Garmin Fenix 7 vs Epix: A Very Detailed Comparison

Over the last few days there have been endless discussions about deciding between a Fenix 7 Series and Epix Series unit, so I figured a more detailed comparison was in order. In my case, I’ve been using the units for almost two months, and often side by side. An Epix on one wrist, and a Fenix 7 on the other. So I’ve got direct comparison data, including battery burn charts for long 7-hour activities, on how they actually handle the real world with all the features enabled.

Now at a high level, undoubtedly, the display is the main difference. But that display actually drives quite a few other factors that are less obvious. Things like map clarity, graphing detail, how the unit reacts when on your wrist, and even general day-to-day visibility. And it’s probably important to set aside any perceived notions around ‘pretty display’ units from a few years ago. Or even from Garmin’s own line-up. The just-released Venu 2 Plus shares the same screen, but doesn’t feel anything like Epix. That’s because Garmin appears to have done everything possible to make Epix mirror the Fenix, rather than approach it as a broad mid-tier consumer device like the Venu series.

So, with that, this post is divided up into two basic parts:

A) A quick overview of the Fenix/EPIX models
B) A deep-dive into all those nuanced differences between the Fenix & Epix

Now, you can hit Play on the video above, which in this case is probably the best thing to do, because many of these are display-based, and it’s easier to see those in the real-world with real video footage of how the units react and display.

The Model Options:

For the moment, I’m not going to belabor all of the Fenix 7 Series models in this post. There are 22 of them in total, plus other country-specific SKUs. For example, the UK has a different shade of grey than the rest of the world on certain models. I’m not kidding. It’s a different SKU there. Here’s the official chart of listings from Garmin, for at least the US market.

The most important thing to know is that all these units share the same software features across the board. They all have music, the same optical heart rate sensor, the same GPS chipset manufacturer, the same contactless payment support, the same WiFi/Bluetooth/ANT+, and all the same sport profiles and related features. Same. Same. Same.

Instead, deciding on a model is all about three sorta simple things:

A) Size
B) Solar
C) Sapphire edition or not

To recap, at the high level you’ve got basically three Fenix 7 Series sizes to choose from, and a single Epix Series size:

Fenix 7S – The Smallest: This is a 42mm case with a 1.2” screen
Fenix 7 – The Middle Bear: This is a 47mm case with a 1.3” screen
Epix – The Only Bear: This is identical to the middle Fenix 7 in size, at 47mm and 1.3”
Fenix 7X – The Biggest: This is a 51mm case with a 1.4” screen.

Then, if choosing Fenix 7, you need to decide whether or not you want solar or not. In general, think of solar as incremental power. If you go out for a 45-minute walk in the winter in the sun, it’ll add a relatively trivial amount of power (and zero power under a coat). Whereas, if you spend an entire day in the summer in the sun, it’ll add a very substantial amount of power. I have battery charts later on showing exactly how much. But there is no solar on Epix.

Fenix 7 Series: Solar offered
Epix Series: No solar offered

Ok, so then we get to the question of ‘Sapphire’ edition or not. In the case of the Fenix 7 Series, the ‘Sapphire’ tag kinda replaces the ‘Pro’ tag in the Fenix 6 series. There are no Fenix 7 Pro units. Sapphire is the new Pro.

Sapphire on both Epix and Fenix 7 does four very specific things:

A) Gets you Sapphire glass: This is more durable against scratches, but also has slightly dimmer visibility. In 2022, I wouldn’t overthink the scratch element, the glass they use on the regular non-sapphire units is very strong and I rarely scratch watches with it, despite treating them like crap.
B) Gets you titanium bezel/case: The Sapphire units have a Titanium bezel and case, so they’re officially swankier looking. Some also have DLC coating too.
C) Gets you Multi-band GPS: This is the new dual-frequency GPS, which theoretically is the holy grail of GPS accuracy. In practice, it’s slightly better, but really only in very specific challenging situations (like up against massive cliffs, and sometimes against exceptionally tall buildings). It’s not perfect, and it’s not yet the holy grail. Maybe with updates in a year it will be. COROS added this to their Vertix 2 last summer, and I have seen slight/incremental improvement since then. They share the same chipset as Garmin.
D) Gets you 32GB of storage instead of 16GB: This is primarily for map usage (or music), but it also gets you pre-loaded maps for your region. In the case of non-Sapphire units, you simply tap the ‘Map Manager’ within the watch and choose your region (continent). You’ll wait a few hours for that to sync over WiFi and then you’re done. I detail the sizes of the maps in my in-depth review, but the short version is that North America and Europe are about 8-10GB each, so you can’t fit both together on a 16GB unit. You’d have to swap back and forth.

Here’s a chart that Garmin has that actually explains it way better than I could possibly do with MSPAINT:

At this point, I wouldn’t let either the Multi-band or map storage bits be a decision driver individually, however, they could be together. For example, I often travel back and forth – so having the maps for both continents is handy for me. And, since I’m a geekier person, I’m interested to see how multi-band GPS will play out over the next year or two. Thus I’m more likely to go for a Sapphire edition. I find zero value though in the sapphire glass or titanium bezel case.

Of course, you do you; I’m just giving you my thinking.

The Key Epix vs Fenix Differences:

Now, I’ve broken up these into a list of bulleted sections. Because I like compartmentalized sections…and lists. This list also mirrors the order of the video above (which also has chapters). I even went as far as asking Garmin’s product team last week for any other trivial differences between them. Also note that while the basis for my real-world comparison is Epix Sapphire vs Fenix 7 Solar Sapphire, that none of the items below change when going non-Sapphire, except that the non-Sapphire visibility is generally a little bit better (less dim). But I don’t have any non-Sapphire units to compare.

1) The Price: Fenix 7 starts at $699 and goes over $1,000, whereas Epix starts at $899 and goes to $999. So if you compare like models – Fenix 7 Solar Sapphire to Epix Sapphire, it’s a span of a $100 difference ($899 for Fenix 7 Solar Sapphire to $999 for Epix Sapphire). If you compare non-Sapphire to non-Sapphire, it’s a $200 difference between base models ($699 for Fenix vs $899 for Epix).

2) The Display Mode Variants: Let’s start with the easy one. The Fenix 7 screen is legit always-on all the time. Twenty-four hours a day, no matter what you or the watch are doing, it’s on. Though, it does have a sleep-mode if you want it. It also has a backlight, which is configurable in steps of 5% increments from 0 to 100%, depending on whether you’re in sleep or regular mode.

Then there’s the Epix. At its base/default configuration it has two core modes:

A) Always-on EPIX: In this config, as long as there’s some (even tiny, like typing) movement, the screen remains on. If you turn your wrist towards you, it brightens the display, but it’s usually perfectly readable without the added brightness. If you leave it on a table for 60-seconds unattended, it’ll turn off the display. Similarly, if you’re sitting perfectly still reading a book, the display may turn off depending on how still you are. I’m apparently not a very still person, as this virtually never goes off for me – instead it just goes back and forth between dim-but-easilyviewable mode, and bright mode. In any case, in this always-on mode, the watch lasts 6 days in smartwatch mode. I can confirm that over the past month+, this number is very valid and matches my real-world usage with ~1hr of workouts each day on average (GPS or indoors) using a default watch face.

B) Gesture-based EPIX: In this mode, the display turns off when you’re not actively looking at it. As you raise your wrist, it turns on. It’s worthwhile noting though you can set this differently for workout vs general usage. So in workout mode you can say always-on, but the rest of the day gesture-based. In the overall gesture-based mode, it gets 16 days of smartwatch battery life.

Note that in the case of Epix, it presumes the display goes to sleep each night. The default is 10PM to 6AM, but you can change the timing and behavior within the Sleep Mode settings though. I explain this more in the ‘dimming’ section below.

3) Display Technology: Next, the biggie, the display itself. You’ve got that AMOLED display which is 65,000 colors, instead of the Fenix 7 series 64-colors and transflective MIPS screen. The AMOLED display is the same as the Venu 2 series, which has been received well. The size of both screens are identical, listed as 1.3”, and the internal viewable size of both screens is also identical (the solar ring is ‘outside’ of that viewable area).

Probably the easiest way of illustrating this vast color difference is a simple watch face I created using the Connect IQ app. These are with the backlights enabled at default settings upon wrist raise. Of course, it’s also hard to make out the clarity in a photo of a photo.

Now as an interesting aside, if you do create a custom watch-face, it will likely go into gesture-mode (as was the case above). Garmin does have specifications for created AMOLED-series always-on watch faces, but the stock ‘Face It’ feature to make your own faces doesn’t make always-on faces – so those force me into gesture mode on the Epix, whereas on the Fenix it’s there the entire time. We’ll talk about burn-in in a moment.

4) Resolution: Next, we’ve got the resolution of the display, which is how many pixels it has. Essentially, the more the better. With more pixels you can show more detail. The Epix screen is 416x416px, while the Fenix 7 screen is 260x260px (Fenix 7s is 240x240px, and 7X is 280x280px). However, since the physical size of the screen is the same, this results in more pixels per inch (PPI – remember that from printing days?). In the case of the Fenix series, it’s 200ppi, whereas the Epix series is 326ppi – so dramatically higher. Now, by itself, this isn’t super obvious in basic running fields. Where it’s more important is charts, data graphs, maps, and anything where detail is needed So, let’s look at that.

5) Map Detail & Visibility: One of the easiest examples of this is simply in mapping. While both units use the *EXACT SAME MAPS*, the Epix displays details better, at a higher zoom level. This is shown in countless scenarios, but in my video above I walk through a very specific one that I’ve screen captured below. Both of these units are showing the exact same spot at the exact same zoom level (300m), and both of them are set to defaults for screen brightness with a popularity routing map shown. Notice how the Fenix 7 (left) is missing numerous trails that the Epix (right) shows. For example, that trail that cuts along the top of the screen. Or the added mountain symbols. Or the entire selection of trails cutting across the middle-bottom of the screen. Or the names of the mountains. None of that detail can be shown (yet) on the Fenix because it doesn’t have the resolution to pull it off. Instead, you don’t see that detail till you zoom further down. In which case again, the Epix shows other details that Fenix lacks until you zoom down yet again. It’s a never-ending cycle.

This is more than just maps though. You see it in golf courses for example, as well as even ski resort/ski trail maps. Plus of course just clarity in things like the charts too.

6) Brightness: Next, is brightness, the AMOLED is by far brighter in my experience in every scenario – including in direct sun. At least with the two Sapphire editions I have. In bright sunny sun on top of a volcano amidst desert-like lava fields, the AMOLED display is super bright and easy to read. And the same is true in a jungle under dense tree cover. While the Fenix 7 series is certainly easy to read in direct sun, it’s the less bright scenarios that the Epix really shines – without having to utilize the backlight – or change the backlight settings. By default the Fenix 7 series uses a 20% backlight option, which of course you can increase to get it brighter. But as you can see here, it’s not really even close (Epix left, Fenix 7 right):

Here’s another:

Looking at some direct sun scenarios, here’s my wrist in direct sun on an island in summer-like weather, and the Epix is easily read:

Point being, I wouldn’t be concerned about brightness with Epix. Whereas, at least with the slightly dimmer Sapphire edition of the Fenix 7, there are cases where it’s not as visible, especially in early evening or darker conditions, where the Epix really shines.

7) Dimming: Now let’s go the opposite direction – how visible is it when you want it to be dark? In that case, both units actually have sleep mode options. For Epix it’ll be enabled by default, and you’ll configure your sleep time, and then it goes into a do-not-disturb sleep mode with a simplified watch face. In this mode the watch display is off, and to see the display, you’ll just press a button. Simply touching/taping it won’t change anything.

The Epix actually has a lower dimness setting for sleep mode than regular mode. Thus it won’t blind you at night. I’ve had no issues with the Epix display dimness levels at night (a concern from some other AMOLED units in the past). Here’s the Epix in sleep mode, once a button is pressed (I show the Fenix in sleep mode in the video too, as well as how to configure it).

Whereas for the Fenix 7 series, at night the display is still ‘on’, though no backlight unless you specify it. One thing to keep in mind is that in a dark room at night (like a bedroom), you won’t be able to see the time either unless you press a button. So basically for the middle-of-the-night scenario, a button press is required no matter the watch. And you can use gesture backlight for both watches too (which is by default off in sleep mode).

Oh, and quirky geek aside. The Epix and Fenix actually have two different control levels for brightness. During normal daytime usage, the Epix display brightness has three options. But at night in sleep mode it becomes four options. Similarly, the Fenix 7 normally adjusts backlight brightness in 10% blocks, with 20% being the default. Whereas in sleep mode it’s 5% blocks with 5% being the default.

8) Battery Considerations: So within the battery camp we’ve basically got two core scenarios to consider: Day to day smartwatch wear, and workout GPS times. Let’s start with a simple chart from Garmin, which outlines the claimed battery levels for each model:

Now, in my testing I primarily focused on the Epix Sapphire & Fenix 7 Solar Sapphire, and in an always-on configuration. Without question, I’ve been hitting that 6-day always-on claim near perfectly, using the default settings and inclusive of ~1hr of workout time per day (blend of GPS and indoor workouts). Some days more workout time, some days less. But a safe average of an hour a day here in December. In terms of the Fenix 7, that too seems to trend towards its battery claims for watch mode, but honestly given they’re so high, it’s hard to judge precisely.

So what about workout modes? Well, let’s go big! Here are two workouts, using the watches effectively side by side with ‘all the things’ enabled. I’ve got the Epix Sapphire on my left wrist, and the Fenix 7 Solar Sapphire on my right wrist. For this first one, a 7hr 15min ride, I’ve got always-on display enabled, multi-band satellites enabled, optical heart rate enabled, course/route following/navigation loaded and enabled, ClimbPro enabled, an ANT+ power meter connected, Bluetooth connectivity to my phone enabled with LiveTrack enabled. In other words, literally everything is turned on at the highest possible settings to burn as much battery as possible. Here’s the Epix at the start (sorry, the photo isn’t super crispy as it’s a screenshot from a video I took).

The ride started in the sun, then went into the forests for a few hours of climbing, and then above the tree-line for a few hours of lava fields, before descending back down into the forests and out of the sun.  For the Epix, it started at 92% and ended at 59% (a 32% decrease), the projected battery capacity then based on this ride was 21.72hrs. Whereas the Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar went from 98% to 77% (a 21% decrease), with a projected battery duration of 34.12hrs.

You’ll notice that in both cases, these estimated battery calculations are actually *ABOVE* the Garmin claims for multi-band GPS. And Garmin’s battery claims don’t even assume the battery-draining course navigation either. Meaning, I could easily significantly increase my estimated capacity further by not turning on all the features.

If we switch to a 5-hour long jungle hike with the exact same setup, except minus the sun (overcast conditions and under dense tree cover for quite a bit of it). You’ll see again very strong numbers – estimated 18.91 hours capacity for Epix versus 20.83hrs for the Fenix 7 Solar Sapphire. The denser trees would have likely caused the unit to increase power to the GPS to try and increase signal reception, and the Fenix 7 Solar would have had less solar power here due to lack of sun from clouds and trees. But again, remember – EVERYTHING was turned on here in a worst-case scenario.

Now, why might my battery times be better in the long ride than Garmin’s official estimates? Well, likely because those estimates were done months ago. They haven’t changed since, despite Garmin’s firmware and efficiency getting better and better. And in fact, if I look at long rides in the sun on similar islands from early December, the battery capacity was more akin to Garmin’s official claims (lower). In other words, I think they’re actually pretty conservative at this point, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see those battery claims eventually adjusted upwards.

(Pro Tip: You can create your own battery charts using the DCR Analyzer. This will properly display battery durations for devices from Garmin, Wahoo, Stages, and Hammerhead. COROS is aiming to add support this spring. Inversely, note that Garmin’s Vivoactive & Venu series units do not write this information to the .FIT files.)

9) Flashlight: The Fenix 7X has a flashlight on it (the other Fenix 7 units do not), this flashlight can be used in a variety of scenarios including simply finding your way around your home in the dark at night, to illuminating a trail ahead of you while you run, to an impromptu bike light. The 7X flashlight is comprised of two white LEDs, and one red LED. The brightness level is roughly in the ballpark of my iPhone 13 Pro, maybe a smidge less. It’s more than enough to blind anyone in the same dark room though. Finally, it also has a running-cadence driven flashlight that will match your running cadence and flash white and red lights either forwards or backwards based on your arm swing. In practice, I didn’t find this works super precisely, but it still manages to let people know that you’re there/visible – so I’m not sure it’s a huge deal that it’s not perfectly timed. Overall though, the Fenix 7X flashlight is awesome and super useful, let’s be clear about that.

The Epix series does not (very sadly) have a dedicated flashlight, but does have a flashlight mode. Just like with the Fenix 7X you can simply double-tap the upper left button, which goes to a flashlight user interface with multiple levels of white light as well as red light. It’s not ideal for lighting up a trail, but is plenty bright to light up a bedroom at night, or blind your significant other lying in bed. Like with the 7X, the red-light option is less harsh and honestly a better late-night option. I show how this works in the video up above.

Note that the other Fenix 7 units do have this same feature as well, though, it’s not nearly as bright as the Epix screen – simply because the backlight of the AMOLED is essentially a lighthouse compared to the Fenix 7’s backlight being a small candle. Still, I’ve also used the Fenix 7 flashlight nonetheless to find things in the dark. So it does work in a pinch too.

10) Accuracy (GPS & HR): This one is easy – they’re virtually identical. Now, I’ve done far more detail on this in my in-depth reviews on both, but in almost every scenario, they acted virtually identical (both good and bad). And that makes sense, they’ve got the exact same optical HR sensor, the exact same GPS chipset, and the exact same size and case materials. Now, you may (and probably will) see optical heart rate differences between the different sized Fenix 7 models as, typically speaking, heavier models can introduce more bounce, which degrades accuracy. Though ironically, in my testing, the Fenix 7X actually handled perfectly in even hard and cold-weather interval runs. But I have less 7X HR data than I do 7/Epix direct comparison data. This is also true for barometric altimeter accuracy, where they were in absolute lockstep on all my test activities.

The point being that the two units appear identical in this area (both good and bad).

11) Pixel Burn-In Potential: Pixel display burn-in can occur in AMOLED/OLED (and other types of) screens when bright images are left on for an extended period of time without change. For example, a very bright-white watch face with sharp lines. Companies (both watchmakers and phone/tablet/TV/etc makers) mitigate this through a variety of methods. For example in Garmin’s Venu & Epix series, they do what’s called pixel-shifting, which slightly moves an image a pixel or two in a different direction occasionally to turn off/on pixels. Generally speaking, this isn’t obvious/viewable to your eye.  Whereas the Fenix series has no issues with burn-in.

In terms of potential for pixel burn-in on the Epix watch, I suspect we’re in a far better place than Garmin was with the original Venu (which uses a different display and a handful of people have seen burn-in issues). I don’t believe I’ve seen any reports on the Venu 2 series for burn-in, which is the same screen as Epix. Though, it’s also only about 8-9 months old. We’ve seen Garmin since introduce specific guidelines around Connect IQ watch faces to be enabled in always-on mode, plus there are aspects like the sleep mode, dimming, and powering off after 60-seconds of non-movement. All of which are designed to substantially reduce the chances of burn-in. I’m personally not worried about it in normal usage in 2022 given the measures that have been taken and the lessons learned Garmin has with other units, but ultimately only time will tell.

12) Weight: This obviously varies considerably by which model you choose (size-wise, materials, etc…). However, if comparing the two Sapphire units to each other, there is only 3g in difference between them. I measured the Fenix 7 Solar Sapphire and it was 74g, whereas the Epix Sapphire was 71g. I suspect most of us would consider that basically a wash for practical purposes.

13) Connect IQ Support Levels: Both Epix & Fenix 7 support the same Connect IQ System Level (System 5), however, Epix supports a greater subset of features within it, due to its higher resolution display. Meaning that 3rd party apps can develop more vibrant/detailed/rich apps on Epix that might not be available down the road on non-AMOLED screens. While I’m sure there are some examples today (folks are welcome to drop them below in the comments), I’m not aware of any big-ticket ones. In terms of performance, I measured both watches using the Connect IQ Benchmarking tool, and the scores were very similar. The Fenix 7 Solar Sapphire: CPU 9.4 / 58.8 Pips, and Epix Sapphire: CPU 9.4 / 62.5 Pips – both on Connect IQ 4.0.6 (software 7.20). This matches my real-world experience which shows that both units act virtually identical side by side in terms of changing pages, display data, map movements, etc…

14) The Random Extra List: This is a list of extra things that didn’t make the main list above. I’ll also add things to this over time:

A) White on black text: For Epix, you have white lettering on black text for sport profiles. Whereas for Fenix it’s black lettering on white text. Normally, I dislike white on black – partially because it’s a pain in the butt to take photos of, and partially because I usually find black on white easier to see. However, in this case (as well as the Apple Watch, Venu series, Samsung Galaxy series, and a few others), the white lettering is easy and crisp enough to see that I’ve got no complaints at all here.

B) The Epix can display more data fields per page: On the Fenix 7 (middle unit), you can display 6 data fields per page, but the Epix can display 8 data fields per page.

C) You see, I don’t yet have a C: But eventually I will.

Ok, that’s all I’ve got for now!

Wrap-Up:

Phew!

Ok, hopefully this answers some questions when trying to choose. Obviously, there are a lot of options, but I think probably the biggest factor you’ll want to simply consider is battery life scenarios and how you use your units.

For me, I’ve got virtually no reason to do a 30hrs+ long GPS adventure. It’s just not my cup of tea. And in the unlikely event I did find myself in such a situation (like wanting to track a really long journey), I could use a charging puck with a battery pack to keep it topped up (you can charge while using). Further, I don’t mind dealing with charging roughly once a week for my typical workout usage. Probably a bit more often when I do longer workouts during a week (spring/summer).

So for my use cases, I’m in the Epix camp. I think the display is awesome, and gives just so much better visibility and clarity than Fenix 7 does. However, the downside for me is that I typically prefer a smaller/lighter watch, such as something in the Forerunner 745 range (my normal go-to). While I quickly get used to wearing the larger watches, it’s not my comfort food. Similarly, many of you like larger watches like the 7X series ones, and so there’s no option there either.

I think it’ll be really fascinating to see what Garmin does with the Fenix & Epix brands over the next 2-5 years. Certainly, if we look to a Fenix 8 or Fenix 9 series with continued battery optimization, there probably won’t be a MIPS display option anymore – it’ll be all AMOLED (or similar). My bet is that Enduro becomes that brand/platform for MIPS, for the dwindling segment of the population that wants or needs that kind of screen. The question is, with Fenix being the most valuable brand – where does the Epix brand go. Things I’ve pondered…

With that – I’ll let you get back to pondering your choices. Feel free to drop any questions below, and I’ll try and help out – or, countless others in the community can too! More opinions is always good here.

Thanks for reading!

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View Comments (256)

  • Sorry to saybut you don’t inderstand batterylife.

    You say “ For me, I’ve got virtually no reason to do a 30hrs+ long GPS adventure.” I can understand that and agree with you, BUT. Those 30 hours are when the device is fully charged and new. My watchs is most of the times not fully charged and it’s definitely not new anymore.

    I have a 5 year old forerunner 935 which started with 24 hours of gps time. Plenty, according to your rules. But now it’s 5 yours old and only 10 hours gps time are left. Which means when it’s 50% charges I cannot go out for a long bike ride. An all day hike is just doable. That’s the reason a forerunner 745 with 16 hours batterylife isn’t plenty. After a couple of years that will be 6 or 7 hours.

    I understand you have a drawer full of new watches and never use an old one so you don’t see the problem.
    And maybe I’m the odd one out and everybody else buy an very expensive watch every 2 years or so.

    • You always seem really angry in your responses/comments. I don’t understand.

      In any case, that’s all fine, but all devices battery capacity eventually age. Including the Fenix 7. How that will age? Honestly, we don’t know yet. We could presume the same as your FR935, or my wife’s Fenix 5S. But we simply don’t know yet - so presuming to predict five years from now based on devices five years ago seems kinda silly.

      Similarly, I don’t think I have to spell out that if you leave home with a 25% charged device, you’re not going to go as far as a fully 100% charged device. I assumed that was kinda obvious. Of course, it’s also obvious that you have to charge less often too when you get more days of battery life.

      In any case, my preference for balancing Watch style with battery life is my preference. I’m not sure why you’re angry about it. I’ve clearly outlined every factor above to let people make their own decisions.

    • One more thing: if you have to charge less often (because of better battery life) you have less chargecycles and less wear on the battery.

      Sure, I know I cannot go on a 5 hour ride with 25% left of max 16 hours gps time. But you over and over again tell everybody the only use of a 30 hour gps batterylife, in your view, is doing a ultra. Well, it’s not. It’s convenience of not having to charge that much and prevent batterywear by reducing chargecycles.

      (I’m not angry, english is not my native language. I do apologize if I offended someone)

    • Hi Leo,

      About battery aging, maybe you should try to replace your battery, not at 100% sure but when Litium battery go under 70% ot its capacity it was marked as exhausted. 5 from 24hrs sound like problem.

      In my experience one FR 210 start with ~8h gps time and after maybe 5yrs it have 6.5-7h
      A Edge 510 (second hand) have a maybe 5yrs service without notable battery decrease.
      Also I have FR645 and Edge 530 both with 2yrs of service and close to original capacity.

      Have a nice day.

    • Yeah, I'd like to see Garmin do better in the battery replacement arena. I might tackle a post in the coming weeks trying to sort out all the battery replacement costs for each company.

      For example, Apple has flat-rate published prices for Apple Watch battery (out of warranty costs) per country. Roughly around $79. Garmin doesn't publish prices anywhere, but people report that for a Fenix series unit, it's about $180-$200.

      I don't know what others do, and some others may not offer options at all. I also totally get that Apple subsidizes that battery cost with the fact that you're locked into their phone ecosystem to own an Apple Watch. But hey, that's competition, and not the consumers problem.

      But I'd like to see all companies do better here. So in the same way I've continued to increase pushing for software updates for perfectly functional watches, and highlighting when companies aren't doing that, I'll likely start outlining the battery replacement options (or lackthereof).

    • So positive, balanced and helpful Ray. I'm assuming leo does not use english as his first language? Either way I really appreciate all of your help on the site, Even if you can't reply to all the personal messages........

    • For me the Garmin Fenix 7x is my go to. The extra battery life is such a great feature to have. I do long distance hiking where the extra gps time is a huge a deal. The AMOLED display is nice but the MIP display is also nice considering it reflects sunlight.

    • I agree Ray, that would be good if you could pursue this questioning with Garmin.

      I recognise that software as well as hardware can cause battery issues. Take my young son’s Vivoactive 4S. On our third replacement. Battery drains in a day with no GPS activity.

      My heart sank when looking at the forums - it’s clear Garmin have an issue with this watch and according to them there is no resolution as yet.

      In the meantime however my Epix 2 battery is proving to be very impressive.

    • Please include include Right to Repair battery/parts availability in your battery replacement post. Battery replacement is relatively easy on Garmin watches, at least compared to an iPhone. So it seems odd that Apple is genuine replacement iPhone batteries to users fir them to install and Garmin is not.

      I have a Garmin Chronos. If I have 40% battery life and go outside for a run with the weather below 40F, the battery dies within 5 minutes. I contacted Garmin about a replacement battery and was told I had to send my watch to them and would receive a refurbished replacement. I don’t recall the exact cost, but was a few hundred US dollars and was basically the used value of the watch. But non-genuine replacement batteries can be purchased from eBay for $20.

      Most jewelry ships offer free battery replacement on high end watches. Garmin needs to do a better job supporting long-term battery replacement, especially since these watches are so expensive and aging batteries can dramatically shorten their useful life. They should sell replacement batteries and support cost-effective right-to-repair for those interested.

    • Ray,
      If you're going to do something on battery replacement, please make sure to include a 'how' section in addition to cost - must it be mailed back to the manufacturer at a cost of not having my device for a week or two or are there a significant number of in network (apple store) or independent retailers (jewelry/watch repair) stores that can have me up & running the same day. Does the manufacturer only allow trained & certified repair centers which will limit the number or retailers? Is there anything unique to a particular device that makes it harder/easier than others (ie. the old, '80s Casio calculator watches had significantly more buttons than any other watch out there that all had to be aligned before closing the case)

    • Fantastic presentation of technology and I love all your reviews. I do not know if you can provide companies with feedback and understand why many would want you to buy new rather than keep the old operational (I guess there is always an element to ensure you eventually but new). Could there be any mobile chargers or other options of battery replacement?

  • Does the Fexix 7X also have the watch face flashlight mode, or only the new case lights? If so, is there a red light? Thanks.

    • I’m not seeing an obvious way to get to the screen flashlight as opposed to the regular flashlight, but I’ll poke deeper.

  • I'm quite torn between Fenix and Epix.

    I have abandoned/sold/returned multiple AMOLED smartwatches due to battery life and how cumbersome and unreliable the gesture-to-view is, and I have always kept my Vivoactive 4.

    I keep thinking that going for the Epix I will just do the same mistake for the N-th time. The 6-day AOD battery life is plenty, but having a screen glowing in the dark continuously when I don't need it to is also distracting and wasteful. Also, I'm not sure how an AMOLED screen holds up over more than like 2 years or so.

    The ideal situation for me would have been a Fenix 7 with a bit more reflectivity compared to the old MIP screens. I wonder if there is any brightness difference between Fenix 7 and 6 ? I read that the Enduro screen is brighter than the Fenix 6x, can anyone confirm ? Maybe Garmin did improve on this ?

    Thanks!

    • Maybe Ray can chime in here but with my Apple Watch, I find it dims the screen so precisely in even extreme dark environments that it is never distracting. In a movie theater etc. I never think to put it in "theater mode" (that turns off the screen) because it is never an issue. Does the Epix dim the screen using a light sensor to be appropriate? Hopefully. While I don't wear my Apple Watch to bed, when I did a handful of times I did turn off the screen and it seems Garmin has a way to do this automatically by time of day so that would be useful. In general I find the screens of a lit AMOLED watch surprisingly NOT distracting in even dark environments IF the developer did their job correctly.

    • I have been using a Fenix 6X Sapphire for several months. Just purchased a Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar from Garmin. Initial impressions are that the brightness and color saturation are significantly better on the 6X. The screen on the 7X model is considerably dimmer and harder to read in indirect sunlight. So far, I am a little disappointed with the 7X and some of its limitations (screen brightness, resolution, color saturation, limitations in watch faces, inconsistent touch screen performance).

    • Thanks, I read this on other forums too. At first sight I would say that the touchscreen layer reduces the brightness, but on my touch-enabled Vivoactive 4 the brightness seems to be the same as the non-touch Fenix 6 so it normally cannot be this.

      The Fenix 7 seems to support 256 colors compared to the Fenix 6's 64 colors so the screen looks to be a bit different (to be honest, 16 colors would be enough for me if this would mean more brightness :) ).

      This being said, I am now leaning towards the Epix. But I read some bad things about the button feel lacking feedback or feeling like multiple clicks on depress (on both Fenix and Epix) so I am not sure what's up with Garmin at this time...maybe the pandemic took a toll on the QA, or maybe it's just a first batch issue...who knows.

    • Maybe it is because of solar? I read that solar versions have worse screen.
      I completely don't understand why there is no X without solar, it's idiotic.

    • Also curious about this and how Enduro will stand up in general (considering a switch to F7 Sapphire or Epix Sapphire).

  • This is great, thanks. Particularly GPS chipset; they’re all the “same”. That 5k site was trying to posit Sapphire had something different (Mediatek vs Sony). This would be important for people who geek out on this and felt Mediatek was better. Your in depth showed GPS on all F7 and Epix versions were pretty good.

    Is it then safe to assume same GPS chip for all and just a distinction between dual band or not?

    • So, if Garmin were willing, they could easily enable multi gnss multi band on all F7serie/Epix devices or are there how/sw limitations, which would prevent this?

    • Garin confirmed it's vendor (Airoha), but it's unclear if it's the exact same chipset and just software blocked. We won't really know until someone tears down a unit (not my specialty - I wouldn't know how to put it back together again). Realistically they'd just have to tear-down a base-unit, not both units.

  • I just have a big doubt and I think you wrote the answer between the lines but I would like your direct comment on the subject. Between the Fenix 7X Solar Power Glass and the Fenix 7X Solar Power Sapphire which screen is best seen and without reflections? It is important to know this because, in my case, a clearly visible display without annoying reflections counts more, even giving up the multi gps and 32gb memory.

    One more question, in the 16gb Fenix 7X Solar can you install the map of Italy only or do you have to download the whole of Europe?

    Thanks for your top reviews

    • I haven’t seen those two units side by side, so not entirely sure there.

      For maps though, unfortunately Garmin requires you download the whole of Europe. It’s kinda silly. Firstly because it takes up way more space, secondly because it takes up way more bandwidth for them, and thirdly because it’s immensely more slow than just downloading a single country.

    • I think this is tied to the historical reality that they sell each of these regions as map packs.

      It feels like a bit of a 🖕that they continue to sell these maps to fenix 6 (and specialty SKUs), forerunner 945, and marq (!) customers. You only get the region maps that came bundled with your watch and we need another $60 /yr to give you the open source maps (with disclaimer!) for each of the other regions you want. It’s a bad look.

    • You don't have to download whole Europe. It can be divided into 3 parts in Garmin Express for a while (also for fenix 6, F945...). You have the Europe East, Central and West. It the name of the map packages in the watch settings and in the Garmin Express. So you have the option in Express to download all of them (TopoActive Europe) as package (which will download 3 files - East, Central and West) or just the part and file you want to. Which country is in which package can be seen in Express too... If you don't have enough space in your watch, express will offer you to download just a part of the Europe automatically (that's how I discover it).

    • That doesn't seem to be the case on my Fenix 7 or Epix units. It's just all of Europe. If I go into Garmin Express, and then dive down into it - it's all or nothing, with no further options for country/portion. Both in the textual information, but also the graphic that it shows.

      Are you seeing something different on a Fenix 7 or Epix unit?

    • This is (was?) only available in Express. But I am seeing this not anymore in Express. I used it one time, but I was only able to download 1 of the 3. A second part wasn’t later offered for download. And as said before, I don’t see this possibility anymore, only the full Europe map.

    • Yes you can split Europe into three segments: West, Central and East. If you connect your Fenix 7 or Epix 2 to a Mac or PC, using Garmin Express, you have the choice to download Europe by segments (e.g. only West or a combination of West and Central).

  • Thank you Ray for the excellent and super detailed ("what else did you expect") comparison.
    As a happy Fenix 6X user I will stay on the sideline for a while, also because I am not yet convinced that burn in will not become an issue. And also since I need to amortize my 6X investment ;-)
    I have to say though that I am surprised Garmin did not also bring out an "Epix X" model, as the more power hungry screen would greatly benefit from the larger X-size battery. I have a feeling such a model could come later as it makes so much sense, but maybe Garmin first wants to test how big the market is for a Fenix type watch with AMOLED screen. Your review and clear opinion alone will make sure though that market demand will be there ;-)

  • Early on in the article you have: "For the moment, I’m not going to belabor all of the Fenix 7 Series models in this post. There’s 22 of them in total, plus other country-specific SKU’s. For example, the UK has a different shade of grey than the rest of the world on certain models. I’m not kidding. It’s a different SKU there. Here’s the official chart of listings from Garmin, for at least the US market."

    But there's no chart below, I assume just an oversight. But great article! If I were in the market for a new watch I would have a hard time choosing.

  • Here is something you may not have experienced yet. I got the Venu 2 because as an of 50 person my eyes aren’t what they used to be.

    With readers. I can’t read the watch with a quick glance. The Amoled is much better.

    • Same reason that I got the Epix2- I can read it without my glasses. Way easier than my FR945. That alone makes charging more often worth it.

      This is the same reason I use my Karoo2 instead of my Edge 1030- way easier to read without glasses. Important since I sweat a lot and my glasses get completely coated with sweat. So, I keep them in my pocket and only get them out when I really need them.

  • Would be clear foe me, if Garmin would have done a fenix model with all pro features except the shiny sapphire glass.
    The epix seems to be a more risky choice for some reasons: amoled burn in as stated in the manual, higher battery drain and maybe slower display redraws (especially within CIQ apps) because of the higher number of screen pixels.
    So programming will be also a new challenge,
    I wrote already a lot of CIQ apps for fenix & Co but sometimes I failed to do so, like displaying complex QR codes because of the slow drawing routines. Could be even more time critical on the high res Epix - on the other hand even larger codes could be shown.
    App size could be interesting as well, (custom) fonts are used very often and are included in a compressed form which is defined by a special display processor.
    Would be surprising foe me if the same format (which is intersting btw) is used for the amoled display.

  • Great comparison post, Ray. This is super-helpful. I am drawn to both watches for all the reasons you detail. That said, I'm mostly a cyclist and use the Edge series, with my Garmin watch mostly as a backup bike computer/activity tracker/smartwatch. For that reason the Forerunner 9XX line is at the right price point for me compared to the Fenix and Epix line.

    I'm going to keep my relatively new Forerunner 935 until the successor to the 945 line comes out. Question: what features would you think might migrate to the Forerunner 9XX; maybe a premium model with AMOLED and base model without?

    thanks as always for your detailed reviews and videos!

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