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

Updated

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:


Garmin Forerunner
645 Music

Apple Watch
Series 3
with Cellular

Fitbit Ionic

Price

$449.99 ($399.99 for
music-less model)

$399-$429 for
cellular
($329-$359
for GPS version)

$269.95

Battery
life

7 days
in smartwatch mode,
5 hours
in GPS mode
with music

Up to 18 hours

Up to 4 days in
smartwatch mode,
10 hours in GPS mode

Storage
space

Up to 500 songs

Up to 250 songs

300 songs

Streaming music
compatibility

iHeartRadio

Apple Music

Pandora, Deezer
coming soon

Mobile
payments

Garmin Pay

Apple Pay

Fitbit Pay

Heart rate
monitor?

Yes

Yes

Yes

GPS?

Yes

Yes

Yes

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.