Garmin LTE – A Boost for LTE features but…

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Garmin LTE – A Boost to LTE features but…


Garmin has just added some new LTE features to its kids’ range of wearables.

As of now, you can get voice messaging and text messaging over LTE ie without a smartphone.

There’s always a BUT…

But It’s Currently Only For Kids This Time Around

The new kids’ watch is the Garmin Bounce and this comes with the option of an LTE subscription. If you go for the $100pa ($10pcm) Smartwatch Subscription Plan and use the Garmin Jr. app then you and your kid can exchange text or voice messages. Plus you can stalk your kids and track exactly where they are in real-time (hint: they’re in front of one of their devices in their bedroom).


The new LTE Features

In addition to exchanging text messages and voice messages, the screens below show the watch has real-time location tracking, check-in abilities and emergency assistance.


The Catch

Whilst Garmin says you do not need to change your cellular service provider, in addition to $149 for the watch you do need to pay $100pa ($10pcm) for the Garmin LTE service. I’m currently paying about £6/$7 per month for my data plan for my Apple Watch so that pricing is not too unreasonable.

You will also find that the service is highly limited and only available in these countries (basically just the USA and parts of the EU).

Battery life is also fairly low with a maximum of 2 days with some vaguely realistic levels of usage as shown in the table below. However, once you start using LTE more then the battery life will be quickly eaten into. Also, factor in that your child has to remember to charge the watch and you can imagine the limitations.

Smartwatch Mode Usage Assumptions

Incoming/Outgoing Messages per day 20
Voice messages per day 2
10-minute GPS activity 1
Display Brightness & Timeout Default Setting
Watch Face Default
Number of Gestures per day Disabled by Default
Number of LiveTrack events 0
Smartwatch Mode Battery Life Up to 2 days


Let’s go back to messaging which is NOT using the messaging apps on your phone. All the messaging is handled either within the Garmin Jr app or on the Bounce Watch.

Nominated contacts can communicate directly with your child’s Bounce and those contacts could be your partner, the child’s carer and the child’s friends. Up to 20.


Implications for Sports

I can’t see any implications for LTE on the Garmin sports watches. At least not right now as Garmin already implemented LiveTrack Spectator Messaging in 2021.

I struggle to even see why someone with an iPhone would buy this watch for their kids when an older Apple Watch 38mm/41mm LTE would do a better job and I struggle to see that Apple will ever open up its messaging services to Garmin unless forced to legally by multiple jurisdictions worldwide. Android? more likely.


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10 thoughts on “Garmin LTE – A Boost for LTE features but…

  1. I think starting off with a child watch would be a good way to “beta test” LTE messaging. I could see down the road a Garmin messaging app for sport watches, while some may balk at this idea, when I am on a run I could care less about most messages. But I do want to be able to communicate with a few people in the event of an emergency (i.e. wife, kids etc…), so having a few close contacts installing a new messaging app isn’t so bad IMHO.

    1. yes
      those people also need to pay the $10/month tho if i read it all correctly and that’s why it wont happen when people can simply take their phone with them (I don’t like doing that either but do when i need to)

      1. I’m sure even in this implementation it you have it right let alone during sport usages.

        I’m reading the subscription is on the watch not the application. They’re for a sender with the application does pay anything, though I’m sure Garmin may wish to monetise it in future, but I guess that would be priced into the subscription – emergency only, normal usage, power users

      2. sy i meant the code will need to be integrated into connect somewhere
        subscription is on the app but is purchased on a per watch basis
        the watch can communicate with up to, IIRC, 20 people who are nominated contacts/friends providing they have the app installed

      3. No worries, I agree that it would not be a good experience for the user, it would be better to have the specific communicator app for non Garmin users and have also have it in connect for the Garmin for those with a Garmin already

  2. You say that an Apple Watch strictly dominates this, but if your kid doesn’t have a phone an Apple Watch without a phone wouldn’t last more than a few hours with LTE on…unless that’s changed recently?

  3. It isn’t clear AW is a better fit for the target market though. Parents may not want a device that has extensibility or high fashion appeal. I’d like to think fewer Bounces will show up in pawn shops, but that could be wishful thinking.

  4. This is sounding a lot like the Messenger App for Garmin inReach devices – but for kids and over LTE instead of for adults and over irideum satellites. Interesting they are coming out with two messaging apps aimed at completely different markets almost at the same time. On the Messenger side, there is no cost for using the app and you don’t need an inReach device to use the app. Plus, it actually in many cases reduces messaging cost as there is no charge for messages that go via internet rather than satellite.

    In both cases, I’d much prefer they used native messaging where possible, but Apple clearly isn’t going to allow that to happen.

  5. One can see a pattern with the 945LTE and this new device and features. Garmin is getting back into cellular to provide, eventually, full voice / text on their devices. Garmin’s quite proficient at RF antenna design and they’ve done cellular before (nuvifone). It’s the reason why the 945LTE exists really – a test bed. All of these efforts including finding the right balance with carriers/coverage are incremental steps along the way.

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