Garmin vs Apple watches for Elders

Elders are lovable and need a little bit of support and care during the course of the day. It is best that we choose a good smartwatch for elders. It helps keep health essentials in check through active monitoring of health parameters. Should there be a fall, the watch should be able to inform the designated emergency contacts. We evaluate Garmin and the Apple ecosystem for our elders. Which watch will work in favor of the elders and offer them smartwatch functionality without overly complicating things? There are three goals for our comparison:

  1. the watch should be simple to operate.
  2. there should be a fall detection feature to send emergency messages.
  3. the watch must take and record a basic snapshot of health parameters of our elders.

We look at these criteria and share the essential differences between an Apple Watch and a Garmin Watch from the perspective of performance, value for money costs, and overall reliability.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus

Apple Watch vs Garmin Watch – Mobile operating systems for elders

Garmin watches work well with iPhones and Android mobile operating systems. Yes, there are certain compatibility criteria in terms of supporting iOS and Android on the Garmin smartwatches. However, most models of Garmin smartwatches have reasonably good integration with iPhone or Android phones.

An Apple watch is a product of the Apple ecosystem and will work with an iPhone or iOS based device. Android phones are not supported by Apple watches.

For some elders, the non-support of Android mobiles on the Apple watches may limit the choice of a smartwatch to the Garmin watches. iPhone users would have the option to get an Apple Watch or a Garmin watch; though, we believe that an Apple watch is more suitable for an iPhone customer. Apple Watch to iPhone integration is absolutely flawless.

Battery life – Apple watch vs Garmin watches for elders

We would hope that the smartwatch comes with an extended battery life. This ensures that our elders do not have to charge the smartwatch very frequently.

In terms of battery life, Garmin watches offer an extended battery life that could last for a week or more on basic smartwatch functionality. This implies that our elders do not have to charge the watch every second day. The long battery life of the smartwatch is one of the most under-rated and under-appreciated features, especially for elders.

An Apple Watch 7 comes with a battery life of 24 hours, which goes down further with the practical use of the watch. You will need to charge your Apple watch every day. This may work well for a few elders. But, most would prefer a watch with longer battery life to take away the hassle of frequent charging.

Touch functionality – Apple watch vs Garmin watch for elders

Apple watches have very smooth and fast touch functionality. Sometimes, though, you will find that the touch feature on the Apple watch is very sensitive and prone to random behavior. Some elders may find that the Apple watch’s touch is not to their liking. The extra sensitive touch functionality of the Apple watch may be a feature that you may want to be wary of for the elders.

In comparison, Garmin watches have tactile buttons. Newer models of the Garmin watches do have touchscreen functionality as well. Fenix 7, Venu 2 series and the Vivoactive 4 series watches do have touchscreen functionality. Additionally, the tactile buttons help you move through the various Garmin menu options on the watch. For most elders, a Vivoactive 4 or a Venu 2 series smartwatch ticks most boxes. These watches have a robust touchscreen feature and a strong build on the watch body.


Fall detection – Apple watch vs Garmin watch for elders

Fall detection is an essential feature that we ought to be looking for the elders. Apple Watches have a cherished history of flawless fall detection features. The fall detection feature of an Apple watch will:

  • detect a hard fall
  • wait for a response from the wearer.
  • upon no response after a fall, the Apple watch will send in emergency message to the designated emergency contacts.
  • Apple watch LTE or Cellular can even make emergency calls to the emergency services to seek help for you. (for example 911 calls to the United States emergency services)

Apple watch’s fall detection feature has been put to exhaustive use by the wearers. And, it has come out on the top with amazing accuracy of detecting a fall and taking subsequency action to help get attention.

Garmin watches have an incident detection feature. It would:

  • detect a fall
  • wait for the wearer to respond.
  • if the wearer does not respond, it will send emergency message to up to 3 designated contacts.
  • sadly, Garmin watches cannot call emergency numbers to seek help through the emergency services. For folks who have been looking to see a solution to user query – Can Garmin make emergency calls? No, Garmin watches cannot make calls to emergency services upon detecting a fall.
  • a part of the problem on Garmin’s emergency call stems from the fact that we do not have any LTE or cellular model on Garmin. There is an exception of the Forerunner 945 model that has an LTE model.

The fall detection feature of the Apple Watch has been put to test by more people in real life than any other watch model. For someone looking at a flawless performance and reliability of the fall detection feature, Apple Watch should be the first choice.

Build quality – Apple watch vs Garmin watch for elders

If you were to decide on an apt watch for elders based on the build quality of the smartwatch, Garmin watches would win all day long. The build quality of Garmin watches is strong and robust. The look and feel of a Garmin watch would surpass the appearance of any other smartwatch in the same league. Most Garmin watches have a steel bezel or steel body and a fiber-enclosed casing. Some premium Garmin smartwatches have a titanium bezel as well. Apple Watches would definitely look tender in comparison to the Garmin watches. Apple does make steel body watches, though the highest selling models come in aluminum casing.

Health Monitoring – Apple Watch vs Garmin Watch for elders

Health monitoring on Apple Watch outscores the Garmin watch’s health tracking suite. Most Apple Watches will provide you with the essentials of health monitoring features that include:

  • blood oxygenation tracking.
  • perpetual heart rate tracking.
  • an ability to detect atrial fibrillation.
  • an ability to take an ECG and share the report with a medical practioner.

Specifically, heart monitoring features on Apple Watch are reliable and provide valuable insights into your heart’s health.

Garmin watches, in comparison, offer the following:

  • health snapshot that includes a 2 minute session with vitals including blood oxygenation levels and heart rate monitoring.
  • perpetual heart rate tracking (advanced smartwatch models only, like Garmin Fenix 6 and Fenix 7)
  • Garmin watches lack the ECG functionality. We expected this to be rolled out in Fenix 7. However, ECG functionality has not been made available on any Garmin smartwatch.
  • Irregular heart beat notifications are a standard feature on Garmin watches.
  • However, Garmin watches do not detect atrial fibrillation or reporting it. Atrial fibrillation feature is unavailable on the Garmin watches as we write this. Notably, Apple Watches are pretty good in detecting and reporting Atrial fibrillation.

If health monitoring of elders is your primary focus, an Apple Watch would prove a better alternative. It provides all the essentials of comprehensive health monitoring features. Exhaustive health tracking for elders is a much sought-after feature for smartwatches.


Apple and Garmin watch bring stable smartwatch offerings that are suitable for elders. Both have multiple smartwatch models that could meet your elders’ goals. Both have some strong points and a few drawbacks. However, in our assessment, an Apple Watch looks like a worthy option on account of exhaustive health tracking features and a robust fall detection feature. Additionally, the availability of the LTE or cellular model just makes it easy for the elders to use the watch without having the need to carry the paired phone at all times.

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Rajesh Dhawan

Rajesh Dhawan is a technology professional who loves to blog about smart wearables, Cloud computing and Microsoft technologies. He loves to break complex problems into manageable chunks of meaningful information.