The Garmin Tactix Charlie is one of the more affordable smartwatches produced by Garmin, all without sacrificing performance.
With its 1.2” high-resolution and display that is readable in sunlight, preloaded TOPO mapping, and routable map navigation, not to mention tactical-specific features like Jumpmaster, and built-in navigation sensors like GPS, GLONASS, and a three-axis compass, all with a rugged design coated in titanium bezel and with stainless steel buttons, it definitely holds up to its more expensive counterpart, Delta.
But despite its impressive features, you may still be wondering about other important details such as battery life, how its navigational features hold up against Garmin’s GPS units, how rugged it actually is, and – crucially – is it value for money?
In this review, we will answer these questions, explore these impressive features in more detail, and compare them to other smartwatches in the Garmin range.
Let’s first take a look at one of the most important aspects of a smartwatch – durability. If you’re heading for the great outdoors or using your smartwatch in physically demanding activities, you need to know if it can withstand whatever you throw at it.
The Garmin Tactix Charlie is sure to handle the pressure and is designed to be one of the most durable smartwatches out there.
This is because the bezel and rear cover of the watch is made from titanium, which means the watch is not only durable but still lightweight. The wristband is made from resilient silicone but can be replaced if you prefer.
Speaking of durability, a battery that can stand the test of time is crucial. Luckily, the Garmin Tactix Charlie has various modes that help your battery last longer.
For example, in normal smartwatch mode, the Tactix Charlie can last up to 12 days on a single charge. Meanwhile, the watch will last for 20 hours on GPS mode. This is because of the power needed to run this feature, so we would recommend only using GPS mode momentarily.
This watch may not look the most comfortable but looks can be deceiving. It is surprising how quickly you soon forget you’re even wearing it.
The default wristband can be adjusted easily and even flexes a little bit for you to find the perfect fit. The back of the watch also rests flat against your wrist, and there are no possibly uncomfortable protrusions.
The Garmin Tactix Charlie boasts a bright display that you can easily view even in direct sunlight. But the display holds up even in more adverse weather conditions, as it is reinforced to withstand the forces of nature.
However, the only downside with the display is that compared to some other watches the color definition is not great, and makes the colors appear washed out. But this is only a minor complaint, as it is not noticeable unless you’re comparing two watches.
The Tactix Charlie can be personalized in many different ways. Not just in the wristband department (where you can switch out the default wristband for one with your preferred material), but you can also customize the software.
Like most smartwatches, it is compatible with custom watch faces, allowing you to personalize the watch with your favorite design. However, the only drawback to this is that it may drain power.
For extra personalization, the Garmin Tactix Charlie can also be used to gather detailed information about your workout routine, especially if you include it with the heartbeat monitor wristband that you can buy separately.
However, you do not necessarily need the specialized wristband as you can still track your weekly progress without it. For more features, Garmin Connect also offers downloadable workouts and regiments if you’re looking to make improvements to your workout.
While we’re on the subject, let’s take a closer look at the Tactix Charlie’s other features:
The full TOPO map of the USA that comes preloaded with the Tactix Charlie is more detailed than any of the GPS maps that come preloaded with its rivals.
What’s more, the routable navigation makes it easy to find your way around, and you can even save your favorite paths to this smartwatch. You can also purchase higher resolution maps of smaller areas if you wish.
GPS and GLONASS
Not only does the GPS functionality give the Garmin Tactix Charlie the edge over its rivals, but it is also compatible with GLONASS – the Russian equivalent of GPS.
This is exciting as GLONASS is known for its improved precision at higher and lower latitudes. So depending on your location, switching from GPS to GLONASS can provide you with enhanced precision.
Other Navigation Sensors
If GPS and GLONASS weren’t enough, your navigational aids are also enhanced by an electric compass and barometric altimeter.
With these features at your disposal, you will always be able to determine your bearings and altitude, especially if you are not familiar with the surroundings on the GPS map.
You can also stay one step ahead of the weather with the altimeter as it can gauge atmospheric conditions to predict weather shifts.
Now that we’ve taken a look at the Garmin Tactix Charlie and its features in detail, let’s compare it to other Garmin smartwatches.
Garmin Tactix Charlie vs Garmin Fenix 6X
The biggest difference between the Tactix Charlie and the Fenix 6X is that while the former is a tactical smartwatch, the latter is designed with athletes in mind. The Fenix 6X is still ruggedized and durable, so can still withstand harsh conditions.
But it is definitely designed with sports lovers in mind as it has additional features like golf course maps, a climbing graph, skip maps, and performance metrics to track your workouts.
Another big difference between the two watches is that the Fenix 6X has a solar panel that will power the battery for 3 days, as long as you have uninterrupted sunny weather.
This watch not only uses GPS and GLONASS but Galileo, as well as preloaded TOPO maps with more detailed alternatives you can purchase separately. The default wristband can also track your heart rate, as well as the oxygen saturation in your blood.
It is quite a pricy product, but ideal if you’re a sports lover.
Garmin Tactix Charlie vs Garmin Descent
This smartwatch was designed specifically for divers, and this is evidenced by the specialized features. In particular, the integrated GPS dive computer is compatible with a range of diving techniques such as single-gas, multi-gas, apnea, and gauge diving.
You can plan your dives before you hit the water and even refer to the log data that stores up to 200 previous dives.
The Descent also features both GPS and GLONASS, which is particularly useful when marking your dive sites. The smartwatch can last up to 40 hours in dive mode but can last for a staggering 19 days in basic watch mode.
Garmin Tactix Charlie vs Garmin D2 Delta PX
The D2 Delta was designed specifically for pilots or aviation enthusiasts, with plenty of handy, advanced features. For example, the wristband can measure the level of oxygen saturation in your blood!
But there are plenty of other features to get excited about, like flight logging, avionics connectivity, and NEXRAD weather that you can pair with your smartphone.
But this watch isn’t just for aviators, it still has all the workout tracking features you would expect, as well as music storage, and Garmin Pay so you can make cardless payments at stores that accept the payment method.
However, due to its advanced aviation functions, the D2 Delta PX is one of the more expensive watches in the Garmin range.
Pros of the Garmin Tactix Charlie
- Comfortable: With an adjustable wristband that rests flat against your wrist, you’ll soon forget you have this smartwatch on.
- Durable: Made from titanium but still lightweight, this watch is sure to withstand even the harshest conditions.
- GPS accuracy: This watch not only comes with a TOPO map of the USA but also GLONASS.
- Battery life: This watch can last for an impressive 12 days on a single charge.
- Non-standard charging port: The charging port may be different from what you’re used to.
- Poor color definition on display: While the colors can appear washed out, this is not too noticeable.
So now the big question, is the Tactix Charlie worth the money?
Value for Money
Admittedly, the price of this watch may seem a bit steep but when compared to others in the Garmin range and when all the features are taken into account, it is pretty reasonable.
What makes this smartwatch stand out from the rest is the durability. It is sure to last for years and it will probably be a while until you need to upgrade your smartwatch – you can make your money go a long way with this purchase!
Overall, the Garmin Tactix Charlie is reliable, easy to use, and packed with great features such as the waypoint projection and Jumpmaster.
The only drawback is the washed-out colors on the display, but the watch’s durability and comfort are enough to outweigh that minor complaint.