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Garmin Epix (Gen 2) vs Apple Watch 7: choose the right watch for you

If you're shopping for a new smartwatch , the Apple Watch 7 and Garmin Epix (Gen 2) are two names that are likely to be on your short...

If you're shopping for a new smartwatch, the Apple Watch 7 and Garmin Epix (Gen 2) are two names that are likely to be on your shortlist. These are both premium devices with a lot to offer,

While the Apple Watch 7 is a great all-round smartwatch that'll serve you well throughout the day, the Garmin Epix (Gen 2) is built primarily for sport. Sure, it will count your steps, allow you to receive alerts from your smartphone, and even let you make contactless purchases if your bank supports Garmin Pay, but this is a watch that really comes into its own when you're working up a sweat.

The Epix (Gen 2) is packed with tools designed to help you train more effectively and set new personal records. It's particularly well suited to people who enjoy competing, taking part in events like marathons, triathlons, sportives, and CrossFit competitions. Garmin advises that the Epix (Gen 2) is generally better suited to athletes who work out indoors as well as out, while those who stick to outside workouts exclusively will be better served by a Fenix 7 solar edition.

When you're making your choice, it's also very important to note that Garmin watches are compatible with both iOS and Android devices, whereas an Apple Watch will only work with an iPhone.

There are lots more differences between the two, but if you've already made up your mind, we've found the best deals on the Garmin Epix (Gen 2) and the Apple Watch 7 for you right here. If not, read on for the full lowdown on the two watches.

Watch models and price

Watch models

  • Garmin Epix (Gen 2) comes in different materials, but only one size
  • Apple Watch 7 comes in two sizes and various materials
  • Apple Watch 7 available in Wi-Fi and LTE editions

The Apple Watch 7 gives you more options than the Garmin Epix (Gen 2) when it comes to size and style.

There are two versions of the Epix (Gen 2): regular and Sapphire. Both have a tough fiber-reinforced polymer case, but the regular edition has a stainless steel rear cover and bezel topped with Gorilla Glass, while the Sapphire edition has a titanium rear cover and bezel with a sapphire crystal lens.

The standard edition Epix (Gen 2) comes in Slate Steel with a gray silicone band. The Sapphire model comes in either white or black with a silicone band. If you live in the UK or Australia, there's also a Sapphire model with a black case and chestnut leather band.

If you want something different, you can swap the strap for any of Garmin's 20mm quick-release bands, which are sold separately. 

Most Garmin watches comes in various different sizes, but the Epix (Gen 2) is an exception. Its round case measures 47mm in diameter, which is a moderate size that'll work for most wrists. Unlike many Garmin devices, there's no solar option to enhanced battery life, and there's currently no LTE model available either.

Apple Watch 7 in orange and blue color schemes

The Apple Watch 7 is available in a range of color schemes and materials (Image credit: Apple)

The Apple Watch 7 comes in two sizes sizes, both of which are smaller than the Epix Gen 2): 41mm and 45mm. Both are available in a wide array of different materials and colors. Cases come in aluminum or stainless steel, and you can pick from a range of metal bracelets, silicone straps, and woven bands.

Both the 41mm and 45mm versions are available with cellular connectivity, which allows you to use online services and make calls without having your phone within Bluetooth range.

Price

  • Garmin Epix (Gen 2) is much more expensive
  • Premium materials like titanium add to the price
  • Apple Watch owners may want Apple Fitness Plus too

The Garmin Epix (Gen 2) is a premium sports watch, and has a price tag to match. The standard edition costs $899.99 / £799.99 / AU$1,399, the Sapphire edition is $999.99 / £899.99 / AU$1,499, and if you live in the UK or Australia, the Sapphire model with a leather band is £999.99 / AU$1,549.

Woman exercising in gym wearing Garmin Epix (Gen 2) watch

The Garmin Epix (Gen 2) is a premium sports watch, and is priced accordingly (Image credit: Garmin)

The Apple Watch 7 price starts at $399 / £369 / AU$599 for the 41mm variant, and rises to $429 / £399 / AU$649 for the 45mm model. 

If you want the cellular version to allow you to use it without the phone, the 41mm version costs $499 / £469 / AU$749 and the 45mm model costs $529 / £499 / AU$799 – plus the cost of an additional data plan. 

Whichever watch you choose, adding extras like premium case materials and leather straps will bump up the price. If you're buying an Apple Watch 7, you might also want to consider factoring in the price of an Apple Fitness Plus subscription, which will unlock tools like Time to Walk and Time to Run, plus Apple's full range of instructor-led workouts.

Design, display and battery life

Design

  • Different physical controls
  • Garmin Epix (Gen 2) is chunkier
  • Little overall difference in weight

The most obvious difference between the Garmin Epix (Gen 2) and the Apple Watch 7 is their different shape (the former is round while the latter is rectangular), but that's just scratching the surface.

For starters, although both watches have AMOLED touchscreens, they put a different array of physical controls at your disposal. The Epix (Gen 2) has five physical buttons around the edge of the case that allow you to scroll through menus, pan across maps, select options, and start activities

The 'Start' button has a specially designed metal guard to protect against damage or accidental presses, and the touchscreen is disabled by default during workouts so you don't pause or end tracking by mistake. If you like, you can choose to deactivate the touchscreen at all times and stick with the buttons alone.

The Apple Watch 7 has a single physical button that serves to navigate back through menus, plus a Digital Crown that can be rotated to scroll, and pressed to select options.

Side view of Apple Watch 7 case

The Apple Watch 7 sports a single physical button, plus a rotating Digital Crown (Image credit: TechRadar)

Garmin's watch has a design that's overall chunkier and more rugged than the Apple Watch 7. As mentioned earlier, the case of the Garmin Epix (Gen 2) is made from resin, with a bezel and back case made from either stainless steel or titanium. The Apple Watch 7, meanwhile, has a case made entirely from either stainless steel or aluminum.

There's a big difference in thickness, too. The Epix (Gen 2) is 14.5mm thick, while the Apple Watch 7 is just 10.7mm. 

Despite that, there's not much difference in weight. The 41mm Apple Watch 7 weighs 42.3 g, not including the strap, while the 45mm version is 51.5g.  The standard Garmin Epix (Gen 2) weighs 53g without its band, but the Sapphire edition with its lighter titanium bezel and case back is just 47g.

Display

  • Both have high-res AMOLED touchscreens
  • Both have optional always-on mode

Both the Garmin Epix (Gen 3) and Apple Watch 7 have bright AMOLED touchscreen displays with an optional always-on mode.

Whichever watch you pick, you'll get a high resolution that results in crisp text and graphics, The Epix (Gen 2) has a resolution of 416 x 416 pixels, the 45mm Apple Watch 7's display packs in 396 x 484 pixels, and the 41mm Apple Watch 7 has a resolution of 352 x 430 pixels.

Man working out with weights wearing Garmin Epix watch

Both the Garmin Epix (Gen 2) and Apple Watch 7 have high-resolution AMOLED touchscreen displays (Image credit: Garmin)

Battery life

  • Garmin Epix (Gen 2) has much longer battery life
  • Neither watch has a solar edition

One of the biggest differences between the Garmin Epix (Gen 2) and the Apple Watch 7 is battery life. Even with always-on mode enabled, the Epix will keep running much longer between charges than the Apple Watch 7.

The table below shows the maximum quoted figures for the two watches:

Garmin Epix (Gen 2) and Apple Watch 7 battery life
Garmin Epix (Gen 2) Apple Watch 7
Smartwatch mode 16 days 18 hours
Battery saver smartwatch 21 days n/a
GPS only 42 hours 7 hours

The figures for the Epix (Gen 2) are impressive, but if you're heavily involved in outdoor sports like running, cycling, and hiking, it's worth investigating the Garmin Fenix 7 range of watches as well – particularly the solar editions.

These watches have similar features to the Epix (Gen 2), but use memory-in-pixel (MiP) rather than AMOLED screen technology to reduce power usage, and have a photovoltaic layer underneath the lens to harvest solar energy. Together, these features allow them to keep running for days between charges, even with GPS enabled.

The Garmin Enduro and Instinct Solar are also well worth investigating if you want maximum battery life and don't need the sheer wealth of fitness and smartwatch tools offered by the Epix (Gen 2) and Fenix 7.

Smartwatch and fitness features

Smartwatch features

  • Apple Pay more widely supported than Garmin Pay
  • App Store offers much more choice than Garmin Connect IQ
  • Garmin Epix (Gen 2) supports both iOS and Android

When it comes to everyday wear, the Apple Watch 7 is one of the best smartwatches around (provided you own an iPhone). It integrates seamlessly with your handset, giving you easy access to your calendar, emails, address book, maps, and much more. You could think of it as an extension of your phone's screen, putting all of your phone's most useful tools on your wrist.

The Garmin Epix (Gen 2), on the other hand, is all about your health. It works best when worn 24/7 so it can build up a complete picture of your stress, blood oxygen, heart rate, and energy levels throughout the day, but you won't be using it to manage your calendar or send emails.

Apple Watch 7 in outdoor test

The Apple Watch 7 is almost an extension of your smartphone, and is a good choice if you want a smartwatch for productivity (Image credit: TechRadar)

Garmin does have an app store (Garmin Connect IQ) where you can download third-party tools for its watches, but the selection is far more limited than Apple's App Store and most of the tools are sports-focused,

Another advantage of the Apple Watch 7 is its built-in microphone, designed for making calls and accessing Siri. This is something that's missing from the Epix (Gen 2). In fact, so far the only Garmin watch with a microphone is the Garmin Venu 2 Plus.

Apple Pay is almost universally accepted in stores around the world. The Epix (Gen 2) has Garmin Pay, but while this is supported by lots of banks and public transport networks in the US, it's less useful in the rest of the world.

The Apple Watch 7 is available with cellular connectivity if you want to use online tools without a connection to your phone, but at the time of writing there's no LTE version of the Garmin Epix, though there's a chance that might change at a future date.

However, the Epix (Gen 2) does have one big advantage as an everyday watch for many people: it's compatible with both iOS and Android.

Man hiking wearing Garmin Epix (Gen 2) watch

(Image credit: Garmin)

Fitness tracking

  • Apple Watch 7 best suited to recreational sports
  • Garmin Epix (Gen 2) made for serious sportspeople

The Garmin Epix (Gen 2) is a dedicated sports watch, so as you'd expect, it has a far more comprehensive suite of workout monitoring and fitness tracking tools than the more general-purpose Apple Watch 7.

Garmin watches are well known for the accuracy of their biometrics, but Apple devices are no slouches either. When we reviewed the Apple Watch 7, we were impressed by the accuracy of its heart rate monitoring, which closely matched that of the chest strap heart rate monitor we compared it to. 

Apple Watch Series 7 images of watch on test

The Apple Watch 7 has a solid set of tools for beginner and intermediate level runners (Image credit: TechRadar)

Unlike the Apple Watch 7, the Garmin Epix (Gen 2) has a skin temperature sensor that allows you to more easily compare workouts in different weather conditions. This data is also used to estimate how much sweat you lose during a training session so you can make sure you rehydrate thoroughly afterwards.

Both watches can track a range of activities, and have on-board GPS to monitor your pace and distance during outdoor workouts, but the Epix (Gen 2) offers many more modes, with training tools designed by people with an intimate knowledge of each sport. Runners and cyclists are particularly well catered for; a real-time stamina meter to show how much juice you have left in the tank, automatic climb detection, suggested training sessions, estimated race finish times, and smart pacing strategies are just a small handful of the tools on offer.

There's an automatic rep counter for weight training, and if you're interested in yoga or Pilates you can follow along with on-screen animated workouts. There are also full suites of dedicated tools for climbers, swimmers, and skiers right at your fingertips.

You can use the Epix (Gen 2) to check your seven-day training load as well. This is presented as a bar chart showing your training load each day, the type of training (base, tempo, threshold, speed etc) represented by a color, and whether your tracked activities are having a positive impact on your fitness. You'll also see a number representing your training load that will help you judge if you're at risk of under- or over-training.

Although there are downloadable golf apps for the Apple Watch 7, the Garmin Epix (Gen 2) comes with everything a golfer needs pre-installed. That includes details of some 42,000 courses, shot detection, digital scorecards, a full vector map, and much more. It's also legal for use in tournaments.

Garmin Epix in three colorways

The Garmin Epix is packed with tools designed by people with a real passion for their sport, whether it's cycling, running, swimming, climbing, or golf (Image credit: Garmin)

When you're not working out, both watches include SpO2 sensors for keeping track of blood oxygen saturation, as well as sleep tracking features that use the optical heart rate monitor and accelerometer to determine sleep quality and stages.

One feature that the Garmin Epix (Gen 2) lacks is an ECG sensor to detect signs of atrial fibrillation (an irregular heart rhythm that should be investigated by a doctor). Anyone can develop atrial fibrillation, including the type of serious athletes who'll be wearing an Epixx (Gen 2), but so far it's not something that any Garmin watch offers.



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