Garmin Approach X10 review

Does Garmin's budget golf band register a hole-in-one

Garmin has responded to the threat to its golf GPS watches from smartwatches with a pair of cheaper and simpler devices – the Garmin Approach X10 and its big brother, the Approach S10.

The Approach X10 is the GPS golf watch of choice for those who prefer a slightly less intrusive band to the standard watch-styling. It's not aimed at women – but the company acknowledges that last year's Approach X40 was popular among female golfers.

Unlike the X40 the Approach X10 keeps features to a minimum, along with the price. But how does it fare on the course? We took it out for a spin.

Garmin Approach X10: Design

Anyone familiar with Garmin’s Vivofit fitness trackers won’t have any trouble imagining the Approach X10. It appears like a fitness band, with a thin monochrome 160 x 68 pixels touchscreen display and a singular button.

The Approach X10 is waterproof to 50m so it will certainly survive a post-round shower or very wet and windy day.

The course information is shown on the narrow screen, and it’s surprisingly spacious – although those with chunkier fingers will want to stay clear. Both the touchscreen and on-screen buttons are both extremely small. During a round you simply press the button to access the menu, and swipe and tap to access the different features.

It’s pretty comfortable to wear, not too bulky and non-intrusive. Of course, having information displayed on the band’s thin screen won’t suit everyone, but that’s why Garmin released both the X10 and S10 – it’s a personal choice.

One omission, which we also griped about on the Approach S10, is the lack of Bluetooth on the device. That means any syncing will need to be done via your PC/Mac and the supplied cable. Any scorecards will then be automatically uploaded to the Garmin Golf app on your smartphone.

Garmin Approach X10: Golf features

Garmin Approach X10 review

Unlike the Garmin Approach X40, the budget X10 sheds extra features such as sport tracking (using the GPS) and fitness tracking. This is a golf device, pure and simple. It will track distances to front, middle and back of the green, as well as hazards and doglegs. You also get on-device scoring as you go and shot measuring, so you can quantify the length of those booming drives.

And that’s about it. Not shot-tracking, no swing analysis, no noise. It’s a very simple golf experience, which offers enough to justify a single purchase for golf, while not breaking the bank.

Garmin Approach X10: Performance

As fans of the Approach X40 we don’t really have any beef with the display on this type of golf band. Distances were accurate and the response was nice and quick when walking down the fairway. It was also quick to lock onto satellites, so there’s no faffing on the first tee.

Hazards are pretty clearly laid out, and you can simply swipe your way up and down the fairway. As we mentioned, the screen is a little small and this was a slight issue when adding scoring data. Anyone with above-average sized mitts is going to struggle. The watch version offers a little more home-screen data, showing you the layout of the green that you have to swipe to find on the X10.

There's not much to scoring, with simply strokes per hole registered. There's no information such as putts or driving direction – and certainly no provision for the logging of clubs, as you can on the Approach X40/S20.

We played a single round with the Approach X10 and returned with the display showing half charge. It'll give you a couple of rounds, which will suffice for most people. You will need to take the charger for the biggest of golfing weekends.

Garmin Approach X10
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Approach X10: App and data

Garmin Approach X10 review

With no Bluetooth, you’ll need to plug your watch into a Mac/PC to see your post-round data – if you want to keep tabs on your scores over time.

To sync your X10, you’ll need Garmin Express installed, which will handle uploading data into the Garmin Golf app.

It’s all quite basic, in terms of design and experience. A completed round will appear within the Scorecards tab. It’s not that visually engaging and doesn’t offer much in terms of analysis. More disappointingly, there's no provision for Stableford scoring. And for that reason, it offers little reason to stop using Hole 19 – which is a third party scoring app, with some handy course maps.

Ironically, it’s smartwatch golf apps like Hole 19 (and its companion Apple Watch and Wear OS apps) that Garmin is using the likes of the Approach X10/S10 to stop. So it’s a bit disappointing that the Garmin Golf experience is so lacking.


Garmin Approach X10
By Garmin
A simple no-frills golf watch, the Approach X10 satisfies our golfing needs in a comfortable and slender form factor. While there are much more feature-packed golf watches out there the Approach X10 provides reliable distance, hazard and shot measurement data – a reminder of how far smartwatch golf apps still have to come, and dedicated GPS watches still have a place on golfer’s wrists. Those who don’t like the band design should look to the Approach S10, which features the same features in a watch.

Hit
  • Band design
  • Accurate
  • On-device scoring
Miss
  • No Bluetooth
  • Garmin Golf isn't great
  • Fiddly for fat fingers

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