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Garmin Epix In-Depth Review

No, this isn’t your grandfather’s Epix from 2015, but rather, this is Garmin’s new 2nd gen Epix that effectively takes an Epix and elevates it with a full AMOLED color touchscreen display. Now, Garmin officially calls it just ‘Epix’, though you’ll see the 2nd gen bits here and there. In order to save digital typing waste, I’m just going to call it the shortened Epix as well.

If you haven’t seen my also-just-released Fenix 7 In-Depth Review, the key thing to know here is that Epix contains every software feature of the Fenix 7, but differs at the hardware level. For example, the Epix includes the aforementioned higher resolution and more vivid AMOLED display, but it lacks solar panels or the Fenix 7X flashlight. That’s mainly because solar frankly wouldn’t do much here for this display, and the flashlight isn’t quite in the Epix cards for the time being. There are, of course, differences in battery life too, which we’ll get into. But the key thing to know is that even though it has an AMOLED display, it still manages 6 days in always-on display mode – which reaches upwards of 16 days in gesture mode.

In other words, for most people, you’re not sacrificing much for a dramatically better display. I’ve been using the Epix now for quite some time, putting it through both daily 24×7 usage as well as workouts and other athletic adventures. Everything from high mountain hiking to ocean swimming, snow-covered escapes, and city testing. All of it in an effort to find out where this watch works well, and where its caveats are.

As usual, this watch is a media loaner, and it’ll go back to Garmin shortly. This review is not sponsored (nor does any company get to preview anything I review), and I don’t take any advertiser money from any companies I review. And as regular readers know, if something is crap, I’m gonna tell it brutally like it is – no matter the brand. Once this unit goes back, I’ll go out and get my own for any future testing needs. If you found this review useful, you can use the links at the bottom, or consider becoming a DCR Supporter which makes the site ad-free, while also getting access to a mostly weekly video series behind the scenes of the DCR Cave. And of course, it makes you awesome.

What’s new:

Garmin-Epix-WhatsNew

Creating a ‘What’s New’ category for the Epix Gen 2 is arguably kinda tricky. After all, am I comparing it to the Gen1 brick from 7 years ago? Or am I comparing it to its realistic older sibling, the Fenix 6 series? In this case, since none of you want to see a list 918 features long of all the things Garmin has added in 7 years to all their watches (such as an optical HR sensor), I’m going with a comparison to the Fenix 6 series. As such, this portion of the review will be almost identical to that of the Fenix 7 series in terms of new features, since the two watches have almost identical software features. The only differences in software are those related specifically to power savings for the AMOLED display.

Starting with the number of models here, there are two different ones: Non-Sapphire and Sapphire. Just like the Fenix 7, they denote whether or not a watch gets not only the sapphire display, but also the expanded storage and multi-band GPS. Here are the differences:

– Garmin Epix base ($899): Music, Garmin Pay, WiFi, downloadable maps, 16GB storage, AMOLED touchscreen, plus all software features
– Garmin Epix Sapphire in White or Black Titanium ($999): Base + multi-band GPS, 32GB storage with pre-loaded maps, Sapphire glass, titanium bezel

There is no solar or flashlight edition/options in the Epix series. While Garmin is free to go with the $899 pricing (it’s equivalent to the Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar), however, I think it’s a bit cheap of them not to include at least multi-band GPS at that price point, if not also the full 32GB of storage. Given the Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar has it at the same price.

In any case, all units get all software features, and all units get mapping. The difference is that only the Sapphire/Titanium units have the maps pre-downloaded for your region (e.g. North America, Europe, etc…) – whereas the base & base solar units do not. Instead, you simply connect to WiFi and download what you need for your region. That’s because pre-loading all the maps per region would add too many SKUs for Garmin to deal with, primarily on the Fenix side, but they’re carrying it over here too.

Anyway, here’s what’s new in Epix. Note that size/case-wise, Epix is identical in size to the middle Fenix 7 unit (Fenix 7, not Fenix 7S or 7X):

– All Epix units now get free worldwide downloadable TopoActive maps using WiFi (Sapphire units have pre-loaded maps for your region)
– All Epix units now have pre-loaded Skiing & Golf Maps
– All Epix units now have music, WiFi, and Garmin Pay support (previously base Fenix 6 Series did not have this or maps)
– Added full-color AMOLED Display
– Added touchscreen (and can still use buttons for every function)
– Added multi-band (aka dual-frequency) GPS to Epix Sapphire units
– Revamped ‘GPS only’ mode for far more battery life savings
– Added Garmin ELEVATE GEN 4 optical HR sensor
– Switched to glass-covered optical HR sensor (versus plastic with a coating), which increases durability
– Added Garmin SkiView, now includes resort names & slope names
– Added Cross Country Ski Trails to maps
– Added new “Map Manager” feature for managing/downloading maps from your wrist
– Added ‘Up Ahead’ feature for distances to predefined markers like aide stations, climbs, etc…
– Added Realtime Stamina feature, which is used during runs & rides to try and leave nothing in the tank (or, properly manage a workout)
– Added Race Predictor historical trendlines (to see if you’re getting faster or slower)
– Added new Kiteboard Sport Type
– Added new Windsurf Sport Type
– Added new SpeedPro function for Windsurfing (primarily for speedsurfers)
– Added new graphical charts as data fields
– Added scrolling charts in a variety of places, including widgets
– Added finally, for the love of all things holy, the ability to configure activity profiles and data fields from your phone
– Added Garmin Connect IQ store on wrist (well, a limited version of it anyway)
– Added Health Snapshot feature (includes HRV data)
– Added New Sleep Manager Settings for customizing what the device does while you sleep
– Added HIIT workouts (meaning, they’re giving you structured workouts, not just a sport mode)
– Added Automatic Run/Walk/Stand graphing within a workout (see sports section for details)
– Revamped the user interface a fair bit (not a major overhaul, but definitely far cleaner)
– Added ‘button guards’ around all buttons, which reduce accidental presses with things like jackets
– Added metal/titanium (depending on model) lugs covers – see unboxing section for details.

Got all that? Good. Here are two charts to help you make sense of it. First up is the battery comparison chart:

Battery-Fenix7SeriesWithEpix

And then a relatively simple chart that easily shows which features which watches get:

Fenix7-Series-VS-Epix-Comparison

Now, there are some notable omissions here, especially coming hot on the heels of the Venu 2 Plus release two weeks ago. There is no voice assistance, or speaker/microphone for making/receiving calls. Even more, despite Garmin releasing the FR945 LTE last spring, there’s no LTE edition of the Epix either – a seemingly odd omission. In the case of the microphone/speaker, Garmin says that the higher waterproofing standard of the Epix series (100 meters) versus the Venu 2 series (50 meters), makes this challenging at this time. On the LTE front, I asked Garmin why there was no LTE option given it’s been a while since they launched the theoretically inferior FR945. It was the singular item they provided a ‘no comment’ on, out of the arguably 50-70 questions/details I’ve asked over the past two months.

Undoubtedly, Garmin will eventually come out with an LTE Fenix/Epix series. Where that’s just an Epix LTE, an Epix Plus LTE, or down the road in a Fenix 8 or Epix V3 (or whatever they call it). I don’t know, but as you’ll see – what’s here today is undeniably cool. But it’s also hard to reconcile this missing bit with one’s purchasing considerations.

In the Box:

Garmin-Epix-Box

The box for the Epix series mirrors basically every other Garmin watch in the last half a decade or so. It’s grey and simplistic, and lacking…err…epicness. While all the box contents for all four units I tested were identical (Fenix 7S/7/7X/Epix), keep in mind that some higher-end fancy-strap editions do have secondary straps in them. I didn’t have any fancy-strap editions. Thus, rather than repeat a series of unboxings, here’s just one sampling.

First up, once you remove the lid, the watch is hanging out looking at you, complete with a sticker of what it imagines it’ll look like:

Garmin-Epix-Box-Opened

Inside you’ve got the watch, a standard Garmin watch charging cable, and a safety manual + quick start guide:

Garmin-Epix-Box-Parts

The charging cable is identical to virtually every other Garmin Fenix, Forerunner, and Vivo/Venu series device made in the last number of years:

Garmin-Epix-Charting-Port

And the manuals are equally as unexciting. However, here’s a pretty shot of the watch before I slaughter them for 6-7 weeks. After this point, any scratches on them are probably well earned in my testing.

Garmin-Epix-Last-Pretty-Shot

The band itself can unsnap easily to be swapped out, if you perhaps want a fancier band for non-sport usage, and then quickly swap to the silicone one for sports. They feature the standard Garmin QuickFit system, and matches the middle band size which is a 22mm band. But you can use any 22mm band you find.

DSC_8030

You’ll notice the new protected lug design on the Epix series, where those top parts are covered up better now. Here it is side by side with a Fenix 6 series watch:

There’s also the new button guard on the start/stop button, which Garmin says will reduce accidental starts/stops by jackets or such. It’ll probably take you a day or two to get used to this (at least it did for me), but now I don’t even think about it.

Garmin-Epix-ButtonGuard

With that covered, the Epix series retains the same case sizes as the Fenix 7 does, which are:

Fenix 7S: 42mm case
Fenix 7: 47mm case
Epix: 47mm case
Fenix 7X: 52mm case

However, they are now slightly thinner in most cases, being:

Fenix 7S: 14.1mm thick (was 13.8mm for Fenix 6S, and 14.7mm for Fenix 6S Solar)
Epix: 14.5mm thick
Fenix 7: 14.5mm thick (was 14.7mm)
Fenix 7X: 14.9mm thick (was 14.9mm)

I spot-checked the Epix Sapphire I had, and it weighed in at 71g:

DSC_8031

Ok, with that, let’s get into the AMOLED display bits briefly, before going through the fundamentals

AMOLED Display:

DSC_8034

The singular reason you’d get the EPIX over the Fenix 7 is the new AMOLED display. The display is actually the same 1.3” display as found on the Venu 2 & Venu 2 Plus, which boasts 65,000 colors…versus a whopping 64 colors on the Fenix 7.

Up until this point, we’ve never seen an AMOLED display on an endurance sports focused watch. Be it from Garmin or otherwise. The closest we’ve gotten is the Suunto 7 watch, based on Wear OS, but given the significant GPS battery constraints there, you’re only looking at half a 6-7 hours of GPS battery life. Other offerings from Garmin, Apple, and Samsung (and others) have all played around with battery life, but either it’s mediocre GPS on-times, or at most 2-days of always-on smartwatch times.

But with Epix, that changes significantly. Due to the larger size compared to most mid-range watches, they’ve simply got more battery capacity. The size of Epix is identical to that of the mid-sized Fenix 7 (not the S or X). In doing so, Epix, based on my testing, can get about 6 days of smartwatch life in always-on display mode, and with about 1 hour or so of workouts per day (GPS or inside). Further, the company claims up to 30 hours of GPS on-time in always-on mode, and even more in gesture mode. Gesture mode is when the screen turns off when you’re not looking at it.

In my case, I’ve almost exclusively used always-on mode for the past 6-7 weeks. That means that the watch display is always on, but slightly dimmed when not looking at it. When I raise my wrist, the watch face goes to full brightness. It’s identical to what Apple does on their more recent watches, and for the first time ever, I’m not complaining about Garmin’s wrist-raise detection. Partially because it actually works now, and partially because even in dim-mode, the screen is easily readable (both in darkness and direct bright sunlight).

IMG_5208

Now in this scenario, ‘always-on’ does have a very slight caveat to the 6-day claim, in that Garmin, by default, puts the screen into a battery-saving mode while you sleep. So in that case it turns off the screen unless a button is pressed, and then once pressed it’s a low-brightness time screen that’s easily read in the dark (versus staring into a super-bright AMOLED screen at 2AM). This can be easily configured/changed in the new Sleep Mode settings (I discuss that in the next section).

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Again, I’ve had zero issues with this arrangement, and this also mirrors what other companies do at night with an AMOLED display. And if you don’t like it, you can certainly change it too – obviously, there’s an impact on battery life there. But frankly, the visibility is arguably better than a Fenix 7 at night. With a Fenix 7 (or any other Garmin watch that’s not AMOLED), if you’re sitting in bed/darkness, the screen isn’t visible unless you tap the light button. So, it’s identical here.

Now as noted, the display is easily visible in both darkness, half-dark (aka winter in Amsterdam), and bright sunny days atop a tropical island volcano. It blows away the Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar display (any variant, 7S/7/7X) in every scenario I can think of. It’s more readable from a brightness standpoint, and it’s more readable from a clarity standpoint. Here, some complete unedited out-of-camera comparisons.

First, a pro tip – the Epix has a red button. I tried to keep Epix always on the left in comparison photos, but sometimes I’m inconsistent. First, Epix on the left and Fenix 7X Sapphire on the right. Very thin clouds, but moderately sunny:

Epix-vs-Fenix7-Display

This one, direct sun on screens. Epix at *RIGHT* here, note the color depth. Both backlights on in default configuration.

Epix-vs-Fenix-7-Sapphire-Maps-Direct-Sun

Here mid-day, light cloud cover, Epix left, Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar right. Note in this case, the popularity maps were enabled on the Epix, hence the purple lines.

IMG_7320

Here in the late afternoon. Epix at left, Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar at right, both with default backlights enabled:

IMG_7419

Here’s just a solo Epix shot, this one in as harsh sun conditions as you can get, mid-day sun in the desert:

Garmin-Epix-Direct-Sun

In all these cases, the settings are configured identical (default), and I even matched whether the backlight was enabled on both units at the same time. Beyond that, throughout the interface, there are subtle tweaks to take advantage of the display. Whether it’s the background behind the sport menu, or the increased clarity within the maps, it’s often not immediately noticed until you switch over to a Fenix 7 on the other wrist.

After wearing Epix, it’s incredibly difficult to go back to the Fenix 7 screen. At this point, you’re probably saying: Ok, this sounds great, but what are the downsides?

Well, really just one: It has less overall battery than a Fenix 7, both GPS and smartwatch modes. It’s as simple as that. That’s the single downside I can come up with in 6-7 weeks of usage. Plus of course it lacks the nifty flashlight of the Fenix 7X, as well as solar magic.

The Basics:

In this section we’ll detail all of the non-sport features of the watch. I’ll touch on basic usability, with a look at all the daily fitness features such as sleep, health, and activity tracking. If you are the more visually-inclined type or you just want a more in-depth walk-through of these features, take a few minutes to watch the video linked above. Though this blog post touches on all the features of the Epix, the video goes beyond that and presents more of a long-form tutorial/guide/user interface deep-dive of the entire watch. Step by step, feature by feature. Go ahead, press play.

We’ll start with the hardware features here first.  As with all of the Garmin Fenix series watches, we have five buttons on the Epix, that’s three on the left side and two on the right. For most purposes, the button on the upper right side can be considered a confirmation button, whereas the one on the lower right is more of a back/escape button. And the left-side buttons are for navigating within the various menus. And you can generally long-hold any of the buttons to either access different menu items, or assign quick-access buttons.

DSC_8035

Aside from the physical buttons, you can swipe on the touchscreen to view and tap menu items just like you would on any other touch device. I’ve found that the touchscreen performs reasonably enough while sweaty or in the rain, though with some impact on precision. But, as you can see in the video, it is fairly responsive for the most part.

Keep in mind that none of the functions absolutely require you to use the touchscreen, so you can always accomplish the same tasks purely with the physical buttons.  This is a nice option for those rainy, sweaty, or winter-gloved times. On the other hand (no pun intended), you can get away with mostly touch if you prefer (except when starting or stopping an activity, and when you want to end/start a new lap).

Garmin-Epix-Touchscreen

When you first start using the Epix you’ll find that almost all of the sport profiles have touch disabled.  But, you have the option to re-enable the touchscreen functions within each profile if you prefer.  And one thing I’ve found particularly useful is the new Sleep Mode settings options, which gives you the ability to disable the touchscreen when you would normally be asleep, as well as a slew of other customizations – even down to the day of the week:

Epix-Sleep-Mode-Weekday-Customizations Garmin-Epix-Sleep-ModeSchedule

Speaking of which, at night, within sleep mode, this is what the Epix shows as a reduced screen interface. You can of course change this, but this is the default, and then the screen goes entirely off unless you tap/touch it. Which I’ve found works perfectly fine.

Garmin-Epix-Sleep-Mode-Watchface

So, now let’s take a look at the watch face features. The Epix comes to you with bunches of built-in watch faces but you also have access to literally thousands of additional watch faces from the Connect IQ app store. Generally you can tweak and customize the data fields and complications on a watch face to personalize the data you want to see and where you want to see it. In the world of watch faces, this is your oyster.

clip_image001[4] clip_image001

You can even create a custom watch face using your mobile device camera or photos from your library.  You’ll use the Connect IQ app for this, and then the Face It tab.

clip_image001[7] clip_image001[9]

As we saw a couple of weeks ago as a new feature on the Venu 2 Plus, you’ll also now have the ability to long-press any data item on your watch face and delve deeper into that specific widget for more detailed data.  So, for instance, pressing on Steps takes you straight to the Steps widget and all that it has to offer. This new feature can now be found on all Fenix 7 series watches.

Widgets are awesome because they expose all kinds of data from your watch, such as steps, the weather, your sleep, training status, etc. You can also install 3rd party widgets too. You’ll simply swipe or press down from the watch face to access the widget glances:

Garmin-Epix-Widgets2

And then from there, you can tap into any given widget to see more detailed information. For example, here’s the steps widget, which in turn has 2-3 more data pages on it with more detail.

Gamin-Epix-StepDetails Garmin-Epix-Step-Details2 Garmin-Epix-Step-Details3

And, as usual, all of this data is ultimately synced to Garmin Connect (desktop and mobile) where you can research and compare your data going back days, weeks, months, and years. It’s all there, for your ADHD viewing pleasure. For example, here’s my steps data on Garmin Connect Mobile (the smartphone app):

clip_image001[11] clip_image001[13] clip_image001[15]

Here’s a wide-ranging gallery of widgets and my data from them:

If you’re like me, you find it mildly interesting to see your step tracking, stair tracking, and all the other metrics that these smartwatches measure and track for you, but heart rate tracking is really where these devices shine. The Epix uses Garmin’s Elevate V4 sensor that was introduced on the Venu 2 last spring, and is now found on a variety of other watches including the Fenix 7 and the Forerunner 945 LTE.

DSC_8036

This sensor accomplishes a huge assortment of tasks, everything from round-the-clock 24×7 HR monitoring, to workout-only monitoring, to blood oxygen monitoring.  A close look reveals a couple of LED sources, green for regular heart rate detection, and red for pulse oximetry (blood oxygen levels).

DSC_8038

All of this constant data-gathering drives a slew of data points, for example stress and breathing rate. In general, I actually find the stress estimates reasonably accurate. That stress level is based on heart rate variability, where minuscule fluctuations between heartbeats are algorithmically crunched to give you a trending level.  For me, it’s an easy way to glance at how the day might have gone thus far, or how it might contribute to my Body Battery. Body Battery is basically your energy level. It’s based on a combination of HRV, stress, and activity. You recharge it every night, and then decrease it during the day, or during periods of relaxation (like sitting on the couch watching TV).

clip_image001[19] clip_image001[17] clip_image001[21]

While Garmin is not perfect in this area, I find generally good correlation in most cases between my perceived energy levels and what it estimates. Over time, I’ve found that several hours of sleep does not necessarily equate to getting a full or even substantial Body Battery recharge.  In fact, that’s exceptionally rare. Sleep quality is a major component of recharging. The scenarios I find it tends to have trouble with are exceptionally hard/long days, or days with exceptionally poor sleep. It’ll usually estimate correctly on the poor sleep, but then has challenges figuring out how to give you a crap score, and then still give you an even crappier score by the end of the day. You can’t go below zero. Still, I think at that point both you and the device are aware of the situation: You feel like crap.

The good news is that it also tracks the quality of your sleep, and does it fairly well, giving you detailed information about how restful your sleep really was.

Garmin-Epix-Sleep-Overview

I’ve been impressed with Garmin’s continued improvements in the written explanations of how your night went:

Garmin-Epix-Sleep-Explainer

Take this one from a few nights ago, this is about as succinct an explanation of my sleep as I could write myself. It’s literally spot-on perfect. Yes, it was long-ish sleep, but it was crap sleep.

IMG_8058

While I’m not an expert on sleep research, I do have a lot of experience in comparing the accuracy and idiosyncrasies of some of the major players in the market. For example, I’ve spent considerable time the last few months comparing side by side a slew of sleep trackers for my Whoop 4.0 and Oura 3.0 reviews, not to mention the latest Garmin devices.  So I can say that, in general, for me, Garmin almost always nails the time I go to bed and when I wake up. However, the downside is that it does not track naps in any way, which is very unfortunate for me, since naps are good!

But beyond that, I’ve found that it can occasionally have trouble with cases where I fall back asleep after being briefly awake, like between 6-9AM. It’ll often just end my sleep at say 7:10AM if I was awake/up for a couple of minutes, rather than realizing I’ve gone back to sleep for 2-3 hours. In terms of the sleep phases, I’m less convinced there. In general, even medical-grade devices aren’t crazy accurate/consistent in those areas. And in many cases, there’s few real-world actionable things you can do based on the tracking of such phases, other than being aware that the lack of restful and deep sleep can affect your overall sleep quality. So improving both your sleeping habits and environment are key here.

Garmin-Epix-Sleep-Phases

Now, to briefly touch on Pulse Ox, which is Garmin’s term for blood oxygen readings. There are a couple of settings here that you can individualize. You can configure this to be off at all times, measuring during sleep only, or measuring 24×7. Pulse Ox readings have two basic purposes in a Garmin wearable, one is around sleep (as potentially an indicator of sleep-related issues), and the second is in high altitude environments as an indicator of acclimation (or, in extreme cases, an indication that something is about to go horribly wrong). Two totally different use cases (note: medical folks and such also monitor blood oxygen levels too for other reasons). For the first one – sleep – you can track your Pulse Ox readings each night. It’s the red LED that’ll light up on the back of the watch.

Garmin-Epix-PulseOx-Sensor

Be aware that using Pulse Ox while sleeping will consume additional battery resources, lowering your overall battery reserves a bit. But that is almost inconsequential compared to the 24×7 mode, which consumes a crapton of battery. I don’t use either due to battery draw, but only utilize it in spot-checks with respect to Health Snapshot (more on that in a second). However, in terms of accuracy, I find that if you treat it the same way you’d do an actual blood oxygen test with an approved/medical-grade device, you’ll get good results. Which is to say, sit still while taking a reading. It’s as simple as that (below is a certified device):

Garmin-PulseOx-Comparison

And that’s the exact same way the FDA certifies blood oxygen medical-grade devices: Sitting still. If you swagger around, fidget, or generally don’t follow the recommendations, you’ll either not get accurate readings, or Garmin these days won’t even give a reading. They (and others) have gotten smarter with just giving you a warning that there’s too much movement for a valid result.

Garmin-PulseOx-Sensitivity

Now as I mentioned earlier, there’s the new Health Snapshot feature. Well, new to the Fenix 7 series and Epix that is. This was introduced on the Venu 2 last year, and it takes five core metrics and distills them down into a single 2-minute measurement period. All you need to do is sit down and relax.

Garmin-Epix-Health-Snapshot

During the 2-minute period it’ll measure your heart rate, blood oxygen level, respiration rate, stress, and HRV (heart rate variability). The overall idea is that if you can consistently do this, ideally at approximately the same time each day, you’ll start to get a bit of a snapshot of how things are trending. All of these metrics are already tracked by Garmin more deeply in the app/platform, but the Health Snapshot feature is a way of serving it on a single plate (so to speak).

Garmin-Health-Snapshot-Photo

Once the two-minute test period is over, it’ll give you a summary of that info:

Garmin-Health-Snapshot-Results

And then you can also see this in Garmin Connect Mobile afterward, which is where you can spit out a PDF copy if you like:

clip_image001[23] clip_image001[25]

The one downside here is that ostensibly the main reason you’d do a Health Snapshot on a regular basis is consistency in the timing of the readings. Meaning, everything except for HRV is automatically captured 24×7 anyway, and plotted 24×7 up to monthly and more if you like (assuming you’ve enabled SpO2). However, HRV is not. And arguably the ability to trend just these Health Snapshot readings by themselves would be pretty useful. Unfortunately, there’s no way to do that currently. You can only look at a single reading at a time.

As we round home here in The Basics section of this review, it’s worth noting that the Fenix 7 and Epix series watches are the first to have the new on-watch app store. This is a huge advantage in that you can now install Connect IQ apps directly from the watch on your wrist, as opposed to having to wait until you can find time to grab your phone. Garmin outlined this feature last fall as part of the Connect IQ Developer summit. And, as outlined then, it’s pretty darn basic.

To access it, you’ll simply go into the sports menu (I know, it’s technically the apps menu, but honesty, this doesn’t make much sense for it – it should probably be in the widgets area). Once opened it will load up some recommended apps. Five at the moment, plus showing the two music apps I already have installed (allowing me to uninstall those):

Garmin-CIQ-Store-OnWatchEpix

I can tap on one of the 4-6 total recommended apps, and then install it. Again, this is super basic at this point. But as Garmin outlined previously, it is merely the starting point here, with room for future growth.

Finally, while it probably won’t matter to many people, be aware that in general, virtually all of the functions that involve a smartphone, also require having an internet connection to function. Meaning that while the watch will happily collect data without internet, and do so for a very long time, it won’t sync to the phone without internet. That’s because the Garmin Connect smartphone app itself is merely showing data from the Garmin Connect online platform. The exception to this would be if you use the Garmin Explore app (also free), which then does allow syncing of some data (namely tracks/routes) back and forth to a phone that doesn’t have internet. And again, this has no impact on viewing any of these stats on your watch itself. But, if you were spending extended periods of time without internet, analyzing your stats on the smartphone Garmin Connect app would not be possible. You could however still plug in your watch to a computer, and download the workout file and analyze that.

Sports Usage:

Garmin-Epix-Sport-Modes

Much like the Fenix 7, there’s literally no watch on this planet that has as many sports features built-in as the Garmin Epix series does. Perhaps if one were to download every app on the Apple Watch store you might come close, but you still wouldn’t match every last nuanced sport and fitness feature that you’ll find on the Epix. But, of course, that’s one of Garmin’s trademark features in a smartwatch: having a gazillion features, of which realistically you might only use 2-5% of them.

But, that’s all good, because everyone’s 2-5% features are different. I use sports features every day that others would never use, and I’m sure others swear by features that I would find “Meh”. This vast catalog of features is fundamentally why Garmin leads the sports watch field. And perhaps more importantly, over the last few years, the software quality has increased substantially, largely through the use of open firmware beta programs that go on for months and months.  They know that feedback and bug resolution lead to improved software.

In any case, the Epix introduced a handful of new sport modes as noted earlier on, but no matter which sport you choose, it’ll all start by pressing the upper right button, which brings you to the sport listing:

Garmin-Epix-Sport-Selection

Looking at the sport modes available, here’s your full listing. Note that some of these aren’t technically sports, but that’s how Garmin categorizes them, everything under an apps bucket:

Run, Hike, Bike, Bike Indoor, Treadmill, Open Water, Navigate, Expedition, Track Me, Map, Map Manager, Connect IQ Store, HRV Stress, Health Snapshot, Multisport, Trail Run, Ultra Run, Virtual Run, Track Run, Indoor Track, Climb, MTB, eBike, eMTB, CycloCross, Gravel Bike, Bike Commute, Bike Tour, Road Bike, Pool Swim, Triathlon, Swimrun, Adventure Race, Strength, Climb Indoor, Bouldering, Ski, Snowboard, Backcountry Ski, XC Classic Ski, XC Skate Ski, Snowshoe, SUP, Surf, Kiteboard, Windsurf, Row, Row Indoor, Kayak, Golf, Tempo Training (Golf), Tennis, Pickleball, Padel, Project Waypoint, Walk, Cardio, HIIT, Yoga, Breathwork, Pilates, Floor Climb, Elliptical, Stair Stepper, Jumpmaster, Tactical, Boat, Clocks, Other

You can customize this sport listing on the watch, or from the smartphone. In fact, now’s a good time to talk about that new phone-based configuration. Historically, this is the first time we’ve seen Garmin introduce this level of customization that can be done from the phone instead of the watch. You’ll find that you can tweak almost every setting on the Epix from the phone. This applies to sport/activity profiles, data fields/pages, as well as things like widgets or deeper system settings. All told, there’s only a handful of things remaining that must be done specifically on the watch – for example, actions like downloading maps, or adding new sensors. As with before, you can always change all the settings on the watch itself if need be – a useful fallback when you find yourself out on the trails without a phone.

For example, on your phone, when you go to the device settings, you’ll be able to uncover a slew of settings, much deeper than before. Some of the new settings features are shoved into the existing categories (for example, Connectivity now includes details on smartphone notification settings), whereas there are totally new areas like the ‘Activities & Apps’ section, where you can choose which sport profiles are listed, and then tweak them:

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A good example of where Garmin seems halfway on this is the Sensors & Accessories section. You can see here that you can tweak all the onboard sensors (like whether or not your heart rate broadcasts), but you can’t pair any external sensors from the phone, you’ve still gotta go to the watch to do that. But, based on past experience, I’d imagine over time these will converge.

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Overall, acknowledging that this is a good first stab at this change in direction, I think it is a good move toward implementing phone-based settings. I’ve argued for years that Garmin needed to stop trying to boil the ocean on this, and instead, just start somewhere. Anywhere! Sometimes it’s good to forget the past and just move forward as they’ve done here.  Just pick a newly launching watch and add phone-based configuration. Start small and build up. For example, you still can’t import/migrate settings from other devices (like you can on a Garmin Edge device), but that’s ok for the here and now. And similarly, for the most part, the settings here just feel like Garmin built all the plumbing behind the scenes, but it’s sorta a maze of depths to find them all. But again, for now, I’m good with that. Boiling the ocean never works, perfection is the enemy of progress. I’d rather progress.

So, moving right along, after you’ve got your settings all sorted, head back to the watch and pick said sport. In this case I’ll go out for a nice run. But backing up a minute, and looking at this from a higher level, keep in mind that various sports have different profiles for a slew of reasons. Those can be specific data fields for a sport (like strokes for paddling, or cadence for cycling), as well as such nuanced metrics as sport-specific calorie burn, or the sensor types that you’d consider connecting to for a specific sport.

On this screen here you’ll see the upper portion of the screen showing the current sensor status, as well as GPS status. Your data pages are displayed behind it. Also note that by default, all sport modes have touch disabled, and then you can individually re-enable it, or, do it across the system.

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If you tap the left-side up button you can add a course (or other routing, more on that later), structured training, or change the power profiles. I mean, frankly, you can change anything from this point. For example, here you can see how many hours of GPS life you’ll get with your current settings, and then there are some pre-canned options that show higher GPS levels if you realize you’ll need them. Or, you can go rogue and create your own battery profile:

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(Note: At the moment I took this photo, this unit had 38% battery remaining, as such, the estimated hours are obviously lower than a full tank.)

But, for now, we’re gonna accept all that the way it is and do an interval workout. This will be a straightforward way to show the new Stamina features. By default, Stamina will be shown for running and cycling activities.  Conversely, it won’t routinely be found in all activities; for example, you won’t find it in hiking, but will find it in trail running. But, on with the run.  Once we press the start button, the watch will start gathering data from our workout, showing pace, distance, time, and any other data fields we’ve added:

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As an aside, but a notable absence,  on this watch you won’t find wrist-based running power, like COROS and Polar have. If you want running power, you’ll need some sort of external sensor – either from a 3rd party (Stryd), or paired with Garmin’s HRM-RUN, HRM-TRI, HRM-PRO, or RD-Pod units – for Garmin’s own running power data field. Nothing has changed there.

As we begin our workout, we can switch to the Stamina page to see how much energy potential we have for this workout. The top portion of the page, titled Stamina, is your short-term potential. In other words, how much can you give right now at this second. Whereas the middle-left one is your Potential stamina, i.e., your long-term potential. In other words, how long can you maintain this interval workout, or in an endurance event – how much gas is in the tank for the entire day ahead of you. In either case, this will steadily decrease over the course of the workout.

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So at this point, all of these are 100% – albeit, they won’t always be 100%. It’s tied to your recovery time, which is in turn tied to a thousand other things (sleep, activity, workouts, etc…). All of this is based on a blend of your estimated VO2Max, thus it’s kinda important to get at least a few good hard workouts in on the watch beforehand as a base so that it can approximate your VO2Max. Else, the data will mostly fall apart those first few times.

However, you’ve also got two additional data fields you can add: Distance and Time till empty. This is good if you have trouble doing simple math when you are exhausted, as these two fields look at your current intensity and then figure out when you’re going to collapse. So here we are a few minutes into the warm-up, and you can see it’s projecting I can go an hour and 45 minutes at the current intensity, or 22KM, whichever comes first.

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Fast forward a ways into the intervals, and my long-term potential has dropped to 62%, and my immediate potential mid-interval is 52% and declining.

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And a few more intervals later, and it’s projecting I can pull off 8.5KM more, and 45 minutes more. My short-term stamina is at 46%, however, my longer-term stamina is actually still at 46%. You can see that white-line in between the red and black sections on the chart, that represents the gap there. At this point, I had just finished an interval to start walking.

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And you can see a few minutes later, as I go into my cool-down, my short-term stamina is back up to 52%, and it’s projecting at this light jogging pace I can do an hour and 5 minutes, or 12.5KM.

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If we see how this played out afterwards in Garmin Connect, we can see that for each interval, I dropped – some more than others, depending on my body’s ability to hold the interval (which in this case was semi-poor, given I just had a monster week of rides, runs, hikes, swims).

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Now, as much fun as it is to do this for short-term high-intensity workouts such as 8×800’s, the real intent here is longer-term endurance workouts or races. The idea is to help you figure out if the pace/intensity you’re currently exerting is sustainable for the required duration. For example, check out this 7-hour ride I did last week (well, it was a 7-hour total time, there were some momentary food/photo stops along the way):

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Yes, I seriously managed to turn down the road to my hotel with 1% Stamina remaining, and 1% Potential. Here’s what the watch said:

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So how close was that to reality? Well, in this case, reasonably close, for a couple of valid reasons. Here the ride finished on a 1.5KM 12% climb, which I dutifully hammered with what I had left in me. So by the time I got to the finish point, I was baked. But was I absolutely literally at 0%-1% remaining? Probably not. But, as any endurance athlete will tell you, much of sport is mental as much as physical. In my case, I was shot, but I suspect if push came to shove I could physically have done another 5-10KM (after doing 118KM with 10,000ft of climbing). Granted, that probably would not be done at any meaningful intensity. Still, overall, I was beyond-done mentally, and certainly in most other respects too. So to that end, it got things more than close enough.  Overall a useful metric to have on those longer endurance workouts and races.

Next, going back to that interval workout, there’s a new feature that shows up on Garmin Connect afterwards, which is walk/run/stand detection. This will automatically detect, during a workout, what you were doing. You can see how that looks here:

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This is one of those things that at first glance didn’t make a ton of sense to me. I mean, yes, it was spot-on accurate, but why bother to spend the time on this was quirky to me. In asking Garmin, they said the intention was that for certain racing/training, such as steeper incline training, it allowed folks to start to analyze whether or not the pace/HR tradeoffs were worth it on walking versus running. Since you can overlay all those stats atop it, I can see the logic there.

Ok, so wrapping up the workout, you’ll get a new set of summary pages. They aren’t drastically different than in the past, but they do add some polish and make things like the display of heart rate zones more clear.

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Here’s a simple gallery of them:

As usual, all your workout stats can then be displayed on Garmin Connect or the smartphone app (Garmin Connect Mobile). Here’s a slate of those screenshots as a sampler:

All of these workouts are also then transmitted to any 3rd party apps you’ve configured/authorized, including Strava, TrainingPeaks, and other platforms.

From a sports standpoint, every workout you do is being tracked from a training load standpoint. You’ll have seen how that given workout contributes to your load in the workout summary screens above. There’s both a specific training load value (e.g 110), but also a given training effect focus, such as base or VO2Max. These all get algorithmically worked into whether or not your training is actually productive, and if not, what you’re doing wrong. You can see this from the widgets menu quickly:

Garmin-Epix-Productive-Training-Status

Then you can look at your VO2max value (for running and cycling), as well as your 7-day load. I find the 7-day load one of the best ways to quantify how much I’ve been working on over the past week (trailing 7 days). Especially where I might not have a set schedule I’m following.

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You can then look at the 4-week load focus to see how those numbers trend, where it also shows your a break out of the core workout type areas (anaerobic, high aerobic, and low aerobic), with optimal target ranges for each:

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I think in general, as much as it pains most of us endurance athletes to admit this, Garmin is usually right here. When it says I’m short in a given category, the reality is that if a coach had laid out the plan, it’d have been more balanced than my ad hoc workouts. The scenarios where I find it gets things wrong is when I’ve had a quiet week of training, and then quickly ramp up. In these scenarios, it will often say I’m ramping up too fast.

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Part of me knows that’s true, but part of me also knows that my body can usually take it. Most of the time anyway. Similarly, there’s the recovery hours:

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I’ve long found that Garmin tends to overshoot here. Though, there’s also some misunderstanding on this from many users. This item isn’t actually saying not to train, it’s just saying not to go out and do a hard workout. Thus, within the context it’s usually not too bad, though I think it still tends to err on the side of keeping you healthier rather than pushing your body closer to the breaking point.  Not a bad philosophy, but you do you.

Ultimately though, that’s no different than any other coaching relationship. Some coaches push athletes closer to that edge, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. The results range from winning a race to getting injured. Everyone has different things that do or don’t work for them.

Speaking of structured workouts, each day the watch will offer up structured running or cycling workouts, as a suggested workout, based on your current training and recovery. It looks at your recent load and training focus areas, and figures out what the next logical workout should be to slightly increase your fitness. Then, it suggests that daily workout…which, seems appropriate for today:

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These workouts can be downright beastly when Garmin chooses to get spicy. Seriously, I’ve seen multi-hour interval workouts show up. Inversely, if you’ve had a hard few days of training, or, really poor sleep, it’ll simply tell you to rest. In fact, if you really get it upset, it’ll actually flash a warning to you mid-morning that your day isn’t going well and that it’s going to basically cancel your planned workout. In general, I’ve found that when the watch gets this upset, it’s almost always legit. Usually something like back-to-back poor sleep nights combined with a hard workout tossed in the day prior, and maybe showing high stress.

In any event, if you do go ahead and choose a workout, it’ll iterate through each step with the exact targets displayed on the screen in real-time. None of this has changed from how it works on past Garmin watches over the last decade or so.

With that, we’ve covered the majority of the core sport-specific features. It’d be impossible for me to outline every single nuanced sport feature. For example, I could dive into things like the metronome, or PacePro, or pre-canned interval workouts, or Strava Live Segments, or Lactate Threshold tests, or racing past activities, or training calendars – the list is endless. And all of these features have even more features within them. But none of which are new to the Fenix 7, so for now we’re going to keep cookin’.

Mapping & Navigation:

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Mapping and navigation-related tasks are a big part of the Epix series, which contains an unbelievably rich set of mapping/navigation features, definitely more than you’d likely ever use. For example, there are common ones like following routes, less common ones like creating one-off spontaneous routes, and then even lesser-used features like calculating the area of a plot of land. Like I said, unbelievably rich mapping features here. But in the interest of time and brevity (i.e., keeping this post under 15,000 words) I’m going to focus on the core route-following components of the new Epix series, including features like the new Up Ahead function, Map Manager, ClimbPro, and other map/route-following practical features.

One of the most notable of these is the new Map Manager feature. This feature allows you to download Garmin’s TopoActive maps onto the Epix watch for your specific region. Previously you had to pay $20-30 for these maps, and downloading them from Garmin was cumbersome at best and required a desktop computer. Alternatively, you could download free maps from 3rd party services, but that was also cumbersome. The new Map Manager features puts this functionality all directly on the watch, and makes it as easy as connecting to WiFi. Oh, and all the maps are free.

In the case of the Epix, the non-Sapphire editions include 16GB of storage, and the Sapphire includes 32GB of storage. On non-Sapphire units, the actual usable space is 13GB that you can do what you want with. For Sapphire units, they’re already conveniently preloaded with maps for your region However, they aren’t pre-loaded on the base units so you’ll need to download the maps directly on the watch by going to Settings > Map > Map Manager:

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Here you’ll see two sections: TopoActive Maps and SkiView and CourseView. TopoActive Maps has the main maps that you want for sports/adventure navigation. The SkiView and CourseView (golf) maps are preloaded on all units, because they’re relatively small (23MB for SkiView, and roughly 200-500MB for each continent’s golf courses).  You’ll also see a vert basic worldwide basemap, but it’s pretty much useless.

So definitely TopoActive Maps is where the goods are. When you open that, it’ll show you which maps you’ve installed as well as the size. Or, you can choose ‘Add Map’, and it’ll connect via WiFi and show you additional map regions to download.

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For context, here are the current sizes of these maps. These will undoubtedly change slightly over time, but shouldn’t change too dramatically over the years:

TopoActive North America: 8.9GB
TopoActive Europe: 11.6GB
TopoActive THID: 2.5GB
TopoActive MENA: 1.4GB
TopoActive Australia & New Zealand: 1.8GB
TopoActive Africa: 4.4GB
TopoActive Japan: 3.8GB
TopoActive Hong Kong & Macau: 17MB (yes, megabytes)
TopoActive South America: 6.0GB
TopoActive Taiwan: 96MB
TopoActive Korea: 213MB
TopoActive SGMYVNPH: 1.3GB
TopoActive China Mainland: 663MB

Remember that the size of the TopoActive map is less about the size of the region, and more about the density of things in the region (roads/trails/cities/POI’s, etc…). You can also update a TopoActive Map from there as well. Now, once you choose to download a map, you’ll select it, and then select ‘Download’. But it won’t download until your device is plugged in, so your selection is basically put in a queue until then. Also, note that plugging in means to regular USB power port, not to a computer.

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Be prepared to wait – downloading takes a long-ass time. For instance, to download the 11.6GB TopoActive Europe map takes somewhere between 4 and 4-1/2 hours, trust me, I timed it (I went to bed at 4hrs with it at 90%). Seriously. You can alternatively use Garmin Express on a computer, which tends to be a crapton faster since it’s transferring via USB (10-25 mins). Remember that, in general, the watch uses a lower-power consuming WiFi chipset, so it’s not downloading things as fast as a phone or computer. In other words, do this the night before you leave for a trip, and let it sync overnight. Or, let it sync while you make a 12-course dinner or something.

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Note, that in February (a month after this review went live), Garmin has now split it out into three different regions, to allow you to pick just one region, saving you space – especially notable for non-Sapphire SKU’s. This is only available when using a computer with Garmin Express, though, that’s massively faster than WiFi (most of these took less than 10-15 mins for me to download, compared with hours on WiFi, since the Fenix/Epix units don’t have very fast WiFi connectivity).

Europe: 11.5GB
West: 6.3GB
Central: 6.4GB
East: 6.2GB

I don’t know why individually these add up to way more than just downloading Europe as a whole, but, that’s the actual sizes on the watch, listed on Map Manager for the TopoActive Europe region, within the watch itself, after the download of each Europe region. I’ve added all of these regions below in a gallery, so you can see exactly which countries are part of which regions:

Note, bizarrely, you can only toggle one of the Europe regions, or all of Europe. So it’s either all of Europe, or just a single region. I suppose since two regions takes up more than the total download, I guess that’s why.

Ok, with the maps downloaded, let’s set out on an adventure! In today’s case, I’m using a route I created on Komoot. But, likewise, you can also create routes in Garmin Connect directly, or many other 3rd party apps, or even from files. For example, if you have a GPX/TCX/FIT file of a route, you can import that directly in. But, the easiest thing to do is import them into Garmin Connect, which then allows you to sync them to the watch. But, in this case, to show you the new Up Ahead feature, I need to use Garmin Connect to tag the waypoints with standardized icons. So I’ve imported this Komoot route to Garmin Connect:

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Now, I’m going to add a few waypoints here for on-course navigating. Waypoints in files, of course, aren’t new. They’ve been around for a decade or two at least. But as you’ll see here, Garmin calls them Course Points, just because…Garmin, but it’s effectively the same thing. You can tap at the appropriate location on your route and add these points from a list of about 50 different standardized icons.

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And you can conveniently give them any names you want, to make life easier once underway:

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You’ll continue adding your waypoints, er…Course Points, until you feel good about it. Garmin says that they’ll soon support enumeration within Up Ahead (explainer in a second) from 3rd party files. But in the meantime, you need to use either Garmin Connect or Garmin Connect Mobile to tag these locations.

With that all set, we’ll head out to the trail and load up the course. You can choose any GPS sport mode you want (hiking in my case), and then from there choose Navigation and Courses. It’s here that I can load up my course. When I do so I’ll see map options, elevation, as well as ClimbPro. Note that ClimbPro isn’t enabled by default on all sport profiles, so you may want to check that and enable it if necessary within the sport settings (I do almost always because it’s one of my favorite, and most useful, features).

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The ClimbPro pages will automatically figure out each climb (both ascending and descending, though descending also isn’t enabled by default), and you’ll get the distances/altitudes for each. Then, as you climb, you’ll see your position and related data till the end of the climb.

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Meanwhile, Up Ahead is the new Fenix 7/Epix feature that shows your upcoming waypoints (aka Course Points) in a glanceable page. You’ll see the next closest waypoint listed (distance), with its name and icon. After that are the next three waypoints.

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It’s simple. This isn’t some crazy complex feature. And in fact, it’s roughly like what COROS added for navigation. The difference is a bit more polish. Garmin added standardized icons, and the fact that you can easily glance at it on a single page, versus having to scroll through a list.  No matter who does it, I found this incredibly helpful on my recent hikes. Mainly just for quick context. The distance is, as expected, using the course route.

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Now as you move along the route you’ll get turn notifications as well as any off-course notifications. On a hike like this I turn off turn-notifications though, because otherwise every switchback my watch is beeping, and that gets old fast. Whereas off-course navigation is pretty straightforward, and a feature you will appreciate.

One thing that I’m finding annoying is the lack of arrows or chevrons on the Fenix/Epix series routes. If you have an Edge bike computer you’ve hopefully noticed that in the past year Garmin added arrows for the route direction, similar to what other vendors have had for years.

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While this doesn’t matter for many courses that are clear-cut, it does matter for courses that may intersect, like a figure-8 course I did on Thursday. In that case, when I got to the crossing point, I tried to decipher which way to go, but Garmin wasn’t clear. In fact, it seemed to tell me to go one way, but as I’d learn some time later – that was the wrong way. Unfortunately, because I was technically on the course, I never received any off-course warnings. And because of that, ClimbPro was also broken because it kept thinking I’d be turning around going the other way. Now again, I’ve also gone years without this functionality, but it seems time to at least have the option for arrows. After all, Garmin has approximately 9,238 other routing-related options. In any event, that largely self-owned failure aside, I’ve had no issues with navigation across a wide variety of hikes, runs, and bikes over the last 6-7 weeks.

Next, speaking of that map, we have the new touch capabilities. By default, all sport profiles have touch disabled. And unfortunately, there’s no separation between touch in the rest of the sport profile, and touch in just the map. So you’ll need to enable that for map touching. Once enabled on that sport profile, within a map you can touch to move around the map, or double-tap quickly to zoom in.

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Alternatively, you can also use the buttons next to the + & – on the left side to zoom in and out. Responsiveness is very solid here. It’s not quite instant Google Maps on a phone, but it’s pretty close – far faster than either the Fenix 6 was, or the COROS Vertix 2 is. I show this in my user interface video.

Remember also that you can personalize the map sets shown. Within the TopoActive map, there are different map layers, including high contrast ones, night ones, even popularity routing (heatmap) ones. I find I tend to prefer the popularity one the most, but the one titled ‘System’ is the default. Below is showing the purple popularity routes:

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In terms of details offered, the maps between the Fenix 7 and Epix are technically identical. What’s not the same though is the visibility of features at different levels. Meaning, due to the better display of the Epix series, you’ll see more details at a higher zoom level. You can see this in my earlier AMOLED display section with some comparisons.

Plus of course, the Epix display itself is far brighter and more clear (even in direct sun) than the Fenix 7 display. That’s even more true at night/dusk, when the backlight is more crispy on Epix.  Still, I used both just fine and didn’t get lost in the jungles, mountains, or volcano lava rock.

Music & Contactless Payments:

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The Epix contains virtually identical features to prior watches in terms of both music and contactless payments. In order to play music, you’ll need to pair up some sort of Bluetooth sound device, either headphones or a Bluetooth speaker. Then, you can download music and play offline Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music, as well as any of your own MP3s. Meanwhile, on the contactless payments side, that continues with Garmin Pay, where you can load your bank cards – assuming they’re supported. Fortunately, unlike the early days, more and more of the biggest banks in the US and many other countries are coming online with Garmin Pay, though in my case it’s a bit of a mixed bag as you’ll see below.

Starting on the music front, you’ve got a couple of different ways you can access music. In my case, I primarily use Spotify, so it only took a few seconds to link up my Spotify account. Note that a Spotify Premium account is required to play offline music on your watch (thus, no phone required). Once connected though, you can choose which playlists you want to sync.

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You can pair/save multiple headphones/Bluetooth audio devices if you want, such as a pair of sporty headphones and then non-sporty ones. The music menu will automatically prompt you to do this, or you can always manage headphones in the sensors menu (the same place you’d manage heart rate straps).

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You can also use Spotify to download podcasts, which is a handy way of doing it versus the regular Garmin podcast feature that requires a computer to sync the podcasts. Regardless of the particular streaming service you use, it’ll use WiFi for this synching. You’ll just choose which playlists you want and then wait a brief bit. You can estimate it taking about 5-10 seconds per song to download, so about 10 songs per minute (speed varies based on the length of the song and other factors).  And looking ahead, as long as the Spotify app checks in once per 30 days, your music stays valid.

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Behind the scenes, the Spotify app will also update the music list over WiFi when you connect your Epix to a charging cable, so that it’s always in sync for dynamic playlists that get regularly updated.  You can download multiple playlists from multiple services (plus manually load music on the watch using a USB cable, such as MP3 files. The base model of the Epix has 16GB of space, and the Sapphire has 32GB. However, keep in mind that you’ll lose space for mapping, plus some internal Garmin stuff (like your workout storage).

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Once you’re ready to play music, you can access the music controls a few different ways, such as a shortcut button, the controls menu, or the music widget. Once inside of that, you can choose the playlist you want, and skip songs. You can also play/pause a track, change volume, and change the play order (e.g. shuffle, repeat, etc…). This is accessible both within a workout and outside of it in regular smartwatch mode (such as just sitting at your desk or just goofing off in general).

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I haven’t had any skips or dropouts in either casual listening to music at my desk, or in workouts using the Beats Studio Buds.  While I’m not a huge listening-to-music-while-working-out person, I find in general these days Garmin and others seem to have resolved the connectivity issues from the early days of wearable music support.

Now, switching gears a bit you’ve got contactless payments. These use NFC, and in Garmin’s case their payment platform is called Garmin Pay. It’s essentially no different than Apple Pay or other payment platforms, and is generally supported anywhere you go as long as the card itself is supported by that merchant. And in fact, that’ll likely be your main limiter in terms of usage: Whether or not your credit card is supported.

For this, you’ll need your bank to be supported by Garmin. That’s many of the big banks in the US, but beyond that it varies quite a bit. It’s hit or miss. A full list is here.

In my case, my Netherlands bank (ING) isn’t supported (still). However, my US Visa credit cards (Chase) are supported. My French Bank account (HSBC) isn’t supported, nor are some of my US local banks. Ultimately, this requires Garmin going to every single bank worldwide and get them onboarded. It’s not just a blank Visa/AMEX/Mastercard type thing. Hence why it’s hit or miss.

In any case, adding a bank takes about 2-3 minutes, so I added my US Chase card instead. As part of the setup process you’ll create a pin code to use when making a payment. You can access the wallet either from the controls menu, or by assigning a shortcut key to it.

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This pin is only used when you actually go to tap and make a payment, so it’s not something used throughout the rest of the day. And as long as the watch stays on your wrist, it won’t ask you for the pin for another 24 hours.

Garmin-Pay-Epix-Pincode

After which you’ve got 60 seconds to complete your transaction by tapping the NFC reader:

Garmin-Epix-Payment-Ready

After which it’ll give a successful green ring of win, indicating the payment completed.

Garmin-Epix-Payment-Complete

While you won’t get any payment receipts on the watch, you can see it later in the Garmin Connect app under ‘Recent transactions’ within the Garmin Pay details.

For most people, they tend to use this type of functionality on their watches for well-known establishments that support contactless payments. For example, at a certain café or coffee shop they might stop at after a run (skipping bringing a wallet or smartphone). As always with contactless payments, I wouldn’t depend on an unknown shop/merchant supporting NFC payments – since ya never know what will actually be available. Inversely, this is also handy simply as a backup in case your phone dies and you don’t have a credit card on you.

Multi-Band Satellites Overview:

Garmin-Epix-Satellites

I had considered placing this section within the GPS & Altimeter Accuracy section, or perhaps even within the Sports Usage section. But both of those sections were already pretty long. So with so much to cover, this now becomes its own standalone section. You can consider this a shorter primer to the slate of changes Garmin has made around their GPS technology in wearables. There’s actually more than just the addition of dual-frequency (multi-band) GPS here. Garmin has also revamped pretty significantly both its base GPS mode for big battery life savings, as well as gotten rid of the GLONASS/GALILEO options. Sorta.

We’ll start out by taking a high-level look at what multi-band GPS actually involves. At a non-technical level, it’s been touted as the holy grail of GPS accuracy. But technically, GPS is the wrong word. That’s because GPS is actually a ‘brand’, whereas this is officially GNSS’s (Global Navigation Satellite System). But we’ll set aside the Kleenex argument for the moment. The operational theory behind dual-frequency GPS is that you can leverage two different frequencies to communicate with the satellites.  This is desirable because if one frequency is having connection or visibility troubles you have the option now to mitigate that by providing not just a secondary frequency to validate against (L5), but a frequency that’s 10X greater. So where you would normally have a reachable constellation of perhaps 20-25 satellites, you would now have well over 60 satellites that your watch can see. And by seeing more satellites, in addition to increasing the signal and varying the frequency, it allows your watch to better mitigate signal obstructions and ultimately increase accuracy.

Garmin is hardly the first company here in this space. While Garmin did roll out multi-band GPS to some of their hand-held devices a year ago, the Fenix 7 & Epix are the first wearables from Garmin with the technology. Prior to Garmin’s Fenix 7 & Epix, the first endurance sports watch to add multi-band GPS was the COROS Vertix 2 this past summer, and then more recently Huawei has touted it in their GT 3. In my testing of the COROS Vertix 2, I unfortunately did not see holy-grail-like results. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the promised land either at the time of launch. Of course, the tech is new, and thus we’re likely to see (and have seen) firmware updates quickly released that’ll improve the accuracy issues over time. More on that in a minute. In the case of COROS, they’re using the MediaTek/Airoha chipset (AG3335M), and Garmin confirmed they are also using Airoha as their supplier. Prior to confirmation from Garmin, this made sense in my testing, as in almost every scenario over the last 6-7 weeks, the Vertix 2 and Epix/Fenix 7 units made the exact same errors in virtually identical ways (and inversely, did things correctly in near-identical ways). Garmin also confirmed that both Sapphire and Non-Sapphire units across all Fenix 7 and Epix units are using the same chipset supplier (Airoha).

First though, on the Fenix 7 and Epix series, Garmin has revamped the GPS selection process. There are two places you can change satellite things:

Entire watch (System): This is a system-wide setting across all sport profiles, and is considered the default for any sport profiles unless otherwise specified
Per-Sport/Activity Profile: This allows you to increase (or decrease) GPS accuracy on a given sport, likely in exchange for battery life.

So the idea here is that you can perhaps use higher-level dual-band accuracy on an openwater swim or a mountain-bike ride through difficult terrain, but then go with less-battery-draining options for a road bike ride, which is typically one of the easier things to track GPS-wise.

Next, there are now four GPS settings you can choose from (only Sapphire/Titanium editions have Multiband):

GPS Only: This is the base GPS-only option, however, Garmin says they’ve drastically increased the battery life here compared to the past GPS-only option, and indeed, you can see that in the battery chart.
All Systems: This confusingly named option is dealer’s choice between GLONASS and GALILEO, and Garmin is the dealer. As a user you can’t choose which one to use, but instead, Garmin is now switching between GPS< GLONASS, GALILEO, BeiDou, and QZSS based on the quality of the satellite signals from each, determining “which to prioritize”
All Systems + Multiband: This is the new dual-frequency option that everyone has been waiting for, which combines the All Systems option, and then makes it multi-band across both L1 and L5 satellites. As a result, this burns a boatload more battery, and in theory is the most accurate.
UltraTrac: This setting is for crazy-long adventures, whereby it reduces the GPS update rate significantly. Do not ever use this setting unless you absolutely need it, your GPS tracks won’t be pretty. Think of this as the emergency option.

Note that the usual smart-recording or 1-second recording option is still in the settings (and still annoying defaulted to ‘Smart Recording’), but that has no bearing on the GPS reception timing/display, it’s purely what it writes to the recorded file. Also, technically there’s Expedition mode, but that’s only recording a GPS point once every hour by default.

Here’s the battery chart for what each of these options do, depending on which model you have.

Keep in mind that this chart is really just a starting point for battery optimization. Using the Power Manager feature, you can get crazy-detailed on which features you care about (for example, toggling off optical HR sensor and connecting to a chest strap saves a boatload of battery), and thus can easily extend these battery times. Or, inversely, doing crazy things like turning on the flashlight while playing music will decrease them. Use your powers wisely.

For super-simple context compared to the other top-dog in the battery space, the COROS Vertix 2, their key claims are:

GPS-only: 140 hours
All Systems – GLONASS/GALILEO/BeiDou/QZSS: 90 hours
All Systems GPS + Music: 30 hours
All Systems + Multiband: 50 hours
Ultra mode: 240 hours
Day to day smartwatch: Up to 60 days

One thing to keep in mind is that Garmin does track vastly more health stats behind the scenes than COROS does and does so at a higher rate, which certainly has a big battery drain component. You can turn off some of these though, which would increase the battery life further on the Garmin.

Though, the GPS battery life one-upmanship is quirky. From a sport standpoint it largely only impacts the upper tier of Ultra competitors. However, from a practical day-to-day standpoint, it simply means you charge your watch less frequently.

GPS & Altimeter Accuracy:

There’s likely no topic among ardent sports-wearable users that stirs as much discussion and passion as GPS accuracy.  A watch could fall apart and give you dire electrical shocks while doing so, but if it shows you on the wrong side of the road?  Oh hell no, bring on the fury of the internet!

GPS accuracy can be looked at in a number of different ways, but I prefer to look at it using a number of devices in real-world scenarios across a vast number of activities.  I use 2-6 other devices at once, trying to get a clear picture of how a given set of devices handles conditions on a certain day.  Conditions include everything from tree/building cover to weather.

Over the years, I’ve continued to tweak my GPS testing methodology.  For example, I don’t place two units next to each other on my wrists, as that can impact signal. If I do so, I’ll put a thin fabric spacer of about 1”/3cm between them (I didn’t do that on any of my Epix activities however, all workouts only had a single device per wrist).  But often I’ll simply carry other units by the straps, or attach them to the shoulder straps of my hydration pack or backpack.  Plus, wearing multiple watches on the same wrist is well known to impact optical HR accuracy.

So, we’re going to start with a feast of watches on a route that’s both easy and extremely challenging. I start off along some canals and farms, and then eventually wind my way down through a long skinny street of 12-18 story buildings on both sides. For this test I had the Fenix 7S on my left wrist, and the Fenix 7X on my right wrist. Then, in each hand I was carrying a COROS Vertix 2 (right hand), and an Epix (left hand), plus also a FR745 in the right hand. All these were separated and stable, as to not impact each other. I carry them the exact same way companies themselves do GPS testing:

IMG_8111

So, here’s that data set, and at a high level, things look pretty similar. All Fenix 7/Epix/Vertix 2 units were set for multiband GPS, and the FR745 was set for GPS+GLONASS. All the units had no problems in the openness sections:

Epix-Fenix7-GPS-ZuidRunOverview

However, as we approached the first set of light buildings and bridges, the impact of multiband GPS became apparent, with those units plotting slightly clearer tracks. For example, the FR745 in pink turns way too early under the bridges, whereas the rest got it right.

Zuid-Run-Bridges

I’d also see some minor differences between the COROS Vertix 2 and Garmin units. For example, here the COROS Vertix 2 incorrectly gets frisky while going under a tunnel, sharply meandering off to the side. However, a short bit later, the Fenix 7X then did some less sharp but longer bushwhacking away from the path. Which is interesting because in general I saw that most of the time if the Vertix 2 made an error, then the Fenix 7 and Epix repeated it.

ZuidRun-Tunnel

Fast forwarding into the downtown sections with tall buildings on both sides, we can very clearly see the FR745 struggles slightly more here, it’s the unit without multiband. Which however, isn’t to say it was horrific, nor to say that the others were perfect. The multi-band ones were simply a *TINY* bit better. But all the units traded having GPS tracks that blasted through the sides of buildings. Let’s be clear about that, this isn’t some holy grail we hoped for (just as it wasn’t and still isn’t on the Vertix 2).

Zuid-Run-BuildingSet

The rest of the run was largely boring and consistent. In one other scenario where I passed under a giant chunk of the Hospital, the FR745 zigged, while all the other units zagged. Practically speaking, neither was perfectly correct, they were just wrong in opposite directions and the multi-band units were clearly just very slightly less wrong. Barely.

ZuidRun-Hospital

That said, do understand I’m nitpicking here. I’m finding some of the most challenging scenarios I can, and then criticizing their performances. There’s also some interesting nuanced patterns with slight differences depending on which side of my body the units were on, relative to buildings I passed. In every scenario, the units on the more ‘open’ side of my body did better than the units facing the building side, regardless of brand.

Next, let’s head into the jungle for a hike/trail run. This one had it all! From deep woods, to dense trees, and towering cliffs. Here I was comparing the Garmin Epix on my left wrist, the Fenix 7 on my right wrist, plus both a COROS Vertix 2 (right hand) and a Forerunner 745 (hydration pack).

IMG_7346 IMG_7311

Here’s the high-level GPS data and track, which from this perspective looks near identical:

Jungle-High-Level

And as you get into the weeds, literally, of the jungle, it’s hard to see much difference. Meaning that the three units are nearly identical in every scenario (within 1-2 meters of each other, wobbling along), except that the COROS seems very slightly more smoothed. That has pros and cons. The benefit is that it tends to clean-up the GPS tracks a little bit in tougher areas, but the downside is that it also incorrectly cuts some corners and such that you actually hiked – as it doesn’t seem to be 100% certain between a short switchback for a couple of meters, and a GPS error.

JungleTracks

I’m not saying Garmin is right here, but I am saying that based on all my test data both over the last 6-7 weeks, but also from this past summer/fall with the COROS Vertix 2 and multiband, that it tends to over smooth in areas where the going gets tough. That in turn tends to result in lower overall distances. On a tree-dense route like this, or frankly, any ultra route, it’d be nearly impossible to know the exact actual distance you went. Even a measured trail course isn’t going to know whether you took each corner a foot or two wider (which would add up considerably over a longer route).

Jungle-Smoothing

In a lot of places though, it’s just virtually identical:

Jungle-Coastal

It is also true that both the COROS Vertix 2 and Garmin Epix/Fenix 7 units in multiband, outperformed the FR745 (using just GLONASS). One can see that in numerous occasions. However, keep in mind that extra unit was largely on my backpack shoulder strap, which has body-blockage effects.

Jungle-RockFace

Meanwhile, if we look at the elevation profile of all those units, they’re scary similar.

Jungle-Elevation

The total spread in ascent between all those units is 27m (out of 1,341m), which is a max spread of 2%. The COROS Vertix 2 seems to start off however about 20-25m higher than the other units, but over the course of five hours, drifts closer to the other units. Given there was no absolute known good reference point along the trail to compare against, it’s hard to say exactly who was perfect. But I think it’s fair to say that any unit would have been more than sufficient in this scenario.

Anyways, enough of that, let’s look at a long ride with extended very tall pine tree sections, plus some cliffs and such. This ride was 118KM long:

LongRide

The best way to look at this one is random spot-checks along the course. For example this particularly dense section of trees and switchbacks:

VolcanoRideSpotCheck

Or up against large rock cliffs:

CliffEdges

Or fast descending switchbacks in the forest:

LowerForests

Or down through small towns with plenty of turns and power lines at reasonably high speed:

LowerTowns

All of this is spot on. However, it’s not as if they’re on the correct side of the road (or consistently on any given side of the road). So that’s where we need to park the Holy Grail GPS Bus, and remember that hasn’t arrived yet:

Close-uproad

Then we’ve got an openwater swim. This is pretty impressive for both Epix & Fenix 7, though we see slight differences. For example, the Fenix 7 seems very slightly more smoothed than the Epix, though it’s not clear why, as both were on identical settings. My guess here would be this is actually a stroke difference in how high up my right hand/wrist goes compared to my left wrist, which could definitely have a slight impact. But still, there are astoundingly close GPS tracks here to the reference units on the swim buoy.

OpenwaterSwim

Here’s another openwater swim, this time directly comparing the Epix to the COROS Vertix 2 on opposite wrists. Sure, no Fenix 7 here, as I only want one unit per wrist. You can see the Vertix 2 is slightly more wobbly, and the Epix also overshot very slightly on the corner. Though, this was also a month ago, so things have undoubtedly changed in GPS performance (as we see above):

OWS-December

No matter which sets I pull up on the Epix or Fenix 7/7S/7X from the last 6-7 weeks, the overall GPS tracks look very good. Are they absolutely perfect? No, but they’re on par or better than anything else I’ve seen lately. And as I alluded to elsewhere, I thought it was interesting that if I compare the most recent Vertix 2 tracks to the most recent Epix/Fenix 7 tracks, they’re nearly identical in many cases. Both making the same errors and non-errors at the same time when worn together on workouts. The only difference being that it appears COROS applies slightly more smoothing in a variety of situations, which has the previously outlined pros and cons.

Altitude-wise, everything is virtually identical between units, and seems to correctly lock onto the right altitude (when known – such as at the beach). All of the linked sets can be opened up and you can peak at the altitude graphs further. Also, I’m going to add more sets today and over the following days. Some comparison sets are not included here for devices not yet released, whereby the secondary device was still unreleased. Hang tight!

(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy sections were created using the DCR Analyzer tool.  It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks, and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)

Heart Rate Accuracy:

Garmin-Heart-Rate-Accuracy

Before we move on to the test results, note that optical HR sensor accuracy is rather varied from individual to individual.  Aspects such as skin color, hair density, and position can impact accuracy.  Position, and how the band is worn, are *the most important* pieces.  A unit with an optical HR sensor should be snug.  It doesn’t need to leave marks, but you shouldn’t be able to slide a finger under the band (at least during workouts).  You can wear it a tiny bit looser the rest of the day.

My test workouts include a wide variety of intensities and conditions, making them great for accuracy testing. Basically, they’re my day-to-day activities for the past 6-7 weeks.  Swims, bikes, runs, hikes, indoor workouts, and more.

Meanwhile, for HR accuracy testing I’m typically wearing a chest strap (either the Polar H10 or the Garmin HRM-PRO), as well as another optical HR sensor watch on the bicep (mostly the Polar Verity Sense, as well as the Whoop 4.0 band). Note that the numbers you see in the upper right corner are *not* the averages, but rather just the exact point my mouse is sitting over.  Note all this data is analyzed using the DCR Analyzer, details here.

We’ll start off with something relatively basic to get warmed up, in this case an indoor 45-minute treadmill workout, compared to a Polar H10 and the Fenix 7. As you can see, it’s virtually identical. The only bobble actually comes from the Polar H10 in the first 30-40 seconds, with what appears to be an incorrect half-hearted spike ahead of the warm-up, and then it corrects. Here’s that data:

Epix-HR-Treadmill-Jan5t

Looking momentarily at a relatively steady-state 5K outside, the Epix has no issues, and actually slightly outperforms the Polar H10 – which is interesting where you see that dip in HR in blue, for which there was no valid reason since pace stayed the same, and towards the end, a sprint up a hill, the Epix and Venu 2 correctly did that, whereas the H10 seemed lost. Unusual, but notable. Here’s the data.

Canary5K

So, with that being easy, we’ll step it up a slight bit, with a bit more intense trainer ride, on RGT, to see how it handles with flex on the wrists:

Epix-HR-RGT

Again, as we can see, no problems at all. So, let’s  add some hard intervals, this time on the Peloton Bike, versus the Polar H10 chest strap:

Epix-HR-Peloton-Intervals

Or this TrainerRoad workout, again, virtually spotless:

Epix-TrainerRoad-Dec18th

Now as we see, this time there’s the tiniest bit of lag, about 2-4 seconds in general, but hardly worrisome. Most use cases would never notice that, and it’s really only on the recovery of each interval versus the increase in HR.

So, let’s break things a bit and head outside. Here we’ve got a 75-minute ride, starting off relatively easy, then a bunch of climbing, before looping back around again. You can see that anytime I had intensity, things were great with Epix, but when I stopped or was descending – in particular the descending, it got messy. This is pretty common for optical HR sensors – but was worthwhile noting here. Here’s that data:

Epix-HR-Short-Climb

Thus, increasing complications again – a 7-hour ride up and down a volcano. This is notable because it shows how things handle in particular ascending versus descending, but also some longer sustained periods. At a high level, things look a bit fuzzy, but clearly we’re seeing some trending alignment between the chest strap and the Fenix 7 & Epix units on opposite wrists. Here’s the data:

VolcanoRide-HR-Wide

I want to zoom in though on one of the longer sustained climbs of about an hour or so. Here you can see the Epix has a bit more wobbliness than I’d ideally like to see. Notice how that green line spikes and drops a bit here and there, whereas the yellow line of the Fenix 7 is far more tame.

VolcanoRide-HR-Interval

Now there isn’t in theory a good reason for this, given that these are identical sensors in virtually identical casings. But, it can just go to show some of the challenges of measuring optical HR even on different wrists of the same person.

Meanwhile, while descending, things separate pretty considerably, which is pretty much my experience across most wrist-based optical heart rate sensors. Especially given this was an hour-long descent in relatively cold conditions up top.

Volcano-Fenix7-EpixDescent

Finally, here’s a long hike/trail run, which had some larger sustained efforts that more easily show up on the charts:

Epix-Fenix7-Trailrun-HIke

You’ll notice that for the first 2 hours and 42 minutes, things are generally very close, with only relatively minor disagreement when walking downhill (moderate in that we’re at 100-110BPM, so it frankly isn’t going to matter much if one is 103BPM and the other 107BPM). For virtually all uphill/moderate/intense segments, it’s identical. That straight-line section is when I was filming, so things are a bit wonkier there – don’t worry about that. Then after that, things snap right back to it. The drop-out line around the 4:30 marker is simply me taking off the watches to take a few photos of the displays.

Oh, and lastly note that while the cases are different, this is the same sensor as the Fenix 7 with the same firmware, so you can also check out that in-depth review to see how things handled there, since in all likelihood it’ll mirror it here.

Thus, ultimately if I look at all these sets, plus a boatload more indoor trainer/treadmill sets, they’re all very consistent across the board. As usual, and as expected, the main quirks were around descending. But as long as there was some intensity applied, the responsiveness and accuracy seemed quite good for my skin tone/wrist placement.

Fenix 7 vs Epix:

About this point, you’re probably trying to decide which watch might make the most sense for you (if either). I’ve got an entire dedicated video on that above, but an even more crazy-detailed post that’s constantly updated with all the silly differences that might be discovered down the road.

I go through everything from real-world side-by-side battery life on long workouts, to how the screens differ in real-life usage, plus aspects like map differences, graphing details, and more. It’s more than just the display! You can find the full Fenix 7 vs Epix post here.

Summary:

Garmin-Epix-Review-Wrap-Up

For years, folks have wondered when we’d see a “pretty screen” Fenix series device. And finally, today, it’s here. While it’s called Epix, it’s ultimately a Fenix 7 with an AMOLED display. The two sibling units share the same core software versions, and carry all the same functions and features. Except, Epix simply looks prettier in virtually every light. Though inversely, it can’t quite go the same distance as the Fenix 7 units can.

Of course, that presumes you need to go that kind of duration. While the ultra-long battery life of those units isn’t purely the ability to run for 100 hours non-stop, it’s a big part of it. It’s fundamentally how these companies like to market these watches, even though 99% of us won’t use them that way. However, the ancillary benefit for the rest of us is we simply charge our watches less for more regular workouts. But I think most of us are able to “get by” with 20-30 hours of GPS runtimes and 6 days of real-world battery life for an always-on display that looks like it’s from this decade.

In my testing across a wide range of environmental conditions, I’m seeing virtually no usage downside to Epix compared to the Fenix 7 (setting aside battery). The singular scenario I where had some troubles was back in early December in desert-sun bright conditions with shallower ClimbPro ascent gradient coloring specifically, where certain shades of dark-blue on a black background was near-impossible to see. However, that’s since been changed to easily seen lighter blues. Undoubtedly, there will be other edge-case quirks that I didn’t see, though, I feel like I’ve seen the vast majority of data pages/fields in the watch. Similarly, on the final production firmware, I’ve had no outstanding bugs. There are some fit and polish things I see (for example, certain map regions have graphical cons and others don’t, depending on which part of the interface you’re in), but my guess is those will quietly be resolved and nobody will have noticed except me. As for the hardware, it’s been in production for months.

Looking at components like the multiband GPS (in Sapphire editions), it’s clear that GPS chipset maker Airoha is making progress over the past 6+ months, and I see that comparing my COROS Vertix 2 tracks from this past summer to what I see now (they use the same supplier). It’s improving for not just Garmin, but COROS too. While it’s not the holy grail yet, it’s definitely equal and in some limited cases better than non-multiband. However, I still think we’re probably talking 6-12 months+ before we really see these gains. Just as we saw with when Garmin switched to Sony years ago, it was that mass-unit impetus (or massive corporate whip) that took rough performance from when only Polar & Suunto were using it, to when Garmin jumped onboard. Which isn’t a slight against either of those, but the simply reality that when a company as big as Garmin comes along with millions of units per year, they can tell other companies to jump higher and faster. And hey, all vendors ultimately ended up benefiting.

Ultimately, as I said in my my Fenix 7 review, if I’m going to decide between purchasing either the Fenix 7 or Epix, it’s going to be the Epix. Any day, all day. It looks sharp, actually works well, and fits my battery usage needs.

With that – thanks for reading!

Found This Post Useful? Support The Site!

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

If you're shopping for the Garmin Epix (Gen 2) or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you shop with TPC (The Pro's Closet), you'll save $40 on purchases over $200 with coupon code DCRAIN40! The Pro's Closet has been a long-time partner of the site here - including sponsoring videos like my cargo bike race, as well as just being an awesome Colorado-based company full of good humans. Check them out with the links below and the DCRAIN40 coupon!

Here's a few other variants or sibling products that are worth considering:

And finally, here’s a handy list of accessories that work well with this unit (and some that I showed in the review). Given the unit pairs with ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors, you can use just about anything though.

This is a dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart cycling cadence sensor that you strap to your crank arm, but also does dual Bluetooth Smart, so you can pair it both to Zwift and another Bluetooth Smart app at once if you want.

This is one of the top straps I use daily for accuracy comparisons (the others being the Polar H9/H10). It's dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, and in fact dual-Bluetooth Smart too, in case you need multiple connectons.

Seriously, this will change your life. $9 for a two-pack of these puck Garmin chargers that stay put and stay connected. One for the office, one for your bedside, another for your bag, and one for your dog's house. Just in case.

This speed sensor is unique in that it can record offline (sans-watch), making it perfect for a commuter bike quietly recording your rides. But it's also a standard ANT+/BLE sensor that pairs to your device. It's become my go-to speed sensor.

This wifi-connected scale will track your weight and related metrics both on the scale display and in Garmin Connect (plus 3rd party apps like Training Peaks). It'll also then sync your weight to your watch/bike computer, to ensure accurate calorie data.

The HRM-PRO Plus is Garmin's top-end chest strap. It transmits dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, but also transmits Running Dynamics & Running Pace/Distance metrics, stores HR data during a swim, and can be used without a watch for other sports. Also, it can transmit XC Skiing Dynamics as well.

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

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654 Comments

  1. tetedecourse

    First!

  2. Volker

    Great review (as always).
    „free worldwide downloadable TopoActive maps“

    Is the TA Russia map also available?

  3. chup

    Any Asia map like Taiwan or Japan? Does it display the Chinese or Japanese characters correctly?

  4. Chiefhiawatha

    I sure would love that new screen technology in a garmin edge 1030 replacement!

    Do you see Garmin moving this screen tech into the cycling line?

  5. HR

    Epix it is. Order incoming!!!

  6. David E.

    What are your thoughts on the Epix versus the 945 or 945LTE? It ooks like the Epix might have the battery power to get somebody through an Ironman. The Epix does weight about 20g more, but that may be more than worth it for the extra screen life. Would this now become your triathlon watch of choice?

  7. kaz

    Hi Ray,

    one thing Garmin have always had issues with on the GPS front – it “pushes” your track out to the side you wear your watch on. So if I run down the left hand side of the road – with the watch on my left hand – the actual track is more often than not – about 3-10m to the left of me.

    If I then do a 180 and run back – my track is then 3-10 meters to the left again (so total distance between tracks about 6-20m) – it has been a pretty consistent “nag” for years and multiple Fenix generations.

    So is that better on F7/Epix?

    And for anyone in the UK – Jura Watches / C W – have both 7x and Epix Sapphire Black in stock for next day delivery (at least right now) – I got an order in for Epix (Garmin have 3-5 weeks delivery time on the Epix Black Sapphire)

    • Dave Lusty

      Are Jura reliable? They always looked like a scam to me as they’re usually significantly cheaper

    • Kaz

      Honestly – I have no idea – but Jura watches are a dealer of some main brand watches – and they are “Garmin Marq” authorised dealers as well.

      I’ll update tomorrow 🙂 if I get the Epix as “promised”

    • MC

      Jura Watches are a legitimate business.

    • Dave Lusty

      Thanks good to know they are cheap and generally have stock which probably shouldn’t raise alarm bells!

    • Kaz

      As promised and update – Got mine from Jura this morning – no issues at all.

      Seems like they are sold out and stock will be back in 5-7 days.

      /k

    • George

      I ordered an Epix Black Sapphire from Garmin yesterday and it arrived today (Jan 19th).

      The website did say it would ship later but they must have just wanted to lower arrival expectations.

      I currently have a Titanium 6X Solar and D2 Air and my initial impressions of the Epix make me think I’m going to give the 6X to a buddy and give the D2 Air to my daughter. I was worried about the Epix screen in the Phoenix AZ sunshine but Ray’s review is right on. No problems there.

    • Dave Lusty

      Just an update on this, and unfortunately Jura have let me (and themselves) down. I ordered from Jura with their website suggesting 4-5 days delivery last week. They just gave me an update of end of February for earliest delivery so I’ve cancelled the order and put them on my naughty list as I consider that pretty deceitful. Their website still says 1-2 weeks even though they say the earliest they might get stock is 16th Feb. Total shambles.

  8. NickM

    Assume nothing about ECG? Looks incredible.

    Also under the summery, there is a typo I think you put “get buy” instead of “get by”

  9. Jon

    Thanks for the review!

    Some typos I noticed:
    synching -> syncing?
    get buy -> get by

  10. MattDS

    With regards to the AMOLED downsides, I’d like to add one. I had an original Venu watch with AMOLED screen. After about 1.5 years (which amounted to about 2300-2500km of running) I had horrible burn-in. And when I say horrible, I really do mean horrible. I checked with a fully white background and could make out quite a few features belonging to data fields that I usually have on while doing long runs. I’m talking about the standard data fields included on the watch, so no third-party trickery. Also I never used the AOD feature. So the burn-in didn’t come from non-standard usage. When searching around, I find a few similar comments although it doesn’t seem to be widespread. But yeah, I had the issue so something went wrong for me at least.

    I’ve added a picture of my Venu with the burn-in. Note, again, the picture is just the clock (and nothing more) on a PURE white background.

    Now, I sent back the watch for repairs and got a new one back, so I have no complaints on that. But it did make me lose my confidence with the Venu for my runs so I sold it and got a temporary FR 945 until the Fenix 7/Epix would be out. By extension, I’ve lost confidence in Garmin AMOLED screens for now and I don’t feel secure in buying an Epix, no matter how fantastic it may look. I’ll first need to see the AMOLED devices prove themselves over a few years before I try my hand at them again. And I’ll go for a Fenix 7X for now.

    • Hkacsa

      This single picture frightened me so much that I’ll wait and see for at least another year

    • jww

      Agree – that burn-in is terrifying.

      Garmin has made such a tough call. My Fenix 6 gets 16-18 days of always-on battery. Stepping down to 6 days is a big deal – charging goes from a weekly thing with more urgency at times, to a “couple times a month” thing.

      Tradeoffs!

    • Winter

      Ditto on mine. No scratch on the screen or the bezel. Looks pristine.

      But the burn in… Terrible 😔

    • Michael Edwards

      Thanks for the information and picture. Was your watch under warranty when you sent it in for repair and if not, did Garmin charge you for the repair or just sent you another watch for free?

    • Ben

      Wow that is pretty bad (Reminds me of my LG OLED TV… the one where they said screen burn was a a thing of the past. Yeah right!).

      I’ve got a Fenix 5 and it’s lasted really well. I’ve been waiting for the Fenix 7/Epix, and had decided on the Epix, but it needs to last probably 3 years. If it looks this bad after 18 months then that’s going to be a problem!

    • MattDS

      Hi Michael. My watch was under warranty (bought in March 2020) so I wasn’t charged. Just received a whole new unit, and I immediately sold it.

      I’d like to add that the screen was very nice indeed and I was very happy with it for quite a long time. The burn-in seemed to kick in quite suddenly starting in September 2021 and got progressively worse very very quickly.

    • MattDS

      Hey Ben – indeed the Epix looks fantastic but given that I also want this watch to last for a few years, and given my experience with the Venu, I just don’t trust it now and I won’t pay up €1000 for it. It could be that they solved whatever issue there was with the Venu, it could be that some faulty software update accelerated the issues I had and it won’t be present for the Epix – I have no idea. But I’m not going to test it out myself 🙂

    • MattDS

      Hi Winter – at least it’s a confirmation for me that my watch wasn’t a solitary case. I can only advise you to also send it in for repairs. And maybe sell it after that, like I did… My conclusion was it’s a good hybrid sports/smart watch and stylish too, but not suited for doing too much running.

      Hope buyers of the Epix won’t experience the same especially given the price of the device.

    • inSyt

      This sucks as it removes one of the main reasons for a buying Garmin. The hardware is solid and will easily last you 3+ years. Even with a degraded 3 year old battery, you can get by with charging twice a week. That $899 is not looking like good value if the screen cannot last 5 years.

    • Keep in mind that AMOLED displays have changed a lot in the 2.5 years since Garmin introduced the Venu, and also, how Garmin deals with mitigating display burn-in. For example, aspects like how they do pixel shifting, or even the fact that the latest CIQ always-on display guidance only applies to the Venu 2/2 Plus and Epix (meaning, those watches have different ways of handling it).

      That said, it’s exceptionally rare for me to hear about any sort of burn-in on Garmin AMOLED devices – and I’ve never seen something crazy like that (don’t disagree that’s real, just saying that’s nuts and super rare).

    • MattDS

      Hi Ray, thanks for the reply. I’m not sure AMOLED displays themselves have changed that much (after all, the technology has been around in consumer devices like smartphones since 2007) but I do agree that Garmin’s implementation and handling of them might have considerably changed. The Venu was (IIRC) their first attempt at it and they might not have gotten it fully right. Or, my device might have been one of a few freak cases and the problem might not even be widespread.

      So I think that there’s validity to the idea that this problem won’t affect the Epix at all.
      It’s just that for me, it’s hard to now do a leap of faith to buy a €1000 device and just pray I won’t have the same problem again 🙂
      So for me, for now, I’ll go for the Fenix 7 and wait out the general experience with the Epix. After all I’m perfectly OK with my FR945 display as well, even after having experienced the Venu display.

      Thanks anyway for the great review, as usual!

    • Alexx

      Let’s not forget that the MIP screens have the dead pixel cluster issue quite frequently.

    • Heiko

      Same problem is present on the Suunto 7 with AMOLED. I thought that WearOS should already handle this, but it doesn’t seem so. I hope Garmin does it better – i’m waiting for a watch with maps and AMOLED and much better battery-life than the Suunto 7.

    • Jason Robertson

      Yeah, that would be annoying but it kind of depends on your usage. I generally upgrade every year (except for Fenix 6, which I kept for 2 due to nothing new available) so I don’t really care about long term issues like that – though of course and I 100% get that a lot of people definitely do and should.

      For me (and probably some other nerds who spend too much money on this) the fact that a) seems Garmin is very liberal about fixing/replacing for issues like this even out of warranty and b) I’ll probably sell this for an Epic 2X in a year makes the burn in a very small issue.

      But, again, I understand that many people are wiser with their money than I am and keep things longer lol.

  11. Dave Lusty

    I really want the Epix, but I also like to have a metal band for smart days in shirts. For some reason Garmin didn’t release a single Epix SKU that goes with their metal bands. Black doesn’t go with carbon grey DLC and the silver ti has white plastic. That leaves the steel version which is a basic model.

    It shouldn’t be too much to ask for a $1000 watch to have a smart look available, surely?

    I also find it odd how few SKUs the Epix gets. I agree with you Ray that given the battery life this is a no brainer over the F7. My partner recently got the Venu 2s and I’ve been blown away with how much nicer it is than the Fenix. I get that they are just testing the water, but surely they take your feedback into account when planning capacity and SKUs. With such a decisive statement that you’d go Epix all day every day I can’t see the F7 being as popular.

    • David

      I think that Garmin may think that if you’re willing to spend $999 on a watch you won’t blink at an overpriced watchband but sometimes that’s where the line is drawn.

    • Wilma

      Ray, what size wrist to do you have? I am afraid the Epix might be too large and need to go for the smaller (very similar but different) Fenix 7S. All of these pictures are great references, but only if I know the relation/size of your wrist. Great detailed review as always!

    • Dave Lusty

      You may have missed the point. I am happy to spend the money. I had the 3 Sapphire (with metal band), 5 with metal band, 5+ with metal band, and the 6 ti with metal band. I bought the 6 simply because I fancied it in silver.

      There is no fancy metal band available which goes with any of the Epix models. Epix comes in black DLC which does not match the carbon grey DLC (also, I’m kind of over dark watches after so many years). Or it comes in titanium which has a white plastic bit which doesn’t go with the Ti metal band. The only one that does is the stainless steel model which is silver with the grey plastic. But that’s a low end SKU which I don’t want since it’s heavy, doesn’t have much storage, doesn’t have Sapphire glass, doesn’t have certain features.

      Every reviewer seems to agree Epix is the future. I assumed it was when Ray referred to “legacy displays” in the annual review on YouTube. For some reason Garmin lack confidence.

    • JR

      I agree they made some weird SKU choices on EPIX, but I wouldn’t overlook the steel one. The weight difference is only 6 grams (vs. an 11 gram difference on the F6 titanium models), which is pretty darned hard to notice. Sapphire is a debatable feature, even at price parity, as it severely reduces the brightness and contrast of the screen, and Gorilla Glass DX is awfully scratch resistant anyway. 16 GB vs. 32 GB of storage? That seems like a nice to have, not need to have. I certainly don’t need global topo maps on the watch at the same time (one region is enough, and I can always add one before a trip), and that’s more than enough music storage to keep me happy for a couple of weeks until I decide to switch it up. The dual-band GPS seems like the only really unfortunate omission from the base model, but that seems to be banking on future improvements, as the current performance is apparently unremarkable.

    • Dave Lusty

      You’re right, but then the Epix and Fenix 7 are nice to haves too. I already have the 6 Pro which already does more than I need. Having scratched various Gorilla glass devices including an iPhone screen previously the sapphire is a definite want for me. I use music and maps quite a bit on the watch so storage is quite useful. Once you’ve been to a remote island with poor wifi and forgot to load the maps you realise the value of having things preloaded! I’ve also been on a plane without music preloaded and same story there. Stainless may not look much heavier on paper but it’s a noticeable difference on the wrist and any weight loss is a definite bonus once your arms start to move on a run.

      I think I’m mostly annoyed that Garmin have put this situation out there. All of the reviews have basically said don’t buy the Fenix 7 unless you’re that one person in a thousand who needs to do a double ironman followed by an ultra marathon. And yet here we are looking at 4 distinctly non premium looking options for Epix! I’m hoping Garmin quickly realise this mistake and ramp up the SKUs for Epix. After all, the parts are identical to the Fenix ones so should be easy to change out.

    • My wrist is 16.5cm/6.5″, measured about 3cm/1″ away from the wrist bone.

      I’ll get some good wrist shots of both myself and my wife wearing all the units in a little bit. Just…umm…digging out still (and for better or worse, this week is very much not done with new releases).

    • ToolkiT

      link to garmin.com
      I think those would be compatible as the epix has the same body as the fenix 7x?

    • Neil Jones

      Taking photos of watches whilst wearing them usually means having to use a wide angle lens which exaggerates the size of the watch relative to the wrist – the closer the camera, the more pronounced the effect. If I take a wrist shot of my MARQ or Instinct with my iPhone’s normal lens, it looks like it overhangs my wrist. However, if I use the optical zoom (not the digital zoom) and hold the phone further back, the photo gives a much better representation.

    • Dave Lusty

      Yes they’re compatible. No they won’t go with the colour. There’s no point having a premium watch band if it looks terrible. I already have the titanium watch band in grey and ti colours as well as the grey DLC steel band. None of these are black, and the ti one won’t look right with a white watch.

    • Dave Lusty

      I caved and ordered the Fenix 7 in Ti silver with leather band which will go with the Ti band I have. Hopefully Garmin won’t see this as a vote for Fenix 7 over Epix as I really wanted the Epix screen and would have ordered one if they’d had a suitable colour option. The new features over the 6 were very compelling though so I definitely wanted to upgrade.

    • AJ

      For whatever it’s worth, the Specs chart on Garmin’s website for the Epix says the “Black Titanium” watch actually has “carbon gray DLC titanium” bezel. This seems accurate to me based on Ray’s photos as the side-by-side comparisons of the Fenix to the Epix don’t appear to show any distinct difference in bezel color.

      Perhaps the “Black Titanium” branding may be referring to the case color of the watch rather than the bezel since neither of the other two Epix options have a black case? If so, that seems like a somewhat confusing choice as I second guessed whether I wanted to buy an Epix over a Fenix since I preferred a carbon gray bezel and was worried about the Epix seemingly not having DLC coating.

    • Jeremy

      The grey DLC bands will match the color of the “black” Epix2 almost perfectly.

    • Perplexed

      Yes, I would agree. I ordered the “Garmin QuickFit 22 Watch Band – Carbon Gray DLC Titanium” for my Sapphire Epix and it is a perfect match color wise to my eye.

    • Lucas

      Dave—how did you order the Fenix 7 in TI silver? This is the one that looks best to me but I can’t seem to find it anywhere (at least here in the US).
      I agree on the Epix though, it’s surprisingly compelling though lack of color choices and I think a few more days of battery in always-on mode will probably push me to stick with tried and true instead of embrace the new.

    • Stephen Robb

      Hi David. I have worn a Fenix 6 Sapphire for the last 2+ years with the Carbon Grey DLC band. I just received my Epix Sapphire Black Titanium. The Epix case color is almost identical to the Fenix 6 Sapphire and the Carbon Grey band is still a great match (to my eyes at least).

    • Brecht Germis

      @Dave, if you check the specs of the Black Epix you will see that it is in fact a carbon grey version. If you check onder general -> bezel material you will see “Sapphire Edition: carbon grey DLC titanium or pure titanium”

      In fact, both titanium options match perfectly with the titanium band options.

  12. Juri

    aarrgh.. thanks for the great reviews as always! So difficult to chose.. i really want the epix! But i also would love a LTE version, but i am to impatient to wait half a year 🙁

  13. Does the multiband GPS have any impact on the accuracy/delay of instant pace?

  14. Ian

    It’s a shame that it doesn’t come in various sizes, as I have straps from Fenix 5X/6X I’d want to reuse and I prefer the bigger screen. I thought LTE would be a feature and that is potentially holding me back, as I’m sure it will be added down the line. It’s just how long until it is.

    I see that the screen is higher resolution that the Fenix line. Were you able to check how many data fields you can add to an activity Ray? That’s one of the features I like most about the 6X.

  15. Paulo Alexandre Neves

    Thanks for the excellent review as always Ray! Major kudos!

    Only issue I see is the price!
    A 899 price point with Sapphire would be more convincing. However street price in 2/3 months may fall into that, although I suspect that Fénix is gonna sell much more than this one and as such depreciate more.

    It is clearly a Fénix 7 for the non-outdoor only people, and can be easily used in casual scenarios (that screen🤩). Most of my use is indoors (I use 830 for cycling outdoors, rarely run, some walks a day, Yoga and some indoor gym sessions at home) so the MIP screen is not my favourite. AMOLED really makes sense!

    This may as well be my next watch (coming from a AW7).
    Unless… In September Apple wakes up and gives us a watch instead of a computer on the wrist (round form format and at least 4 days battery).

    • Joe

      Someone on Reddit pointed out that if you download the “Miles” app you basically get a 20% off Garmin Wearables coupon for free. (1000 point bonus for signing up, coupon costs 300 points).

    • Paulo Alexandre Neves

      Interesting, but seems to me only available in US.
      Can you confirm?

  16. Henning Svane

    Hi
    Thanks for the review
    Have Garmin explained why Epix do not come with the solar charging.
    Do Epix/F7 support WIFI 5GHz or still only 2.4GHz
    In the future will the same updates for Fenix 7 sapphire comes to Epix.

    Regards
    Henning

    • Sean K.

      Hi,

      I did not get a reply in the Fenix thread, but I see in the Garmin Forum reported that it is a 2.4GHz chipset, which is disappointing. I would not mind the 2.4 GHz if it actually worked with my network. I previously had an Asus AX Wifi Mesh Network and Spotify syncs would always timeout. I later moved to a Linksys Velop Wifi6 Mesh network, with similar problems with both a Fenix 6 Pro Solar and the FR945LTE. I finally gave in and bought a cheap $30 2.4GHz Wifi extender for the sole purpose of syncing with Garmin. Kind of disappointed, really. Now it may be it’s a new chipset or new GarminOS Wifi driver update that actually has broader compatibility. I used to work in embedded software and fully realize that there are trade-offs in BOM cost, low-power targets, and TTM impacting software development.

      Sean

    • JR

      So take this for what it’s worth (one guy’s experience over one day), but the speed of syncing on the Epix is at least an order of magnitude faster than on the 945 LTE. I’ve had zero timeouts, and the range is great. With every Garmin I’ve had before this, I always had to plug the watch in, basically set it on top of the router, and then go do chores or something, and I still had occasional sync failures. Also, the Epix doesn’t seem to blow through the battery while syncing either.

    • David Lynch

      Sounds like a router problem. Thanks.

    • Brian Driscoll

      Yes. It is because solar charging makes so little difference, for the extra price, on a screen that uses as much power as an amoled.

  17. Chris

    Thanks as always, but… If I might humbly suggest, your reviews of GPS performance always completely miss the point. People generally want to know one or two things accurately: (1) How far did I go? (2) How fast am I going currently?
    Zooming in on recorded tracks on a satellite map doesn’t do anything to evaluate the performance of the watch according to either metric. Could you perhaps find a way to start evaluating the accuracy of total distance & current pace measurements? I am always baffled and slightly disappointed by this omission.

    • Marsh

      Ehh… People running next to water LOVE to complain if their GPS track looks like they were swimming. Distance, while arguably the more important feature, seems secondary in the complaints dept.

    • Chris

      I agree it’s probably not as important to the “mass market” consumer, but I would hope that Ray would focus more on what athletes need from a GPS device. If you go to the Garmin forums you can find plenty of people complaining that their Fenix 6 recorded their half-marathon as 12.X miles, while their friend’s Apple Watch nailed it.

    • fedak

      > People generally want to know one or two things accurately

      I’m a hiker/climber and I want an accurate GPX terrain plot *far* more than I want distance/pace data

    • The practical challenge with doing total distance tests is actually doing them correctly. It’s almost impossible, except on super boring/straight courses. At least to the degree that matters.

      The reason is that most of the routes that have verifable/trusted measurement are simple paved running paths/cycle paths, and usually, these don’t have considerable GPS trickiness.

      For most non-paved paths, even when marked, I’ve long found (all over the world), that these are at best, casual summaries of distance. Because it’s far easier on a trail to say it’s 1KM/1mi, then say it’s .92KM or .92mi. Except that 80m matters for what I do.

      Ironically, the DCR Cave actually sits on a 10KM marked route, with markers every 5-20m (seriously), that I presume are reasonably well marked. Which in this case would make it semi-easy to try and run the exact same dot to dot to dot path, but honestly, most people are more interested in whether the GPS track aligns with what they ran, which is 99.99% of cases means the total distance also aligns.

      People do however want to know about pace stability, and I usually include a note somewhere on that, though forgot to this time. I haven’t had any pace stability issues in my interval runs, with things being super easy to pace off of. It’s a bit trickier now to get video of that, because watches use the accelerometer data as part of it these days, so holding it up really still for long periods of time for video skews that.

    • Chris

      Thanks for the followup & explanation!

    • Stanislav

      > but honestly, most people are more interested in whether the GPS track aligns with what they ran, which is 99.99% of cases means the total distance also aligns.

      The real problem is that above isn’t always true, at least not for Fenix 6 series. I am actually quite satisfied with the quality of tracks – it is reasonably good. But the device distance is always shorter than the sum of point-to-point distances. For me the discrepancy often reaches 5% (when running on trails) or even greater. Clearly, Garmin doesn’t take the distance from the track.

      The same applies to the pace. Device pace often deviates from the distance travelled over time. I understand that the GPS speed in incredibly noisy, but still if we look at the average Fenix 6 pace from an activity and compare that the total distance from the same device divided by the total activity time, there is always a noticeable discrepancy.

    • morey000

      Ray. Yes! I want to know about *Pace Stability*
      Ran side by side today with a friend, both of us wearing Fenix6P’s, both on left wrists. Clear sky, no trees. Our instantaneous paces were typically 10-20 sec/mi different at any one tiime.

      I pace races. Improved performance here would be a selling point for me.

  18. Arne

    Still only two Connect IQ Data Fields per activity?

  19. Adelin

    Great Review! Thanks for your work and dedication!

  20. Tomo Albrecht

    Edit opportunity: get buy > get by

  21. Marsh

    Ray,

    Apologies if I skimmed over this, did Garmin say why there’s no flashlight on the Epix like the Fenix 7?

    • David Lynch

      The flashlight is only on the Fenix, and not on the Epic.

    • JR

      If it has the same flashlight widget that the F6 has, that’ll be awfully bright with an AMOLED screen.

    • Marsh

      I would assume it doesn’t, since that uses the backlight for the transflective display which the AMOLED displays don’t have. The absence of the flashlight tool was one of the first things I missed on the Venu.

      I confess I didn’t read the Fenix review, so I missed that the flashlight I was asking about is only on the ‘X models. So it seems case size is the issue here.

    • We talked about it a little bit, and they kinda talked around the gap a bit without directly answering it. My gut was that it sounded like this was, as is typical, their first go at the feature, and wanted to try it on the X series to see what folks thought real-life.

      It didn’t sound like there were any immediate blockers tech/etc wise.

    • Christoph

      I’m using the backlight of my Fenix 3 as a pseudo-flashlight to avoid bouncing into stuff when it’s pitch dark. It’s very dim but just enough to navigate while not waking up family. From JR’s comment above, I gather that the F6 has a dedicated widget for just that purpose? Does the Epix 2 also have that widget? I suppose that the Epix’ display should be far brighter than what you can get with the backlight of the F3?
      I’m using the F3 as a pseudo flashlight all the time so that the lack of a flashlight (pseudo or real) on the Epix 2 would be a deal breaker for me.

    • Tatnai Burnett

      Yes the Epix 2 has a dedicated flashlight you can access by double tapping the “light” labeled button (top left)

  22. Alexei

    Hi Ray…is this good for an ironman 70.3? With all brightness and vibrations alerts? Considering for about 6 o 7 hours of gps?

  23. Hassan

    Thank you for both the fenix and epix reviews, after going through (most) of them I am ordering the epix 🎉 for me the display is next gen, this way I’ll skip the mip displays altogether.. It will be a huge update over my Suunto Ambit3 and a complete switch to Garmin echo-system (finally)

  24. Peter Blair

    Hi Ray – very interesting comparison to the Fenix 7… Quick flag that the battery table posted here is the 7, not the Epix battery chart.

    Think I’ll probably hold fire a few months and see if we end up with an LTE version and also what the 955 looks like.

  25. acousticbiker

    Thanks, Ray!

    I notice the Elevate sensor looks a bit more, well, elevated from the back surface of the Watch. If that is indeed the case, can you confirm whether it works with those pick style chargers from Amazon?

    Did Garmin say anything about why Solar was not included as an option for the Epix? I could understand the AMOLED display may not allow the lower efficiency solar charging via the display itself but I would think the higher efficiency ring could co-exist either the AMOLED display and it would have been nice to get the additional boost of solar.

  26. David H

    Thank you for the thorough review. I am a bit confused about the colour. The titanium is listed as black on the Garmin website for both of the available dark titanium models (plastic strap and chestnut leather strap). However, the Epix model you have appears to be grey, which is how it is listed on a different UK retail website. There are clearly two different versions of the darker titanium case as the chestnut strap version does not have a red button: it is all black. This is clear from the Garmin site. You obviously won’t have both versions to compare, but would you describe the Epix you tested as being black or grey? To your knowledge are there any other differences in the two watch bodies apart from the red highlight on the one that is supplied with a resin strap?

    • JR

      I was always a fan of raw titanium look of the F5 and F6 versions. I don’t really care for these blacked-out titanium versions. If it’s a coating (even DLC) then it looks terrible when it scratches, plus they hardly look like metal unless you’re up close. I actually think the slate steel is the most handsome F7/Epix SKU on Garmin’s website, but unfortunately it doesn’t have the top specs.

    • jww

      The DLC is crazy scratch resistant. I’m on 2.5 years of a DLC coated f6 with zero visible damage, after 1,000 accidental smacks of the watch against my work desk, door frames, excetera. The sapphire screen is also scratch free. The base models on the other hand are scratch magnets.

    • JR

      Weird. Experiment of one, but my DLC looked terrible after a few months. I agree it was more scratch resistant than the base models, and it didn’t scratch from things like desks (which shouldn’t scratch any metal). If it bumped a brick or concrete wall (happens on occasion when running in a dense city) it got big silver scratches that stood out against the black finish.

    • Adam

      Can you post up some pics of the two colors you’re seeing?
      I want a grey version, but disappointed that’s only the steel on this range. Otherwise it’s jet black I think.

    • Yeah, I’m not sure about the grey vs black EU/UK SKU’s. Garmin always does a few extra wonky versions for Europe. I’ll try and get some clarity on that in my next volley.

      As for the unit I have, it’s definitely black (titanium). At least, it matches the black of both the Fenix 7/7X I have, as well as the black on my Lenovo Thinkpad I’m typing this on. 🙂

    • Stephen

      The (us) black titanium epix I have is definitely different in color from the black dlc titanium fenix 6 I have. As AJ mentioned above, on garmin’s website the specs section mention the epix is carbon gray dlc titanium. Also, on garmin’s website, the epix is listed as “black titanium” whereas the fenix 7 is listed as “black dlc titanium” or “carbon gray dlc titanium”.

    • Stephen

      If you compare the pictures on garmin’s website for the black titanium epix and the carbon gray dlc titanium fenix 7, they look the same whereas the black dlc titanium fenix 7 definitely looks darker. Holds true for both the bezel and the band’s buckle.

    • Jeremy

      Garmin are calling the same watch “Carbon Grey DLC” in both Germany and Japan.

      link to garmin.com
      link to garmin.co.jp

  27. Victor Reid

    Smart (business) pricing here by Garmin. 32GB is really a must if you are going to have maps for more than one region. I will be shocked if the Sapphire version doesn’t outsell the regular glass version.

    • Duncan M

      How much memory does the firmware take up I wonder?

      I’m in Europe, so 12gb for the map alone, then you’d want a gig or two for music. Is that already looking a bit tight on the 16gb base model?

      I’m presuming on the 32gb Ti model you can uninstall a couple of continents to give yourself loads of room?

    • Only the continent of where you bought it is preloaded. So for example, if you buy the Fenix 7 solar sapphire in Europe, only the Europe maps are preloaded.

    • Duncan M

      The base model is loaded with your home continent but the Ti/sapphire models come with the whole world.

      Still curious as to what memory firmware (plus maybe a few apps) would consume.

    • A base model Fenix 7/Epix with 16GB of storage, has 13GB of usable storage available, as a starting point.

    • David W.

      Weird thing- my Sapphire only has North America on it. When I got it I connected to Garmin Express to update the firmware before I did anything. GE also said that there was a map update available which I installed. After all this was done I started looking over the device, found the map manager, and looked at the maps- only North America was there. I don’t know if GE deleted the rest of the world as part of the update or if it was never there in the first place.

    • davidh

      I don’t believe that is correct. The base model comes without any maps preinstalled and the Ti models come with your home territory loaded.

    • Andy Long

      my UK Epix sapphire only has Europe installed and crashes when trying to download North America…

    • Have you updated the firmware?

  28. peter cox

    is it me? Or did you put a place holder for the Widget Gallery and not fill it in?

    xxxWidgetGallery

    Tempted – very tempted.

  29. Ted

    Perhaps a minor point for some, but how long is the charging time ?
    ( if/assume liniair, how much % / hour )

    When almost empty, will it need to be an entire evening of my wrist, of “just” an half an hour ?
    ( trying to disturb the bodybattery & sleep monitor at less as possible etc )

    • Arne Elofsson

      I agree this is important. If it is fast (less than one hour), you can basically just charge it when needed, if much longer you need to plan and think about it much more.

    • Marc

      I have it for a few weeks now. I put on the charger every morning while taking my shower. That suffices to keep it almost fully charged.

  30. Dan

    Can the Epix be charged during an activity?

    • Genti

      What?!
      How the hell can you charge the bloody watch during an activity? It’s in your hand…
      Unless you strap a battery pack on your arm and wear the watch inside out. Weird question.

    • Ted

      There are ( non-garmin?) chargers for fenix connection on a baseplate, so “for instance” you can put it between the watch and wrist, but the OHR will not function then “obviously” ( external heartrate if needed ?).
      But then you will also have a powerbank etc etc , so only really needed/usable/worthwhile for ultra-events ?

      link to dcrainmaker.com

    • Jaron

      Charging during an activity was a super common annoyance for the very small minority of Garmin users who compete in longer ultra racing events. Newer watches like the Enduro, and now Fenix 7, make that a moot point, but I could see how someone would want the screen on the Epix, but on rare occasion might need to charge up during a super long ultra. I’ve seen people strap it to their hydration vest and plug it in to a portable battery pack while others would try and somehow wear it during charging.

    • JR

      Yeah, it is an ultra-fringe feature, but the people who want it are very noisy about it. I say if you can’t finish 100 miles in under 30 hours, you should spend more time training and less time worrying about your watch 😉

    • Philippe

      I also want to know the answer, I did it on an ultra with my fenix5 plus, battery in a pocket of my bag and a watch attached to the bag strap.

    • Chunky

      Have had to charge my F6 during 200mile + ultra’s many times and usually just hook the watch around a pack strap while hanging onto the battery pack or putting it in a pocket.
      Would love to try the Epix due to decreasing vision,but the battery life is a big drawback.

  31. Bram

    Small typo Ray, in the first paragraph you mentioned: “ that effectively takes an Epix and elevates it with a full AMOLED color touchscreen”

    I think you tried to say that it’s an Fenix with AMOLED.

    Great review again, love the depth of the research.

  32. Dembo

    I’d love to see some real life battery data on the Epix 2. My F5+ promised “up to 19h of battery life” in GPS mode. In reality (Ironman racing for me) with a bunch of sensors connected (HRM-TRI, Vector 3, Stryd) the watch chews through 10 percentage points of battery per hour so I get about 10h of actual run time which is approx. missing 30 – 45min to finish an Ironman for me.

    • Smileman

      Any news about a MARQ update?

      Wonder if they’re saving LTE or something exclusive like that for a MARQ 2…

    • Alex

      You definitely have to check your settings. My F5, which is VERY old, had ~35% of the charge leff after 9h of Ironman (swim leg reduced, don’t worry). HRM-Tri&Powermeter connected.

  33. Great review (as always)

    After reading the review I must be going to switch from Fenix 6x sapphire to Epix (Gen 2) Ti sapphire.

  34. acousticbiker

    Thought of a few more questions:

    – Compared to the Fenix 6, is there any significant difference in GPS and HR accuracy (and related to the latter, Stress / Body Battery / Recovery)?
    – You mention HRV not being automatically captured 24×7 but I would imagine it is being captured periodically as an input into Stress and Body Battery measurements
    – Given touch is disabled by default for activities (which I agree with), is there an option to leave it on only for map viewing during activities?
    – Can watch settings be saved as a profile that can be restored if needing to reset or replace the watch?

  35. Paul

    Hey Ray, thanks a lot for your expansive coverage on F7/Epix2 releases.

    Question on Epix 2: how do you think AMOLED burn-in will affect the screen long term? Would you say it’s something to be concerned about?How was you experience with Venu/Venu2 in that regards?

    Thanks,
    P.

    • MattDS

      Hi Paul. If you scroll up you’ll find my experiences with the AMOLED-equipped Venu, picture included in my post. I wish I could say go for it and it’ll be fine – but I’m not so sure after what I saw with my Venu after 1.5 years of running 3-4 times per week.

      I need Garmin to prove long-term viability of their AMOLED devices before I’ll have the confidence to buy one again.

    • Paul

      Thanks Matt, I saw it and it looks worrying. I know Ray mentioned pixel shift technology that Garmin uses to mitigate the risk of burn-in but it doesn’t seem to have worked in your case. I was wondering if epix 2 does sth differently in that regards?

    • George

      I bought my wife and my daughter Venu AMOLED watches when they came out.

      I also bought a D2 Air when they came out. I wore the D2 at my work and in the evenings and a Fenix 7x Pro during workouts.

      None of them has burn in. As Matt says YMMV though.

      I received my Epix 2 and the screen is terrific.

      Hope Matt’s experience is an outlier.

    • George

      Sorry, I meant 6X Pro!

  36. David Lynch

    Thanks, Ray. Excellent and detailed reviews, as always. I think the AMOLED display sells the Epic for me.

  37. freibadfrank

    Hi Ray, All Fenix so far were showing wrong HR-rates when “hiking” or doing “functional trainings = using arms somehow” (no physics issue due to color, hair, geometry …). Tested many (also clean versions as pushed by Garmin support) in many situations.
    Apple Watch nails HR-rates in 99% of the conditions. But would love to buy a proper Epix2 with all cool functions and a longer battery time.
    Is the new sensor as good as AW? In your review you hinted that it is not.
    If AW is 99% – what percentage does the new Garmin sensor get?
    Thank you!

  38. Tom Hunt

    I think I’m sold. I have a 6X and the bigger screen is nice as more detail on the maps are shown by default.
    Does the higher resolution on the amoled screen get used to show more detail or just “nicer” representations of it?

    • Mark

      I have a 6X and got the Epix.
      The Epix screen while being 0.1″ smaller is actually much sharper, clearer, easier to read in sunlight and the maps show more detail at the same zoom level as the 6X.

  39. Jan

    One critical question: Will the AMOLED screen with always-on catch unwanted interest of my toddler when I will try to make him sleep in the dark (but outside of my own sleep time)?

  40. Alex Acemyan

    Great review Ray! Quick question regarding stock watch faces. Does the Epic have the same watch faces as the Fenix 7? I tend to like the Fenix 7 watch face that is on all the marketing photos but wasn’t sure if it’s built into Epic. I know you can typically find lots of 3rd party watch faces, but many of those can’t pull various metrics from the watch (ie. body battery…).

    Thank you for all the hard work! You’ve converted me from a Fenix 7 to an Epix!

  41. Squeege

    I was hoping for the mountain bike metrics (jump, grit, flow) to be included. Maybe they are not possible on a wearable?? Any idea if we might ever see them?

  42. Volker

    BTW: man manager: “downloading maps from your wrist”.

    Really no need to plug the device to the wall charger for downloading maps via mm?

  43. Barry Eman

    no flashlight… bummer…

  44. Joshua

    this looks amazing, but $999 on the Garmin US website…. yikes.

    • Joshua

      I feel like at $999 I don’t want to have to think about the battery for at least a few weeks. I guess that’s my arbitrary “draw the line” haha

  45. Neil Rosser

    It will be interesting to see the reactions from the F6X battery life purists, and the touchscreen haters, to this watch. (I’ve seen some already on FB and it’s as you’d think – uninformed bashing of anything new). For me, the Epix represents the best of all worlds – I’ve used a touchscreen Garmin (the original square clunky VivoActive and also the VA3), in addition to 235, FR645 and now a F6ProSolar, and there are absolutely certain instances of the user interface where a touchscreen is IMMENSELY easier to use, to navigate through choices and things, and of course there are times when a touchscreen is less than ideal – since the Epix and F7 have both, the user is allowed to navigate the watch in a way that makes sense for that person. AND – having the AMOLED screen on the Epix is awesome – can’t wait to get one. I am not one of those users who refuses to charge out of pride or principle – like so many are (and that’s fine, for them). I’m more than willing to charge my device every three or four days. Not a problem at all for how I use it.

    Bottom line – more choice is a win for the consumer and for Garmin. Can’t wait to get an Epix!!

  46. Jeremy

    Could you give some insights about charging times?
    Is it long to go from 0% to 100%?

    Any comparison to Fenix 6 GPS accuracy?

  47. Havard Garnes

    Is there a difference in effective screen size between Epix and Fenix 7X? I.e. is it worth considering the Fenix 7X for the size of the screen? From the pictures it seems like the solar part of the screen on the 7X eats so much screen that the screen sizes are practically the same when the Epix does not have the solar ring.

  48. Robert Kendall

    Hi Ray is the video link missing?

  49. Benedikt

    No matter what I do, I can’t configure Data screens or alarms within an activity via Connect on iOS. The screenshots Ray took can’t be replicated by me.
    Nor do I find that sleep mode manager wich is shown.

    My watch is on 6.12

    • Are you already using the Epix gen. 2?

    • Benedikt

      Yes, walked into a store and bought it. They got stock this morning and customers the whole day.
      Garmin Germany is also already shipping.

    • Nice! I ordered the Fenix 7 Sapphire solar, but it has a 3-5 weeks delivery time in the Netherlands.

    • Max

      Yeah, I can’t seem to find an option to change the data screens either. That’s the one thing I most want to be able to do with my phone. 😕

      Watch is at 6.57 / Connect on iPhone

      Does anyone have success with this?

    • Stuart Harsley

      Try updating the software. Current is 7.24

    • Max

      Thank you – that did the trick. Not sure why it didn’t auto update 🤷🏼‍♂️

    • Yeah, essentially units are shipped with old-stinky software as they were manufactured months ago.

      Your watch would have updated by the end of the day, as the firmware is transferred to it in the background (slower on Bluetooth Smart, far faster on WiFi and near instantly if you use a USB connection to setup).

      I think Garmin needs to do a better job there in making it clear that a firmware update is required. Apple, GoPro, and even Garmin’s own Venu 2 Plus all do better jobs there.

  50. Winter

    Garmins AMOLED screens are wonderful… Bright 8n direct sunlight… Vibrant. High resolution.
    BUT extremely prone to a massive amount of burn in.

    My Venu is after 1 1/2 years of always on really terrible burned in
    I can see nearly all my watch faces in on place ☹️. It’s horrible to look after.

    It’s unreal how bad Garmin is if you compare to your inexpensive China watches or a Apple watch. No burn in on those.

    It’s definitely my last Garmin.

  51. JoeE

    The Holy Watch Grail! Great review as usual. I am probably going to buy an Epix 2 – but $1k is getting expensive.

    • Duncan M

      You’re not wrong. In Jan 2016 I paid GBP275 for a 920XT, so £46 per year up until now.

      The Epix Ti which I have my eye on will take 20 years to pay itself off at that rate!

  52. Larry

    Thanks for the great rundown on the new watches. My Fenix 3 is literally dying and I’ve been waiting for this new series to upgrade. Given how ancient my existing watch is, I have no experience with the music/podcast capability of current day Garmin watches, I do have two questions.

    1. When listening to a podcast can the “rewind” & “fast forward” buttons be configured to skip back or forward a certain number of seconds rather than going to the previous or next podcast?

    2. Can an external Bluetooth remote control (e.g. https://www.chubbybuttons.io) be paired with the watches? I use this when winter cycling and Nordic skiing as it’s glove friendly.

  53. p50kombi

    Hi dc rainmaker, I’m quite interested in the epix over the fenix 7 as I now own a fenix 6 pro and don’t see anything really worth the extra pounds I’d have to invest to get a 7, I’d rather go for a nice screen.
    I used to have a 6s and there is seldom a time I go for a week without charging, so the battery life is fine with me, however I am very interested in the recharging time of the epix.
    I would prefer not to have to charge it overnight, is it a case that you can recharge it quickly?
    I can’t seem to find any info re this online, since you’ve done loads of teayo g, I hope you can give me an answer on this. Thanks.

  54. Benedikt

    SW Version 7.2 is already out, it is necessary to get MapManager running. The watch will be with 6.12 in the box.

  55. RICHARD OWEN

    Configure the watch from my phone? Take my cash now!

  56. Mac

    Great to hear that the screen works well under direct sunlight!

    What’s the display clarity like with polarized sunglasses?
    I found that with polarized sunglasses, Samsung display doesn’t work quite well in portrait and similarly iPhone screen is not very clear in landscape. Any impacts of this on the Epix screen?

  57. Lorenzo Zanetti

    Being a 945 user and wanted to upgrade, is Epix saphire the answer? New 945 anytime soon?
    Xc maps are available also for 945?

    • Aikon

      I’ve taken the plunge, had the 945 since launch & the Epix is enough of an upgrade to persuade me, Amoled, touch & software overhaul being the main drivers.

  58. Tommy

    HI everyone, Anyone know if the new Epix2 and F7 are limited to storing 25 workouts on the watch like the f6 is?

  59. tom dievart

    As always, the best in the biz!
    Could not find this: i love the Fenix. is the EPIX smaller than the 7X?

  60. DC

    Screen diameter size question vs 7X:
    Is the screen diameter on the solar versions measured from inside the solar strip or does the diameter measurement include the solar strip? In other words is the actual viewable screen size of the 7X less than 1.4″, in practical terms making it more like 1.3 on the Epix or regular 7? (Trying to decide between the Epix and 7X, want the Epix but value screen size above all – although it seems like they might be the same depending on how they’re measured?)

  61. Auslander

    You spelt Sapphire wrong in one of your charts (Sappphire)

  62. John

    You mention the resolution is same as venu 2 plus but it’s not. Resolution is higher on Epix

  63. morey000

    Ray- The image that has all the battery durations… isn’t the one with the Epix on it. Just the Fenixes (Fenicians?)

  64. Heath Sheppard

    Hi Ray,

    Great Review. I’ve been using the Forerunner 935 for four years now, but really want the AMOLED screen. With it not being on the Fenix7, will EPIX be the only way to get the better screen? I was going to wait for the 955, but now don’t think there will be an AMOLED version of the 955. Any chance we see the better screen on the 955?

    • henau212

      I would buy that in a hearbeat. But I don’t think that a 955 with AMOLED is going to happen in the near future. Seeing that only two models are offered and Fenix is a seperated model without AMOLED, Garmin does not really seem to be sure about the success of the model at the moment. I hope I am wrong though and a top line Forerunner with AMOLED ist coming…