The Garmin Bounce took me by surprise. Often I can glean an idea about upcoming watch launches from FCC approvals and leaks from retailers, but this time there was nothing. The watch itself is pretty surprising too. It's only the second Garmin device to feature LTE (the other being the Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE), and has unusually brief battery life, maxing out at a mere two days.
The short battery life is no doubt down to the continuous GPS monitoring that allows parents to keep tabs on their kids' location, and provides warnings if they leave a certain geofenced area. It essentially sounds like an adapted version of LiveTrack, which allows friends and family to keep tabs on you during a training session or race.
LTE use will also drain the battery faster, but two days is given as the maximum period between charges, so presumably doesn't include sending messages.
The GPS tracking sounds like a handy feature, but I can't imagine too many teenagers being happy to let their parents know their precise whereabouts at all times, and the Bounce is kinda huge for younger kids' wrists. It measures a fairly chunky 42mm x 42.4mm x 12.6mm. To put that into context, the Garmin Venu Sq (which isn't tiny) measures 40.6mm x 37mm x 11.1mm.
Its design seems aimed at younger kids too, and teens likely already have phones, making the LTE connectivity redundant.
All in all, it's a bit of a strange device, but it may be a sign of things to come. The LTE messaging particularly is a feature that could be usefully transferred across to adult watches for those moments when you don't have ready access to your phone. It could also allow you to contact emergency services from your wrist (something that the Forerunner 945 LTE couldn't do, but the Apple Watch can).
The downside? The subscription fee. Thus far, most Garmin watches have no costs after the initial purchase, with no Fitbit-style premium services embedded in the Garmin Connect app that lock certain features behind a paywall. However, LTE services don't come free, and to make the most of the Bounce parents will have to pay an additional subscription charge of $10 per month, or $100 per year when paid annually.
That's a pretty steep ask on top of $149.99 for the watch itself, but Garmin may just be testing the water here to assess the reaction and see whether that's an extra expense that people are willing to pay before adding LTE functionality to its main range of devices.
There was a hint earlier this year that an LTE edition of the Forerunner 955 might be on the way when a part-finished listing was accidentally published on Garmin's Australian website, but there's been nothing since. Whether the Bounce sinks or floats might make all the difference.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.