Are Garmin Watches More Accurate For GPS? (We Checked)

Garmin watches are an athlete’s dream.

This is because the tech giant never stops developing and improving its top-of-the-line GPS wearables, allowing you to have a more holistic view of your health, fitness, pursuits, and daily activities—right from your wrist.

In this article, we take a look at the GPS accuracy of Garmin watches.

Everything You Need To Know About the Accuracy of GPS on the Garmin Range:

Garmin watches have higher GPS accuracy than many other smartwatches available today. Garmin uses multiple satellite systems to provide more precise location tracking. They feature sophisticated algorithms to enhance GPS accuracy, eliminate false data and account for satellite signal strength.

How Accurate is The GPS on Garmin Watches?

Athletes and outdoor enthusiasts frequently use Garmin watches to keep track of their activities, assess their progress, and maintain their fitness objectives. 

The GPS tracking on Garmin Watches, which offers precise distance and pace data, is one of its standout features.

What is GPS and how does it work?

The Global Positioning System, or GPS, is an orbiting system of satellites that sends signals to GPS receivers on the ground. 

GPS devices pick up these signals like Garmin watches, which use them to establish their exact location, speed, and direction of movement.

GPS-enabled devices determine their location by triangulating their position using signals from at least four GPS satellites. 

Every satellite sends out a signal that includes its location and the time it was transmitted. The GPS device picks up these signals, calculates its distance from each satellite using the information, and then uses this information to pinpoint its exact location on the earth.

Is the GPS on Garmin watches accurate?

The number of satellites in view, the strength of the satellite signals, and the surrounding conditions are just a few of the variables that affect how accurate the GPS on Garmin watches is. 

A Garmin watch may give location accuracy to within three to five meters under normal circumstances.

The GPS accuracy of Garmin watches can, however, be impacted by a number of variables such as:

  • The number of satellites in view
  • The quality of the satellite signals
  • Structural conditions such as tall buildings
  • The kind of activity being tracked by the watch

Does Garmin Watch GPS Work Without a Phone?

The GPS capability of Garmin watches does not require a phone to be connected, and they are made to operate without one – something I love about my Garmin Watch. 

They include internal GPS antennae that enable them to receive satellite-based GPS signals apart from a phone. 

As a result, you can track your location, mileage, and pace when running or hiking without having to bring your phone.

When paired with a phone, Garmin watches may offer extra capabilities like live tracking, which lets people know where you are in real-time, or the capacity to download and save maps. 

To increase location accuracy, some Garmin watches may additionally make use of the GPS on your phone.

Do Garmin Watches Need a Phone to Record Activities?

Garmin watches do not need a phone to record activities.

You can start and stop an activity directly from the watch, and the watch will record data such as distance, pace, and heart rate. 

You can then sync the data to the Garmin Connect app on your phone at a later time.

You must have your phone with you and be connected to the watch to use functions like live tracking or music controls or to view the data on your phone in real-time while engaging in an activity.

Are Apple Watches or Garmin Watches More Accurate?

Apple and Garmin watches provide dependable and accurate tracking of your workouts and activities. 

There are certain distinctions between the two brands, though, and they may impair the accuracy of the results.

We take a look at them below:

GPS accuracy

GPS is used by both Apple and Garmin watches to track location and offer precise distance and pace data. 

Garmin watches are typically regarded as more dependable regarding GPS accuracy due to their use of numerous satellite networks. 

Garmin watches can receive signals from the GLONASS, Galileo, and GPS satellites, which can increase their accuracy in locations with spotty GPS reception or obscured sky views.

Apple watches, in contrast, rely on GLONASS and GPS but not Galileo. While Apple watches can still provide accurate GPS tracking, they may be less precise in areas with poor GPS coverage.

Heart rate monitoring

Apple and Garmin watches offer wrist-based heart rate tracking, which can help you track the intensity of your workouts and gain insight into your fitness level. Their heart rate sensors’ accuracy does vary to some extent, though.

The optical heart rate sensor used by Garmin watches can typically deliver reliable readings. 

However, some users have mentioned having accuracy problems while engaging in vigorous exercise or while carrying out certain motions, like cycling or weightlifting.

In addition to using an optical heart rate sensor, Apple watches also have an ECG (electrocardiogram) capability that can identify irregular cardiac rhythms. 

Although clinical studies have demonstrated this feature’s accuracy, it might not be as helpful for tracking your fitness on a regular basis.

Read Also: Are Garmin Watches Accurate For Heart Rate? (We Checked)

Activity tracking

Detailed activity tracking functions, such as calories burnt, steps taken and distance walked, are available on both Apple and Garmin watches.

There are some variations in how these variables are measured and tracked.

Apple watches track steps and distance using accelerometers, which are generally accurate for most activities. However, some users have mentioned accuracy problems when cycling or rowing, for example.

In addition to using an accelerometer, Garmin watches also contain a function called “Move IQ” that can recognize and monitor certain activities like cycling, walking, and running.

Eliminating the need to start and stop monitoring manually can simplify how you track your workouts.

Please also read my article with FAQs about Garmin’s Body Battery.

What Smartwatches have the Most Precise GPS Tracking?

There are a select few brands that produce smartwatches with accurate GPS tracking. 

We’ll take a closer look at some of the most accurate GPS-tracking smartwatches available below:

Garmin Forerunner 945

A top-of-the-line GPS smartwatch for dedicated sports and fitness fanatics is the Garmin Forerunner 945. 

It has a barometric altimeter and uses the GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellite systems to track its whereabouts precisely.

Advanced training features like training status, load, and recovery time are also available on the Forerunner 945, which can help you get the most out of your workouts and prevent overtraining.

Suunto 9 Baro

Another GPS smartwatch made for athletes and outdoor enthusiasts is the Suunto 9 Baro.

In addition to a barometric altimeter for exact height data, it uses the GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellite navigation systems for pinpoint location tracking.

FusedTrack, a special feature of the Suunto 9 Baro, combines GPS data with motion sensor data to enable more precise tracking in locations with subpar GPS coverage.

Polar Vantage V2

A premium GPS smartwatch for sports and fitness aficionados is the Polar Vantage V2. 

It has a barometric altimeter and uses the GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellite systems to track its whereabouts precisely.

Further training capabilities, including customized training schedules and in-the-moment feedback during workouts, are also available with the Vantage V2. 

Also, it has a special function called “Running Power” that employs sensors to gauge how much power you’re producing when running.

Apple Watch Series 8

The most recent model of Apple’s well-known smartwatch, the Apple Watch Series 8, has a better GPS chip for more accurate location monitoring. 

The Apple Watch Series 8 offers seamless interaction with the Apple ecosystem, a large range of health and fitness tracking functions, and fewer advanced training features than some of the other smartwatches on this list.

Please also take a look at our article about common Fitbit GPS problems.

Do All Garmin Watches have GPS?

GPS is available on every Garmin watch.

GPS tracking is one of the key characteristics of Garmin watches and what distinguishes them from other watch kinds.

Certain Garmin watches also have extra sensors, including a barometric altimeter, which can measure elevation changes and provide you with more precise information about your climbs and descents.

Despite the fact that every Garmin watch has GPS technology, there are numerous models to pick from, each with a unique combination of features and capabilities. Others, like the Garmin Vivoactive series, offer a more extensive range of capabilities for everyday use. 

Certain models, like the Garmin Forerunner series, are made especially for runners and other endurance athletes.

Please also read our article about the durability of Garmin watches.

Final Thoughts

It’s critical to take into account your own needs, tastes, features, and functionality that are most significant to you when selecting a Garmin watch.

A Garmin watch will probably suit your demands, whether you’re a dedicated athlete searching for advanced training capabilities or just looking for a watch to track your everyday activity.

You can rest assured that Garmin’s GPS accuracy is on point (Pun Intended) – and in our opinion, these watches are worth every cent!


How accurate is your GPS Watch?

Garmin vs Apple: Which is best for runners?

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