Garmin tactix Charlie vs Delta (2020): Tactical GPS Smartwatch Face-off

Garmin’s tactix series of rugged, military-grade smartwatches has reached its fourth generation with the release of the new Garmin tactix Delta. Like its predecessor, the Garmin tactix Charlie, it’s designed for demanding environments and comes with tactical functionalities in addition to the typical activity tracking features of current smartwatches. Here’s a side by side comparison of these premium GPS/fitness watches from Garmin for those keen for a tougher time-telling device.

Garmin tactix Charlie vs Delta Smartwatch Comparison Chart

ModelGarmin tactix CharlieGarmin tactix Delta
 Garmin Tactix Charlie, Premium GPS Watch with Tactical Functionality, Night Vision Goggle... Garmin tactix Delta, Premium GPS Smartwatch with Specialized Tactical Features, Designed to Meet... 
PriceCheck Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon 
Dimensions51 x 51 x 17.5 mm51 x 51 x 14.9 mm
Display1.2″ diameter1.4″ diameter
Resolution240 x 240 pixels280 x 280 pixels
LensDomed sapphire crystalDomed sapphire crystal
BezelDiamond-like Carbon (DLC) coated titaniumDiamond-like Carbon (DLC) coated steel
CaseFiber-reinforced polymer with titanium rear coverFiber-reinforced polymer with metal rear cover
Weight90 g97 g
Water Rating10 ATM10 ATM
Memory16 GB32 GB
Heart Rate MonitorYesYes
AccelerometerYesYes
Barometric AltimeterYesYes
CompassYesYes
GyroscopeYesYes
ThermometerYesYes
Pulse OximeterNoYes (with acclimation)
GPS/GLONASSYesYes
BluetoothYesYes
Wi-FiYesYes
ANT+YesYes
Music StorageNoYes
LivetrackYesYes
Incident AssistanceNoYes
Night Vision ModeYesYes
Stealth ModeNoYes
Kill SwitchNoYes
Stress TrackingNoYes
Golfing FeaturesIntermediateAdvanced
CompatibilityiOS, AndroidiOS, Android
Battery LifeSmartwatch mode: Up to 12 days
GPS/HR mode: Up to 20 hours
UltraTrac™ mode: Up to 35 hours
Smartwatch: Up to 21 days
GPS: Up to 60 hours
GPS and Music: Up to 15 hours
Max Battery GPS Mode: 120 hours
Expedition GPS Activity: 46 days
Battery Saver Watch Mode: 80 days
ReleasedMarch 2018January 2020

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Design

The Garmin tactix Delta has a larger display and more robust build than the Garmin tactix Charlie.

Garmin tactix Charlie vs Delta Smartwatch Design
While the tactix Charlie (left) and Delta (right) share the same case dimensions, notice the thicker bezel of the former.

While the newer Garmin tactix Delta takes after its predecessor’s design heavily, it has a noticeably smaller bezel surrounding a much larger display than the tactix Charlie. A black diamond-like carbon (DLC) titanium bezel gives the Charlie a more rugged and solid look, while the DLC steel bezel of the Delta adds a bit more sophistication and minimalism to it. With this smaller bezel but same case dimensions, the tactix Delta has space for a 1.4-inch transreflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display, which is 36% larger than the tactix Charlie’s 1.2-inch screen. This also results in a higher resolution for the Delta, 280 x 280 pixels against the 240 x 240 pixels of the Charlie.

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With a larger display, the Garmin tactix Delta becomes much easier to view, especially when reading small text. Both have bright full-color screens that remain visible even under direct sunlight. Moreover, they have night vision modes that you can toggle on to make the display visible behind night vision goggles. 

The Garmin tactix Charlie is slightly lighter than the Delta, but the latter is noticeably thinner, reducing its bulk on your wrist. They come with silicone bands that perfectly complement their rugged designs. One significant advantage of the tactix Delta is it’s built to meet US military standards (MIL-STD-810), making it better suited for tougher environments. Both do have a water resistance rating of 10 ATM, allowing it to be used underwater without worry unless it’s a prolonged deep dive. 

Activity Tracking

The Garmin tactix Delta adds a pulse oximeter, all day stress tracking, and an energy monitor to the Garmin tactix Charlie.

Garmin tactix Charlie vs Delta Smartwatch Activity Tracking
Keep track of your fitness metrics during training sessions and workouts with the Garmin tactix Charlie and Delta.

As you’d expect, the Garmin tactix series is equipped with all of the requisite activity tracking features you can want in a premium smarwatch. They’re packed with activity profiles for typical exercises and sports such as running, swimming, biking, hiking, etc., which their bevy of sensors capture to measure your progress over time. Adding to the Garmin Elevate heart rate monitor and accelerometer on both watches, the tactix Delta has a Pulse Ox sensor that monitors your body’s absorption of oxygen, improving its altitude acclimation and sleep monitoring features.

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Other tracking features that have been added since the tactix Charlie are all day stress tracking and the Body Battery energy monitor, which uses your heart rate, sleep, and stress data to determine your readiness for activities or whether rest is required. You can also find animated workouts on the tactix Delta, letting you discover easy-to-follow cardio, strength, Pilates, and yoga workouts. There’s a ton of advanced training metrics on the Garmin tactix series, such as running dynamics and VO2 max, that you won’t find on other smartwatches.

For outdoor training and adventures, both tactix watches utilize multiple global navigation systems. GPS, GLONASS and Galileo ensure that you won’t find yourself lost no matter where you go. They have a nifty dual position format that shows GPS coordinates in both UTM and MGRS formats at the same time. Add in ABC sensors (altimeter, barometer, and compass) and topographical maps and you’ll be well prepared for striking out in the wilds. 

Smart Features

The Garmin tactix Delta adds a kill switch, stealth mode, and music storage to the Garmin tactix Charlie.

Garmin tactix Charlie vs Delta Smartwatch Smart Features
Disable GPS tracking and all wireless communications with the Garmin tactix Delta’s stealth mode.

Garmin bumped up the privacy features of the tactix Delta to further enhance its tactical appeal. A new stealth mode stops the storing and sharing of your GPS position and disables all wireless connections. The Delta also has a kill switch that can erase all user data from its memory as an extra security contingency measure. Returning from the Charlie is Jumpmaster mode, which computes high-altitude release points to help skydivers reach their target location. 

Of course, both tactix devices have plenty of non-tactical features you can find on other smartwatches. You’ll be able to check notifications from your phone, control music playback, and make contactless payments via Garmin Pay. The tactix Delta has an edge over the Charlie in providing storage for up to 2,000 songs in addition to simply streaming music from Spotify, Amazon Music or Deezer. It has double the memory of the Charlie, 32 GB vs 16 GB, giving you more room for apps from the Connect IQ Store. Moreover, the Delta has incident detection and assistance features that can send your location to emergency contacts. 

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Battery Life

The Garmin tactix Delta has a much longer battery life than the Garmin tactix Charlie.

Garmin tactix Charlie vs Delta Smartwatch Battery Life
Garmin has seriously improved the battery capacity of the tactix Delta.

Compared to typical smartwatches which measure battery life in hours, Garmin’s tactix series can do so in number of weeks. With an impressive 12-day battery life in smartwatch mode, the tactix Charlie is already a beast for day-to-day use. You’ll be able to continuously track your fitness metrics, sleep data, and more without needing to plug it in for more than a week. However, it pales in comparison to the tactix Delta, which has a humongous 21-day battery life. 

Switching GPS on drains battery life pretty quickly. The tactix Charlie can only last for 20 hours with GPS and heart rate turned on, but the tactix Delta stretches this to 60 hours. Garmin further provides battery saving modes to allow users to have GPS on while disabling unnecessary features. The Charlie has an UltraTac mode that can provide 35 hours of GPS positioning, but it seems unimpressive when you consider that the Max Battery GPS Mode of the Delta is 120 hours. Furthermore, the newer tactix has an Expedition GPS Activity mode and Battery Saver Watch Mode which prolongs the Delta’s juice to 46 days and 80 days, respectively.

Verdict

The Garmin tactix Delta is simply superior to the Garmin tactix Charlie.

As we’ve made pretty clear, the Garmin tactix Delta is a straight-up upgrade of its predecessor. It has a larger display, a slimmer profile, and a tougher body than the tactix Charlie. It’s got several fitness tracking and tactical features that can help push your training even further. What’s more, its battery life is phenomenal, maybe even overkill, though it’d never hurt to have such a dependable device. Of course, it’s significantly more expensive, but if you want a top-of-the-line GPS smartwatch that’s tough as nails, it’s worth it.

Now, if you don’t need a monstrous battery life as well as the new privacy functionalities of the Delta, the Garmin tactix Charlie remains an excellent smartwatch choice. It’s especially great if you’re into outdoor adventures and workouts, as it’s tough enough to survive the elements and provides several tracking features for non-indoor activities. You’ll get to save a considerable amount and still get a fantastic-looking and highly functional smartwatch.

Last update on 2020-05-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Derick Bondoc
Derick Bondoc

Managing Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, gaming and snacks.