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Review: Garmin Approach S12, 010-02472-01 – Delivers excellent value for its price

Analyze the Garmin S12 golf watch to determine its value for your game... Read more

Review of Garmin Approach S12, 010-02472-01

Test of Garmin Approach S12, 010-02472-01

4.5/5 - (544 votes)

Cena: $199.98


  • Affordable entry-level golf watch
  • Excellent battery life
  • User-friendly interface
  • Slim and lightweight design
  • Accurate yardage tracking
  • Track score mid-round


  • No phone notifications or fitness tracking
  • No holistic hole layout
  • Screen lacks backlight
  • Plasticky casing and strap
  • Non-intuitive hazard UI
  • Proprietary charger instead of universal USB

“After thorough testing and comparison, I believe the Garmin S12 delivers excellent value for its price. Its focus on fundamental golf GPS watch features is commendable, with a user-friendly interface and commendable battery life. However, it’s important to remember that it is essentially a golf watch, lacking advanced smartwatch features. If you seek a fitness tracker or extensive connectivity options, this might not be the best fit for you. But if you’re searching for a budget-friendly golf watch that gets the job done effectively – the Garmin S12 could be a sound investment.”

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Brand Garmin
Model Name GRAPPS12GB
Screen Size 0.9 Inches
Special Feature GPS
Connectivity Technology Bluetooth
Map Type North America
Sport Golf
Included Components Approach S12 golf watch; Charging/data cable; Documentation
Battery Life 30.0, 15.0 Hours
Mounting Type Wrist Mount

Introduction: Unboxing the Garmin S12

Upon receiving the Garmin S12, the packaging immediately struck me as minimalistic yet functional. It felt like a great thing to have this device in my hands, it was definitely a highly anticipated moment.

Initial Box Contents

Inside the box, nestled snugly therein, were the standard items: the Garmin S12 Watch itself, a charging/data clip, some documentation, and a whole lot of excitement yet to be discovered.

First Impression of the Garmin S12

My initial impression? Simplicity. The Garmin S12 wasn’t demanding in its appearance. It came off as basic but durable with a solid build, which was a positive note. From the moment it was unboxed, this watch resonated with unpretentious functionality.

Initial Gripes

However, a few initial gripes did present themselves. The watch didn’t feel premium in the hand, this could largely be attributed to the predominate use of plastic elements all over the watch’s body. This arguably is a compromise keeping in mind the pricing and target audience, but a more premium feel wouldn’t go amiss.

Overall First Take

Even with these few annoyances, a sense of excitement at the opportunities the Garmin S12 presented overshadowed any negatives. The watch neatly sat on the wrist without feeling bulky – a definite plus for anyone who would be wearing it on the golf course for extended periods.

In conclusion, the unboxing of the Garmin S12 was a relatively smooth process. Despite the initial hiccups concerning about the build material, the promise of this entry-level golf watch was convincing enough to get me excited about trying it out in action.

Remarks on Garmin Approach S12, 010-02472-01

An Introduction to Garmin S12, an Entry-Level Golf Watch

  • Garmin S12 is an affordable, golf-centered watch.
  • Offers simplicity, functionality, and lacks fancy notifications.
  • Reliably tracks golf stats, not daily fitness or smart features.

In the competitive landscape of golf watches, the Garmin S12 stands its ground as a true entry-level option. Tailored for those prioritizing the essentials, the S12 steps into the spotlight with a price tag of around 180 to 200 pounds. A good deal, but one might find oneself asking – “What features am I potentially missing out on?”

A Golf Watch: In the Truest Sense

The Garmin S12 makes no promises beyond what it is – an efficient, lean golf watch. It explicitly focuses on the golfing essentials, dialing down on fancy notifications and fitness tracking features. While you can link your phone via Bluetooth for some stat tracking, don’t expect the S12 to pick up your phone notifications or monitor your daily fitness.

This watch doesn’t sport a touchscreen, but proves reliability has its charm. Four buttons on the outside serve all navigation purposes, providing a remarkably straightforward user experience.

Does Practicability Compensate for Luxury?

Remember, the S12 is not trying to compete with the smart watch leagues. It’s sticking to its golf-centric DNA and doing the job quite well. I found the watch useful in accurately tracking GPS and providing critical data for my game. But, if you’re expecting a complete smart watch experience or a leisurely scrolling through texts, calls, or social media updates, the S12 might not satisfy.

Nevertheless, as a golf GPS watch, it fulfills its realm quite proficiently. If you can secure a deal less than its retail price, it’s arguably a steal, as long as you’re happy with it being primarily a golf watch. Golfers seeking simplicity, functionality, and value for money might find the S12 a worthy companion on the green.

Perspective: Garmin Approach S12, 010-02472-01

The Battery Life: My First Impressions

  • Garmin S12 has impressive battery longevity
  • Battery indicator lacks detailed information

Exploring the battery life of a product is a crucial part of any review and the Garmin S12 is no different. Albeit, the battery situation of this golf watch brought forth quite an impressive realisation.

Spotlight on Battery Life: A Comparison

To put into perspective, modern-day smartwatches, with all their extensive features and fantastic displays, often come with a caveat – a relatively shorter battery life. For instance, consider my series 6 smartwatch that constantly finds itself in need of a recharge every 18 hours or so. However, that’s where the Garmin’s S12 pulls ahead in this race. From my experience, I can affirmatively claim that the watch’s battery endured for an exceptional duration. On its first full charge, it accompanied my golf swings for an astonishing 30 days along with managing to linger for 8 additional days in non-GPS mode.

Battery Life: A Minor Grievance

Despite its stellar performance, there was a small hiccup that did catch my attention. The battery life on the Garmin S12 is indicated by a tiny logo on the watch face. It lacks a numerical percentage or a detailed indicator to alert the user about the exact battery life remaining. This deviation from the conventional might work for some, but I admittedly did find it limiting in terms of utility.

In conclusion, despite the minor grievance regarding the battery life indicator, the Garmin S12 fares quite well in term of its battery performance. It’s longevity strikingly outweighs the minor inconvenience that it comes packed with.

Investigation of Garmin Approach S12, 010-02472-01

Breaking Down the Physical Appearance

  • Garmin S12 has slim, minimalist, and lightweight design
  • Features black and white pixel display
  • Proprietary charger, not universally compatible USB

The Garmin S12 certainly stands out with its distinct physical attributes. From its slim shape to its unique button layout, there’s much to unpack in this compact device. As I delve into the minute details of the watch’s appearance, it’s essential to remember my experience is purely personal and may not align with everyone’s.

The Sleek Form Factor: Slim and Nondescript

First thing I noticed about the S12 was its form factor – it’s slim. There’s not a massive battery hidden within its casing and overall, it has quite a simple aesthetic—not too flashy or attention-grabbing. I found this minimalist appeal to be quite charming, particularly for those who prefer their gadgets to blend in rather than stand out.

Screen Basics: A Look at that Black and White Pixel Display

Looking at the screen, it’s black and white pixel display is starkly different from the color-drenched touchscreens we’re used to. This rudimentary screen might seem like a step back for some, but let’s not forget that this is a dedicated golf watch. That being said, I found the screen to be adequately clear and had no issues reading the data, even on sunny days.

The Robust Body: Slim, Lightweight, and Plasticky

Moving on to the body of the watch, the case and strap have a noticeable plastic feel to them. It does give the S12 a somewhat inexpensive feel, but in fairness, this makes the watch incredibly lightweight—a definite positive when you’re swinging a golf club. The strap is thin too and this, paired with the watch’s slim casing, makes it ideal for those with slender wrists.

Let’s Talk About the Charger: Garmin, We Need a Universal USB

One minor gripe I had with the Garmin S12 is its proprietary charger. I couldn’t help but wish that it was a universally compatible USB. The struggle of needing to replace a lost proprietary charger or being unable to borrow one when out and about could be easily eradicated with a more universally accepted charging port.

In conclusion, while the Garmin S12 may not win points for luxury aesthetics or high-end material usage, its simplistic design, practical screen, and impressively lightweight construction make it a functional choice for the golf course.

Observation of Garmin Approach S12, 010-02472-01

What’s it like to use Garmin S12 on the Golf Course?

  • Garmin S12 offers user-friendly, straightforward golfing experience
  • Accurately provides distance measurements, club selection assistance
  • Lacks overall hole layout, can improve hazard presentation

In diving into the real user experience of the Garmin S12 on the golf course, I was initially impressed by how user-friendly and straightforward the interface was. Without any hurdles, it was pretty much ready to deliver right out of the box. This makes it an appealing option for both golf beginners and seasoned players who prefer simplicity.

Getting Started

Upon arrival at the course, all you need to do is select the ‘Play Golf’ option on your Garmin S12. Once you find the GPS signal and select your course, you can choose if you want to keep your score and pick your tees. And just like that, you’re good to go!

On the Course Features

The main display screen on the watch conveniently shows you what hole you’re on and the par it is. It offers distance measurements to the front, middle, and back of the green. This is extremely helpful when it comes to clubs selection. The screen also illustrates the shape of the green and two little dots that represent where Garmin calculates the front and back of the green.

No Holistic Hole Layout

However, a slight drawback of the watch is that it doesn’t provide an overall hole layout. This might be something you need for strategizing your game. If that’s the case, you might need to go with a higher-end model. Thus, despite being an entry-level watch, the Garmin S12 might not entirely satisfy the needs of more sophisticated players.

Understanding the Hazards

The watch presents hazards on the course in an interesting, unique manner. With each hazard labeled from A, B, C, etc, it took me quite a while to understand and get used to this system. It gets confusing when there are many hazards on a hole. It’s quite challenging to be sure if you’re getting the distance to the hazard that you think you actually are. This is an area where I feel Garmin could improve on in their future iterations.

Scoring and Precision

Despite this, I found the Garmin S12 excellent in providing accurate yardages. I even conducted a comparative test using the Garmin S42 and the S12. Impressively, the yardages on both watches were within one yard of each other the whole time. This left me with greater confidence in the watch’s precision.

As you get closer to the green, the watch allows you to move the flag to different locations on the green based on what you see. You can also enter your score, the number of putts, the location of your tee shot, and the number of penalty strokes. The watch conveniently transfers these stats to the Garmin app once you connect your phone with the watch. While the S12 doesn’t give you extremely detailed stats, it’s enough to give you a solid start.

In Summary

The experiences of using the Garmin S12 on the golf course were majorly positive. The watch proves its worth by offering basic features required on the course while also tacking on user-friendly functionalities. While it does have its manageable drawbacks, the Garmin S12 might just be the appropriate golf watch for players who prefer simplicity and efficiency.

Rundown: Garmin Approach S12, 010-02472-01

Tracking Distances: A Not-so-Straightforward Matter

  • S42 automatically tracks distance of tee shots, unlike S12
  • S12’s distance tracking feature needs improvement
  • Proposed feature: Activate ‘Measure Shot’ by holding red button

When I hit the golf course with the Garmin S12, tracking the distances of my shots quickly became a topic of interest. Jingling with anticipation, I delved into this attribute with high expectations. However, my experience turned out to be a bit more complicated than expected, hence it is worth discussing.

Tracking Tee Shots: S12 vs S42

The first difference that struck me was between the S12 and its sibling, the S42. I noticed that the S42 automatically tracks the distance of tee shots, displaying the details at the top of the screen – a feature I found quite helpful. In contrast, the S12 lacked this functionality. Instead, to track the distance of a shot, I had to navigate through the menu and select ‘Measure Shot’. While it’s not a Herculean task, it was a bit inconvenient, especially if you’re aiming to track multiple shots over the course of a game.

A Suggestion for Improvement

Reflecting on my experience, I propose a slight improvement to optimize the S12’s functionality. My idea is a feature where, if you simply hold down the red button for a few seconds, it should be able to activate the ‘Measure Shot’ mode. This could save crucial seconds on the game and smoothen the whole experience.


In retrospect, I can affirm that while the S12 has proved to be a reliable golfing companion, its distance tracking feature could do with a brush-up. Like any product, it’s not without room for improvement, and I’m optimistic that Garmin will continue to refine its features to cater to the practical needs of golfers.

Comparison with Other Models and Final Verdict

Before we come to our final verdict, let’s take a moment to compare the Garmin S12 with other similar market offerings. Two models that are particularly relevant are Garmin’s own S42 and a competitor brand’s popular option, the Shotscope V3. The comparison should offer better insight into the value proposition of S12.

The Shotscope V3: A Decent Alternative

The Shotscope V3 is another golf watch available at a similar price point to Garmin S12. Notable features are its 16 club trackers that offer comprehensive data on your golf game. However, the V3 has its fair share of drawbacks. For instance, you can’t check your score midway through the round, which is a major functionality gap in my experience. Once you consider that it doesn’t support the stableford point scoring system and its shot tracking feature is not highly reliable, the V3 does seem a bit less appealing. Although it’s a decent alternative, I found the S12 less frustrating and more user-friendly than the Shotscope V3.

Moving Up the Garmin Range: The S42

The S42, another model from Garmin’s range, is significantly more expensive but also packs an array of additional features. The most conspicuous is its ability to function beyond golf; it can track fitness, sleep patterns, and even stress levels. Its functionalities on the golf course are also more advanced, with a smart caddy system and directional information on blind shots. It’s Bluetooth-friendly and can send phone notifications. However, the S42 still falls short of the modern smartwatch experience and its screen isn’t as crisp as I would prefer. It really makes you question if the large price jump is worth it, considering the Garmin S12 basic features cover most of a golfer’s needs.

Final Verdict

In the final analysis, the Garmin S12 proves itself as a straightforward, value-oriented golf GPS watch. Despite its minimal features, it does a solid job at what it promises – keeping track of your golf games. While it does not offer the array of extra features like its seniors in the Garmin lineup, its longevity, accuracy, and user-friendly interface more than make up for its lack of gadgetry. Overall, it’s a solid pick for any golfer who values simplicity, accuracy, and affordability in their gadgets.

Should you buy the Garmin Approach S12, 010-02472-01?

Buy it if…

You want a strictly golf GPS watch

Garmin S12 is an entry-level watch that allows you to link your phone via Bluetooth for some stat tracking. Its focus is purely on golf, providing users with accurate yardages and hazard layouts.

You seek an impressive battery life

The battery lasted 30 days after 18 holes of golf and 8 days on non-GPS mode, allowing you to use this device for extended periods without worrying about recharging it.

You prefer lightweight and slim devices

This watch is very slim and lightweight, ideal for those with skinny wrists or those who dislike bulky distractions during their golf swings.

Don’t buy it if…

You’re looking for a multifunctional watch

If you’re aiming for a smartwatch experience, the S12 might fall short. It does not pick up phone notifications, lack fitness tracking features, and lacks a touchscreen.

You prefer detailed battery life information

The watch only indicates low battery life with a small logo on the screen, which does not show the exact percentage remaining.

You’re not a fan of proprietary chargers

Garmin S12 uses a proprietary charger instead of a universal USB, which can be inconvenient if you lose it and frustrating due to its short cable length.


Is Garmin S12 a smart watch?
No, the Garmin S12 is an entry-level golf watch, focused on GPS functionalities. It does not pick up notifications from your phone or offer fitness tracking.
What is the battery life of Garmin S12?
The battery life of the Garmin S12 is approximately 30 days after 18 holes of golf and 8 days on non-GPS mode on its first full charge.
Can Garmin S12 be used off the golf course?
Yes, the Garmin S12 can be used as a regular watch off the golf course. However, it’s pretty basic looking and has no backlight.
Can I use the Garmin S12 to track my shot distances?
Yes, the Garmin S12 has a feature that allows you to track the distances of your shots. You need to scroll through the menu, select ‘measure shot’ and start walking towards your ball.
Are the yardages provided by Garmin S12 accurate?
Yes, the yardages provided by the Garmin S12 are quite accurate. They were within one yard of the readings provided by the Garmin S42 during testing.
How user-friendly is the Garmin S12?
The Garmin S12 is pretty straightforward and user-friendly. From the initial set up to navigating the menus using the four buttons, most users should find it easy to operate.
Can we connect the CT10 club trackers to Garmin S12?
Yes, it is possible to connect the CT10 club trackers to Garmin S12. However, this would be an extra cost.
Should I upgrade from Garmin S12 to the more expensive S42?
The answer depends on personal preferences. The S42 has additional features like phone notification delivery, more detailed golf statistics, and a color screen. However, its screen quality isn’t as superior as modern smartwatches.

About Laura Daniels

Laura DanielsLaura brings a world perspective to her reviews. With extensive travels and a diverse background, she evaluates products with a global lens.

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