Garmin Forerunner 165 vs Apple Watch SE 2: Unleash Your Fitness Potential

By Elisabeth Christ
Published March 2024

Garmin Forerunner 165 vs Apple Watch SE 2

In the bustling market of smartwatches, the Garmin Forerunner 165 and Apple Watch SE 2 stand out as frontrunners, each with a unique proposition for the tech-savvy consumer. The Garmin is a testament to rugged functionality, designed with the athlete in mind, while the Apple Watch SE 2 blends style with smart features for an everyday wearable experience. Whether you're a serious runner looking to shatter personal records or someone seeking a smartwatch that keeps pace with your daily needs, this comparison aims to illuminate the strengths and compromises of each. Let's unravel the offerings of these two contenders to help you make an informed decision.

Key Takeaways

The Garmin Forerunner 165 caters to the dedicated athlete, offering extensive fitness tracking, training recommendations, and a battery life that's hard to beat, all wrapped up in a design that can withstand the rigors of intense workouts. Its focus on fitness specifics, such as VO2 max and wrist-based running power, makes it an invaluable tool for runners and fitness enthusiasts. On the flip side, the Apple Watch SE 2 presents a more well-rounded smartwatch experience, with robust app integration, seamless iPhone connectivity, and a stylish design that doesn't skimp on essential health and fitness features. 

Garmin Forerunner 165 vs Apple Watch SE 2
Garmin Forerunner 165

Garmin Forerunner 165

Best for Entry-Level Runners

✓ Bright and vivid AMOLED display with 390x390-pixel resolution
✓ Personal safety features
 ✓ Course creation and Garmin Coach to make basic training plans
✓ Up to 11 days of battery life

Apple Watch SE 2

Apple Watch SE 2

Best for Budget

✓ Midnight, Starlight, or Silver color options
✓ S8 processor
✓ watchOS 9
✓ Up to 18 hours of battery life

#1 Price & Design

Garmin Forerunner 165

Garmin Forerunner 165

At $250, the Garmin Forerunner 165 presents a durable and functional design, appealing to the serious athlete with its robust build and circular display. It offers a tactile experience with five physical buttons for easy navigation during workouts and a bright AMOLED screen for clear data viewing. Its design is straightforward, focusing on utility with interchangeable bands, making it a sturdy companion for outdoor enthusiasts.

Matching the Garmin in price, the Apple Watch SE 2 starts at $250 for the 40mm and $280 for the 44mm model, with an extra $50 for cellular connectivity. Its design is immediately recognizable, maintaining the sleek and modern look of its predecessors, with a comfortable fit and swim-proof capabilities. The Apple Watch SE 2 is designed for those who appreciate aesthetics and functionality, offering a blend of style and tech in a compact form.

#2 Features & Performance

Apple Watch SE 2

Apple Watch SE 2

Garmin Forerunner 165 is a powerhouse for runners and athletes, boasting a wide range of exercise options, personalized training recommendations, and detailed health metrics like VO2 max and sleep tracking. Its focus is squarely on enhancing your training and understanding your body better, with Garmin Connect app serving as a comprehensive fitness hub. However, it's less feature-rich in terms of smartwatch capabilities, with limited app support and no built-in map support.

In contrast, Apple Watch SE 2 operates on the watchOS 9 system, leveraging the powerful S8 processor for a smooth and responsive user experience. It lacks some of the advanced health features found in its Garmin counterpart but offers a well-rounded suite of notifications, fitness tracking, and seamless integration with the iPhone ecosystem. Apple Watch excels in connectivity and smart features, making it an ideal choice for those who value ease of use and access to a vast array of apps.

#3 Battery Life

Garmin Forerunner 165

Garmin Forerunner 165

Battery life is where Garmin Forerunner 165 truly shines, offering up to 11 days in smartwatch mode, a stark contrast to Apple Watch SE 2's 18-hour lifespan with GPS enabled. The Garmin is built to last through long training sessions and expeditions without frequent charges, though intensive use of GPS will diminish its battery life more rapidly. This makes it suitable for athletes and outdoor adventurers who prioritize longevity and durability.

Apple Watch SE 2, while not matching the Garmin in battery stamina, provides a practical battery life for daily use, stretching to 2 days with careful management. It's more than adequate for everyday activities, but the magnetic puck charging, taking over 2 hours for a full charge, might be a downside for some. The Apple Watch caters to those who prefer convenience and integration with their Apple devices, even if it means more frequent charging.

Garmin Forerunner 165 vs Apple Watch SE 2

Final Thoughts

Garmin Forerunner 165 vs Apple Watch SE 2

Garmin Forerunner 165 vs Apple Watch SE 2

If your life revolves around marathon training sessions, long bike rides, or hiking trails, Garmin Forerunner 165 might just be the companion you need. It's built to endure, offering detailed insights into your training, health, and recovery that can help you push your limits safely and effectively. The extensive battery life means less time tethered to a charger and more time exploring what you love. It's a device that respects the dedication of an athlete, providing the tools and data necessary to achieve those lofty fitness goals.

Conversely, if you're after a smartwatch that bridges the gap between your digital life and your fitness aspirations, Apple Watch SE 2 offers an enticing package. It's a device that not only supports your health and fitness endeavors but also keeps you connected to the world with unparalleled ease. Whether you're managing notifications, making calls, or tracking your daily activity, SE 2 does so with the elegance and efficiency Apple is known for. It's perfect for those who value an active lifestyle but aren't willing to compromise on connectivity and everyday convenience. In the end, your choice should reflect not just your fitness goals, but the role you want technology to play in achieving them.

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