Fitness Gear

Head to Head: Apple Watch Series 5 vs Garmin Venu / Vivoactive 4

Written by Charlie

Two awesome fitness watches – check out this head-to-head of the Apple Watch Series 5 and the Garmin Venu, the first Garmin with an AMOLED display.

This week, Apple announced their new Apple Watch Series 5 smartwatch. This came on the heels of Garmin revealing their first ever AMOLED-display watch, the Garmin Venu, the week before. It has all of the typical Garmin greatness with a really beautiful screen as well. Now that they are both here, let’s take a look at a head comparison of the Apple Watch Series 5 vs the Garmin Venu (which is the same thing as the new Garmin Vivoactive 4 but with the better screen).

Comparison of the Apple Watch Series 5 vs Garmin Venu, the Garmin with the Beautiful Screen

Garmin has done an amazing job this year of releasing new products. We have the Garmin Forerunner 945 which I absolutely loved, the new Garmin Fenix 6 series (my current watch – I think the best Garmin yet), the new Garmin Vivoactive 4 and the new Garmin Venu. All of them deliver music, longer battery life, and more features for athletes.

This is somewhat contrary to the Apple Watch Series 5 which really didn’t push the envelope that much – they delivered a new always-on display, a compass, international emergency calling on the LTE model, and that is pretty much it.

But, athletes/fitness enthusiasts do gravitate to the question of Apple Watch Series 5 vs Garmin Venu or Vivoactive 4. So, let’s break down a feature comparison to try and help you with that decision.

Apple Watch Series 5 models are on sale now and delivered/available next Friday (September 20) and the Garmin Venu will be out next month. It makes it easy that the price is exactly the same (unless you opt for the 44mm Apple Watch Series 5, that is an extra $29).

Let me say this again to be clear – the Garmin Venu and the Garmin Vivoactive 4 are the same watch inside, just the display is different.

SpecificationApple Watch Series 5Garmin Venu / Vivoactive 4
Battery LifeGeneral Use: 18 Hours
GPS Use: 6 Hours
GPS w/Music: 5 Hours
General Use: Up to 5 Days
GPS Use w/Music: 6 Hours
Music Storage32GB of storageUp to 500 songs
Water ResistantUp to 50 metersYes, for swimming but not scuba diving
Native Sleep TrackingNo*Yes
Built-in Heart Rate MonitorYesYes
Always-On DisplayYesYes
Multi-Sport CapabilityYesYes
Glass MaterialIon-X Strengthened GlassCorning Gorilla Glass 3
Weight30.8 grams for 40mm
36.5 grams for 44mm
Both are case weights
46.3 grams
Dimensions40 x 34 x 10.74mm for 40mm
44 x 38 x 10.74 mm for 44mm
43.2 x 43.2 x 12.4 mm
SensorsBarometric altimeter, Optical heart sensor, Electrical heart sensor, Accelerometer up to 32 g-forces, Gyroscope, Improved ambient light sensor, CompassGarmin Elevate™ wrist heart rate monitor, Barometric altimeter, Compass, Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Thermometer, Pulse Ox
GPS TechnologyGPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSSGPS, GLONASS, and Galileo
Compatible with iOS and AndroidNoYes
Switchable watch bandsYesYes
Price Comparisons for Apple Watch Series 5 vs Garmin Venu / Vivoactive 4

The Apple Watch Series 5 base model (no LTE or special metal casings) costs $399 for the 40mm size or $429 for the 44mm size. The Garmin Venu comes in one size and costs $399. The Garmin Vivoactive 4 comes in two sizes and both cost $349 – one is 40mm and one is 45mm. Again, they are internally the same as the Venu but without the better screen (which means better battery life).

The “X” Factor with Both Watches

For runners, I contend that Garmin still does a better job in delivering the best device for that purpose. Not only are there are ton of data screens that can be used (vs Apple still using only a few and forcing you to use a 3rd party app), but the GPS tends to be snappier (instead of Apple’s famous “smoothing” of the GPS path to create a more Apple experience) and you do not have to charge it as often.

Also, this year, Garmin has gone all in with PulseOx. This can be useful if you do mountain climbing or are trying to get altitude acclimation. Also, it is a nice data point to see some of your health stats (I only leave mine on for readings at night as it does suck the battery life for all-day use). Another thing they have done is to beef up their wrist-based heart rate sensor to allow for underwater readings, something that had not worked before. Again, they lead Apple on these readings fronts.

At the same price, which do you choose? I would say that the Apple Watch Series 5 would be the winner if you want two-way interaction with your notifications and want to leave your phone where it is. However, if you value longer battery life, more customization with data that the watch collects for workouts, and a watch that looks like a watch, the Garmin Venu is hard to beat. I absolutely love my Garmin Fenix 6 Pro but would like to give the Venu a gander too so look for upcoming reviews and comparisons of them in real-life use.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • I’m curious what made you switch from the Forerunner 945 to the fenix 6. I’m always tempted by the fenix series, but as a runner (primarily) the weight is always a concern. I’ve owed a 935 in the past but was never particularly happy with the build quality.

    • I switch up Garmin watches quite a bit as I do the user reviews and comparisons and have always loved the Fenix series. The 945 was my first 9xx series watch (had the 645 last year). I really liked the lightweight of the 945 but, like you, was not completely happy with the build quality.
      The Fenix 6 Pro Sapphire (the one I have now) is only 3 grams lighter than the Fenix 5 Plus (that I had before) but it really feels differently to me. I think it has to do with them making it thinner so it is not like my wrist is carrying as much vertical weight, if that makes sense? I would definitely suggest trying one to see how you like it.
      I know that many of the new features from the Fenix 6 are coming to the 945 but I liked the slightly larger display, build quality, and the easier band swapping (as I do switch them up for different things). Let me know if you have any other questions!
      No matter what, Garmin is just killing it right now! They have really provided watches for just about every kind of outdoor activity and budget!

  • I took the plunge on the 6 Ti but was still having second thoughts about the 945, as I still tend to wear an Apple Watch as my daily driver. That being said, the superior build quality and larger screen ultimately sealed the deal. Still not thrilled about the weight difference, but it definitely sits better on the wrist than the 5+ Ti did.