Garmin pokes fun at Apple Watch Ultra's 36-hour battery life – does it have a point?

Runner fastening Garmin Enduro 2
Extra long battery life is a key selling point of the Garmin Enduro 2 (Image credit: Garmin)

On Tuesday, Apple launched the Apple Watch Ultra – a 'rugged' watch designed to stand up to the rough and tumble of hiking, diving, climbing, and trail running. It has a more robust design than the Apple Watch 8 that the company also unveiled, with a titanium case, sapphire crystal lens, and a programmable button and Digital Crown designed to be used while wearing gloves.

That naturally drew comparisons with Garmin, which makes a wide range of watches for outdoor adventuring and diving, including the recently launched Garmin Enduro 2.

Garmin responded by taking a rather unsubtle dig at its new rival. In a tweet posted on its official Twitter account, the sports watch company said "We measure battery life in months. Not hours." The tweet also include promo images of the Enduro 2, which has a maximum battery life of 46 days in smartwatch mode, or 550 days in battery saver mode.

By contrast, the Apple Watch Ultra has a battery life of 36 hours in typical use. A future firmware update will add a low power mode that will extend that to 60 hours.

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There's certainly a gulf between battery lives for the two watches, but looking at their specs, you can see where the differences lie.

First, there are the displays. The Apple Watch Ultra has an always-on AMOLED screen, which uses a lot more power than the color memory-in-pixel display of the Garmin Enduro 2. This is likely one of the main reasons the Ultra has such a brief battery life, but it's an expected part of the 'Apple experience', so the company couldn't really trade it for something more energy efficient.

Both watches offer multi-band GPS, the Apple Watch Ultra also has LTE, allowing you to make calls and use mobile services. Apple's battery life figures include some mobile data usage and a GPS tracked workout, whereas Garmin's smartwatch-only figures do not.

Apple Watch Ultra

The Apple Watch Ultra's always-on AMOLED display uses a significant amount of power (Image credit: Apple)

Unlike the Apple Watch Ultra, the Enduro 2 has photovoltaic material on its face that keeps its battery topped up with regular exposure to sunlight. It's currently difficult to incorporate solar charging into an AMOLED watch, though recently registered patents suggest Garmin is working on it.

The Enduro 2 also appears to have a larger battery than the Apple Watch Ultra; despite lacking an LTE module, Garmin's watch is a bigger and a little heavier.

That's not to say that either watch is superior, though – it all depends on how you intend to use it. If regular charging isn't an issue, and you're already invested in the Apple ecosystem, then the Apple Watch Ultra may suit you perfectly. Alternatively if you want to spend days off-grid, or own an Android phone, the Enduro 2 will be a better choice.

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.