the battle of the sports monster(s)

What is Apple’s new XXL watch worth compared to an endurance benchmark like the Garmin Epix 2? Before investing in one or the other, a comparison is essential.

A few weeks ago, Apple surprised everyone with an Apple Watch that stood out. An XXL version, hardened and with boosted autonomy to meet the requirements of endurance athletes. Hot or cold desert, scuba diving, mountain… Apple envisions its connected watch in the most extreme conditions. A new market for the Californian brand which is entering the lands of the Garmin brand, well known to ultra-endurance enthusiasts. A duel arose between theApple Watch Ultra and the similarly priced Garmin Epix 2, starting at €999.

Apple Watch Ultra Loop Trail at the best price
Base price: €999

Garmin Epix 2 at the best price
Base price: €899

To fully understand the main differences between the two models, let’s start with a comparative technical sheet that allows you to discern at a glance the main differences between the Ultra and the second generation Epix.

Apple Watch Ultra Garmin Epix 2
Compatibility iOS Android and iOS
Autonomy 36 hours in typical use, up to 60 hours in energy saving mode 6 days in classic use, up to 16 days in photo economy mode (or even 48 days in minimal use)
Weight 61.3g 76g
Thickness 1.44cm 1.58cm
Screen size (diagonal) 1.92 inches 1.3 inches
Screen technology OLED AMOLED
Screen resolution 338 dpi 453 dpi
Screen definition 502×410 416×416
On-board SIM Yes Nope
Wireless Yes Yes
Bluetooth Yes Yes
NFC Yes Yes
GPS Yes Yes
Waterproof 100m 100m

Long confined to “Sunday runners” in particular because of the limited autonomy, the Apple Watch arrives in the big leagues and comes to confront the references of the sector: Coros, Suunto or even the market leader, Garmin. To get an idea of ​​the performance of the Apple Watch Ultra, we compared it to Garmin’s best connected watch currently: the Epix 2 (quite close to the Fenix ​​7 but with a better screen). Excellent autonomy, magnificent AMOLED screen and real computer on the wrist for athletes, this is the best in 2022.

© Florence Santrot / JDG

Apple Watch Ultra vs. Garmin Epix 2: screen and design

The Apple Watch have always had a very good screen but the Ultra goes up a notch in this area. Much larger than the screen of the Watch 8 (9% more surface area compared to the 45 mm model), it is protected from shocks by a Sapphire crystal and a titanium frame. The total display surface is much larger than that of the Epix 2. The screen is also twice as bright on the Apple side and the touch function is more advanced. We therefore give the advantage to the new entrant in the field.

Apple Watch Ultra vs. Garmin Epix 2: battery life

The two brands present show them as cut out for adventure. But, in this area, Garmin has a head start. Or two. Or three. As she pointed out in a tweet right after the Apple Watch Ultra announcement, “We measure our battery life in months. Not in hours.” This is very well seen on the part of Garmin because, indeed, the disparity is real between the two watches. When an Ultra will last 2-3 days daily according to our observations (notifications, a little sport, music management, etc.), the Epix 2 will show signs of weakness after around 6 days for similar use.

In the race, there is no debate: the Garmin is well above. And it will be again in November, when the Watch Ultra will have received an update allowing it to go up to 60 hours of autonomy. Nevertheless, we must welcome Apple’s effort to extend the life of the watch between two charges. This allows for example to use it on an ultra-endurance race of more than 100 km where the markup will not require constant GPS guidance. But the duel nevertheless remains largely in favor of Garmin on autonomy.

© Florence Santrot / JDG

Apple Watch Ultra vs. Garmin Epix 2: tracking sports and fitness

This remains the main reason to buy a sports watch. Benefit from precise tracking of your performance in order to be able to learn from it on the next training sessions and competitions. Both are capable of extensive monitoring of daily information (number of steps, calories, sleep analysis, VO2 Max, cardio, body temperature, etc.) but also during sports activity (with data collected much more advanced for Garmin).

The real difference is what the two brands do with this data. Apple really separates daily data from data recorded via its Exercise application or via a third-party app. For its part, Garmin has worked hard for years to offer a consolidated display of all the data collected to provide an overview of its state of form and above all, something very important for athletes, to his state of form and recovery between two training sessions and/or competitions. This aggregation of data is extremely important to understand its overall shape and if its body is ready to take a big session or if it is better to take it easy that day. Undeniably, the Epix 2 has a long lead in this area and it is clearly on this point that Apple must really improve to hope to convince athletes to leave Garmin for the Watch Ultra.

Apple Watch Ultra vs. Garmin Epix 2: smart features

This is the strong point of the Apple Watch (if you have an iPhone in addition, of course). Interactions with the Apple ecosystem are seamless, perfectly thought out and integrated into the watch. Notifications, sending and receiving SMS, voice calls, payment by credit card (including without the phone nearby), numerous applications available and the possibility of using the Watch Ultra in total autonomy by subscribing to an additional SIM option with its operator. Like a little iPhone on her wrist

On the Garmin side, all the bases are covered (notifications, SMS reception, on-board music, etc.) and the watch is compatible with both Android and iOS. On the other hand, it cannot be completely autonomous thanks to an integrated SIM and the number of applications to download is quite limited. So the advantage is given to the Apple Watch Ultra on this criterion.

© Florence Santrot / JDG

Where to buy them at the best prices?

Apple Watch Ultra Loop Trail at the best price
Base price: €999

Garmin Epix 2 at the best price
Base price: €899

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