Garmin has a reputation as one of the “cool” brands on the market for techy smartwatches, with specialist options for everything from running to the most wild and adventurous explorations.
One of the brand’s latest offerings is the Garmin Lily, a lightweight, delicate smartwatch that looks more like a regular wristwatch. A slimmer, more subtle choice designed for women to wear every day.
We tested the Sport version, which features a silicone wristband and is around £50 cheaper than the leather strapped Classic model.
Below, we take you through our experience using the smartwatch and its various features, explaining what works and what doesn’t and whether we felt it was worth the price tag.
If you’re interested in other more classic style smartwatches, have a look at our Samsung Watch 3 review, as the model also has a circular watch face and can be bought with a leather strap. For a sportier, more functional choice, see our Huawei Watch Fit review. For a comprehensive pick of the finest wearables out there, read our best smartwatch list.
Garmin Lily review: summary
The Garmin Lily is a light-touch, attractive smartwatch which offers limited functionality for the price. Overall it was a disappointing, borderline insulting option targeted primarily at women users. Some may only be looking for basic tracking features on health and activity, which the watch can deliver, with the stylish look being the key offering.
We tested the Garmin Lily Sport, which costs £179.99, while the Classic with a leather strap comes in at £229.99.
- What is the Garmin Lily?
- How much is the Garmin Lily?
- Garmin Lily set-up
- Our verdict
- Where to buy
The Garmin Lily is the lighter touch smartwatch by Garmin, which is specifically aimed at women. It is designed for everyday usage rather than for specific sports (the Garmin Forerunner models are tailored for running) or extreme activities (such as the high-end Gamin Fenix 6).
What does Garmin Lily do?
The Garmin Lily tracks health functions such as heart rate as well as activities including walking and running, plus a select few sports and exercises and some special extra features:
- Heart rate tracking
- Stress tracking
- Hydration level monitoring
- Menstrual cycle tracking
- Sleep tracking
- Pulse oxygen sensor
- Activity tracking
- Music control and notification by pairing with a smartphone
- Safety alert feature
- GPS only when connected via a smartphone
The price of the Garmin Lily depends on the model chosen. We tested the Garmin Lily Sport, which retails at £179.99. The Classic model features a leather strap and retails at £229.99.
Is Garmin Lily good value for money?
In a word, no, although it depends on what you are looking for. The watch’s style is its main draw, with a lighter, more delicate body and decorative watch face. If you’re only looking for basic features from a smartwatch, such as health and light activity tracking (and will always have your smartphone with you to get full use of them), this is perhaps an option.
However, considering both the classic and sport models’ price, the watch lacks the features and functionality that other brands deliver in their smartwatches for the same or even lower price points.
The slim, very lightweight watch comes with either a silicone or leather strap (other straps to swap in can be purchased from £27.99), and it has a small, circular watch face with a petal-like pattern. There are various colour options, including cream, rose gold and purple for the Sport model and bronze, black or white in the Classic design.
Unlike other models, text and icons appear over the watch face rather than the face being more screen-like (as with the Samsung Watch 3 or Apple Watch 6 and SE). This makes it more like a traditional watch and may be appealing to anyone who doesn’t want to feel like they have yet another laptop or phone screen to be looking at. However, this does mean that watch face options are very limited compared to Apple Watches or the Huawei Watch Fit, for instance.
There are options to alter the screen brightness and other settings, which will alert you if they will use additional battery power, which is helpful for planning battery life.
The watch face is a touchscreen with no external buttons, although there is a small touch circle at the screen’s base, which acts as a home button. The screen didn’t feel as responsive as other models we’ve tested have been. For instance, the watch face should turn on when lifted and tilted towards the body, but it wasn’t always easy to get this at the right angle to make the screen come on.
Overall, the Lily model’s capabilities are disappointing, especially coming from a brand like Garmin, which can deliver advanced features on other models, but not on the model it tailors towards women.
Options on the watch can be controlled from the app, which is clear, intuitive and easy to use. However, there can only be five sport and activity options on the watch at any one time, in addition to running and walking, which cannot be removed. For those who stick to a set routine, this streamlined approach may not be an issue. However, it could be frustrating to swap in and out various activities from the app as needed if you try different activities.
Considering the watch is designed for everyday use, it is interesting that Garmin decided not to include its Garmin Pay feature on the model for women. While the absence of higher-tech features and sports tracking could be put down to the watch being intended for daily use, rather than for specialised sports, the payment feature would have surely been one of the more useful additions in this instance.
The other major drawback is the lack of GPS. While there are GPS capabilities, this is only when connected with a smartphone, and the watch can piggyback the existing location abilities from your phone. This shouldn’t be a huge problem if you carry your phone with you all the time. However, a key flaw appeared with the watch’s special safety (one of the few features added, rather than subtracted from this model).
Within the phone app, it is possible to add an emergency contact who will receive a text letting them know you are in distress along with your location if you repeatedly tap the watch face. The issue is that to send the signal, the watch needs a connection to the smartphone app. If the watch can send the alert but doesn’t connect to the GPS, the location sent will be incorrect.
During testing, I accidentally sent an emergency alert while putting the watch onto my wrist, although there was an option to cancel. The message that came through to my emergency contact, who was sitting in the next room of my London flat. The alert included location coordinates and a helpful link to a map which informed her I was somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Sea.
Therefore, this feature’s effectiveness relies heavily on having your readily connected smartphone charged and with you in an emergency, which limits how useful it actually is.
What is the Garmin Lily battery like?
The maximum battery life for the Garmin Lily is five days, and settings such as brightness can be altered to use less battery. When altering these settings, there are warnings that they will use more battery which is helpful. There are also useful low battery alerts which appear at around 10%.
However, during testing, battery life decreased by around 80% over a period of 48 hours with quite limited use.
To charge, there is an unusual clip device that attaches to the watch face like a peg. While it might not look as streamlined as chargers on other models, it is secure and stays connected for more effective charging than we’ve seen by other brands.
On first impressions, the packaging for the Garmin Lily looks cheap. It arrives in a box folded in the manner of a shoebox and felt much lower quality than the generally glossy packaging of all the other models we tested – a real shame for the price point.
Included was the charger, which connected securely, and instructions that were clear and well explained. The app was easy to find, simple to use and very intuitive. Very clear instructions explained how to sync the watch to the phone app, and it connected quickly and smoothly.
Signing up to the smartphone app was also straightforward and easy to do, and the entire process, including unboxing and syncing, took less than 10 minutes.
If you’re looking for a delicate and attractive looking option that is slightly smarter than a regular wristwatch, then this could be one to look at. The style is the main thing you’d be paying for on this model, so it would be down to the individual if they were willing to splash out for the extra cost considering the lack of features for the price.
While the basics such as heart rate and activity tracking are there, the constant reliance on being connected to the smartphone app and flawed or missing features meant the watch was disappointing overall. The real sting in the tail comes from the Lily being targeted at women users when Garmin’s other smartwatches have so many more features and practical additions.
Certain categories are weighted more highly.
- Design: 3/5
- Features (average): 2/5
- Functions: 1.5/5
- Battery: 2.5/5
- Value for money: 2/5
- Ease of set-up: 5/5
Overall star rating: 3/5
Both the Garmin Lily Sport and Classic models are available to buy from a range of retailers.
- £229.99 at The Watch Shop (Classic)
- £179.99 at John Lewis (Sport)
- £229.99 John Lewis (Classic)
- £179.99 at Currys (Sport)
- From £179.99 at Garmin
- £179.99 at Argos (Sport)
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