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Garmin fenix 7X vs Apple Watch Ultra on a Trail Run

Ultra Runner Dave Compares Garmin fēnix® 7X & Apple Watch Ultra

Check out a review video comparing how the fēnix 7X and the Apple Ultra do on a trail run and hike. We run down the highlights for you in this article.

Our partner Dave from the Chase the Summit YouTube Channel is a serious runner and hiker. As an endurance and trail runner, he will run anywhere from 40 to 70 miles a week when training. AND he uses the watches he reviews during his training and the events he participates in to really get to know them.

In his Apple Watch Ultra vs Garmin fēnix 7X video, he thoroughly compares these watches, feature for feature. We highly recommend you watch it!

In this article, we hit the highlights of his in-depth comparison, listing the similarities and differences to help you gain some insight on which might be the right GPS watch for you.

Watch a Garmin fēnix 7X vs Apple Watch Ultra Comparison

Garmin fēnix 7X vs Apple Watch Ultra—Major Differences

Only the Garmin fēnix 7X is Android- and iOS-platform-compatible.

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 fēnix 7X, however, is compatible with Android and iOS devices. The Garmin Connect app allows it to provide the same experience on both platforms.

The Apple Ultra has a more limited interface.

The Apple Ultra has a new action button that you can configure to do different things, but mostly you have to swipe around the touchscreen to get to the menus. While this is easy to navigate, Dave points out that the touch-enabled display is completely useless if you are sweating, it's raining, or you are under water. Along with a touchscreen, the fēnix 7X, which has a 5-button operation system that lets you do absolutely everything on the 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.

Both these GPS smartwatches 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. But the Apple Watch doesn't really do much with that data. Along with some additional metrics like all-day stress and Body Battery, the Garmin fēnix 7X takes all these valuable metrics and offers feedback about whether you are ready to train, need to recover or take it easy, or could even point to that fact that you might be getting sick. This extra information is valuable for anyone like Dave who trains regularly.

Theis Garmin multisport GPS 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 a fēnix 7 watch, 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.

The fēnix 7X 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 endless because it's basically like having an iPhone strapped to your wrist. With full cellular support and a speaker and microphone it's just simply able to offer more smarts than a Garmin watch.

This Garmin kills it with maps and navigation.

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 fēnix 7X 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 fēnix 7X Solar and Sapphire Solar models.

The Garmin fēnix 7X battery life last waaaayyyyy longer than the Apple Watch Ultra.

Apple Watch Ultra battery life, although improved from previous models, 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 fēnix 7X blows it out of the water (or off the trail) with a battery life that looks like this with and without solar-charging:

Smartwatch: Up to 28 days/37 days with solar
Battery Saver Watch Mode: Up to 90 days/1+ year with solar
GPS Only: Up to 89 hours/122 hours with solar
All Satellite Systems: Up to 63 hours/77 hours with solar
All Satellite Systems + Music: Up to 16 hours
Max Battery GPS: Up to 213 hours/578 hours with solar
Expedition GPS: Up to 62 days/ 139 days with solar

Get more customizable activity profiles with Garmin fēnix 7 sport watches.

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 fēnix 7X, you get even more activity profiles—many of them consisting of more niche activities like standup paddleboarding, boldering, wind-surfing, skiing, 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, a Garmin wins—no question. Unlike the Apple Ultra, all fēnix 7 watches support ANT+ sensors, which gives you a lot more options for connecting to external sensors like power meters, bike radars, cadence sensors, and much more!

The fēnix 7X is a significantly larger GPS smartwatch.

At 49 mm tall by 45 mm wide, the square Apple Ultra weighs 61 g without the band and is 14.5 mm thick. The Garmin fēnix 7X is a 51 x 51 x 14.9 mm watch that is 68 g without the band.

The Apple Watch Ultra wins for brightest display.

Dave just says it straight out in the video: "I think in most situations, I prefer looking at the Apple Watch Ultras display." The Ultra has a whopping 2,000-nit brightness, which is twice as much as even the brightness of the epix 2's 1,000-nit AMOLED display. So, yeah, the Apple wins in this category.

Ultra vs fēnix 7X—Where Both Watches Shine

The Garmin fēnix 7X and Apple Ultra price is similar.

You'll drop about the same amount on either of these watches. The Apple Watch Ultra has one model for $800. When you buy it, you get to choose from three different types of bands, available in three different colors. The standard Garmin fēnix 7X Solar price is $899.99. The fēnix 7X Sapphire Solar will cost you $999.99 and features a Power Sapphire lens with titanium bezel and rear cover.

Garmin fēnix 7 series and Apple Ultra offer the best GPS.

Both of these watches feature multi-band GPS mode. It allows these watches to connect to more satellites at the same time for the most reliable positioning. According to Dave's testing with both of them on the same runs, they are both some of the best on the market.

Both of these advanced GPS watches have excellent heart rate sensors.

In his testing, Dave found the heart rate sensors on these watches to be equally very good. He compares their results with chest and arm heart rate straps, which give the most accurate data for comparison.

These Apple and Garmin watches offer similar safety features.

Both the fēnix 7X and the Ultra have safety features like crash detection (even the new car crash detection on the Apple Watch) and assistance features that allow you to share your location with loved ones. An important distinction is that you will need to have your phone on you with the Garmin watch, whereas the Apple Watch has cellular capability and does not need your phone.

Both are waterproof.

Swim and shower away while wearing them! The Apple Watch Ultra and Garmin fēnix 7X are waterproof smartwatches.

Best Smartwatch vs Most Capable Sport GPS Watch

The Apple Watch Ultra vs the Garmin fēnix 7X—which GPS watch is right for you?

Says our partner Dave, "It's going to boil down to your needs and what you're doing."

If you're in the market for just a smartwatch that you want to wear on a day-to-day basis and use in place of your iPhone—the Apple Watch Ultra is a superior smartwatch in every way, according to Dave.

However, he also says that being a great smartwatch in no way translates into being a great sport watch for outdoor enthusiasts. The Garmin fēnix 7X does a great job of balancing design, adequate smart features, and a TON of sport and outdoor features. It also provides way more training tools and wellness feedback to optimize your training. There's just way more activity profiles, customization, and full-blown maps and navigation built into a Garmin. Top it off with the massive difference in battery life, and there's no question the Garmin is the superior multisport watch.

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