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

Garmin is a global brand that has found its niche in the fitness market by supplying high-performance fitness wearables, making it a top choice in the fitness community.

However, numerous first-time buyers and avid Garmin users often ask, “Are Garmin watches accurate for heart rate?”

In this article, we explore the accuracy of heart rate tracking on Garmin watches and how to make use of this feature.

How Accurate is the Heart Rate Tracking on Garmin Watches?

Garmin is well known for using advanced technology to give the best user experience. Although technology has not yet reached perfection, Garmin smartwatches come very close.

You might ask, how is this possible?

Here are a few ways that Garmin ensures near-perfect accuracy:

Optical Heart Rate Sensors:

Garmin watches use optical heart rate sensors that emit light onto your skin to detect changes in your blood flow. These sensors are found on the underside of the watch and come into contact with your wrist.

Resting Heart Rate Accuracy:

When you’re resting and not performing intense physical activities, the optical sensors provide precise readings. This is vital for tracking your overall cardiovascular health and monitoring your health trends over time.

It’s also worth noting that there are factors that may affect the accuracy of heart rate tracking, such as:

  1. Wrist Position: You should ensure that the watch is snug on your wrist, and the optical sensors maintain consistent contact with your wrist. A loose fit can result in inaccurate tracking.
  2. Intensity and Motion: when you engage in high-intensity activities and movements, your watch may give you inaccurate readings. This is due to the fact that the watch may struggle to keep up with the rapid changes in your heart rate.

Also, check out our article on Garmin Watch Heart-Rate Problems (6 Issues and Fixes)

Does Garmin Watch Heart Rate Tracking Work Without a Phone?

I have found that Garmin watches have extensive and highly efficient features that are really user-friendly. And, just about any Garmin user will tell you, their favorite Garmin feature is the standalone capability of their wearable.

This includes being able to track your heart rate without your phone.

The sensors and the watch’s processing ability allow you to monitor your heart rate automatically. The optical heart rate sensors that I mentioned earlier, are built directly onto the watch and work independently of any smartphone connection.

Another cool thing about Garmin watches is the built-in storage that stores heart-rate information. This means you can view your past performances on your watch without relying on your smartphone connection.

However, when you want an in-depth analysis, you can view this automatically on your phone once you reconnect both devices.

Another convenient reason to love the standalone capability of a Garmin watch is its extended battery life. When you use the wearable to track your heart rate without a smartphone connection, it consumes less battery power unlike when synced to your phone.

You might also be interested in my article on Why Garmin Watches Are Worth Every Cent! (8 Cool Features)

Are Apple Watches or Garmin Watches More Accurate for Heart Rate?

It’s undeniable that Garmin and Apple are leaders in the fitness device industry. Both brands offer wearables that cater to different needs.

Let’s take a closer look at how these two brands compare in heart rate tracking:

Apple Watch

Garmin Smartwatch

Apple Watches are popular for being an extension of the Apple ecosystem.


Garmin Watches, on the other hand, are popular for being focused on fitness tracking and outdoor activities.


With every new Apple watch model, the brand has really improved its algorithms and sensors.


They are favored by athletes, hikers, and even swimmers who need accurate data to measure their training and performance.


Apple Watches use photoplethysmography (PPG) technology.

PPG technology allows Apple Watches to continuously track your heart rate throughout the day, even during workouts.

Garmin also makes use of PPG technology, but they take it a notch higher by incorporating chest strap heart rate monitors, which have been determined to be more accurate than smartwatches.

This is why Garmin is considered to have more accurate heart-rate tracking technology.

But if you are specifically looking for a wearable to help with your fitness and sporting performance, then Garmin is your G.O.A.T!

Read here for 7 more Reasons To Buy A Garmin Watch Instead Of Apple Watch (Owner’s Feedback)

What Smartwatches Have the Most Precise Heart Rate Tracking?

Smartwatches have undoubtedly become a necessary feature in everyday life, not just as an accessory, but as a tool to help monitor our health and fitness.

Smartwatches have outgrown their primary function of just heart-rate tracking during workouts or step-counters.

They’re elevated to offer more intricate features that improve the workout experience.

However, heart rate tracking is still fundamental to every smartwatch user, and the debate on which smartwatches have the most precise heart rate tracking continues.

I’ve compared a few of the most popular wearables in the market to help provide direction to the debate.

Fitbit Versa 4

The Versa 4 is Fitbit’s latest offering to the smartwatch industry and here are a few of its notable features:

  • An even more simplified user interface
  • Solid GPS and sleep-tracking capabilities
  • The heart rate seems to track well but lags with higher-intensity workouts
  • Users can install a third-party ECG feature to track their heart’s electrical activity

Apple Watch Series 8

The general consensus in the Apple community is that the Series 8 is Apple’s best work yet, here are its most talked-about features:

  • Improved optical heart rate sensors that provide near-perfect readings
  • A built-in ECG feature to detect irregular heart rhythms
  • Blood oxygen (SpO2) monitoring is included
  • New heat-tracking sensor allows you to track your body temperature

The Google Pixel Watch

The Google Watch is more of a futuristic-meets-luxury smartwatch in the higher price bracket. Here are some of its features:

  • It syncs well with your Google Account
  • It uses Fitbit’s tracking for heart-rate tracking and health information
  • The battery life is not the greatest lasting only 24 hours with minimal usage

Garmin Venu 2 Plus

Outdoor enthusiasts are raving about this new addition to the Garmin family. Here are its most notable features:

  • Improved heart rate sensors which measure the heart rate more accurately
  • Stress tracking helps in tracking your mental wellness
  • It incorporates Garmin’s legendary advanced GPS tracking
  • It has improved battery life of up to 9 days on a single charge

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

Samsung’s latest wearable offering has improved significantly from its predecessors. Here’s the ‘411’ on this device:

  • A wider connection area between the watch and the wrist allowing for better and more accurate readings
  • A new temperature-tracking feature

Amazfit GTR 4

This is one of the ‘new kids on the block’ in the smartwatch industry. But it definitely packs a punch, with a balance in functionality and style.

Here’s a range of its essential features:

  • Solid heart-rate tracking technology
  • Sleep tracking sensors
  • Advanced dual-band GPS monitoring
  • And it’s not heavy on your pockets

Do All Garmin Watches Track the Heart Rate?

As diverse as the Garmin wearable lineup is, the availability of heart-rate tracking varies across the watches.

It’s important to note that it is mostly the earlier wearables that don’t have the heart-rate tracking function.

Many Garmin watches give real-time heart rate information while you’re participating in activities, like running, cycling, or swimming.

This data helps you assess your workout intensity and recovery.

Some Garmin watches offer around-the-clock heart rate monitoring.

This provides valuable insights into your resting heart rate, stress levels, and sleep quality.

Final Thoughts

Garmin watches are popular for their impressive accuracy in heart rate tracking, thanks to optical sensors and resting heart rate monitoring.

However, not all Garmin watches have heart rate monitoring, so I suggest you choose your model wisely based on your needs. Ultimately, Garmin remains a top choice for fitness enthusiasts and athletes.


How accurate is heart monitoring on the Apple Watch?

8 of the best heart rate monitor watches in 2023

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