Garmin Forerunner 645 Music vs. Apple Watch vs. Fitbit Ionic

Garmin makes some of the best fitness trackers and running watches you can buy, but it lagged behind competitors such as Apple and Fitbit in one key area: Music. None of the company’s devices had local song storage, so you had to bring another device along to pump up the jams. Garmin is finally answering our prayers with a new GPS running watch, the Forerunner 645 Music.

As you may have guessed from the name, this device stores offline playlists locally so you can leave your phone behind on your next run. But it comes with a hefty price tag: $450. Garmin is also releasing a version of the Forerunner 645 without music storage for $50 less.

Garmin is making its devices more competitive with other fitness-focused smartwatches — namely the Apple Watch Series 3 and Fitbit Ionic. But those devices are slightly more affordable, and in Apple’s case, you can snag a watch with cellular connectivity for the same price as the music-free model of the Forerunner 645.

Here’s how the three watches stack up:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Garmin Forerunner 645 MusicApple Watch Series 3 with CellularFitbit Ionic
Price$449.99 ($399.99 for music-less model)$399-$429 for cellular ($329-$359 for GPS version)$269.95
Battery life7 days in smartwatch mode, 5 hours in GPS mode with musicUp to 18 hoursUp to 4 days in smartwatch mode, 10 hours in GPS mode
Storage spaceUp to 500 songsUp to 250 songs300 songs
Streaming music compatibilityiHeartRadioApple MusicPandora, Deezer coming soon
Mobile paymentsGarmin PayApple PayFitbit Pay
Heart rate monitor?YesYesYes

Which GPS Watch Is Best?

We haven't used Forerunner 645 Music, but at a glance, it seems to offer the same features as the Apple Watch Series 3 and the Fitbit Ionic with a higher price tag.

But Garmin's exercise-tracking features are more advanced than Apple and Fitbit's, and some of the other GPS watches in its lineup are even more expensive than the Forerunner 645 Music. The $500 Fenix 5, for example, tracks about every sport a fitness buff could dream of. The Forerunner 645 Music may be the GPS watch runners have been waiting for.

Caitlin is a Senior editor for Gizmodo. She has also worked on Tom's Guide, Macworld, PCWorld and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. When she's not testing out the latest devices, you can find her running around the streets of Los Angeles, putting in morning miles or searching for the best tacos.