Apple Watch Ultra vs Garmin – I Don’t Think Apple Pundits Get it


I keep seeing takes like this one from Gruber and I’m not sure that they get the category they’re talking about.

I am the owner of a Garmin Enduro (1 not the 2 linked in the article). I am the owner of a Garmin Edge 1030Plus for cycling. The Apple Watch Ultra is interesting, but I have no desire to get it at all, much like other long-distance enthusiasts.

The big feature that people are talking about is the battery life of a whopping 36 hours without charging or 60 hours in low-power mode. My “older” Enduro can operate 60+ hours with full resolution tracking while connected to other sensors like my bike power meter. In low power mode, it runs for 200 hours.

Most ultra-runners take longer than the Apple Watch Ultra has in battery life to complete a 100-mile race. Where I’d need to make sure I charged the Ultra before a 50km race, my Enduro did my last 50km race on 30% battery and still didn’t get charged for a week after.

My wife has a Coros Pace 2, which is far cheaper than my Enduro or the Ultra, and it far exceeds the battery life of the Apple Watch Ultra. The thing she likes the most about the watch is that she needs to charge it every other week or so. I only charge my Enduro once a month or so. It really depends on if I’m cycling more and using the Edge device or running more and using the Enduro.

No ANT+

A standard connection for years has been the ANT+ standard. It allows me to have a power sensor, HR monitor, rear radar light..and many other things…connected to my watch or bike computer at the same time. This is not present on the Apple Watch Ultra, which makes it a non-starter for any cycling workout.

Both my Enduro and Edge 1030 Plus have connections to:

  • my indoor trainer
  • power sensor
  • wheel speed sensor
  • cadence sensor for non-power equipped bike
  • heart rate monitor
  • Garmin rear radar
  • Garmin foot pod for stride

Few Styles

Yes, there are a few colours in the Ultra, but Garmin has so many more options in watch shapes, sizes and colours that a single model has more choices in it than the Ultra.

My wife’s smaller wrist would never want the Ultra on it. The smaller, cheaper, and more battery life, Coros is exactly what she needs.

Ultra for Who?

Yes, I can see a number of people I know finding the Ultra a fine watch. They walk or run once or twice a week, but don’t really consider themselves “runners” or athletes. They just do a bit to stay fit.

All of the running and cycling friends I talked to this week during group runs/rides had no interest at all in the Ultra. Battery life is too short, not enough sensor connections.

While I do agree with many of Gruber’s takes…he doesn’t know the market he is speaking about. Garmin and Suunto and Coros have a long future ahead of them in the fitness watch category. It may shrink a bit as Apple pulls some people away from sports watches that may have purchased a competing device.

But for the cost for many athletes, I don’t think Apple’s latest offering even gets on the radar.