Garmin S10 vs S40 [Find The Right One For You]

Garmin’s contribution to the Golf GPS industry has been and continues to be immense as they offer a full range of products from entry-level to top of the line and, their products keep getting better!

The Garmin S10 is an entry level golf watch, but delivers accurate and simple functionality and accuracy which is all you need! The S40 brings a little more to the table as a mid range golf watch with all the same features as well as its color touchscreen and additional fitness and shot tracking features.

Either of these watches will work for you both on and off the course, but you need to decide what if any additional features you would need and whether the extra spend is worth it – let’s look at these two watches side by side.

As per the amended rules in 2016, the PGA allowed DMDs (Distance measuring devices) that had the slope and elevation functions to be used provided those features were not activated or utilized.

Using golf GPS watches in tournaments is allowed if they only provide distance to the green, hazards, and other yardages, but not wind or elevation data. The S40 and the S10 with GPS mode do not have the elevation/ slope function and are therefore legal for tournament events.

Garmin S40 golf watch language options
Garmin S40 golf watch language options

Always remember to check your local rules regarding the use of GPS watches during tournaments as using one when not permitted will result in disqualification.

Golf GPS Watch – Battery Life

With many golf GPS watches, the battery life is an important aspect as there are few things more frustrating than when you look down at your watch to get some distance info and the screen is dead or the ‘low batt’ icon is showing.

battery life watch mode with auto hole advance and advanced features like the manual pin positioning

The Garmin Approach S10 golf GPS watch is a fundamentally simpler watch using a black and white screen against the full-color screen of the Garmin S40 and smartwatch functions which use more battery life.

The S10 is rated with 12-hour battery life, while the S40 is rated for 15 hours, but in full GPS mode with all the functions, the S10 has a longer battery life and would be good for about 2 rounds of golf, while Garmin recommends charging the S40 overnight between rounds.

Modern Golf GPS Watches – Style And Design

The S10 is a basic watch with a rectangular face and monochrome screen. The buttons are well placed and easy to use and access even with a golf glove on. The monochrome can be difficult to read in bright sunlight, but then most golf watches are.

Golf mode options on the Garmin Approach S40
Golf mode options on the Garmin Approach S40

This is really a watch for the course and not something you would consider wearing to a social function, even though it does have the basic watch functions.

The S40 golf GPS watch is more stylish and designed with a circular face to be more comparable with the more modern smartwatches from Garmin and other brands. The full-color touchscreen and easily replaceable straps make it a more versatile piece that could be worn as a smart watch while in watch mode with it’s clock features.

garmin watch mode with key features like front middle and back carry distances from green view

The S40 features the customizable watch face feature so you can download different face styles and essentially leave the house with one face and come back with another! The S40 is a sleek, sexy watch that oozes sophistication and elegant functionality.

Golf Watches – On Course Features

Aside from the aesthetics, the real test of these two watches comes down to the on-course functions while playing golf, and here again, the S40 golf GPS watch comes out on top but it may not be for everyone.

Many golfers are looking for a watch that calculates exact yardage to target and hazards without any frills or fuss and the S10 certainly delivers that in a lightweight package.

The Garmin Approach S10 gives you the accurate shot distance to target as well as hazards and layups and the numbers are big and easy to read like most GPS watches, the S10 (and S40) will give accurate distances to within 5 yards or so, which is more than sufficient for most golfers.

Each one also has the carry distance to hazards as well and will give you accurate distances to doglegs on the course too.

The S40 offers a little more in terms of the course functions as you can use the touch screen for manual pin position to move the pin on the green to its actual location and thereby get a more accurate distance to target yardage.

You can do this on the S10 as well, but you have to use the buttons to maneuver the pin and this can be a little cumbersome.

Custom Shot Tracking & Green Layout

The S40 also offers a some premium features called custom shot tracking which allows you to get yardages to any point on the hole you are playing and this feature delivers a little more in terms of the hole and course management than the S10 can offer.

The tracking is recorded so if you play a course regularly, you start to get a database of shots played on each hole and this can help you with your round and hole strategy for a post round analysis using the Garmin golf app.

comfortable watch mode with display resolution and sleep monitor in gps mode with fitness tracking features

The Garmin Approach S40 also gives you the shape and layout of the green as does the S10, but the full-color screen for manual pin positioning makes it that much more appealing than the monochrome. The S40 offers you the green shape from all sides so you have a clear vision of what you are playing on.

Course Database

Garmin started life producing GPS devices, so it’s no surprise that they have one of the best course databases around. Garmin GPS watches usually come pre-loaded with 41 000 courses and the devices recognize which course you are on when you’re in the parking lot!

The updates on the courses are free so you never have to worry about inaccurate courses and distance when you are playing in the US or anywhere else around the world. If you are a golf tourist, then either of these watches will serve you well wherever you play.

Stat Tracking

Both the Garmin Approach S10 and the Garmin S40 will track your round and shot stats so you analyze and commiserate after the round! Being able to view your FIR and GIR stats is a great help as you can then discuss this with your coach – if you have one – or use them to review and see how and where you can improve.

Coupled with the shot tracker on the S40, this feature will assist you in improving areas on the course or in your game where you are losing shots. So whether you opt for the Garmin S10 or the S40, this is a useful feature to have ‘ in your bag’.

Digital Scorecards

Both the S10 and Garmin S40 golf GPS watch have the digital scorecard function and this makes life that much easier on the golf course especially when you have lost the pencil for the umpteenth time and trying to scratch the score on with your tee!

Being able to log your scores and FIR/ GIR stats using the scorecard takes a little getting used to – about one round – and then the benefits of this function become clear and you’ll wonder why you didn’t use it before.

Unlike the smartphone apps that require you to have your phone on you, the S10 and S40 handle the scoring like a digital caddie, and simply touching or clicking on the score for that hole enters it.

It will of course add up your score and will also look at your handicap index (entered before your round as well as the course rating) so if you are playing competitively, your net scores will be available for viewing.

The good news is that using your digital scorecard on your golf GPS watch is legal, so there won’t be any issues around that.

Smart Functions & Connectivity

In this category, the Garmin S40 golf GPS smart watch put the foot down and speeds away like a Bryson drive! The S40, along with GPS mode, has more of the smart functions like fitness tracking, email, SMS, and phone notifications that will pop up on the screen when they come through.

As practical as this is, many golfers go to the course to leave the world behind for a few hours, so if that is you, you can either not connect the watch to your phone or opt for the S10, which doesn’t have that functionality.

If you need those constant beeps and blips to stay in touch with your business while on the course, then the S40 will keep you connected and, provided your playing partners don’t object to you responding to messages, you can stay in touch through your round.

The S40 can connect to the Garmin CT-10 and allow you to track your shots with each club as well, while the S10 does not have that capacity available.


One feature that both devices have is their waterproofing which is admirable as both are certified to 5 atmospheres and unless you are planning to play golf at 165 ft underwater, your watches are safe from rain and the occasional jump in the pond.

Fitness Features

As stated from the start, the S10 is purely a simple, functional device that provides the basics of yardages and distance measurement on the course, which is all most golfers need.

The Garmin S40 seeks to increase its usefulness by adding fitness tracking features and apps as many golfers need this data to keep abreast of steps taken and calories burned during the day on the course.

The S10 golf GPS watch only has an odometer, while the S40 has a whole host of fitness tracking features including a step counter/pedometer, as well as profiles for running, swimming, and cycling, which, if used in conjunction with your walking on the course, you will have your fitness data whenever you need it.

Gender options during the set up of your watch
Gender options during the set up of your watch

These fitness tracking features let you can track your training, calories, and time in one place and still have accurate yardage on the course as well. So you could use the S40 as your smartwatch/fitness tracker and golf GPS device all for one price.

Note that the S40 does not have a heart rate monitor so you cannot utilize that feature and if that is a deal breaker, then you would need to look at the S60 or S62 golf watches.

Garmin S10 Vs S40 – Which One Do I Choose

With more golfers looking for more versatility in GPS watches, the Garmin S40 in GPS mode offers more functions and features and a full-color touchscreen with greater useability for the golfer on the course than the S10, so if you need that little bit more than just yardage, then the S40 is for you – even at the higher price.

The S10 is ideal if you want a simple and cheaper option that still delivers accurate yardages and everything you need for your round with longer battery life and a better option if you want to disconnect from the world and just focus on golf!


Garmin’s S10 and Garmin S40 are entry-level to mid-level devices and both give excellent results both on course and off-course. It boils down to whether you want the additional features of the S40 or not.

Regardless of which one you choose, both will deliver accurate and consistent distances on the course, and as a golfer looking to play the game properly, what more could you want.

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