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.