So you’re in the market for a new smartwatch and you’ve narrowed it down to the Apple Watch Ultra and Garmin Epix 2. Both are beautiful watches, with excellent screens and the ability to track all your workouts, but which one is worth investing in? Below we put the two sports watches face to face to help you decide.
Before we begin, it is worth noting that if you are an Android user, the choice may be much simpler than you expected. As with all the best Apple Watches, the Apple Watch Ultra is only usable with iOS devices. However, the Garmin Epix 2 is compatible with both iOS and Android via the Garmin Connect app.
If you’d prefer to read an in-depth review of either watch before buying, you can take a look at our Apple Watch Ultra review and Garmin Epix 2 review. Now let’s see which one is right for you.
Apple Watch Ultra and Garmin Epix 2: Price and Availability
The Apple Watch Ultra costs $799 / £849 / AU$1,299. It is a unique model with cellular support. In other words, cellular connectivity isn’t optional as it is with the Apple Watch 8. The Apple Watch Ultra was released on September 23rd, so you’re unlikely to find it at a discount just yet. It’s pretty hard to hold on to now, so you’ll likely have to wait a bit to get your hands on one.
The Garmin Epix 2 is available in two different modes – the less expensive Garmin Epix, with a slate steel chassis, costs $899/£749. The model with a sapphire crystal lens, titanium case, and 32GB of storage (available in white or black) will set you back $999 / £899. It’s been around for longer, so you might be able to find it cheaper, but it’s more expensive than the Apple Watch Ultra, especially in the US.
Winner: Apple Watch Ultra If you’re on a budget, the Apple Watch Ultra is two hours cheaper. However, if you are looking for an affordable watch, then Garmin Fenix 7 The range starts at $699/£599 for the basic version.
Apple Watch Ultra and Garmin Epix 2: Design and Display
The Apple Watch Ultra and Garmin Epix 2 are known for their bright, beautiful displays, but let’s start by looking at the watches themselves. The Apple Watch Ultra is Apple’s first stab at the Adventure Watch – it has a 49mm bezel, which is large on the wrist.
The frame is made of titanium, with a lip around the screen to add more protection. The Digital Crown is larger and has deeper groves, blending in with the side button in a raised edge on the right side of the device. This should make the buttons easier to use while wearing gloves.
On the left side of the Apple Watch Ultra is an additional action button that can be programmed as a quick release for a specific purpose. Here is more about How to use the Action Button on Apple Watch Ultra.
There is only one version of the Apple Watch Ultra, with a titanium frame, although there are three different watch straps to choose from, which is why there appear to be three different watches on the Apple website. Here’s more information about Apple Watch Ultra bands.
On the other hand, the Garmin Epix 2 has more options to choose from — depending on whether you choose the sapphire or the non-sapphire model, the bezel is black titanium, white titanium or steel. The Epix Gen 2 has a 47mm bezel, but due to its rounded face, it’s very similar in size to the Apple Watch Ultra on the wrist.
Screen-wise, both watches have bright displays. The Apple Watch Ultra has a 1.92-inch screen, and the screen has a brightness of 2,000 nits, which is twice as bright as the screen on the Apple Watch Series 8. It looks beautiful and is easy to read, even in direct sunlight. Additionally, in workout modes, the larger screen allows for seven data fields, instead of six.
The Garmin Epix 2 has a 1.3-inch AMOLED display, with a brightness of 1,000 nits. It’s also bright and easy to read in direct sunlight, but the Apple display is a little better.
Design-wise, the Ultra is very similar to most other Apple Watches, with the digital crown and side button on the right and the action button on the left. To move around the watch, you’ll mainly be using the touch screen, which can be a little tricky when your fingers are wet, or when you’re wearing gloves.
On the other hand, the Epix 2 is similar to most of the best Garmin watches, with three buttons on the left and two on the right. While it does have a touch screen, Garmin automatically disables the touch screen in most workout modes, and if you want to, you can ignore the touch screen entirely.
Winner: Apple Watch Ultra This is a touch of connection, as beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. Having said that, there is something exciting about the Apple Watch Ultra – this may be because it is new and eye-catching, but the display is arguably the best of any smartwatch on the market.
Apple Watch Ultra and Garmin Epix 2: Battery Life
If you’re headed for a multi-day adventure, you’ll want a watch that keeps up with you. With everything turned on, the Ultra has a battery life of up to 12 hours. In Apple’s new Low Power mode, the Ultra still has the same GPS and heart rate capabilities, and a battery life of 15/16 hours. In a new update coming to the watch this fall, this will be extended to 60 hours, as the setting will have an option to reduce the GPS frequency and heart rate readings.
The Garmin Epix 2 has the battery life we’ve come to know and love from Garmin. Garmin claims the Epix will last up to 6 days with the screen always on; If you turn on the GPS, it will last up to 30 hours, if you turn everything on and listen to music, you will get 9 hours off the clock. There are ways to extend endurance up to 14 days when using GPS, although their accuracy will be lower.
Winner: Garmin Epix 2 There’s no doubt about it, the Garmin Epix 2 has a much longer battery life. If you don’t want to charge your watch every day or two, go with Garmin.
Apple Watch Ultra and Garmin Epix 2: Track Exercise and Health
Of course, the main reason to buy a sports watch is to track sports, although these two watches can do much more than just track your daily operations. Both have the ability to track a lot of data, including your steps, calories, in-depth analysis of sleep, VO2 max, heart rate, and body temperature. The main difference is what you do hourly with this data.
Garmin has spent a lot of time developing features like Body Battery and Recovery Time that help you get a better understanding of how your body is coping with your training load, and these are really cool features. If you take a long ride a couple of days before your marathon, your Apple Watch Ultra will log your lack of sleep, but it won’t give you any feedback. The Garmin Epix 2 will indicate that you need more recovery time, or show a depleted body battery, and a poor sleep score will correlate with other metrics on the watch.
From an exercise perspective, both watches can track a variety of workouts. Own an Apple Watch Ultra Most traditional workout modes are covered (Opens in a new tab), the most durable display and water resistance up to 100 metres, which means you can use it for sports like water skiing, surfing and snorkeling. You can also customize all data screens in each workout mode. However, the Garmin Epix 2 has plenty of options, especially for specialized workouts like paddling, rock, and even fishing. Both have multi-band GPS, which allows the watch to connect to more satellites for accurate GPS tracking.
Another big difference between the watches is the mapping capabilities. Both are positioned as watches for adventure — the Apple Watch Ultra has a compass widget, the ability to drop a track point and an undo feature, which helps you get back to a certain point, but it’s missing the built-in maps. You can access Maps, but via a third-party app.
By comparison, the Garmin Epix 2 has extensive mapping capabilities. You can use the map at any time to find places of interest, find a route to a specific point, or even look at ski runs or golf courses. There’s no doubt about it, if you’re lost in the wilderness, you’d rather have the Garmin Epix 2 on your wrist.
Speaking of getting lost in the wild, it’s important to take a look at the safety features of both watches. The Garmin Epix 2 has Garmin’s fault detection system, live tracking, and help alerts, which can let friends and family know if you need help. However, since the watch does not have a built-in cell phone, you will need your phone nearby to use these features. The Apple Watch Ultra also has fault detection, tracking (using Find My), and an alarm siren. Because the Apple Watch Ultra has a cellular network, it works without your phone.
Winner: Garmin Epix 2 – Again, this is a difficult thing to call. If you’re looking for a watch to keep track of your odd run or ride, the rest of the time smartwatch, then the Apple Watch Ultra fits the bill. However, if you’re going off the grid or doing some serious workouts, the Garmin Epix 2 is the best sports watch out there right now. That’s not to say Apple won’t add recovery or mapping data in a later update, but at the time of writing Garmin has won the round.
Apple Watch Ultra and Garmin Epix 2: Smartwatch Capabilities
Long gone are the days when you only wore a sports watch while exercising. Both the Apple Watch Ultra and Garmin Epix 2 are designed to be worn 24/7 and have smartwatch capabilities to make them handy devices to wear on your wrist.
Next to the Apple Watch Ultra, the Garmin Epix 2 falls short as a smartwatch. Sure, it has Garmin Pay, the ability to see your phone’s notifications (you can only reply to text messages if your Epix is connected to your Android phone), check the weather, and view your calendar, but that’s it. You can download different watch faces, or different apps from the Garmin App Store, but they are very basic.
On the other hand, the Apple Watch Ultra is like having an iPhone on your wrist. The list of apps is pretty much endless, and with cellular support, you can also make and receive phone calls on your wrist (the built-in speaker and microphone are excellent).
Winner: Apple Watch Ultra When it comes to smartwatches, the Apple Watch Ultra is one of the best on the market, so if that’s what you’re looking for, this is the obvious choice.
Apple Watch Ultra vs Garmin Epix 2: Verdict
So, which smartwatch should you buy? The answer entirely depends on what you hope to get from the watch. If you’re a sports or outdoor enthusiast, the Garmin Epix 2 now offers more activity profiles, better mapping and more training tools and data feedback, all with a beautiful screen. It also has a much longer battery life to keep up with your training.
However, if you’re looking for a watch that you can run or ride, while calling your mom and answering an email and checking your Whatsapp notifications, the Apple Watch Ultra is the only option. This is a really excellent smartwatch, and with cellular built in, it’s like having an adventurous version of your iPhone strapped to your wrist.
This is really a sports vs smartwatch debate. However, this is only the beginning for Apple when it comes to entering the sports watch space that Garmin has dominated for so long. All flaws can be easily modified, and who knows what future updates may bring.
next one: If you are not the adventurous type, it may be worth saving your money and investing in Apple Watch Series 8. Also take a look at Apple Watch Ultra vs Apple Watch Series 8 comparison.