High-quality and stylish: Garmin Lily Smartwatch review

What’s The Best puts the Garmin Lily Sport Smartwatch to the test.

from Garmin
RRP  £239.80
Garmin Lily Sport watch on wrist

by Natalie Corner |
Updated on

There’s no need to forgo your traditional watch for a fitness tracker with the Garmin Lily Sport Smartwatch. In three stylish colourways for the Sport and three for the Classic version, the Garmin Lily is a great smartwatch designed for women that promises to “make a statement but modern enough to keep you connected”.

It boasts a whole range of features that any person interested in tracking every aspect of their health would be keen to discover as we found in this What’s The Best review. From advanced sleep monitoring, menstrual cycle tracking, stress detection, step count, blood oxygen levels, hydration and even when you need to recharge your “body battery”.

Garmin has a lot of detailed data available in its features and over 30 different smartwatches at different price points, compared to its competitor Fitbit which has five main trackers. For a smartwatch in the mid to high-range price bracket for a wearable, some glaring elements are missing in the Garmin Lily.

The Garmin Lily Sport Smartwatch is high-quality and stylish with plenty of data to sink your teeth into. What’s The Best's deputy commercial content editor Natalie Corner, and regular Fitbit wearer put it to the test.

Best smartwatch for style
Garmin Lily Sport Smartwatch
Price: $249.00
Specifications
Touchscreen? Yes
Colour display? No
GPS? No (phone connect)
Bluetooth? Yes
Compatibility: Android and iOs
Size: 34.50 x 34.50 x 10.15 mm
Weight: 24g
Battery life Up to 5 days
Material: Strap silicone, bezel anodized aluminium, case material fibre-reinforced polymer
Water rating: 5 ATM
Pros Cons
• Stylish and compact • No GPS
• Multiple tracking features • Touchscreen sensitivity inconsistent
• Detailed data and insights • App complicated
• Smart notifications • Distracting sensors

Build

> Sleek and stylish design

> Durable strap and screen

> Neat touchscreen

The Garmin Lily is an attractive watch and I have happily worn it to dinner and drinks without worrying it is glaringly obvious as a fitness tracker. It ignores the streamlined rectangle design trend seen in so many wearables for a classic yet small, flat watch shape.

Compact and lightweight at just 24g, it means it doesn’t feel bulky nor does it get in the way during any type of workout. The silicone strap has plenty of options for sizing, especially for someone with skinny wrists, yet still works when worn more loosely for tracking sleep. The watch is showerproof and easy to wipe clean from sweat, so certainly feels durable and pretty hard to cause any damage.

The touchscreen, which features a patterned lens when not active, lights up with a greyscale screen when you tip your wrist, but sometimes needs a few taps to activate. The main point of control is a small touch button that doesn’t always react immediately either, but features several menus to swipe between.

Close up of Garmin Lily silicone watch strap
©Photo: What's The Best/Natalie Corner

Usability

> Multiple features to pick from

> Easy to read notifications

> Complicated app

The overall usability of the Garmin Lily is above and beyond what you’d expect from a fitness tracker, but then again that’s why it veers into the smartwatch category. It is above simply tracking your steps and heart rate, it drills down deep into your health metrics all from the sensor worn on your wrist.

I enjoyed how much detailed information is available across the Garmin Connect app that you download to activate your watch, but equally found it a little complicated to understand. What does impress me, especially as it’s geared towards people who have menstrual cycles, is the advice on what type of workout you will excel at depending on what phase of your cycle you are in.

If you decide to connect your phone notifications to your watch, bear in mind that while it’s great to read your texts on your wrist, you will also receive many, many other notifications you didn’t even realise you could get. It takes a while to filter what you need so that your watch doesn’t vibrate all day long.

Close up of Garmin watch activity
©Photo: What's The Best/Natalie Corner

Performance

> Detailed health data

> High-quality and durable

> Poor execution under intense workout

> Sensitivity isn’t consistent

Like I said previously, this watch is of supremely good quality, something I would expect from a Garmin product. The brand clearly has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to what factors people want to be included in a smartwatch and really deliver. But considering Garmin is known for its satnavs, I would assume in-built GPS would be a given, so was surprised when hoping to track the location of a walk that I wouldn’t be able to without my phone nearby - not something I ever had to consider with my Fitbit Charge 4.

But I can’t ignore how clever the data and insights available are and if I was seriously tuned in to my training process alongside my menstrual cycle, I would gladly use it as an excuse to miss a workout or do an alternative to get the most out of my abilities.

Screenshot of Garmin Connect App Menstrual Cycle Tracking
©Photo: What's The Best/Garmin Connect App

This does lead me on to something I really disliked about the watch; it did not cope well with intense workouts. If I wore a boxing glove or my wrists were dripping in sweat, it seemed unable to execute the tracking. A knock on the screen switched off my workout tracking several times which was disappointing as I wanted to see how high my heart rate was. Even though it has automatic tracking for running and walking, it doesn’t have the option to do so for cardio or weights, so several workouts were lost.

The sensitivity of the touchscreen also plays into this as even though when knocked it would pause my workout, yet when activating the screen the touch button was slow to react.

When running low on battery in the middle of the night, the sensor repeatedly flashed red and wouldn’t stop, yet when checked in the morning it still had 13 per cent left which was sufficient to last. The battery overall wasn't consistent, but as one full charge can last "up to five days", it is purely down to how much activity you do and record as to whether you will have to charge it sooner.

Garmin Lily watches in different designs
©Photo: Garmin

Price

RRP: £179.99

If you are looking to invest in a stylish, compact and fashionable smartwatch that tracks your lifestyle and offers clever features and advice to improve your fitness levels, this would be a sound option.

The Garmin Lily is at the higher end of the smartwatch price scale alongside the Polar Ignite 2 at £199 (RRP), when compared to a Fitbit Charge 4 which is a more reasonable £129.99 (RRP) or the lower end of the scale with the budget Honor Band 6 at £44.99 (RRP).

I’d be more than willing to invest in the Garmin Lily if it came with in-built GPS, it’s disappointing when compared to the Fitbit Charge 4 that it doesn’t have this feature at a higher price.

Read our review of the HONOR Band 6 review to find out more about budget fitness trackers.

Verdict

Pros Cons
• Stylish and compact • No GPS
• Multiple tracking features • Touchscreen sensitivity inconsistent
• Detailed data and insights • App complicated
• Smart notifications • Distracting sensors

I cannot fault the Garmin Lily for the way it looks, it’s bang on trend with the chic gold bevel and the patterned watch face, and it certainly doesn’t scream "ugly fitness tracker". If I was interested in a straightforward activity like walking, running or cycling, this would be the ideal option, so based on my personal workout regime which is a lot more intense it doesn’t quite meet my requirement, and I need something a little sturdier.

It surprises me that the GPS isn’t built-in and considering how much detailed data is available with the Connect App, I’d hope that I’d be able to track activity without relying so heavily on my phone.

The Garmin Lily Sport Smartwatch has plenty of options for those looking to get started on their fitness journey, including joining steps, hiking, cycling or running challenges alongside their mates. Smart notifications like reminding you to drink more water, to get up and move or to recharge your body battery are all clever touches.

For advanced users, there are plenty of features to unpack that will help you grow your fitness levels, and it will make sure you look stylish when you head back to the gym.

Best smartwatches for tracking fitness

The best fitness trackers - which one should you buy?

Best wireless headphones for running

Natalie Corner is the Deputy Commercial Content Editor for Bauer Media, working across brands such as What’s The Best, Yours, Mother&Baby, Heat and Closer, specialising in lifestyle and fitness content.

Subscribe to the What’s The Best Newsletter to keep up to date with more of the latest reviews and recommendations from the rest of the What’s The Best team.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us