2017 Update: The new Apple Watch Series 3 is out – find out more details about this new version vs Garmin.
I really liked the idea of the original Apple Watch, especially because of how plugged in it is with the Apple system. I had used one for a while and loved the concept, but I took it off and dumped it for one big reason – the Garmin Fenix 3. Is the new Apple Watch Series 2 enough for me (and others) to leave Garmin?
The Apple Watch Series 2 – Is It Enough to Leave Garmin?
Why the Garmin Fenix 3?
The Garmin Fenix 3 has been the one Garmin running watch I have used longer than any other. My normal method of operation is to get the newly released Garmin watch at a discount (with codes, pre-purchased gift cards, etc) that is roughly equivalent to the price I can sell the previous amount (this is pretty much what I do with every electronic item I own). So, it is rare for me to hold on to wear a Garmin watch for more than a year.
But, the Garmin Fenix 3 is special. First of all, it looks like a watch (albeit, a very big watch). It also has tremendous battery life so that I can wear it for days without having to charge it. Not only that, but it actually has smart notifications so that I can receive notifications from my iPhone like I would with another smart watch. The big difference between this and the Apple Watch in this regard is that those notifications are one way – I cannot respond to items with the Garmin Fenix 3.
A Great, All-Day Watch
I wear the Garmin Fenix 3 all day, every day. It is great to be able to change for a run and just push the button on my watch to start recording my workout. Thanks to the fast GPS fix and the metrics, I can get a fast start and a detailed look after at the workout.
The Original Apple Watch – Not So Great For My Running
The Apple Watch, quite frankly, stunk for me with running. It would use an accelerometer and/or the GPS in the iPhone. But, I don’t wear my 5.5″ iPhone on my arm so it would often not get a good enough GPS fix for activity tracking. This caused some very wrong measurements when using the Apple Watch for runs. At the time of its release, I had remarked that it was a good thing for Garmin, Polar, Suunto, and others that Apple did not put a GPS radio in it.
Apple Watch Series 2 Is Here
Link: Apple Watch Series 2
Pricing and Availability
The new Apple Watch Series 2 models start at $369 and $399 for the base models in size 38mm and 42mm. They do go up from there but the internals are the same. They all go on pre-order tomorrow, September 9, and will be available September 16. The lone exception is the Apple Watch Nike+ which will be out in October.
A little note – there were actually two different brands of Apple Watches unveiled yesterday. One is the upgraded Apple Watch called Apple Watch Series 2 and the other is the Apple Watch Nike+ that is identical to the Apple Watch Series 2 but comes with a Nike band and running-centric Nike apps.
Now we are here with the Apple Watch Series 2 and it does have a GPS radio in it. That means it can do independent tracking of your running workout with the need for sensors or an iPhone. Good news… right?
I am going to preorder the Apple Watch Nike+ edition tomorrow and give it a shot. I really, really want to like how it performs because I enjoy using the Apple Watch. It helps keep me more informed while I am out and about and it even lets me keep my phone in my bag when traveling on planes and in airports. I had started using my Apple Watch as my digital boarding pass (which does not require as uncomfortable hand/arm movements as you might expect) and it helps keep my hands free for my bags, my drink – whatever.
Where the Apple Watch Series 2 Needs to Excel for Me
But, there is one major area and one minor area where the Apple Watch Series 2 will need to be great in order to successfully push me to selling my Garmin Fenix 3. The major area is battery life. According to Apple, the battery life will be the same as with the first edition.
That is a worry because even though that includes time for using the GPS radio, the first Apple Watch died when many people tried to use it for their marathons and were running for over 4 hours. Big letdown if this remains the case! Apple can certainly do some things with software updates to help make the onboard system and apps more battery efficient but the GPS is going to draw on that battery either way.
Hopefully, Apple has gotten it together with the battery life. I hear things like it will let you use it for notifications throughout the day, some time actually scrolling through things and a “30 minute workout” with the battery. It is rare that I have a run that lasts 30 minutes or less so it may not end being for me – yet.
A Minor Area For the Apple Watch Series 2
The minor area is metrics. Thanks to Garmin’s HRM-Run strap and module, my Garmin Fenix 3 is able to feed me all kinds of interesting (and sort-of useful) metrics for my runs. It will tell me things like stride length, vertical oscillation (how long I spend in the air between strides), ground contact time, and some other things of note.
While not hugely useful (and thus why it is a minor area for me), it can be helpful to identify some of these things during speed and form workouts. I am trying to rebuild my stamina right now so these things are less important to me but it would be nice if Nike and Apple are able to harness some of the onboard sensors to deliver some similar metrics.
Is the Apple Watch Series 2 Enough?
Again, I really want to like it and I will be eagerly seeing what I can do with the battery life. I will do a review of the new Apple Watch Nike Plus after I get it (it is due to come out in late October) and see if my Garmin Fenix 3 will remain on my wrist or if it is off to eBay. It will be sad to see it go. After all, it was my trustworthy tracking companion for the runs of my life last year and never died on me once!
Are you planning on buying an Apple Watch Series 2? Which model?