The Garmin S40 vs S60 debate is a common one when looking for a golf GPS watch. We want accurate info and we don't need extra features that we won't use.
It's a toss-up between features and price. Are the features worth the extra cash? Is the extra cash such a worry long term? What's the reason I'm buying this thing? Is my wife going to still talk to me when it arrives in the mail?
I know, I had the same thoughts before I settled on the Garmin S40 when comparing the two and below, I'll do a comparison review between the Garmin Approach S40 and S60. Let's look at the difference between the Garmin S40 vs the S60.
GARMIN APPROACH S40 FEATURES
The flagship watch for Garmin has been the S40 for a long time.
The Approach S40 has a 1.2” diameter color TOUCHSCREEN display. It's full color and provides distances to the back, middle and front of the greens on the default screen when you're out on the course.
When you first get the watch, you have to set some basic information about the distances you hit so the watch will know what to suggest when tracking your swings. Yep! The watch tracks when you hit the ball via the feedback of the jarring nature of hitting a ball.
By preprogramming your distances, after your shot, the watch will ask which club you hit, trying to match the closest one to your distance you had to the green. This is amazing tech and it's always within 1 club up or down from what i actually hit.
In play, so easy to use
When you play, it will automatically select the course you're closest to via the satellite system, with some other courses listed nearby. You select your course and get going.
You get the option of keeping score and this also tracks fairways, which side of the fairway you missed, if you hit the green, number of putts and penalties.
The watch does not show you the overall layout of the hole, but only the green shape. You can click and drag the pin to wherever it is on the green, using the touch screen on the watch. It provides carry over bunkers, and the distance to the 100, 150, 200 yard layups which is incredibly valuable info.
The watch will last 3 rounds on a full charge as it's never below 75% after one round of use. I have never used it without charging, as I charge it after every round.
The entire watch including the silicone band doesn't weight much and it isn’t very bulky so it won't interfere with your swing. I hate wearing jewellery and it does not bother me one bit while swinging.
You can look back at your performance and stats after the round via the phone app. The watch automatically records your swings, you input the details on the course, and when keeping score, the phone holds the info until you transfer it to the phone using the VERY easy to use app.
THE GARMIN APPROACH S60 FEATURES
The Garmin Approach S60 is the same size as the S40.
But the biggest difference is that the course maps on the S60 Garmin have aerial shots of the holes you're playing. On the S40, you only have a very flat drawing with some arrows to push to get to different readings to those hazards.
The full color aerial view of the holes means you can see the shape of the hole, and you can use the same click and drag with your finger, to move your target point on the map. This allows you to know distances to literally anywhere you want on the given map. You can only do this on the green in the S40 version.
The S60 watch also compensates for slope when considering the distances to your selected areas. There are more features geared toward other sports in the S60 which i didn't really care much about, but maybe you do participate in these and they may be helpful for you.
The reason I did not get the the S60 may help you decide:
I use a rangefinder already. I prefer a rangefinder for truly accurate distances. I wanted a watch that would keep track of my club distances automatically and store my scores and stats. I use the front middle and back of the green distances to know how much green I have to work with on approaches. I don't need aerial views of the holes and even the touch and drag nature of the green view isn't important to me. i play off a low handicap and also do not use fitness watches.
If I did not have a rangefinder, and wanted a truly full-function golf watch, I would buy the S60. I would use the aerial view of the holes, and pinpoint distances to things on the course. I knew I wouldn't need these features and I don't like needing to charge things all the time because I forget. The S60 lasts a lot shorter with the battery life in golf mode and I don't want to feel pressured if I forgot to charge it once. I needed low maintenance vibes. If I were a fitness guru, I would also take the S60.
GARMIN S40 vs S60 REVIEW COMPARISON
Same size touchscreen
Same in both
S60 kicks ass with this feature
Drag and Drop: on the green
You can move the pin on the green in both models
Drag and Drop: on the hole
S60 lets you choose any target on the hole by dragging on screen
Both last 10 days in smartwatch mode
Auto Detect Shots
Both watches feel when you've hit a shot
'Plays Like' Distance
Both watches feel when you've hit a shot
Stat Tracking in App
Great for keeping track of your stats
No subscription fee
These don't interest me unfortunately. I use this for golf only.
Who is it for??
Golfer with low maintenance needs and wants to track stats and distances of clubs easily. Probably uses a rangefinder already or is a mid handicapper.
Golfer who plays other sports and is into fitness. Prefers to use a GPS device and doesn't own a rangefinder. Will rely heavily on the watch for distances. Probably mid to low handicapper.
MY RECOMMENDATION DEPENDS
The S40 and the S60 are both fantastic - they're just for different people. It depends on what you want it for.
Why get the Garmin Approach S40?
If you're like me and want to keep track of your club distances, and know a few things like distances to 100, 150 and 200 yard layups but at the same time you use a rangefinder, then the S40 is a way better purchase. You can use the basic front, middle and back of the green measurements to get around, especially if you're a double digit handicapper.
The S40 is low maintenance because you only have to charge it every 2-3 rounds and it doesn't have all sorts of other fancy fitness and sports features that you'll never use. Bloat. It was not about the money as I could have afforded either. It was about simplifying my life while adding complications.
Why get the Garmin Approach S60?
I'd recommend the Garmin Approach S60 to the player who wants to exclusively use the GPS watch for their distances. I mean, no rangefinder. If you have a rangefinder, the S60 will just be a higher maintenance stats-tracker.
But if you don't use a rangefinder and want quick reference to the front, middle and back of the green, as well as being able to work out exactly how far it is to specific locations on the course, the S60 is perfect for you. Spend the extra cash that you wouldn't spend on the rangefinder if you are looking for a distance finder. You'll have to keep it fully charged after every round.
Also, if you're a fitness nut as well as a golfer, you'll prefer the S60.
Is the S60 worth the 20-25% higher price?
If you want aerial views of the holes and drag and drop targeting on any area of the course, yes. If you want to track fitness markers and are into that, then yes.
But if you want to use it purely for middle, back and front of green measurements, and track your club distances, and scores, then no, the S40 is a lower maintenance, less charging, easier device. If you own a rangefinder already, and use it a lot, the S40 will not add anything to your life except stats tracking.
Is it uncomfortable to wear and swing?
I do not wear jewellery and I have no problem and don't notice it after the first ever hole of wearing it. If you prefer not to wear the watch, you can use a handheld device like the Shot Scope H4.
How long does the battery last?
The Garmin S60 will last 30 holes and in smartwatch mode, it will last 10 days. The S40 lasts 54 holes and 10 days in smartwatch mode.
What if you sweat? Won't it destroy the charging port?
That is exactly what I wondered about, and so far after a good 20-30 usages, there is no effect on the charging, despite sweating profusely int eh tropical heat.
How long to charge the battery?
I have never measured, but I just leave it on overnight. Easy life.
I love this device and the only qualm I have with it is my own user error.
I sometimes do forget to select which club I used but luckily in the app, I can also add shots in case I miss those too. You need to be mindful on every shot to actually input the correct info.
On my channel, I will have a video in 2022 of all my data for the year tracked through the Garmin S40 watch. I recommend it highly.