Using the Garmin D2 Air smartwatch with your iPhone

Garmin D2 smartwatch
The D2 Air features a vibrant AMOLED screen and a host of built-in sensors.

Garmin’s latest smartwatch, the D2 Air, has been getting a lot of attention since it was announced in late September. It boasts a bright touchscreen display with a built-in pulse oximeter, yet still weighs 50% less than previous generation D2 watches. It can navigate to the nearest airport, show your pressure altitude, and even monitor your heart rate. After a few weeks of testing, we are very impressed—it’s easily Garmin’s best aviation watch yet.

While the D2 Air can function quite well as a standalone navigator (using the internal GPS and aviation database), it is even more powerful when paired with a smartphone. This allows you to get updated weather and even share flight plans; it’s really an extension of your flight deck. Here’s what it can do.

First, download the free Garmin Connect app on your phone. This is not an aviation-specific app, but it’s the main connection between your watch and the internet. This app will allow you to sync calendar appointments and contacts, track your workout data, and push email/phone/text alerts to your watch.

To make the connection, press the bottom button on the right side of the watch, tap on settings symbol, and choose the Phone option. This will put the watch in pairing mode. On your phone, open the Garmin Connect app and add a device—D2 Air should be one of the options. Note that you won’t go to the main Settings app as you would with most wireless devices. All pairing is done directly in the Garmin Connect app.

Once you’re paired, you can adjust options and set up personal information, from downloading music (the watch supports Spotify and Amazon Music) to enabling Garmin Pay (the company’s contactless payment system). One thing that’s worth spending some time on is the order of widgets. These are the dedicated screens that are accessible by swiping up or down from the main watch face. The Garmin Connect app makes it easy to add, remove, and reorder these widgets to suit your preference (see middle screen below). You can also track your health metrics here in the app, from heart rate to steps (see far right screen below).

The D2 Air can display live METARs and TAFs anytime you’re connected to the Garmin Connect app on your phone and you have an active internet connection. This is an easy way to check whether without needing to look at your phone or tablet.

To unlock all the aviation features, download the Garmin Pilot app and sign in. If you’ve already paired your watch to your phone with the Garmin Connect app, you should see the D2 Air available under the the Connext menu. This is the place to find all external devices, from GDL 50 ADS-B receivers to Flight Stream panel-mount devices. Tapping on the D2 Air will show details about the watch, including battery life, GPS status, and your recent heart rate and oxygen levels. This is also the place to sync flight plans. In the right screenshot below, you can see that we’ve loaded a flight plan from I69 to IXD on our phone, including a STAR at our destination. To send that complete route to the D2 Air, tap the Send To arrow.

Unlike the higher priced D2 Delta series, which is still available, the D2 Air cannot display a moving map or animated radar. However, we like the screen and smaller size of the D2 Air more than the D2 Delta. Also note that flight plan sync is not available with ForeFlight or other apps.

The D2 Air Smartwatch is available for $499, a great value considering all the features it has. The Garmin Connect app is free to download for iOS and Android. Garmin Pilot is free to download (also for iOS and Android) but requires an annual subscription to unlock most features.


    • Yes, you’ll need an active Garmin Pilot subscription to sync flight plans. However, you can do almost everything else (including updated METARs/TAFs and pulse oximeter tracking) using only the free Connect app.

  1. Useless paperweight until they make it compatible with other PFD apps, and they are in no hurry to support competition. Garmin’s days are numbered.

  2. Dear Bob,
    Received my “useless paperweight” 3 days ago and my only disappointment is that it’s to light to hold down my papers. As an aviation tool so far it has met expectations and my reasons for purchasing: active SPO2 monitoring, quick reference utc/local time, stop watch, fuel tank timer with vibration alert, and another back up to flying with an IPAD and planes with GN650 and G1000 navigation systems . I avoided the earlier D2 watches as they were overly configured and priced accordingly: I have no need or desire to transfer a flight plan to my watch, and what can I really do with a watch size moving map? I wouldn’t be flying IFR with it and if its VFR I always have my paper sectional and a compass as backup #4.

    So far its been a good value, with a good price point, and enough aviation functionality to be a good compliment to my other electronics.

    Finally, my view on Garmin is that until the FAA certifies the portable IPAD and Foreflight (both awesome and my preferred tools) for IFR navigation and control, Garmin will remain relevant.

    Best to you