Garmin ridicules Apple Watch Ultra

Garmin ridicules Apple Watch Ultra

Garmin’s patience seems to have finally snapped.

After days of nonsense from Apple lovers that the Apple Watch Ultra is gunning for the Enduro-Epix-Fenix crown, Garmin gave in to the inevitable and issued a pithy rebuke.

We measure battery life in months. Not hours


Of course, Apple could quite readily have responded

We measure watch sales in millions. Not hundreds of thousands


Personally, I think it’s best not to temp faith. Check out this quote from Nokia from 2013.

Garmin: Tempting Faith?

Let’s cut through the nonsense.

Whilst current generations of Garmin watches do have some battery issues, they also have amazing battery lives. Garmin has solved the battery conundrum …after a fashion.

Garmin does NOT have a magic battery wand to wave but rather they have put together a package that has a largish battery with slightly underpowered hardware and/or low-resolution screens plus some state-of-the-art components…a little bit like Apple except Apple’s screens are superior and power hungry. That said, the awesomely-screened Garmin Epix 2 also has a better battery life than the Apple Watch Ultra providing you don’t have the brightness cranked up too much and a detailed map always displayed.

But that’s not the nonsense I’m talking about. The nonsense comes from Apple lovers claiming that the Apple Watch Ultra will soon be crowned the king of outdoor wearables…the new phoenix has risen from the ashes of the Fenix 7…or something like that could be their mantra.

There is absolutely no way that the Apple Watch Ultra will be used by “pro-level” outdoor expeditionists to find the source of the Amazon or scale the heights of the Himalayas. It’s more that Ken and Kate, avid iPhone owners, will be deliriously happy that their Watch Ultra can just about handle their upcoming camping weekend and their first triathlon next year…it’ll save them buying that pesky extra Garmin.

That’s where the problem lies tho. In years gone by, Kate and Ken would have bought a Fenix but now, much to Garmin’s annoyance, they don’t have to. They just get that one very smart watch to see them through the week at work and a Wednesday evening jog or yoga class. Then a quick Friday night recharge gets them through their latest weekend adventure. They might even take the Ultra for a resort dive on their upcoming trip to the Great Barrier Reef as the Apple Watch Ultra is a certified entry-level dive computer, which the Fenix isn’t. At least all that is assuming Kate and Ken both have fairly large wrists otherwise a Fenix 7X/Apple Watch Ultra might look a bit silly 😉

Ken and Kate will never do an Ironman triathlon and if they did they would invest in the tech that they ‘need’ and that would include a bike power meter which the Apple Watch Ultra does not natively support. They’d probably also be quite slow over the Ironman and not able to use the dual-frequency super-accuracy GPS that Apple suggests they could.

So Apple Watch Ultra absolutely is not and will never be the best outdoor adventure sports watch. BUT it definitely WILL be MORE THAN good enough to pick the low-hanging fruit of Garmin’s Fenix customer base. Finally, Garmin has a problem called Apple.

the Garmin Epix 2 Review – the best sports & outdoor watch…ever.








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23 thoughts on “Garmin ridicules Apple Watch Ultra

  1. No, it won’t take over this year. It won’t even do it next year. But 4/5 years from now? Forget it. The edge cases you’re talking about don’t even apply to more than the tiniest number of Fenix buyers…and they don’t matter commercially. I don’t have time for Ironman anymore, between work and parenting. However, being able to knock out 20/30km longer runs on the weekend with cellular, plus payment and music systems that aren’t a horror show, is a seriously attractive proposition. I’m
    Keeping my 7XSS, but I ordered an Ultra last night. The Verge said it best, I think: this is a Nokia moment for Garmin.

  2. Well put, same kind of thinking here. Keeping my Epix Gen 2 for now but wouldn’t mind habits and single watch.

  3. Well, maybe I am an outlier, but I use more-than-capable $200 Android smartphones + previous generation best-in-the-world Garmin FR9xx watches for all my training and triathlons. Couldn’t be happier, you can all keep your $1000 iPhones and watches,

    1. @xavez

      there will be lots like you (and I’m an avid 955 user…at least for this year) but the point is this is not a binary thing. there will be lots NOT like you (and me) and that is the problem for garmin. not that it will lose 100% of its fenix sale but it might lose 20% or whatever the amount will be. all that in a market that’s also possible going to be declining for a couple of year.

      garmin has a good portfolio of products tho

      (sorry comment nesting is not working is set correctly)

  4. apple probably have better quality control, reliability and support than garmin.
    my experience of buying garmin devices is:
    1. pay lots for a top level device
    2. encounter numerous things that don’t work the way they should, along with miscellaneous bugs
    3. spend a month or so waiting on garmin support to do anything
    4. eventually get them to agree to a replacement which means returning at your own cost and being without a device until you get the replacement
    5. hoping (often unsuccessfully) that the replacement will be any better

  5. The problem with the Apple Watch is Apple need to develop the best in class app and not a one man band that stops if the person gets bored or hit by a bus. And stop the app being a screen extension to the iPhone (though that has got better).

    The Apple for method for app design is far better for bug resolution – a single core OS with various apps that can be updated independently but at the expense of being a power hungry low battery life watch.

    The “battery drain” forum posts on Garmin at the expected drain for an Apple Watch 80% to 5% in 24 hours….

    If Apple of serious they need to work on their athlete and outdoor apps, “under power” during sports/outdoor, potentially lower screen refresh and brightness plus give the watch another button to take it to four.

    Otherwise Garmin will still dominate the market.

    1. Garmin will always dominate the market for people who NEED a Fenix/Epix.
      but not necessarily for people who just WANT one or THINK they need one.

      Single App: yes this is a fair point and I don’t think apple is going to do what you say. That said, what they have with the triathlon functionality is actually pretty good for a certain kind of athlete (one that doesn’t have a bike power meter…but then as we always say a watch on handlebars is pants and a bike computer is needed to do that job properly with a power meter). I think that particular area is one that some bike computer company should focus on ie triathlon integration with an apple watch and their bike computer, I’m thinking hammerhead should do that as wahoo and garmin obviously have their own watches to flog.

  6. Yesterday my 7XSS dropped 50% of the battery on an 11.4km trail run – on the latest firmware (9.33). On a watch that cost $1500, this is utterly unacceptable. Patrick’s post above mirrors my experience too…and I strongly suspect Apple’s in-house development of apps has a long way to go given they’ve got Jurek onboard, amongst many others.

    1. true from a features perspective
      there’s also a factor of people wanting ‘the best’ with ‘best’ defined somewhat nebulously. If Ken and Kate can afford to go diving the 255 probably isn’t good enough for them 😉

  7. I tested the 9.xx betas and did not experience this excessive battery drain issue people are reporting. Ultimately I think we are doing something subtle that is different. Maybe something with ConnectIQ.

    I think that the comparisons to Nokia and Blackberry are apt. Garmin has a successful platform that is based on a DOS-like foundation. It is spectacularly difficult for them to debug because there is no process and memory protection but they have sophisticated features like (cooperative multitasking) and the ConnectIQ virtual machine. Power management is tight on the tiny platform so something going a bit haywire can burn your battery. If you can remember using Windows 3.1 or classic MacOS from the late 80s then you will remember how unreliable those systems were. It’s like that.

    Whereas Apple built everything on top of XNU which is a UNIX-type kernel that was developed by NeXT derived from Mach out of Carnegie Mellon which itself came out of FreeBSD and AT&T Unix. The point is that their software architecture on the Apple Watch is as sophisticated as on the iPhone and Mac. That software architecture makes is much easier to develop and debug sophisticated apps and features on the platform. Apple’s power management technology on that software stack on ARM processors is the best in the world. Apple has the best silicon designs in the world and the is using the most sophisticated silicon manufacturing in the world. Their materials manufacturing is also second to none.

    If Apple is going after the endurance sports market then Garmin is potentially in serious trouble over the next 5 years.

    One thing Garmin could do under feature and price competition from Apple is re-consolidate the SKUs derived from the Fenix. For example, the Fenix 8 and Epix 3 included the Descent feature set and the D2 feature. That would potentially be a good competitive move to stay ahead of the Apple Watch Ultra. They also need to keep the model going where they support watches for years with updates and new features because Apple and Coros do that.

    I also hope that are and have been hard at work integrating their higher-level features over a modern RTOS kernel.

    Same goes for Polar, Suunto, Coros, and Wahoo. I like Apple but I don’t want to be in a endurance sports watch world where the choices are Apple or one of 5 half-baked WearOS devices.

    1. your talk of old tech is bringing back rose-tinted memories.

      apple is definitely going after outdoor sports and activities.
      i doubt they will ever aim for the top end of the market.
      i tink some people see the fenix/epix as the best (which they are) in terms of their wide feature set. Maybe a Ferrari is the best car, but more Fords are sold.

  8. Garmin can tweet all they want. Didn’t stop me from selling my epix 2 last week and ordering an ultra. Garmins bugs and reliance on having a phone for connectivity just wore me out. I wasn’t use to having to carry a phone again. No way.

  9. Not everybody can afford or wants an iPhone so unless Apple watch can connect to android (never gonna happen) there will always be a market for Garmin wearables.

    1. yes there will always be a market and i cant see apple supporting android either.
      just depends on how big it is and how many competitors there are. *IF* garmin lose a significant chunk of sales (say 20%) it starts to affect their business model. they have loads of cash in the bank of course to weather any blip but structural changes are different.

  10. I don’t think Apple would be pleased to be compared to Ford in this analogy!

    I only just realized the 36 hours runtime claim for Apple Watch Ultra is just for smartwatch use and not for activity tracking. That is good for Apple Watch but not very “ultra” in this context. Off 3X or so in the comparison to Epix 2. Not very Scott Jurek running North on the AT.

  11. The author wrote: “There is absolutely no way that the Apple Watch Ultra will be used by “pro-level” outdoor expeditionists.”
    All it takes is one move for Apple to separate sports functions from SMART functions. How? What the author forgot to write about: the “DualOS” function, i.e. SMART on WatchOS, and SPORT on RTOS. With this size of the battery used in the Ultra model, I will risk a statement that the GPS would last longer than in the flagship Garmin series – Fenix 7. … but Apple will not do it and this is Garmin’s best chance. Has time to change. Time for a real SMARTwatch in the Garmin portfolio.

    1. yes, i think
      i agree that apple wont do that. They are simply not interested in the high end performance part of the market…it’s tiny. Any high end athletes in their videos are purely for sponsorship/marketing purposes to get Kate and Ken to buy the watches

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