Recommendations Please: Looking for a Fitness Watch in 2021 - Budget under $1000

BLUF: looking to purchase new fitness watch, what should I look into?

The long: Am eagerly awaiting my first ever EOFY bonus (to be paid in September payroll) and am thinking of rewarding myself with upgrading my watch (currently using a 1st Gen Apple Watch). I am quite interested in the Garmin range of watches because of their performance features, battery life and durability.

Some of my criteria:

  • iPhone integration (notifications, calls, music player)
  • Water resistant
  • Decent battery life (i.e., not having to charge once a day)
  • Budget: under $1000, but happy to spend less :)
  • My activities: walk / run, swimming, cycling, gym, sleep (not joking, sleep tracking would be a bonus)
  • I use Strava, so compatibility with this if that is a thing
  • Minimalist design preferably, dark colours, and larger is okay (currently using a 42mm watch face and my wrist eats it up no problems)

Please give me some recommendations my trusty OzBargain comrades.

Poll Options

  • 8
    Apple Watch (Series 7 - 3)
  • 6
    Galaxy 4


  • +1

    Galaxy Watch 4 is not far from being available to purchase.

    Also Apple Watch Series 7 is not too far away.

    I've used iPhones / Androids and both Apple Watch and currently using Samsung Galaxy Watch. In my opinion you won't get a better integration than iPhone paired with an Apple Watch.

  • You probably want to wait for the Apple Watch Series 7. It's supposed to have slightly better battery life, but no guarantees it meets your charging criteria. The Galaxy Watch 4 has dropped support for iPhones, and a lot of its features reportedly only work with a Samsung phone, not even other Android phones.

    I hear Woolworths is doing bonus Everyday Rewards points on Apple Gift Cards this time of year that can be used to buy an Apple Watch…

    • Thanks lint, noted regarding Galaxy watch!

  • +3

    I had an Apple Watch. Returned after a week or so from terrible battery life. I wanted it to track steps, running and sleep. By the time I got to the end of the day it needed charging so I couldn’t track sleep.

    Went to a Garmin Tactix D (same as Fenix 6 basically) and it’s so much better. Tracks everything plus notifications and such. Spotify works on it so I don’t need to take my phone running etc. battery lasts two weeks easily. Sure it’s not flashy like an Apple Watch but I prefer it 100 times over. Sapphire glass too so very scratch resistant.

    • Sounds pretty good to be honest toshjammi, any negatives to having the Tactix D (apart from aesthetics)?

      • The reason I got the Tactix is because it always displays a second timezone handily around the bezel which allows me to easily grab UTC time. If you have no need for that, the regular Fenix 6 would be better as the Tactix rarely goes on sale where as the latter can eaily be found at 50% off in sales.

  • +1

    When you say iphone integration -> calls: do you mean using your watch as a mic? or just be able to tell it to answer a call before you get to your phone? and music player means being able to control your phone using the watch?

    I'm on a garmin fenix 6 sapphire, and you can't use it as a mic, just to answer a phone call and then get to your phone and pick it up to talk. as for music, it has its own spotify on it so i have to load the music in, and the watch controls the music on itself, if that makes sense. I haven't tried using it to control my phone, but I guess the reason I got it was so that I didn't have to take my phone with me on runs. Maybe someone else can comment on being able to control your phone playing the music while taking it on a run.

    Don't have an iphone and don't know about the fitness abilities of an apple watch, but I've been very happy with the ruggedness of the sapphire and the basic notifications it gives. Battery life with 2-3 runs with gps tracking and music and a few stationary sessions comes out to be about 6-7 days. On really lazy weeks it can go up to 12. I think if you go up to the 6X it is even much longer than that on a single charge.

    I managed to get those coles/woolies For Him type of gift cards at 15% off, then when Rebel had the watch I wanted on half off, bought it with those gift cards, so Fenix 6 Sapphire was ~552 from 1299. I think the pro version is enough, especially either the 6 or 6X for you, but if get the opportunity at a half off sapphire version, I think it's worth the extra 60 bucks. I dropped my watch from about chest height, it hit the counter and then the floor, and I picked it up and noticed a ding on the edge of the watch and was like, I guess it's not indestructible… then actually it wiped away. The watch was fine, actually, it took a piece of the stone counter with it O_O

    • Thanks ranma, appreciate your comments.

      I guess for integration, more so being able to have real-time and usable notifications (such as being able to see who is calling / read messages or emails).

      Thanks for the info re. battery life, from my experience the Garmin sounds much more superior than an Apple Watch.

  • Do you want a fitness watch or do you want a device with apps on your wrist, with one of those apps offering fitness stats?

    If the latter, Apple. If the former, anything else.

    I’m personally an advocate for Garmin, but much like everything, whatever you start using is where you stay because it will have all your data.

    • Looking for more a fitness centric watch with the additional apps that make it a "smart watch".

      Any preferences for Garmin?

  • Garmin Venu 2 does all these things and doesn't look too much like something you would wear to the Antarctic, Has muted all black design. Integrates easily with Srava via Garmin Connect App on your phone. I have the Garmin Venu 1 and track rowing, walking, stairs and sleep with it.

    • Thanks dirtybigjelke - I like the look of the Garmin Venu 2. Any cons?

      • Venu battery life can be a bit low if using Pulse 02 during sleep. Venu 2 has better battery life by all accounts.

  • I have a Forerunner 245, and it is a great watch. One thing to be careful of is that Garmin has some interesting quirks that seem to be purely software. An example is this: the 245 doesn't have a barometer, so it won't calculate stairs climbed, or even more importantly, can't calculate power when running. Hardware limitation, so makes sense. But this it won't connect to power meters on indoor trainers, but can connect to some other cycling accessories? Hmph. I can use a seperate app (Connect IQ) to load another app to get the power data, but it isn't "real", so isn't used in any of their calculations (e.g. vo2max).

    You need to upgrade to the 945 or I think Fenix to get access to all this.

    OK, so what would I do if I didn't have a 245? I would be seriously considering the Coros Pace 2, with the only drawback that I can see being that it doesn't do breadcrumbs / navigation, which in all honesty is a dealbreaker for me, but might not be for you. When the next Apex comes out it will be interesting! They don't have as much analytics as Garmin Connect, but sync easily to Strava, so the main stuff is there. Plus it does running power without Stryd or another pod, and that's pretty darn cool. A mate bought a Pace 2 almost two weeks ago now, and has done maybe 6x shorter runs during this time, and still hasn't had to charge the battery… that's mad.

    • Thanks Zephell for your recommendations. A couple of questions: How often do Garmin update their software & are their updates decent (i.e., actually fix some quirks)?

      Appreciate the advice on the Coros Pace 2 - curious as to what you use the breadcrumbs / navigation for?

  • If you want a watch only, meaning, not planning on getting a kit or additional accessories specifically for your bike etc. Then go with the Samsung Galaxy.

    Should you be keen to get a kit, then look to Garmin!

    Models will depend on specifics of what you want by way of accessories and the likes. If you keen on riding and want to add to the cockpit etc, you will be looking at the 1030 etc. But, that's not really a watch! lol…

    • Thanks mickyb80, what do you mean by additional kit for the bike (I am a rider but dont have any cockpit setup as of yet)?

      • Additional kit - Cadence sensor, Speed sensor etc.
        But if you buy the computer in a 'kit', usually the sensors will come with it.

        I took my bike computer off my bike some time ago (was just a cheap one), can't even find it. Was heading out to get a Garmin 1030, but ended up buying coffee that day, and test driving cars instead! lol…

        Picked up a Samsung Galaxy watch with 4g esim and was just using that for riding instead (few months pre covid). Sadly, the bike hasn't moved for over 10 months now… Will get back on the saddle sometime I'm sure, and will look to pick up the 1030 kit when I do.

        If all you want to log is distance, speed, and basic functions like that, just get a Galaxy watch.
        If you want all the extra reports, then you will need a bike computer/kit and cockpit setup.

        • thanks for the extra info, hopefully you get a bit more time in the saddle in the future!

          • @mmack: No problems… and yep, fingers crossed!
            Was planning a charity ride before C-19 hit. Syd - Melb…
            That got 5#17 caned for the time being… :(

  • Garmin VivoActive 4 or 4S

    I think it has everything you need and decent battery (4 to 6 days depending on the use and settings).

    Smaller and beautiful.

    • thanks this is us :)

  • As long as you're happy to charge the Apple Watch overnight (like I do), it's absolutely brilliant and integrates really well with everything you're asking for.

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