice between them.

Smartwatch functionality

Even though we are comparing Apple Watch Ultra vs. Garmin as sport watches, it is also nice to know what they can do as smartwatches.

Not surprisingly, 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 text messages, play music, get driving directions, or pretty much anything else, you can do it.

Since the Apple Watch Ultra includes LTE support, you can also do everything listed above without your phone nearby, though it will likely cost an additional $10 USD monthly to add the watch to your phone plan.

The Garmin Fenix 7, Epix, and Enduro 2 do not have anywhere near the same smartwatch functionality. However, you can get notifications (like 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: 32GB
  • Garmin Fenix 7 and Epix: 16GB
  • Garmin Fenix 7 and Epix (Sapphire): 32GB
  • Garmin Enduro 2: 32GB

Sport watch functionality

While the Apple Watch Ultra is a superior smartwatch, it is the sports watch feature set where Garmin separates itself as first class.

The Apple Watch Ultra does have some workout customization options. Various workout metrics can be turned on or off, and there are a few areas to adjust the metrics you would like to have displayed. 

The Garmin Fenix 7, Epix, and Enduro 2 take this much, much further.

With Garmin, you can create any number of screens to be displayed in a huge variety of formats (including ones mixed with navigation). The number of available metrics and workout customization options is enormous.

There is so much here that much of it you will never touch, though some others I have found to be incredibly very useful.

For example, I have the “Treadmill” workout type to automatically broadcast my heart rate. So whenever I run on the Peloton Tread, my Garmin syncs and is displayed on the screen in front of me.

Not only is workout customization like this not available on the Apple Watch Ultra, but it doesn’t allow any heart rate broadcasting at all. Some devices (like Peloton) have a workaround for this, but it does not always work.

During outdoor workouts, Garmin has a trail forks feature that lets you know exactly how far and where to turn next. And should you need to find a new course or change to get a full route back to where you started, you can do that even in the middle of a workout – even if you don’t have a route uploaded or planned, since all of the maps and everything are already downloaded onto the watch.

Outside of workouts, The Garmin Fenix 7, Epix, and Enduro 2 give you immediate access to your HRV status, training readiness, training status, body battery, sleep score, and more. You can also seamlessly add complete training plans or create workouts on the app or on the watch itself.

For me, this is where the Apple Watch Ultra still feels extremely lacking. While some third-party apps can help make up for this (I have used and tested dozens), as of today, no combination of them works even as close to 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 this is great, it still pales in comparison to Garmin. Let’s take a look:

Battery Life:

  • 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 take a look at how the battery life holds up during regular 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 training is your biggest priority for a watch, then Garmin is still the very easy choice here. Which Garmin you choose depends on your needs, preferences, and of course, budget. 

If you like outdoor sports but it is not the priority for you in terms of a watch, then the Apple Watch Ultra is the way to go.

For me, I could go either way. When I’m focused on running, there’s nothing I want more than a Garmin or Coros. When not running very much, I prefer the Apple Watch Ultra. Let me know what you prefer in the comments below!

Buy Apple Watch Ultra
Buy Garmin Fenix 7, Epix, Enduro 2

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