Garmin is actively working on two new smartwatches, according to a couple of recently published official documents. There’s no word on what the new devices are yet, but the documents published on June 10 by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) detail a pair of new “smartwatch” devices.
Any device capable of wireless communication must be registered with the FCC, and pass its quality control tests, before being sold in the US. This means the FCC has a list of every new communication device scheduled to land on US shelves in the near future, although it doesn’t publish dates, images or specific details about those devices.
However, we can look closely at the documents and make some educated guesses. Some of the smaller details on the applications, such as extremely similar serial numbers (04390 (opens in new tab) and A4390 (opens in new tab)), could suggest these watches are part of the same line of devices, just like the new Forerunner models, and will launch simultaneously.
We recently wrote about Apple’s move towards more advanced running and triathlon-orientated metrics with watchOS9, stepping very much into traditional Garmin territory. We’re not suggesting these new devices are in any way a response to this recent move, as the watches must have been in the works for a while to only now have passed the FCC’s tests.
But it does mean that should the Apple Watch 8 (presumably coming in September) continue to move in this direction, Garmin is ready to respond with a new slate of devices.
Analysis: Which device is it?
Our best guess? The Garmin Forerunner 955 and Forerunner 255 models arrived three years after the 945 and the 245, which were released in 2019. Do you know what else was released in 2019? The Garmin Vivoactive 4 was announced in September 2019.
If Garmin continues to follow this three-year update cycle, the Vivoactive 5 would be announced in the same release window as the Apple Watch and could be pitched as a slightly cheaper competitor.
As Apple begins to move into triathlon territory, Garmin has the advantage of years of trusted name-brand recognition by athletes, adventurers, and casual runners alike. When it comes to specialist GPS watches, Garmin is hard to beat. The Apple Watch, in all its iterations, is a generalist’s smartwatch promoting a healthy lifestyle. A long-awaited update to one of Garmin’s most popular mid-range watches might be just the thing to take the wind out of Apple’s sails.
Of course, this is largely educated guesswork. It could be a different smartwatch or even a cheap fitness tracker Garmin’s got prepared, and a September launch might not be in the pipeline. But what we do know is that Garmin’s got something up its sleeve.