Garmin is taking the fight to Apple with new running power feature – and it's about time

Garmin Fenix 7
(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin is introducing a new tool for selected watches that will calculate running power from the wrist – just like the Apple Watch Ultra, which was released last month to compete for the attention of hikers, trail runners, and other outdoor adventurers.

When the Apple Watch Ultra arrived on September 23, comparisons with Garmin devices were inevitable. It was a smartwatch specifically designed for use outdoors, with features like an emergency siren, controls made for use while wearing gloves, and a built-in dive computer.

However, its battery life currently maxes out at 36 hours in regular use. A forthcoming firmware update will add a low power mode that increases that by a third, but Garmin's canny social media team took the opportunity to poke a little fun, claiming that they measure battery life in months, not hours.

Now, Garmin is upgrading some of its existing watches to add a feature that comes as standard on the Apple Watch Ultra. Many of Garmin's watches have a running power function, which shows how much energy you are using during a workout, but until now this has relied on an additional sensor like a HRM-Pro heart rate monitor or Running Dynamics Pod.

Not for long, though. As DC Rainmaker reports, the company has just rolled out a new beta firmware update for the Fenix 7, Quatix 7, and Epix (Gen 2) that will also allow watches to calculate running power from the wrist if you don't have the extra accessories. Other watches will also get the tool over the coming months.

A little healthy competition

That's something I've personally been hoping for since Garmin introduced native running power back in June. A good GPS watch is a big investment, and it's a real shame if people who have invested in a brand new device are unable to get the most out of its features without purchasing yet more hardware on top.

Devices from Coros and Polar can already calculate running power from the wrist, and although the actual number might not be as accurate as one calculated using data from an additional sensor, the trends are what most runners will be interested in.

It's likely that Garmin has been planning to introduce running power from the wrist for some time, but perhaps the arrival of the Apple Watch Ultra prompted it to push it out sooner. There's nothing like a little healthy competition.

Cat Ellis

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.