Garmin Approach S12 review

The Garmin Approach S12 is an affordable yet well featured golf GPS watch

Garmin Approach S12
(Image: © Garmin)

TechRadar Verdict

The Garmin Approach S12 is the company's affordable entry-level golf GPS watch which still packs in powerful features, fast functionality and decent looks.


  • +

    Relatively affordable price

  • +

    Great GPS accuracy and speed

  • +

    Powerful app

  • +

    Superb battery


  • -

    No colour display

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The Garmin Approach S12 is the company's latest entry level GPS golf watch. It aims to upgrade the previous Garmin Approach S10 model, enhancing battery life, upping screen resolution and more.

While the Garmin Approach S12 might not compare to top end smartwatches for screen quality when it comes to the Apple Watch 6 and the Galaxy Watch 3, this is a powerful Garmin option that keeps the price low.

This dedicated golf watch might not offer smartphone notifications but it does work with CT10 golf sensors making it super powerful for use with other devices.

On the Garmin Approach S12 you get a whopping 30-hour battery life, which is a huge jump up from the 10 hours on the last generation S10. The 1.3-inch screen has also seen an improvement with higher resolution and it is built to be readable even in bright sunlight.

Garmin Approach S12

(Image credit: Garmin)

The Garmin Approach S12 is backed by the Garmin Golf app, which is a super powerful feature and is the same on this lower priced model as it is on the top-end Approach watches, so you're really getting a lot of value for the price.

Battery life is extended thanks to the manual pairing to the phone, which means it works well as a stand alone device. This is a great option if you want total course focus as your phone stays on silent in your bag.

Garmin Approach S12 release date and price

  • Out now in the US, UK and Australia
  • Priced at launch $199.99 / £179.99 / AU$299

The Garmin Approach S12 launched in the UK, US and Australia in March 2021, and is available from the company direct with a shipping time of, typically, between one and three days.

The pricing, at time of launch, is $199.99 / £179.99 / AU$299. As is typical with these types of watches you can expect the price to drop when a new model launches.

Garmin Approach S12

(Image credit: Garmin)

Expect that price to drop in large chunks during sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when you could get a great deal.

The same can be said for out of golf season pricing. So if you're not in a rush to snap this up then you can hold out and potentially stand to make a saving that way. Of course this can depend on your region, so international shipping might even be worth factoring in.

Garmin Approach S12 design

  • 1.3-inch monochrome display
  • Comfy silicone interchangeable band 
  • Waterproof build

The Garmin Approach S12 is a very good looking golf GPS watch, especially for the entry level price. Yes it's not as premium as the top-end devices but it still feels well made and features the quick release straps for interchangeable looks. Though without smartphone connectivity we're not sure why you'd want that – unless you wear this as your full time watch, of course.

Garmin Approach S12

(Image credit: Garmin)

The watch case measures 43.7 x 43.7 x 11.5mm, with a silicone band. The strap is good for wrist circumferences between 125mm and 202mm.

The watch is water rated to five meters, so come rain or an accidental dip in a water feature, you won't need to worry. And at just 34g you won't need to fret about this weighing you down as you swim back to the grass.

Garmin Approach S12

(Image credit: Garmin)

Onboard sensors are minimal compared to the gyroscope toting top-end as this watch just has GPS onboard. So don't expect to get a step count or any sleep tracking extras in this model.

The Approach S12 uses Bluetooth to connect to a smartphone, and works with both iOS and Android using the Garmin Golf app, but this simply uploads your data to the app. There are no fancy notifications or live back-and-forth here.

The watch does come pre-loaded with over 42,000 courses, just like the premium models. That means you can get to a course and find it within seconds as the GPS detects your local options and offers them up for you to select.

The watch is also compatible with other Garmin products like the CT10 club sensors allowing for even more data on your course efforts should you own those.

Luke Edwards

Luke is a freelance writer and editor with over two decades of experience covering tech, science and health. Among many others he writes across Future titles covering health tech, software and apps, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and plenty more. He also likes to climb mountains, swim outside and contort his body into silly positions while breathing as calmly as possible.