Fitness, Reviews, SmartWatch, Wearables

Garmin Vs. TomTom Smart Watch – Battle of the Best Running Watch Contenders

Garmin Vs. TomTom Smartwatch – Battle of the Smartwatch Contenders

If you love to exercise – whether you’re a weekend warrior or have a dedicated daily workout routine – you almost certainly have some favorite activities. But no one wants the workout routine to become stale, so you may have two or three other activities that you like to use to shake things up on occasion. Tracking your progress as you try different activities can be a challenge. That’s where a running watch with sports activity tracking enters the picture. And if you’re looking for one of these cool devices, a Garmin vs. TomTom smartwatch comparison is one of the best ones you can make.

A smartwatch potentially can give you feedback on your heart rate, distance traveled, and calories burned. More advanced models can do things like count swimming laps or provide data about the altitude you traveled while hiking. And because it’s a watch, obviously it’ll keep track of how much time you exercised and your pace.

When you’re just starting an exercise program, it’s easy to tell if you’re making progress through things like weight loss and improved muscle tone. But when you’re already in good shape, the visible benefits of exercise are a little tougher to spot. That’s where an investment in a smartwatch with sports activity tracking can help. The data it gives you can show subtle improvements in your workouts, showing the type of progress you’re making.

We’ve collected some of the best smartwatch options from two of the top manufacturers in this area of the market to help you make a smart investment. (After all, a smartwatch deserves a smart investment decision.) Our Garmin vs. TomTom smartwatch battle will also show you which models work well for people who focus on one sport, such as running or hiking, or for those who bounce from sport to sport. Both companies have many options in different price points, and we’ll help you find the best sports watch for the money.

High-End Smartwatches – Best Running Watch

For the most complete smartwatch options from these two manufacturers at the high end of the price curve, our picks are the Garmin Fenix 5 vs. TomTom Adventurer.

Garmin Fenix 5 vs. TomTom Adventurer

Release Dates

The TomTom Adventurer made its debut in October 2016, while the Garmin Fenix 5 was announced in early 2017. The Fenix 5 is the first of numerous high-end smartwatches to be released by a host of manufacturers in 2017, so Garmin received a jump on the competition.


Garmin Fēnix 5 is the ultra Multisport GPS watch for athletes and adventurers.

Feature set

The Garmin Fenix 5 is the king of smartwatches, hands down when considering its feature set. You can track a multitude of indoor and outdoor sports activities with the Garmin Fenix 5. There’s individual tracking capabilities for cycling, swimming, running, rowing, hiking, and many others. The Fenix 5 has a gyroscope, compass, altimeter, GPS, and heart monitor included.

You can even add WiFi connectivity capability with the Fenix 5 for a slightly higher cost, which is rarely found in a smartwatch. (We called it the king earlier for good reason.)

Now the TomTom Adventurer is no slouch. Its features are aimed primarily at runners and hikers. But it can track several other activities, including lap swimming and indoor activities. Snowboarders and skiers will appreciate the altitude measurements, which determine when you’re riding the ski lift, resetting the watch to begin measuring the next run.

TomTom Adventurer

TomTom Adventurer GPS Outdoor Watch – Explore with your heart

The Adventurer is waterproof up to 130 feet of water depth, which is pretty impressive. But the Fenix 5 blows it out of the water (sorry for the bad pun) with a waterproof depth rating of 328 feet.

One interesting aspect of the Adventurer’s feature set is its new battery saving GPS feature, which takes a GPS sample once every two seconds (rather than every second), which allows it to run the GPS unit for a full 24 hours without the watch needing a charge. This is a really nice feature for hikers and runners.


The TomTom Adventurer has a rectangular face with rounded corners. The watch face measures 0.98 inches vertically and 0.87 inches horizontally. The glass on the watch face has a bit of protection from bumps because of the raised edge surrounding the watch face.

The Fenix 5 has an oversized round design, which isn’t common in the smartwatch segment. The Fenix 5 is available in a 47 mm watch face diameter size, which is about 1.85 inches. (Garmin also offers the Fenix 5S in a 42 mm watch face and the 5X in a 51 mm watch face.) And there are nearly a dozen color and watchband combinations, including a metal band design.

We really like the option of selecting a scratch resistant sapphire face on the Fenix 5. When you’re exercising, scratches and bumps are to be expected. Having extra protection in the watch face materials is always appreciated. The LED backlit screen in the Fenix 5 is easy to read in all types of ambient lighting.


The Fenix 5 is one of the most expensive smartwatches on the market. It starts at nearly $700, and models with even more features are available at higher price points. Not everyone is going to be able to afford this very impressive model. If you like the idea of the Fenix 5 but want to save a bit of money, consider going backward to the previous model, the Garmin Fenix 3, which is available at a discount.

Meanwhile, the Adventurer is at the top of the cost curve for TomTom brand smartwatches, but it has a price point in the mid-$300s for a kit with Bluetooth headphones and 3GB of music storage. You may even be able to find the Adventurer with a lower price point if you want the watch alone, so this model is far less expensive than the top end of the Garmin family of models.

Final verdict

There’s just not much on the market that can stand up to the impressive Garmin Fenix 5. It is close to the perfect smartwatch for tracking sports activity, as it can provide data on a huge number of different activities, all in a sharp looking unit. But the price point is simply overwhelming at $700 and up. You would have to be a serious athlete who spends several hours per week working out to justify this price.

Garmin Fenix 5 Winner

Best High-End Smartwatch Winner: Garmin Fenix 5

So if you’re primarily a hiker/runner, we’d recommend the TomTom Adventurer, which has plenty of great features at a much more acceptable price point. But for the person who participates in a multitude of activities and sports – and who has the budget for it – the Garmin Fenix 5 is the king of the market.

Mid-Range Smart Watches – Best Value Watch

In the middle of the smartwatch cost curve for these two companies, our favorite options are the Garmin Forerunner 35 vs. TomTom Runner 3 Cardio.

Garmin Forerunner 35 vs. TomTom Runner 3 Cardio

Garmin Forerunner 35 vs Tom Tom Runner 3

Release Dates

Both the TomTom Runner 3 Cardio and the Garmin Forerunner 35 appeared on the market in September 2016.

Feature set

One of the biggest additions to the Runner 3 Cardio from previous versions of TomTom’s mid-range smartwatches is the inclusion of trail navigation. This addition adds to an already strong set of features for runners and hikers in the Runner 3. It also offers tracking of other sports (such as swimming, treadmill running, cycling, and indoor activities), as well as a heart rate sensor and built-in GPS. It’s waterproof up to 130 feet.

Garmin Forerunner 35

The Forerunner 35 is rated for a water depth of 164 feet, but, strangely, it does not track lap swimming. Beyond that, this Garmin model does offer good sports tracking features for hiking, running (indoor and outdoor), indoor activities, and cycling. It contains a heart rate monitor and GPS tracking. It’s primarily designed as a Garmin running watch, though.


Normally, we’re all about functionality over looks when it comes to smartwatches. We can put up with a poor looking unit if it has great sports tracking features. But we have to make an exception for the Forerunner 35. This design is so ugly that it has to play a role in our recommendation, even though the unit has pretty nice smartwatch features.

It’s a blocky rectangular face with rounded corners that just looks bad. The narrow edges of the Forerunner 35 don’t provide much protection to the face. And the square display doesn’t go to the edges, measuring 0.93 inches on all sides. It also has only a 128×128 resolution on the screen.

TomTom’s Spark 3 has a rectangular face with rounded corners. The edge around the watch face is raised, which gives the glass a bit of protection. The watch face measures 0.98 inches vertically and 0.87 inches horizontally.


You’ll spend right around $200 for the Forerunner 35. It’s a slightly cheaper smartwatch than the Garmin Forerunner 230 and Garmin Forerunner 630. Meanwhile, the Runner 3 Cardio is available in a few different iterations. It ranges from about $150 to $250. The more expensive versions include heart rate monitoring, Bluetooth headphones, and music storage.

Final verdict

These two smartwatches have a lot of similarities, including price point and feature set. So in this case, it comes down to looks, and there it’s no contest: We’ll give the edge to the Tomtom Runner 3 Cardio + Music.

TomTom Spark 3 Waterproof Cardio+Music

TomTom Spark 3 Waterproof Cardio+Music

Budget Smartwatches – Cheapest Running Watch

If you’re looking to find a smartwatch from these two companies that’ll give you basic features for a basic price, our top picks in the budget priced category are the Garmin Forerunner 25 vs. TomTom Runner.

Garmin Forerunner 25 vs. TomTom Runner

Release Dates

The TomTom Runner is an older model that still remains popular in today’s market. In terms of its performance against newer models, the Runner is starting to show its age a bit, as it was released in mid-2013. The Garmin Forerunner 25 had a mid-2015 release date.

Feature set

The feature set of the TomTom Runner is pretty basic and is aimed at runners. You can use it outdoors or on a treadmill. The built-in GPS is slow in pulling in the initial signal, which is one area where this unit shows its age.

Garmin’s Forerunner 25 offers a built-in GPS, and it works with running both indoors and outdoors. It’s also primarily a running smartwatch, with limited features for cyclists.

Both the Runner and Forerunner 25 have a waterproof capability up to 164 feet, which are excellent performance levels at this price point. But neither model has the ability to track swimming.

tomtom runner


You’ll find two square display sizes with the Forerunner 25, either 0.73 inches on all sides or 0.91 inches on all sides. It’s blocky with an eight-sided part surrounding the square screen. The thick plastic edge will provide good protection for the screen. We’re not huge fans of the look of this unit, but it is better looking than the Forerunner 35.

The TomTom Runner carries a nearly square, oversized display screen that measures 0.85 horizontally by 1 inch vertically. The display doesn’t go to the edges of the screen. The thick edges around the screen are raised to provide some protection to the screen glass. Even though this model is three-plus years old, its design still looks pretty good.


Because both models are older, you may be able to find some bargains on them if you shop around. On average, the Runner will set you back a little over $100, while the Forerunner 25 costs around $125.

Final Verdict

Both the TomTom Runner and the Garmin Forerunner 25 are very basic smartwatches designed primarily for runners. Even though the Runner was TomTom’s first entry into the smartwatch market more than three years ago, its design still looks pretty good. But the Runner’s slow GPS performance is a significant source of frustration for users, leading us to award this battle to the newer Garmin Forerunner 25.

Software and Apps

These smartwatches make use of companion software and apps. They’re designed to help you make the most of the data the smartwatches gather.


The Garmin Connect Mobile app has some basic features, such as tips for improving your health and reminders to stand up and move around during the day. It can give you a snapshot of your activity during the day … which can help you decide whether you need to get on the treadmill for 20 minutes before going to bed.

garmin connect app

If you work out or compete with a Forerunner® running watch, Edge® cycling computer or fēnix® outdoor watch, all of the Garmin Connect data you rely on is right in the app.

And for someone looking to ramp up their workouts, this app is great for taking the data the smartwatch collects and turning it into usable information. The Garmin app also has the ability to help you connect with other users for motivation and for competing in weekly challenges.


The TomTom Sports app has a number of graphical components, making it easy to track the data the TomTom sports watch collects. You’ll be able to view your results from a variety of sports activities, including running, biking, treadmill usage, and others.

tomtom sports app

Track your progress at a glance. See key fitness information and activity history at-a-glance, on the TomTom Sports App dashboard

The Sports app has a body composition tracking screen, allowing you to track measurements such as weight loss or BMI over time. And the software will keep a history of your exercises, such as tracking all of your runs and your best distances and time splits. The app can allow you to share your exercise data through your social media accounts with one tap on the screen.

Garmin vs. TomTom Smartwatch Questions and Answers

1. What is a smartwatch?
Simply put, a smartwatch can work a lot like a smartphone, running apps and giving you notifications. The smartwatch can work especially well for those seeking help with an exercise plan, using its built-in components for GPS tracking, heart rate monitoring, and counting steps and calories burned. And it also can track performance in different activities and sports.
2. What are the weaknesses of a smartwatch?
Perhaps the biggest drawback to smartwatch tech is the small screen. If you’re used to viewing messages and data on a smartphone or laptop screen, you’ll quickly become frustrated trying to read a lot of information on the tiny watch face. It also doesn’t have the functionality of a smartphone. Even though you can see alerts and messages on the watch screen, you can’t answer them easily.
3. If I’m wearing a smartwatch for exercise, isn’t it going to get really, well, smelly?
Yes, it is true that a smartwatch band could develop an odor over time if it’s worn day after day during sweaty exercise sessions. Fortunately, you can clean these devices. If your smartwatch band is made of a rubber or flexible plastic material, just use a microfiber cloth dampened with water to clean it. A cloth watchband will need to be scrubbed with a gentle soap and water combination. With most smartwatches, you can simply change out the band if it becomes too soiled over time. You can clean the glass watch face with a slightly damp microfiber cloth. We’d suggest turning off the smartwatch before attempting to clean it, though.
4. Do I need a smartwatch that’s compatible with my smartphone?
Selecting a compatible smartwatch is a good idea, as the two devices will be able to communicate with each other easily, passing messages and data back and forth. Some smartwatches are compatible with both Android and iOS, while some are only compatible with one type of phone.
Bottom Line: Garmin vs. TomTom Smartwatch

In the Garmin vs. TomTom smartwatch comparison, the two companies’ offerings are relatively similar in terms of feature set … at least until you reach the high end of the market. The Garmin Fenix 5 is simply unmatched in the market in its feature set and design. But it’s very expensive. So unless you’re a workout warrior who likes to track a variety of sports nearly every day, it’s tough to justify its cost. Someone who works out primarily on the weekends probably will be satisfied with the TomTom Adventurer.

If you’re looking to save a bit of money over the models at the top of the market, it’s tough to recommend the smartwatches at the low end of the market, though, unless you’re exclusively a runner. However, both companies have nice offerings in the mid-range price point, and both the Garmin Forerunner 35 and the Runner 3 offer a good value for the person needing to track workouts. Either way, it’s tough to go wrong with the Garmin vs. TomTom smartwatch comparison, as both companies have really nice sports watches!