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A delicate smartwatch with a striking display: Garmin Lily Sport review

Purple violet. Patterned displays, colorful cases, and slim watchbands: The Garmin Lily should be attractive to all those for whom the typical smartwatches are too large and dark. However, apparently GPS and NFC did not fit into the delicate case anymore. On the other hand, the software scores with the strengths that are typical for Garmin.
Garmin Lily Sport
Processor
Display
1.00 inch , 240 x 201 pixel 240 PPI, 16-level grayscale full touchscreen, TFT (monochrome)
Storage
256 MB Flash, 0.256 GB 
Connections
Audio Connections: ⊖, Brightness Sensor, Sensors: accelerometer, pulse oximeter, optical heartrate, ANT+
Networking
Bluetooth ja
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 10 x 34.5 x 34.5 ( = 0.39 x 1.36 x 1.36 in)
Battery
Lithium-Ion
Additional features
Speakers: ⊖, Keyboard: 1 sensor button, Keyboard Light: yes, Lily Sport, charging cable, documentation, Garmin Connect, 24 Months Warranty, Corning Gorilla Glass 3; A-GPS; water resistance: 5 ATM, waterproof
Weight
24 g ( = 0.85 oz / 0.05 pounds) ( = 0 oz / 0 pounds)
Price
199 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case and equipment – Delicate visuals at the expense of the hardware

At a time where watches generally grow larger and larger, Garmin is proud to offer its smallest smartwatch so far. A 34-mm (~1.3 in) diameter is indeed very special, since Samsung's and Huawei's smartwatches for women so far never achieved sizes of less than 40 mm (~1.6 in).

The removable 14-mm watchband will fit wrists between 110 and 175 mm (~4.3 - 6.9 in). In the Classic Edition, it is made from leather and in the Sport Edition, from silicone. Our test unit is the latter.

Instead of mechanical keys, there is a sensor key underneath the display, which is protected by Gorilla Glass 3. The fact that the sensor key cuts into the bottom of the round display does not stand out in normal usage. To make it apparent, we manually adjusted the brightness, which is otherwise adjusted automatically.

Garmin cuts into the display for the sensor key, but hides this well with a pattern overlay on the TFT screen.
Garmin cuts into the display for the sensor key, but hides this well with a pattern overlay on the TFT screen.

Garmin hides the fact that the bottom of the screen is cut off by overlaying the monochrome touch LCD with a discreetly colored pattern. The pattern turns out different for each of the six case colors and remains visible even when the watch is turned off. This means that the surface of the Lily will never turn dark, in contrast to all the typical smartwatches with a black display.

The sensors of the Lily smartwatch are unspectacular, offering little more than measuring heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and movements. In particular, the Lily lacks a GPS and barometric sensor for tracking routes and differences in elevation. NFC also did not fit into the delicate smartwatch. 

Setup and Operation – Garmin Lily with a sensor button

To connect the watch with an iPhone or Android smartphone, you need the Garmin Connect app. You don't need to download the Connect IQ app for the Garmin Store, since the Lily does not support the installation of additional apps. In terms of tools, the Lily does not offer much beyond a timer, stop watch, and phone search. Instead, Garmin concentrates on good support for fitness and training.

In addition to swiping in order to flip between widgets, and the soft key that triggers the back function among other things, the operating concept also includes a double tap on the touchscreen. This activates the display when your arm is resting on a table and you don't want to raise it. When in training mode, it starts and stops the workout. The widgets include the info screens for heath monitoring, coming appointments, weather info, and notifications, and in addition also a remote control for the smartphone player

The Lily signals incoming calls with the caller name if that is stored in the contacts, and offers accepting or rejecting the call. If you use the watch in combination with an Android smartphone, you can also send a preset SMS, saying that you will call back later, for example. If you accept the call, you then have to use your smartphone to talk.

Health and Fitness – Interval training workouts and rep counters

The Lily is obviously a watch for women, and in addition to a period tracker, it also offers a pregnancy calendar developed by Garmin. Furthermore, the Lily offers reminder notifications to move, tracks active minutes, determines calorie usage, records the heart rate, and analyzes the stress level. You can also manually record your liquid intake during the day and include the daily analysis in the smartphone app.

On the other hand, the limited hardware also leaves some gaps. Since the smartwatch does not include a barometric sensor, it does not recognize elevation differences, and therefore also cannot show the floors climbed, which provide a measurement in other fitness trackers for the elevations climbed in addition to the distances covered. There is also no GPS, and if the fitness tracker shows a distance at the end of the day, Gamin determines an approximation using the step lengths that it has optionally determined beforehand.  

Blood Oxygen Saturation (SpO2) and Sleep Tracking

For manual measurement of the blood oxygen saturation, there is a widget that keeps its last measurement in the display. Usually that is the last measurement during sleep, since the Lily automatically measures it several times at night, also including it in the sleep protocol. Garmin does not record power naps during the day.

From the sleep quality or nightly rest, Garmin determines a sleep index that is only shown by the app, though. Depending on the nightly rest, stress level, load from the last activity, and heart rate variability, which is a measurement for the general state of health, Garmin then computes the energy reserves, which is called Body Battery. This scale serves as an orientation if you are not sure whether your body has recovered sufficiently after your last workout.

Workout and Training

For manual recording of your training, Garmin offers a total of 13 sport types, but only accepts seven of them into the training selection of the smartwatch. While you cannot replace walking and running, you can individually configure the remaining five. Since it lacks GPS, you have to take your smartphone with you to record your route when biking or running outdoors. On the other hand, Garmin's cardio training supports interval training workouts such as HIIT with rep cycles and rest times. During weight training, the Lily can optionally count the number of reps, and you only have to confirm them at the end of the set. Professional training is also possible in the pool, since in contrast to many other sport watches, the Lily is also able to measure the heart rate under water.

Those who already own a Garmin wearable might already know LiveTrack: Using an invitation link via mail or social network, friends can follow your training via a tracking web page in Garmin's portal, as long as the smartwatch is also connected to the Internet via the smartphone.

Since there is no button for starting, pausing, or ending the workout, a double tap on the display will trigger those functions. In our test, this worked at least as well as the usual button on the side to end the training. However, after ending the workout in our test, the display remained turned off for several seconds, before the double tap was able to reactivate it. Another weakness concerns the Bluetooth connection, with was dropped occasionally. So in order to be able to use the GPS of the smartphone (Connected GPS), the Lily had to be manually reconnected several times. While this can be done using the actions menu, it unnecessarily wastes time. Outdoors, the brightness and its automatic adjustment left nothing to be desired

Battery Life

According to Garmin, the battery lasts up to five days. However, the time is shortened if you activate the automatic Move IQ movement recognition as well as the automatic measurement of the blood oxygen saturation at night. In this scenario and with several interactions per day such as reading health info and notifications, the Lily ran for barely two days. Without the automatic movement recognition, it was three days, when still using it frequently. In the test, charging it up to half its capacity took half an hour, and for the full capacity, an hour and twenty minutes.

Verdict

Test unit provided by Garmin
Test unit provided by Garmin

With its smartwatch for women, Garmin succeeded in creating a good product. The Lily visually stands out from the rest of current smartwatches, supports an active and healthy life style, and in terms of sports, scores with its support of interval trainings that have been in demand for a while.  

The patterned colored display and fitness and health functions for women make the Lily stand out.  

However, without GPS, the sports watch lacks something essential, but those who take their smartphone anyways for listening to music while jogging will hardly miss that. Compared to other similarly priced wearables, the hardware equipment is weaker overall. A positive point of the Lily is the SpO2 sensor, and Garmin makes the most out of it. The fact that the smartwatch only records the oxygen saturation automatically at night, but during the day you have to trigger it manually, is a compromise to avoid overly shortening the battery life. Other fitness trackers handle this the same way at best, or do even worse. 

Price and Availability

The recommended retail price of the Lily is 249.99 Euros (~$302; $249 in the US) for the Classic Edition with a leather band, and the Sport Edition with a silicone band costs 199.99 Euros (~$242; $199 in the US). Until the end of our test, prices remained stable to a large extent. The prices are similar at Amazon and BestBuy.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > A delicate smartwatch with a striking display: Garmin Lily Sport review
Inge Schwabe, 2021-02-20 (Update: 2021-02-20)
Inge Schwabe
Editor of the original article: Inge Schwabe - Editor - @mobilewelten
Unlike many techies, I didn't find my way to technology by using a C64 or something like that; I was rather fascinated by the last meter of copper wire, about which a friend on the other end of the line could be heard so crystal clear. I studied computer science and followed the development of the phone into a smartphone for many years. Currently, innovations are becoming less and less, but getting to the bottom of them remains exciting and interesting.