The Garmin epix 2 is compatible with both Android and iPhone smartphones.
When it comes to smartphone compatibility, the Apple Watch Ultra is only compatible with iOS devices. You have to have an iPhone to even activate the Ultra to use it. The epix (Gen 2), on the other hand, is compatible with Android and iOS devices. It uses the Garmin Connect app for an equal experience on both platforms.
The Apple Ultra has a more limited interface.
While the Apple Ultra has a new action button that can be configured to do different things, you have to swipe around the touchscreen to get to the menus. While a mostly touch-enabled watch is easy to navigate, Dave points out in his review that if you are sweating, it's raining, or you are under water, "the display is completely useless in those situations." Whereas with the epix (Gen 2), which has a touchscreen and a 5-button operation system, "you can do absolutely everything on this watch without having to touch the screen at all." Dave especially likes that you can disable the touchscreen altogether so that you don't have any problems in those wet conditions he mentioned.
Garmin gives you more health and wellness feedback.
Our review partner Dave points out that both the Apple Watch Ultra and Garmin epix 2 collect a ton of wellness data. You'll get things like all-day heart rate, steps, calories burned, daily HRV, body temperature while you sleep, and advanced sleep metrics. However, the Apple Watch does not do much with that data. Along with some additional metrics like all-day stress and Body Battery, the Garmin epix (Gen 2) will compare all these valuable metrics and offer feedback about whether you are ready to train, need to recover or take it easy, or if perhaps you could even be getting sick. This can be very valuable for a serious runner like Dave who may be preparing for a marathon, triathlon, or ultra running competition.
The epix 2 multisport watch offers A LOT more training tools.
When it comes to training, the Apple Watch Ultra is limited to the activity app. Again, this results in data collected like how much you stand, distance you move, and how many steps. With the epix 2, you get loads more information about your training. For example, when you dive into your VO2 Max widget, you'll get race predictor metrics, and you will also see your improvement over time. Training Status on Garmin multisport watches tells you if you are maintaining your fitness and will show you your training load for 7 days and weeks at a time. This is only tip of the iceberg of Garmin training tools that can help show you your performance, how you've improved, opportunities to improve, and how you would currently perform in an event.
The Apple Watch Ultra totally takes the smartwatch features category.
As Dave says in his Apple Ultra vs Garmin epix 2 video—"this is a pretty big divide." The epix 2 has pretty basic smartwatch features. You can check your smartphone notifications, use an excellent weather widget, integrate it with your phone's calendar, store loads of music on watch, customize watch faces, and use Garmin Pay. The list of smartwatch features for the Apple Watch Ultra is kind of endless because it's basically like having an iPhone strapped to your wrist. It has full cellular support with a speaker and microphone—something the epix (Gen 2) does not offer. You can hop on the App Store and download apps to do a host of things with your watch.
Garmin epix (Gen 2) has more advanced maps.
The Apple Watch has a new compass app that can help you navigate back to a waypoint. It also has a form of backtracking that will actively remember where you've gone to help you get back to where you started. The epix 2, however, supports full topographical maps that include waypoints, points of interest, fully routable trails and roads—which means you can create custom-courses on the fly right on your wrist. You can use this anywhere, off grid, all the time. No phone needed. These maps come preloaded on the epix (Gen 2) Sapphire editions and can be downloaded onto the standard model.
The epix (Gen 2) battery life last longer than the Apple Watch Ultra.
Apple Watch Ultra battery life, although improved from previous models, still only offers up to 36 hours in normal use, 12 hours in GPS, and up to 60 hours on low power settings (technology coming in the fall of 2022). The Garmin epix 2, which is on the lower side for a high-end Garmin watch, still beats the pants off the Apple Watch battery life. It will give you two weeks in smartwatch mode (4-6 days in always-on mode) and 42 hours in GPS.
Get more customizable activity profiles with the Garmin epix 2.
Both of these watches have very customizable activities. The Apple Watch Ultra is loaded with activity profiles that are fully customizable, plus you get two pages of information with up to six data fields. With the epix 2, you get even more activity profiles—many of them consisting of more niche activities like standup paddleboarding, boldering, wind-surfing, etc. But the major difference is that with this Garmin watch, you can have up to eight data fields in a activity per page and you can have more than two pages.
The Apple Watch Ultra does not support ANT+ sensors.
As far as external sensors are concerned, the Garmin epix (Gen 2) wins handsdown. Unlike the Apple Ultra, the epix 2 supports ANT+ sensors, which gives you a lot more options for connecting to external sensors like power meters, bike radars, cadence sensors, and much more!