Garmin S10 vs G10 [Watch or Handheld For You?]

Most reviews compare apples with apples, ie. Golf GPS watches against other golf GPS watches, but we will shake that up here as we look at a handheld GPS device and a GPS golf watch.

The Garmin S10 is a GPS watch, while the Garmin Approach G10 is a handheld golf GPS device, but even though their format is a little different, they have some common features. They are solid, robust, and reliable for golfers looking for a basic yet accurate GPS device as basic golf GPS devices.

It will be an intriguing exercise to compare the two as many golfers are often uncertain whether to go with a handheld GPS or the watch version, so some prefer the wrist option, and others don’t like having a watch while playing.

The short and sweet of this question is, yes, both of these devices are legal for tournament play as neither offers the slope or elevation feature or other features like wind direction and strength, which aren’t permitted under rule 14-3 of golf.

Since neither of these devices has those features, just switch on and tee off!

Garmin S10 Vs G10 Basic Features

There is something fundamental to behold about having a basic GPS device as you can focus more on your golf game rather than the bells and whistles of the device. Using the device only to give you accurate yardage takes the game closer to its traditional form before the technology.

Even though manufacturers are adding increasingly more features to their golf GPS devices, something is appealing about a device that just gives you distances on the course, and here, the S10 and G10 meet that appeal head-on.

automatic club tracking on the golf course with the garmin express

First off, both devices are pre-loaded with 41 000 courses worldwide, which seems the standard with Garmin. It may be that the newer models like the S62 have more courses, but the updates are free with Garmin for life anyway, so you will never be on a course that isn’t recognized.

Golf GPS Device Screen Size And Operation

Each of these is black and white and operated by four buttons, so there is no touch screen feature included.

The screen sizes are identical, measuring 0.9″ X 0.9″ and a 128 X 128-pixel display. While not hi-res in any way, the screens can be read in the sun, and the numbers and data displays are large and easy to read.

Of course, the primary difference between them is how you wear or carry them. The S10 is a watch, while the G10 can be clipped to your belt or carried in your pocket, and because it is so light, it’s hardly noticeable when swinging or walking.

garmin connect to save and review scores with automatic daylight saving time

Garmin S10 Vs Garmin G10 On Course Features

These two devices are essentially carbon copies of each other, just one is handheld, and the other is worn on the wrist. Even the designation “10” with the different prefix indicates their great similarity.

GPS Mode Yardage Readings

The S10 and G10 will automatically detect which course and which hole you are on, and you get the standard green view distances to the front, middle, and back of the greens as well as distances to water hazards, doglegs, and layups on the course.

Green Shape And Manual Pin Placement

For a basic device, you still have the option to use the manual pin placement feature, which moves the pin to its actual position on the green so you can get accurate yardage from your approach position.

It also provides you with the layout of the green, which, considering the price, is certainly a bonus in terms of value.

Battery Life

This is one aspect where the G10 has a slight edge on the S10. One point to remember is that a black and white display device providing fewer features will use less battery life than a full-color display resolution device offering more on-course features.

cheaper price tag gps receiver with green view and manual pin position

The G10 has a 15-hour battery life in GPS mode, while the S10 only has 12 hours. This means that the S10 would last about three rounds of golf before being recharged, while the G10 would last about four rounds.

So again, no real difference there, and the preference comes down to whether you prefer handheld or wrist-worn.

Digital Scorecard, Stat Tracking & Accuracy

As with most Garmin devices, basic or otherwise, the S10 and Garmin Approach G10 both have a digital scorecard and stat tracking that can track the game stats like fairways hit and greens hit and putts made. It will also utilize the computer scorecard review and handicap tracking stats to calculate that on each course you play.

First off, no GPS device will be as accurate as a laser rangefinder, and this is due to the natural error margins that occur within the GPS. Whether handheld or wrist borne, most GPS devices will be accurate enough within 3-5 yards.

This is more than sufficient for the average weekend player and even down to the low double-figure player. But if you are looking for accuracy within one yard or less, no GPS device can match that.

golf mode calculates exact yardage and hazard distances like sand traps

Garmin started their career in GPS, so it stands to reason that their technology will be as accurate as any, if not better. So you would never have to worry about the accuracy of the device recognizing which course and hole you are on.

Waterproofing, Watch Functions & Notifications

The compatible Garmin devices are the level of waterproofing they have, and the S10 and G10 are blessed with the same level of protection. Each is rated to 5 atmospheres, which translates to a depth of 165 feet in layman’s terms.

Unless you plan on playing underwater golf, your S10 or G10 is in no danger of water damage even if you end up swimming the pond by the par three after making your first ace!

These two devices only provide the basic date and time and don’t have the stopwatch, countdown, or alarm that the higher-priced models have.

With other Garmin models, you can connect your watch or handheld device to your smartphone to receive audible or vibrating notifications of messages, emails, SMS, and phone calls.

Your playing partners will be happy to know that the S10 and the G1o don’t have this functionality and so you won’t be disturbed or distracted with incessant beeps and burps while you are playing.

Since you are on the course to get away from the world for a few hours, not having those

What You Don’t Get With The Garmin S10 And G10

However, neither has the Auto Shot detection feature nor the manual shot detection and neither the S10 nor G10 is compatible with the CT10 club tracking sensors that work with the Auto Shot or Manual Shot tracking features found on more advanced devices.

The S10 and G10 also don’t allow you to use the CT10 for Automatic or Manual Club tracking for round analysis and future rounds played, so if you were considering adding the CT 10 sensors, then sadly, neither the S10 nor G10 will work for you there.

They are also not TruSwing compatible either, so you would not be able to connect to that app for range or on-course swing assistance.

Fitness Tracking Apps

These are both very basic devices; they are limited to yardages on the course and don’t offer features like a step counter, although they both have an odometer that shows the distance and time taken on the round.

hole by hole preview with longer battery life that measures distance traveled

You won’t find a pedometer or any apps for running, walking, swimming, skiing, or any form of activity outside of golf. If you need your device to multi-task in terms of fitness tracking, sleep, calories, and activities, then neither of these would work for you.

Garmin S10 Vs G10 – Pros And Cons

While the S10 and G10 are both very similar, they differ in one or two areas.

Garmin S10 Vs G10 – Size

One of the main factors under consideration when looking at either of these devices is their size and whether they are comfortable to carry or wear. Based on the size, the Approach S10 is bigger and a bit bulkier than the G10.

The thinner watches that are more like the Fitbit style like the X10 and similar are often rated as more comfortable than the more square and rectangular designs. The rounded face devices like the Garmin Approach S40 and Garmin Approach S60 are preferred as the round face doesn’t cut into the wrist.

But, sometimes bigger is better (not like that), and the Garmin G10’s more compact, thinner dimensions make it easier to misplace if you happen to forget to clip it to your belt. It becomes a bit of a balance with the smaller, lighter handheld against the heavier, bulkier wrist device.

One is less bulky, and the other is harder to lose, so you need to decide which option you would prefer here. The best way to decide on either is to handle them before you buy if you can.

That way, you will be able to get a good feel for their weight and dimensions and how the buttons work before you commit to spending money.

The S10 Wristband & G10 Clip

Another consideration is that the S10 wristband may not be very durable, and you may find it experiencing wear and tear in a short space of time, and it may need replacing. It doesn’t have the quick-change bands, so that could be an issue.

Of course, the converse is true of the clip, and if that broke, you would have to resort to carrying it in your pocket or leaving it on the golf cart dashboard. With the movement of the golf cart and the fact that the Garmin G10 does not have a magnetic mount, you would need to be carefully observant that it doesn’t disappear or fall out while driving.

That would not be a good experience to have in the middle of your round, and with the watch, it’s unlikely to fall off while you are playing.

Garmin S10 Vs. G10 – Which One Do You Buy

If you are more the kind of golfer that seeks to retain some of the traditional elements of the game rather than have everything handed to you on a plate, then either the Approach S10 or Garmin G10 would be a great choice.

They both provide reliable course information, and their yardages are accurate and reliable. With distances to all the necessary targets and the ability to manually place the pin, either would be suitable for a beginner or mid-to-high handicap player that only wants the golf fundamentals.

garmin connect displays distances and identify locations in high resolution

The only real consideration in this is whether you prefer the wrist-worn or the clipped device, as that is the only true difference between them. Each will give you the basics of playing your round successfully in yardages to the essential course targets.

The Garmin Approach S10 and G10 are certainly entry-level GPS devices. If you are just starting into the GPS device journey, these two are a very good option as you get reliable data for very little and from a very reputable brand.


As golf GPS devices go, these are more than adequate for any level of player that is only looking to get proper distance at the touch of a button and has some additional features that add value to the round allowing for accurate pin yardage, rather than just front, middle and back of the green.

Whether you opt for the Garmin Approach S10 or Garmin G10, know that you are getting great value and that either device will serve you well on the course. Plus, as entry-level devices, they will both give you a good indication of which device you would be more inclined to use should you opt to upgrade at a later stage.

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