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Review: Apple Watch Series 3 versus Garmin 920xt

Note: This review is 100% of my own words.  No products were provided to me in exchange for this review. I have linked to items on Amazon with my associates account.


As a runner and triathlete, having data is my jam! It is really important that I have a product that is accurate, easy to use, breaks down data properly and integrates well with multiple applications and systems for reviewing this data. 

I started out using a Garmin 910xt and quickly moved into the upgraded version, the Garmin 920xt.  This watch has served me well for a few years – but one of the biggest things I haven’t been a fan of was moving between the Garmin 920xt during workouts then to my Apple Watch Series 1 during the day.  Sure, data could be imported but it was just a ‘pain’.  This is why when the Apple Series 3 came out, I was ecstatic!  This Series 3 has capability for swimming and in watch heart rate tracking.


The Positives

These are a quick bullet list of my favorite aspects of each:

Garmin 920xt: 

  • Bluetooth connectivity – can view texts notifications on watch
  • Cycling data (power, speed, cadence)
  • Running data (
  • Battery life – up to 24 hours (I haven’t tested this, but it served me well through an Ironman 10+ hours)
  • Durability – I don’t shy away from being rough with it
  • Compatible with Apple, Windows, Android
  • Garmin Connect integrates well with many different online programs
  • VO2 Max levels
  • Custom set HR and Power zones
  • MOVE! – Watch can set to encourage you to move
  • Recovery check – uses heart rate to determine your recovery
  • Accessories to enhance use – running form, power/cadence


Apple Series 3 Watch:  

  • Tracking is accurate  – like the Garmin
  • No cell phone needed – can make calls, listen to music
  • Heart rate strap not needed – it is tracked from wrist
  • Automatic detection of swim splits and type of stroke (this actually awed me!)
  • Lighter weight and smaller wear than the Garmin
  • Can use to find my phone (chronic phone-loser here)
  • Wheelchair user functionality
  • Shares activity with other Apple watch users
  • Activity rings – visually see your daily progress + get prompts from watch


The Drawbacks

Garmin 920xt: 

  • Have to use a heart rate strap
  • No music or phone capabilities (Not a deal breaker for me)


Apple Series 3 Watch:  

  • Lack of cycling data (power, speed)
  • Lack of real time swim splits
  • Only compatible with Apple (but I’m an Apple fan so this isn’t a deal breaker)


Recommended sports: 

Garmin 920xt: 

  • running
  • multisport (triathlon, aquathlon)
  • cycling
  • hiking/rucking


Apple Series 3 Watch:  

  • running
  • hiking/rucking


Bottom line

It was slightly difficult to compare these two as I feel they aren’t entirely meant for the same type of athlete.  I’d highly recommend the Series 3 Apple watch for runners + newer triathletes.  The Series 3 is definitely a good runners watch – one that you can seamlessly wear and use all day during workouts and normal around your daily activities.

Until the Series 3 steps up and integrates the following I’m going to stick with the Garmin for my triathlon activities.


  • Connectivity and tracking to cycling power meters and speed sensors
  • Capability to push for a “split” in swimming and see the results on screen, not after the fact

In complete fairness, the Apple watch isn’t advertised for triathletes or swimmers – so I don’t want this review to sound like the Garmin is “better” – it just has functionalities and data tracking that I specifically need as an athlete.  If I took cycling out the equation and focused solely on running and aquathlon (swim/run) I can see it being a “toss up” between the two as many functionalities are the same, pricing is relatively similar and the styles suit the average age group to elite athlete.


About the author

Team USA Athlete. Lawyer. Business Consultant. She current competes in multisport events and lives in Virginia with her five kids, Military Veteran husband and two rescue puppy dogs.

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