Fitness Gear

Garmin’s Response to the Apple Watch Ultra: We Have Better Battery Life

Written by Charlie

The Apple Watch Ultra just came out and Garmin decided to give a response of sort to it. Here is what they have to say about it – and the iPhone satellite connectivity.

When it comes to advances from the competition, there are two ways that you can play it. One is to just ignore it because you are too big and too busy dominating to notice. The other is to throw some shade at the competition when they have revealed their big play. Garmin chose to go with “option 2” in response to the Apple Watch Ultra.

Garmin’s Response to the Apple Watch Ultra

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You can read the detailed head-to-head companion post I wrote here for all the breakdown.

There is no question – the Apple Watch Ultra was a shot across the bow to Garmin. Apple is not content with dominating the smartwatch field (while having fitness apps as well). They want to go for the endurance market as well, a market that Garmin has dominated for a while and that COROS is making serious inroads in.

The Garmin Enduro 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra

But, make no mistake. As of right now, the Apple Watch Ultra will not unseat some of the impressive watches that both Garmin and COROS have when it comes to battery life. Garmin just released their new Enduro 2. The Enduro 2 offers a massive battery life of up to 34 days or 46 days with solar power. With GPS, you can get up to 110 hours or 150 hours with solar. If you want to go to battery saver mode, you are going to get up to 111 days or 550 days with solar.

The Apple Watch Ultra with its “up to 60 hours” battery life cannot come close to the Enduro 2. But, they are still very different watches. For starters, the Garmin Enduro 2 is a 51mm watch that is beefier and has a larger battery. Also, it has solar power and it does not sport an AMOLED screen.

The Apple Watch Ultra has a massive 2000 nits bright display with great colors and does not offer solar (yet?). So, it is not in the same league as the Garmin Enduro 2.

Garmin’s Response

Yet, the Garmin Enduro 2 is exactly the watch that Garmin chose to feature while throwing shade at Apple. It’s clear that Garmin wants to show that this adventure/extreme market is one they have a huge leg up in. So, of course, they choose their latest and greatest adventure watch.

But, if you look at the watch that the Apple Watch Ultra goes up against the closest, it is the Garmin Epix 2 (my current watch). This watch is similar in size and weight to the Apple Watch Ultra and is also the adventurer/multi-sport athlete watch that sports the AMOLED display. This watch, if in always-on mode, will get you around 5 days of use. With always-on off, you get around 2 weeks.

Garmin also used one of their older watches, the Garmin Fenix 2, to say that they hit the 50+ hour battery life 10 years ago. Okaaay, but the Garmin Fenix 2 had much slower satellite acquisition, tracking, barely any sensors, barely any “smartwatch” functions and a really poor display in comparison. But, sure, Garmin, talk about the battery life.

The Apple Watch Ultra, if its battery life performs like stated claims in the past, is actually going to do better than its claimed 36 hours or 60 hours of battery life. So, with similar use, I may be able to get 4-5 days of use out of the new Apple Watch Ultra. With Apple saying it will be 1 hour to charge from 0-80% or 1.5 hour to go all the way to 100%, I don’t think many people will mind having to do that every few days.

Does the Apple Watch Ultra beat Garmin? Absolutely not. But, it is a serious warning signal to Garmin that they are coming and Garmin is going to have to continue innovating to keep those who want such watches from going to Apple. Especially since this watch does offer cellular as well, great for when you want to go out with a lighter pack.

Garmin Hit at the Satellite Connectivity as Well

Apple didn’t just go after Garmin in the watch department, they also took aim at the satellite communicators. Garmin has their inReach Mini 2 which retails for $399 and requires a monthly fee. This allows you to send limited text messages as well as get emergency help and receive weather reports.

But, the new iPhone 14 models come with satellite connectivity that will let you send emergency text messages when out of cellular range. In addition, the iPhone will automatically update your Find My location information for your family/friends using satellites so someone will always know where you are. And they are offering this for free for two years.

Again, Apple isn’t going to beat Garmin with this but it is a clear signal that they are coming for this market as well. Within the next two years, I think Apple will be allowing full messages to be sent, receive weather updates on the weather app, and possibly even do some other data tasks. And this will likely be much cheaper than what it costs using the Garmin inReach Mini 2.

Bottom Line

If I am Garmin, I am really starting to get nervous. Garmin currently is at the top of market share in the above $500 watch realm. But, Apple is going to be cutting into it with this new Apple Watch Ultra. It is a first step but I think it is a strong first step. There will be those that may have thought about buying a Garmin Fenix but may now buy an Apple Watch Ultra instead due to the compatibility with the Apple devices. Even worse, there may be some Garmin Fenix users that may buy an Apple Watch Ultra instead of a new Fenix/Epix/Enduro.

With the satellite market, I think Garmin is going to see that shrink like their automotive GPS sales shrunk as a result of smartphones, like the iPhone. Remember when it seemed like everyone had a Garmin in their car? Yeah, me too, but that has been a long time.

Garmin is going to have to innovate a bit more here as well but they are stuck because they are using satellites on a contract basis so they don’t own that hardware. That means they cannot offer more features, cannot lower costs, etc – all of that is on the provider. I do think there will still be many that will go with the Garmin inReach Mini 2 because it does work globally. If you are off the grid, spending $400 and a monthly plan is nothing if it ends up saving your life. Apple can’t offer global – yet – so this will belong to Garmin.

As a consumer, I am almost a little giddy watching all of this take place because it is we who will benefit from this stiff competition! 🙂

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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.


  • Maybe they should respond to Apple with “Because you want your marathon to be 26.2 not 26.1 or 26.3” Personally I find my Apple 7 watch not 100% accurate.

    • I’m with you in previous Apple watch’s but Garmin is being careful on that one! The new AW Ultra has dual band GPS which should make it more accurate. Even my high end Garmin had some problems in some areas in my city while my $199 COROS was dead on!

  • But can I clear security and board a plane and store other barcodes (grocery loyalty, library card, gym membership) with a Garmin watch the way I can with an Apple watch?

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