Motorola Motoactv vs Garmin Forerunner 910xt

You may have seen in my post about alternatives to the Motorola Motoactv that I mentioned the Garmin Forerunner 910XT. Well, based on feedback from you, my dear reader, I have decided to do a more in-depth Garmin Forerunner 910xt review and see how this GPS watch compares to the Motoactv. I thought this post would be worthwhile seeing as so many of you have been asking me about this, especially all the triathletes out there wondering if they should plump the extra cash for a 910XT. It’s a tough decision to make so of course you want all the information available to you. In this post I’ll lay out the key similarities and differences between the two GPS watches, from the point of view of someone who has used and trained with both of them extensively. Right the, let’s get this show on the road!

Garmin Forerunner 910XT

Motorola Motoactv vs Garmin Forerunner 910xt

The 910XT is a very capable device. The watch has slender profile and comfy wristband. The display is easy to read and it has customizable fields so that you can always keep track of the data that is most important to you. This watch is an update of it’s predecessor the Garmin Forerunner 310XT, which has always been the darling of the triathlon community thanks to its waterproofing and multisport tracking capabilities. The 910XT provides everything you once had in the 310XT, but some key additional extras such as an accelerometer (which measures your indoor swim stroke and speed).

Motorola Motoactv

Garmin Forerunner 910xt review

The Motoactv is a GPS watch that brings with it some very smart-phone-like capabilities such as MP3 music and built in maps. I won’t do a detailed summary of the Motoactv here, as this whole site is about the Motoactv and if you want a really detailed summary of it, you can check out my in-depth Motoactv GPS Review section.

What do they both do?

Both watches provide indoor and outdoor fitness tracking features. Both watches can track GPS positioning outdoors, and use this information to tell you important training data such as speed, pace, distance and time. Both devices have on online portal where you can upload your training data and share your times with your friends and the world. Both GPS watches are ANT+ compatible and will work with a Motorola heart rate monitor, a Garmin HRM, or any other ANT+ compatible heart monitor.

First thing you see… The Screen!

There are, however some key differences between the two sports watches. Firstly, one of the big differences you see when you first look at either of the two gadgets, is the screen. The Motoactv has a beautiful 1.6 inch full color capacitive touch screen. The Garmin Forerunner watch, on the other hand, has a rather retro feeling black and white 1.3” x 0.8” non touch-sensitive display. Here’s a video where you can see the Garmin’s display in action:

Music Playing Features

Another key difference between the two fitness trackers is their ability to play MP3 music. The Garmin 910XT does not have any onboard storage for MP3 files, and it does not play music at all. The Motorola Motoactv, on the other hand, has 8GB or 16GB of storage depending on what model you buy which can give you storage space for hundreds of songs. You can plug headphones into the Motoactv, or use a bluetooth headset, and listen to music while you train.

To Swim, or not to Swim?

garmin forerunner watch

A big advantage of the Garmin is its waterproofing and swim tracking capabilities. You can use the 910XT while swimming outdoors, in which case it will use it’s GPS tracker to monitor your swim speed and distance. When using the Garmin indoors, however, it switches to using its on board accelerometer to track your training data. This means it can measure your stroke count, speed (after a little calibration), distance and time even when you are swimming laps indoors at the pool.

The Motoactv can’t compete on this front, splash it with a bit of moisture or sweat and it will be OK but anything more than that, for example a dunking in a pool, and you can kiss your precious gadget good night!


At the time of writing this article, $150 is the cheapest Motoactv price out there whereas you can get a Garmin 910XT for around $399.99. WOW! That’s quite a price difference. The Motoactv is currently under a $100 discount period from Motorola, there has been various speculation that this means that the device is either discontinued or a new one is imminent, so don’t expect this price drop to last long.


Thanks to its swim and multisport tracking capabilities, the Garmin 910XT continues to be the triathlete’s choice. However, for anyone else, you can’t argue with that price difference. The Motoactv provides a better screen and music playing capabilities all at a lower price. Even keen triathletes may be tempted to just get a nice and cheap Motoactv, and buy a separate swim tracking watch such as the FINIS Swimsense swim training watch. At $160 for the FINIS, and $150 for the Motoactv, you can get both for £310 – less than the price of a Garmin!

Buy It Now…?

Interested in buying either of these two fitness trackers? You can get an 8GB Motoactv here, a 16GB Motoactv here, or if you have a few extra hunder $’s to burn you can even get a Garmin Forerunner 910XT here.

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