For years, Garmin has been killing it in the fitness-focused wearable arena. With its slew of health-centric smartwatches that include many affordable selections that house only the most basic functions, to costlier ones that are jam-packed with features, there’s practically one for everybody. And if there’s one department where Garmin completely one-ups Apple, it’s battery life. You will never be able to use an Apple Watch for more than two days on a single charge. A Garmin smartwatch, on the other hand, can last not only for two days but for two weeks, with examples including the Instinct and Forerunner 935. Right now, Amazon lets you save as much $125 on these terrific GPS multisport smartwatches.
The Garmin Instinct is the perfect multisport smartwatch for adventurers and athletes on a budget. It may not boast a colored touchscreen display (it has a monochromatic watch face that’s controlled by five physical buttons), but if that’s something you don’t mind missing, then go ahead and give this one a go. The Instinct screams outdoors and reminds us of Casio’s hardcore sports watches. Like the rest of the Garmin family, this smartwatch’s durability is exemplary. With a fiber-reinforced polymer casing, a scratch-resistant chemically strengthened glass, and raised bezels, the Instinct appears indestructible and is guaranteed to withstand the toughest environments. It can even survive deep-water dives of up to 100 meters.
Like most Garmin watches, the Instinct has over 25 different activities that you can track. You can use it to track the big three – running, biking, and swimming — as well as less common activities like SUP, rowing and stair-stepping. It also has a built-in heart rate monitor and supports GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo. Basically, everything you need to survive the great outdoors is here. It even has a nifty backtracking feature and compass to help you navigate back to your starting point in case you get lost in a hike. Using what it calls a breadcrumb map, you can retrace your steps and find your way back to your original trail.
What the Instinct lacks are onboard topographical maps which are not compatible with the low-resolution, non-color display (remember, this watch has a monochrome dial). It is also more of a GPS watch than a smartwatch. Yes, you can receive notifications for incoming calls, texts, emails, but that’s about it. You cannot respond to any of them. You cannot add music files or add Spotify on this watch either, but at least you get music controls.
The Garmin Instinct usually comes with a $300 price tag but take advantage of Amazon’s $75 deal today and get it for $225. And if you pay via the Amazon Rewards Visa Card and get approval, you can enjoy an additional $50 off instantly, bringing the price down to an even more affordable $175.
The Garmin Forerunner 935 is smaller and more subdued than the large-and-in-charge Fenix 5X. Although technically a sports watch, its black casing is subtle enough to be worn even when you’re not training. Plus, its silicone band is replaceable if you wish to pair it with a fancier strap. From its size alone, it’s hard to believe that is has a built-in optical heart rate monitor, barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, and thermometer. It also connects to smartphones via Bluetooth, external sensors via ANT+, and networks via Wi-Fi. It may not look chunky enough to hold that much tech inside it – but it does!
This watch includes loads of preconfigured apps for tracking a multitude of sports (not just running), including road cycling, mountain biking, walking, hiking, swimming, snowboarding, skiing, stand-up paddling, rowing, and even golf. All your fitness metrics get stored and are presented neatly and comprehensively on the Garmin Connect app, where you can create training programs as well. The Forerunner 935 isn’t just designed for serious athletic training. It also covers lots of daily fitness metrics like steps tracking, calories burned, floors climbed, intensity minutes, distance traveled, sleep time and quality, and 24/7 heart rate monitoring. This watch is also extremely well-rounded in terms of smart features. You can receive notifications for calls, texts, and calendar alerts, real-time weather updates, and music playback control. This watch also allows you to answer a call, locate a lost phone, and remotely control a Garmin Virb action camera.
The watch’s interface is smartly laid out and is very easy to navigate. The Forerunner 935 also includes a Live Tracking feature that lets you share location, speed, and performance metrics with friends and family live via a web page. It’s a great way for loved ones to keep tabs on you while you train.
If there’s one issue that we found with this watch, it’s that its swim tracking is not the most precise. When we did some laps in a 50-meter pool, the watch seemed to get confused and oftentimes leaped ahead a lap or two, tracking hundreds of meters already when in fact we’ve just been swimming for a few minutes. But then again, we’re already nitpicking, as overall this is a superb smartwatch that we wholeheartedly recommend. In fact, it received a rare, perfect 5-out-of-5-stars rating from us back in 2017.
Get the Garmin Forerunner 935 for $375 instead of $500 today on Amazon – that’s a huge $125 worth of savings. And if you order via the Amazon Rewards Visa Card and get approved, you’re entitled to an additional $50 off instantly, reducing the price to an irresistible $325.
Both the Garmin Instinct and Forerunner 935 are handsome, rugged, capable of multisport support, and can last a phenomenal two weeks. If you’re on a budget and don’t mind a monochrome watch face plus fewer features, opt for the Instinct. If you’ve got extra bucks to spare and want a multisport smartwatch that does it all and is practically perfect, snag the Forerunner 935.
For more awesome tech deals visit our curated deals page.
Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.
- Garmin smartwatches are getting price cuts for Amazon Prime Day
- Garmin smartwatch prices slashed at Amazon for Cyber Monday
- The best Garmin watches of 2020
- There has never been a better time to buy a Fitbit or Garmin smartwatch
- Best running watches