Does the new Garmin Approach S70 deliver? My one-sentence verdict would be, yes, you bet it does. Read on, and I'll tell you why.
I’ve been using a Garmin Approach S62 golf watch for a couple of years, and in my opinion, it was the best golf watch on the market, so when I heard Garmin claimed to have made the best even better, I couldn’t wait to try it.
The Garmin Approach series of golf watches have provided something for every budget, from the basic Garmin Approach S12 to the luxurious Garmin MARQ Golfer. There are certain features that are a staple of all watches in the Approach range, but the more advanced stuff has tended to only be available on the higher-end watches such as the Approach S42, S62 and the MARQ Golfer.
The Garmin Approach S70 has taken many of those features and improved on them while also adding a raft of new functions relating to other activities, such as running, swimming and even yoga, making it one of the best smartwatches around. The golf course is where the Approach S70 really comes into its own, though (unlike me, sadly)!
Garmin Approach S70 review: price and availability
The 47mm case size has a black ceramic hosel with a black silicone wrist strap and retails at £649.99 in the UK, $699.99 in the USA and $1199.00 AUD in Australia.
The 42mm option also has a black ceramic hosel but gives you a choice of white or powder grey silicone wrist strap. This smaller version is slightly cheaper at £599.99 in the UK, $649.99 in the USA and $1099.00 AUD down under.
Garmin Approach S70 review: what's new?
Compared to its predecessor, the S62, the Approach S70 has a ton of new features on and off the golf course. Most of the existing golf features have been given an upgrade, the graphics are much sharper, the battery life is improved, and essentially Garmin have taken a great product and made it even better.
In terms of golf functions, the Virtual Caddie has been upgraded, the maps are more detailed and when paired with a smartphone, the PlaysLike feature will take the wind into account when giving you yardages to the pin.
The biggest improvement over previous models is what this watch can do away from the course. The S70 allows you to download various apps for use with other activities, so this is far more than simply a golf watch. It has you covered on a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities, while the health and wellness functions are way beyond anything available on most other golf watches.
Garmin’s range of 24/7 health monitoring features allows users to track things like heart rate, body battery, energy levels, sleep patterns, stress levels and much more.
Then you also have the Garmin Coach training plans, which offer over 1600 individual exercises via the Garmin Connect app. Some of these are specifically tailored to golf fitness, so this watch will help your golf game even when you're nowhere near the golf course.
Garmin Approach S70 review: build quality and design
The new Approach S70 is available in two different sizes - a 1.2-inch (42mm) or 1.4-inch (47mm) stunning AMOLED display, which is the highest resolution available. Even in bright sunlight, you will have no trouble viewing the screen. The lens is scratch-proof, and the watch is water resistant to up to 5 ATMs.
The larger size might not be for everybody, but personally, I prefer the look of the bigger screen, and it was in no way restrictive when swinging the club.
It’s a stylish, lightweight build with a high-quality ceramic bezel. While technically it is a golf watch, it looks and performs like a high-end smartwatch that you would be able to wear in any situation.
The Approach S70 has a three-button set up; an action button, a menu button and a back button. You’ll quickly get the hang of this, and it works very well in tandem with the touchscreen options.
The strap is shaped for maximum comfort and arches around the wrist nicely, but I personally prefer the strap on previous Garmin Approach watches as they will lay flat when you place it down, whereas the moulded shape of the S70 strap prevents that (see image above). This is only a minor complaint, but it did bother me a little that the watch didn't lay flat when I took it off.
Various other coloured strap designs are available to buy separately from Garmin, while the S70 also has customisable watch faces that can be downloaded from the Garmin Connect IQ store.
One potential problem is the charger. The S70 uses a USB-C cable, which is somewhat inconvenient if you’re used to charging everything with a standard USB. There is no converter in the box and I suspect this might be a little annoying for non-mac users in particular.
Garmin Approach S70 review: golf features and performance
I was already familiar with most of the features due to having used the S62 for so long, but many of them have had a facelift. They do the same thing but just a little bit better. The graphics are a definite improvement and look much slicker.
The first difference I noticed compared to the S62 is that the new model locates the course much faster. My trusty S62 has become quite slow of late to bring up the course, and a couple of times, I’d already teed off before it finally worked out where I was. Perhaps it needs a software update? Anyway, the S70 is fast, and on the three occasions I’ve used it on the course (a different course each time), it figured out where I was very quickly.
The S70 gives you all the basic information you would expect, plus a lot of other stuff that may blow your mind. As with any golf watch, you will get the distances to the front, middle and back of the green as well as info on hazards and lay up distances, but the S70 shows you all of that with detailed maps. And by entering your usual driving distance upon initial set-up, when you prepare to tee off, it will display on the map where your drive is likely to finish and which hazards are in play.
You can also drag that around using the touchscreen to show how far you would have for your second shot if you elected to take a shorter club off the tee. Another cool thing you can do is drag the pin around on the touchscreen to get more accurate yardage, assuming, of course, you can see exactly where the hole is located.
One of the features I appreciate most about the higher-end Garmin Approach watches is the automatic tracking that shows you how far each shot has travelled. So you hit your shot and then start walking, and the watch will keep track of the distance with the figure at the top of the screen (see above). I find this to be invaluable, especially if I’ve strayed from the fairway with an errant drive and need to locate a ball in the rough. If you know how far you normally carry the ball, having that yardage automatically show on the watch as you walk narrows the search area down considerably.
Another really cool feature is Pinpointer, which is a compass that will show you exactly where the green is when you have a blind shot.
The Virtual Caddie feature has been given an upgrade and now shows your shot dispersion data and suggests a club based on a variety of factors, including your shot history, elevation plus wind speed and direction. The enhanced PlaysLike Distance feature has greatly improved the Virtual Caddie as it utilises a built-in barometer, so you’ll know just how far each shot is playing, which allows the Virtual Caddie to help with club selection.
Any old golf watch can tell you how far you have to the middle of the green, but you then need to calculate other variables yourself. Such as the wind strength, whether it is an uphill or downhill shot, and even the temperature comes into it when making a club selection. The S70 works all of that out for you and gives you the ‘plays like’ number, which might actually be two clubs different when compared to the actual distance. It’s high-end stuff.
After each shot, the watch will ask you which club you used, and when you have completed the hole prompts you to enter your score, as well as how many putts you had, whether you had any penalties and if your drive hit the fairway or if you missed to the right or left.
To access all of this info, you will need to register for a free Garmin Golf account. This allows this watch (and other Garmin watches) to do even more for your game. In addition to keeping a record of all of your scores, it will also keep track of your drive distances and offer detailed statistics of your performance with every club in the bag.
To get the maximum benefit from the S70 Garmin suggest pairing with the CT10 club sensors, which can be bought separately and provide an extensive analysis of what you are doing well in addition to the areas you need to work on.
If you have a Garmin Golf App membership (an optional paid extra) you can even see the contours of the green when you are hitting your approach shot. This feature doesn’t yet cover all of the 43,000 plus courses pre-loaded into the Approach range of watches, as it is a new feature and not every green has been charted yet, but thousands are available and more are being added weekly so it’s worth keeping an eye on.
The S70 can also help you in the driving range with the Tempo Trainer feature. The idea is to hit the perfect sweet spot from backswing to through swing (which is 3.0), but that drove me to distraction as I would often get nowhere near the number even with good shots. It was taking the shine off some of my best shots, so it isn’t a feature for me, but each to their own. I’m sure some golfers will get a lot out of it and as with a lot of these other high-end features, it is a cool option to have.
Garmin Approach S70 review: other features
There are tons of health and fitness features you can add to the S70, from swimming to yoga to cycling. None of those are in my particular wheelhouse but the advanced step counter was useful to me and I’ve become somewhat obsessed with the sleep tracker and stress monitor.
The stress monitor was something I was initially very sceptical about but to my surprise it really works. I had one particular stressful afternoon while wearing the watch and when I checked there was a four hour spike in my stress levels. My stress level average had been 23 for the week but it jumped to 74 during that period. Very impressive.
The sleep tracker is interesting too, although I’m not sure how beneficial it is to wake up each morning and be informed that my sleep quality was poor and that I “should expect to tire as the day goes on”. That isn’t going to help my stress levels! It is all extremely impressive though and quite fascinating, if you’re into that kind of thing. I didn’t think I was, but like I say I have become pretty obsessed with it. Technology, eh?
Other noteworthy features of the S70 are Garmin Pay, which allows you to use the watch for contactless payments and smart notifications so you can keep up to date on your messages without having to look at your phone. Personally I find that a little distracting but the good thing is you can pick and choose which notifications you want, so I go with essentials only. You can also listen on the go when you download songs and playlists from Spotify or Amazon Music.
Garmin Approach S70 review: battery life
Garmin say that on a full charge you can get 20 hours in GPS mode or 16 days if you’re not using GPS. I wore it for 10 days solid, including playing one round of golf, and I still had over 30% battery left so Garmin’s figures seem accurate.
You will need to charge it at some point though and if you are wearing it to monitor your sleep then it’s a good idea to charge it up while you’re having food or just sitting around relaxing. It doesn’t take long to fully charge and if you just keep topping it up as when you’ve got a spare few minutes you’ll never need to worry about the battery dying on you.
Garmin Approach S70 review: verdict
The Approach S62 was a tough act to follow, but the Approach S70 is a definite upgrade and lays a strong claim to the “best golf watch” throne. It does come in at a considerably higher price point than the S62 did on release, and that might be off-putting to some. It is a lot more versatile, though and is far more than just a golf watch. You would wear this all the time, so I would say that the price hike is justified.
If you are buying a watch just for golf, then there are better value options out there, including several from Garmin. Check out my feature on the best Garmin Golf watches to find one that suits your needs and budget. If you want a high-end smartwatch that will track your various activities and monitor your health and wellness while being unrivalled on the golf course, then you won’t be disappointed if you go for the Approach S70.